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Lockheed Martin Rolls out the Royal Netherlands Air Force’s First Operational F-35A Lightning-II

Dutch and American officials celebrated the roll out of the first operational F-35A Lightning II for the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) at Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas, commemorating a transformational leap in capability for the future of the Netherlands’ national defense.

“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 platform of F-35 allows us to do that.” 

Various distinguished government, military and industry guests joined LUYT in attendance at the ceremony including Lockheed Martin Chairman, President and CEO Marillyn HEWSON; State Secretary, the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs Mona KEIJZER; and Special Envoy F-35, the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs Maxime VERHAGEN.

“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,” said HEWSON. “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 Netherlands jet delivered to date. 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.

Netherlands F-35 Program History

As one of the original nine partner nations for the F-35, and the second international partner to receive the F-35, the Netherlands continues to be a key contributor to the development, production and sustainment of the F-35 program.

The Dutch Parliament approved an order for eight Lockheed Martin F-35As in March 2015, confirming the aircraft as the official replacement for the F-16 for the Royal Netherlands Air Force. This lot of eight F-35s will be delivered in 2019. The current program of record for the Netherlands is for up to 37 aircraft.

In May 2016, the F-35 landed on Dutch soil for the first time, showing the nation their new 5th Gen fighters. While in the Netherlands, the F-35 performed several “experience flights” to allow the Dutch public to evaluate the difference between the F-35 and legacy fighters, the F-16, noise levels. The test results showed negligible differences between the noise levels of these two aircraft.

Netherlands Economic Impact

The design expertise, development and manufacturing proficiencies Dutch industry bring to the F-35 will ensure future economic growth and national security for the Netherlands.

Dutch Industry including 25 suppliers continues to benefit from the F-35 program with contracts awarded for high technology work. As estimated by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the F-35 has already generated more than $1B in contracts for Netherlands Industry, creating thousands of direct and indirect jobs for this country over the next 30-40 years. 

Dutch industry is currently participating in high volume production, critical technology development and strategic structural design ventures that are integral to the F-35 program. Key industrial partners include Fokker Technologies, Aeronamic, Thales, NLR, Airbus Defense and Space, and DPCC. Dutch Industry will continue building F-35 parts for over 3,000 aircraft over the next 30+ years.

The Netherlands was also assigned four major European regional sustainment projects: Engine Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul, and Upgrade (MRO&U), Landing Gear Component MRO&U, PTMS MRO&U, and Regional Warehousing.