Audit of the cost of withdrawing from the JSF project

The Netherlands Court of Audit decided on 21 August 2012 to audit the cost of the Netherlands' withdrawal from the military development project for the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) of the American aircraft manufacturer Lockheed Martin.

The Ministry of Defence asked the Court to carry out the audit further to a debate in the House of Representatives on 5 July 2012, in which a majority of the House voted for a motion asking the government to take all steps necessary to withdraw from the JSF project. The minister has asked the Court of Audit to determine the costs now in anticipation of possible further measures. 

The Netherlands has made a series of agreements – including financial agreements – with the Americans since 2002 regarding the development of this new fighter aircraft (also known as the F-35). The Court of Audit expects to publish a report on 25 October on the expenditure already incurred and the commitments entered into by the Netherlands for this military objective. The audit will consider the costs the Netherlands must still incur and the alternatives that will influence the replacement of the current F-16 fighter aircraft of the Royal Netherlands Air Force. It will explain the financial consequences of withdrawing from the JSF test and development programme and terminating the agreements, It will also outline the consequences of continuing to operate the current F-16 aircraft.

The Court of Audit had pointed out the relationship between the development of the JSF and the current fleet in its most recent monitoring report on the JSF of 3 April 2012.

The Court has been monitoring the development of the largest investment by the Dutch armed forces – the replacement of the F-16s – for some time and has reported its findings to the House of Representatives and the Ministry of Defence each year since 2005. In February 2009, it urged the Minister of Defence to inform parliament of the potential cost of withdrawing from the JSF project. It published a preliminary calculation of the potential withdrawal costs at the same time. The consequences for employment in the Netherlands will not be considered in the Court's new audit. The Minister of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation will engage another organisation to investigate these consequences.