Dutch to Boost Defense Spending for More F-35 Stealth Fighters

The Dutch have already purchased 37 of the F-35 stealth fighters, expected to become operational in 2019, and are considering the purchase of 15 more. (AFP photo/David McNew)
The Dutch have already purchased 37 of the F-35 stealth fighters, expected to become operational in 2019, and are considering the purchase of 15 more. (AFP photo/David McNew)

The Netherlands pledged Friday to boost its defense spending in the coming year to buy more F-35 fighter jets and strengthen its special forces and cyber capabilities, officials said.

"Extra investment in defense is a necessity because our surrounding safety zone has become a more instable place," the Defense Ministry said.

"There are more threats to contend with and threats have become more complex," it added in a statement, issued after a weekly cabinet meeting in The Hague.

This included looking at purchasing 15 more advanced F-35A fighter jets made by U.S. manufacturer Lockheed Martin, Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld told the ANP news agency.

The Dutch have already purchased 37 of the pricey stealth fighters, which are expected to become operational next year.

The number is enough for two squadrons, but NATO has insisted on a third, the ANP added.

The F-35A comes with a current price tag of $89.2 million (78.9 million euros), according to Lockheed Martin.

Both U.S. President Donald Trump and NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg have called on allies in the defense bloc to increase their defense spending, and member states in 2014 agreed on the goal of spending two percent of GDP on their militaries.

"This plan shows that cabinet is serious about the current threats. The Netherlands must take steps to show it will remain a reliable partner," Bijleveld added.

The plan also consists of improving "land and sea-based firepower" and beefing up special forces and cyber warfare capabilities.

Details of the plan and budget will be released in the spring of 2019, the Defence Ministry said.

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