Feb. 1 (UPI) -- Lockheed Martin rolled out the first operational F-35A Lightning II for the Netherlands during a ceremony at its production plant in Fort Worth, Texas.
Officials from Lockheed Martin, including CEO Marillyn Hewson, were on hand with U.S. military officials on Wednesday for the event to present the aircraft to government officials from Denmark.
"Receiving this F-35 at Leeuwarden Air Base later this year is going to be a huge driver for change for our Air Force and will have tremendous impact on the relevance of our Air Force as part of the coalition," Lt. Gen. Dennis Luyt, commander of the Royal Netherlands Air Force, said in a statement.
"We want to be among the best air forces of the world, and the platform of F-35 allows us to do that."
The aircraft is scheduled to ferry to Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., the site of F-35A pilot training.
The Lightning II is the third F-35 jet delivered to Netherlands. In 2013, the Netherlands received two F-35s, which are at Edwards AFB, Calif., for testing. In all, RNLAF plans to acquire 37 F-35As.
The Netherlands was among the original nine partner nations for the F-35, and the second international partner to receive an F-35. In May 2016, an F-35 landed on Dutch soil for the first time.
"From the very beginning of the F-35 program, the Netherlands has been a key partner in developing, testing, improving, and maintaining this remarkable aircraft," Hewson said. "As we look to the future, the Netherlands will serve as a sustainment hub in the European region for maintenance, repair, overhaul, and upgrade projects."
In all more than 360 F-35s have been delivered and are now operating from 16 bases worldwide. The partner countries are Australia, Canada, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. There are also three foreign military sale customers -- Israel, Japan and the Republic of Korea.