Operations on the Fighting Falcon started in April of 1982. The unit was assigned to the strike and FBA roles at the beginning, also implementing the Clear-Weather-Intercepting task from the late eighties. The full swing role was only introduced from 1993 onwards.
The unit was the first within the Royal Netherlands Air Force to implement laser-guided weapons. Although the Dutch didn't have the possession over laser designating pods, they where able to implement this feature with the help of the RAF. The RAF provided Buccaneer aircraft from 237 sqn to perform the laser designation for the Dutch F-16s.
The unit was also the first to be send to Villafranca AB in Italy to join the Allied coalition in the Deny Flight operation.
RNlAF F-16AM #J-632
from 311 sqn is seen coming into land during Airpower 05 at Zeltweg AB on June 23rd, 2005. [Photo by Ray Binder]
With the introduction of the MLU F-16 in 2000 all F-16s are capable of carrying a recce pod. Since 306 sqn received the training duties within the Royal Netherlands Air Force in the pre-MLU era, it had to disperse its recce role to other units receiving the recce capable MLU F-16s. The majority of material was shifted to 311 sqn in 2001. Although all NATO reaction forces assigned units have to fly reconnaissance missions, the mainstay of material and personnel of the recce unit is hosted by 311 sqn. Other units can 'rent' the logistics from 311 sqn when the need arises.
Over the past years, the unit has been actively involved in operations over Afghanistan to protect the Dutch and coalition forces enrolled in the ISAF operations.
Due to further reductions in the Dutch F-16 fleet (going from 87 to 68) the Dutch government decided to axe one more squadron. An obvious choice was one of the Volkel based units since this airbase still had 3 squadrons at its disposal in compairison with the 2 Leeuwarden based squadrons. Finally it was decided that 311 squadron was the unlucky one with operations ending on May 9th, 2011 and the squadrons' aircraft being put up for sale.
RNlAF F-16AM #J-641
from 311 sqn has just left the runway at Volkel AB on July 19th, 2006. [Photo by Werner van der Wiel]