Belgian Air Force first F-35A Ligthning II fighter maiden flight

Belgium’s first F-35 stealth fighter makes maiden flight

Lockheed Martin’s 5th-generation aircraft took off in early May from its Fort Worth, Texas, facility. Delivery, however, is subject to pending technological update

Lockheed Martin performed the maiden flight of the Belgian Air Force’s first F-35A fighter. The flight took place at the beginning of May, but it has only now been officially announced.

The stealth aircraft with the designation FL-003 took off from the manufacturer’s facilities in Fort Worth, Texas. It is one of eight currently in various stages of production, Lockheed said.

Belgium has ordered 34 F-35A fighters to replace its F-16s, but delivery of the aircraft depends on approval of the TR-3 (Technical Refresh-3) upgrade, which is still pending.

Release for deliveries should occur in the third quarter of this year, the company predicts, however, the Belgian F-35 will not go to Europe immediately. Like other customers, the supersonic jet will be located at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona for pilot and ground crew training.

Belgian Air Force first F-35A Ligthning II fighter maiden flight (Lockheed Martin)

F-16 fighters to be transferred to Ukraine

According to Flight Global, there are 51 F-16 fighters active in the Belgian Air Force. Part of these jets will be transferred to Ukraine from the end of the year, said the country’s Prime Minister, Alexander De Croo, at a conference in April.

Lockheed Martin has already delivered almost a thousand F-35 fighters to 10 countries: the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Israel, South Korea, Japan, Denmark, Norway, Italy and the Netherlands.

Belgian Air Force first F-35A Ligthning II fighter maiden flight (Lockheed Martin)

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The fighter’s new customers are Germany, Canada, Finland, Switzerland, Poland and Singapore, as well as other countries that are in negotiations to close orders, such as the Czech Republic and Greece.

The F-35A variant is by far the most popular while the F-35B short takeoff and landing version is operated by the US Marines, the United Kingdom and Italy, and the F-35C naval fighter is operated by the US Navy and Marines.

Belgian Air Force F-16AM fighter
Belgian Air Force F-16AM fighter (Rob Schleiffert)


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