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New fighter jet hope for long-legged Dutch

Lockheed Martin has agreed to make changes to the cockpit of the Joint Strike Fighter.
by Staff Writers
The Hague (AFP) Oct 28, 2008
Changes to the cockpit of a new fighter jet could offer hope to would-be pilots who are turned down for the Dutch air force because their legs are too long, an official said Tuesday.

"We had a list of operational requirements, and one of these was that Dutch pilots should fit in the cockpits," air force spokeswoman Sascha Louwhoff told AFP referring to the new aircraft currently under development.

"It may be funny, but it's true... Our pilots are obviously taller than Italian or Turkish pilots. Over the years, the Dutch people have grown taller, and we've had to keep up with that."

To this end, producer Lockheed Martin has agreed to make changes to the cockpit of the Joint Strike Fighter which is being jointly developed by nine nations including the Netherlands, said Louwhoff.

The fighter is one of three shortlisted to replace the Netherlands' ageing fleet of 85 F-16s.

Currently, the Dutch air force is compelled to turn down aspirant pilots who are too tall in spite of their other qualifications, added Louwhoff.

"There is a limit if you simply don't fit into the cockpit. Obviously this is not something we want to do, and we want to be able to choose from a bigger group," she said.

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