What you probably didn’t know is that The Netherlands was the second international partner to get the F-35, after Israel, and that happened all the way back in 2012, when the first Dutch F-35, AN-1, took to the sky in Texas. The European nation is also a solid contributor to the F35 program, supplying the Americans making it with composites, bonded assemblies, and aircraft wiring.
In the end, the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) will end up owning 46 such aircraft, as it seeks to “increase the nation’s capability and capacity to engage in allied operations.”
The Dutch got their hands on their first F-35 back in 2019, and they are already hard at work populating the second squadron with the airplane. The ones that are already in service go out and play from time to time with international partners.
The four F-35s we have in the main photo of this piece may look identical, but that’s not exactly the case. Two are deployed with the U.S. Air Force (USAF), while the other two belong to the RNLAF.
Saying who is who is not easy, of course, but there are those telltale clues on the tails of the aircraft. The ones sporting LN are USAF planes (deployed with the 48th Fighter Wing), while the ones marked with simpler designations are Dutch.
The photo was snapped back in February, as the planes were conducting bilateral air-to-air training exercises over Europe.