Netherlands to Fly JSF in December
THE HAGUE, 11/10/13 - Dutch pilots are to start flying the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) or F-35 this year already, Defence Minister Jeanine Hennis has told the Lower House.
At the end of this month, four pilots will start the theoretical training, after which they will start flying the JSF in December. The pilots will be prepared for the operational test phase to begin in 2015.
Hennis announced last month she wants to purchase a total of 37 JSF's to replace the F-16 fleet. The Netherlands had already bought two test planes. Ahead of a definitive decision on the replacement of the F-16 fleet, Hennis decided earlier to ground these test flights. Now that a decision has been made to purchase the JSF, this is no longer necessary.
The planes will remain for now at Eglin airbase in Florida. At the end of next year, they will be transferred to Edwards airbase in California for the operational phase.
This is not an irrevocable step, according to Hennis. But postponement of the training would mean that the pilots would have insufficient experience when the operational test phase began in 2015.