The extra warplanes will be based out of Leeuwarden air base, and Volkel air base
Translated by Thomas Ansell
As reported by the Leeuwarder Courant, the Netherlands is to order nine extra F-35 Lightning II jets made by the American defence company Lockheed Martin. These will be installed at Leeuwarden Airbase, but it is not clear how many jobs will be created around the deployment.
The news had hung in the air, however was made official during Prinsjesdag, when the Dutch government presents its budget, on Tuesday.
Compared to its lowest point in 2014, the Ministry of Defence (Ministerie van Defensie) will, by 2020, have an extra 3 Billion Euros per year to spend. The total budget is around 11 Billion Euros. The 9 extra planes will cost around 700 Million Euros, and will be added to the 37 planes that the Dutch government had already decided to order. In total, the Netherlands’ armed forces will have 46 planes at their disposal.
The extra planes will form “the beginnings of a third Dutch F-35 Squadron”, said Defense spokesperson Peter Valstar. Leeuwarden Airbase will definitely be one home for the new squadrons, with Volkel Airbase (Noord-Brabant) also to house some planes.
A squadron normally comprises of 15 warplanes, and therefore it is likely that the Dutch airforce will have to place another order to make up the numbers. “We cannot say upon which basis the nine planes confirmed today will operate. That is for the future”, said Valstar.
The F-35 planes are being ordered to replace the Royal Dutch Airforce’s (Koninklijke Luchtmacht) current collection of F-16 fighter jets. At the moment, Leeuwarden is home to one of these squadrons, and Volkel two. In total, the Airforce has 61 F-16’s at its disposal. Over the next five years all of these will be replaced by the new F-35’s.