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The Netherlands to buy 37 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters

Staff writer |
The Netherlands will buy 37 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter planes and may order more if funds become available.The decision brings the number of countries with firm commitments to purchase the F-35 to seven.

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Britain, Australia, Italy, Norway, Israel and Japan also placed orders.

"The government has decided, on operational, financial and economic grounds, to select the F-35 as the new fighter aircraft for the Netherlands armed forces," Defence Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert said in a policy paper setting out her long-term vision for the armed forces. She said the government had the resources to order 37 fighters initially and could add more, finances permitting.

"If, within the given financial parameters, room is created in the coming years to purchase more aircraft, the Defence organization will do so. This may be the case if the contingency reserve is not used in full and if the price per unit of the F-35 turns out to be lower than is currently expected," said Ms. Hennis-Plasschaert.

The F-35 is designed to be the next-generation fighter for decades to come for U.S. forces and their allies in NATO. The F-35 program is several years behind schedule and 70 percent above early cost estimates. Some Dutch politicians, concerned about rising costs, had suggested going for an alternative such as Saab Gripen, Boeing F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet, or the EADS Eurofighter.

The price of the jets would be around $85 million, including inflation, according to the most recent Pentagon projections.

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