Cabinet Opts for JSF
THE HAGUE, 18/09/13 - The Netherlands is to purchase a total of 37 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, Defence Minister Jeanine Hennis said on Tuesday in her 2014 budget.
The JSF, officially the F-35 Lightning II, will gradually be introduced into the fleet from 2019 to replace the F-16. All F-16s will be replaced by the JSFs by 2023.
The purchase remains within the 4.5 billion euro budget, which calls for an additional annual 270 million euros to maintain the aircraft. Because the purchase has been budgeted carefully, the ministry may have room to buy additional fighters.
With the decision to buy the JSF, 18 years of political wrangling over the aircraft seems to come to an end. However, the proposal has yet to be approved by parliament. There is a potential stumbling block here for the conservative (VVD)-Labour (PvdA) coalition because there is much opposition to the JSF within the PvdA.
The aircraft was developed by several companies and countries under the leadership of US defence contractor Lockheed Martin. The Netherlands decided to join in the development of the JSF in 2001. Since then a number of Dutch companies have won orders in connection with the development of the aircraft.
Hennis also announced that at the four units of the armed services 2,300 jobs will be axed in addition to the 12,000 already announced by the previous cabinet. She wants a smaller defence force but with "a full tool kit that can engage in any violent situation".
The Johan Willem Friso barracks in Assen, the Van Ghent barracks in Rotterdam and the Joost Doloret barracks in Texel will be closed. The navy is being forced to sell its largest ship, the Karel Doorman which is now under construction. The vessel will first be taken into service to increase its market value. The ship Amsterdam will remain in service until a cheaper supply ship than the Karel Doorman is found.