Mei 29 2012

RNLAF: reduction to 42 F-16’s – Airbase Leeuwarden closed

Gepubliceerd door om 19:03 onder Global F35 News

STIENS (FRL) - The plans are ready: the Royal Air Force is being reduced to only 42 F-16 fighter jets and Main Operating Base Leeuwarden soon will lose its F-16 squadrons. Dutch independent website unveiled confidential plans, that had to be kept secret until after the elections in september 2012.

The paperse of course are “confidential” and distributed in a very limited circle of trusted people and politicians. Publicity around the plans would be a matter to be of very accurate “timing”, because the intention was to keep it strictly silent until after the fortcoming elections.

Selected scenario: to 42 F-16

After becoming available in 2011 from the U.S.A. of new financial data on the JSF about price, costs of operating and support, costs of modifications in The Hague at Project Team Replacement F-16 (PV F-16) and later, at a higher level: we need to recalculate some stuff here..

The team was commissioned for the preparation of various scenarios, p.e. with 2 Main Operating Bases (MOB), Volkel and Leeuwarden, with 1 MOB (Volkel or Leeuwarden), or 1 MOB with a reserve base, all kinds of data was involved, such as numbers, flight hours, training scenarios, collaboration, numbers of people, basic maintenance, re-use of airbase area, noise and environmental effects, etc.

The final scenario with the most potential for savings within given optimal operational capabilities and financial parameters:
- Reduction of the number of fighter aircraft F¬16 from 68 to 42
- Closing of 1 airbase, near Leeuwarden,
- Realization between 2014 and 2016

Cause: the arrival of the F-35

It is remarkable that just the F-35, which should have ensured the future of the Royal Netherlands Air Force for the coming decades, is claimed as the main reason for this huge reduction:
Calculations are made that due to the budget of € 4.5 billion for replacement of the F-16 the RNLAF only has sufficient budget for the procurement of 42 F-35A fighter aircraft. The papers of the Dutch MOD writes: “For this reason it is better and the cheapest and this is already anticipating the number of F-16’s as soon as possible to reduce to 42. This would require 1 airbase as sufficient, and one airbase may be closed.

Other quote: “The replacement of the F-16 is a major fiscal risk for the Defense budget if we would select the Lockheed F-35A, not only by rising investment costs but also by the high operating costs.”
But the Dutch MoD continues: “It is clear: because of the investments already made, it is no option to abandon the JSF. Cancelation is not even considered in the actual calculations”.

Keeping quiet until after election

Why should this remain silent? And why all who were involved in making these plans and others, political involved persons, was told: this has to be confidential. Very clear. There are two reasons: firstly, the total dismantling of the Royal Netherlands Air Force will meet huge resistance among the voters of the conservative-liberal VVD and conservative-christian party CDA.But, because it also appears from the documents that the main cause of the dismantling is the high price and unaffordability of the F-35’s this will cause debate. A confrontation of the failure of the F-35 project is not welcome for the ruling and responsible parties VVD and CDA in the coming election period. They don’t like having too much focus on the JSF and replacement of the F-16 in the preparation of the election, during election debates and (inevitably) in following coalition talks. Therefore bad news had to be kept silent.
After publication, the political elite will first try to get away with: speculation of JSFNieuws, unfounded, or “just only a calculation,” or the MoD will refer ‘decision falls in next cabinet period’. However, the reality, the facts - on paper - tell a different story. And the top level persons involved in Defense of the partiesVVD and CDA are aware of the various necessary trade-offs around the replacement of the F-16.

Increasingly clear since 2005 …….

It has long been clear within the toplevel of the Dutch MoD that it is impossible within the current defense budget, earmarked for replacement of the F-16, to purchase a number of 85 F-35A JSF Lightning II aircraft. This was already clear in 2005, documents show this and it has been published in 2009 at JSFNieuws already.
On 22 August 2005, the outgoing U.S. ambassador (Sobel) in the Netherlands his opinion about the Netherlands and the U.S. for some important aspects of Dutch policy and how to deal with. He sent this message to the USA:
“Their desire to maximize the military’s capabilities and their preference for U.S. equipment, even when alternative European suppliers exist, make the Dutch strong supporters of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program. (…) Dick Berlijn is pushing to lock in an early commitment for 50 planes (out of a total of 85) to prevent JSF from becoming an issue in the 2007 elections.”
By splitting the purchase in a first batch of 50 aircraft and a second batch they tried to shift the pain to the future of having a smaller number of fighter aircraft in the Royal Netherlands Air Force. By the repeated delays and price increases last couple of years it became clear that even a number of around 60 aircraft would be impossible and unaffordable. The real outcome is known at this moment: 42 F-35A’s or less.

Thanks to someone who has taken responsibility JSFNieuws is able to publish this. Since 2008 our website has been able to publish several issues based on data from various countries, kept silent for political reasons. Fortunately there are people who are prepared to help us in making public the withheld and often manipulated truth to the outside world. Most of time after much doubt, and in risking their job, but because they are not heard or ignored internally. We encourage people in other countries to do the same.

Source: JSFNieuws120530 / “Spirit”

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