Dutch Lightning II’s Domestic Debut

A Dutch F-35A Lightning II will touch down on home soil for the first time for environmental compatibility trials this spring, the Royal Netherlands Air Force announced. The F-35 will conduct several low-altitude circuits, take-offs, and landings at both Leeuwarden Air Base and Volkel Air Base, where the aircraft will eventually be based. The RNLAF plans to replace its legacy F-16A/B fleet with a total of 37 F-35s, split between the two bases. An F-16 will accompany the F-35 during the trials in May or June, to provide comparison data on the level of noise generated by the two aircraft, and its possible impact on nearby communities, according to the release. The first Dutch F-35 unit, Number 323 Squadron, is currently undertaking operational test and evaluation at Edwards AFB, Calif. Airfield trials will begin in earnest next year, ahead of the aircraft permanent relocation to the Netherlands in 2019, according to officials.