AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Two Dutch F-35A fighter jets made their debut at an international air show on Friday, conducting demonstration flights in the Netherlands.
The radar-evading warplanes, which will eventually replace the Dutch Air Force's fleet of F-16s, are conducting two weeks of noise testing by Dutch pilots.
The U.S. Marine Corps has already declared the F-35B model ready for combat, but the conventional takeoff and landing A-model is still completing testing. The U.S. Air Force expects to declare an initial squadron of F-35A jets ready for combat between August and December this year.
The Netherlands, which helped fund development of the new stealthy fighter jet, known in the Netherlands as the Joint Strike Fighter, plans to purchase 37 of THE planes in total. The next order will be for a batch of eight jets.
Thousands of onlookers gathered at the air force base in the northern city of Leeuwarden, 150 km (90 miles) north of the capital Amsterdam, for the first fly-overs on Friday. The planes are scheduled to fly again on Saturday.
A Swiss F-5E air force demonstration jet collided with another plane in midair on Thursday and crashed in a lake during a test flight before the show. The pilot ejected before impact and was slightly injured.
Reporting By Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Angus MacSwan