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.