RNLAF is updating RCAF on F-35 acquisition


By Dario Leone
Sep 1 2017
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If RCAF had to purchase the F-35 it would further increase the interoperability of the air forces that are purchasing the aircraft said Lt.-Gen. Dennis Luyt, RNLAF Commander

As reported by The Baltic Post, Koninklijke Luchtmacht (Royal Netherlands Air Force, RNLAF) personnel are updating their Canadian counterparts about the service progress on the acquisition of the F-35 stealth fighter as Lockheed Martin is trying to convince Canadian Liberal government of the plane’s suitability as interim fighter to flank the country fleet of aging CF-18s.

Lt.-Gen. Dennis Luyt, RNLAF Commander, said his organization has been providing updates to Canada on F-35 purchase and aircrew training. “They are very interested in our experiences,” Luyt said.

“We’re on track,” he added. “It’s looking very promising.”

Noteworthy RNLAF is purchasing the F-35A as replacement for its F-16 fighter jets. The Dutch parliament approved an initial order of eight aircraft in March 2015.

The first aircraft are due to be delivered in 2019 and Dutch pilots and maintenance crews are currently undergoing training in the U.S.

RNLAF will purchase up to 37 F-35s.

Luyt remarked that if Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) had to buy the F-35 the interoperability of the air forces that are purchasing the aircraft would be further increased.

As we have previously reported, in a Jun. 1 letter, Lockheed Martin offered the Liberal government the F-35 as “interim” fighter aircraft. In the same letter Lockheed Martin president Marillyn Hewson said to Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan that Canada could purchase the F-35 at a cost of between $80 million U.S. and $85 million U.S. per aircraft.

Actually the Canadian government said last year it would enter into discussions with the U.S. on buying several samples of Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft as interim fighter to supplement RCAF CF-18 fleet and then holding an open competition to determine which aircraft will be Canada’s “definitive” fighter.

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

But on May 18, 2017 Canada’s government Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland warned that her country could cancel the planned $2 billion purchase of 18 F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters because of U.S. Department of Commerce anti-dumping investigations against Canadian plane-maker Bombardier. Boeing in fact claimed the same day that since Bombardier’s new larger C Series passenger aircraft receives Canadian government subsidies that can give it advantages on international market, duties should be imposed on the Canadian airliner.

Lockheed Martin has seen opportunity in the rift between Canada and Boeing and has officially offered its F-35 as an interim aircraft to supplement the RCAF CF-18 jets. Lockheed has long contended the F-35 is more cost effective and more advanced than the Super Hornet.

Nevertheless Sajjan’s office stated that no decisions have been made about the interim fighter jet and that various options are being looked at.

However Luyt said the Netherlands conducted an accurate process in selecting the F-35 as RNLAF new fighter jet. “The biggest thing we needed (was) to make a technology leap to a 5th Generation aircraft” he pointed out.

Part of the consideration in selecting the F-35 was its interoperability with the U.S. military. In fact if RNLAF goes into combat it will likely be with the U.S. “That (interoperability) is an important consideration but not the only one,” Luyt explained.

Every F-35 contains components manufactured by Dutch companies, Lockheed Martin has noted. On Aug. 16, the U.S. Department of Defense announced the overseas warehouse and distribution centre for parts for “European F-35s” will be located in the Netherlands.

RNLAF updating RCAF on F-35 Acquisition

Luyt concluded saying that another factor that has been critical in selecting the F-35 is that the aircraft will be constantly upgraded. “It will be state of the art for decades,” he added.

Photo credit: Netherlands Ministry of Defence

Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com

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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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