Belgium Unveils Cutting-Edge F-35A Lightning II

Lockheed Martin introduces Belgium's inaugural F-35A Lightning II, a pivotal moment for the Belgian Air Force and U.S.-Belgium
F-35A Lightning II
F-35A Lightning IIImage Source: Lockheed Martin


Lockheed Martin introduces Belgium's inaugural F-35A Lightning II, a pivotal moment for the Belgian Air Force and U.S.-Belgium alliance. The F-35, succeeding the F-16, fortifies NATO capabilities and enhances situational awareness for Belgium and European partners. The ceremony signifies a significant achievement, fostering international partnerships and underlining the F-35's role as a deterrent against potential adversaries.



In a momentous event at Lockheed Martin's F-35 production facility in Fort Worth, Texas, Belgium celebrated the rollout of its first F-35A Lightning II. The ceremony marked a historic milestone for the Belgian Air Force, signifying a new era in air power and strengthening ties between Belgium and the United States, essential NATO allies.

Admiral Michel Hofman, Chief of Defense for the Belgian Armed Forces, expressed the strategic importance of integrating the F-35 into the Belgian Air Force. He emphasized the aircraft's role in ensuring the fulfillment of missions alongside NATO, the EU, and global partners for decades to come.

Building on the legacy of the F-16, the F-35 represents the next generation of air power, connecting assets across domains to enhance situational awareness. Lt. Gen. Mike Schmidt, program executive officer for the F-35 Joint Program Office, highlighted the growth of the F-35 in Europe, emphasizing its contribution to international partnerships and warfighting capability.

Greg Ulmer, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, praised Belgium for the achievement, emphasizing the F-35's unmatched capability, connectivity, and interoperability. The rollout ceremony underscored the collaborative efforts of the Belgian government and industry, vital for the success of this cutting-edge aircraft.

The first F-35A, designated AY-01, is slated for delivery to the Belgian Air Force next year. It will be based at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, a hub for international F-35 pilot and maintainer training. Belgium's program outlines the acquisition of 34 F-35As, reflecting the nation's commitment to advanced air capabilities.

Beyond bolstering defense capabilities, the F-35 program contributes to Belgium's economy through the Essential Security Interest (ESI) program. Lockheed Martin's involvement ensures the transfer of advanced manufacturing techniques, expanding industry skills and providing long-term employment opportunities.

The F-35's global impact is evident with operations from 31 bases worldwide. Lockheed Martin's track record includes delivering over 980 F-35s, training thousands of pilots and maintainers, and accumulating over 768,000 flight hours. The corporation remains dedicated to collaborating with F-35 operators to stay ahead of evolving threats.


Belgium's rollout of the F-35A Lightning II signifies not just a technological leap for its air force but also a strengthened alliance with the United States. The F-35's advanced capabilities, connectivity, and interoperability position Belgium at the forefront of 21st-century air power. The collaborative effort between Lockheed Martin, the Belgian government, and industry partners ensures a transformative impact on defense and the economy.

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