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Belgian F-35A completes first flight

17th May 2024 - 13:03 GMT | by The Shephard News Team in London


Technology Refresher 3 (TR-3) software setbacks have kept the Belgian F-35 fighters in the US. (Photo: Lockheed Martin)

The Belgian Air Force’s first F-35A Lightning II has taken flight, showcasing the national flag, with the first force’s first four F-35As set to head to Luke AFB for initial training amid software upgrade delays.

An F-35A Lightning II of the Belgian Air Force has completed its first flight. The aircraft was decorated with a full-colour Belgian flag and roundels. It was not yet clear whether all Belgian Air Force F-35As would have the full-colour national markings.

Contrary to the Royal Netherlands Air Force F-35As, the Belgian Lightning IIs will all be completed in the US, with only the central wings and outer wing boxes constructed at the FACO facility in Cameri, Italy.

The first four F-35As will be delivered to Luke AFB, Arizona, where they will join the 312th Fighter Squadron, part of the 56th Fighter Wing. This squadron was inactivated in 1991 but reactivated on 1 June 2023 as an F-35A training unit, primarily training F-35 crew for the Belgian Air Force.

The remaining 30 aircraft will be based at Kleine Brogel and Florennes air bases. The latter, however, will not see the first aircraft arriving before April 2025, with Kleine Brogel having to wait until 2027.

Lockheed Martin unveiled Belgium’s inaugural F-35 at the end of last year, however, Technology Refresher 3 (TR-3) software setbacks have kept the fighter in the US which has been impacting deployment and training plans.

The TR-3 has been under flight testing and the software includes computational horsepower to support the modernised F-35 Block 4 capabilities. These will include new sensor suites, more long-range precision weapons, improved EW features, more powerful data fusion and increased cross-platform interoperability.

The Shephard News Team


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