In September 2013, the Dutch Government announced the decision to buy 37 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets to replace the F-16s of the Royal Netherlands Air Force.
The first Dutch pilot, Maj. Laurens J.W. Vijge flew for the first time in the F-35A Lightning II on Dec. 18, making the Netherlands the second partner country to fly the fifth-generation plane after the UK.
Whereas the two aircraft currently stationed at Eglin Air Force Base, where Dutch planes and personnel were incorporated into the U.S. Air Force’s 58th Fighter Squadron at the 33rd Fighter Wing that provides training for both U.S. and allied countries.
On Jan. 14, the news that the F-35 could carry nuclear weapons, made the news after some media outlets reported that the Minister of Defense has recently affirmed that, as a NATO member, the Netherlands could be called to perform a nuclear task.
Indeed, there are about 20 U.S. nuclear bombs stored in the Netherlands: such bombs could be carried by RNlAF F-16s in case of war. However, a motion in the Dutch parliament urged the government to prevent the Fighting Falcon’s successor to carry nukes.
But the Ministry of Defense responded that the nuclear task is foreseen by the North Atlantic treaty and, as a NATO commitment, it can’t be unilaterally ended.
By the way, F-35 can’t carry B-61s as of yet but they will probably get such a capability when the rest of the payload is tested and qualified for use with the JSF.
Image credit: U.S. Air Force