The Royal Netherlands Air Force’s (RNLAF) first F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) has successfully performed its maiden flight at Lockheed Martin’s facility in Fort Worth, Texas, US.
Known as the AN-1, the aircraft made its first flight on 6 August 2012 and later performed a number of company related check flights, reports Flightglobal.
Both the Netherlands Ministry of Defence and Lockheed Martin declined to respond to the reports.
Netherlands signed up the system development and demonstration (SDD) phase of the JSF in January 2001, following the signing of a memorandum of understanding to co-operate in the SDD phase by the UK MoD.
Initial costs for 85 F-35 aircraft were estimated at €4.5bn in 2002, but the amount has now increased to more than €5.5bn.
The first aircraft was originally scheduled to be delivered and operational with RNLAF in 2014, but has been delayed to 2019.
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: First US Air Force’s F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter (JSF) aircraft. Photo: courtesy of Staff Sgt. Joely Santiago, US Air Force.