WASHINGTON — The F-35 joint strike fighter will fly across the Atlantic Ocean this summer to make its international debut — but the United Kingdom won’t be the JSF's first stop.

At least one Dutch F-35As will appear at the Leeuwarden Air Show in the Netherlands in June, according to Lt. Col. Sidney Plankman, chief of public affairs for the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF). The aircraft will be on static display at the show, and the RNLAF is looking into doing a flight demonstration of the plane along with the Dutch F-16s during the show as well, he said.

The Dutch plane will make the transatlantic crossing from Edwards Air Force Base, CaliforniaCalif., to Leeuwarden Air Base in late May, Plankman said. Over the following few weeks, the Dutch F-35A will conduct noise and environmental tests over the Netherlands, designed to determine the levels of noise disturbance the residents experience.

The tests are "done in full cooperation with the residents and our local environmental groups," Plankman said, adding that the exercises are designed to "just get the people acquainted with the F-35."

The Dutch plane will leave after the Leeuwarden Air Show on June 10th and 11th.

Leeuwarden is one of two bases in the Netherlands that will be home to a planned 37 F-35As starting in 2019. The other is Vokel Air Base, Plankman said. The Dutch currently have two F-35As flying at Edwards Air Force Base.

The F-35's appearance at the Dutch air show comes ahead of the planned international debut of the JSF at the Royal International Air Tattoo and Farnborough Air Show in the United Kingdom in July. Two US Air Force F-35As and two US Marine Corps F-35Bs are scheduled to fly over from Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, for the events.

The joint strike fighter's appearance at the two major European air shows will mark a critical milestone for the program after the jet was forced to skip its planned international debut at RIAT and Farnborough in 2014 due to an engine fire and subsequent fleet-wide grounding.

Email: lseligman@defensenews.com

Twitter: @laraseligman

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