March 29, 2007 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Due to a shortage of maintenance personnel and a chronical lack of spare parts only 40 out of 105 Dutch F-16s are operational, according to the Dutch news paper 'de Telegraaf'.
Left side ECS of a Dutch F-16 with its primary and secondary air-to-air heat exchanger and water separator. [Photo by Bas Meijerink]
As the fleet gets older, the jets need maintenance more often.
The Royal Dutch Air Force also faces a lack of technicians. For the maintenance of their C-130 Hercules transporter aircraft and helicopters extra personnel is needed too. A lot of this highly educated personnel chooses for a more quiet and better paid job in civilian life.
A shortage of spare part also forces the F-16s to stay grounded. Suppliers from the U.S. give preference to U.S. customers for the delivery of spares. The Dutch crew chiefs now have to improvise by canibalising other F-16s.
A few political parties call for a reduction of the F-16 fleet. With the money that could be freed up like this, more personnel could be trained. Other options would be to raise the salaries of the maintenance personnel are to exchange technical personnel within the NATO