The Dutch F-35 aircraft which was stranded for more than three weeks at Volkel air base in the Netherlands is ready to fly out. The aircraft will return to Edwards Air Base in California next week.
This is what a spokesperson for the Air Force said. On Monday, aircraft F-001 made a successful test flight, after it had been grounded for over three weeks because of an engine defect.
"The test flight of more than an hour went well," said the spokesperson. "The aircraft is ready for the next mission." F-001 and F-008 arrived in the Netherlands from the United States in the run-up to the Air Force Days at Volkel Air Base. Immediately after arrival a defect was found on the engine of the F-001, the first F-35 delivered to the Dutch Air Force.
It took three weeks for the defect to be repaired. "No complaints emerged during the test flight," said the Air Force spokesperson. "The aircraft is leaving on July 17, probably from Volkel in the morning." The expectation was that this would be a few days earlier.
"That something has moved up has to do with the availability of the tanker, and a pilot must be flown in from America." After returning to Edwards, the F-001 will be used again in the training program. Dutch pilots are being trained at Edwards AFB to fly the F-35.
Click here for the original post (in Dutch), on the UpInTheSky website.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: It is not clear why it’s taken the Dutch Air Force over three weeks – from June 15 to July 9 – to repair the F-35’s engine, which had prevented it from returning to the US on July 15 with its wingman, aircraft F-008.
Nominally, an engine change on an F-35 is supposed to require 36 hours, according to a US Air Force press release dated Jan. 03, 2019, and which stated “The current guidelines used for aircraft maintenance required that the entire engine be removed, which would require at least 36 hours per jet.”
In this instance, it’s taken three weeks, with no explanation.
The Dutch daily De Telegraaf reported this morning that the aircraft needed a spare part, which was not available as “equipment stocks for the European F-35s still have to be set up, and the aircraft had come to the Netherlands with the ‘lowest possible logistics footprint.’
The part had to come from the US, and this took three weeks, including an unspecified delay at customs.
The Dutch Air Force did not respond to e-mailed questions.)