Selection of F-35 for the Netherlands Made Official
17 Sep 2013
The strategic paper ‘In the interest of the Netherlands’ presented by the Dutch Minister of Defense, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, on 17 September 2013 officially confirms the selection of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II (Joint Strike Fighter) to replace the F-16 multi-role fighter fleet of the Royal Netherlands Air Force. The 30-year investment budget of 4.5 Billion Euros reserved earlier for the F-16 replacement in addition to the current F-16's annual operational budget of 270 Million Euros should allow for a fleet of 37 F-35A conventional take-off and landing versions, thus 35 F-35s can be procured in addition to the two test aircraft already purchased. The first F-35s are planned to enter operational service in 2019, with the last F-16s retiring in the mid-2020s.
The two test aircraft, procured in 2009 and 2011, had been completed earlier this year, but were put into maintained storage awaiting this final decision as well as the planned participation starting in 2015 in the operational test phase of the Joint Strike Fighter program.