Two F-35As destined for the Royal Netherlands Air Force are currently carrying out test flights at the Italian Final Assembly and check-out facility in Cameri, Italy, where the Leonardo company built these aircraft on behalf of the Lockheed Martin. The two aircraft are expected to arrive at Leeuwarden Air Base in the middle of next month. In Cameri, manufacturer Leonardo is building 29 of the 37 F-35 fighter aircraft for the Netherlands. The remaining eight were built in America and are still there; they are used to train Dutch fighter pilots. This is due to the Italian lockdown. As a result, borders were closed and quarantine measures were in effect. That caused problems for the pilots, who had to come from the American assembly line in Fort Worth, Texas.
As one of the original nine partner nations for the F-35, and the second international partner to receive the F-35, the Netherlands continues to be a key contributor to the development, production and sustainment of the F-35 program. The Netherlands and Lockheed Martin have a long-standing partnership of working together since 1914. The Dutch Parliament approved an order for eight Lockheed Martin F-35As in March 2015, confirming the aircraft as the official replacement for the F-16 for the Royal Netherlands Air Force. This lot of eight F-35s will be delivered in 2019. The current program of record for the Netherlands is for up to 37 aircraft.
The design expertise, development and manufacturing proficiencies Dutch industry brings to the F-35 will ensure future economic growth and national security for the Netherlands. Dutch Industry including 25 suppliers continues to benefit from the F-35 program with contracts awarded for high technology work. As estimated by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the F-35 has already generated more than $1B in contracts for Netherlands Industry, creating thousands of direct and indirect jobs for this country over the next 30-40 years. As the Netherlands moves forward with the procurement of operational aircraft, contracts and jobs resulting from the F-35 will be sustained over the 30-plus years of production for the transformational 5th generation fighter.
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is an American family of single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole combat aircraft. It is intended to perform both air superiority and strike missions while also providing electronic warfare and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. Lockheed Martin is the prime F-35 contractor, with principal partners Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems. The aircraft has three main variants: the conventional takeoff and landing F-35A (CTOL), the short take-off and vertical-landing F-35B (STOVL), and the carrier-based F-35C (CV/CATOBAR).