Two F-35s destined for the Netherlands are currently carrying out test flights at the Italian Final Assembly and check-Out facility in Cameri, Italy, where the Leonardo company built these aircraft on behalf of the American company Lockheed Martin.
The two aircraft are expected to arrive at Leeuwarden Air Base in the middle of next month.
It had quite a few feet before it was possible to make the flights. This is due to the Italian lockdown. As a result, borders were closed and quarantine measures were in effect. That caused problems for the pilots, who had to come from the American assembly line in Fort Worth, Texas.
Ultimately, this was done in a COVID-19 resistant manner. For this, Lockheed, the F-35 Joint Program Office in America and the armed forces of the Netherlands and Italy took action. Defense deployed military transport, among other things.
When all the signals were finally green and the aircraft were ready for take-off, the weather turned extremely bad. But last week it was finally time. Aircraft AN-11 and AN-12 took to the skies with a thunderous sound.
As soon as all test flights have been successfully completed, both aircraft will be formally transferred and flown to the Netherlands. The first operational F-35 has been at Leeuwarden Air Base since October 31 of last year.
In Cameri, manufacturer Leonardo is building 29 of the 37 F-35 fighter aircraft for the Netherlands. The remaining eight were built in America and are still there; they are used to train Dutch fighter pilots.
In the meantime, it has been decided that the Netherlands will purchase an additional nine aircraft.