October 19, 2011 (by Asif Shamim) - After more than five years, the Netherland's F-16 operations from Kandahar Airfield in southern Afghanistan came to an end on October 15 after the final armed reconnaissance flight.
After more than 5 years & 18,000hrs the Kandahar ATF deployment is over. [Dutch MoD photo]
The period in Kandahar added another chapter to the annals of the Royal Netherlands
Air Force, according to Detachment Commander Lieutenant Colonel Leo van Bruggen.
The Dutch fighter aircraft flew countless sorties in support of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF
) ground troops. The flights also involved reconnaissance tasks and tracing and identifying the location of roadside bombs. During the last flight, the 18th tour of the Air Task Force clocked its 18,000th flying hour in Afghanistan.
On October 16th, the Air Task Force will move to Mazar-e Sharif in the North of the country where the unit will lend support to the Netherlands’ Police Training Mission.
At the end of the month, another batch of F-16s from the Netherlands will arrive in Mazar-e Sharif. The Air Force unit will be fully operational on 1 November. Until that date, ISAF coalition partners will provide air support to the Police Training Mission.