The Joint Strike Fighter (JSF or F-35 for short) is a new fighter aircraft developed and produced by the US in conjunction with eight international partners. In 2013 the Dutch government decided to purchase a fleet of JSFs to replace its F-16s.
The JSF is being produced in three different versions:
- a ‘standard’ Conventional Take-Off and Landing (CTOL) version;
- a Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) version;
- a Carrier Version (CV) that is suited for use on aircraft carriers.
The aim of the programme is to develop a single design that can serve as the basis for all three versions of the aircraft, so as to minimise the unit cost of development and production.
The Dutch government is working on the assumption that the JSF programme will ultimately lead to the production of 4,500 JSF aircraft. Whether this figure is actually attained in practice will depend on the number of aircraft ordered, not just by the countries participating in the programme, but also by other countries.
The Netherlands and the JSF
The Netherlands has been involved in the development and production of the JSF since the 1990s. The Ministry of Defence decided to sign up to this international US programme because a successor needed to be found for the F-16 fighter aircraft used by the Dutch air force. In 2013, the government decided to purchase a fleet of 37 JSFs as successors to the fleet of F-16s. The first aircraft are due to be delivered in 2019. We have drawn a time line showing the milestones in the programme.
Dual capacity: as a partner and as a purchaser
The decision meant that the Ministry of Defence acquired two different roles in the JSF programme:
- as a partner in the programme, the Dutch Ministry of Defence is involved in the design, production and delivery of the JSF;
- as a purchaser of the JSF, the Ministry is also one of the programme’s customers.
The Netherlands Court of Audit and the JSF
The Netherlands Court of Audit has been undertaking audits into the replacement of the F-16 and the purchase of the JSF ever since 2005. We regularly inform the Lower House of the Dutch parliament about our audit findings. See our publications on the JSF.
Frequently asked questions
We receive a lot of questions about the JSF. See the list of most frequently asked questions for further information.
The JSF programme comes with a large number of unfamiliar terms. We have drawn up a glossary explaining a number of key terms that crop up regularly in discussions about the JSF.