PICTURE: Netherlands delivers last F-16s to Chile

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A final batch of ex-Royal Netherlands Air Force Lockheed Martin F-16AM fighters have left the service's Volkel air base for delivery to Antonfagasta in Chile.

Five of the single-seat aircraft took off on 29 August, with a sixth due to follow one day later after encountering a last-minute problem.

After reforming at Gando airport on Gran Canaria, the aircraft are due to travel to Chile via a further stop in Salvador, Brazil. In-flight refuelling support is being provided by a Dutch McDonnell Douglas KDC-10 tanker, with a chartered civilian Ilyushin Il-76 transport also carrying equipment.

 
© Anno Gravemaker

An official handover ceremony will be held at the Chilean air force's Antonfagasta air base on 3 September.

The new arrivals will be the last instalment of an 18-aircraft 'Peace Amstel II' deal, with previous batches of six fighters each arriving in November 2010 and April 2011.

The Peace Amstel II deal followed an earlier transfer of 18 surplus F-16s completed in 2006-7.

Dutch pilots involved in the latest transfer will return to the Netherlands after picking up four F-16s assigned to a training unit in Tucson, Arizona, which has been reduced in size under a new package of defence spending cuts.

Under current plans, the Dutch defence ministry will put 18 more surplus F-16s up for sale.