WASHINGTON – The Netherlands' first two F-35s landed at Leeuwarden Air Base on Monday, marking the fifth-generation jet's first eastbound transatlantic crossing.
The jets, known as AN-1 and AN-2, made the journey from Edwards Air Force Base, California, for noise testing and to participate in the country's largest air show, the Netherlands' Open Days. This appearance comes just weeks before Lockheed Martin's joint strike fighter is scheduled to make its international debut at the Royal International Air Tattoo and Farnborough Air Show in the United Kingdom, as Defense News first reported in April.
The aircraft touched down Monday afternoon after conducting a fly-by for nearly 2,000 base members, dignitaries and media, according to a Lockheed press release. Netherlands Minister of Defense Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert was the first person to greet the pilots, Col. Bert “Vidal” de Smit and Maj. Pascal “Smiley” Smaal, when they landed.
Over the next few weeks, the Dutch F-35As will conduct noise and environmental tests over the country, designed to determine the levels of noise disturbance the residents experience. The jets will perform flights over the North Sea range and then appear and fly at the Netherlands' Open Days in June.
The Netherlands is preparing for up to 37 F-35s, which will be permanently based in Leeuwarden in 2019 and Volkel Air Base starting in 2021.