Dutch and American officials celebrated the roll out of the Royal Netherlands Air Force’s (RNLAF) first operational F-35A Lightning II in Fort Worth, Texas, on January 30.
“Receiving this F-35 at Leeuwarden Air Base 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,” said Lt. Gen. Dennis Luyt, Commander, RNLAF. “We want to be among the best air forces of the world, and [the F-35] allows us to do that.”
Various distinguished government, military and industry guests joined Luyt in attendance at the ceremony including; State Secretary, the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs Mona Keijzer; and Special Envoy F-35, the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs Maxime Verhagen.
Marillyn Hewson, chairman, president and chief executive of Lockheed Martin, said: “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.”
Following the ceremony, the aircraft is scheduled to ferry to Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, where F-35A pilot training takes place. The aircraft is the first operational F-35 and the third example delivered to the Netherlands. The first two Dutch F-35s were delivered in 2013 and are at Edwards AFB, California, supporting operational testing. The RNLAF plans to acquire 37 F-35As.
Photo: Lockheed Martin