On Tuesday, the Dutch government announced it would be buying nine of the jets in a €1 billion ($1.09 billion) deal with manufacturer Lockheed Martin, Defense News reported. That’s $121.1 million per aircraft, a hefty step toward the NATO ally spending 2% of its GDP on defense, as demanded of alliance members by US President Donald Trump.
Last December, The Hague announced it would procure another 15-jet squadron for the Royal Netherlands Air Force in the coming year on top of the 37 F-35As already purchased.
“Extra investment in defense is a necessity because our surrounding safety zone has become a more unstable place. There are more threats to contend with, and threats have become more complex,” the Dutch Defense Ministry said at the time, Sputnik reported.
However, those jets aren’t flying around in Europe: they’re at Edwards Air Force Base in California, where F-35 training takes place. Even then, only a handful have even been delivered, according to Lockheed Martin’s website for news about the jet.
The Hague wants the F-35 to replace its aging fleet of 60 General Dynamics F-16 Falcons, another US-made jet widely exported to its allies.
Dick Zandee, a defense analyst at the Clingendael think tank in The Hague, told Defense News Monday the Dutch government wanted the newest configuration of F-35s, which have been repeatedly updated during the course of their 30-year development. That means that the Dutch buy won’t help Lockheed allay the losses caused by Turkey’s ejection from the program earlier this year, following that country’s purchasing of S-400 missile defense systems from Russia.