Royal Netherlands Air Force Rolls Out First Operational F-35A

The celebration looked more like a rave than a corporate ceremony at moments. Twitter photo via Lockheed Martin.

The Royal Netherlands Air Force on Wednesday rolled out its first operational F-35A during a ceremony at Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth, Texas, facility that at times resembled a rave rather than a corporate event.

The RNAF expects to acquire 37 F-35As, and it already received two operational test aircraft in 2013 that are now flying at Edwards AFB, Calif. The jet that rolled out Wednesday will ferry to Luke AFB, Ariz., for F-35A pilot training. It will then move to Leeuwarden AB, Netherlands, which will be a “huge driver for change for our air force and will have tremendous impact on the relevance of our Air Force as part of the coalition,” RNLAF Commander Lt. Gen. Dennis Luyt said at the ceremony.

So far, Lockheed has delivered more than 360 F-35s, which are flown by 10 nations and at 16 bases worldwide, according to the company. Five services have declared initial operating capability, while two nations—the US and Israel—have used the jet in combat.

The Lockheed facility hosted two Dutch DJs, along with massive screens and laser lights for a crowd of US and Dutch VIPs in military service dress and business attire, some with Dutch orange cowboy hats.