The cabinet may have agreed to spend €4.5bn on 37 JSF fighter jets, but criticism of the decision is mounting both inside and outside parliament.
The government’s audit office said on Thursday it had doubts about the defence ministry’s spending plans and that there are gaps in the calculations about use of the JSF.
‘The audit office does not support the statement that the defence ministry’s vision will lead to a financially and operationally sustainable armed forces,’ the statement said.
The ministry says four JSFs will always be available for international missions but there are doubts about whether this is possible, audit office chief Saskia Stuiveling said.
Savings which the ministry assumes will be made by working together with the Belgian airforce are unproven and questions remain about the ministry’s chronic problems with aircraft maintenance, she is quoted as saying by the Financieele Dagblad.
In addition, the assumption that maintenance will cost €270m a year is ‘unlikely’ to be the case, Stuiveling said.
Defence minister Jeanine Hennis outlined her vision for the armed forces on Tuesday, during the presentation of the annual budget. The plans include the loss of a further 2,400 jobs and the closure of four barracks.
Although the cabinet’s decision is supported by Labour ministers, Labour MPs are not so happy with the greenlight for the JSF.
According to RTL news, party members are planning to submit a motion against the JSF to Saturday’s party conference. The motion calls on the party to ‘take all necessary steps to leave the JSF project, as agreed in last year’s motion’.
And a number of Labour MPs told the Volkskrant on Thursday they feel they are being forced to accept the decision by the party leadership.
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