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Project Disposal F-16; Volkel, August 29, 2011

Dutch F-16s leave for Chile; Text and Photograph’s by Alex van Noye

On Monday, August 29, 2011, I attended the departure of 5 Dutch F-16s which would fly to Chile. These F-16s have been sold to Chile by the Divestment Project F-16 (Project Afstoting F-16, PAF). These aircraft are the latest machines in a total delivery of 18 aircraft. 18 other F-16s left for Chile previously.

After the closure of Twenthe Air Base in 2004, it was decided to sell a part of the Dutch F-16 fleet. A batch of 18 aircraft was for sale. These aircraft were purchased by the Chilean government after a period of 1.5 years. The 18 aircraft were withdrawn from use by the abolition of the no 315 Squadron at Twenthe Air Base. The Dutch government signed the agreement with the Chileans to deliver 18 aircraft on December 16, 2005. The F-16s would leave to Chile in 3 batches of 6 aircraft. The delivery of these aircraft took place in 2006 and 2007. All F-16s departed from Twenthe Air Base. The aircraft were all painted in the Chilean colors and they were all equipped with new serials according to the Chilean system. All the aircraft still had the Dutch serials during their departure, because the aircraft were flown by Dutch pilots. These numbers were pasted with stickers over the original Chilean serials. Also, the Chilean star on the tail of the F-16s was masked and replaced by a Dutch Air Force emblem on the back of the fuselage. The first batch of F-16s departed from Twenthe Air Base on September 4, 2006. The planes which had left were the; J-141 (730), J-194 (722), J-633 (721), J-656 (733), J-657 (736) and J-885 (732). The numbers in parentheses are the new Chilean registration numbers. Half a year later, on April 5, 2007, the second batch of F-16s left for Chile. The aircraft which left this time, were the; J-137 (726), J-139 (731), J-205 (729), J-649 (737), J-652 (734) and the J-878 (724). The last batch left another three months later on July 3, 2007. This batch consisted of the; J-143 (725), J-211 (738), J-360 (723), J-619 (728), J-622 (727) and J-655 (735). All F-16s flew from the Netherlands to Grand Canaria. Here they planned an intermediate refuelling stop. After the fuel stop, the F-16s flew further to Brazil to make another fuel stop in Salvador- Deputado, Luis Eduardo Magellan. The last part of the flight was from the Brazilian base to Antofagasta/Cerro Moreno. This base is the new home of the former Dutch F-16s. The second set of F-16s was prepared for sale in 2009. This time the buyer was Jordan. In total, the Jordanian government bought 6 F-16BMs of

the Royal Netherlands Air Force. These aircraft departed to Jordan on July 28, 2009 from Leeuwarden Air Base. The F-16s which left were the; J-267 (130), J-269 (131), J-270 (132), J-650 (133), J-653 (134) and J-654 (135). Another set of major cutbacks in defense was announced in 2008. Again 18 F-16s were withdrawn from use. These F-16s came also for sale. The Dutch and Chilean government made again an agreement for the delivery of 18 Dutch F-16s. Again, the F-16s were delivered in 3 batches of 6 aircraft. The first batch of 6 F-16s departed from Leeuwarden Air Base to Chile on November 4, 2010. The aircraft which left were the; J-138 (757), J-192 (752), J-198 (753), J-207 (755), J-864 (747) and J-869 (749). The second delivery of the program took place on April 4, 2011. A batch of 5 F-16s left from Volkel Air Base to Chile. Originally there were six F-16s in the batch, but the J-627 was forced to land due to a technical issue during the flight. The F-16 turned back to the Netherlands. The 5 other aircraft were the; J-204 (754), J-617 (741), J-636 (744), J-648 (746) and J-867 (748). A day later, the J-058 (758) was provided as compensation for the J-627. The J-627 would be delivered during the third batch. The third and final delivery to the Chileans was planned on August 29, 2011. One of the F-16s was also this time broken during start up. It was again the J-627. The last F-16s which left were the following 5 aircraft; J-203 (745), J-365 (756), J-620 (742), J-874 (750) and J-875 (751). These aircraft departed from Volkel Air Base. The intention was that the J-627 (743) would depart one day later to join the other 5 F-16s.

When I arrived at 8 am at Volkel Air Base, there were already some people waiting at the parking lot. The goal of the visit today at Volkel was to photograph the departure of the 5 PAF F-16s. The weather today was a bit cloudy, but not bad at all. After a short introduction, we left to the first location on the base. We arrived at the Safari Park within 5 minutes. We went by bus to this location. The 2 special paint F-16s of the no 311 Squadron and no 312 Squadron were present on the platform at this location. We were able to capture both F-16s extensively on photo. One of the crew chiefs opened the canopy of both aircraft for us. Both units are currently 60 years old. Although no 311 Squadron is not longer an active unit, they painted an F-16 for this event. The F-16s of the no 311 Squadron are withdrawn from use since the cutbacks on May 9, 2011. We went by bus to the head of the runway after a photosession of 30 minutes on the platform. We were positioned next to the check point in front of the blast wall. This was a very nice location for shooting the departing F-16s. There were no other F16 flights scheduled at Volkel due to the departure of the Chilean F-16s. We were lucky, because 2 Tornados of JBG-33 from Büchel would arrive in the morning hours. These two aircraft came here for an exercise at Volkel.

The 5 Chilean F-16s were already warming up during the landing of the Tornados. It did not take long before the first F-16s appeared from between the trees. A total of four F-16s parked on the holding area which was located in front of us. The shooting was very easy under ideal conditions. Fortunately, the weather looked good. We had many clouds over the field at the beginning of the morning. The F-16s looked amazing. They were all neatly repainted and they wore the Chilean blue area on the tail. The mission badge of the PAF project was pasted over the Chilean star. The serials of the F-16s were covered under the Dutch serial numbers of the aircraft. The ferry flight was made by Dutch pilots. The F-16s will receive their Chilean serial numbers officially after the delivery. The fifth F-16 had a special mission badge on its tail which symbolized the last ferry flight of the F-16s. Also the Russian Il-76 left after the departure of the F-16s. I was very pleased with today’s results of the F-16s and Il-76. This short and powerful visit brought me another great series of photos.

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