Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II (F-002 / OT) or JSF (Joint Strike Fighter) from the Royal Netherlands Air Force
at the Royal Netherlands Air Force Open Days 2016, Leeuwarden (the Netherlands)
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a family of single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole fighters undergoing final development and testing by the United States. The fifth generation combat aircraft is designed to perform ground attack and air defense missions. The F-35 has three main models: the F-35A Conventional Take-Off and Landing (CTOL) variant, the F-35B Short Take-Off and Vertical-Landing (STOVL) variant,
and the F-35C carrier-based Catapult Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR) variant. On 31 July 2015, the first squadron was declared ready for deployment after intensive testing by the United States Marines. On 2 August 2016, the United States Air Force declared its first squadron of F-35As was combat-ready. The F-35 is descended from the X-35, which was the winning design of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program.
It is being designed and built by an aerospace industry team led by Lockheed Martin. Other major F-35 industry partners include Northrop Grumman, Pratt & Whitney and BAE Systems. The F-35 took its first flight on 15 December 2006. The United States plans to buy 2457 aircraft. The F-35 variants are intended to provide the bulk of the manned tactical airpower of the U.S. Air Force, Navy and the Marine Corps over the coming decades.
On 23 May 2016 the first two Dutch F-35A aircraft, AN-1 (F-001) and AN-2 (F-002), arrived at Leeuwarden Air Base, in the Netherlands. The Dutch F-35s were deployed to the Netherlands to conduct both aerial and ground environmental noise tests and perform flights over the North Sea range. The first operational Dutch F-35s will not arrive at Leeuwarden until 2019, followed by a second group at Volkel Air Base in 2022.
Currently the Royal Netherlands Air Force has 2 in use for testing, 8 on order, and 27 additional planned.