A look at the Defence news, 15 – 21 October

Earlier this week, the fuel systems of 2 Dutch F-35s were checked. The system of 1 aircraft was found to be not functioning properly. The aircraft are stationed at Edwards Air Force Base in California. The inspection was conducted after an F-35 of the US Marine Corps crashed last month. The crash was caused by a defective fuel tube. Both Dutch aircraft have therefore been grounded since last week. The fuel system will be replaced, which requires removal of the engine from the aircraft.

The Netherlands to buy remaining 3 F-35s

The Netherlands will buy the remaining 3 F-35 fighter aircraft, thus confirming the Dutch purchase of at least 37 aircraft. The full operational capability of the Dutch F-35 fleet is planned for 2024. To secure this, the order must be confirmed by the end of this month at the latest. A delay in the F-35’s full operational capability has operational and financial consequences, as this would mean that the Netherlands would have to keep its F-16s in operation for a longer period. The first F-35s will arrive in 2019.

Amphibious transport ship sets course for large-scale NATO exercise

HNLMS Johan de Witt has left the Royal Netherlands Navy harbour in Den Helder, setting course for Exercise Trident Juncture in Norway. The amphibious transport ship is carrying hundreds of military personnel and dozens of vehicles to the largest NATO exercise since the end of the Cold War. The Netherlands will participate in the exercise with 2,200 military personnel, 4 ships, 2 helicopters, a tanker aircraft and hundreds of fighting and supporting vehicles. This year, a total of 50,000 participants will take part from over 30 NATO countries and partners. NATO will test the deployment of its rapid response force, the NATO Response Force (NRF). The alliance is thus sending a clear message: an attack on 1 is an attack on all member states.