Fourteen of the armed forces’ 19 Cougar transport helicopters were taken out of service on Monday, in what defence chief Peter van Uhm said is ‘a very sad day’.
Sixty tanks, four minesweepers and 19 F-16 fighter jets were also decommissioned on Monday as part of defence ministry cuts totalling €1bn over four years.
‘I am not happy about this at all,’ Van Uhm told reporters at the Gilze-Rijen airbase, where the helicopters are stationed.
In total, some 12,000 armed forces jobs will also disappear and 2,000 people face compulsory redundancies, the defence chief said.
MPs are due to debate the cuts with defence minister Hans Hillen in June and if MPs decide Hillen has gone too far, the cuts can be reversed, Van Uhm said.
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