Netherlands to sell F-16 fighters to Draken International

Netherlands sell F16 Draken
Dutch F-16 fighters taxiing for take-off at Eindhoven Air Base, Netherlands.

The Dutch government is close to signing an agreement with US private defense contractor Draken International for the sale of 12 former Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16 aircraft and associated equipment, as confirmed in a letter issued on June 29 by the Dutch Ministry of Defense.

The document underlines that the fighters will be used exclusively on the basis of contracts between the US government and Draken for air combat training activities during international exercises on American soil.

The aircraft will be sold under the F-16 End Life of Type (ELOT) program, which provides for the gradual withdrawal of the RNLAF F-16 fleet. They are expected to be withdrawn from service in 2022 following the gradual introduction of the F-35. In addition, the contract includes an option to sell an additional 28 F-16s which are expected to be retired in various batches until the end of 2024.

Under the ELOT program, another F-16 has already been sold to Belgium in August 2020.

All equipment will be sold and transferred to the United States in as-is condition. The Ministry of Defense will disassemble a number of items prior to transfer, as classified material.

The contract will be signed in mid-2021 and the transfer is expected in 2022. Thanks to this acquisition, Draken will become the second civilian F-16 operator in the world after the Canadian Top Aces.

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Photo Credit: Joris van Boven

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