November 23, 2004 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The Netherlands is delaying its planned introduction of the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft by two years to 2014. The measure will release money needed to pay for newly emerging acquisitions, which for a major part have become necessary because of Norway's controversial decision, last September, to cancel a major equipment swap with the Netherlands.
According to the Netherlands
Minister of Defence Henk Kamp, postponing the replacement of the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNlAF
)'s ageing F-16 fleet with new F-35As will generate EUR189 million ($243.8 million). This money will now be used to acquire urgently needed bridgelaying and minefield breaching platforms as well as 155 mm precision-guided artillery munitions. The engineer platforms and 155 mm munitions were supposed to have been provided at no cost by Norway
as part of the package deal.
In total, the Norwegian withdrawal from the equipment swap is costing the Netherlands EUR216 million, said Kamp, who earlier expressed his intense disappointment with the Norwegian decision. However, only part of the extra costs (EUR86 million) can be absorbed during the current defence planning period, which runs through to 2009.
This is because other programmes are also confronting the Dutch with previously unplanned extra spending, namely:
EUR106 million related to the earlier-than-planned introduction of new CV9035 Mk III infantry fighting vehicles for the Royal Netherlands Army (RNLA);
At least EUR30 million to bring the RNLAF's existing and planned Boeing CH-47D Chinook helicopters to the same avionics standard;
A still-to-be-determined amount for changing the existing contract with NH Industries for 20 NH90 naval helicopters to a new contract for 12 NH90s in naval and eight in maritime transport configuration.
Finding a customer for the RNLA's 18 surplus Krauss-Maffei Wegmann PzH 2000 155 mm howitzer systems - which were at the heart of the equipment swap but which Norway now does not want - will be necessary to pay for part of these as well, Kamp said.