September 18, 1999 (by Lieven Dewitte) - A Belgian air force colonel was quoted Saturday as saying the country favored replacing its fleet of F-16 fighter aircraft with the planned Join Strike Fighter (JSF) being developed for the U.S. armed services.
Its attractions are many, Col. Gerard Van Caelenberge, head of the Belgian air force's planning unit, told. He noted the JSF
was expected to be cheaper and more up to date than its three main rivals, the Typhoon, Rafale and Grippen fighters. "We would have the advantage of participating from its creation. In addition, several of our partners seem equally to want to chose the JSF", he added.
No decision has yet been taken as to which aircraft Belgium
will chose to replace its 90 F-16s, which are expected to remain in service until 2015. Van Caelenberge said, however, it was almost certain Belgium would acquire less than the current 90 aircraft.
Versions of the JSF are currently being developed by consortiums led by Lockheed Martin and Boeing. A choice of fighters is expected to be made by the United States next year. It is not due to enter service until the end of the 2000-2010 period.