Lockheed Martin completes assembly of first F-35A Lightning II for Belgium

By Defence Industry Europe

Lockheed Martin has announced the completion of the final assembly of Belgium's first F-35A Lightning II multirole combat aircraft. The announcement, made on November 10, marks a significant milestone in the F-35 program for Belgium, a new client in the expanding global network of F-35 operators.

 

The aircraft, designated AY-01, is currently in the stages of paint application, ground testing, and is scheduled for a technical flight. According to Lockheed Martin’s schedule, an official presentation of the completed aircraft is planned for the end of this year. Belgium, through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) procedure, has ordered 34 F-35A Lightning II jets to upgrade its military aviation capabilities.

 

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Initially, these state-of-the-art aircraft will be stationed in the United States and are set to be relocated to the Florennes Air Base in Belgium in 2025. Furthermore, Belgium plans to operate the F-35A from two bases, with the second base being Kleine-Brogel, which is expected to be operational by 2027.

Belgium’s decision in 2018 to opt for the F-35A Lightning II was influenced significantly by the need for cooperation with allies, including the Netherlands, to jointly secure the airspace over the Benelux countries. The Belgian Air Force currently operates Lockheed Martin F-16AM/BM Fighting Falcons, which have been extensively used for both local and allied missions.

 

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Lockheed Martin has so far delivered nearly 1,000 F-35 Lightning IIs in various versions, accumulating around 750,000 flight hours. The focus now also includes Israel, whose F-35I Adir jets are actively being used in operational combat.

This development not only represents a major update for Belgium’s military aviation but also reinforces the growing global network of F-35 users. With this state-of-the-art technology, Belgium is set to enhance its defence capabilities and maintain strong cooperative ties with its NATO allies.

 

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