Labour gives way to centre-right coalition partners: JSF will be coming

28 February 2015

Labour gives way to centre-right coalition partners: JSF will be coming

The coalition government, which includes the Labour Party (PvdA), is going ahead with the purchase of eight Joint Strike Fighters. The JSF is a fighter-bomber the acquisition of which was opposed unequivocally by Labour during the last parliamentary election, yet that position has now been reversed. As SP Member of Parliament and defence spokesman SP Jasper van Dijk concluded after last week’s parliamentary debate on the matter, ‘The PvdA is even more manoeuvrable than the JSF.’

'In buying the JSF the Netherlands is lumbering itself with huge problems,’ says Van Dijk. ‘The costs and the technology are both plagued by uncertainties. In the end the government wants to buy thirty-seven aircraft for a total of €4.5 billion, but the real price could be even higher.’ Referring to the costly failure of the trains meant to serve a rail link between the Netherlands and Germany, a link which was closed after less than three years due to persistent technical difficulties, Van Dijk adds that ‘what we’ll get in that case is a repeat of the Fyra debacle. We’re buying an aircraft with all sorts of technical deficiencies. It’s hard to believe that the PvdA is supporting this.'

The SP has been opposed to the JSF from the start, arguing that the country’s armed forces could manage very well with a much less costly plane. This is not merely the SP’s opinion but that of the widely respected academic body, the Clingendael Netherlands Institute for International Relations. Spending billions on an aircraft still under development is in any case stupid. The technical deficiencies are never-ending and that’s not going to change in the next few years. .

Van Dijk does not rule out a parliamentary enquiry, with the prestige project showing every sign of shaping up for a fiasco. ‘It would be better if we could avoid that, but it’s unlikely with a coalition government that’s blind to the problems.’

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