Royal Netherlands Air Force declares F-35 IOC

Netherlands F35 Initial Operational Capability
Royal Netherlands Air Force F-35A Lightning II.

The Netherlands has officially declared the initial operational capability (IOC) for its F-35 fighter aircraft. This means that the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) is now able to deploy a unit of 4 F-35s with personnel and equipment anywhere in the world for a short period of time.

This milestone was achieved after carrying out several steps and a series of exercises at home and abroad.

Last year, as part of the Frisian Lightning II exercise, the RNLAF transferred an F-35 squadron from Leeuwarden to Volkel in order to prepare the unit for a quick move. Similar steps were also taken this year by Leeuwarden to the United States.

This milestone was also achieved thanks to the knowledge acquired during the Initial Operational Test & Evaluation (IOT & E).

"With this we are taking another important step in our transition to a future-proof air force. I expect that on our path to Full Operational Capability we will enter a period of heavy deployment of this wonderful new weapon system. Just as we have seen almost continuous deployment of F-16s over the past 30 years, more is only possible with this 'next level' fighter aircraft," Commander Air Forces Lieutenant General Dennis Luyt said.

The Netherlands has ordered a total of 46 F-35s to replace the current F-16 fleet all of which will be delivered by the end of 2024. The first F-35 was delivered in late 2019.

In addition to offering advanced operational capabilities to the RNLAF, the F-35 has also benefited the Dutch industry. Two months ago, a state-of-the-art F-35 engine maintenance facility was inaugurated in Woensdrecht, The Netherlands. The company will also carry out work on aircraft engines of international partners and FMS (Foreign Military Sales) countries.

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Source, Image: Dutch Ministry of Defence

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