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Belgium rejects French lobbying for Rafale Fighters

January 2, 2018 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Belgium has rejected French offer of Rafale fighter jets for the country’s bid to replace aging F-16 fighter jets. Belgium had called for tenders in March to replace its ageing fleet of 34 F-16 fighter aircraft for an estimated $4.2 billion.

BAF F-16AM #FA-132 from 1 sqn is taxiing by the camera at Florennes AB in May of 2017 adorned with the 100th anniversary marking of the squadron. [Facebook photo]

Lockheed Martin and Eurofighter both have submitted an official bid for the program but Dassault has not offered a bid. They refused to do so stating that their offer did not fit within, even though the criteria were very clear.

Instead the French government tried to lobby its way rather than using the straightforward and objective method via the RfGP (Request for Government Proposal, tender through the authorities). They initially promised an economic return of $4 billion, and recently even increased that to $20 billion, and offer which is too good to be true. This shows that the lobbying is now running at full speed.

Minister of Defense Steven Vandeput (N-VA party) 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.

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.

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