Labour pledges to pull out of JSF project

2nd May 2006, Comments 0 comments

2 April 2006, AMSTERDAM — The Dutch Labour Party (PvdA) has vowed it will halt Dutch participation in the Joint Strike fighter project if it gets into government next year.

2 April 2006

AMSTERDAM — The Dutch Labour Party (PvdA) has vowed it will halt Dutch participation in the Joint Strike fighter project if it gets into government next year.

"Not a single JSF will be bought under the PvdA. That will be a key election of our election programme," the party's defence spokesperson MP Luuk Blom told magazine 'Intermediair'." He said the PvdA, if part of the next coalition government, will seek to withdraw from the project.

The PvdA is the largest opposition party in the Dutch parliament and recent polls have suggested it will surpass Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's Christian Democrats at the election next May.

Participation in the US-led programme to develop a new generation of fighter jet was a hot political topic in the Netherlands from 2000, with many voices in parliament against the idea.

Populist Pim Fortuyn was opposed to participation in the JSF project and his assassination in May 2002 led to wild and totally unsubstantiated speculation that he was killed, possibly by the CIA, to silence his objections.

After a long debate, the Netherlands signed up to the project in June 2002.

The government of the day agreed to pay USD 800 million (now EUR 632 million) towards the cost of developing the fighter, now known as the F-35. The UK paid EUR 2 billion to become the only Level I partner with the US. The Netherlands and Italy (USD 1 billion) are the two Level II partners. Several other countries paid lesser amounts.

A country's level dictates the level of technology transfer and subcontracts that will come its way.

The Netherlands is due to sign a contract with the US later this year about production, upkeep and continuing development of the JSF. The government in The Hague plans to buy 85 of the fighter bombers to start replace the country's ageing F-16s from 2012. It is expected the purchase will cost somewhere in the region of EUR 6 billion.

The PvdA argues the business plan for the JSF was built on quicksand, resulting in a prohibitive cost. "The Netherlands pumped USD 850 million into the project on the basis of the flattering plan thrown together in 2000. But the guarantee we will get something in return is zero," Blom said.

The intention was that the US would give subcontracts to a variety of Dutch companies. "In reality, almost all the orders have gone to one company, namely Stork. We have given concealed state aid to that company," Blom said.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]

Subject: Dutch news + JSF

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