Dutch F-35 jets touch down for European air show debut
24 May 2016
Two US-assembled F-35A fighter jets landed in the Netherlands on Monday, ahead of the stealthy plane's European air show debut over the summer.
The Lockheed Martin-built Lightning II jets, which are to form the mainstay of the Dutch fighter fleet for the next five decades, landed at Leeuwarden Air Force Base in the northern Netherlands on Monday night, AFP reporters saw.
Also known as Joint Strike Fighters (JSF), the sleek planes were escorted by a business jet with Dutch Defence Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert on board after an eight-hour flight from the eastern United States which included multiple in-flight refuelings.
Designated "AN-1" and "AN-2", the planes will undergo tests before returning to Edwards Air Force Base in California.
"This is a first for the Netherlands," Hennis-Plasschaert told AFP after meeting the pilots on the tarmac.
The F-35s will carry out at least eight flights to test the effects of engine sound on the environment as well as their adaptability to hangars at Dutch air bases, Royal Dutch Air Force spokesman Frank den Edel said.
The planes will also be on display to the public for the first time in Europe at an air show at Leeuwarden next month, ahead of the world-renowned Farnborough International Air Show in July.
"This is the first time an F-35A touched down in northen Europe," Lockheed Martin's F-35 spokesman Michael Rein told AFP.
They are not, however, the first of their kind to fly in Europe as a whole, with an Italian-assembled F-35 making a test flight in September last year and crossing over to the United States in February.
"What's significant about this is that the F-35 will be in the Royal Dutch Air Force for the next 50 years," Rein said.
The Netherlands is one of nine partner countries helping pay for the development of the futuristic F-35A.
The Netherlands has ordered 37 of the planes at a total cost of around 4.5 billion euros ($5.0 billion) to replace its ageing fleet of F-16 fighters, according to Dutch newspaper reports, and they are scheduled for delivery by 2019.
But the F-35 project is not without controversy.
A Pentagon report said in February that the F-35A remains dogged by dangerous problems sure to further complicate what is already the most expensive weapons project in history.
Engineers uncovered a slew of flaws during extensive testing of the newest versions of the F-35 series, the report found, adding to a litany of issues including software bugs, technical glitches and cost overruns.
Source : yahoo.com