Inside the cockpit: Exercise Falcon Strike from a Dutch F-35 pilot's perspective

Read about a Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) F-35A pilot's time flying a training mission during Falcon Strike 22 defending a C-27 with paratroopers onboard from enemy SAM systems and a Navy cruiser vessel.  

The RNLAF attended Falcon strike (FS) 22 with six F-35As from No. 322 Squadron based at Leeuwarden AB in the Netherlands. In addition to sending 12 of its own pilots, three No3.13 Squadron pilots from Volkel AB also attended the exercise.

The 313 pilots were sent to benefit from the learning outcomes of the exercise as well as integrating with other European F-35 operators as 313 are currently building up to be a combat ready squadron with the F-35A.

A RNLAF F-35A pilot is greeted by an Italian Air force ground technician during Falcon Strike at Amendola AB
A RNLAF F-35A pilot is greeted by an Italian Air force ground technician during Falcon Strike at Amendola AB Joe Campion

Speaking to 322 Squadron pilot and the FS22 detachment commander of the RNLAF, Maj ‘Haipa’ van Meerlant told Key.Aero his unit attended because: “Even though the timeline to prepare for FS22 was limited, we still wanted to attend so we could see and test out the Operational Training Infrastructure the Italian’s have in Sardinia.

“It

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