2013 will be an exciting year for the Dutch Air Force and for Dutch politics. The reason: there is a decision to be taken on the new fighter to replace the outdated F-16s, says a report in Een Vandaag.
In a report that looks at the various options that are on offer, Kimo Demoed of Een Vandaag says that while the U.S. F-35 was the dream candidate for the Dutch Air Force for years, the JSF project is anything but smooth: "The costs are skyrocketing, there are numerous technical problems and the performance of the aircraft is disappointing."
Een Vandaag's reports on the changed gameplan on the replacement of the F-16 in the year of the decision, quoting Dick Zandee, former political adviser MoD and NATO, now working at Clingendael, who says that the F16 replacement puts the government under serious duress: "The JSF will cost more than 100 million E, and I believe this cost will increase. Social Democrats are against the JSF and the Liberals want it. This could become a serious political crisis."
The Swedish Saab Gripen is an alternative and Eddy de la Motte, Head of Gripen Export, says, "We can provide an unbeatable offer in terms of capability of the aircraft, fixed price and fixed schedule."
According to Dick Zandee (Clingendael), "the real question is, how much do you want to pay for this extra JSF capability? There are other good alternatives out there, like the Saab Gripen, that are capable and suit our needs for half the price. When we go for the JSF we can never afford four squadrons and that makes it difficult to conduct missions around the globe."
Zandee goes on saying: "Other Western countries are flying Gripen, Rafale or Eurofighter, I do not get the feeling that these countries are in danger because they fly European products. I urge the politicians to answer the question: What do we really need to be able do in the air? And not: What is the best aircraft money can buy?"
Eddy de la Motte points out, "We tried to make this aircraft good in a lot of ways: good to buy, good to maintain. It will live for 40 years, it can be updated, very flexible and we will provide you with the technology so that you can update it yourself. I think it is pretty much established that we are the most cost effective fighter."
According to in Een Vandaag, "While others are making progress, the JSF is troubled with a lot of problems. The American MoD made a long list with recurring problems: test schedule falls behind, software problems, safety systems falter, stealth not working, acceleration and manoeuvrability are disappointing."
Eddy de la Motte points out that the Gripen offers force multipliers that give it the edge. "You can operate the Gripen from an ordinary 800 metre piece of straight road. Landing, taking off and do rearming in less than 10 minutes. You can change the engine in less than one hour outside with 5 guys."
According to Een Vandaag, "In 2008 Saab made the Dutch an offer for 85, based on that number it will cost 56.4 million. The price of the JSF is unclear. We now estimate it at around 100/110 million.