July 2, 2003 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Five military bases will be shut down in the Netherlands and 9,000 of a total of 70-thousand jobs within the armed forces will be scrapped as part of a major cost-cutting operation announced by the Dutch defence ministry on Monday. Parliament in The Hague seems ready to accept the plans.
The measures are far more drastic than had been anticipated; with the number of lay-offs nearly twice the expected figure of 4,800. Both the Soesterberg and Twente air bases in the central and eastern parts of the country will be closed down.
No date has been set for the closures, and more details will be announced on September 16th.
Defence Minister Henk Kamp promised on Monday that the cutbacks will not affect the country's overall military capacity. He said a large proportion of the hardware had become obsolete in recent years.
Mr Kamp wants to build a leaner and meaner organisation in the form of a slimmed-down but technologically sophisticated defence apparatus capable of deploying rapidly in all areas in the world.
The air force will discard 29 F16 fighter jets (11 more than earlier announced) and six Apache helicopters. This brings the total of Fighting Falcons from 137 to 108 of which 90 are offered to the NATO
The cutbacks will yield the defence minister sufficient funds to finance his modernization plans. The air force, for instance, will get another DC-10 transport aircraft, and the remaining fleet of Apache combat helicopters and F-16 fighter planes will be upgraded to meet present-day demands.
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: Royal Netherlands AF budget cuts - Rumours