The first Belgian F-35A is on the production line at Lockheed Martin’s facilities in Forth Worth (USA).
This is the outer wing box, which is the structure of the wing base. The wing is finished on the production line and then moves on to the next stage of the manufacturing process. Earlier this summer, construction of these components had already begun at Leonardo’s F-35A production facility in Cameri, Italy. By the end of 2023, Defence expects to deliver the first Belgian F-35A.
It was on 26 October 2018, Belgium signed a contract to purchase 34 Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II aircraft worth €3.6 billion. Deliveries will take place over a period of seven years. Lockheed Martin (LM) is working closely with the Belgian government to ensure that the necessary equipment is provided to support the new Belgian Air Component https://www.mil.be/nl/over-defensie/luchtcomponent/ aircraft. This includes, but is not limited to, simulators, support equipment, spare mission equipment and helmets.
The Belgian Air Force (BAF) has decided that its four squadrons operating on F-16MLU, the 31 Sqn and 349 Sqn at Kleine-Brogel AFB and the 1st Sqn and 350 Sqn at Florennes AFB will be converted to F-35A.
The training of the first pilots is planned at Luke AFB in cooperation with the US Air Forces and LM. From 2024 to 2028, eight aircraft will be based there, and 48 pilot training slots are planned.
For the Florennes base https://www.florennesairbase.be/ the first F-35A will arrive in mid-2025 and in mid-2027 at Kleine-Brogel https://www.kleinebrogelairbase.be/index.php/nl/. On each of the two bases, 4 Full Flight Simulators (FFS) will be installed and in the future, the concept of Live Virtual Constructive Training (LVCT) is being studied.