The first operational Lockheed Martin F-35A for the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) has been rolled out at a ceremony at the company’s Fort Worth factory.
The aircraft – the third F-35A for the RNLAF – is the first Dutch F-35 which will be dedicated to the training of RNLAF pilots and maintainers. It will be delivered to Luke AFB in Arizona to join the multi-national training Integrated Training Center (ITC), and will eventually be based at Leeuwarden Air Base in the Netherlands.
The first two Dutch aircraft were delivered in 2013 and are dedicated to the multi-national JSF Integrated Test Force (ITF) at Edwards AFB, and will require extensive upgrades and refurbishment once their test duties are complete.
“Receiving this F-35 at later this year is going to be a huge driver for change for our Air Force, and will have tremendous impact on the relevance of our Air Force as part of the coalition,” RNLAF Commander Lt Gen Dennis Luyt said in a statement. “We want to be among the best air forces of the world, and the platform of F-35 allows us to do that.”
Lockheed Martin Chairman, President and CEO Marillyn Hewson added, “From the very beginning of the F-35 program, the Netherlands has been a key partner in developing, testing, improving, and maintaining this remarkable aircraft.
“Dutch suppliers have provided high-volume production, structural-design support, and advanced technologies, and Dutch aircraft and personnel continue to support ongoing testing and operations for the worldwide F-35 fleet. As we look to the future, the Netherlands will serve as a sustainment hub in the European region for maintenance, repair, overhaul, and upgrade projects.”