December 16, 2009 (by Maj. Lindsay Logsdon) - Fiscal year 2009 marked the second year that the Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16 Training Detachment flew 3,000 hours. As a reward for meeting the annual goal pilots were able to enjoy a day off for their hard work.
RNlAF F-16AM #J-510 from 306 sqn is parked on the tarmac at Springfield IAP on November 13th, 2007. [Photo by Dirk A. Geerts]
"I work with the Dutch every day, and speak to their leadership from Holland every six months when they visit Springfield. Reaching the 3,000-hour goal here is very important to the Royal Netherlands
Air Force," said Lt. Col. Anthony Montecalvo, 306th Detachment commander.
Each year the detachment looks at the calendar a year in advance and determines how many days will be flying days each month.
"Each sortie is a takeoff and landing, and some missions are real short...others are longer," said Colonel Montecalvo.
On average the 306 DET flies between 10 and 14 hours a day with six sorties in the morning and six sorties in the afternoon.
"We spend about 2,500 hours training new students. The other 500 hours is used for already qualified Dutch pilots who travel from Holland to Springfield for a couple of weeks to improve their flying proficiency," said Colonel Montecalvo.
The 306 DET on average trains two initial qualification training classes a year. The training lasts between eight and 10 months depending on the time of year the class starts. This year the unit trained 12 initial qualification students and re-qualified five students.
Day-by-day, week-by-week, and month-by-month the flying hours are added together to reach the 3,000-hour goal. Weather is a factor which impacts available time to fly, however, the most important factor is whether or not the aircraft are capable and safe to be flown. This is only made possible through the outstanding work of 178th Maintenance Squadron.
In spite of two engine anomalies, and an egress issue that grounded the fleet for a total of four days the 178 MXS maintained a 53 percent mission capable rate.
"The Dutch are very aware of the fact that our maintenance squadron is outstanding, and our full mission capable rate is high because of their efforts," said Colonel Montecalvo.
"Three thousand hours is a lot to get out of the 14 jets we have here and maintenance is doing a good job," said Maj. Ted Olde Bijvank, the 306th operations officer.
"They are really flexible to make things work and allow us to get the flying hours in." continued Maj. Ted Olde Bijvank.
Upon graduation Dutch pilots will go back to Holland and complete a six-month mission qualification training with their operational squadron where they receive more specific training pertaining to their mission.
"The pilots will then become a qualified F-16 wingman and learn their aircraft better. Eventually they will deploy to Afghanistan," said Colonel Montecalvo.
"This is an outstanding accomplishment for the second full year of our foreign military sales flying training," said Col. Mike Roberts, the 178th Fighter Wing commander.