The UK’s Secretary of State for International Trade, Dr Liam Fox MP, has presented the UK Government’s defence and security offer to Belgium as part of the Air Combat Capability Program (ACCaP) during a visit to the headquarters of Sonaca.
Ahead of a tour of Sonaca’s production line facilities, Dr Fox told an audience that the UK’s offer has the political, military and industrial support of partner governments in Germany, Italy and Spain and partner companies - BAE Systems, Airbus and Leonardo.
The UK’s ACCaP offer represents the most comprehensive international equipment partnership ever put forward by a Eurofighter Typhoon partner nation, with a Government to Government Memorandum of Understanding between Belgium and the UK underpinning a decades-long strategic partnership.
A core element of the proposed Memorandum of Understanding is the offer of a comprehensive partnership between the Belgian Air Component and the Royal Air Force, building on more than 70 years of history and collaboration between the two air forces. The agreement will mean Belgium will be able to leverage the UK’s experience from over a decade of Eurofighter Typhoon operations and will also be guaranteed a strong voice and influence over the aircraft’s future capability evolution, with a chance to compete for those contracts.
Dr Fox said: “I am delighted to visit Belgium’s biggest aerospace company, which, in partnership with a number of other companies across the country, is already a major supplier to the Eurofighter Typhoon consortium.
“These proposals show our commitment to working with our European neighbours. If successful, this deal would be a boost to the UK, Belgian and other European economies, generating jobs in both countries and creating strong ties between businesses.”
Also speaking at the event, Anthony Gregory, Eurofighter Typhoon Campaign Director Belgium for BAE Systems, said the company is proposing to establish two National Innovation Centres for Belgium, one in Wallonia and another in Flanders. The centres would cover advanced materials and manufacturing and additive manufacture.
The proposal is also underpinned by a partnership between the UK and Belgian governments to provide the infrastructure, technology and training to accommodate a Belgian National Network Cyber Centre.
As the largest defence collaboration programme in Europe, selecting Eurofighter would support a robust European aerospace and defence industrial base and place Belgium in a strong position for future collaborations with the three main aerospace and defence technology companies in Europe.
Mr Gregory said: “We recognise the outstanding capabilities Belgium has in the aerospace and defence sectors already, and the industrial collaboration we are proposing offers sustainable and long-term opportunities. BAE Systems has a long and very proud track record of technology, intellectual property and knowledge transfer and, on behalf of our Eurofighter partner companies, who already enjoy significant relationships across Belgium, we look forward to working with Belgian industry in the future and continuing to develop existing and new partnerships.”
Eurofighter for Belgium
Belgian Defence has a requirement to replace a current fleet of 54 F-16 aircraft with 34 new multi-role combat aircraft through the ACCaP.
The UK Government, supported by BAE Systems, is proud to offer Eurofighter Typhoon as a candidate to meet Belgium’s ACCaP requirement as part of a defence and security proposal. The UK is leading this campaign on behalf of its three other
Eurofighter partner nations – Germany, Italy and Spain. BAE Systems is supporting the UK Government as its industrial partner on behalf of the Eurofighter consortium, which includes Airbus and Leonardo.
With over 500 delivered and 8 established customers, Eurofighter Typhoon will continue to be the backbone of European and NATO air power for decades to come.
It is currently the largest military procurement programme in Europe and provides operationally proven air power for NATO, Europe and the Middle East, including ongoing and multiple deployments on Baltic Air Policing duties with Spanish, German, Italian and UK air forces.
The programme has created, and sustains, 100,000 jobs across 400 European companies. Around 70% of the aircraft is designed and manufactured by companies in continental Europe.