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Frothing mad: Dutch Air Force douses 1st F-35A with corrosive firefighting foam by mistake (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)

Frothing mad: Dutch Air Force douses 1st F-35A with corrosive firefighting foam by mistake (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)
What was intended as a water cannon salute to mark the arrival of the Netherland’s first operational F-35A Joint Strike Fighter quickly became a frothy, foamy fail of the most caustic kind.

The base’s firefighting tenders had been placed on standby for the salute prior to the stealth fighter’s arrival, and had been called to assist in an emergency involving an F-16 Viper earlier in the day. They then forgot to change back to water for the F-35 arrival ceremony.

Right on time, the jet appeared at Leeuwarden Air Base at 3:30pm local time and landed shortly after flying a quick lap around the site, only to be rather unceremoniously coated in caustic foam upon touching down.

Official releases about the arrival make no mention of the mistake. The cheering crowd, which included various government dignitaries, was none the wiser as pilot Ian Knight, the commander of the 323 Test & Evaluation Squadron, exited the cockpit.


As the plane was taxied away to a nearby hangar, some of the foam was sucked into the aircraft’s engines. There have been no reported lasting effects on engine functionality in previous incidents of firefighting foam exposure on military aircraft. 

However, the F-35A is a stealth aircraft which has highly sensitive radar-absorbing coatings on its outer skin, which may have been interfered with by the foam.


While the Dutch Air Force has eight other Joint Strike Fighters, they are all based in the US, where they are used for pilot training and testing. 

The Netherlands is buying 46 more F-35As, so not all is lost in this latest lapse. The 5th-generation aircraft deal is worth €5 billion; it is the largest weapons purchase in Dutch history and was debated over for almost a decade in parliament.

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