The Royal Netherlands Air Force is preparing a deployment of their F-35 fighter jets in support of NATO’s enhanced Air Policing mission in the northeast.
Eight F-35s are going to deploy to Malbork, Poland, to join NATO’s mission bolstering the defensive posture along the eastern flank in February and March. While four of the fifth-generation fighters will be employed in support of policing the skies in the region, the other four aircraft will conduct training and exercise drills with Allies, ready to augment the defensive mission when required.
“With these eight modern fighter aircraft, the Netherlands contribute to NATO’s Air Policing and Air Shielding missions in deterring and if required defending Allied territory in the Baltic region,” said Lieutenant Colonel Guido Schols, Commander of the Netherlands’ F-35 detachment. “We are also assuring our Allies and demonstrating our commitment to the NATO Alliance,” he added.
The Netherlands regularly contribute to Allied Air Policing missions. At home, they have shared the task of safeguarding the skies above the BENELUX area together with Belgian Air Force F-16s since 2017. Abroad, they deployed their F-16s to Siauliai in support of Baltic Air Policing in 2005 and 2017 and to Malbork in 2014 right after Russia’s invasion of Crimea. On the southeastern flank, the Netherlands completed a two-month F-35 deployment to Bulgaria in May, 2022.
While deployed to Marlbork, the Netherlands form part of the current rotation of three other Allies who operate fighters out of the Baltic region: Poland and France fly F-16 and Rafale fighters out of Siauliai, Lithuania, and Germany launches their Eurofighters out of Ämari, Estonia.