The Netherlands has said that it will buy 37 F-35A Joint Strike Fighter aircraft to replace existing F-16 aircraft in its Air Force. It has budgeted €4.5 billion or $6 billion for the aircraft and €270 million for annual operational costs.
The Netherlands has already paid €1 billion to help develop the F-35 as one of the eight partner countries of the United States and purchased two F-35A development
aircraft for use in the operational test and evaluation phase.
The F-35A from Lockheed Martin is expected the become operational in 2019 and by 2023 all F-16 aircraft should be retired. All will be the F-35A Conventional Take-Off and Landing (CTOL) variant.
While the selection of the F-35 is a win for the US because of the possibility that the Netherlands would have selected a different fighter from somewhere else, the number of aircraft committed to is far less than originally expected.
In 2002, the Netherlands planned to acquire 85 F-35 aircraft when it signed up with the program. However, the Netherlands may still buy more aircraft in the future.
The F-35 is also actively being promoted on the export market to make up for the shortfall in numbers to be acquired. One of these countries is South Korea which is expected to announce next week the results of the competition for the right to supply 60 new fighter jets.
However, the favorite there to win is Boeing's F-15 Silent Eagle, beating out both the F-35 and Europe's Typhoon Eurofighter. The F-15 is reportedly the only candidate to bid below the maximum allowed.