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The Netherlands is at the centre of an international debate due to its delivery of F-35 parts to Israel. The parts, intended for Israeli fighter jets, can be deployed in conflict zones such as the Gaza Strip. The Dutch foreign ministry is weighing Israel’s right of self-defence against the risks of the law of war. Parliamentary questions have been raised, while the cabinet is reconsidering export procedures.

Why you need to know this:

Technological innovations are widely used during wars worldwide. The Netherlands is also making its contribution.

Besides equipment, such as F-35 parts, there are also (high-tech) innovations from Dutch soil that are used during wars worldwide, from robots to artificial intelligence.

Simulations and robot dogs

The Netherlands supports Ukraine not only in terms of equipment, but also in terms of knowledge and innovation. Recently, a Ukrainian delegation exchanged knowledge with Dutch Defence colleagues, also visiting the innovation square. At this square, some 18 companies and military personnel presented their latest inventions. These innovations could potentially be of use to the Ukrainians in their conflict with Russia. Examples include simulations to aid military training and a robotic dog that can be used for reconnaissance and tracking.

AI developed on Dutch soil can also lend a helping hand. Take Dutch start-up Fectar, for example. Ukraine is full of explosives that have not yet gone off. According to the Ukrainian government, 80,000 km2 of the country has become “contaminated” with these dangerous munitions. These are sometimes hard to spot and pose a great danger to residents. Especially for children. Fectar has designed an Augmented Reality (AR) lesson that teaches children to recognise these unexploded ordnance in a safe and interactive way. It is the first time in the world that a lesson has been developed to make children aware of the dangers of these different types of mines.

Ethical and legal issues

The debate on the F-35 parts shows that the Netherlands plays a role on the world, a role that requires constant attention to the dynamics between innovation, ethics and international relations. But with a strong focus on research and development, combined with an ethical framework, the Netherlands can continue to contribute to a safer world.