The number of Dutch pilots now flying the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, went to four this week. Dutch Defense minister Jeanine Hennis remarked in a tweet on Wednesday 19 November that the Dutch team is now almost ready for operational testing.
The four pilots are part of 323 squadron, the first Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) unit to fly Lockheed Martin’s 5th generation fighter jet. The squadron was formed during a ceremony at Eglin on 4 November, just days after it stopped flying F-16s at Leeuwarden Airbase in the Netherlands.
The first Dutch pilot to fly the F-35A was Laurens Jan Vijge, who did so on 18 December 2013. Next year. 323 squadron will move to Edwards Air Force Base, California, for the Operational Test and Evaluation (OT&E) phase of the F-35 program.
© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest