The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter remains the best option to replace the F-16, the Netherlands defense ministry has recommended to the country's parliament. The recommendation is the result of another comparative analysis of the candidates ordered by the Dutch House of Representatives before committing to buy two JSF test aircraft, planned by April 2009. The F-35A was evaluated against an Advanced F-16 and the Saab Gripen Next Generation.
The Netherlands MoD's Dec. 18 statement says: "The F-35 is the best multi-role combat aircraft and by around 2015 will certainly be able to carry out all six main missions successfully. The F-35 also has the greatest operational availability. In addition, the capital costs of the F-35 are the lowest and it is anticipated that the total life-cycle costs will also be the lowest." The Netherlands is already a partner is F-35 development.
I will leave it to Bill Sweetman to analyse the recommendation and its implications in a subsequent post. But the re-affirmation of the Dutch defense ministry's support for the JSF comes hard on the heels of the Norwegian MoD's recommendation of the F-35 over the Gripen NG. In both cases parliament will get to weigh in on the final decision - planned for 2010 in the case of the Dutch. It may not be unexpected, but another unequivocal vote for the F-35 makes it harder to unseat.