Holland long a leader in let it be socialism continues its march towards disarmament with the going out of business sale of its P-3 aircraft fleet. As the Dutch now spend more than half of their gross national product on domestic programs aimed at giving every citizen as comfortable a life as possible, in July, the Dutch government announced that it had reached an agreement with Germany about the sale of eight P-3C CUP Orions aircraft. Pending an approval from the German Parliament (expected in October), the first aircraft will be handed over to the German Navy at naval air base Nordholz in November, 2005, and the last aircraft in March, 2006. The sales contract reportedly includes eight completely modernized P-3C CUP Orion aircraft, a recently modernized P-3C flightdeck simulator, a spare parts package, and the training of the first German Navy crews at a price of $357 million.
Holland is also cutting back many of its social welfare programs, as a result of a stalled economy.
A week following the P-3 announcement, Portugal announced that it would buy Hollands remaining five Orions. As part of Hollands abandoning blue water maritime air patrol, the government will be closing not only naval air base at Valkenburg, but the one at De Kooy as well. The latter is also home base for Hollands Lynx helicopters, which are to be replaced by NH-90 naval support copters in 2007. The NH-90 is roughly equivalent to the Kaman SH-2 Seasprite, various versions of which have been in use by the US Navy since the 1950s. Reportedly, all Dutch military helicopters (navy and air force) will be concentrated at Gilze Rijen Air Force Base.
To help fill the gap, Stork Aerospace Industries is modifying two additional Fokker 60s for the Royal Netherlands Air Force, to be stationed in the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba (Holland already has four in its Air Force). The modifications to the Fokker 60s will include an enhanced radar system, additional fuel tanks and special observation windows suited for surveillance tasks. The modification contract has a value of $14.5 million
The Fokkers, which have no warfare capability at all, are regional airliners about one-third the size of the P-3, which is a true warplane with anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare capabilities, including dropping and monitoring sonobouys. The Fokker cannot drop anything. The P-3 has a battery of sensors for detecting, locating, and tracking both surface and sub-surface contacts, and can attack with missiles, bombs, torpedoes, or mines. The Fokkers offer radar and looking out the window. In abandoning its P-3s, Holland a seafaring nations -- greatly weakens its ability to counter any potential enemy from the sea. The two Fokkers are to be leased for just 1824 months, after which Holland has announced no plans to replace them. K.B. Sherman