October 31. 2019 was the big day that the F-35 Lighting II arrived in the Netherlands. The brand new F-009 arrived from Italy to land at Leeuwarden air base.
Allready in 2016 the first two F-35’s arrived in the Netherlands. But those went back to the USA for further testing and training of the pilots. And at the Luchtmachtdagen in june this year the F-001 and F-008 visited the Netherlands, but again to return to the USA.
But now the first F-35 Lighting II is stationed at Leeuwarden airbase, and the F-010 will follow later this month. The air force has announced to event and invited over two Thousand guests at the air base. Several hundreds of aircraft spotters and other curious people gathered around the airfield to watch the new aircraft.
In the morning there was a wave of the Fighter Weapons Instructor Training. This exercise is going on for a few weeks now. Aircraft from the United Kingdom, Belgium and Portugal attend to this training. So, I went to Leeuwarden early to take some photo’s. At that time it was still quiet. In the afternoon more and more people arrived, since the Arrival of the F-35 Lighting II was announced for three o’clock.
Just before three o’clock we heard sirens at the airbase, and a minute later a crashtender arrived near the runway close to where many people were looking at the air base. Soon after that an F-16 made a low pass over the runway. At the same moment I spotted another F-16 on the runway using it’s drag chute. An emergency landing! Firefighters started to check the aircraft that came in. While most people who had no radio paid attention to what was happening at the air base, suddenly the F-35 came over from behind us.
The F-35 made a few passes, guided by F-16’s and in formation with a Spitfire, Hawker Hunter and an F-16. While the F-35 was performing it’s little show, the crashtenders handled the emergency and then moved to the place on the airbase where they would greet the F-35 with a shower of water. There something went wrong. For the emergency the crashtenders had switched to foam, so now the F-35 was welcomed with foam. Soon after the aircraft was cleaned, to minimize negative effects of the foam. Now the aircraft first needs a check to see if the foam caused corrosion.