The Ministry of Defence strengthens the firepower of the armed forces. This is done with the purchase of rocket artillery for the army and long-range weapons for the navy and air force. These systems can achieve goals over longer distances with great precision and power. This is what State Secretary Christophe van der Maat writes to the House of Representatives today.
Missile artillery allows Army units to take out enemy targets with precision. Think of air defense and fire support systems, headquarters and logistics hubs. With long-range weapons, naval vessels are able to take out targets in an opponent’s hinterland. Currently, Dutch naval vessels do not have armament that is powerful enough and reaches far enough to eliminate bunkers, for example.
Even from the air, the Netherlands does not have such capabilities. The F-35 features armament for fighting ground targets that are relatively close. However, the F-35 cannot attack targets far into the hinterland of an opponent if it has strong air defense. This requires armament with a long range. They are therefore equipped with long-range armament.
Van der Maat: “The war in Ukraine shows once again that short, medium and long-range fire support is essential. This applies on land, from the air and from the sea. With the new systems, the Ministry of Defence is further fleshing out NATO’s common combat power and deterrence. The Netherlands shows that it takes responsibility by making a strong contribution to this. Moreover, the Netherlands is responding to the desire to own its own missile artillery and long-range weapon, as described in the Defence Memorandum 2022.”
The Army will have access to the Israeli PULS (Precise and Universal Launch System) system this year. As a result, the Ministry of Defence has its own missile artillery for the first time in years. This is necessary for effective ground-based fire support, because it reaches further, has larger loads and can reach its target faster than current fire support means. At the moment, the Dutch fire support has armored howitzers that can shoot up to a maximum of 50 kilometers.
The research phase for the system showed that there are 2 systems that meet the Dutch requirements: the HIMARS system and the PULS system. The PULS system distinguishes itself in several areas. Compared to the American HIMARS system, it can carry more missiles. Also, with the budget, more rockets can be purchased and they are available earlier. In addition, PULS will be suitable for ammunition from European producers in the future.
A partner such as Denmark is also purchasing the PULS system, while Germany is interested. This offers the prospect of international cooperation in order to increase European autonomy.
For the Navy’s LC frigates and submarines, U.S. Tomahawk long-range weapons have been chosen. This weapon can be launched from an air defense and commado frigate (LC frigate) as well as a submarine. It has a range of more than 1,000 kilometers. After launch, the user can have the Tomahawk follow a different route to the target or assign a different target. The American and British navies, among others, use the Tomahawk.
The F-35 was also fitted with American-made armaments. It concerns the JASSM-ER (Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range). This weapon also has a range of about 1,000 kilometers. The U.S. and Australian air forces are already using it. In Europe, Germany, Finland and Poland are also purchasing the JASSM-ER.
The weapons for the Navy and Air Force have stealth characteristics, precision guidance and a suitable explosive charge to take out well-protected targets. By purchasing these types of weapons for the LC frigates, the submarines and the F-35s, the Netherlands gains the flexibility and strength needed to be successful when deployed.