Netherlands to receive two more F-35As next month

The Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) will take delivery of another two Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II fifth-generation multi-role stealth fighters next month.

The aircraft – F-011 (c/n AN-11) and F-012 (c/n AN-12) – were produced at a Leonardo-operated final assembly and check-out facility in Cameri, Italy, on behalf of Lockheed Martin. Both F-35As are now currently undergoing flight testing and are scheduled to arrive at Leeuwarden air base in Friesland in the Netherlands in mid-July.

Due to lockdown measures, border closures and quarantines imposed by the Italian government due to the outbreak of COVID-19, flight testing of the two Dutch aircraft was delayed and the production facility was closed for a short period.

In a press release, the Netherlands Ministry of Defence said: “As soon as all test flights have been successfully completed, both aircraft will be formally transferred and flown to the Netherlands.”

RNLAF F-35A [USAF/A1C Aspen Reid] #1
An RNLAF F-35A Lightning II returns after a training mission in September 2019. USAF/A1C Aspen Reid

The first operational RNLAF F-35A arrived at Leeuwarden air base on October 31, 2019.

The Italian-based F-35 production line is manufacturing 29 of the 37 aircraft that have been ordered by the Netherlands. The remaining eight have been produced in the US at its assembly line in Fort Worth, Texas.

“It has been decided that the Netherlands will purchase an additional nine aircraft,” the press release added. The move will increase the RNLAF’s F-35A inventory to 46 examples.

AirForces Intelligence data shows that as of June 27, a total of ten aircraft had been delivered to the RNLAF – two of which are operated by 322 Squadron in the Netherlands and the remaining eight are in the US, split between the Luke Air Force Base (AFB), Arizona, for pilot training and 323 Squadron at Edwards AFB, California, for evaluation.