Dutch defence minister Ank Bijleveld has eliminated the country’s budget cap for F-35 purchases, opening the possibility of buying more F-35 jets.
A spokesman confirmed to Defense News here that the move as “just a formality” that would not require parliamentary approval, as the Dutch objective of buying 37 F-35 jets for €4.7 billion remains in place. But it means “we leave the option open to buy new planes” beyond those already envisioned in the budget, the spokesman said.
As one of the original nine partner nations for the F-35, and the second international partner to receive the F-35, the Netherlands continues to be a key contributor to the development, production and sustainment of the F-35 program.
The Netherlands and Lockheed Martin have a long-standing partnership of working together since 1914 – with the Netherlands operating the Martin Model TA, Electra, Lodestar, P2V-5 Neptune, T-33 Shooting Star, F-104 Starfighter, P-3 Orion, C-130 Hercules, and F-16 Fighting Falcon and now, the development of the F-35.
The Dutch Parliament approved an order for eight Lockheed Martin F-35As in March 2015, confirming the aircraft as the official replacement for the F-16 for the Royal Netherlands Air Force. This lot of eight F-35s will be delivered in 2019.
The current programme of record for the Netherlands is 37 aircraft.