Lockheed Martin: first Belgian F-35 enters final assembly stage

Source: Lockheed Martin, Defence Industry Europe

The first F-35 for the Belgian Air Component has entered the final stage of assembly at Lockheed Martin’s production facility in Fort Worth., Texas, Lockheed Martin said in a statement on August 2.

The jet, known as AY-01, was moved out of the electronic mate and alignment system, where its four major components were joined together by an advanced system of lasers and sensors. In final assembly, the jet’s canopy will be fitted, electronic systems will be tested, and the engine will be installed. From there, it will enter the final finishes facility to receive its stealth coating.



AY-01 is due to roll out of the factory later this year and will initially be based at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, where Belgian Air Force pilots will conduct initial training in the U.S. The first in-country arrival of an F-35 is planned for 2025 at Florennes Air Base. F-35s will also be based out of Kleine-Brogel beginning in 2027.

Belgium signed contract for 34 F-35As fighters in October 2018. The original schedule assumed that they would be delivered in batches of 4 aircraft in 2023-2027 and 2030, and 5 in 2028-2029.

At this year’s Paris Air Show, Belgium announced its intention to join the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) program, initially as an observer.



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