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No. 120 (Netherlands East Indies) Squadron was a joint Dutchmarker and Australian fighter squadron of World War II which today is a Royal Netherlands Air Force surface to air missile squadron based in the Netherlands.

History

120 (NEI) Squadron was formed at Canberra on 10 December 1943, with much of the Squadron's personnel coming from the recently disbanded 119 Squadron. Like the other two joint Australian-Dutch squadrons the Dutch authorities provided 120 Squadron's aircrew and aircraft (obtained via Lend Lease) while the groundcrew were Australian. 120 (NEI) Squadron was fully equipped with 67 P-40 Kittyhawk fighters. As all Dutch pilots had already been trained by the Royal Netherlands Military Flying School at Jackson Army Airbase, Mississippi USA in January 1944 the Squadron's Dutch pilots finished training in Australian procedures by 2 Operational Conversion Unit.

While it had originally been planned that 120 (NEI) Squadron would be based in the Northern Territorymarker and operate alongside 18 Squadron this did not eventuate and the Squadron was instead ordered to deploy to Meraukemarker on the south coast of Dutch New Guinea. The deployment was, however, delayed when the Squadron made an emergency deployment to Western Australiamarker in March 1944 in response to a feared Japanese attack on Fremantlemarker (see: Axis naval activity in Australian waters).

120 (NEI) Squadron began moving from Canberramarker to Merauke in April 1944 and was declared operational on 9 May 1944. After a period of training the Squadron began flying combat missions in late June. Due to the limited Japanese presence in the region the missions were limited to strafing attacks on Japanese positions. Due to the declining Japanese threat the Squadron became non-operational on 14 February 1945. In May 1945 120 Squadron was re-activated and redeployed to Biak Islandmarker on the New Guineanmarker north coast. From this base the Squadron escorted other Allied aircraft and continued to make strafing attacks on Japanese positions and ships. Following the end of the war 120 (NEI) Squadron continued to fly surveillance and escort flights out of Biak.

The RAAF component of the Squadron was disbanded on 30 October 1945 and the Squadron came under the operational command of the Netherlands East Indies Army Air Force on 20 June 1946. 120 Squadron saw active service against Indonesian Nationalists during the Indonesian National Revolution and was disbanded on 1 March 1950 following the end of Dutch rule in Indonesiamarker.

On November 1 1959 however, 120 Squadron was reactivated again at Fort Bliss, New Mexico USA; this time as C battery of a newly formed Netherlands Air Force anti-aircraft missile group. In 1963, 120 Squadron became operational as a Royal Netherlands Air Force missile defense squadron under NATOmarker command. The squadron was equipped with nuclear tipped Nike Hercules missiles and moved to its brand new site located in the vicinity of the village Borgholzhausenmarker in West-Germanymarker.

On March 31 1983 120 Squadron was deactivated again because of budget cuts and NATOmarker missile defense reorganizations. This lasted until January 1 1996 when 120 Squadron was reactivated again, this time as a Royal Netherlands Air Force missile defense squadron in the Netherlands. The squadron was equipped with the Raytheon MIM-104 Patriot system. It celebrated its 55th anniversary on December 10 1998.

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