During a ceremony to mark the arrival of the Netherlands’ first operational F-35A Joint Strike Fighter on Friday, the warplane was accidentally covered in firefighting foam rather than water cannon.
A video showed two crash trucks at the Royal Netherlands Air Force starting to shoot a “water” arc to salute the F-35 which is seen rolling across the tarmac and then shortly coming for a stop.
The incident took place after the firefighting vehicles were put on standby for the salute ahead of the stealth fighter’s arrival but then called to assist in an emergency involving an F-16 Viper fighter jet earlier in the day.
After that, firefighters reportedly forgot to switch to shooting regular water for the F-35 ceremony.
“[There are] thousands of spectators [gazing at] the [F-35] vehicle worth $91 million. Firefighters are spraying it with foam instead of water at the official arrival ceremony,” the tweet reads.
It was not immediately clear whether the foam damaged the warplane’s sensitive external features, such as the specialised radar-absorbing coating.
At the same time, some of the foam was seen being sucked into the aircraft’s engines as the F-35 was taxied away to a nearby hangar. Thus far, there have been no reports of lasting effects on engine functionality in previous incidents related to firefighting foam exposure on a warplane.
The Dutch Air Force has eight other F-35 jets which are currently stationed in the US, where they are used for pilot training and testing. The F-35A is the first plane which will be permanently based in the Netherlands, which plans to purchase 46 more F-35As, including nine before the end of this month.