Dutch F-35s Conduct Operational Testing at Edwards

Royal Netherlands Air Force F-35A Lightning IIs are flying two weeks of combat trials, testing their interoperability with the RNLAF’s F-16s, KDC-10 tanker, and allied aircraft at Edwards AFB, Calif. The two Dutch F-35s are conducting operational tests to evaluate how the aircraft integrates with current platforms in both offensive and defensive counter-air and ground-attack missions, according to an Aug. 20 Defense Ministry release. The trials, conducted Aug. 17 to 28, involved six F-16s from the RNLAF’s training detachment with the Air National Guard’s 162nd Fighter Wing at Tucson, Ariz., as well as six Air Force and British Royal Air Force F-35A/B, according to the release. The Dutch stood up their first F-35 unit, Number 323 Squadron, last year, specifically to conduct operational testing and evaluation at Edwards. The Dutch plan is to eventually replace their F-16s with a fleet of 37 F-35As, split between two operational squadrons.