WASHINGTON --- The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Belgium of thirty-four (34) F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Conventional Take Off and Landing aircraft for an estimated cost of $6.53 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale today.
The Government of Belgium has requested to buy thirty-four (34) F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Conventional Take Off and Landing (CTOL) aircraft, and -- thirty-eight (38) Pratt & Whitney F-135 engines (34 installed, 4 spares).
Also included are Electronic Warfare Systems; Command, Control, Communications, Computer and Intelligence/Communications, Navigational, and Identification (C4I/CNI); Autonomic Logistics Global Support System (ALGS); Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS); Full Mission Trainer; Weapons Employment Capability, and other Subsystems, Features, and Capabilities; F-35 unique infrared flares; Reprogramming center; F-35 Performance Based Logistics; software development/integration; aircraft ferry and tanker support; support equipment; tools and test equipment; communications equipment; spares and repair parts; personnel training and training equipment; publications and technical documents; U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics personnel services; and other related elements of logistics and program support.
The estimated total case value is $6.53 billion.
This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of an ally and partner nation which has been, and continues to be, an important force for political and economic stability in Western Europe.
This proposed sale of F-35s will provide Belgium with a credible defense capability to deter aggression in the region and ensure interoperability with U.S. forces. The proposed sale will augment Belgium's operational aircraft inventory and enhance its air-to-air and air-to-ground self-defense capability. Belgium will have no difficulty absorbing these aircraft into its armed forces.
The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.
The prime contractors will be Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company, Fort Worth, TX; and Pratt & Whitney Military Engines, East Hartford, CT. This proposal is being offered in the context of a competition. If the proposal is accepted, it is expected that offset agreements will be required. All offsets are defined in negotiations between the Purchaser and the contractor.
Implementation of this proposed sale will require multiple trips to Belgium involving U.S. Government and contractor representatives for technical reviews/support, program management, and training over the life of the program. U.S. contractor representatives will be required in Belgium to conduct Contractor Engineering Technical Services (CETS) and Autonomic Logistics and Global Support (ALGS) for after-aircraft delivery.
There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.
This notice of a potential sale is required by law and does not mean the sale has been concluded.
(EDITOR’S NOTE At today’s rate, the $6.53 billion cost of the 34 F-35s offered to Belgium equates to 5.33 billion euros, which is 48% higher than the 3.6 billion euro budget that Belgium has allocated to buy its new fighters.
A spokesman for Belgian Defense Minister Steven Vandeput told Belga news agency that the cost figure was “premature,” and that the final price would be determined once the ministry’s own experts have evaluated the Best And Final Offers (BAFO) due on Feb. 14.
In fact, Vandeput’s spokesman might well have been referring to the announcement itself as being premature, which it was.
Lockheed and the DCSA were undoubtedly hoping to keep the price under wraps until after the Feb. 14 deadline for the BAFO.
However, it was the prospect of the shutdown of the US Federal Government on Friday night that prompted the DSCA to issue its notification of Congressional approval. In fact, the DCSA has shut down, and its website as well – which is why the above notification is dated Jan. 18.
This notification also confirms the unit cost of an F-35A is $190 million – over twice the $85 million price that Lockheed is still claiming – and which is very close to the $206 million that we determined for Lot 5 aircraft being delivered in 2017.
And those $190 million do not include the cost of ground equipment and weapons – both things that are required for a warplane to fly combat missions.
So far, governments in Italy, Norway, Denmark and the UK swallowed the Pentagon’s bait, along with its hook, line and sinker, but they did not know the true cost of the planes they were buying.
Even the UK government, which is the largest non-US F-35 partner, still cannot tell Parliament how much they cost.
But now, as Belgium is in the unique position of knowing the true price of all three candidates before it signs an order, Vandeput and the government cabinet will be able to show how good negotiators they are.)
-- Jan 22 @ 18:00 GMT: edited final paragraphs for clarity.