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Year Review 2021
Latest update: December 2021
2021 continued where 2020 ended. The lockdown set in December continued and was extended several times. Unfortunately it lead to the cancellation of planned trip to the United States. Air shows were also cancelled throughout Europe. It wasn't until September that the situation returned to normal.

Below you will find an overview of photographs made in 2021.
Two AH-64D Apache helicopters assigned to 301 squadron at work during sunset at National Park De Hoge Veluwe.
Exercise Tactical Electronic Warfare (TAC EW) was held over the Central and Eastern Netherlands from January 25 until February 12. Defence Helicopter Command 300 and 301 squadrons were trained in avoiding detection by enemy forces.
On January 25 two Apaches were operating within National Park De Hoge Veluwe.

Tags: Netherlands, Boeing Defense H-64 Apache
F-16 without bombs at Volkel February 4.

Low approach by a 336 squadron Hercules. KC-30M T-056 about to depart Eindhoven for Cologne-Bonn.
301 squadron used the Arnhemse heide
for refuelling while conducting their
training at several low flying areas located at the Veluwe region. All four Apaches serviced at the FARP

White-out training by a 300 squadron Cougar and members of 11 Air Mobile Brigade.
Another Cougar during a sling load training mission. A former RAF Jet Provost T.5A is preserved in the city of Voorthuizen. A few miles away a former Polish AF Mig-21MF is preserved in Barneveld.
Former RNLAF Alouette II preserved at the Alouette Museum Barneveld.    
Annually the Royal Netherlands Air Force schedules its live bombing training mission at the Vliehors range located on Waddeneiland Vlieland. Training with live 500-pound bombs is done in the January/February and October/November timeframe.  In February two weeks were scheduled for the F-16 squadrons to conduct their live bombing missions.
Because of the weather conditions all missions were cancelled. During a visit to Volkel a C-130H from nearby Eindhoven air base made an approach. At Eindhoven the NATO MMU third KC-30M (Airbus A330MRTT) departed to Forward Operating Base+ (FOB+) Cologne-Bonn air base. The aircraft was delivered to Main Operating Base Eindhoven but is one of the aircraft to be based in Germany. At Cologne T-056 was converted to the Medevac configuration.

In support of exercise TAC EW a Forward Arming and Refuelling Point (FARP) was establised. Just outside Deelen AB at EHR 61 (Arnhemse Heide) the FARP was set up. Two Cougars and four Apaches came in during the afternoon.

At the same location a week later the condition were totally different. As it had snowed it allowed the RNLAF helicopter squadrons to train white-out flying conditions. Normally this type of training is conducted in Scandinavia (Norway) but due to COVID-19 this was not possible. The winter conditions, which were once normal but now more an exception, provided the opportunity to train in The Netherlands. On February 12, 300 squadron flew two missions training together with their RNLA 11 Air Mobile Brigade colleagues.

Tags: Netherlands, Airbus Helicopters AS532U2 Cougar, Boeing Defense H-64 Apache
A slingery exercise was conducted by  298 and 300 squadrons together with the 11 Air Mobile Brigade colleagues.
A F-16 almost ready for departure on the  day a 62nd AW C-17A visited Volkel. A RNLAF at Eindhoven AB on March 15 
At the same day the first 101st CAB helicopters arrived at Eindhoven AB. a CN235 assingned to 427 SOS made a 
short stop at Volkel.
local F-16's lined up between the runways   
On March 3 the Edese heide was the location for a slingery exercise. Throughout the year crews from 298 (Chinook) and 300 (Cougar) squadrons train sling load operations with several companies of 11 Air Mobile Brigade. This time a larger sling exercise was organized. The first one since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Two Chinooks and one Cougar flew the loads from Deelen air base to the Edese heide. To practice night flying operations these loads were transported back to Deelen in the dark.

US Army Operation Atlantic Resolve aviation rotation six came to an end. 101 Combat Aviation Brigade "Wings of Destiny", 101 Airborne Division (Air Assault) "Screaming Eagles" arrived in Europe at the end of June 2020. Its helicopters based in Southeastern Europe were flown to a port in Greece. Its other helicopters which were stationed in Germany and Poland were flown to The Netherlands. On March 15 the flights from Illesheim, Germany to the port of Rotterdam, Netherlands were planned. All would stage through Eindhoven AB. Due to the poor weather conditions in Germany only a few made it the Eindhoven on the 15th with only one flight arriving before sunset. The next day the helicopters who stayed behind in Germany made the journey. Before heading to Eindhoven on the 15th Volkel AB was visited for the USAF C-17A Globemaster III assigned to the 62nd Airlift Wing visited as well as the resident F-16s. The last are gradually withdrawn from service with the arrival of more F-35As.

Visitor of the year award??? Well at least for Volkel air base as other award candidates visited The Netherlands. Back to Volkel an United States Air Force 427 Special Operations Squadron which arrived for a short stopover with one of their CN235s. Although aircraft assigned to several USAF Special Operations Squadrons as well as US Army aviation regiments overfly The Netherlands regularly on their way from/to the United States they don't stop at an airbase or airport. After the Casa departed, we headed to GLV-V were we were able capture an Apache and Chinook.

Tags: Netherlands, United States, Airbus Helicopters AS532U2 Cougar, Boeing Defense H-47 Chinook
At Eindhoven a Royal Canadian Air Force (A310) and CC-177 Globemaster III in support of a Royal Canadian Navy frigate docked in Den Helder. Where at De Kooy the detached CH-148 Cyclone made training flights.
Another candidate for the visitor of the year award. Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Halifax left Canada for a sixth month deployment in January. On April 12, 2021 HMCS Halifax arrived in RNLN harbor Den Helder for a scheduled two-week visit. Its based CH-148 Cyclone helicopter was flown to maritime airfield De Kooy and flew its missions from there: CH-148 Cyclone temporarily stationed at Maritime Airfield De Kooy

On April 20 two Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft visited Eindhoven AB. First to arrive was the VIP CC-150 a few hours later followed by a CC-177. The later departed the same day.

Tags: Canada, Airbus Defence A310MRTT (CC-150), Boeing Defense C-17A (CC-177), Sikorsky H-92 (CH-148)
The Indian Air Force transport fleet was
tasked to pick up medical supplies
around the world. One mission was flown to The Netherlands where a C-17A arrived at Schiphol and after being loaded departed back to India.
A C-12U-3 assigned to the 204th MIB arrived at Rotterdam airport and   departed sometime later.
All three Gilze-Rijen based Defence Helicopter Command squadrons were flying Weapon Instructor Standardization missions which saw the new CH-47F MYII CAAS Chinook making its exercise debut 
An Apache leaving Rijswijk.    
The month May saw the Indian Air Force flying COVID-19 missions with the C-17A Globemaster to Europe. On May 10 one of her Globemasters visited Schiphol international airport: Indian Air Force C-17A visits Schiphol international airport

Another nice visiting aircraft. This time a Beechcraft C-12U-3 assigned to US Army, D/204th MIB (AR) stationed at Libby AAF, Fort Biggs, Texas. 204th MIB has several of its C-12 Huron aircraft deployed to Lithuania in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve. The Huron arrived at Rotterdam during one if its many transport missions the 204th MIB is tasked with.

The Defence Helicopter Command held its Weapon Instructor Standardization (WIS) exercise. Operating at non-standard locations the Apache, Chinook and Cougar crews were trained. This saw the helicopters operating at Rijswijk.

Tags: India, Boeing Defense, C-17AUnited States, United States Army, Beechcraft, C-12 Huron
11 Air Manoeuvre Brigade, 11LMB and RNLAF squadrons during their air assault demonstration at the 11LMB change of command ceremony held at Deelen with the helicopters photographed at the Arnhemse heide.
11 Luchtmobiele brigade (air mobile brigade) held their change of command ceremony on June 2. Together with their colleagues of 336 squadron (C-130 Hercules) and the Defence Helicopter Command 298, 300 and 301 squadrons (CH-47D Chinook, AS532-U2 Cougar and AH-64D Apache) members of the brigade performed a capability display at Deelen air base. Personnel and cargo were picked up at the Arnhemse heide (EHR 61).

Later in June 298 and 300 squadrons deployed to Beja air base in Portugal to take part in the annual Hot Blade exercise.
NATO MMU KC-30M on the ramp of Eindhoven air base. A Belgian Air Component SF-260D performing touch-and-goes One of the D-Day marked 37th AS C-130's.
The 37th AS sister squadron, 76th AS with one of their C-21A's on final approach. The Arnhemse heide saw one of the new 298 squadron Chinooks and personnel from 11 LMB conducting sling load training.
A visit was made to Eindhoven air base on July 12. Expected to arrive at the base were a pair of 37th Airlift Squadron / 86th Airlift Wing C-130J.30 Super Hercules aircraft as well as a C-21A from sister squadron 76th AS all based at Ramstein in Germany. We made our first stop at P4 (the well-known viewing location on top of the parking garage) from where NATO MMU T-057 could be photographed. An article covering the NATO Multinational MRTT Unit (MMU) was published by Scramble, no 505 June 2021. We then relocated to the runway 03 approach. First visitor was a Belgian Air Component SF-260D in anniversary colors assigned to CC-AIR based at Beauvechain. Then it was Ramstein time. First to arrive was one of their C-130's sporting the 75th anniversary of D-Day markings. Back in 2019 86th AW applied the D-Day stripes to several of their Hercules. The C-21A was the next visitor and after a short stop departed. The last visitor, during our stay, was the second C-130. Both would fly missions from the base during the week and departed back home on Friday.

On July 21 the new CH-47F MYII CAAS D-480 assigned to 298 squadron based at Gilze-Rijen flew to the Arnhemse heide. There the crew conducted a sling exercise with their RNLA army colleagues assigned to the Bewaargroep, 11 Supply Company, 11 Air Mobile Brigade. Using one, two and three slings and attaching a load directly underneath the Chinook several pallets were moved between two locations on the field.  As the grass had just been cut approaches caused green/grass-out conditions. Between the morning and afternoon exercises the Chinook refueled at Deelen air base. For the D-480 it was one of its first operational missions. Contrary to the first two Chinooks it was delivered directly to Gilze-Rijen Air Base. During July a fourth Chinook was transported from the USA through the port of Antwerp, Belgium to the Logistics Center Woensdrecht (LCW). At the LCW the helicopters are assembled. After the functional test flights finished the CH-47F's are delivered to 298 squadron.
The 174th ARS KC-135R almost ready for takeoff from Geilenkirchen.
Following one of the NATO E-3A AWACS aircraft operated by the NAEQ&CF.
"Batman" stayed behind on the apron and would leave to the USA the next week.
The JSTAR on the first day at Ramstein.
37th AS still flies C-130J.30s in the 75th anniversary of D-Day markings. A C-21A during one of its approaches after returning from a mission.
Active duty, AFRC, ANG, PACAF C-17 wings all took part in Operation Allies Refuge. A Slovakian Air Force L-410 visited Ramstein and left a few hours later departing directly towards the east. A Dover AFB 436th AW C-5M Super Galaxy at the end of its flight from the USA.
The first KC-10A to arrive at Ramstein with refugees from Afghanistan.

The 176th Wing has applied a wolf (left side) and Alaska state (right side) markings on their C-17 tails.
Wolf tail marking applied to C-17A 00-0174 assigned to 144th AS, 176 Wing. 517th AS, 3rd Wing is the associate unit flying the AK ANG aircraft when required.
A Hornet departing Payerne.  A Super Puma who had landed in Stans.  An EC635 training at home base Alpnach 
As TaktLwG 74 was deployed to Laage only three EF-2000's flew at Neuburg.  A UH-72A Lakota "yellow bird" departing Hohenfels. A Swiss AF Hornet taxies from the caverns at Meiringen. 
EC635's at Alpnach.
A F-5E on its way to start a mission at Payerne. A visiting Swiss Air Force PC-9 about to touch down at Payerne's runway. 
A Swiss PC-21 on approach at Emmen.    
August started with a visit to Geilenkirchen air base. Unfortunately, "Batman", a special marked KC-135R assigned to the Iowa ANG 174th ARS, 186th ARW "Bats" was unserviceable. His colleague left for the daily training refueling mission together with a NATO NAEW&CF E-3A AWACS. Air National Guard KC-135 wings are rotated for a two-week period at the base in Germany. Until the outbreak of COVID-19 the ANG squadrons were rotated every two weeks. During 2021 the rotations resumed. However, the deployments not being adjacent as they were before.

We checked the weather and based on that information decided to drive directly to Ramstein instead of visiting nearby
Cologne and Nörvenich. Ramstein is home to the 86th Airlift Wing (C-21A, C-37A, C-130J.30 assigned to the 37th and 76th Airlift Squadrons) and is a main transport hub for transport aircraft flying to/from the United States. Deployments and exercises are also supported and related to the first an E-8C JSTARS assigned to the 128th ACCS / 116th ACW, Georgia ANG has taken up residence at the base.

A few days prior to our arrival Operation Allies Refuge commenced. Several C-17's passed through Ramstein on their way to bases in the Middle East, Southeast Asia. At the base, to prove temporary shelter to refugees from Afghanistan, hangars cleared and tents erected. Many U.S. citizens, Special Immigrant Visa applicants and other vulnerable Afghans were airlifted from Kabul to Qatar, United Arab Emirates and from there to Ramstein. Several of the C-17A's flew airliner style missions between both locations while others were flying the trip to and from Afghanistan. To support the operation KC-10A Extender aircraft, assigned to 60th AMW and 305th AMW, deployed to RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk, United Kingdom. They started trips to the Middle East to Ramstein and back to RAF Mildenhall.

In support of the 37th AS stateside based wings augment the squadron with, often, two C-130's. Often these are C-130J.30 models, which are also operated by the 37th AS. This time a legacy C-130H assigned to 182nd AW, 169th AS "Defenders of Freedom" IL ANG stationed at Greater Peoria Regional AP, IL was on temporarily duty.

Our goal at Ramstein was to catch the E-8C JSTAR and of course some C-5's, C-17's and C-130's. As a result of Operation Allies Refuge we photographed a lot more Globemasters then we would have during a 'normal business day'. Almost all operational equipped C-17A wings were seen during our stay.

After a few days it was time to continue our journey which saw a unplanned visit to Switzerland. There the sun was shining while Germany would see two rainy days. Two days were spent at Payerne with one the first day a quick visit to Alpnach, Stans and Emmen. On Wednesday we visited the Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC), Team Falcon. An article covering the work of the Falcons will appear on this website.
Unfortunately, we had to cancel planned visits to the Kecskemét air base where the Hungarian Air Force held an air show in the weekend and some bases in Germany on our way back home.
The F-4E Phantom II marked as 32nd TFS made it back to the ramp. As well as a former RNLAF TF-104G Starfighter. Painted as RNLAF "H-4" the Alouette II is a former Belgian army helicopter.
Dutch Hercules leading the transport aircraft over Deelen air base. A Polish AF C295M joined the exercise for the air drop week. As well as three 317 AW C-130J.30's of which two were assigned to missions.
Dutch Hercules taking part in the WIC.  Together with Belgian F-16's  Dutch F-35A's 
and Norwegian Lightnings.  Germany participated with EF-2000's  Tornadoes (IDS and ECR)
and an A400M to support the WIC.     
The Nationaal Militair Museum (NMM - National Military Museum) organized its Zomeroffensief in the weekend of September 4-5. Aircraft normally preserved (stored) in their depot are towed to the ramp in front of the museum. This year only a few aircraft were moved from the depot. The Alouette II (former Belgian army) was new compared to previous editions.

September is the month of the annual Falcon Leap exercise. The two-week long exercise sees cargo and para drops take place over drop- and landing zones in both Belgium and The Netherlands. An article covering the exercise will appear on this website.

The annual Sanicole air show also takes place in September. Most aircraft are operated from nearby Kleine Brogel air base. A report can be visited here: Kleine-Brogel (Sanicole) spottersday.

The second phase of the Weapons Instructor Course started after the summer holidays. The last week of September and the first week of October saw the "Employment Phase" of the exercise. For this final phase "external participants" arrived at Leeuwarden air base. A report can be visited here: Weapons Instructor Course 2021.
Retro Brummel parked on the ramp of Eindhoven air base.

Old and new. While the Transall is in its final days the new NATO MMU A330MRTT will be around for years to come. Goodbye Transall. The last visit by a German Air Force Transall to The Netherlands on October 12.

The German Air Force bids farewell to its C-160D Transall in October 2021. One aircraft with serial 50+40 received a special color scheme to commemorate the 50 years of service of the transport aircraft within the Luftwaffe. Lufttransportgeschwader 63 (LTG 63 - Air Transport Wing 63) organized a goodbye Transall tour which saw "Retro Brummel" fly to German military bases and civilian airports. A spotterday was held at Hohn air base on September 23.

On October 12, the Transall made a visit to the European Air Transport Command (EATC) at Eindhoven air base. The EATC executed the missions of the German C-160 fleet since the start of the organization. In dreadful weather the Transall arrived and departed marking the last ever visit of the German Air Force C-160D to The Netherlands.

Based at Manching, Bavaria the Wehrtechnische Dienststelle 61 (WTD 61 - Defense Technical Office 61) operated the C-160D as test aircraft. At the time of writing, it was unknown when their Transall would be withdrawn from service.
D-101 and D-665 background on the ground at the Edese heide.
D-665 departing the low flying area for the last time with D-667 in the back.
D-667 arrived from Gilze-Rijen and flew a local mission before heading back home with her sisters.
A HH-60M arrives at Gilze-Rijen while his colleagues are on final approach. A UH-60L hovering to its parking spot at the end of runway 02-20.  The Apaches arrived in the dark. One of them about to land. 
Chinooks waiting to have their rotor blades attached.  One of the Blackhawks offloaded in Vlissingen. Three Apaches undergoing systems checks;
The month of November can be looked back to as helicopter month. On Friday November 12, the last three operational CH-47D Chinooks were training at the Edese- and Ginkelse heide. It later turned out that D-665 "Bigfoot" made its last flight. However, on Monday Bigfoot was active for the very last time. D-101 "Philly Connection" and D-667 "Rodney" soldier on until it is their time to be withdrawn from use.

The United States requested the Netherlands to provide Host Nation Support for its Combat Aviation Brigade rotation. At the end of November and into December the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade would start it movements to return to the USA while incoming 1st Air Cavalry Brigade would arrive in Europe. The brigades helicopters and material were transported to/from the ports of Alexandroupoli, Greece and Vlissingen, The Netherlands. The RNLAF supported the flights by providing Gilze-Rijen AB for the outgoing CAB and Woensdrecht AB for the incoming ACB.

1st CAB started its helicopter movement to the Netherlands on Monday November 22. Before and after sunset Apaches, Blackhawks and Chinooks arrived. Due to bad weather the next cells saw their flights cancelled. They arrived on date.

ARC Endurance had left the port of Beaumont, Texas and arrived at the port of Vlissing on Thursday November 25. All its helicopters were offloaded the same day and towed into a hangar provided by Verbrugge Terminals. Here the blades were unfolded (AH-64E, UH-60L/M, HH-60M) or installed (CH-47F). The next day it was planned to fly the first helicopters to Woensdrecht. However, due to the weather all flights were cancelled.
An Apache during the afternoon at the Edese heide.  One of the Chinooks about to land on the heath on December 7. D-602 was delivered to 298 squadron on November 25.  
During two weeks in December (6-10 and 13-17) the Defence Helicopter Command squadrons were engaged in several exercises. One of these being the Helicopter Weapon Instructor Course Evasive Manoeuvring 2021 (HWIC EVM 2021). On December 7 the Edese heide was the location for the HWIC which saw two CH-47F's using two flying blocks for the training. Two other blocks were used by the AH-64D's but these might have been busy with another exercise.