The Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) celebrated 500 flight hours during Operational Test and Evaluation (OT&E) at Edwards Air Force Base in California on Wednesday 25 October. This milestone was reached and celebrated by Edwards-based 323 squadron this week.
The Dutch have been testing both RNLAF Lockheed Martin F-35As and their behaviour in an operational evironment. Recent activities included dropping live bombs on the test ranges surrounding Edwards.
Of course, 2016 was also marked by the successful deployment of both jets to the Netherlands, which sparked a major change in public acceptance of the F-35. Whereas earlier the Dutch mainly opposed the expensive fighter jet program, they now seem to have accepted the F-35 as the best choice to replace ageing F-16 jets.
Still, the RNLAF F-35 fleet will only consist of the current two jets for the next two years. Starting 2018, more jets are to be delivered. The total number projected so far is 37.