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  • Writer's pictureLudo Mennes

2022 313 Squadron is back in the air!

Updated: Jan 8, 2023

Lt.Col. Van Hussen receives the squadron standard from the new ACC commander Commodore Van Deventer, copyright MoD

On June 30th, 2022 at 3.35 pm the first four F-35A Lightning II aircraft arrived at Volkel Airbase. It marked the re-establishment of the 313 Squadron, after it stood down as a F-16 unit in December 2020. Since the start of 2022 the squadron had been based at Leeuwarden Air Base to train the future pilots and get familiar with the new 5th generation jet. In the coming months of 2022 the unit will receive a further six F-35's and five more aircraft in 2023 bringing the squadron to a full strength of 15 jets.

The first F-35A for 313 Squadron arriving from Leeuwarden Airbase after an overflight of the base

313 Squadron "Tigers"

The 313 Squadron is the Dutch tiger squadron and full member of NATO Tigers Association. The squadron has a long history dating back to 1952 when it was established and flew the T-33 as an Operational Conversion Unit from Volkel Air Base. In 1959 the unit was de-activated, however again activated in 1972 operating the Northrop NF-5 Freedom Fighter from Twenthe Air Base again as an operational training unit.

A four ship NF-5As of 313 Squadron in the different color schemes, copyright RNLAF

313 Squadron flew the NF-5 Freedom Fighter until 1988 when it converted to the F-16 Fighting Falcon. In 1990 the original squadron badge was changed to a tiger and the unit became a member of NATO Tigers Association.

In 2004 the Ministry of Defence made the decision to close Twenthe Air Base and disband its two operational squadrons. However the future brightened when the decision was made to add an extra squadron to Volkel Air Base.

313 Squadron F-16MLU with toned down tiger badge, this particular jet carries a MiG kill under the canopy

Only two days after the disbandment ceremony at Twenthe Air Base, the squadron was again re-established at Volkel.

In late 2020 the F-16s, pilots and airmen were all transfered to 312 Squadron, and the unit started to operate under the 3yy Squadron designation to prepare for the arrival of the F-35 Lightning II.

One of the newly arrived F-35s on loan from 322 Sq with the characteristic tower of Volkel in the background

With the official arrival of the F-35s, Volkel Air Base now has two squadrons with two jet fighter types: 312 squadron flying the F-16 and 313 squadron flying the F-35. For the next two years, 312 squadron will keep on flying the F-16, and after retirement of this aircraft type, they will convert to the F-35.

At the same time as the first aircraft landed, the Air Combat Command (ACC) was officially established. This command is responsible for the airbases Leeuwarden and Volkel and the Air Operations Centre at Nieuw Milligen and lead by Commodore Johan "Cake" van Deventer. The new commander received the ACC banner from the commander of the Royal Netherlands Air Force Lt. General Luyt.

After this ceremony, overflight and landing of the first aircraft, the commander handed over the 313 Squadron standard to the squadron commander Lt.Colonel "Attila" Van Hussen.

The first F-35A for 313 Squadron, piloted by the squadron commander, receives a wet welcome at Volkel Air Base, copyright MoD

We wish 313 Squadron many happy landings!

The first four F-35s arrive for the overflight of Volkel Air Base during the official ceremony

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