Labour Members Rebel On JSF, Audit Office Says Figures Don't Add Up
(Source: Dutch News; published Sept. 19, 2013)
The cabinet may have agreed to spend €4.5bn on 37 JSF fighter jets, but criticism of the decision is mounting both inside and outside parliament.

The government's audit office said on Thursday it had doubts about the defence ministry's spending plans and that there are gaps in the calculations about use of the JSF.

“The audit office does not support the statement that the defence ministry's vision will lead to a financially and operationally sustainable armed forces,” the statement said.

Missions

The ministry says four JSFs will always be available for international missions but there are doubts about whether this is possible, audit office chief Saskia Stuiveling said.

Savings which the ministry assumes will be made by working together with the Belgian air force are unproven and questions remain about the ministry's chronic problems with aircraft maintenance, she is quoted as saying by the Financieele Dagblad.

In addition, the assumption that maintenance will cost €270m a year is 'unlikely' to be the case, Stuiveling said.

Labour MPs

Defence minister Jeanine Hennis outlined her vision for the armed forces on Tuesday, during the presentation of the annual budget. The plans include the loss of a further 2,400 jobs and the closure of four barracks.

Although the cabinet's decision is supported by Labour ministers, Labour MPs are not so happy with the green light for the JSF. According to RTL news, party members are planning to submit a motion against the JSF to Saturday's party conference.

The motion calls on the party to 'take all necessary steps to leave the JSF project, as agreed in last year's motion'. And a number of Labour MPs told the Volkskrant on Thursday they feel they are being forced to accept the decision by the party leadership.


(EDITOR’S NOTE: The Dutch MoD has decided to sell off a large number of its armored vehicles as part of the latest budget cuts intended to free up cash to pay for the F-35s. Local press reports say the Dutch army will sell 44 of CV9035NL infantry fighting vehicles, 116 mothballed Leopard 2 tanks and 32 PzH2000s self-propelled howitzers, 35 KMW Fenneks, as well as 12 new wheeled Boxer armoured vehicles which have yet to be delivered.)

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‘PvdA MPs Feel Ignored by Samsom on JSF Purchase'
(Source: Netherlands Info Service; issued September 20, 2013)
THE HAGUE --- A large number of Labour (PvdA) MPs feel they have been ignored by party leader Diederik Samsom with the cabinet decision to buy Joint Strike Fighters (JSF). The matter is being discussed internally on Friday, De Volkskrant newspaper reported.

The MPs of the coalition party are ‘not amused’ that Samsom agreed to the purchase of 37 JSF fighter aircraft without first discussing this in the party, the paper concludes from talks with nine PvdA MPs. “We have not yet voted on the JSF in the party. There is much discontent that the cabinet has already decided on it,” said an unnamed MP in the paper.

The MPs want to bring up their disquiet on Friday during an extra party meeting. Some are considering requesting a vote. “A vote is not good for the mutual relations, but this is such a sensitive topic that it is desirable,” said one MP. “I do not rule out quite a fair number of colleagues being against it.”

On 3 July, two days before the summer recess, a core group of the cabinet, including Premier Mark Rutte and PvdA Ministers Frans Timmermans and Jeroen Dijsselbloem, decided on the purchase of the JSF. The next day, a “big commotion” arose over this in a PvdA party meeting, according to some of those present. A large majority were at the time against a decision to purchase the plane, according to De Volkskrant.

Because there was no decision, the subject was put on the agenda for a party weekend in Friesland in August. This failed because the foreign affairs spokespeople were unable to attend. This week, the cabinet made its decision known officially.

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