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75 Years 298 Squadron; Oirschotse Heide, April 13, 2020

Chinooks of the Royal Netherlands Air Force; Text, Videos & Photograph's by Alex van Noye

On April 16, 2020, it was exactly 75 years ago that the 298 Squadron of the Royal Netherlands Air Force was founded. The unit was founded on April 16, 1945 at Gilze-Rijen Air Base as the no 6 Dutch Auster Squadron and was equipped with six Auster Mk.III's. The name of the unit would change during the move to Ypenburg Air Base as a part of the Light Aircraft Group (GPLV) on March 1, 1950. On March 1, 1950, the unit was renamed as the no 298 AOP (Air Observation Post). However, as the official founding date of the 298 squadron, the founding date of the no 6 Dutch Auster Squadron was used. The no 298 Squadron moved soon to Soesterberg Air Base. Also Soesterberg was not for a long period the home base of the unit; they moved to Deelen Air Base in 1951. The Auster remained in service until 1953 within the no 298 Squadron. The aircraft was replaced by the Piper Cub in 1952. This aircraft was used for artillery reconnaissance and passenger transport. The Piper Cub remained in active service until 1968. In addition to the Piper Cub, the squadron was also equipped with the Hiller R23 Raven in 1955. This was the first helicopter in service at the Dutch Air Force. Two years later the squadron moved again to Ypenburg Air Base. The no 298 Squadron received its first Alouette II in 1959. This helicopter entered service to perform the SAR task. One of the new flights which were added to the no 298 Squadron was the SAR flight. The SAR flight would move to Leeuwarden Air Base and was later renumbered as the no 303 SAR Squadron. The no 298 Squadron moved back to Deelen Air Base, because Ypenburg Air Base was closed due to budget cuts. The Alouette II was replaced by the Alouette III in 1964. The no 298 Squadron moved to Soesterberg Air Base in 1966. The unit switched completely to the Alouette III.

The Alouette III was after a period of more than 30 years of operational service replaced by the Boeing CH-47D Chinook in 1995. The Royal Netherlands Air Force decided to follow a new course in 1995. The helicopters would play a bigger role within the Royal Netherlands Air Force. The current Helicopter Group (GPH) is converted to the new model. The name of this organization became Tactische Helikopter Groep Koninklijke Luchtmacht (THG-KLu) (Tactical Helicopter Group Royal Netherlands Air Force). The no 298 Squadron received thirteen Chinook helicopters in this new organization. The first seven helicopters were used helicopters which were purchased in Canada. These helicopters were modified to the CH-47D standard. The last 6 helicopters were newly built by Boeing. The no 298 Squadron received with the arrival of the Chinook the heavy transport duty within the THG-KLu. The core job of the no 298 Squadron is the transportation of the 11LMB (11 Airmobile Brigade), the Marine Corps (MARNS) and the Special Operations Forces (KCT). Another key task is the transportation of personnel and equipment, but also transportation of injured people and combat support. The unit can also support international humanitarian operations in crisis areas. Since 2008 when the Defense Helicopter Command (DHC) was founded the 298 Squadron moved to its current location Gilze-Rijen Air Base. The Royal Netherlands Air Force has currently a total of 17 Chinook helicopters in use. Six additional helicopters were delivered of the type CH-47F in 2012 and 2013. The eleven remaining green CH-47D models will be replaced soon by new built C-47F helicopters at the 298 Squadron.

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