Joint Strike Fighter decision must be delayed until after election

15 April 2006

Joint Strike Fighter decision must be delayed until after election

Secretary of State for Defence Cees van der Knaap must delay a decision on the purchase of dozens of Joint Strike Fighters until after a general election, according to SP Member of Parliament and defence spokeswoman Krista van Velzen. Ms Van Velzen points to the announcement by the United States Congress that production will be two years behind schedule, while the purchase price has risen by 30 percent. “To decide under these new circumstances whether to go ahead with the purchase of the JSF is a question for a parliamentary inquest which could take a number of years,” said Van Velzen, explaining why she had asked the Defence Secretary for clarification on the issue.

Joint Strike FighterJoint Strike Fighter

“It would be unfortunate if Mr Van der Knaap stuck to his decision to decision to agree on this year on a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ and go ahead with the purchase of the JSF,” Ms Van Velzen said. “Everything points to this project's becoming a financial fiasco. Although the Ministry of Defence is sticking to its story that nothing is amiss, the Americans are now talking about a price increase of 30 percent. And that in the face of last year's talk of its being tens of percentage points over budget.”

In the SP's view the purchase should at the very least be subject to review. “The F-16 could be upgraded technically and kept in service until around 2020,” Van Velzen said, “while recent military operations have shown that in any case a fighter plane is not always lord and master of the air.”

Van Velzen is to ask Van der Knaap on Tuesday during Question Time for clarification regarding the delay, the exceeding of the budget, and the likely consequences of these. .

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