Only the Interests of the World’s Leading Superpower America Are Served by the JSF

The real argument for the Joint Strike Fighter is that it enables you to fire nuclear-armed cruise missiles at Iran, writes Hero Brinkman.

The PvdA [the Dutch Labor Party] has looked at this five or six times (I’ve lost count now), but the decision has finally been made and there is no going back — they are going to purchase the F-35 JSF. As far as the Dutch Labor Party is concerned, the reason is that they want to keep the coalition together, of course, especially since they are too scared to face the electorate at the moment.

As a House spokesperson for years, I was witness to the lobbying by the U.S. government, as well as Lockheed Martin (the manufacturers of the F-35), various other firms and parties such as the VVD [the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy] and the CDA [Christian Democratic Appeal], with Jack “JSF” de Vries. That lobbying was intense, which indicates how much the Americans wanted us to choose the JSF.

The arguments in favor of the JSF revolve around the reciprocal orders we would secure, as well as the stealth qualities of the JSF. Those counterorders are extremely important, of course, but in reality a lot of the orders go to foreign-owned companies located in the Netherlands. This does mean that we benefit from the fact that Dutch labor is used to manufacture these products, but the profits are mainly earned by Italian, French and German companies.

In 2008, the Swedes offered a deal in which the entire purchase cost of their fighter plane, the Saab Gripen — which costs about half as much as the JSF — would be matched by reciprocal orders in any industry sector. The airline company Saab is connected to the Swedish company Electrolux, among others. That is the world’s largest producer of domestic appliances, with brands such as AEG and Zanussi. One of our big companies, Philips, could have made very good use of the [deal for] reciprocal orders, and no money would have been lost to foreign companies. Clearly, the argument about reciprocal orders is not decisive after all.

The Shape of the Aircraft

Arguments about the shape of the aircraft and its stealth qualities are equally unconvincing. The principle of stealth is based on the shape of the aircraft (it is smooth and the bombs are kept inside it), the coating that is applied before every flight and the systems that ensure that radar beams are deflected or redirected. You cannot change the shape of the aircraft, and the technology that seeks to make it visible to radar is being constantly improved. There is no guarantee that in a few years time the plane will still be invisible to radar.

Furthermore, it is not a question of whether it is completely invisible to radar or not, but rather the distance at which it can be detected by radar. That distance is critical, but the same principle applies. These stealth capabilities also make the aircraft heavy, which means that it requires a powerful engine. This in turn means that the costs per flying hour are higher and that the engine is nosier when it starts.

Given All This, Why Are We Still Interested in the JSF?

A third argument that is sometimes put forward is that it would enable us to maintain compatibility with our most powerful NATO ally, the United States. This argument has never been credible. Plenty of NATO countries use different aircraft than the Americans and have no problem integrating their systems. Communication and the conducting of joint operations has never been a problem.

The open secret former Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers suddenly revealed was that the Americans still have nuclear-armed cruise missiles stored in the town of Woensdrecht. Furthermore, a couple of years ago the Americans actually improved the systems for these cruise missiles. This shows that they have absolutely no intention of letting go of these missiles.

Now, note that the JSF has been developed by the U.S. to prepare for the so-called “Iran scenario.” This scenario involves penetrating as deep as possible into enemy territory (read: Iran) without being seen, dropping a bomb and getting home in one piece again. To achieve this aim, compatibility of communications and weapons systems is obviously a very important factor. Even from a large distance and after a strike by a JSF, the Americans want to keep control of their nuclear arsenal and they aren’t going to leave anything to chance. This compatibility with nuclear weapons is the real reason for buying the JSF.

I want to have a good air force with good fighter aircraft, an air force that meets the ambitions our country has in the world. What I don’t require is a fighter plane whose sole purpose is to serve the needs of the world’s leading superpower — the United States.

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