By Andrew McLaughlin
The Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) has conducted a 9,000km rapid reaction deployment training mission from Edwards AFB in California to a range in the Netherlands.
The June 13 strike mission was conducted RNLAF pilots and two F-35As based with the joint 323rd Test and Evaluation Squadron (323rdTES) at Edwards AFB, and was supported by a RNLAF KDC-10 tanker. The mission was a key element of the Dutch operational testing and evaluation (OT&E) program.
“The approach of Rapid Reaction Deployment is that a number of F-35s can be deployed within 24 hours, self-supporting, flexible and worldwide to carry out missions, with support from tanker and transport devices,” a RNLAF release reads. “This can be carried out in an environment with a high threat, day and night and in all weather conditions.”
The two aircraft were delayed on the mission after the first tanker experienced refuelling problems.
But after a replacement joined the mission in Canada, they crossed the Atlantic and dropped two GBU-49 GPS and laser-guided and two GBU-12 laser-guided bombs on a target of four containers on the Vlieland range with support from Dutch ground-based Joint Terminal Air Controllers (JTACs).
After the mission, the two aircraft landed at Volkel Air Base in The Netherlands where they took part in an open days event on June 14 and 15.
The mission was supported by a single USAF C-17A with 18 personnel to provide all maintenance, armament, life support and spares support.
This article was first published by Australian Defence Business Review on June 26, 2019.