Blog AnalysisAviation

The JSF under the magnifying glass of accountants

Six F-35s (credit: Lockheed Martin)

(BRUSSELS2) The new American JSF / F35 combat aircraft that the Netherlands must acquire will be subject to a detailed examination by the National Court of Auditors. More precisely, Dutch accountants will examine the financial consequences of stopping participation in the development of this combat aircraft. The Netherlands plans to order 85 copies of this aircraft. But only two of them have, for the moment, been ordered “firm”. The first is currently, very discreetly, being tested on a base in Texas, in Fort Worth.

Certainly a parliamentary majority expressed itself, at the beginning of July, in favor of stopping the program. The PvDA Labor Party switched the parties opposed to this purchase; after having procrastinated for years: “against” at the beginning, then “for” the purchase of the first test device, when they were in coalition with the Christian Democrats, then “against” again during the purchase of the second device. But the minority government (Liberals of the VVD and Christian Democrats of the CDA) has, for the moment, not intended to give up this equipment which is to replace an F-16 at the end of its life and from which the Dutch aeronautical industry is waiting. significant impact (around 1200 people work on the program). The first devices purchased cost 158 ​​million euros (compared to 98 million euros initially planned). And the Dutch budget has already invested 800 million euros in the program.

The question is therefore crucial. Should we stop this program and thus lose not only the investment made and the future benefits, not to mention that we will have to budget carefully for the replacement of the F-16s? Or should we continue despite everything, at a key moment, when Dutch Defense must save 1 billion euros over 4 years, or even more (if other budgetary restriction plans are undertaken in the future), and put carries 12.000 of its “employees”…? This question that the Dutch are asking themselves, many courts of auditors in most European countries should ask themselves…

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Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).