Dutch F-35 Deployment Yields Strong Results
With the arrival of the Netherlands’ two Lockheed Martin F-35As on 23 May, Dutch defence minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert fulfilled her promise to show the nation the replacement for its ageing Lockheed Martin F-16s.
Having crossed the Atlantic from NAS Patuxent River in Maryland, escorted by two Royal Netherlands Air Force McDonnell Douglas KDC-10 tankers, the Lightning IIs are giving residents near Leeuwarden and Volkel air bases an insight into the difference in noise levels between the fighters.
Hennis-Plasschaert pledged to arrange “experience flights”, followed by a questionnaire for the public to rate the F-35 and F-16 while they performed identical patterns. The Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR) has also recorded the noise levels in various locations.
Following two series of flights, the air force has received data showing the maximum difference in noise level was limited to 3dB (A) – and people did not rate this as significantly worse. They did, however, notice a small increase in resonance produced by the F-35.
The nation’s two operational test and evaluation (OT&E) aircraft have also been used to support part of that programme’s syllabus, and to learn about the logistical challenges presented when the aircraft are away from a main source of spare parts.