Yes, there is news from the Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLN) that they hope to build new vessels. Well after all Air Force projects have been finalized and budgeted… This blog takes you from the drama queen: JSF (and it’s lobbyists) to the new building plans from the navy – for Frigates, Submarines, Mine Counter Measure vessels and even a new Combat Support ship…. Dedicated. Ofcourse the OPV and JSS will get some incoming fire from my side… but start your read here.
Good news… or to early?
A couple of weeks ago there was an interesting article where RNLN captain Sebo Hofkamp was quoted saying : ‘Now it is our decade’. He meant that after all the (troubled) RNLAF projects (with the focus on All American (except the tanker from Airbus which doesn’t fit to the DutchForce21 plans) JSF and CH47F main weapons systems projects it will be the turn of the Navy. Well, in theory yes… in practice no! Why because of the JSF and all projects which the Ministry of Defense put on top of the current budget. In fact you could say it’s a scam to our parliament and our people.
From 2014 onwards, just after they decided that the JSF was the best fighter for the best price (end 2013), even though we could only pay for 35 + 2 test aircraft – and at a very “attractive Dollar – Euro exchange rate (which a couple of months later was corrected with an increased budget need….). The next year we saw a strange development: The F16 replacement project was meant as an ‘all-in” project – all candidate aircraft should offer operational fighter aircraft including everything which was needed to operate.. Just like Saab did with their offering in 2008.
- Read this document from 2008 Saab_OfferGripenNG_170409
- and this executive summary 2008-08_Gripen_NL_Offer_Overview
Now What have been realised from all the promises on which the Dutch government based their decision?
Operational aspects F-35
With the F-35A Defence expects that that a responsible operational task performance is possible. The F-35 provides the most military operationally and is the only aircraft able to perform all mission types. From fighting and maintain air superiority, suppress or disable enemy (mobile) air defence systems to close air support of troops. The F-35 has also strongly enhanced detection capabilities in all mission types of great value, especially for the collection of intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance.
The MoD stated that the JSF would be the best option, and gave an ideal picture of what whas included in the complete program. And here you have it: Some of the projects which have been on the reports from the Dutch MoD, and “rekenkamer” (GAO) have been taken out of the JSF program and been placed “in planning” in the new projects overview…
Later on I will show that these projects, although they are currently in planning, they have to be done… Otherwise, our enormous fleet of JSF are useless? In short, Parliament is faced with a convicted fact … (one has already started the main project and can not really get back!) And many Of these projects in planning should take place at the time the Navy had to carry out its 3 major projects. The bullet is not locked?
How it is possible the leaders / commanders of the Royal Netherlands navy (and Army) accepted this scam?
Some of the “projects in planning”:
- New AA missile (under the F-16 heading! This brand new missile is supposed to be integrated on the F16 – the MoD ‘sell’s it tot the parliament as such: but the fact is that it is really a waste of funds to buy and integrate a missile on an “old” F16 for only 2 – 3 years of use… SO I really believe that they buy this missile just for the JSF, and use the F16 as an excuse.
- AMRAAM replacement (because the normal AMRAAM does not fit into the JSF …. Hey … that’s new? (they argued in the candidate comparison that the JSF was the only platform that could use the “current” weapon systems. Well that was falls, the GripenE however did. And even the newly integrated (on the F16) Laser designation systems can be used on the GripenE.. Not a waste of investments but an economical reuse and no need to buy new ones.
- JSF board gun and (initial) ammunition (yes really, this is probably the best proof of the scam.. you buy a fighter.. without a gun and….)
- Standard Ground Support Equipment (Oh my goodness, yes really and our incredibly high-tech JSF uses a lot of different GSE… in total contrast to the GripenE which uses modular GSE, so few that it is possible to transport all GSE and spare parts on an expeditional mission for 8 GripenE just into ¼ of the C130 load capacity. While a JSF needs a 8 complete C17 loads.. I can’t remember ever find out for how many JSF this is meant…. Not just one JSF I hope? )
- F16 lifetime extension projects – this is a rather nasty thing. It was supposed to stay in the project F16 replacement program which later became the JSF integration program… But suddenly it has been taken out of the original project.. Why is the question… There are some parts of this project which I really understand. Keeping these aircraft flyable and keep them structural up to date. But why invest money (and big money it is) in old airframes to perform new tasks and equip them with new stuff for only a couple of years to come.. I would have said no to this.. And the strange thing is, they are still kept in planning but are already worked on.. (at least the last time I checked it.
- Infrastructure – were other aircraft which where trying to make a chance in this faulty candidate comparison didn’t need infrastructural adjustments (at least no large facility building) and could make use of all the existing F16 facilities (bunkers, stores, technical spaces e.g.) For the JSF we need complete new facilities, from 15 degrees air conditioned shelters to high tech computer facilities for the internet connected (Windows XP type) Electronic Warfare upload computers to stream collected data – before and after- each flight back to our masters in the USA.. (yes we are slaves “vassals” if you wish indeed).
- Although there are two more sort of separated projects – the Air tanker capacity from Airbus and potentially Italian made high performance trainers (M346) they are indirect costs “because of the JSF”. But ofcourse the choice for the JSF are of influence to these decissions: About the tanker support project … The JSF needs a specific method – the flying boom which needs a really specialled aircraft for that. large body aircraft like the KDC10, Boeing KC-46 Pegasus, Airbus A330 MRTT. This choice is more expensive and also limits other applications. the Probe and drogue system has also the ability to transfer fuel to helicopters, and can be used as a containerisd system on transport aircraft. Other fighters, like the Gripen E / F are able to be supported by both systems, which would give more flexibility to the Dutch armed forces, necesary in a flexible and expeditionary environment. This option would have given us the possibility to buy less costly aircraft – which could also have been of more use in other roles like standardized transport aircraft like the KC390, KC130J (also think of the Harvest Hawk ground support options that offer that) A400M or my favorite the Antonov AN70 options., which broadens the types of aircraft to choose, meaning you have a more versatile fleet of logistical aircraft instead of a dedicated tanker aircraft. Chosing a workhorse transport aircraft as a tanker would give the opportunity to directly support helicopter and fighter aircraft (like the GripenE) from forward operating bases which really isn’t possible with the large air tanker aircraft. This also offers financial / logistical and personal benefits.
- The training aircraft will be a separate type of aircraft – a reasoning which has been always used not to buy a separate jet… so why now suddenly do it? (this argument is sometimes used when it fits their purposes.. as is the case with my claim that a Light Support Helicopter would be of great use and benefit…) The positive side – with the current intention to buy 35+2 test JSF – that this puts a real stress and danger on the available aircraft. By using ‘less advanced” trainer/fighter aircraft for certain roles like QRA and CAS it would be an affordable solution… But could have been prevented by buying only the GripenE/F.
I believe that the amount of money needed to pay for all these projects will reach between 750 million and 1,5 billion Euro’s (this is excluding the tanker projects – fighter trainers) just for the current 37 JSF aircraft.. so a real increase of the JSF budget… and as I said earlier these projects are put in line BEFORE the Much waited and needed Naval projects.. so why talk about a navy decade? When the prospects are so … ugly?