Dutch Doubts

The Dutch parliament voted to terminate participation in the F-35 strike fighter program in a non-binding resolution strongly condemned by Dutch defense minister Hans Hillen. “If we were to stop investing in fighter aircraft . . . it would simply mean that we would be neglecting our duties,” said Hillen in a statement three days ahead of parliament’s July 5 vote. One of the original industrial partners on the project, the Netherlands “reserved 4.5 billion euro for the purchase” of as many as 80 F-35s, noted Hillen. Labor party ministers plan to propose a formal bill to cancel Dutch F-35 participation ahead of an election in September to replace the current government, but F-35 manufacturer Lockheed Martin says it was confident that the Dutch would stick with the program, reported Bloomberg on July 10. Dutch industry has a roughly 9 billion euro industrial share in the F-35 program, according to Hillen. Lockheed Martin rolled out the first F-35A for the Netherlands this April.