For the first time F-35 jets safeguard BENELUX airspace

Story by Allied Air Command Public Affairs Office based on information provided by the Royal Netherlands Air Force

The Netherlands began flying their F-35s under NATO Air Policing over the BENELUX States on January 25, 2024 in a further step to integrate fifth-generation assets into standing defensive missions.


Two Royal Netherlands Air Force F-35 fifth-generation fighter jets together with two F-16s are now on standby to ensure the protection of the airspace over Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg (BENELUX) ready to perform 24/7 quick reaction alert (interceptor) duties.

Jets from the Netherlands and Belgium are taking turns, flying from their national based, to ensure security of the BENELUX airspace. Until May 9, the Netherlands jets will assume this mission with their modern F-35s for the first time. The jets are ready within minutes to launch under NATO Air Policing rules to respond to unidentified aircraft or other situations in the airspace over the three western Allies.


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The F-35s are flying out of Leeuwarden Air Base, the Netherlands, controlled by the Air Operations Control Station at Nieuw Milligen which is integrated into NATO-wide Air Policing arrangements via the Allied Combined Air Operations Centre at Uedem, Germany.

The Netherlands deployed their F-35s to NATO’s enhanced Air Policing mission in Malbork, Poland, in 2023, and the modern jets regularly fly during training with other Allies and Partners.
The Belgian Air Force has provided interceptors for the BENELUX Air Policing before, their F-16 fighter jets are stationed at air bases Kleine-Brogel and Florennes. The mission in Belgium controlled by the Control and Reporting Centre at Beauvechain and also integrated into NATO arrangements.


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Since January 2017, BENELUX Air Policing for the airspace of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg means that the Belgian Air Component and the Royal Netherlands Air Force are taking turns to ensure QRA (I) fighter jets are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year under NATO’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense System.



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