August 30, 2011 (by Asif Shamim) - The final batch of surplus & refurbished F-16s left Volkel Air Base on Monday, 29 August 2011 heading to there new home in Chile. Thus ending a contract agreed between the governments of the Netherlands and Chile in early June 2009.
RNlAF F-16AM #J-875 is leaving from Volkel AB on August 29th, 2011 already in Chilean colors. Note the special tail scheme to commemorate the event. [Photo by Maurits Even]
On Monday, five aircraft took off from their former home base; one straggler, which could not leave on time, followed the next day.
The sale of Dutch surplus F-16 Mid-life Upgrade (MLU
) fighters to Chile
began on 1 June 2010 when the first batch of six aircraft left on 5 November 2010. A second follow on batch, took off from Volkel on 6 April 2011.
This latest transfer brings the number of former Dutch F-16 MLUs in the Chilean inventory to 36 aircraft. Twenty-nine of these aircraft are single-seat A-Models, while the remaining seven aircraft delivered are the two-seat B-Models. The Chilean Air Force also operate 10 F-16C/D block 50
, which entered service in 2007, making the Lockheed Martin-built aircraft the backbone of the country’s fighter fleet.
The total price for the purchase of the 18 aircraft in the 2009 agreement is estimated at around €100 million (some CLP 787 million). However, this sum has not been confirmed by the Dutch Ministry of Defence (MoD). Further, the agreement provided for the training of Chilean technicians by the Netherlands
, as well as the delivery of related equipment. In April, an Il-76 transport aircraft delivered spare parts and navigation equipment for the F-16s to Chile.
According to the Dutch MoD, the latest sale of F-16s has reduced the number of combat aircraft in the Dutch Air Force from 105 to 87, including 14 for training purposes. Earlier this year, the government decided to further reduce the ageing F-16 fleet to only 68 aircraft.