Belgium has rejected French offer of Rafale fighter jets for the country’s bid to replace aging F-16 fighter jets.
“The French government already promised an economic return of$ 4 billion, there is now even $20 billion. This is mainly proof that the lobby machine is running at full speed, Minister of Defense Steven Vandeput (N-VA party) was quoted as saying by De Standaard, Belgian news daily Thursday.
'The French offer is too good to be true. The lobbying is running at full speed that is clear now. But we have opted for a straightforward and objective method via the RfGP (Request for Government Proposal, tender through the authorities). It’s a pity that France is taking a different route. The claims that their offer did not fit within it is simply incorrect. The criteria are clear. Period,” Vandeput said.
Steven Vandeput sees no solution to the replacement of the F-16 in the French proposal. It is best to talk about a collaboration for a new aircraft, but the deadline of 2023, when the first F-16s are taken out of circulation, is therefore unachievable.
Belgium had called for tenders in March to replace its ageing fleet of 34 F-16 fighter aircraft for an estimated $4.2 billion. Lockheed Martin and Eurofighter have submitted an official bid for the program but Dassault has not offered a bid.
The French defense minister, Florence Parly had earlier this month, offered technology and economic partnerships with Belgium, if it is ready to buy Rafale fighter jets.