How much does a JSF cost?

How much does a JSF cost? This is one of the questions most frequently asked by visitors to our website. It’s also one of the most difficult to answer.

The Minister of Defence keeps a record of the unit price the Netherlands is required to pay, and reports on this in the progress reports she publishes. According to the 19th progress report published in September 2018, the movements in the unit price between 2013 and 2018 were as follows:

The graph shows the trend in the average unit price paid by the Netherlands, including VAT (with the exception of the two test aircraft that have already been purchased). The blue line shows the price in US dollars; the orange line shows the price in euros. The fluctuations in the euro price is caused by what is known as the planning dollar exchange rate<<planning dollar exchange rate: link naar 6000: Glossary>>. In 2013, the planning dollar exchange rate was USD 1 = €1.29, whereas the rate used in 2017 was USD 1 = €1.07.

The unit price doesn’t tell the full story

However, the unit price doesn’t really tell the full story. Also, it’s difficult to calculate the unit price of a single aircraft. Even where exactly the same model is concerned, the unit price tends to differ from one year to another and from one country to another. This is because not all production series have the same unit price. Moreover, each country has its own particular requirements in terms of product specifications and also with regard to the price. As one of the partner countries, the Netherlands is also entitled to certain discounts.

The above graph shows the average unit price paid by the Netherlands. But even then, it is still difficult to calculate the exact unit price. The problem is: what should the price include? It is just the price paid for the aircraft, and whatever is needed to ensure that it is airworthy? Or does it include all the necessary equipment on the ground and the weapons it carries? Without factoring in these aspects, any pronouncement on the unit price remains unclear.