Dutch Parliament on Thursday adopted a motion that delays a final decision on the possible procurement of 85 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft to the year 2012, a year after the 2011 general elections. It also decided to initially buy not two (as planned) but one JSF operational test aircraft and delayed the decision on buying that single aircraft until next year. It leaves open the option that the first test plane will be returned to producer Lockheed Martin, albeit at price: 20 million euros (of a total price tag of 110 million for a single test plane). In the meantime, however, the Netherlands will remain fully involved in the development program of the JSF.
The discussion on buying two JSF test planes brought the Dutch coalition close to a crisis this week, after one of then parties in government (Labour) said it was against deciding on the test planes now, claiming there was insufficient information available to make a balanced decision. This put the party diametrically opposed to the Christian Democrats, the largest party in government, which wanted to decide to buy the two test planes now. A compromise motion was tabled by Labour and seconded by the two other parties in government.