The RNLAF flew its Lightning IIs in formation with a KDC-10 tanker before, but air-to-air refueflling has yet to take in preparation for the transatlantic flight later this year. (Image © Frank Crébas/

Dutch F-35s complete tanker trials, closer to Transatlantic flight

The Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) this week completed air to air refueling trails with its F-35A Lightning II jets at Edwards Air Force Base, California. The tests prepared the F-35 and KDC-10 tanker plus crews of both aircraft for the Transatlantic flight to the Netherlands in May.

Cruising along. (Image © Frank Crébas/
Related reading: Dutch Lightning Testers. (Image © Frank Crébas/

A RNLAF KDC-10 tanker flew from the Netherlands to the US late March for several air to air refueling (AAR)  flights with the two Dutch F-35s currently based at Edwards. AAR was performed both during the day and at night time.

In May, one Dutch F-35 will head to the Netherlands for so-called perception flights. These flights should familiarize communities surrounding the main RNLAF airbases with the F-35’s noise profile. The F-35 is to also take part in the Leeuwarden airshow in June, marking the fighter jet’s first ever airshow outside the US.

UK airshows

The Dutch airshow appearance should beat that of United States Marines Corps and US Air Force F-35s at both the Royal International Air Tattoo at Fairford and the Farnborough International Airshow. Both airshows are held in the UK in July.

The Atlantic crossing by a RNLAF Lightning II is not the first for the F-35, however. An Italian F-35A in February crossed the Atlantic as it flew from Italy to the US.

© 2016 editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): The RNLAF flew its Lightning IIs in formation with a KDC-10 tanker in 2015 already, but never performed actual air refueling until this week.