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Netherlands signs Lockheed Martin F-35 JSF assembly MoU with Italy

Anno Gravemaker / Arnhem

The Netherlands has signed a bilateral memorandum of understanding with Rome to investigate the possibility of assembling Dutch Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters (JSF) in Italy while maintaining their engines and other parts in the Netherlands.

Italy’s government is pressing the USA to establish a JSF final-assembly and check-out line on its soil, as is BAE.

The Dutch defence ministry’s fourth annual report into the planned replacement of its air force Lockheed F-16 fighters has again recommended continued involvement in the JSF project.

The Netherlands plans to spend over €5 billion ($6.4 billion) on the JSF, including €3.8 billion for the purchase of 85 aircraft to replace its remaining F-16AM/BMs. Operations of the current fleet are likely to continue until 2020 (Flight International, 25 April–1 May).

Some €450 million of a Dutch system development and demonstration phase contribution of €780 million has already been paid, with its national aerospace industry having so far received contracts to supply components worth $458 million, including airframe wiring and in-flight opening doors. A further €730 million has been set aside for investment in the project by 2013, with this to include funds to buy three aircraft in 2011-12 to take part in the programme’s international test and evaluation phase.

The Dutch defence ministry is currently preparing its final proposal to parliament covering the planned signature of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to take part in the JSF project’s production and sustainment phase. Its recommendation is expected to be ratified by parliament by the end of this year.

Source: Flight International