Lightnings go Dutch: Assessing the impact of the F-35A on the RNLAF

The second of three Royal Netherlands Air Force squadrons is currently in transition to the the F-35A Lightning II. Gert Kromhout assesses its impact.

In the spring of 2022, the Dutch Ministry of Defence announced that it would drastically increase its defence budget in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This paved the way for the purchase of a further six Lockheed Martin F-35s, so that the Royal Netherlands Air Force will soon have three full squadrons and a training detachment, with a total of 52 aircraft. This meets the NATO target of at least 52 deployable F-35s.

A pair of RNLAF-operated F-35As fly over the Baltic Sea off the coast of Gdansk.
A pair of RNLAF-operated F-35As fly over the Baltic Sea off the coast of Gdansk. Giovanni Colla

Of the initial batch of 37 aircraft, 34 had been delivered as of April 2023 and the other three will follow this year. Up to and including 2026, the final 15 stealth fighters will be delivered to 312 Squadron. Seven of these are to arrive in 2024, five in 2025 and the last one in early 2026.

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