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Lockheed Martin rolls out Royal Netherlands Air Force first operational F-35

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The Netherlands first operational F-35 F-35A Lightning II f. A Lockheed Martin photo.

FORT WORTH, TEXAS (BNS): The first operational F-35A Lightning II for the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) has been rolled out in Fort Worth, Texas, commemorating a transformational leap in capability for the future of the Netherlands' national defence.

"Receiving this F-35 at Leeuwarden Air Base later this year is going to be a huge driver for change for our Air Force and will have tremendous impact on the relevance of our Air Force as part of the coalition," a Lockheed Martin statement quoting Lt. Gen. Dennis Luyt, Commander, RNLAF, said.

"We want to be among the best air forces of the world, and the platform of F-35 allows us to do that."

Various distinguished government, military and industry guests joined Luyt in attendance at the ceremony held recently.

"From the very beginning of the F-35 program, the Netherlands has been a key partner in developing, testing, improving, and maintaining this remarkable aircraft," said Lockheed Martin Chairman, President and CEO Marillyn Hewson.

"Dutch suppliers have provided high-volume production, structural-design support, and advanced technologies, and Dutch aircraft and personnel continue to support ongoing testing and operations for the worldwide F-35 fleet. As we look to the future, the Netherlands will serve as a sustainment hub in the European region for maintenance, repair, overhaul, and upgrade projects."

The aircraft is scheduled to ferry to Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, where F-35A pilot training takes place. The aircraft is the first operational F-35 and the third Netherlands jet delivered to date. The first two Dutch F-35s were delivered in 2013 and are at Edwards AFB, California, supporting operational testing.

The RNLAF plans to acquire 37 F-35As, it said.

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