Two European JSF partner nations operators have achieved significant milestones with their F-35A Lightning II fleets.
On November 6, Norway declared it had achieved an initial operational capability (IOC) of its F-35A following a testing deployment to Rygge Air Station, away from its Ørland Main Air Station operating base.
Norway is the third European operator to achieve IOC after the UK and Italy. The country currently has 12 F-35As in service, and has a requirement for 52 aircraft. It will deploy F-35As to Iceland for their first operational mission in 2020 as part of NATO’s air policing commitments.
Also celebrating an F-35A milestone is the Netherlands, which received its first F-35A to be based on home soil on October 31.
The aircraft, manufactured at the Cameri final assembly and checkout (FACO) facility in Italy, will be based at Leeuwarden Air Base and is the 9th Dutch F-35A to be delivered. The Netherlands has a current requirement for 46 F-35As, and currently has six aircraft assigned to the multi-national joint training schoolhouse at Luke AFB in Arizona, and two aircraft dedicated to operational test and evaluation duties at Edwards AFB in California.
In a translated statement, Royal Netherlands Air Force Commander Lieutenant General Dennis Luyt said, “Together we are stronger. A formation of F-35s at work with a frigate on the high seas, or with a command, or MARSOF person somewhere far away in a desert. The quarterback and playwright who enables the team to win with airpower (and) beat our opponents on the basis of unparalleled overview.”
The milestones come as the Luke AFB-based F-35 fleet passed the 35,000 flight hours mark in late October during a flight by an RAAF 2OCU F-35A based there.