American aircraft manufacturer Lockheed Martin has told the Financieele Dagblad it is fully confident the Netherlands will buy 85 of the controversial JSF fighter jets, despite doubts in the Dutch parliament.
‘We have an agreement with the Netherlands to deliver 85 aircraft,’ director Stephen O’Bryan told the paper. ‘Our information is that this will go ahead.’
There are growing doubts in the Netherlands about the wisdom of investing at least €4bn in the project and in so many planes. The project has also been plagued by delays, technical problems and soaring budgets.
‘That is all part of the process, in this phase as well,’ director Kristy Mayfield said during an interview in Fort Worth, where the planes are being made.
The Netherlands has ordered two test aircraft. The first, costing €159m, is currently undergoing trials.
The Dutch cabinet will decide later this year whether or not to go ahead with the order. Last week the independent Clingendael Institute said the JSF will be of limited use to the Dutch armed forces.
Not only is the project so expensive that other aspects of the military’s work could be hit, but it will only be useful if the Netherlands gets directly involved in military conflicts, the Clingendael report said.