Belgium’s choice to opt for the American fighter jet, the F35, like the Netherlands and several other European allies, will enable the continuation of the longstanding partnership between Belgian and Dutch air forces. The confirmation has come from the Chief of Staff of the Dutch Air Force, Lieutenant-General Dennis Luyt.
“We are pleased” with the decision which the Belgian government took on 25 October last year, he asserted to the Belga press agency on Tuesday, the day before the delivery by the aircraft manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, of the first operational Dutch F-35. The aeroplane has been manufactured in a huge factory located in Fort Worth, in Texas (in the south of the USA).
The Dutch government has ordered 37 models of this fifth generation stealth fighter jet, a piece of equipment capable of being a “game-changer” in terms of aerial combat, according to its manufacturer. In large part it has been constructed in the US, with the remainder of its manufacture taking place in Italy. These aeroplanes are due for delivery by 2024.
However, the Dutch Air Force is on track for the acquisition of around 15 additional Lightning II planes, stated General Luyt.
Belgium has ordered 34 of them for delivery between 2023 and 2030, for a total price that could reach 12.4 billion euros, when also taking into account the aircraft maintenance throughout their life cycles.
“In addition moving into the future, it is a significant step for continuing the partnership between our air forces,” stressed the ‘Head’ of the Dutch Air Force. He mentioned that combat planes for both countries have, on several occasions, been involved together in given operations.