The Netherlands Buy Additional F-35 Fighter Aircraft
(Source: Netherlands Ministry of Defence; issued Oct. 08, 2019)
(Unofficial translation by
The Defense organization is buying an additional nine F-35 fighter aircraft. State Secretary Barbara Visser informed the House of Representatives by letter today. The total number of F-35s for the Air Force will increase to 46.

By adding nine aircraft to the current order, the Defense organization is better able to perform constitutional tasks. In addition, with this latest purchase, the foundation is laid for a third F-35 squadron.

Faster in (potential) conflicts

The Royal Netherlands Air Force must monitor Dutch airspace 24/7. At the same time, the armed forces must carry out a single, long-term mission with four aircraft.

By adding nine aircraft, as well personnel to the aircraft’s base, the burden on people for a long-term mission is substantially reduced. The deployability can also be divided over more aircraft. This has a positive effect on the continuity of the F-35, because the flight hour cost per aircraft decreases. Employability also improves. If necessary, the Netherlands is more quickly present in (potential) conflicts.

All this included

This is included in the acquisition. Consider the spare parts and training resources required at the beginning, such as simulators and information systems. Furthermore, it includes special tools, measuring and testing equipment and aircraft on-board equipment. The procedure with the nine extra F-35s is therefore the same as with the 37 fighter aircraft that have already been ordered.

However, the additional nine aircraft will also require infrastructure, including some new construction. In part, it is enough to adjust existing infrastructure. In addition, the arrival of nine additional F-35s requires mobile infrastructure for broadcasts and exercises.


The costs are estimated at around € 1 billion. This amount is entirely in line with the budget made available for the National Plan in the Spring Memorandum.

The F-35 replaces the F-16 with which the Air Force has been flying since 1979. The Netherlands once bought 213. At present, 61 of these outdated aircraft are still flying.


Letter to Parliament: Order for Nine Additional F-35 Fighter Aircraft (excerpt)
(Source: Netherlands Ministry of Defence; issued Oct. 08, 2019)
(Unofficial translation by
PARIS --- The following is excerpted from an Oct. 8 Letter to Parliament by Dutch State Secretary for Defense Barbara Visser notifying the government’s plans to order nine additional F-35 aircraft, and asking for Parliamentary approval to sign the order before the end of the year.

The starting point of the investment cost estimate is that it is connected to the current 37 aircraft already ordered. Use was made of the most up-to-date estimates for the costs of the aircraft and the planned rate of the Central Planning Bureau.

The basic estimate for the required investments is € 1,016 million and is fully in line with the budget made available for the National Plan in the Spring Memorandum. In addition, an amount of € 143 million remains as a risk reserve. The investment series for this additional requirement is shown in the commercially confidential appendix of this letter. The investment budget for the additional nine F-35 aircraft is added to the current project budget for Acquisition F-35.

The estimate for operating costs is a proportional growth of all items as is now included in the operation of the 37 F-35 aircraft. The operating costs of the additional nine aircraft include obvious costs such as personnel, fuel, maintenance, use of exercise munitions and self-protection equipment, as well as costs for maintenance, infrastructure, IT support and other support costs, among other things.

Account has also been taken of an increase in the share of program costs and further development costs as a result of the growth of the Dutch fleet from 37 to 46 aircraft. The basic estimate for the operation of nine additional aircraft is € 43 million for 2023, € 93 million for 2024 and € 97 million per year from 2025.

This increasing series is the result of a step-by-step growth in the number of F-35 aircraft. The basic estimate fits within the available budget made available for the National Plan in the Spring Memorandum. The budget will be added to the operating budget for the 37 aircraft. The cost estimates of the nine additional aircraft and additional resources that the Ministry of Defense purchases are explained in the commercially confidential appendix.

The order for the nine additional aircraft will be confirmed at the end of 2019 at the Joint Program Office (JPO). Ideally, the Ministry of Defense plans the new order for additional aircraft to follow on to the production of the last three (Lot 15) of the 37 aircraft already ordered.

The Ministry of Defense’s position is that these additional aircraft will be of the most recent configuration standard, so it is possible that the nine aircraft will only be purchased 6-12 months later if it appears that this configuration standard is being put into production later (Lot 16 and / or Lot 17).

It is my intention to confirm the order of the additional aircraft at the end of this year at the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) so that the current order of 37 aircraft can be connected. Due to the necessity of a timely order at the JPO by the Netherlands, I request that your Chamber take this into account when processing this letter.

Your House will be informed of the progress of the 46 Dutch F-35 fighter aircraft within the Acquisition F-35 project in accordance with the basic principles memorandum for the Major Acquisition F-35 project as laid down in the March 2018 procedure meeting (reference 2019Z03999 / 2019D09255).

The cost estimates for the additional nine aircraft purchased by the Ministry of Defense are commercially confidential and are explained in a separate letter that you receive at the same time as this letter. The commercially confidential annex also discusses the currently known financial consequences for the Netherlands as a result of the suspension of partner country Turkey in the F-35 program.


Dr. Barbara Visser
State Secretary for Defense


prev next

Breaking News from AFP See all

Official reports See all