F-16 Fighting Falcon News

Melbourne Authority wants Dutch F-16s out of airport

June 26, 2003 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The Melbourne Airport Authority wants F-16 fighter jets out of Melbourne International Airport (Florida - USA) because of the noise and safety issues they have created.
After receiving numerous complaints from residents and evaluating the situation, the airport authority has decided that AeroGroup Inc.'s F-16 operations are not compatible with Melbourne's airport and the surrounding community.

AeroGroup has been providing flight-training support this month for the Royal Netherlands Air Force. The Dutch pilots have been flying the F-16s in and out of Melbourne's airport for daily and nightly training exercises at sea and at the Avon Park Air Force Range.

The company's main mission is to provide flight-training support to U.S. forces and allied forces.

The company's contract with the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNlAF) was a six-week trial program in which yesterday was supposed to be the last day of the F-16 flights. However, the Netherlands has now agreed to a five-year deal with the company, and those training sessions could begin as soon as August.

The "test case" contract had an approximate $1,500,000.00 gross revenue expenditure by the RNLAF to complete the exercise. During the exercise, the RNLAF was basing nine F-16's and support equipment at AeroGroup's Melbourne facility, under high security.

The RNLAF is a NATO member and has been conducting training in the U.S. for more than a decade. The RNLAF was one of the first outside of the U.S. Air Force to operate the F-16. Recently, the RNLAF cancelled its F-16 operations in Goose Bay, Canada and El Centro, California and began looking for alternative methods of fulfilling its training requirements.