Avoiding the ‘Death Spiral’
With Canada, Netherlands, Italy and the U.S. considering or already have reduced their buys, more cancellations will severely impact the procurement and future maintenance cost of the remaining fleets. Such a drop may already be in process. Canada is reconsidering its commitment to buy 65 F-35As, while the Netherlands has delayed decision to buy in another two years and is likely to scale down its order from 85 to 68-52 planes. Washington itself has delayed 410 of its 2,443 orders for F-35s beyond 2017. Italy was planning to buy 140 airplanes, but after the US decision to trim its orders Italy also reduced its requirement to 90, which further increased the aircraft price.
Denmark is also keeping its options open, and is likely to evaluate Saab’s Gripen NG, Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet, Eurofighter Typhoon as alternatives to the planned procurement of 30 F-35As. The decision was postponed three years ago amid a budget crunch that followed the monetary crisis of 2008.
On the upside – Britain, Norway, Australia and Turkey seem to be backing the program, with Israel and Japan already committed to firm contracts. Singapore has shown tremendous interest, they are quite enthusiast about the airplane and are expected to make their decision by this summer. By June, South Korea is also expected to make its decision.
Norway remains one of the program’s strongest international supporters. On Friday (April 26) Defense Minister Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen has asked Parliament to approve the order for the first batch of six F-35 aircraft included in the main contract of 48 aircraft at a cost of around $10.5 billion.
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