F-35 - International Participation

colay

New Member
I think this makes an F-35 order a near certainty. Wikileaks had a 2009 cable transcript of a meeting between Bahrain's king and Gen. Petraeus. The Persian Gulf kingdoms were keen on getting the F-35 as soon as possible and Petraeus assured him it would be made available when the aircraft is ready.

The F-16 order allows the UAE to replace their older M-2000s without introducing a new type and sets them up for a 30-40 F-35 order in 2016-7 for 2020 introduction. I believe if the UAE had intentions of buying the Rafale or E.F. they would have ordered 60 instead of the F-16s. A stealth aircraft that can hit Tehran from the southern P.G. is a compelling deterrent for all the P.G. countries.

Google "Wikileaks casts light on arms sales process"
But the cables sometimes reveal the private thoughts of key players. For example, in a private meeting with Gen David Petraeus, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain agreed with his visitor's claim that the Dassault Rafale is "yesterday's technology", according to a dispatch dated 4 November 2009.

Hamad's comments carry some weight in the fighter business. Bahrain may be in the market to replace its fleet of Northrop F-5s. If the USA offers the Lockheed Martin F-16 or Boeing F/A-18, the Rafale is from the same era.

But if the USA offers the Lockheed F-35, it could boast offering "today's" technology. In January, a Lockheed Martin executive attending the Bahrain air show told reporters that Arab states would start buying the F-35 after Israel signs an order.


The Israelis have signed.
That's certainly one scenario and time will tell. My comment about Israel has to do with it's influence in Congress and the possibility it will perceive any F-35 sale to a GCC state as upsetting the strategic force balance in the region.
 

CapnCrunch

New Member
That's certainly one scenario and time will tell. My comment about Israel has to do with it's influence in Congress and the possibility it will perceive any F-35 sale to a GCC state as upsetting the strategic force balance in the region.
I think Israeli influence over US sales is overrated. The GCC is no longer focused on Israel. 1973 is long gone. Even then, Saudis got their F-15s over Israeli objections. From the same article referenced in the prev post:

Last month, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) informed Congress that Saudi Arabia had requested a possible sale of 72 Boeing F-15SAs. But that step came after a series of talks with Israeli officials.

A cable on 30 July 2009 describes Israel's opposition to the deal as focused on four key items - the transfer of Enhanced Paveway II bombs, joint helmet mounted cueing systems (JHMCS) and active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars, as well as basing the aircraft in northern Saudi Arabia.

But it is now clear that US officials did not back down. The DSCA notice announcing the possible Saudi purchased listed both JHMCS and AESA as part of the deal. Despite Israel's objections to Enhanced Paveway II bombs, Saudi Arabia is negotiating a deal that includes Enhanced Paveway III munitions.
 

colay

New Member
It seems the RAAF is sticking with it's plans to acquire up to 100 F-35s, giving the Program a welcome shot in the arm.


http://www.lse.co.uk/macroeconomicN...alia_to_back_F35_buy_in_new_defence_blueprint



WASHINGTON/CANBERRA, May 2 (Reuters) - Australia's government is expected to affirm plans to buy up to 100 Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jets, according to a defense blueprint to be released on Friday, easing concerns hanging over the future of the controversial stealth fighter.

The Australian plan, as outlined by defense sources and analysts, will also call for the purchase of a dozen Boeing Co EA-18G electronic attack planes, modified versions of Boeing's Super Hornets, purchased as a stopgap for the F-35.
 

OPSSG

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Thanks for the updates, to both RobWilliam and colay. In other F-35 news in Europe, an extract of is quoted below.

Norwegian MOD said:
26 April 2013 -- The Norwegian government today submitted a formal request to the Norwegian parliament for authorization to procure six F-35 Lightning II aircraft for delivery in 2017. In doing so, the Norwegian government follows up on its renewed plans from 2012 to stretch its procurement of the F-35 over additional years, and to accelerate its initial purchase by one year...

The Norwegian government today also announced its revised procurement plan for the F-35, which will see Norway receiving six aircraft annually from 2017 until 2024. This comes in addition to the four aircraft for training purposes that will be delivered in 2015 and 2016, for a total of 52 aircraft...

- We have concluded convincingly that the F-35 is the only aircraft that fulfills our future operational requirements. This continues to be true to this day, and we have no time to lose. Our F-16s remain among the world’s most capable aircraft of their kind, but they are also among the world’s oldest...

<snip>
This April 2013 press release on the Norwegian Government's decision is good news for the F-35 program. Fyi, the latest US attempt at estimating the F-35's costs will come on 23 May 2013, when the benchmark Selected Acquisition Report is scheduled for release and Colin Clark has an article dated 1 May 2013 at AOL that does a good job of explaining some of the differences in the life-cycle cost methodologies (in a manner helps a layman understand), that is worth a read.

For context on the program developments, see also this Flight Global report also dated 26 April 2013, where Bodgan also revealed the conventional take-off and landing F-35A should have an operating cost of $24,000 per hour: 10% more than the Royal Netherlands Air Force's fleet of Lockheed F-16s. Further, Bogdan told Hennis-Plasschaert that an initial decision by the JPO to decline an offer to lease the Dutch airframes to support testing could be changed, with the pair to potentially be used for lightning, rain and noise testing. This could save the Netherlands about €900,000 ($1.2 million) over six months - the current cost of storing the aircraft.
 
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Vivendi

Member
Fyi, the latest US attempt at estimating the F-35's costs will come on 23 May 2013, when the benchmark Selected Acquisition Report is scheduled for release and Colin Clark has an article dated 1 May 2013 at AOL that does a good job of explaining some of the differences in the life-cycle cost methodologies (in a manner helps a layman understand), that is worth a read.

For context on the program developments, see also this Flight Global report also dated 26 April 2013, where Bodgan also revealed the conventional take-off and landing F-35A should have an operating cost of $24,000 per hour: 10% more than the Royal Netherlands Air Force's fleet of Lockheed F-16s. Further, Bogdan told Hennis-Plasschaert that an initial decision by the JPO to decline an offer to lease the Dutch airframes to support testing could be changed, with the pair to potentially be used for lightning, rain and noise testing. This could save the Netherlands about €900,000 ($1.2 million) over six months - the current cost of storing the aircraft.
As is mentioned in the first story you link to above, the 24,000 USd estimate is not quite agreed upon. In fact, in Aviationweek it says:

USAF Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan told Dutch lawmakers that the flying hour cost for the F-35A would be about 10% higher than the F-16, a sharp reduction from earlier assessments.

“It is with a certain set of assumptions,” Kendall told reporters during a roundtable April 24 at the Pentagon, that Bogdan arrived at that figure. “I’m not sure we want to use that set of assumptions.”

The figure forthcoming to Congress next month, however, will be lower than that provided in last year’s selected acquisition report (SAR) to Capitol Hill, he says. That report cited the F-35A flying hour cost at $31.9 thousand versus $22.5 thousand for the F-16 C/D.

“That’s going to come down this year. I don’t think that is going to come down as much as Chris Bogdan indicated,” Kendall says, adding that he “doesn’t like the metric very much.”
Another Installment of ... F-35 Cost Per Flying Hour

Also, I question if the "10% more expensive than F-16" is in any case relevant to Holland. My understanding was that the F-16 number Bogdan was referring to was the USAF number. Unless Holland operates their F-16 and calculates their cost in exactly the same way as the USAF then those numbers are not directly relevant for Holland, however if all assumptions are described in detail then perhaps the Dutch can use that to derive similar Dutch numbers.


A couple of years ago Norwegian MoD estimated that the F-35 flight hours will be 40% more expensive than the F-16 flight hours. Their estimates for F-16 and F-35 were 10,760 and 15,204 USD, respectively. The numbers qouted above are clearly calculated using a completely different set of assumptions. One should treat all such estimates with great care.

Since then Norwegian Mod has not provided updated CPFH estimates, saying that it's impossible to make a valid comparison. Instead they estimate TCO, which is currently at 230 billion NOK (40 billion USD) for operating 52 F-35A for 30 years.
 

RobWilliams

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Here's a nice Sky News article + video about the UK F-35's.

Philip Hammond Unsure About F-35 Order

The part most relevant to this thread is the UK's order, unsurprisingly it talks about how the UK might not buy all 138, but the more interesting part is the variants.

Well our first buy is gonna be 48 aircraft, that'll deliver us the carrier fleet we'll need, and then later on in the life of the aircraft when we're looking to replace our Typhoons we will buy further aircraft but we haven't decided how many at this stage
IMO that sort of indication suggests that the idea of an A/B split fleet is on the cards, if the first 48 are B's for the carriers and the rest are more aimed at *replacing* (or more likely supplementing in the middle term) Typhoon which would definitely indicate the A.

EDIT: Link from FlightGlobal announcing that initial funding for long lead items for the first 2 Israeli F35A's has been recieved for LRIP 8

Lockheed receives long-lead funding for first Israeli F-35s

Gives a nice list of all the variants due to be produced in LRIP 8

  • 19 F35A - USAF
  • 6 F35B - USMC
  • 4 F35C - USN
  • 4 F35B - UK
  • 4 F35A - Japan
  • 4 F35A - Italy
  • 2 F35A - Norway
  • 2 F35A - Israel

Although funding for the 4 Italian A's has yet to be committed.
 
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OPSSG

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8 May 2013 - Turkey's Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) signed an agreement with Lockheed Martin to make two additional purchases from the F-35 Lightning II family of aircraft, to be delivered by 2016 (or LRIP Lot 8) at the International Defence Industry Fair in Istanbul.

According to Hurriyet Daily News, O’Bryan stated that “Turkey’s 100-plane order, which will be worth less than $12 billion, will be delivered between 2017 and 2025. But, Turkey will also manufacture the F-35. To date, Turkey has obtained a contract worth $300 million from the F-35 program.
 
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the road runner

Active Member
A good video from the perspective of Team Canada and the benefits and international program brings to Canadian. $450 million worth of contracts already won by Canadian industry has to be a big positive for the Aeronautical industry of Canada.

[nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9UJ1E8Tya94"]Canadians Talk About Building the F-35 - YouTube[/nomedia]
 

RobWilliams

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The UK's third F-35B (BK-3) has arrived at Eglin AFB

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/third-joint-strike-fighter-for-the-uk-arrives

The aircraft will be used for pilot and maintainer training for the UK team currently based in the USA. At Eglin, pilots from the Royal Navy and RAF and ground crew are working alongside their US Marine Corps colleagues learning all they can about maintaining the aircraft and how to fly the platforms to get the best out of them.
I vaguely recall reading that the trio will fly to Edwards AFB at a later date, but i'm not 100% sure.

Still, good progress with hopefully an order of 14 planes to be made by the end of the year. There was a bit of chatter about a newspaper reporting a buy of 18, but that's probably nonsense.
 

Glendora

New Member
Just a quick update on the Italian partnership to the program.
Last week a motion passed at the Lower House which stated that the Parliament will have to approve any further stage of F-35 purchase, and that the program will be under review for 6 months.
If you want further details, see the Cenciotti's blog, I am unable to post links, but the related post is easily searchable.

Yesterday, the Supreme Defense Council, an organism who has as chairman the President of the Italian Republic, clarified that such motion was void, since an approval of a law in the 2012 which disciplined the military acquisition programs for Italy.
The SDC stated that currently, since the Parliament already approved the purchase in 2009, only the Government (which favors the buy) could further cut or cancel what is now part of the ordinary budget of the Defense.
The Parliament would have to make a new law amending the previous one in order to stop the program, or will have to deny the annual general budget at the end of the year – which would most probably means the fall of the current Government.

The implications are that, in spite of a majority at the lower house who adverse the purchase, most probably they will not risk to legislate against the buy, which also would mean, in case of approval of such new law, the resignation of the current coalition government, which instead is in favor of the purchase.

I have no comment on the new, anyway this means that the program in Italy will most probably follow the planned course, at least as long as the current government remains in charge.
 

RobWilliams

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Italy has opened it's F-35 assembly line and has begun assembling activities on its first F35A.

Italy opens F-35 assembly line, as political opposition grows

The new, €800 million ($1 billion) final assembly and check-out (FACO) facility inside Cameri air base, near Milan "was established in a compressed period and is running on schedule and budget," General Chief Inspector Domenico Esposito, head of Aeronautics Armament Procurement, said in a recent interview released by the Italian defence ministry.

...

Italy currently plans to acquire 60 conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) F-35As and 15 short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) F-35Bs for its air force, plus 15 more of the latter for the navy to employ from its Cavour aircraft carrier.

...

"With the aircraft assembly reaching its regime, the FACO will gradually evolve into a MRO&U facility for the estimated potential 600 F-35s operating in the same region and other customers," Esposito says. "We already signed an agreement with the Netherlands for assembling their F-35s, while they will support our aircraft's [Pratt & Whitney F135] engines. A similar agreement in the aircraft logistic support area has been signed with Norwegian authorities for their planned F-35 acquisition."
Seems a pretty solid setup for a centralised hub for European F-35 activities, but an interesting point is that their plan isn't for a split of A for the Air Force and B for the Navy, but the Air Force is getting hold of the majority of the B's with 15 going to the Navy for operations on Cavour.

In regards to current funding for the JSF, Italy has the following

  • 3 F35A in LRIP 6
  • 3 F35A in LRIP 7
  • initial funding for 4 in LRIP 8
  • 'believed to have' advanced funding for 3 F35A + 1 F35B (Navy) for LRIP 9

Above numbers from the linked article.
 

SpudmanWP

The Bunker Group
Here is the announcement of the LRIP 9 Funding:

Pentagon Contract Announcement

Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, is being awarded a $70,358,000 modification to a previously awarded advance acquisition contract (N00019-13-C-0008) to provide long lead-time parts, material and components required for the delivery of seven Conventional Take Off and Landing F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft and one Short Take-Off Vertical Landing F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft for the government of Italy.

Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas, and is expected to be completed in February 2014.

International Partner contract funds in the amount of $70,358,000 are being obligated on this award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting authority.
It seems to have mixed LRIP8 & LRIP9 long lead funding together as N00019-13-C-0008 is the contract for LRIP8

I will have to do some digging to get the details.
 

RobWilliams

Super Moderator
Staff member
It definitely looks like it, the quoted numbers there are the combination of LRIP 8 & 9 orders.

From Defense News

The plane now being assembled will be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2015 after software and flight testing begins in the summer of 2014, while the second aircraft will be delivered in the first quarter of 2016. The first short-takeoff, vertical-landing F-35B jet is the 14th aircraft due to be delivered — the last jet in LRIP-9, with a delivery date in the fourth quarter of 2017.
Amid Local Opposition, Italy Begins F-35 Assembly | Defense News | defensenews.com
 

OPSSG

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DWG said:
Defense Writers Group: A Project of the Center for Media & Security.
Interview with General Herbert J. “Hawk” Carlisle Commander, Pacific Air Forces 29 July 2013

DWG: ...you also mentioned Singapore. We reported and heard that they are, they’re part of the F-35 program already, but that there was some movement to... Can you give us an update on —

General Carlisle: I talked to their CDF [Chief of Defense Force], Chee Meng. I was just in Singapore. Singapore’s decided to buy the B model, the VSTOL variant to begin with. But I don’t know where they’re at in putting it into their budget. I know that’s a decision that’s been made and that’s why they’re part of the program, but I don’t know where they’re at in putting that in the budget....
The above is a quote from General Carlisle that Singapore is seriously looking at acquiring the F-35B, but he does not know, when this will happen. To manage expectations, on 20 August 2013, the Singapore Minister of Defence, Dr Ng Eng Hen said:

"It is a long-term replacement for our F-16s and to modernise our fleet so there is no acute need for the F-35s. There are no pressures for the SAF (to decide) soon, we will take our time."​

In other developments, the Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr Lee Hsien Loong has unveiled a master plan to double capacity at Southeast Asia's busiest airport, build a new waterfront city, move its massive port and a long term plan, where Paya Lebar Air Base (PLAB) will be closed and its fixed wing aircraft relocated to free up land for development (see here for details). Currently, the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) has four air bases, three of which (including PLAB) are used for fixed wing operations. As David Boey noted in his blog:

"...From an operational perspective, the closure of PLAB would leave the RSAF with two air bases for fixed wing aircraft on mainland Singapore. There is one emergency runway on Pulau Sudong which could be turned into a fully operational air base, though field security and resupply across open water may pose challenges during operations.

The point that all RSAF fighters and strike aircraft will be shepherded to two vulnerable bases will, undoubtedly, provide ample talking points for discussions on the wisdom of such a proposal.

Casting our minds forward to 2030, one should bear in mind that the F-5 fighters now resident at PLAB will have long been retired by then. The C-130B/H Hercules transports are also expected to have been partially replaced by then, despite the mid-life upgrade performed by ST Aerospace.

The number of F-15SG Strike Eagles could be expanded by the end of this decade, perhaps with an improved variant of the F-15 family...

...By 2030, the RSAF is expected to have deepened and widened its expertise with active protection measures such as anti-missile defences, one of which is expected to step up to take the place of the RSAF's long-serving 35mm Oerlikon AA guns soon."​

IMHO, the plan to close PLAB in the 2030 time frame will strengthen the case for RSAF's planned acquisition of the STOVL F-35B. However, given what the Minister of Defence has just said, there will be NO announcement of any F-35B acquisition this year.

Edit: David also has a longer discussion on the issues relating to the Prime Minister's proposal to move from PLAB to Changi East after 2030, given its proximity to an international shipping lane and is more vulnerable to seaborne attack. This means the redevelopment of Changi East airbase will not be complete without measures to improve its ability to generate and sustain air power under fire, not only from the traditional geographic features but from the threats presented by ships as well. While some may take issue with what David says, he has tried to look at the potential risks involved from a risk management perspective of air base hardening. IMHO, the scenario he draws lacks realism and there are also significant gaps in his risk analysis. I am not sure if he is deliberately keeping silent about those gaps, or it is just not well discussed in his latest blog post (beyond just conventional threats at EOR).
 
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Toptob

Active Member
The dutch news reported tonight that both partners in the government finally agree with the purchase of the F-35. The PvdA (Labor party) was against it for the longest time, but now they've run out of arguments against it, or so the NOS (Dutch state television) reports. Here's the report (in Dutch): Geen obstakels meer voor JSF - NOS Nieuws

I won't translate but in short it states the governments wish to purchase 35 aircraft with 4.5Bln euro's (around 5.9 Bln USD). That's about 128.57 Mln euro's (about 169.71 Mln USD) per plane, do note that this is the purchase of the aircraft and through lifetime costs. They state a unit cost of 65 Mln per plane (85 Mln USD) which is in line with the promises Gen. Bogdan made some months ago.

The whole Dutch F-35 procurement process has been a crapshoot, and is comparable with procurement in other country's. In my opinion this is a big fat disappointment, to me, to the people of the Netherlands but most of all to the Dutch air force. 35 machines is not enough to maintain a credible capability, the politicians will probably tell us that the F-35 is much more capable and everything will be fine. This ofcoarse is ridiculous because we'll go from a 4 sqn force to a 2sqn force which isn't enough to maintain our current capability's. We'll lose any capability to deploy and maintain a task force of any size, with or without the support of the US or any other ally. We simply won't have the machines to cover anything other than air defense and training... so then why even bother to buy the stupid things!?!?!?!

Am I totally wrong or is buying 35 aircraft just madness?
 

ADMk2

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Staff member
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The dutch news reported tonight that both partners in the government finally agree with the purchase of the F-35. The PvdA (Labor party) was against it for the longest time, but now they've run out of arguments against it, or so the NOS (Dutch state television) reports. Here's the report (in Dutch): Geen obstakels meer voor JSF - NOS Nieuws

I won't translate but in short it states the governments wish to purchase 35 aircraft with 4.5Bln euro's (around 5.9 Bln USD). That's about 128.57 Mln euro's (about 169.71 Mln USD) per plane, do note that this is the purchase of the aircraft and through lifetime costs. They state a unit cost of 65 Mln per plane (85 Mln USD) which is in line with the promises Gen. Bogdan made some months ago.

The whole Dutch F-35 procurement process has been a crapshoot, and is comparable with procurement in other country's. In my opinion this is a big fat disappointment, to me, to the people of the Netherlands but most of all to the Dutch air force. 35 machines is not enough to maintain a credible capability, the politicians will probably tell us that the F-35 is much more capable and everything will be fine. This ofcoarse is ridiculous because we'll go from a 4 sqn force to a 2sqn force which isn't enough to maintain our current capability's. We'll lose any capability to deploy and maintain a task force of any size, with or without the support of the US or any other ally. We simply won't have the machines to cover anything other than air defense and training... so then why even bother to buy the stupid things!?!?!?!

Am I totally wrong or is buying 35 aircraft just madness?
Glad to hear the Dutch appear to have settled on the F-35 but why is the number of aircraft so important?

35-36 aircraft will allow the RNLAF to sustain a deployment of 6-12 aircraft for varying periods of time. Fewer aircraft can deploy for longer, larger numbers for shorter periods of time.

12 F-35A's deployed in support of NATO operations will be nothing to sneeze at and 6 aircraft were deployed for the majority of the time the RNLAF spent on operations in Afghanistan.

I suspect the number of aircraft was carefully aimed at providing minimal numbers of aircraft for local air defence and contribution to NATO Air Policing missions as well as retaining a deployable fighter package capability.

I get the strong suspicion with the Dutch at present, that even if a significantly cheaper aircraft were to be acquired, you may well have seen that no more of that type would have been acquired anyway.

Saving cash is the primary determinate of capability in this instance, at least you're getting the most capable option available...
 

RobWilliams

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3rd UK squadron to fly the F35 has been named

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/royal-navy-air-squadron-reformed-to-fly-new-jets

So, the UK's F-35 fleet currently will consist of

17(R) Squadron RAF - OEU
  • Stand up 2015 IIRC at Edwards AFB
617 Squadron RAF - combat squadron
  • Stand up 2016, presumably from the delivery of 4 F35B's from LRIP-8
809 Naval Air Squadron - combat squadron
  • Stand up 2018

Presumably the remaining 'unallocated' aircraft of the 48 will be part of an OCU squadron to be formed in the future, AFAIK there is a plan for a UK based OCU and some people believe it's a signal that the UK wants to make a big investment in the F-35 as we could just piggy-back on what the US does for pilot training.
 

colay

New Member
I wonder if down the road the RSAF may consider ordering more F-35s in lieu of enhanced Eagles and follow a similar path that the RAAF is taking toward standardizing on the Lightning-II? Perhaps a mix of A and B variants wold provide a potent capability with assured technology refreshes and advanced shared sustainment infrastructure should give JSF the advantage.
 

Vivendi

Member
Dutch to purchase 37 F-35 fighter planes - sources | Reuters

The Netherlands will get only 37 F-35 (including trainers).

How many will they use for training?

The numbers are disapointingly low, and it seems other parts of the Dutch defense forces are being hit even harder -- OPSSG perhaps you need to revisit some of "101" texts. It seems the Netherlands Air Force will be very limited in the future (but still very capable I am sure).

The good news is of course that they did go for the F-35 and not a cheaper alternative.
 

RobWilliams

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Staff member
DSEi: UK holding firm on F-35 procurement plan

Two points people have taken a bit too much at face value

  • Currently no official change from the 138 order
  • Currently no intention on changing variants for a future order

There's no official change from 138 because the change is officially going to happen during SDSR 2015, it's widely expected that the numbers will be reduced, but just because they say there's no change from 138 means that 138 will be the end result.

The variants bit is interesting though, about not wanting to bring the variant choice into it again because of how they got stung last time around. But again, any choice on variants will come from 2015 anyway.

Basically, they can say there is no change currently but that's no promise about it being the final result.
 
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