“Boeing informed the Belgian government that it will not participate in its bidders’ conference today, nor respond to the request for proposals for a new fighter aircraft.
“We regret that after reviewing the request we do not see an opportunity to compete on a truly level playing field with the extremely capable and cost-effective F/A-18 Super Hornet.
“This decision allows Boeing to concentrate its efforts and resources on supporting our global customers, securing new orders and investing in technology and systems required to meet the threats of today and tomorrow.
“Where there is a full and open competition we look forward to bringing the full depth and breadth of The Boeing Company to our offer,” said Gene Cunningham, vice president, BDS Global Sales.
Further Boeing comment:
On April 20, Boeing spokeswoman Marcia Costley responded to our e-mailed questions as follows:
Q1. What, in the Belgian RFGP, prevents the competition from being played "on a truly level playing field"?
A1: When we talk of a "level playing field" we are referring to preferences and/or criteria we saw in the RfGP, which was detailed and very clear.
There is a stated preference to follow the decisions of other EU and NATO nations that have already selected the F-35.
Beyond that, the full costs associated with this program are not being considered, for example those costs associated with upgrading or replacing equipment and facilities.
Q2. How do you define the "full and open competition" that you call for in the final paragraph of your statement?
A2. We believe it is when Boeing products and services are evaluated on all their capabilities and price.
Boeing stands firmly behind the merits of the Super Hornet as the world's most proven, affordable and advanced multi-role fighter.
We will continue to offer the aircraft to global air forces interested in modernizing their fleets with minimum risk and maximum return on investment.
Q3. You are fighting Denmark's selection of the F-35 in the courts, yet you are pulling out of the Belgian competition before the deadline for bids. Do you consider the Belgian RFGP to be less open than the Danish RFP?
A3. To be clear, these are completely different situations.
In Denmark, we are taking legal action to obtain documents and information, which we are entitled to, from the Ministry of Defence regarding the New Fighter program evaluation and decision.
In Belgium, we have made a decision not to expend company resources or money on responding to the government's request for proposals.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: At press-time on April 20, Boeing had not yet responded to our e-mailed questions about its withdrawal, notably as to why it considers that the Belgian competition is not the “truly level playing field” nor the “full and open competition” that it expected.
Four competitors remain in the running: Airbus/BAE Systems Eurofighter; Dassault Rafale, Lockheed Martin F-35 and Saab Gripen E.)
-- April 21 at 11:00 CET: Added comments by Boeing spokeswoman.