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Dutch F-16 class graduates from training

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Amy Adducchio
  • 178th Fighter Wing
Seven student pilots from the Royal Netherlands Air Force 306th Detachment, located at Springfield Air National Guard Base, graduated the initial qualification training course Oct. 10 at the Hope Hotel and Conference Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

After approximately 15 months of instruction at Sheppard AFB, Texas, Dutch students trained for nine months at Springfield ANGB, including training deployments to Alpena, Mich. and Tucson, Ariz.

"It is probably the toughest nine months that they'll have in their careers," said Maj. Gen. Harry "A.J." Feucht Jr., the assistant adjutant general for Air, who attended the graduation.

"There aren't a whole lot of men and women going through pilot training to be recommended to be fighter pilots," said General Feucht. "It's the biggest accomplishment they'll have professionally."

Maj. Joshua Waggoner, the RNLAF 306 DET scheduling officer, gave the invocation.

After dinner, Capt. Toon van de Graaf, a RNALF 306 DET weapons officer and the master of ceremonies for the evening, introduced Lt. Gen. J.H.M.P. "Jac" Jansen, the commander of the Royal Netherlands Air Force.

General Jansen made his first visit to Ohio to attend the graduation, and tour Springfield ANGB.

"By visiting, I can see with my own eyes the training and the tremendous Air National Guard facilities," said General Jansen of Springfield ANGB. "I've also witnessed the tremendous air space here, which is very valuable for training."

Lt. Col. Anthony Montecalvo, commander of the RNLAF 306 DET, and Lt. Col. Marco van Praat, the senior national representative, presented certificates and plaques to the graduates.

These graduates will be heading to one of the two main F-16 operating bases in the Netherlands where they will go through mission qualification training.

This is the fifth Dutch class that has graduated from this course at Springfield ANGB since the detachment's stand up in April 2007.

"The professional ties the Royal Netherlands Air Force, the U.S. Air Force, and the Air National Guard have are very effective and fruitful," said General Jansen.

The current RNLAF training mission at Springfield ANGB ends in 2010, however, General Jansen and General Feucht are confident that training will continue at Springfield in the future.

"We are working on a new [letter of agreement] to extend the contract here. I expect it to be signed weeks from now," said General Jansen. "The Dutch Air Force needs this place."