Special Reports
Gostar den Daas | February 2013

Royal Dutch Lightning

First Dutch F-35 flies over Texas

After the RAF, the Royal Netherlands Air Force is the second non US Air Force receiving their first F-35 Lightning II. Although the Dutch haven’t decided yet to buy the new fighter, participation in the development process was agreed. Now after eleven years, the first airframe (AN-1) took to the sky.

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In 2001 the Dutch government decided to participate in the development process of the F-35 as a proposed replacement fighter for the aging F-16 fleet. The F-35 was chosen in favor of the English Typhoon development. Participation lead to a political controversy, and still does, because of the huge costs of the project. This is why the Dutch government still needs to decide to eventually replace the F-16s by F-35s.

The Netherlands joined the project as a Level 2 partner, with Dutch companies benefitting the deal, as they became suppliers of the project. Fokker for instance is building parts of the main landing gear. In 2008 it was agreed to buy a first test aircraft (AN-1) to join the Operational Test and Evaluation phase. In 2010 a second aircraft was added (AN-2, now in final assembly).

The first RNLAF F-35 (AN-1) with registration F-001 (USAF registration 09-5008) made its first flight on August 6 2012 at NAS Fort Worth. It will be transferred to Eglin AFB later this summer for testing. This F-35 is of the A type, which is a conventional fighter configuration. A STOVL B type is developed and a carrier C type. The first RAF B type and USN C type are also flying.


F-001, F-35

F-001, F-35

F-001, F-35

F-001, F-35

F-001, F-35

F-001, F-35

F-001, F-35

F-001, F-35

F-001, F-35

F-001, F-35

F-001, F-35

First areal photo’s taken over Fort Worth, Texas. F-001 was piloted by Alan Norman.

Areal photo’s by Liz Kaszynski for Lockheed Martin. Other photo's by Tom Harvey and Randy A. Crites, both Lockheed Martin

More info on the program, check f35.com

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