The Dutch Air Force is set to welcome their first F-35 stealth combat jet on Thursday, October 31.
“Our first F-35 lands on Thursday, 31 October at Leeuwarden Air Base. The fighter is coming here from an assembly plant in Italy and is expected in the afternoon,” Netherland’s Ministry of Defense said in a statement.
The fighter is the first out of 37 F-35As ordered by the Netherlands to replace old F-16 planes.
“The Dutch Parliament approved an order for eight Lockheed Martin F-35As in March 2015, confirming the aircraft as the official replacement for the F-16 for the Royal Netherlands Air Force. This lot of eight F-35s will be delivered in 2019. The current program of record for the Netherlands is for up to 37 aircraft,” manufacturer Lockheed Martin said in a statement.
Earlier this month, the country announced plans to procure 9 additional F-35s for $1.1 billion. “The new acquisition will bring the total number of F-35s ordered by Netherlands to 46. The additional aircraft are expected contribute to the air force's objective of having four jets available for NATO missions while also performing homeland defense operations and accounting for training requirements and maintenance downtime,” the ministry said.
“Upon arrival, the F-35 will carry out a fly-through with its predecessors: an F-16, a Hawker Hunter and a Spitfire,” the ministry said on Thursday.
Netherlands is a Level 2 partner in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program contributing $800 million. Dutch suppliers have, until now, been awarded contracts amounting $1.1 billion.