An ability to drop US-made B-61 nuclear bomb besides stealth features that sharply reduce the aircraft’s radar signature were the two key factors which made Brussels select the Lockheed Martin F-35 over the Eurofighter Typhoon.
A day after Belgium announced a 3.6 billion euro deal to buy 34 F-35 fighter jets, cries of “betrayal” were heard in media reports quoting politicians of various European countries, particularly in those that make up the Eurofighter consortium of France, Germany, Spain and the UK.
Belgium’s decision has come at a time when European nations have announced new aircraft development programs, most notably UK-Leonardo partnership with its ‘Tempest’ and France-Germany with their ‘New Generation Fighter.’
However, Belgian Prime Minsiter Charles Michel said Belgium was looking to both Europe and the United States to meet its defence needs. Belgium is also buying drones, frigates, minesweepers and armoured vehicles "within the framework of NATO and European defence," Michel said during a news conference.
Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said the US offer "was the best from the price and operational standpoint."
European firms say that the Belgian fighter replacement tender was loaded in favor of the F-35 with the twin requirements of nuclear bomb and stealth features, both of which are unavailable with the two main European contenders, Eurofighter and Dassault Rafale. While the French firm withdrew from the competition, Eurofighter stayed on only to be defeated by the American aircraft.
Critics say that for the kind of missions the Belgian air force flies, stealth features and nuclear weapons delivery capability are an overkill.
However, Brussels insists that Belgium has been carrying out nuclear missions on behalf of NATO for decades. The F-16s stationed at Kleine-Brogel (F-16A) are capable of carrying and dropping an American B-61 nuclear bomb and only the F-35 is capable of continuing the mission once the F-16s are retired.
Analysts say that both the Eurofighter and the Rafale were designed to be fourth generation aircraft and are no match to the fifth-generation F-35 in terms of technology and mission profile.
The Belgian government which has all but decided to buy the F-35 fighter jet may insist on some of the equipment abroad the United States-made fighter to be of European Origin. While a formal selection between the Eurofighter Typhoon and the F-35 is awaited, Brussels is tilting in favor of the F-35 with only an announcement awaited, local newspaper De Morgen reported based on information from sources in the know
Belgium has rejected French offer of Rafale fighter jets for the countrys 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
Belgium's Council of Ministers approved Thursday proposal submitted by defense ministry to launch a 1.1 billion euros investment program for the purchase of new combat vehicles for the Belgian land forces, in cooperation with France
Belgium has opened a $3.85 billion tender Friday for the replacement of its ageing US-built F-16 jet fighter fleet with new multi-role aircraft
The Belgian defense ministry is buying nine Squire high-tech radar systems from the Dutch armed forces. The Belgian Defense Minister Sander Loones and his Dutch counterpart, Ank Bijleveld, signed an agreement on Wednesday
The Belgian Air Force F-16 fighter jets scrambled to intercept Russian Su-27 jets entering the airspace over Baltic Sea. “Yesterday, F-16s of the Belgian Air Force currently deployed in the Baltic region intercepted Russian flanker fighter planes without a flight plan to preserve the integrity of the airspace,” the Belgian Defense Ministry posted on Twitter Thursday
The British Ministry of Defense has awarded $205.7 million to Kier VolkerFitzpatrick to build infrastructure at RAF Lakenheath for two squadrons of the United States F-35 fighter jets
Dassault Aviation has said it participated in Frances global strategic partnership offer to the Belgian Government with the Rafale fighter and an economic and societal package in high-tech sectors worth €20 billion over 20 years. This unique partnership by France to Belgium, outside the call for tenders, has not been examined (while making the selection in favor of the US-made F-35), a Dassault release said Friday
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