F-35 Delay Would Mean Higher Dutch F-16 Costs

A delay in fielding Dutch F-35 Joint Strike Fighters would drive up costs to keep the country‘s F-16 fleet flying.

Fielding the F-16 replacement in 2019 rather than 2016 would cost around €300 million ($420 million), the defense ministry tells parliament. If the fleet has to be sustained much longer, the costs ―will rise significantly,‖ Defense Minister Hans Hillen tells the legislature.

The reason for the spike in support costs includes additional maintenance for the aircraft structure, including the wings.
F-16 engines would also require major maintenance.

The Dutch government last month approved the purchase of a second F-35 to be used during operational testing (Aerospace DAILY, April 22). A decision on the eventual F-35 purchase to replace the F-16 is still pending, however. The government was looking to buy 85 F-35s, although recent pressure on the defense budget has put that number under debate.

By Robert Wall

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