First Dutch F-35s fly home
Holland’s first two F-35As have arrived for the first time at Leeuwarden Air Base in The Netherlands yesterday.
Pilots Colonel Bert “Vidal” de Smit and Major Pascal “Smiley” Smaal conducted a fly by for the nearly 2000 base members, dignitaries and media before touching down at 9pm local time.
Netherlands Minister of Defence Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert was the first person to greet the two crew members.
Their arrival was broadcast live across the country.
Known as AN-1 and AN-2, the jets will spend three weeks in the Netherlands for a variety of purposes.
They will conduct both aerial and ground environmental noise tests, perform flights over the North Sea and then appear and fly at Netherland’s Open Days, the largest airshow held annually in Holland.
The F-35s are performing noise tests at the request of Minister Hennis-Plasschaert.
During meetings held in February 2015 with residents living in the surrounding area of the two air force bases, she promised to bring the F-35 over to the Netherlands to enable local residents to experience and compare the noise-level of the F-35 with that of the F-16 currently in use.
We bet there’s a few in Australia (and elsewhere) eagerly awaiting those results.
The Netherlands currently has four pilots and 27 maintainers trained on the F-35, but its cadre will grow substantially during the next three years as Holland prepares for the arrival of a total of 37 aircraft permanently based starting with Leeuwarden in 2019 and then Volkel Air Base in 2021.