As reported this week, the F-35A Lightning II has taken the final hurdle in the Netherlands. That leaves a few companies with empty hands, although it has to be said that Saab, Dassault and Eurofighter GmbH did just about everything they could. It’s however no major surprise that the F-35A will after all replace the Dutch F-16 in a few years time. Saab, Dassault, and Eurofighter GmbH were essentially the losers from the word ‘go’, as the Dutch MoD basically had only thing in mind. Here goes a tribute to losers!
In 2001, Rafale, Gripen and Eurofighter went head to head at the Leeuwarden airshow in the Netherlands. The JSF – as the F-35 was known as back then – was nowhere to been seen, since the prototype X-35 only flew first in October 2000.
In the years that followed, all three competitors started appearing in European skies more and more, while the F-35 only really started testing in late 2006.
As production mounted, Saab, Dassault and Eurofighter started looking for export customers for their hardware in the hope that sells would really take off. All types saw action in the 2011 Libya war. Meanwhile, testing of the F-35 continues in the US. Some time between August 2016 and December 2016, the first USAF F-35 squadron will reach Initial Operational Capability.
Show off In recent years, Gripens, Rafales and Eurofighters were steady performers at airshows worldwide. It is unclear when the first F-35 will be seen outside the United States.
The final loser There is however one more loser in the well over a decade long debate about a Dutch F-16 replacement. It’s the F-35A Lightning II that in some years time will touch down on Dutch soil, but will have to do its very best to win the hearts and trust of Dutch taxpayers. Plus, we at AIRheads↑FLY simply think its not the sexiest thing in the sky. Go Rafale!
A Dutch order for F-35 aircraft seems only a matter of time now that the leftist PvdA party dropped its opposition against the fighter, according to Dutch media. There now is sufficient support in Dutch parliament to proceed with the order of 35 F-35s – or JSF, as the aircraft is still often called in the Netherlands.
The move by PvdA ends more than a decade of discussion about the replacement of Dutch F-16 fighter aircraft by the F-35. According to sources in The Hague, the Dutch government -made up by PvdA and right-wing VVD – will finally decide on the order later in September.
The Dutch already took delivery of two F-35 aircraft earlier for test purposes. Despite those deliveries, an order for further F-35s remained subject of heated discussion that mostly focused on costs. One F-35 costs at least 65 million Euro, where 40 million Euro was originally planned. The total budget for the order is 4.5 billion Euro.
Dutch government will present its 2014-plans in two weeks time. A further reduction of available F-16s is on the cards. The two F-35 already delivered – with serial F-001 and F-002 – are still in the United States and will remain so for the foreseeable future. Real testing should start only in 2015.
Read our blog on Dutch F-16s and their flying hours here.
A US Navy Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning II fighter aircraft refueled from a US Air Force KC-135 for the first time on August 20, 2013. The Air Force (A) and Marines VSTOL (B) versions already made such a flight earlier. The F-35 CF-1 was piloted by Lt. Col. Patrick Moran. Earlier this month, the Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 101, the Navy’s first F-35C Lightning II carrier variant aircraft squadron, completed its first flight at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.
The F-35 is also known as the Joint Strike Fighter and is supposed to be the premier next-generation air combat asset of many NATO and US-allied countries for decades to come.
NATO fighters continue to execute live fire sorties from Ørland Main Air Station in Norway, well into the next week. F-16s, Tornados and Mirage 2000Ds are all involved, as well as several support aircraft.
The small fighting force of 50 aircraft started exercise Brilliant Arrow 2013 (BAW13) on August 25th, and it will last until September 5th. Apart from the indigenous Norwegian F-16s, France, Germany, Greece, Poland, Portugal, Turkey and the United Kingdom all sent assets to the southern Norwegian airbase close to the city of Trondheim. A Royal Netherlands Air Force KDC-10 operates out of Eindhoven in the Netherlands to refuel aircraft; Dutch F-16s will join in next week.
It is not all blazing afterburners that are visible, since the air fleet includes two AWACS, three transport aircraft, four helicopters and several other flying machines. About 800 personnel are involved. Flying activities are limited to daytime and working days only.
Ørland is normally only home to 338 squadron with roughly half of the RNoAF F-16AM/BM fleet of 50 fighters and one or two Sea King Mk 43s search-and-rescue helicopters from 330 squadron.
The Netherlands is threatening the United States because of American nuclear bombs at Volkel Airbase, reports the Dutch public TV program Brandpunt Reporter Wednesday August 28th, 2013.
The collision between the two allies is not about the presence of the nukes, but rather about the financial impact in case something goes wrong. In short: the Netherlands wants the US to pay for an accident with one or more of the American nuclear bombs, say sources to TV investigative reporters. The Netherlands are said to threaten to cancel flights of US military aircraft through Dutch airspace if the Americans don’t compromise.
It is a public secret that Dutch Volkel Airbase is home to anything from 4 to 22 nuclear bombs, stored there since at least the 1960s. Officially their existence has never been confirmed, but US personnel is assigned to the Dutch base and mainly guard a separate section. Moreover, former Dutch prime minister Mr. Ruud Lubbers did talk about them in a recent National Geographic documentary.
From the 1970s to well into the 1990s Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16 fighter jets at Volkel trained for nuclear bombardment of targets in Eastern Europe. Since the Cold War between the American-led NATO and the Russia-led Warsaw Pact ended in the mids of the 1990s, the nuclear bombs remain in case they will ever be deemed needed by NATO allies or the US itself.
According to one of the sources the TV program spoke to the nuclear weapons are routinely rotated, meaning transport of nuclear weapons through the air by USAF C-17 Globemaster III strategic airlifters from the 62nd Airlift Wing. The Netherlands seem to be most afraid that one of the transport flights ends up in disaster.