The first Belgian F-35A, the fighter to replace the aging F-16s, is on the production line at US manufacturer Lockheed Martin in Forth Worth, Texas. This was stated in a press release issued by the Ministry of Defense on Monday.
According to the Ministry of Defence, this refers to the ‘outer wing box’ or the basic structure of the wing. “Finishing this section takes place on the production line, and then we move on to the next stage of the production process,” said Defense.
Construction of those components began last summer at the manufacturing facility of Italian conglomerate Leonardo, an industrial partner in the F-35 program, in Cameri, Italy.
The first Belgian F-35 is expected to be delivered by the end of next year. The first eight fighters will be based in the United States at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona to train pilots and technicians. The first F-35As will arrive at the air base in Florence, Belgium in 2025. The first flight will arrive in Klein-Brogel in 2027.
In October 2018, the federal government dived into the documentation of a new fighter jet for the Belgian military. The government ordered 34 F-35As for 3.8 billion euros.