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Wednesday, December 8, 2010     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Dutch parliament shocked as cost of F-35 fighter rises to $120 million

LONDON — The cost of the Joint Strike Fighter now exceeds $120 million.


A leading partner of the U.S.-led JSF program has determined that the F-35 fighter-jet would cost at least $121 million per unit. The Netherlands said this marked an increase of 20 percent over the last year.

"This estimate includes the average price of the three versions of the F-35 over the entire production period, and estimated U.S. investments including ground equipment, simulators and includes initial spare parts," the Dutch Defense Ministry said.

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In a Dec. 2 statement, the Dutch ministry issued a rare non-U.S. estimate of the aircraft's rising costs. JSF prime contractor Lockheed Martin has insisted that the F-35 would not cost more than $100 million.

In September 2010, Israel became the first foreign country to formally order JSF. Israel signed an agreement for 20 F-35s for what an estimated $2.7 billion.

JSF partners such as Britain and the Netherlands have refused to sign orders for the aircraft. The Dutch parliament has expressed shock at the increase of the cost of the F-35, meant to replace the country's F-16 multi-role fighter fleet.

On Dec. 2, Dutch Defense Minister Hans Hillen told parliament that the sharp rise in JSF costs reflected development and production delays. Hillen also cited the rise in costs of raw material, equipment and salaries, which were expected to further increase.

Several parliamentary factions have demanded that the Netherlands, which plans to procure 85 aircraft, withdraw from JSF. The Labor Party urged the government to purchase an existing aircraft to help control procurement costs.

"As assumed last September, the adjusted estimate of the investment for the F-16 replacement project is significantly higher than the current project budget," Hillen said.

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