Dutch military investment falls by 60 percent; weapons exports down 22 pct.
The Dutch government's defense expenditure decreased by 191 millions euro to 7.4 billion euros last year. Investments in new military weapons showed a particularly strong decrease. The biggest expenses - wages and social contributions - remained the same.
This is according to figures released by Statistics Netherlands on Friday.
The decrease in defense expenditure last year can largely be attributed to a decline in the investment in military weapons. In 2014 defense spent 280 million euros less on weapons than in the previous year. The reason that 2013's expense on military weapons was so much higher can be attributed to a non-recurring effect - the delivery of two test aircraft.
This decrease in spending can clearly be seen in the imports of defense equipment. Last year almost 100 million euros worth of weapons and ammunition, excluding combat aircraft, were imported to the Netherlands, compared to 200 million euros four years earlier.
The purchases of goods and services increased by 117 million euros compared to 2013. This can largely be attributed to the increased costs for maintenance and repairs. There was also an increase in the maintenance costs of automation.
Dutch exports in weapons and ammunition also showed a decrease last year, fluctuating between 12 and 30 million euros. Nearly 40 percent of these exports went to Asia.
The expenditure on military weapons will likely show large increases in the coming years, with the Ministry of Defense's plan to purchase 37 Joint Strike Fighters. Minister Jeanine Hennis Plasschaert signed a contract for the purchase of the first eight of these fighter jets in March. They are expected to be delivered in 2019. These new fighter jets are set to replace the F-16's.
Other defense expenditures are also likely to increase. Earlier this week a narrow majority in the Tweede Kamer, lower house of parliament, stated that they support the notion that the fight against terrorist organization Islamic State be extended to air strikes in Syria. A number of Dutch F-16's are currently fighting ISIS in Iraq.
Whether Defense will be able to afford all this remains to be seen. The Ministry has had to deal with large budget cuts the past few years, though a budget leak last month indicated that Defense will be getting extra money this year. The exact details will be revealed on Prinsjesdag.