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The Tiger of the no 313 Squadron; Volkel, August 31, 2006

The no 313 Squadron Moves to Volkel; Text and Photograph's by Alex van Noye

The first F-16s of the no 313 Squadron were moved from Twenthe Air Base to Volkel Air Base in the months November and December 2005. Volkel Air Base is the new home base of this unit since the start of 2006. Twenthe Air Base is no longer an active base of the Dutch air force, after the departure of the last F-16s.

The no 313 Squadron has the same operational tasks as the no 311 Squadron and the no 312 Squadron. The F-16s are used for both air defense tasks and air support tasks according to the so-called swing-role principle. This means the unit can switch quickly between these two basic tasks. The tiger on the badge of the no 313 Squadron symbolizes determination, strength and speed during action which belongs to the unit characteristics. The history of the no 313 Squadron started in 1952. It started when a number of T-33 T-Birds arrived at Volkel Air Base. The unit used these aircraft until January 1, 1959. The no 313 Squadron was then abandoned. It would take until 1972 before another activity took place under the flag of the no 313 Squadron. The unit was re-established at Twenthe Air Base on October 12, 1972. The squadron was at that moment equipped with the Northrop NF-5 Freedom Fighter. The unit would fly for almost 18 years with this type of airplane. The no 313 Squadron was one of the 4 NF-5 squadrons in the Netherlands. The other units which flew this type, were; the no 314 Squadron at Eindhoven Air Base, the no 315 Squadron at Twenthe Air Base and the no 316 Squadron at Gilze-Rijen Air Base. The no 313 Squadron started the transition to the F-16 Fighting Falcon between 1988 and 1990. The squadron markings were a yellow bird in a blue circle at that moment. The badge was replaced by the tiger badge during the introduction of the F-16. The slogan of the unit became “Scherpgetand” which means “With Sharp Teeth”. The no 313 Squadron received a new task with the introduction of the F-16s at the beginning of the 90s. This task was the operational conversion task. The task of the unit was to introduce the new pilots in the busy European airspace. This task was taken over in 1992 by the no 316 Squadron which was moved to Eindhoven Air Base.

The no 313 Squadron received the training job back after the disbandment of the no 316 Squadron at Eindhoven in 1994. The Dutch government announced in 2003 that

the air force had to shrink drastically. They decided to close Twenthe Air Base to reduce the costs of the air force. The no 315 Squadron was disbanded at the beginning of 2005. The F-16s of this unit came for sale, because the F-16 fleet was downsized due to the cuts in funds. The no 313 Squadron would move to Volkel Air Base. The first F-16s moved from Twenthe Air Base to Volkel Air Base at the end of 2005. The first F-16s of the no 313 Squadron moved to their new home at Volkel on November 17, 2005. This was the last phase of the end of Twenthe Air Base. Only 100 people moved with the no 313 Squadron to Volkel. The no 313 Squadron became fully operational at Volkel Air Base from the beginning of 2006. The unit returned to the base where it was founded in 1952. There are 3 units present at Volkel nowadays, namely; the no 311 Squadron, the no 312 Squadron and the no 313 Squadron. The no 306 Photo Reconnaissance Squadron has now moved from Volkel to the USA.

Today’s flying activity at Volkel was fantastic. There was a readiness exercise going on at the airbase. The result was many additional movements of the based F-16s. The weather today was not the best weather. The sky was dark gray and this did not change during the rest of the day. I went immediately to the spotter area along the head of the runway 24 when I arrived. It is possible to take excellent pictures of the departing F-16s with the help of a small stepladder. The first wave of F-16s left at 9.30 am. I noticed that all the F-16s were using the parallel runway during take-off. All the F-16s used therefore the holding point between the 2 runways for their final checks. Especially the F-16s of the no 311 Squadron were quite active during the first wave. The first 4 F-16s which appeared were all aircraft of this unit. The next F-16 which appeared from behind the tree line was the special paint F-16 of the no 312 Squadron. Bonzo was visible on the tail of this aircraft; Bonzo is the mascot of the no 312 Squadron. The F-16 was painted in these colors to celebrate the 55 anniversary of the unit. Also 2 dual F-16s appeared after the departure of this F-16. The first aircraft was a no 313 Squadron F-16 and the second one was a no 312 Squadron F-16. The 312 F-16 was the old F-16 of the Test Group of the Dutch Air Force. All the planes which returned from their missions would use the parallel runway.

During the break I decided to go to the south side of the airbase. Somebody told me that all the F-16s would use the parallel runway during this week due to maintenance of the main runway at Volkel. Once on the south side, I quickly found a spot opposite the holding area which is located between the runways. Just after lunch I was suddenly surprised by a British Tornado GR4 which appeared at the head of the runway. It seemed that the Tornado had landed yesterday. The aircraft stayed until today at the airbase. The reason for this visit to Volkel was not clear for me. The Tornado was from RAF Marham. The aircraft is assigned to the no 31 Squadron at this base. It became very busy with F-16s shortly after the departure of the Tornado. There were 4 F-16s which lined up at the holding in a very short time. These F-16s took off via the parallel runway also. I was able to shoot a few very good head-on shots during the line up of the F-16s. This resulted in a number of excellent photos which are not common at Volkel. Another formation of 4 F-16s appeared at the same holding area shortly after the departure of the F-16s. Photographing the F-16s on the parallel runway is really great. Three more F-16s left right after the second take-off wave. There were no dual F-16s involved in the afternoon flight. There was only a dual F-16 inbound which came from a different location. It started to rain after the departure of the last F-16s; therefore I decided to go home after the departure wave. The score today was very good. The result of this day at Volkel was 14 different F-16s and 1 Tornado Gr4. I was very satisfied with this result.

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