A look at the Defence news 28 January – 3 February

Ocean-going patrol vessel HNLMS Zeeland intercepted a transport of over 2,000 kilos of drugs in the Caribbean Sea during a nighttime patrol on the night of 28 to 29 January. The movements of the motorboat involved in the transport attracted the attention of navy personnel. The NH90 onboard helicopter and a FRISC boat were subsequently deployed to force the suspect vessel to stop. The drug bales were handed over to the US coastguard.

First operational F-35 handed over to the Netherlands

The Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) now has its third F-35 fighter aircraft. The American manufacturer Lockheed Martin handed over the aircraft in Fort Worth, Texas, during a roll-out ceremony. Lockheed Martin will this year deliver another 5 F-35s to the RNLAF, bringing the total of Dutch F-35s built in the US to 8. The RNLAF is currently using the aircraft in the United States, for training purposes. In late 2019, 2 F-35s are expected to arrive at Leeuwarden Air Base in the Netherlands, bringing the total number of Dutch F-35s to 10. The Netherlands is due to receive a total of 37 of these 5th generation fighter aircraft.

Extra investment in the development of capabilities

Further intensification of European collaboration is essential, and Europe should be more capable of safeguarding its own security. These were Minister of Defence Ank Bijleveld-Schouten’s key messages at the informal EU defence council in Bucharest. European collaboration must be more concrete, albeit not at the expense of collaboration with NATO. Many of the nations present agreed. The Netherlands is an advocate of increased European defence cooperation within existing European frameworks and initiatives. According to Bijleveld, new initiatives are not necessary for the time being. She compared the situation with a new house: “We’ve designed a house, now let’s live in that house, take good care of it and make ourselves at home.”