Government not obliged to choose between F-35 and Eurofighter to succeed F-16

The Belgian government will, on Wednesday, know “best and final offers” from the suppliers for the American F-35 and the European Eurofighter.

The government must choose the successor to the antiquated Belgian F-16s. The selection panel will not be obliged to simply choose between the two offers. The point was stressed by the MR deputy, Richard Miller, on Bel RTL today.

Mr Miller said, “If either of the two do not meet the criteria for the best value for money, we could still consider other offers such as the Rafale (by the French aircraft manufacturer Dassault), or other aircraft manufacturers such as the Swedish Saab (the Gripen range of fighter aircraft).” He added, “We are not simply obliged to choose between the F-35 and European Eurofighter.”

Today is the deadline for submission of “best and final offers” by the suppliers for the American F-35 and European Eurofighter. France has confirmed that it did not respond to the tender procedure launched last March by the Belgian Minister for Defence for 34 new combat planes, a state-to-state transaction for an initial sum of €3.6 billion. The French government considers that it has more to offer than was explicitly expressed in the tender documents, which it feels were too restricted, and advances the idea of a “deep and structured partnership”, as part of stimulating the European Defence programme.

The candidates are all offering significant economic benefits for Belgium, in the event of the government choosing their given model.

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