It’s official! Belgium chose U.S. F-35 over European offers
As the Belgian medias suspected on October 22, 2018, the government chose the Lockheed Martin F-35 to succeed to the aging F-16s of the Belgian Air Component (the air branch of the single-structure Belgian Armed Forces). Deliveries are expected to start in 2023.
The government announced in a conference on October 25, 2018, that it chose the American plane over the French Dassault Rafale or the European conglomerate Eurofighter Typhoon.
34 F-35A should be ordered for about €4 billion (including a €200 million reserve), each plane costing €76.3 million, pilot formation and weaponry included. The order should also include two Reaper drones.
After initiating a procurement program in March 2017, Belgium had received two offers: one from Lockheed Martin with its F-35 and one from Eurofighter with the Typhoon.
While Dassault did not openly respond to the call for tenders, it offered for Belgium to collaborate on the development of the F4 standard of its Rafale, and a participation in the Franco-German Future Combat Air System (FCAS) program.
But the offer failed to impress the Flemish nationalist defense minister, Steven Vandeput, who stated the Lockheed Martin F-35 was “the most advanced aircraft for the best price.”