The Netherlands cannot take over from Belgium with regards to aerial operations against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria next July. This was announced by the Dutch Defence Minister, Jeannie Hennis-Plasschaert. However, she did say the F-16 might be able to take part at the beginning of 2018.
The Dutch air force needs more time to prepare its combat planes and staff, Mrs Hennis explained in a letter to the Second Chamber (the La Haye Parliament’s lower Chamber).
The F-16 chaser bombers took part in operations against IS (Daech is its Arab acronym) from October to June 2016. They used the Azraq base in Jordan.
Six F-16 and around a hundred staff were relieved by a Belgian division last July, for a year. There is a system known as “flip-flop” by soldiers where the two air forces relieve each other. The Netherlands have provided a contingent of 30 people to protect the Jordan base.
Belgium had planned to end the operation known as “Desert Falcon” on the 1st of July. They participated between October 2014 and June 2015. They are still planning to stick to that plan, according to military sources.
Mrs Hennis has said the F-16s could return to Jordan on the 1st of January 2018.