RAMSTEIN, Germany – The Royal Netherlands Air Force is deploying two 5th generation fighter aircraft to Bulgaria in April and May to support NATO's Air Policing activities in the Black Sea region.
All efforts are aimed at de-escalating the situation through dialogue and diplomacy ... it is important to be prepared for the undesirable scenario that conversations fail
"All efforts are aimed at de-escalating the situation through dialogue and diplomacy. Ultimately, this is in the interest of all parties involved. At the same time, it is important to be prepared for the undesirable scenario that conversations fail", said Kajsa Ollongren, the Netherland's Minister of Defence.
The Netherlands armed forces plan to deploy two of its modern F-35 fighter aircraft and support personnel to Bulgaria under NATO's enhanced Air Policing mission.
The Netherlands are the first Ally to employ 5th generation fighter aircraft in this mission in the southeast of Europe underscoring their contribution to NATO's collective defence.
A Royal Netherlands Air Force F-35 touching down at Leeuwarden Air Base, the Netherlands,
Archive photo courtesy Royal Netherlands Air Force.
A Royal Netherlands Air Force F-35 taxing at Leeuwarden Air Base, the Netherlands, Archive photo courtesy Royal Netherlands Air Force.
At home, Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16 fighters have conducted NATO Air Policing above the BENELUX area with the Belgian Air Force since 2017. The Netherlands deployed their F-16s to lead NATO's Baltic Air Policing in 2005 and 2017 and augmented the mission in 2014.
Across Europe, over 60 NATO jets are on high alert at all times, ready to respond to unannounced military flights, as well as to civilian aircraft losing communication with air-traffic controllers for any reason – which could range from technical problems to hijacking. NATO has two air operations centres – one in Germany, covering northern Europe, and one in Spain covering the south – which monitor all air movements across Europe.