DH - Defence Helicopter

Dutch MoD cuts key capabilities

11th April 2011 - 14:26 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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The Dutch Ministry of Defence’s (MoD’s) Leopard MBTs and Cougar transport helicopters are to ‘disappear’ in an effort to reduce its financial deficit by €1 billion ($1.4 billion) by 2014.

On 8 April defence minister Hans Hillen announced the official government paper, ‘A Smaller Military in a Troubled World’, which outlined cuts that included: two MBT battalions, 19 F-16 fighter aircraft, one supply ship, four mine detection ships, and some 12,000 personnel.

The MoD said the cuts will mean that stock levels and units can be properly exercised, and that by outsourcing certain activities, including non-strategic maintenance activities as much as possible, there will be more collaboration with industry, which would lead to savings.

Military property was also affected, with almost all new infrastructure projects until 2012 having been suspended. Units will either be removed, closed, or combined, but it is currently unknown which sites will be divested. This will be announced on 1 July.

Although the Netherlands is to be ‘hard hit’ by the measures it has announced, the minister remained outwardly positive about the future of the military.

‘To say there are some slight changes is an understatement I’m afraid. In the end we will have a very good army. I think everything will be spick and span in the end, but we have to be in the dark for two or three years I’m afraid,’ Hillen told Radio Netherlands Worldwide on the day the budget was announced.

‘I think eventually everybody realises that the Dutch are practical and that our aim is not to diminish our international and our national aims with the army.’

When asked if co-operation with allied nations would be a better solution to financial difficulties, the minister said that although this was something to consider, this was more of a long term solution.

The paper said that the armed forces would now concentrate primarily on ‘short, powerful and high quality contributions to international operations’.

For more on cuts to the helicopter fleet click here

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