Lockheed Martin rolls out first Belgian Air Force F-35A Lightning II

Lockheed Martin rolls out first Belgian Air Force F-35A Lightning II

By Dario Leone
Dec 11 2023
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First Belgian Air Force F-35A Lightning II

On Dec. 10, 2023 at factory at Fort Worth, Texas, Lockheed Martin presented Belgium’s first F-35A Lightning II to the Belgian government during a rollout ceremony at Lockheed Martin’s F-35 production facility. This event marks a significant milestone in the Belgian Air Force’s history and strengthens the alliance between the US and Belgium, a key NATO ally.  

“The introduction of the F-35 within the Belgian Air Force will enable us to continue to fulfil all our missions in the coming decades, in cooperation with our allies and partners in NATO, the EU and beyond,” said Chief of Defense for the Belgian Armed Forces, Admiral Michel Hofman.

Building on the strong legacy of the F-16, the F-35 will provide the next generation of air power to ensure the Belgian Air Force can fulfill its NATO missions and protect the alliance’s key interests. By serving as the most advanced 21st Century Security solution, the F-35 will connect assets across domains to increase situational awareness for Belgium and its key European partners. 

Lockheed Martin rolls out first Belgian Air Force F-35A Lightning II
Belgium’s first F-35A Lightning II

“We congratulate Belgium on this significant achievement,” said Lt. Gen. Mike Schmidt, program executive officer, F-35 Joint Program Office. “The growth of the F-35 in Europe strengthens international partnerships, interoperability, and warfighting capability; and emphasizes the importance the aircraft provides as a deterrent against potential adversaries.” 

“With its unmatched capability, connectivity and interoperability, the 5th Generation F-35 will enable the Belgian Air Force to stay ahead of threats for decades to come,” said Greg Ulmer, executive vice president, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, in a company news release. “Today’s milestone would not have been possible without the strong partnership and key contributions from our close partners in Belgian government and industry.”  

34 F-35As for Belgian Air Force

Senior government and military leaders from Belgium and the US attended the ceremony. Belgium’s program of record calls for 34 F-35As. The first aircraft, designated AY-01, will be delivered to the Belgian Air Force next year and will be based at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, where international F-35 pilot and maintainer training takes place. 

F-35A print
This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F-35A Lightning II 56th OG, 61st FS, LF/12-5050 / 2014

The F-35 also creates high-quality, long-term employment opportunities for Belgium. Through the Essential Security Interest (ESI) program, Lockheed Martin will bring cutting-edge manufacturing techniques and benefits, expanding Belgian industry’s skills and knowledge and providing high-tech jobs for Belgians for decades to come. 

F-35s are now operating from 31 bases worldwide. To date, Lockheed Martin has delivered more than 980 F-35s, trained more than 2,250 pilots and 15,125 maintainers, and the F-35 fleet has surpassed 768,000 cumulative flight hours. Lockheed Martin continues to work side by side with F-35 operators to ensure allies remain ahead of the evolving threat. 

The F-35A Lightning II

The F-35A is the US Air Force’s latest fifth-generation fighter. It will replace the service’s aging fleet of F-16 Fighting Falcons and A-10 Thunderbolt II’s, which have been the primary fighter aircraft for more than 20 years, and bring with it an enhanced capability to survive in the advanced threat environment in which it was designed to operate. With its aerodynamic performance and advanced integrated avionics, the F-35A will provide next-generation stealth, enhanced situational awareness, and reduced vulnerability for the United States and allied nations.

F-35
This model is available in multiple sizes from AirModels – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS.

Photo credit: Lockheed Martin


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Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.
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