The Royal Netherlands Air Force’s KDC-10 tanker has been certified to refuel the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II following flight trials at Edwards AFB in California.

The Dutch Ministry of Defence said this week that one of its two KDC-10 tankers, tail number 264, refuelled the fifth-generation combat jet for the first time on 31 March. Amsterdam plans to acquire 37 F-35s, with the first eight due to arrive in-country by 2019.

Certification comes as the MOD announces on 7 April that the F-35 will visit the Netherlands "in late May or June" for a three weeks. Demonstration flights are planned at the RNAF's Leeuwarden and Volkel air bases.

The KDC-10 – built by McDonnell Douglas in the late 1970s – is likely to provide tanking support during the journey. It can pass 1,750l of fuel per minute to fighter jets, says the MOD.

KDC-10 refuels F-35 on March 31. USAF image, via D

KDC-10 passes fuel to an F-35A test aircraft on March 31

via Ministerie van Defensie

Two Dutch aircraft are part of the Joint Strike Fighter integrated test team at Edwards AFB and are operated by the RNAF’s 323 Test and Evaluation Squadron.

In February, Italy claimed the first transatlantic crossing of the F-35 type – an Italian-made aircraft that was helped across the ocean by Rome’s own Boeing KC-767 tanker.

The KC-767 was certified last August, and the Royal Australian Air Force’s KC-30A completed its certification in December.


US Air Force