Defence minister Eimert van Middelkoop has decided not to buy 30 Tomahawk missiles as part of a revamp of ministry spending plans, ANP reported on Monday. Van Middelkoop made the announcement during a briefing in Brussels, saying he would rather use the €70m saved for something else.
This follows the confirmation by a defence spokesman late on Sunday that the ministry is considering the sale of F-16 fighter jets and cutting spending on tanks and heavy arms in order to free up money for new personnel and improved working conditions.
Minister Van Middelkoop confirmed that his priority is attracting and keeping defence personnel. Although his predecessor at defence, Henk Kamp, wanted the Tomahawks for precision bombing from frigates alongside the British and Americans, Van Middelkoop said he does not think the Netherlands will ever need to operate at such a ‘high level of violence’.
The ministry has been faced with financial cutbacks for years, and the cost of the Uruzgan mission has risen to €500m. On Sunday the Telegraaf reported rumoured cuts in the defence budget, but the spokesman stressed that the minister is not making overall cuts, but reallocating the budget to different areas.
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