Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II
Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II FL001 shorly before the official roll-out at Forth Worth on 10 December 2023.
Single seat multirole fighter aircraft
After an in-depth evaluation and analysis of all different candidates to replace the F-16AM & BM Fighting Falcons, the Belgian Government decided in late 2018 that it would order 34 Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning fighters for the Belgian Air Force. The F-35A was preferred over the Dassault Rafale F4, Eurofighter Typhoon, Saab JAS 39E and the Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornet in part because it was the only 5th generation fighter in the candidate line-up.
The Lightning II is a state-of-the-art multifunctional fighter which also offers stealth characteristics when needed. The 34 Belgian F-35A’s will be based at Florennes airbase as of 2025 followed in 2027 by Kleine Brogel airbase. Initially eight Belgian Lightning II’s will in the USA where they will provide training for pilots and technicians. Personnel and equipment will form the Belgian F-35 "Conversion Unit" (CU) as part of the USAF 312th Fighter Squadron based at Luke AFB - Arizona (USA). The first Belgian F-35A, FL001 (AY-1), was officially rolled out at the Lockheed Martin plant at Fort Worth on 10 December 2023. (Daniel Brackx)