Lockheed Martin held a presentation ceremony for the first F-35A fighter belonging to the Belgian Air Force on Sunday, December 10.
The event took place at the company’s Fort Worth facilities, in Texas, and was attended by the Belgian military high command.
Belgium is another customer for the F-35A, the most popular 5th generation fighter in the world. The European nation has an order for 34 supersonic jets that will replace its in-service F-16s.
The first F-35A, designated AY-01, will be officially delivered in 2024, but will be stationed at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, where there is an international training structure for pilots and aircraft maintainers.
“The introduction of the F-35 within the Belgian Air Force will enable us to continue to fulfill all our missions in the coming decades, in cooperation with our allies and partners in NATO, the EU and beyond,” said Chief of Defense for the Belgian Armed Forces, Admiral Michel Hofman.
“We congratulate Belgium on this significant achievement,” said Lt. Gen. Mike Schmidt, program executive officer, F-35 Joint Program Office. “The growth of the F-35 in Europe strengthens international partnerships, interoperability, and warfighting capability; and emphasizes the importance the aircraft provides as a deterrent against potential adversaries.”
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.
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 US Navy and Marines.