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Dutch receive F-35 test aircraft

July 26, 2013 at 1:41 PM

THE HAGUE, Netherlands, July 26 (UPI) -- The Ministry of Defense of the Netherlands reports it has officially been transferred the first of two F-35s ordered in 2009 and 2011.

The aircraft is for test purposes and is in the conventional takeoff and landing variant.

The next-generation fighter, designed and built by a Lockheed Martin-led industry team, was officially handed over earlier this month at Fort Worth, Texas, and is being stored at a U.S. Air Force base in Florida.

"The Netherlands took possession of the aircraft and will now be responsible for maintenance and safety," the ministry said. "Therefore, some Dutch defense employees will follow a technical training, after which they will supervise maintenance works by the Americans and the respective accounts.

"By now, the production of the second test aircraft ordered in 2011 is finalized, and that aircraft is still going through some test and acceptance flights."

Storage of the aircraft is due to a possible hang up over the Netherland's procurement of the fighter. The Dutch government had budgeted for more than 50 of the aircraft, which will replace the country's F-16s, but mounting production and procurement costs has sparked debate in the country and could lead to less aircraft being procured.

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