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Dutch F-35s Touch Down at Edwards AFB

Edwards AFB, California // January 22, 2015

Two F-35 Lightning IIs of the Royal Netherlands Air Force landed at Edwards Air Force Base, California, Jan. 16, after a five-hour flight from Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The Joint Strike Fighters arrived for an operational test and evaluation phase here in the High Desert.

Photo courtesy of Frank Crebas, Netherlands Ministry of Defence

The fifth-generation fighters belong to the 323rd Squadron, which is participating in the implementation of the operational test and evaluation phase of the Dutch F-35.

According to a Dutch military press release, an important part of this operational test and evaluation phase is deployment in a conflict. In addition to validating the operational capabilities of the F-35 weapon system, the Royal Air Force is prepared "to operate with a very versatile fifth-generation fighter aircraft," said Col. Bert de Smit, 323rd Detachment commander.

"Aspects such as self defense and disabling both air and ground targets are evaluated. The deployment of the weapon itself, setting up logistics and supporting systems and establishing maintenance procedures are also discussed," said Smit.

The Netherlands purchased at least 37 JSFs. About 20 technicians, four pilots and approximately 10 staff are being trained to work with the F-35 in a supporting role at Edwards.

"The more experience we gain with the unit, the clearer it becomes that this versatile fighter is the right answer to the challenges of the future," said Smit.