Deelen Air Base

Deelen Air Base (Dutch: Luchtmachtbasis Deelen, these days designated as Militair Luchtvaart Terrein Deelen, which translates to Military Aviation Site Deelen) is a military air base in the Netherlands in the province of Gelderland. Though once an active air base, it is now mostly used as a helicopter training site.

History

Deelen Air Base was founded in 1913 as a base for border patrol missions. When the Netherlands surrendered to Germany in World War II, the Luftwaffe started using the field, significantly expanding and upgrading the base. The Focke-Wulf Fw 190, Messerschmitt Bf 110 and Junkers Ju 88 were operated from the airfield, and anti-aircraft guns were installed. A railway from the nearby town of Wolfheze was constructed, initially to facilitate the transport of building materials for a Luftwaffe command bunker and later to supply the base with munition. In 1944 in preparation for the Battle of Arnhem the airfield got bombed extensively by allied forces and flying activity from the base was suspended by the Germans. The base was reduced to an auxiliary airfield and turned into a depot for V-1 flying bombs.

After the war, up until 1950, the Dutch military used Deelen as a storage facility. In 1950, the decision was made to restore Deelen back to an operational air base, and from 1957 to 1963 was the base for the Royal Netherlands Air Force RF-84F Thunderflash photo reconnaissance aicraft. Between 1964 and 1995 the field was used by various lighter aircraft, such as the de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver, Piper Cub, Hiller Raven, Aérospatiale Alouette II / Alouette III and Bölkow 105.

There was less need for the air base after the end of the cold war and in 1995 it was closed as such. The top layer of the runway was removed making it no longer suitable for landing by heavy aircraft. However, it remained in use as a military site for helicopter training and for that reason is frequently visited by various military helicopters, such as the AH-64 Apache, CH-47 Chinook and AS 532 Cougar. None of these helicopters are based at Deelen however and for that reason the base is only fully operational when exercises take place. The closure of Soesterberg Air Base resulted in a lot more helicopter movements at Gilze-Rijen Air Base, and in order to reduce traffic there it was decided to use Deelen more often as a training site. To facilitate this it was decided to resurface the runway and to create a slope for helicopters to practice sloped landings on. There is also glider activity on the field and very nearby there is a second aerodrome used almost exclusively by gliders, Terlet Airfield.