The first Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter built for the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) has been spotted flying near the company's plant in Fort Worth, Texas.

The aircraft, marked F-001, first flew on 6 August and has flown several company check flights subsequently. Known internally as AN-1, it flew again on 10 August and 13 August, indicating an imminent delivery.

However, Lockheed is not able to comment on the matter and referred all inquiries to the Dutch Ministry of Defence. The Netherlands government did not respond to inquiries.



The Netherlands' silence is likely due to that country's pending elections, says analyst Dan Goure of the Lexington Institute in Virginia. In many F-35 partner countries, the military is firmly behind the programme but political support for the procurement is often contentious, he says.

Goure cites Canada, Norway and the Netherlands as locations where that is the case.

"One can understand how the government could want to maintain a low prolife in the midst of an election," he says.

Source: Flight International