Leeuwarden Air Base
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|Leeuwarden Air Base
Exterior sign for Vliegbasis Leeuwarden
|Owner||Military of the Netherlands|
|Operator||Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF)
Koninklijke Luchtmacht (KLu)
|Location||Leeuwarden, Friesland, Netherlands|
|Elevation AMSL||1 m / 3 ft|
Leeuwarden Air Base (Dutch: Vliegbasis Leeuwarden) is a military airbase used by the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) - Dutch: Koninklijke Luchtmacht (KLu), (IATA: LWR, ICAO: EHLW). The airbase is one of the two F-16 Fighting Falcon bases of the RNLAF. The airbase lies northwest of the capital of Friesland, Leeuwarden.
Leeuwarden Air Base is also one of the three military airbases (together with Gilze-Rijen Air Base and Volkel Air Base) that organise the twice-in-three-years Luchtmachtdagen ('Air Force Days') of the Royal Netherlands Air Force, consisting of air shows and static exhibits. In 2006, 2008, 2011 and 2016 Leeuwarden Air Base hosted these public demonstration days.
The airport of Leeuwarden was built in 1938, and was used as an airport between Schiphol and Eelde. The airport was used only infrequently at first, but that changed after the Germans had invaded the Low Countries in 1940. The Germans used the airport as a base for their fighter aircraft (including the Messerschmitt Bf 109) and bombers. From the airbase the Germans could reach Great Britain. During World War II, and especially on the 16th and 17th of September, 1944, the airbase was heavily bombed by the British.
After the liberation of the Netherlands the airbase was repaired, and during the first post-war years it was used as a civil airport, and the KLM ran a commercial line to Schiphol. In 1949, Leeuwarden became a dedicated military airbase.
During the 1970s Vliegbasis Leeuwarden was used as a temporary home of the 32nd Tactical Fighter Squadron of the US Air Force. Normally stationed at Soesterberg airbase, they needed to leave in order to allow repairs to the runway.
Two F-16 squadrons are based at Leeuwarden Air Base: the "swing-role" 322 Squadron RNLAF and the Tactical Training Evaluation and Standardisation (TACTES) 323 Squadron RNLAF. 323 Squadron stood down as an F-16 Squadron on October 31, 2014 (passing the TACTES task to 322 Squadron on the same day) before being reinstated as the F-35A Test Squadron on November 5, 2014 at Eglin Air Force Base.
In addition, Leeuwarden Air Base was the home base of 303 Squadron RNLAF (Search and Rescue), part of the newly formed Defence Helicopter Command (DHC). It employed three Agusta Bell AB 412SP helicopters before its stand-down on January 1, 2015.
The airport is the location of the Fighter Weapons Instructor Training (FWIT) and the annual multinational NATO exercise "Frisian Flag". On March 31, 2015, six F-15C's from the 125th Fighter Wing Florida Air National Guard landed at Leeuwarden Air Base to take part in Frisian Flag 2015.
In 2016, a squadron of MQ-9 Reapers will be based at Leeuwarden Air Base, scheduled to become fully operational as of 2017. The flight of four MQ-9 Reapers with a Ground Station will be fully air-deployable and self-supporting for global operations. Future use by public services related to homeland security and surveillance (including the National Police; and customs, naval and environmental surveillance) is also planned.
- 303 Squadron Agusta Bell AB 412SP till 1 January 2015
- 322 Squadron F-16 (TACTES)
- Squadron MQ-9 UAV as of 2016
- 920 Maintenance Squadron
- 921 Logistics Squadron
- 922 Support Squadron
- 931 Squadron
- Member of US Air Force
- "The U.S. Air Force is deploying 12 F-15 jets to Europe as first Air National Guard theater security package". theaviationist.com. 27 March 2015. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
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