RNLAF 323 F-16 Squadron
Why this page…
A big part of the 80's I spent working in the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF). In 1984 I was drafted and spend more than a year on the 323 squadron at Airbase Leeuwarden (EHLW) as a member of the F-16 Navigation crew. I loved the fast atmosphere which comes with an F-16 airbase, so I decided to sign up for 6 more years. I had to leave the squadron because I started working as a "Specialist Air Trafic Control". In the Air Force I've lost my hart to aviation, the military side in particular! Diana's home is where it all started, so a little tribute is in place! If you are looking for the official wesite of the 323 sqn, follow this link.
Diana, goddess of the hunt
In the tasks of the Dutch 323 squadron the following quality's of the squadron are revealed: improvisation talent, hard work and great skills. On this, the squadron-symbol is based. This symbol symbolizes the goddess of the hunt, Diana.
The 1st Fightersquadron
When in 1949 the first fighterjets of the type Gloster Meteor MK4 arrived in the Netherlands, they decided to start a fighterschool on Airbase Twente named 'Het Eerste Jachtvliegsquadron' (The First Fightersquadron). They changed the name on November 15th of the same year into 323 squadron, which had become the first squadron in the Netherlands operating with fighterjets. On January 23th 1949 the squadron moved to Airbase Leeuwarden, operating with 10 Meteors.
Starting May 1950 the 323 squadron was responsible for giving weapon-training to pilots who just finished Fighterschool on Airbase Twente. As a result, the squadron was placed back to Twente, but only for a short period. Because a big part of the weapon-training took place above the Northsee, the squadron was operating a lot from Airbase Leeuwarden. As a logical result, the squadron was placed back to Leeuwarden in April 1952, this time for good. In 1957 the Meteor was replaced by the Hawker Hunter. Till 1960 the most important task of the squadron was weapon-training. They also had an operational task: air-defence. In 1960 it became their only task. Due to the conversion on the Lockheed F-104G Starfighter the squadron became non-active from 1963 till 1964. From 1964 to 1982 the squadron flew with this, for that time, very modern aircraft. Since April 1st 1982 the 323 squadron has the operational status with the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon (aka Viper). Responsible for the conversion on the F-16 was the Transitie en Conversie Afdeling (TCA). In 1986 this unit integrated with the 323 squadron. As a result, the 323 squadron became responsible for the conversion-training of pilots switching from the NF-5 to the F-16. They lost the operational FBA status (Air-to-ground), but kept the air defense status. The conversion-task ended in 1992.
323 Squadron now!
In that same year, the squadron got the TACTESS-task for all F-16 pilots in the Royal Netherlands Air Force. TACTESS stands for TACtical Training Evaluation and Standardization Squadron, and it's main responsibility is the extended training of F-16 pilots. To achieve this, they develop and execute several tactical training programs. Therefore there are a lot of international exercises on Airbase Leeuwarden. The 323/TACTES squadron guards over the tactical standardization within the F-16 squadrons using yearly evaluations. Furthermore the 323/TACTES squadron organizes an international weapon-instruction-training every two year, and are responsible for the flightinstructor-training. Another responsibility is the implementation of new weapon-systems and avionics (testprograms). Beside the TACTESS role, the 323/TACTES squadron is a normal operational F-16 Squadron, with an air defense and a ground-attack task.
The F-16 fleet of the Royal Netherlands Air Force has been modernized under de name "Mid Life Update" (MLU). On the outside it's still an F-16, but in fact it's a whole new aircraft. For example: new software, weaponsystems, detection- and navigationsystems. You can compare the MLU F-16 with the F-16 C/D, and will be operational at least till 2012.
Text: with thanks to the 323 squadron.
I would like to dedicate this page to Leo 'Moist' Vogt, F-16 pilot from the 323 squadron, who was killed in a midair collision above Canada in 1990.