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Cablegate: Netherlands/Jsf: Concern About Second Engine

VZCZCXRO0146
PP RUEHSL
DE RUEHTC #0568 2640738
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 210738Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3282
INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/CJCS WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

Monday, 21 September 2009, 07:38
C O N F I D E N T I A L THE HAGUE 000568
SIPDIS
EO 12958 DECL: 09/17/2019
TAGS MARR, MOPS, NATO, PINS, PREL, NL
SUBJECT: NETHERLANDS/JSF: CONCERN ABOUT SECOND ENGINE
REF: A. THE HAGUE 271 B. THE HAGUE 264 C. THE HAGUE 543
Classified By: POLECON Counselor Andrew C. Mann for reasons 1.5(b,d)
1. (C) SUMMARY: The Netherlands Minister of Defense (MOD) has expressed concern over the JSF second engine (F-136) being omitted from the U.S. 2010 Defense Budget. Dutch industry has high-value contracts supporting the development of the F-136 engine. The MOD has struggled to retain the necessary support for the JSF program in what has become a politically charged battle. Cancelling the F-136 program could scuttle Dutch participation in JSF and raise doubts about American defense partnerships as we ask the Dutch to stay the course with us in Afghanistan. END SUMMARY.
Background:
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2. (U) The concept of having two competing engines for the JSF dates back to the “Great Engine War,” when Congress funded the development of a second engine in 1979 for the Air Force’s fighter aircraft. The Air Force and Congress cite the competition as a huge success, yielding both cost savings and a better product. This “standard” of competition drove a two engine solution (F-135 and F-136) for the JSF program. Participating countries in the JSF Program are allowed to choose the F-135, F-136, or both when they issue their procurement request per the JSF Production, Sustainment, and Follow-on Development MOU. The GONL believes based on the MOU they have an engine choice, and are currently in a study with Norway and Italy to compare both engines before a placing their orders to the JSF Program.
Dutch Industry Support on the F-136:
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3. (SBU) Two companies in the Netherlands are responsible for the co-design and production of critical components on the F-136. (Netherlands industry is not participating in the development of the F-135, but is seeking maintenance contracts with Pratt & Whitney, the manufacturer.) The F-136 contractors (General Electric/Rolls-Royce) list potential F-136 business with the Netherlands -- across the life of the program -- at over one billion dollars. Dutch labor unions and local governments are currently applying pressure to the Labor Party (PvdA), which has the pivotal vote to keep the JSF alive in the Netherlands by approving the purchase of the second test jet. The MOD is currently working with Parliament to obtain approval for the purchase the second test aircraft by December 2009. (Note: Post has ensured both the F-135 and F-136 have been equally represented during this process. End Note.)
Comment / Risk of Cancelling JSF in the Netherlands:
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4. (C) COMMENT: The JSF debate in the Netherlands remains politically charged, with the Parliament nearly scuttling Dutch participation in JSF (reftels A, B). The Dutch MOD is using the successes of the JSF in Dutch industry as an argument to keep the JSF in the Netherlands. The Dutch are aware that the U.S. defense budget has excluded the F-136 every year since 2006, but to date Congress has overturned that decision and maintained support for the F-136. However, if the second engine does not survive the budget process, significant U.S. effort will be required to keep the Dutch as a partner in the program. Opponents of the JSF, including the Labor Party (in the three-party governing coalition), would likely argue the U.S. had changed the terms of the Qwould likely argue the U.S. had changed the terms of the agreement upon which Dutch participation was based and we are unreliable. Prospects for winning continued Dutch support of the JSF are dim without continuation of the F-136 program (the two engine option). Furthermore, we are engaged in an delicate effort to keep the Dutch in Afghanistan after 2010. The Labor Party has the pivotal role on this issue as well. When we are asking the Dutch Cabinet and Parliament to make a difficult decision to stay with us as partners in Afghanistan, being perceived as an unreliable partner on JSF could prove to be a large hurdle to overcome. END COMMENT. LEVIN

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