Intelligence and Terrorism News
Dutch request participation in Joint Strike Fighter testing
Jul 11, 2007, 15:09 GMT
Amsterdam - Dutch Deputy Defence Minister Cees van der Knaap on Tuesday asked his United States counterpart Gordon England to include the Netherlands as an equal partner in the testing phase of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).
The JSF is the successor of the F-16 fighter aircraft.
The Netherlands are one of two so-called level 2 partners in the Joint Strike Fighter programme, contributing some 800 million dollars to the aircraft development.
The Dutch are the third biggest non-US contributor to the programme, after Britain and Italy.
During his visit to the Pentagon on Tuesday, Van der Knaap discussed the preconditions the Dutch would have to meet before being admitted as a fully-fledged testing partner.
Already in February, the Dutch government expressed its wish to participate in the testing. The Dutch have not yet made any decision on the purchase of the JSF aircraft.
Van der Knaap told reporters the US 'understand' the Dutch request to participate in the testing. He expects to have reached an agreement with the US before the end of the month.
He added a memorandum of understanding would be signed in November, after which the testing can begin.
Van der Knaap also discussed the Dutch mission in Afghanistan.
The Dutch have some 1,400 troops in the Afghan province of Uruzghan until August 2008. Next month the government is due to decide on a possible prolongation of the NATO-mission.
However, extending the mission beyond August 2008 is politically sensitive in the Netherlands.
Van der Knaap said he explained his US colleague 'the political situation in the Netherlands, the Dutch position and the obstacles involved.'
A possible prolongation of the Dutch mission also requires solving technical problems, particularly concerning air transport equipment, an issue that needs to be solved by NATO.
Van der Knaap said: 'If we decide to stay, our air transport capacity will not be enough in the long run.'© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur