Auditors demand clarity on Joint Strike Fighter cost increases

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The Court of Auditors wants clarification from Defense Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert on how she plans to manage the possibly higher costs involved in the purchase of the new JSF-jets due to fluctuations in the euro-dollar exchange rate, the court wrote in a letter to the Tweede Kamer, lower house of parliament, on Tuesday, ANP reports.

The Joint Strike Fighters are intended to be the successor of the F-16's in the air force. In September Hennis already wrote that the purchase of the 37 fighter jets may cost 550 million euros more than expected. She did not adapt her budget at the time to include the new estimate, because it would mean drastic measures when it is still uncertain whether they'd be necessary.

The Court of Auditors does not agree with this. According to the court, that the Netherlands already has to make commitments for the purchase of 24 or possibly 32 of the jets while this cabinet is still in office.

In response Hennis stated that the next cabinet must decide how to deal with the fluctuating exchange rates. The Ministry of Defense will not be compensated for the poorer exchange rate, the government agreed that no more than 4.5 billion euros will be allocated to this project. In September's estimate the project cost 5.2 billion euros.