BRUSSELS, Belgium (BulgarianMilitary.com) – The Belgian fleet of F-16s will be replaced by F-35As of Lockheed Martin. The F-35A aircraft was recently selected in a competition, learned BulgarianMilitary.com.
The Minister of Defence of Belgium Steven Vandeput announced that decision on 25th October 2018 during a media briefing and thus Belgium becomes the 13th partner in the programme.
The acquisition will cost around €500 million less than planned budget of €4 billion for the purpose as stated by Vandeput. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2023.
The possible sale of 34 F-35s to Belgium was approved by the United States State Department earlier this year, in January.
The comment of Lockheed was that, “Alongside the economic and industrial benefits, the enhanced interoperability and transformational capabilities the F-35 brings to Belgium are unmatched. With stealth technology, advanced sensors, weapons capacity and range, the F-35 is the most capable, survivable and connected fighter aircraft ever built enabling pilots to perform their mission and return home safely.”
The F-35 won in the competition with the Dassault Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon. Other options, which were withdrawn before the end of the selection process were Saab’s Gripen NG and the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet of Boeing.
The export package involves 38 Pratt and Whitney F135 engines, as well as four spares, including the full suite of electronic warfare and command and control systems and the sustainment and logistic services of Lockheed Martin.
Flight Fleets Analyser shows that Belgium operates 52 F-16s. Forty-four of them are single-seat F-16As and nine are two-seat F-16Bs. The average age of the current fleet is 31.2 years and the aircraft ages range from 27.1 to 36 years.
The F-35 Lightning II of Lockheed Martin is a family of single-seat, single-engined, all-weather stealth multirole fighters. The fifth-generation combat aircraft is developed for ground-attack and air-superiority missions. Its main models are three: the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant, the F-35B short take-off and vertical-landing (STOVL) variant, and the F-35C carrier-based catapult-assisted take-off but arrested recovery (CATOBAR) variant.
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Source: FlightGlobal, Wikipedia