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Lightning II Strikes Twice!

Netherlands Follows Norway - Backing the JSF for a Future Successor for the F-16

Undersecretary Jack de Vries announced yesterday (December 18, 2008) that after a comparison with the Saab Gripen NG, the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) came out as the best follow-up for the Dutch F-16s. The undersecretary will advise Cabinet to enter the next phase of development for the JSF, funding the production of to F-35 aircraft for the Joint Test Force by early 2009.

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While the Dutch decision relies on thorough comparison of the two options, based on qualitative, cost and delivery schedules, the Dutch decision also addressed the capability to effectively operate in high intensity warfare, De Vries stated.

Colonel Robert Geerdes, project manager for the JSF, stated that the Gripen did not meet four out of the six quality standards. Few weeks ago, the Norwegian Ministry of Defense also selected the F-35 and made a similar statement, regarding the Gripen's failing to meet their requirements. Saab strongly protested these claims as unsubstantiated. However, colonel Geerdes said the performance of both planes were close. The Dutch decision also eludes to the aircraft acquisition and total life cycle cost.

While neither De Vries nor Geerdes wanted to give any comments relating to price to protect producers' interests, De Vries did say that investments for the JSF will be smaller because of the 800M Euro already invested. The Dutch Parliament will review the comparison results and gather its own information as well. The House also requested an independent review by the Rand Corporation Europe, which verified the objectively and transparency of the comparison.

The next major decision for JSF will be in Copenhagen, as the Dutch Ministry of Defense announce its decision whether to back the JSF or go for an alternative. Given the Norwegian and Dutch announcements, a choice other than F-35 will be a surprise. (Defense Update thanks the contribution of VNCCC, of the Netherlands, Metro and SPiTS daily newspapers)