The Netherlands' replacement fighter program is headed towards a shoot-out in Parliament. According to the Handelsblad newspaper, defense minister Jack de Vries will submit the plan to buy two JSF test aircraft to Parliament before receiving a fixed-price offer from the US, as the Parliamentary defense committee - now apparently backed up by a majority - has directed him to do.
In effect, de Vries is challenging his opponents to risk splintering the ruling coalition, simply dismissing their request for a fixed price as unrealistic:
According to De Vries, it is customary to ask for a fixed price only from manufacturers who can deliver a product that meets the requirements. And according to a recent ministry comparison of the JSF with the Saab Gripen 'Next Generation' and the Advanced F-16, the latter two fighter planes are "unsuitable for the Netherlands".
So, according to de Vries, the government has determined that the JSF is the only aircraft worth buying, and the cost can be negotiated later.
And no, I have no idea where he attended business school.
However, an interesting sub-text to this story is that - as reported here and elsewhere - the JSF team has been talking about a multi-nation, multi-year fixed-price deal for about two years (it was not a new story at the Paris air show in 2007). So far, though, they don't seem to have made much progress - not even enough, apparently, to give de Vries some sort of number to offer Parliament.