Leeuwarden Air Base

Leeuwarden Air Base
Flag of the Royal Netherlands Air Force.svg
Vliegbasis Leeuwarden
Leeuwarden, Friesland in Netherlands
An aerial view of Leeuwarden Air Base during 2018
Coat of Arms Royal Netherlands Air Force Leeuwarden Air Base.svg
Motto Amicis inimicis promptus
(Latin for 'Prompt friends become enemies')
Leeuwarden is located in Netherlands
Location in the Netherlands
Coordinates53°13′43″N 05°45′38″E / 53.22861°N 5.76056°E / 53.22861; 5.76056Coordinates: 53°13′43″N 05°45′38″E / 53.22861°N 5.76056°E / 53.22861; 5.76056
TypeMilitary airfield
Site information
OwnerMinistry of Defence
OperatorRoyal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF)
Site history
Built1938 (1938) (as civil airport)
In use1949 – present
EventsExercise Frisian Flag (annual)
Airfield information
IdentifiersIATA: LWR, ICAO: EHLW, WMO: 062700
Elevation0.91 metres (3 ft 0 in) AMSL
Direction Length and surface
05/23 2,452.1 metres (8,045 ft) Asphalt
09/27 1,999.7 metres (6,561 ft) Asphalt
Source: Military Aeronautical Information Publication Netherlands[1]

Leeuwarden Air Base (Dutch: Vliegbasis Leeuwarden) is a military airbase used by the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) - Dutch: Koninklijke Luchtmacht (KLu), (IATA: LWR, ICAO: EHLW). The airbase was formerly one of the two F-16 Fighting Falcon bases of the RNLAF. The airbase lies northwest of the capital of Friesland, Leeuwarden.

Leeuwarden Air Base is also one of the three military airbases (together with Gilze-Rijen Air Base and Volkel Air Base) that organise the twice-in-three-years Luchtmachtdagen ('Air Force Days') of the Royal Netherlands Air Force, consisting of air shows and static exhibits. In 2006, 2008, 2011 and 2016 Leeuwarden Air Base hosted these public demonstration days.


Sud-Aviation SE3160 Alouette III. These were used in the Search and Rescue (SAR) role at Leeuwarden until 1994. The aircraft is preserved at Soesterberg AF Museum.[2]

The airport of Leeuwarden was built in 1938, and was used as an airport between Schiphol and Eelde. The airport was used only infrequently at first, but that changed after the Germans invaded the Low Countries in 1940. The Luftwaffe used the airport as a base for their fighter aircraft (including the Messerschmitt Bf 109) and bombers. From the airbase the Germans could reach Great Britain. During World War II, and especially on the 16th and 17 September 1944, the airbase was heavily bombed by the Royal Air Force.

After the liberation of the Netherlands the airbase was repaired, and during the first post-war years it was used as a civil airport, and KLM ran a commercial line to Schiphol. In 1949, Leeuwarden became a dedicated military airbase.

During the 1970s Vliegbasis Leeuwarden was used as a temporary home of the 32nd Tactical Fighter Squadron of the U.S. Air Force. Normally stationed at Soesterberg airbase, they needed to move temporarily in order to allow repairs to the runway.[3]

Two F-16 squadrons were based at Leeuwarden Air Base: the "swing-role" 322 Squadron RNLAF and the Tactical Training Evaluation and Standardisation (TACTES) 323 Squadron RNLAF. 323 Squadron stood down as an F-16 Squadron on October 31, 2014 (passing the TACTES task to 322 Squadron on the same day) before being reinstated as the F-35A Test Squadron on November 5, 2014 at Eglin Air Force Base.

In addition, Leeuwarden Air Base was the home base of 303 Squadron RNLAF (Search and Rescue), part of the newly formed Defence Helicopter Command (DHC). It employed three Agusta Bell AB 412SP helicopters before its stand-down on January 1, 2015.

Role and operations

A Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon "J-135". Note the depiction of the Frisian flag and the 322 Squadron mascot Polley Grey on the tail.

Leeuwarden Air Base was one of two Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16AM Fighting Falcon bases, which are being replaced by F-35A Lightning II, the first of which arrived at Leeuwarden on 31 October 2019.[4]

The base is the location of the Fighter Weapons Instructor Training (FWIT) and the annual multinational NATO exercise "Frisian Flag". On March 31, 2015, six F-15C's from the 125th Fighter Wing of the Florida Air National Guard landed at Leeuwarden Air Base to take part in Frisian Flag 2015.[5]

Four MQ-9 Reapers with a Ground Station will be fully air-deployable and self-supporting for global operations will be based at Leeuwarden from 2020.[6] Future use by public services related to homeland security and surveillance (including the National Police; and customs, naval and environmental surveillance) is also planned.

Based units

Units based at Leeuwarden.[7]

Royal Netherlands Air Force

See also


  1. ^ Defensie, Ministerie van (2018-01-15). "MilAIP: information for the aviation sector - Defensie.nl". english.defensie.nl. Retrieved 2020-12-02.
  2. ^ "Google Maps".
  3. ^ Member of US Air Force
  4. ^ "Vliegbasis Leeuwarden". Koninklijke Luchtmacht. Retrieved 17 May 2020.
  5. ^ "The U.S. Air Force is deploying 12 F-15 jets to Europe as first Air National Guard theater security package". theaviationist.com. 27 March 2015. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  6. ^ "First Dutch Crews Fly MQ-9 Reaper". www.defense-aerospace.com. 17 January 2019. Retrieved 2 December 2020.
  7. ^ "Squadrons Vliegbasis Leeuwarden". Koninklijke Luchtmacht. Retrieved 2 December 2020.

External links

  • Vliegbasis Leeuwarden - official website (Dutch)
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