With this letter I respond, also on behalf of the Minister of Economic Affairs, to the request of the Permanent Committee for Defense of last September 7 (reference 26488-187 / 2009D41075) to explain the letters and the next steps that are expected in the F-16 Replacement project during the parliamentary year 2009-2010.
In this letter I will briefly comment on decisions from 2008 to date. The next steps in the current parliamentary year flow logically from it. I will then discuss the implementation of the Hamer motion [this refers to an additional proposal tabled by Ms. Meriette Hamer, leader of the PvdA Social Democrat group in Parliament—Ed.] (26 Kamerstuk 488, No. 178). Finally, you will find an overview of the Cabinet’s letters to Parliament during this parliamentary session on the F-16 Replacement Project.
Decisions from 2008 to date
The next steps to be taken during the next parliamentary year constitute a logical extension of the decisions taken during past years. Therefore, the essence of the decisions from 2008 to date is described below.
-- By letter dated February 29, 2008 (26 Kamerstuk 488, No. 65) you were informed of the Cabinet decision to sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT & E) of the JSF program. This letter is also put out that, for participation in the IOT & E phase, a minimum contribution of two test aircraft was required. The House agreed in late May 2008 to the MoU with the award of a contract to acquire two test aircraft.
-- On January 16, 2009, the government decided to procure two F-35 test aircraft, with the understanding that this decision would take effect after consultation with the House. After a general discussion on April 22 this year, and the plenary debate of April 23, the House agreed, by accepting the Hamer motion, to enter into commitments for the production of the first Dutch test aircraft from the LRIP-3 series production batch.
Continued Planning purchase test equipment
The Hamer motion is the basis for continued planning for the F-16 Replacement Project. The motion describes the three criteria that are necessary for obtaining the consent of the House to enter into commitments for the production of the second test aircraft. Furthermore, the motion considers that participation in the JSF project is important for the Dutch employment.
-- Price of the second test aircraft from the LRIP 4 production batch:
This price is not yet known. The House on February 29, 2008 was provided with confidential information about the available budget for the test aircraft (Note DMO/DB/2008001692).
-- The F-35’s noise levels:
Our letter of July 10 last (26 Kamerstuk 488, No. 192) informed the House of the F-35 noise footprint based on noise calculations carried out by the National Aerospace Laboratory (NLR). The conclusion is that the noise of the F 35 is well within the current 35Ke noise zones.
-- Outcome of the arbitrage of the business case:
On June 30 this year, the House was confidentially informed about the progress of the arbitration (26 Kamerstuk 488, No. 190). Arbitration is still not complete.
The Hamer motion has followed the previous goal of arriving at a final decision in 2010. The premise was that LRIP-4 aircraft should be ordered under the regular contracting system of the JSF program, beginning in 2010. The price will be established at that time. It appears possible that a maximum price for the second test aircraft from the 4-LRIP production batch may be known in 2009.
Regarding the other two criteria, the F-35 noise contours and the outcome of the arbitration business case, it was expected that they would be clarified over the summer. That was indeed the case for the F-35 noise footprint, but not for the arbitration. Of course the House will be informed as soon as possible about the outcome of the arbitration of the JSF business case, and the price of the LRIP-4 aircraft.
Below you will find an overview of the letters on the F-16 Replacement that the government will in any case send to the House. Should other relevant developments occur in the interim, the House will be informed separately.
After the United States makes a decision on the budget for the further development of the F136 engine - the second engine for the F-35 - the House will be informed.
If the outcome of arbitration into the JSF business case, or the price of the LRIP-4 aircraft, become known, the Chamber will be informed.
After the House was informed about the outcome of the arbitration of the business case and the price of the LRIP-4 aircraft, the Minister of Economic Affairs told the House about the status of the orders for the Dutch industry and how they related to the sales forecast for the JSF program.
The annual report for the year 2009, in accordance with the rules governing large projects, will be submitted to the House by April 1, 2010.
The State Secretary Of Defense
Dr. J.G. de Vries
(EDITOR’S NOTE: By admitting that the government does still not know the contractual price of the second F-35 that the Netherlands must buy in 2010, and that no conclusion has been reached in the arbitration process intended to fix the compensation due to Dutch industry for the shortfall in JSF-related orders, State Secretary Jack de Vries acknowledges that there has been no progress whatsoever on these issues in the past five months.
That is hardly a positive development as several countries, including Denmark and Norway, expect a firm price offer before committing to the program.) (ends)