Written by Tricia Sims
Government officials and dignitaries from both the United States and the Netherlands celebrated the debut of the first F-35 Lightning II fighter jets for the Royal Netherlands Air Force on Wednesday, Jan. 30.
The F-35 Lightning II is a 5th generation fighter, combining advanced stealth with speed and agility, a fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment. Three distinct variants of the F-35 will replace a variety of fighters for at least 13 countries. The Netherlands is the latest country to receive the new jets.
“We are here to celebrate the technology capabilities and skilled craftsmanship they have accumulated in the delivery of the F-35 Lighting for the Netherlands. The transformational capabilities for the F-35 represent our ability to collectively be stronger together and more formidable,” said Michele Evans, executive vice president of aeronautics for Lockheed Martin. “It is clear the F-35 will serve as the backbone for the Allied Air Power for decades to come, and it is our honor to be a part of that team.”
A few of the dignitaries in attendance were Lieutenant General Dennis Luyt, Commander of the Royal Netherlands Air Force, Mona Keijzer, state secretary of Economic Affairs Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy for the Netherlands, Will Roper, assistant secretary of the U.S. Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics, and Kevin Fahey, assistant secretary of defense for acquisition for the U.S.
“This marks another significant step in our long and proud partnership with the Dutch,” Kevin Fahey said. “The F-35 provides both of our countries a significant capability for our nations and the world’s collective defense.
“The Netherlands have been a key ally. We face complex and evolving threats. The F-35 bolsters both of our country’s readiness capabilities. I believe the F-35 is absolutely the cornerstone of our defense for years to come.”
Mona Keijzer explained the introduction of the F-35 is an important milestone for the Dutch Armed Forces.
“We want our men and women in uniform to have the equipment they need to protect our freedom,” Keijzer said. “The best equipment available. We want to do our part in boosting the NATO alliance. That is why we have made the F-35 one of the top priorities on the national plan on the Defense Investment Pledge that our prime minister presented at NATO last December.
“We live in a time were international security is becoming increasingly complex and unstable. A time were alliances can make a difference between a success and a failure, between conflict and stability. Therefore, for the Netherlands, the F-35 is not just a product of skilled craftsmanship, it is a product of a shared commitment, a symbol of what free nations can achieve together. Together you all created a game changer.”
“Today is an important event, a milestone in our shared journey,” Keijzer said. “It is important to celebrate those important moments. I wish our air force every success in introducing this 5th generation aircraft. Only through real international cooperation can we insure this beautiful fighter jet will remain the best for years to come.”
“The F-35 we see here today will revolutionize our war fighting business across all domains,” Lieutenant General Dennis Luyt, said. “An incredible package that brings the size, the vitality and new levels of survivability all in one. It is truly a game changer. The weapon system that will allow our war fighters to fight and win in ways that we could not imagine before.”
Lockheed Martin is proud of their involvement in the partnership between The Netherlands and the U.S.
“At Lockheed Martin, we know the strong partnerships, like the ones between the Netherlands and the United States, are critical to the future of our world,” Marillyn Hewson, chairman and president and chief executive officer, Lockheed Martin, said. “We are proud to play a role in this international relationship and friendship. It will continue to promote peace, prosperity and progress for decades to come.”