Time for emergency landing for JSF

15 December 2004

Time for emergency landing for JSF

Now that Minister Zalm and Secretary of State Van Gennip are embroiled in a scrap with industry over payment for the JSF project, there is, in the view of SP Member of Parliament Krista Van Velzen no other possible course than to withdraw from the whole project, abandoning plans for the American bomber plane. “Either we cut our losses and get out now or throw good money after bad,” said Ms. Van Velzen.

Krista van Velzen “The project has ground to a halt. Technical development is stagnating, because the plane turns out to be too heavy. Financial agreements are not being respected because the euro has risen so much against the dollar and is much dearer than was expected. At the same time the advantages the scheme offers to Dutch industry are becoming less and less evident. I think we need to send a Mayday message – it’s high time for an emergency landing,” Ms Van Velzen said.

Two years of co-operation between the US aerospace firm Lockheed Martin, the Dutch private sector and the government have not gone well. Last summer the government announced a delay of at least 18 months. Parliament had by then, following a proposal from the SP, demanded a revised financial schema upon which government and industry could agree. To date, this so-called “business plan” for the plane has not been forthcoming. To Van Velzen’s anger it has now, despite promises that the new estimate would be delivered in December, been put off until January.

“The ostensible reasons for this delay are pitiful,” she commented. “Lockheed Martin hadn’t enough time, and now it turns out, according to the media, that the government negotiated with industry over the arrangements for co-operation. The Duivestijn Commission demonstrated that in the case of major projects there are invariably enormous financial setbacks. The JSF is clear confirmation of this. Before the catastrophe gets any worse, we need to call a halt. During last month’s negotiations over the defence budget the SP put forward a motion calling for the JSF to be cut. Only the PvdA (Labour Party) and Green Left supported this, yet it must surely be obvious to Members from the governing parties that the JSF has become a complete disaster, a hopeless waste of money into which any further spending will disappear as into a bottomless pit.”

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