MPs back JSF jet despite warning on costs
9 October 2006, AMSTERDAM — The three left-wing opposition parties failed on Wednesday to prevent the Cabinet committing to the next development stage of the JSF fighter jet.
9 October 2006
AMSTERDAM — The three left-wing opposition parties failed on Wednesday to prevent the Cabinet committing to the next development stage of the JSF fighter jet.
A Parliament majority of the Christian Democrat CDA, Liberal VVD, populist LPF and the two smaller Christian parties approved the next stage. The contract will be signed in mid-November in Washington.
Defence Minister Henk Kamp and State Secretary Cees van der Knaap said it was not necessary to wait until the 22 November election to sign the contract.
The Labour PvdA, Socialist SP and green-left GroenLinks had hoped that the new Parliament would vote against the decision made by the Cabinet, which has restricted powers in the lead-up to the elections.
The Lower House will now vote on Tuesday — the last parliamentary week prior to the election — in favour of a CDA motion to sign the contract.
That means Dutch industry will remain involved in the project and if the next cabinet or Parliament decides in 2007 to abandon JSF, it will cost EUR 3 million.
A report from the auditor's office earlier this month warned that the Netherlands face great financial risks due to its involvement in the JSF project.
But the auditor also said there were no urgent reasons to abandon the project, despite the uncertainties around the JSF technical developments, the number of jets to be built and the date of completion.
In 1999, the project was estimated to cost EUR 4.5 billion for 114 planes. That estimated cost has risen to EUR 14.6 billion over 30 years for 85 jets.
But Van der Knaap said the money spent by the Netherlands on the development of the JSF would not exceed the price it would have paid to buy the finished plane.
He said the price of each JSF — which will replace the current fleet of F-16s — would be higher for the nations that were not involved in its development.
But the ups and downs of the US fighter jet dominated proceedings during the parliamentary debate over the Defence Ministry's 2007 budget on Wednesday.
And it remains uncertain how many the jets the government will buy. Kamp has previously indicated that a two-year peacekeeping mission such as in Afghanistan would require 66 F-16s.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Dutch news