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Belgium sets up US-based F-35 conversion unit

Belgium has set up a new F-35 conversion unit at Luke AFB in Arizona, where it will join other international operators in training its ground and air crews on the type. (US Air Force)

Belgium has set up a new conversion unit in the United States to train its personnel on the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

The Belgian Ministry of Defence (MoD) said on 23 November that the first elements of the Belgian F-35 Conversion Unit (BEL F-35 CU) arrived at Luke Air Force Base (AFB) in Arizona at the end of July. The BEL F-35 CU is to be integrated into the US Air Force's (USAF's) 312th Fighter Squadron (FS).

β€œThe detachment is currently working hard to prepare for the arrival of the first Belgian F-35A aircraft and trainees. A total of 48 pilots, 14 flight simulator instructors, and 120 technicians will pass through for their training on, or conversion to, the state-of-the-art F-35A in the coming years,” the Belgian MoD said, adding that it expects the first Belgian Air Component (BAC) trainees to begin passing through the BEL F-35 CU from February 2024.

There are more than 110 F-35As at Luke AFB, drawn from the USAF and a range of international operators. These are used to train pilots and maintainers on the type, before aircraft deliveries to their respective home countries are made.

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