The first of two Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter test aircraft destined for the Royal Netherlands Air Force was handed over on 25 July, according to the nation's defence ministry.

Transferred at Lockheed's Fort Worth site in Texas, the aircraft was ordered in 2009 to support the Netherlands' participation in the F-35's operational test programme at Edwards AFB, California. The aircraft made its flight debut in August 2012 (below).

 Dutch F-35A debut - Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin

"Expectations are that the first test aircraft will be flown within some days by an American pilot to the US Air Force base in [Eglin] Florida, where the aircraft remains stored until a decision has been taken on the replacement of the [Lockheed] F-16 in connection with the memorandum on the future of the Netherlands armed forces," the defence ministry says. "During that period of storage, the aircraft will be used for technical ground tests."

Dutch technicians will be trained to work on the aircraft at Eglin AFB. The Netherlands ordered a second test F-35 in 2011. According to its government, that aircraft is still undergoing acceptance flights.

Source: Flight International