NL KLu F 16 148th FS Frank Crebas Photography 640End of Dutch F-16 training in US

On 29 July 2022, the Koninklijke Luchtmacht (KLu, Royal Netherlands Air Force) celebrated the end of an era as they landed their last F-16 Fighting Falcons at Tucson International Airport (AZ) / Morris ANG Base, culminating a 32-year international training relationship.

The F-16s were operated by the 148th Fighter Squadron Kickin' Ass at the Arizona air base. The Dutch were the first in a long line of foreign partners to train at Morris ANG Base, flying an average of 2,000 hours per year in the F-16 and graduating four student pilots every nine months.

In 1985, the 148th was redesignated as the 148th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron and was assigned to the 162d Tactical Fighter Training Group at Tucson International Airport (AZ). The 148th TFTS was tasked with pilot training for the foreign air forces as part of the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme, although the squadron has also been tasked with training F-16 crew for the USAF and the Air National Guard both advanced and beginner training. Through the years numerous countries have detached personnel to receive advanced training by the squadron.

The first to make use of these was the KLu and the training used a mix of USAF F-16 as well as some Dutch F-16s. Eventually a total of eight KLu F-16s were on hand. In 1991, the squadron was officially tasked with a NATO F-16 training mission. The squadron was re-designated as the 148th Fighter Squadron on 15 March 1992 and the training role continued. By May 1995 all the Klu F-16s had departed Tucson for their native country.

A new contract with the KLu started in 2010. The KLu already had a detachment with the 162nd Fighter Squadron of the Ohio Air National Guard at Springfield ANG Base. This unit was to lose its F-16 task and so the KLu needed to search for another training site. The USAF then proposed the 148th FS. So an influx of Dutch F-16AM/BM fighters began December 2010. The first class of about ten pilots graduated in late April 2011.

The eleven F-16s (5x F-16AM and 6x F-16BM) have been sold to Draken International to act as red air forces in adversary training for the USAF and international partners. The aircraft involved are:

F-16AM: J-004, J-010, J-018, J-019 and J-366
F-16BM: J-064, J-067, J-209, J-210, J-369 and J-882

Photo by Frank Crebas (@frankcrebas)

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