Dutch Blitz

The first F-35A strike fighter for the Royal Netherlands Air Force emerged from Lockheed Martin’s assembly plant at Fort Worth, Tex., announced the company. Designated AN-1, the F-35A airframe is proceeding through fuel-systems checks ahead of proving flights slated for the next few weeks, according to the company. After flight checks, the aircraft will move to Eglin AFB, Fla., where RNLAF pilots and maintainers will begin training with it at the F-35 schoolhouse there. “The international coalition remains strong in this program,” said Air Force Secretary Michael Donley while discussing the F-35 partners during a media roundtable in Washington D.C., on Thursday, four days after the rollout of the Dutch jet. “Each of the partners is in a different place with their national-level economies . . . but I think there is broad recognition that moving to a fifth generation fighter capability is important,” he added. In a related development, Norway last month unveiled its new defense plan that states that the Nordic nation is considering “potential acceleration and extension of the procurement run” for its F-35s. This would advance its first delivery by one year to 2015, according to the Norwegian defense ministry.