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First flight of a Belgian Air Force F-35A

May 15, 2024 (by Lieven Dewitte) - On May 14, 2024, the third F-35A destined for the Belgian Air Force completed its maiden flight. The aircraft took off from Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth facility in Texas around 15:00h and flew for approximately one hour.

BAF F-35A #FL003 is coming in for landing at NAS Fort Worth after its first flight on May 14th, 2024. [Photo by Gail Snyder]

The Belgian F-35A (serial AY-03) features a colored roundel and the national flag on its tail, along with the tail code FL003 (“Fighter Lightning 003”). It is unclear if all Belgian Air Force F-35As will have the full colour national markings.

The 34 Belgian Lightning IIs will all be completed in the US with only the central wings and outer wing boxes constructed at the FACO facility in Cameri (Italy).

The first four F-35As will be delivered to Luke AFB (AZ) where they will join 312th Fighter Squadron, part of the 56th Fighter Wing. This squadron was inactivated in 1991, but reactivated on 1 June 2023 as an F-35A training unit, primarily training F-35 crew for the Belgian Air Force.

The remaining thirty aircraft will be based at Kleine Brogel and Florennes air bases. However, the latter will not see the first aircraft arriving before April 2025 and Kleine Brogel will have to wait until 2027.

Belgium formally received its first F-35A (FL001/AY-01) during a roll-out ceremony at the Fort Worth production facility in the United States on 10 December 2023.

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Additional images:

BAF F-35A #FL003 is seen on landing rollout after completing its first flight at NAS Fort Worth on May 14th, 2024. [Photo by Tim Wurth]