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United States and Netherlands Sign Memorandum of Understanding

Presenters: Edward C. "Pete" Aldridge, USD (AT&L)
June 17, 2002 11:00 AM EDT

(Signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the United States and the Netherlands regarding participation in the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase. Also participating was Netherlands Secretary of State for Defense Henk A.L. van Hoof and program director for the Joint Strike Fighter General Jack Hudson.)

Hudson: Good morning ladies and gentlemen. I am Brigadier General Jack Hudson, Program Director for the Joint Strike Fighter.

I have the great honor and privilege today to introduce two gentlemen who have had and continue to have a very profound impact on the Joint Strike Fighter program. These two gentlemen completed the negations for the Dutch-American Memorandum of Understanding for the JSF Development Program. The MOU presentation is the event that brings us here today.

First, His Excellency Mr. Henk van Hoof from the Netherlands. He is the Dutch State Secretary for Defense. He has been a tremendous advocate for the JSF program in the Netherlands. His keen energy and vision were instrumental to the signing of the Dutch-American Joint Strike Fighter Development MOU.

Secondly, Mr. Peter Aldridge from the United States. He is the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. He also has been a tremendous advocate for the JSF program. His keen energy and vision have been instrumental to the signing as well of the Dutch-American Joint Strike Fighter Development MOU, and to the successful conduct of the overall Joint Strike Fighter program.

It is fitting that these two gentlemen are here today for the presentation of the JSF Dutch-American Development MOU.

Mr. Aldridge, sir, the floor is yours.

Aldridge: Good morning everyone. This is a great day.

I'd also like to introduce a couple of special guests that are here with us. The Dutch Ambassador to the United States van Eenennaam who is here. We're glad to have him here. We also have the Commander in Chief of the Dutch Air Force, General Berlein is here. The State Secretary has already been introduced. Also another special guest, the U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands, Ambassador Cliff Sobel, Cliff, we're glad to have you here.

As you know, the United States is developing a family of aircraft -- carrier versions, the conventional version, and the short takeoff and vertical landing version -- and we welcome the Netherlands as the newest member of the international family helping in the development.

The Netherlands has been a part of this program since 1997 and now has joined officially the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Denmark for an additional ten years as we work through the development and demonstration of the Joint Strike Fighter system. We plan to complete our system development and demonstration phase partnership by signing with three more partners -- Norway, Italy and Turkey -- in the coming weeks.

We in the government treasure our very strong relationship with the Netherlands. This is yet another example of our cooperative relationships across many different programs and projects. This cooperative effort reinforces a longstanding and close relationship between our two countries and will serve to strengthen interoperability in our industrial base.

But the relationship obviously extends beyond the government. As I look around the room today I'm impressed with the high level of industry involvement. I see the highest officers of such companies as Lockheed Martin, Pratt & Whitney and General Electric, and also international companies. I know they've been working closely with the Dutch industry to ensure there is a significant opportunity for them to contribute toward this monumental effort.

In fact several Dutch government and industry estimates predict over $8 billion of development and production work for the Dutch industry over the life of the JSF.

Both of our nations along with our other partners will succeed as a result of this international cooperation, both government and industrial.

JSF is setting new standards for technological advances. The program is also rewriting the books on acquisition and business practices as well as taking advantage of our newest export licensing laws. This is truly a marriage between governments and industry, and this is a very proud day.

Thank you.

[Pause for signing]

[Applause]

van Hoof: Ladies and gentlemen.

The last two and a half years we have conducted a vigorous technical and financial analysis in the Netherlands with all the potential candidates to replace its fleet of Lockheed Martin's F-16s, and I am very happy to say that in both assessments the JSF was ranked first without any doubt. Therefore I am pleased that we had a majority in Parliament. It was not easy in the beginning but it worked out in the end, and that I could sign on behalf of the Dutch government the MOU for participation in the JSF SDD phase as a level two partner.

The signing of the MOU is an important step for our national defense, for our Air Force, and for the Dutch industry. With JSF we hope to enhance our interoperability within NATO, with NATO, but also with other allies, European forces. The program will provide great opportunities for our industry both for production as well as for the transfer of technology. Furthermore, our participation will reinforce the longstanding and close relationship between the U.S. and Dutch Air Force, which has existed for a long time. We worked together as F-16 partners. Our fighters are trained in the United States. And we fought side by side, for instance, during the campaign in Kosovo where I have to say it again, a Dutch F-16 took the first enemy MiG out of the air.

In a short time Dutch F-16s will be based alongside U.S. fighters at Ganci Air Base in Manas, Khyrgyzstan to support Enduring Freedom missions, and I am pleased to continue this relationship.

As you probably know, the Netherlands will invest $800 million in the program which is a very large amount especially for the preferably economical Dutch. The decision wasn't taken overnight. We follows a clear, consistent and solid track and came to the conclusion that for the Netherlands JSF have the best credentials without a shadow of doubt in all aspects, both operational as well as to price and cost.

Then we had to decide to buy off the shelf in the future or to participate now. We made a thorough comparison of both possibilities in what we call a business case, and this case was based on our own assumptions and information. The case was also based on the information that we have given by Pentagon and U.S. industry. That creates obligations.

In the end we came around to join the Joint Strike Fighter team because the business case was positive and because we attach great importance to the participation possibilities. Therefore both Dutch government and Dutch industry will front the participation fee. It is a unique example of public/private partnership in the Netherlands.

We expect the program will provide great opportunities for our industry, I've said so already, both for production as well as for the transfer of technology.

Last Friday I was at Fort Worth for talks with U.S. industry and it was clear to me that they are happy to bring the Dutch industry into the field to form their winning team. Profits and opportunities for Dutch industry are up for grabs. Dutch industry is ready to take the gauntlet and now we have to live up to both our as well as your expectations, assumptions and obligations that I just mentioned. Now we have to deliver.

We are here to make this next and important step and we are here to make it work.

My last remark would be this. With JSF, the Netherlands did not choose for the United States and against Europe. On the contrary, in this respect the Netherlands has no tenets. With the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Denmark, and later perhaps countries like Norway and Italy, the JSF program has a broad, firm base and that makes me confident. It is [salient] that JSF has in this respect more European partners than any other program.

Thanks very much.

[Applause]

Aldridge: We'll respond to any questions you may have.

Q: I'd like to ask a question. I'm Burt Lanting, I'm the correspondent for the Volkskrant newspaper.

I would like to know, Mr. Aldridge, is it still a possibility that Congress or the Pentagon will halt this JSF program?

Aldridge: Nothing is locked in concrete but as we you well know we are in a phase of development called system development and demonstration with a very strong support for the program as you can see by the number of nations that are participating with it. It is not our intent that we would look for termination of this program at any point. The program is needed by the Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force as replacements for the current tactical fighter force, and that we have a long-range plan for the Joint Strike Fighter, and with our international partners on board.

Q: Do you expect, the number of production models has been somewhere around 3,000. Do you expect that number's going to hold and what --

Aldridge: The numbers you're speaking of are the production rate for the U.S. and U.K. only. We have not made official estimates for the number of Joint Strike Fighters that will ultimately be built but it's in the range of around 5,000 projected over the life of the program. So it's going to be a very strong program internationally supported.

The plans right now are, the number of fighters that are currently being projected are in that range.

Q: How do you expect the next series of international partnerships to play out? I understand on Thursday is Norway, and when Italy and Turkey?

Aldridge: Norway's on June 20th; Italy will be June 24th; and we have it scheduled for Turkey on July 11th; and we're still talking with the Australians at this point.

Q: I would like to know, maybe you might have heard about, there was a lot of noise in Holland about this law that was pushed through the Senate, American service members [inaudible]. I would like to know did Mr. van Hoof and you talk about that, and how does the Pentagon feel about this law and about, I would say, the small possibility that the United States will invade the Hague.

[Laughter]

Aldridge: I think that is almost unlikely.

We have spoken about it, it was brought to my attention today. I do not have any details. I have agreed to go take a look at that and see what the implications might be, but that's all I would have to say about it today.

Q: Would it be an Article 5 situation?

[Laughter]

Aldridge: Article 5 has only been implemented one time in the history and that was with the war on terrorism.

van Hoof: I think I can only repeat what Mr. Aldridge has said. We've been expressing our worries to the Netherlands about this ASPA [American Service Personnel Act] act that's been going on here, and I've reported to him also about discussions in Parliament and what the feelings are in the Netherlands. Not seriously. You might force us to bring the production of JSF forward, but that was not seriously meant.

[Laughter]

Aldridge: Any other questions?

[No audible response]

We have a Joint Strike Fighter CEO conference this afternoon in which our partners and the CEOs of all the corporations will be meeting to talk about the future of the program, and we're looking forward to that meeting and to get on with the development of what's going to be a terrific airplane.

Thank you very much.

[Applause]

van Hoof: I would just like to add one more word there which is important I think. Mr. Aldridge is mentioning the CEO meeting, and we agreed today that the Netherlands, being a level two partner, will be a permanent [inaudible] the CEO meetings as well which I think is very good to be able to make it possible for the Dutch to keep an eye on what's going on and after that to see whether we all deliver on both sides.

Thank you.

Q: Just one question.

Were you satisfied with the American reaction on what you said about this American Serviceman's Protection Act?

van Hoof: Let me put it this way. We had a good discussion on it and I think it is actually very well understood what the point of view of the Netherlands government was.

Aldridge: Thank you very much.

[Applause]