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Royal Netherlands Air Force F-35 Lightning II
Latest update: November 2023
RNLAF F-35A production batches RNLAF F-35A milestones RNLAF F-35A assignment
The F-35 Lightning II fifth generation fighter is developed by the United States and eight partner nations. In 2002 The Netherlands joint the program as a Tier 2 (Level 2) partner. Until it received its current designation the aircraft was known as Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). Lockheed Martin head test pilot Jon Beesly made the first with the JSF on December 15, 2006. Taking off from Fort Worth, Texas the aircraft flew for 35 minutes and reaching 15.000 feet. It marked the start of a 12.000 flight hour test program.

The Dutch goverment decided to buy two F-35As Lightning II to participate in the operational test and development phase of the Lightning II. In 2009 the contract was signed for the first aircraft followed in 2011 for the second F-35.

On October 17, 2018 the Dutch MoD announced to buy the final three aircraft resulting in the planned purchase of 37 aircraft. From LRIP 12 these will be part of a block buy with the F-35 partners.

As part of the national NATO plan approved by the government the intention to buy additional F-35A's was announced on December 14, 2018. The decision will be taken in the spring of 2019 when the government will decide how to divide additional budget between all its priorities. Currently two operational squadrons can be fielded with NATO calling for a third squadron which translates to rougly 15 additional Lightnings. 

The first eight F-35s will be build by Lockheed Martin at its Fort Worth, Texas plant. Two ordered in the early production batches are engaged in the Operational Test and Development (OT&D) program and assigned to 323 TES based at Edwards AFB, California. The other six aircraft (MSN AN-3 until MSN-8) are currently in various stages of production at Fort Worth. Of these AN-3 (F-003) made its first flight on Saturday December 15, 2018. F-003 will be the first aircraft for Nederlands Opleiding Detachement F-35 (NODF-35). The detachment is embedded within the USAF 308th FS / 56th FW at Luke AFB, Arizona and will be responsible for all training on the Lightning II. F-003 will be delivered in week 4 of 2019. By the end of the second quarter all six F-35A's should be delivered to the unit with the two 323 TES aircraft to follow after the OT&D program has been completed.

In Italy (Leonardo FACO Cameri) final assembly of AN-9 began on June 15, 2018. The aircraft made its on September 9, 2019 and was rolled-out during an official ceremony on September 12. On October 31, 2019 F-009 was delivered from Cameri to Leeuwarden.

More information about the F-35 Lightning II can be found at the website:

F-35 Lightning II order and delivery reports (overview of current ordered and delivered aircraft and detailed production batches).
Luke Lightnings article about the 56th FW and its current and future F-35A squadrons/
F-35 to The Netherlands (May 23 - June 14, 2016).
Photo gallery
F-001 323 TES Luchtmachtdagen Volkel June 14, 2019 . F-002/OT 323 TES belevingsvluchten  Volkel May 26, 2016. F-008 323 TES Luchtmachtdagen Volkel June 14, 2019 .
First visit at Volkel by  F-002/OT May 26, 2016.

Flyby by F-001/OT at Soesterberg on June 7, 2016. 

Presentation to the public during its first appearance at an air show. Leeuwarden, luchtmachtdagen 2016.