In the Netherlands, one of the eight countries that have contributed funds to the F-35’s development, government officials hammered out a compromise Wednesday that leaves open the option of buying another aircraft.
Minority members of the Dutch parliament, who have criticized the government’s long-range plan to buy F-35s, won a concession from the Defense Ministry. Parliament agreed to partial funding to allow the purchase of two F-35 test aircraft, but the deal requires the government to evaluate other aircraft as possible replacements for the country’s aging F-16s.
In Europe, competitors have been pressuring countries expected to buy the F-35 to spend their money on the continent instead. The Swedish aerospace firm Saab has persuaded Denmark and Norway to give its Gripen fighter a second look.
Dutch opponents of the F-35 want to see the Gripen, the British-German Eurofighter consortium and the French-built Rafale also considered, as well as possibly Boeing’s F-18 Super Hornet. The uncertain cost of the F-35 has given critics room to press their case.