Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Edward C. "Pete" Aldridge Jr. and the Netherlands Secretary of State for Defense Henk A.L. van Hoof today exchanged signed memorandum of understanding (MOU) documents committing the Netherlands to participation in the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) system development and demonstration (SDD) phase.
Van Hoof signed the MOU documents on June 5, 2002, on behalf of the Dutch Cabinet at Soesterberg Airbase (NL). Aldridge countersigned the MOU documents in Washington, D.C. on June 10, 2002. The Netherlands will invest $800 million [ 848 million] in the SDD effort. The Netherlands has been part of the JSF program since 1997.
Following the United Kingdon, Canada, and Denmark, the Netherlands is the fourth country to join as a JSF SDD phase partner, and the first 'Level 2' partner. The Dutch commitment spans ten years, and highlights the program's significant international cooperative dimension. Dutch participation as a Level 2 partner signals the great importance and opportunities in joining and contributing their support to a far-reaching, technologically challenging endeavor.
"This agreement will have a significant positive impact across the entire spectrum of the U.S.-Dutch defense relationship for many years to come" said Aldridge. "Not just in terms of air dominance, but also interoperability, defense transformation, modernization, cost reduction, acquisition excellence, and the health of our industrial bases. This is a great step forward for both countries."
For the past two and a half years the Netherlands conducted a rigorous technical and financial analysis of potential candidates to replace its F-16s. In both assessments, the JSF was ranked first. Van Hoof said that the Netherlands with JSF has focused on the program's overall benefits. "With the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Denmark -- as well as prospective partners Norway, Italy, and Turkey -- the JSF program has a broad and firm base on both sides of the Atlantic. That makes me very confident."
The Joint Strike Fighter, as the largest ever U.S. DoD acquisition program, is also setting new standards in development of manufacturing technologies, acquisition and business practices, technology transfer, and export licensing. In April 2002, the U.S. Department of Defense and The Netherlands Ministry of Defense signed a declaration of principles to ameliorate information exchange, promote closer defense cooperation, and improve access to each others' defense markets. The JSF program will benefit from and assist in the implementation of this U.S.-Dutch declaration of principles initiative.
Both Aldridge and van Hoof noted, "This is an important step for our national defense, our Air Forces, and our industries. With JSF we hope to enhance our interoperability with NATO and other allied -- European -- forces. The program will provide great opportunities for our industries, both for production as well as for the transfer of technology. Furthermore, Dutch participation will reinforce the longstanding and close relationship between the U.S. and Dutch Air Forces, and establish a solid foundation for future air operations with other allied and friendly nations in a joint and coalition environment."