Hawker Hunter - Operational History - Others - Belgium and The Netherlands

Belgium and The Netherlands

The Belgian Air Force received 112 Hunter F.4s between 1956 and 1957 to replace the Gloster Meteor F.8. The aircraft were built under licence in both Belgium and the Netherlands in a joint programme, some using U.S. offshore funding. SABCA and Avions Fairey built 64 aircraft in Belgium and a further 48 were built in the Netherlands by Fokker. The Hunters were used by Nos. 1, 3 and 9 Wings but did not serve for long; the aircraft with 1 Wing were replaced in 1958 by the Avro Canada CF-100 Canuck, and most were scrapped afterwards.

The Belgian and Dutch governments subsequently ordered the improved Hunter F.6, with Nos. 1, 7 and 9 Wings of the Belgian Air Force receiving 112 Fokker-built aircraft between 1957 and 1958. Although built in the Netherlands, 29 aircraft had been assembled from kits in Belgium by SABCA and 59 by Avions Fairey, and were operated by 7 and 9 Wings. No. 9 Wing was disbanded in 1960, and by 1963 the Hunter squadrons in 7 Wing had also been disbanded. A large number of the surviving Hunters were sold to Hawker Aircraft and re-built for re-export to India and Iraq, with others to Chile, Kuwait and Lebanon.

In between 1955 and 1959, the Royal Netherlands Air Force (Koninklijke Luchtmacht) equipped No. 322, 323, 324, 325, 326 and 327 Squadrons with 96 F.4s and 93 F.6s assembled by Fokker and 20 T.7s from Hawker Siddeley. A batch of F.4s were later reconstructed with the sawtooth F.6 wings and a number of Hunters received launchers for AIM 9B Sidewinders. During the New Guinea conflict in 1960, a number of F.4s deployed with 322 to Biak Island. The F.4s were underpowered for tropical circumstances and later replaced by F.6s, modified to carry four 230 gallon wing tanks for extended range.

Operations against Indonesian infiltrations were flown not only from Biak but also from outlying airfields like Jefman, Kaimana and Manokwari. After the transfer of the sovereignty to the Indonesians, all aircraft were disassembled and returned to the Netherlands except one airframe that was written off after a gun bay explosion. 325 Squadron continued to operate its Hunters in the daylight low level air defence role until 1968; 322 and 323 Squadrons received F-104G Starfighters and the other squadrons were disbanded.

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