The Royal Netherlands Air Force’s (RNLAF) F-35A Lightning II aircraft is set to undertake environmental compatibility trials in May or June this year.

The trials will involve several low-altitude circuits, take-offs, and landings at both Leeuwarden Air Base and Volkel Air Base.

During the scheduled trials, an F-16 aircraft will fly alongside the F-35 JSF to provide comparison data on the level of noise generated by the two aircraft.

The RNLAF intends to acquire at least 37 new F-35 fighters to replace the RNLAF’s ageing fleet of F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft.

The first aircraft was originally scheduled to be delivered and operational with the RNLAF in 2014, but has been postponed to 2019.

The aircraft is expected to begin airfield trials early next year.

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"The RNLAF intends to acquire at least 37 new F-35 fighters to replace the RNLAF’s ageing fleet of F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft."

Currently, a Dutch F-35 unit is undergoing operational test and evaluation at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

Equipped with the latest stealth and intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) technology, the F-35 Lightning II is a single-engine, fifth generation multirole fighter, currently under development to conduct ground attack, reconnaissance, and air defence missions with stealth capability.

The multirole F-35 JSF will be powered by Pratt and Whitney’s F-135 engine and is equipped with an electro-optical targeting system that provides long-range detection and precision targeting.

The JSF programme is principally financed by the US, with additional funding from the UK, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Italy, Norway, Turkey and the Netherlands.

Image: Two Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNAF) F-35A Lightning IIs take off from Edwards AFB. Photo: courtesy of Royal Netherlands Air Force photo.