By the end of the year Dutch pilots will be flying the two Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) F-35A Lightnings II now based at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. Four pilots start theoretic courses this month and should be able to fly the jet by December, the Dutch secretary for Defence announced in Dutch parliament on Wednesday.
Only last month, the Dutch government decided on buying a total 37 F-35As. Two of these jets were already ordered in 2009 and were delivered this year. The two aircraft however remained in the US, first with the Lockheed-Martin factory at Forth Worth airfield in Texas. The two jets are now based at Eglin airbase, where the first Dutch pilots will take it for a spin.
Twenty ground crew will also head to the US for training on the F-35A – or JSF, as the new fighter is still mostly known among the Dutch public.
The F-35s should later on move to Edwards Air Force base in California for further training. That move is programmed for late next year.
© 2013 AIRheads’ Elmer van Hest