Dutch, Belgian partnership: DATF

Close Dutch / Belgian Cooperation

The Royal Netherlands Air Force and the Belgian Air Force operated successfully in the joint Deployable Air Task Force (DATF). It was in turn commanded by the Dutch and the Belgians. DATF was established in 1996.

During Operation Allied Force, the Dutch/Belgian DATF flew 11.6% of the total number of allied fighter missions, with a 95% degree of readiness. The DATF F-16s were mostly used in the swing-role concept, where patrolling aircraft could be used against both air and ground targets. Typically, some 32 missions were flown a day. About 20-30% of the total number of missions was flown at night.

After SACEUR called for 500 more NATO aircraft on April 13, 1999, The Netherlands added four F-16AM aircraft and 55 personnel to the 16 F-16s and 278 personnel already present at Amendola, Italy. At its maximum, DATF consisted of 520 personnel and 32 F-16s.

Operation Allied Force — DATF contribution
Sorties Hours
Mission RNLAF BAF Total RNLAF BAF Total
Defense Counter Air 700 475 1,175 2,772 1,650 2,422
Air-Ground 446 180 626 855 303 1,158
Reconnaissance 48 - 48 73 - 73
Total 1,194 655 1,849 3,700 1,953 5,653
Total % 7.5% 4.1% 11.6%    

The RNLAF used its own laser designation pods for the first time during the air strikes. Jane's Defence Weekly (June 23, 1999) incorrectly reported that of the Europeans, only the UK and France had laser guided bombs.

On day one of the campaign, a Dutch F-16 downed a MiG-29 fighter with a single AIM-120 missile (see Dutch MiG kill). Apart from the US, the Netherlands is the only country to have downed a plane during the operations against Yugoslavia. On three occasions, RNLAF F-16's destroyed three MiG-29 fighters on the ground using bombs. Seven to nine helicopters and several other planes were destroyed as well.

Operation Allied Force — RNLAF weapons used
Weapon Number used
AGM-65 32
GBU-10/12 246
Source: NATO, Washington Post, CNN, British MoD, Telegraaf, Jane's Defence Group.