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Dutch ministry favours Joint Strike Fighter

The Joint Strike Fighter (F-35).
by Staff Writers
The Hague (AFP) Dec 18, 2008
The Dutch Defence Ministry said Thursday that the multi-national Joint Strike Fighter (F-35) is the best candidate to replace the country's ageing F-16 fighters.

"The F-35 is the best multi-role combat aircraft," said a ministry statement. "The F-35 also has the greatest operational availability."

"In addition, the capital costs on the F-35 are the lowest and it is anticipated that the total life-cycle costs will also be the lowest."

The findings were the results of a comparison made by the ministry with the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research, the Netherlands Aerospace Laboratory, and monitored by the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

The fighter is competing with an advanced F-16 made by Lockheed Martin of the United States and the Gripen Next Generation fighter made by Saab of Sweden in the battle to replace the Netherlands' 85 F-16s.

The F-35 is being made by Lockheed Martin with partner firms from Australia, Britain, Norway, Denmark, Turkey, Italy, Canada, and the Netherlands.

The Netherlands has invested 800 million dollars in the project and the Dutch aerospace industry received 750 million dollars of orders in return, said defence ministry spokeswoman Sascha Louwhoff.

The Dutch cabinet will take a final decision on a replacement in 2010.

Lockheed Martin recently agreed to enlarge the cockpit especially for the long-legged Dutch.

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