JSF project a ‘blank cheque’ says Labour

Giving the go ahead for Dutch participation in the US-led Joint Strike Fighter project would be like signing a ‘black cheque,’ according to Labour (PvdA) MP Luuk Blom.

The national audit office (Rekenkamer) published its report into the JSF project today. The report is highly criticial of the financial uncertainties. The cabinet’s assertion that the JSF is the best aircraft at the best price is not true because it is impossible to calculate what the cost will be, Blom told news agency ANP. The audit office report pointed out 1999 government figures showed Dutch participation in the JSF would cost €4.5 bn if 114 planes were bought. The latest figures put the cost of involvement at €14.6 bn for 85 planes.
A slim majority of MPs are opposed to the project but the cabinet is determined to press ahead before the November election. Employers also want to go ahead because of its importance to the Dutch aerospace and technical engineering industries. Research published by Tilburg University two weeks ago showed that Dutch firms would benefit from up to €7 bn in extra turnover as a spin-off from Dutch government involvement.

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