Government Invests Heavily In Defense
(Source: Belgian Minister of Defense; dated Oct 25, 2018)
(Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com)
The government has clearly expressed its willingness to reinvest in the security of our country, the people and the military. The army was to receive the necessary equipment to be able to go into operation. The Minister of Defense, Steven Vandeput, has, for this reason, had the parliament approve a military planning law providing for investments in modern and efficient defense equipment up to 9.2 billion euros.

Steven Vandeput: "Nearly 80% or more of the strategic investment of 7 billion dollars has meanwhile been started or has already been made, and never before has a government invested so much in our security."

The F-16s will be replaced by the F-35s

Our country opts for a partnership with the US government for the Air Component.

An open competition

Steven Vandeput, Minister of Defense: "One of the most important investments in the strategic vision is the replacement of air combat capability, which is not surprising if you know that we want to be a reliable and supportive partner of the EU, the UN and NATO, and replacing our fighter jets is part of that. "

On March 17, 2017, the government decided to publish the Request for Government Proposal and officially launch the F-16 replacement procedure. On September 7, 2017, two state agencies submitted a first offer: the US Joint Program Office, representing Lockheed-Martin F-35 and the UK Department of Defense, representing Eurofighter Typhoon. The two state agencies then submitted their best and final offer (BAFO) on February 14, 2018.

Evaluation

A team of 33 experts from the Ministry of Defense and the FPS Economy have each evaluated some of these offers. To avoid any influence, the experts only had access to the part they had to evaluate. In the end, 53 evaluation questions had to be completed for both offers. These questions were an integral part of the appraisal manual that had been pre-sealed in the presence of the financial inspector and kept under lock and key. The Inspector of Finance, an independent oversight body, validated the purchase process and the results of the analyzes after the appraisal.

The offers have been evaluated on the basis of the following criteria:

**Subcriteria / Weighting
-- Total cost of the property: 33%
-- Operational commitment capacity: 21%
-- Partnership and military collaboration: 16%
-- Protection of essential security interests: 10%
-- Growth and evolution potential: 8%
-- Ease of use and deployability: 6%
-- Operational and technical support: 6%

Based on the results of the evaluation and the weighting of the award criteria, the final ranking is as follows:

**Ranking / State Agency
1) Joint Program Office, USA (Lockheed-Martin F-35A)
2) UK Ministry of Defence, United Kingdom (Eurofighter Typhoon)

Steven Vandeput: "The evaluation of the offers was unequivocal: the partnership with the United States and the corresponding purchase of the F-35 is the best choice for our country financially, operationally and industrially. the result of the open and transparent procedure he initiated in March 2017. "

The result of the competition: over half a billion cheaper

The cost for investing in the new air combat capability is finally 3.8 billion euros (in current euros (1)). Payments will be made over a period of more than 12 years. To compensate for changes in exchange rates, an additional provision of 5% is planned. This brings the investment cost to 4.011 billion (in current euros). That's more than half a billion less than the Strategic Vision for Defense.

For this amount, our country receives 34 F-35A from Block 4, two flight simulation centers, equipment and ICT systems for the operational and technical support of aircraft on base and during their deployments, as well as systems for high technology helmet for pilots.

For the period 2018-2030, this amount of investment also covers, among other things, the costs of continuing the development of the weapon system as well as the recycling of pilots and technical personnel.

Costs (all amounts in current euros):

**Amount awarded: €3.8 billion + €200 million exchange rate provision

**Amount planned in the strategic vision: €4.658 billion

** Difference between attribution and strategic vision: - €647 million

Steven Vandeput: "The lower price than expected clearly shows that there was a real competition between the two state agencies, and thanks to this competition, our country can renew its air combat capability under very favorable conditions. definitely made his decision at the right time. "

Key security interest for 3.6 billion euros

Our country has a number of essential security interests to protect. Contest participants were invited to consider and make proposals to protect these interests. In the end, the proposal of the US state agency contained proposals whose value was estimated at 3.6 billion euros by the office of the Minister of Economy, Kris Peeters.

One-third of the proposals are directly related to F-35 production, one-third to aircraft support and one-third to other safety-related industrial fields.

Steven Vandeput: "Thanks to our partnership with the United States, our own industry will be revived, new technologies and techniques will be developed and jobs will be created, which means much more than buying" planes ". industry a long-term perspective. "

The European dimension

The F-35 has a strong European dimension. A number of European countries have joined the F-35 program since the beginning. Several NATO member countries, including several European countries, such as the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark and Italy, will use the aircraft and 30% of the parts of the aircraft are of European origin. There is even a production center in Italy.

Steven Vandeput: "It will soon be the aircraft that will offer the most opportunities for military cooperation in Europe, as was the case for the F-16, which is of vital importance for a small country like Belgium."

The French proposal

Steven Vandeput: "We regret that France has voluntarily evaded the obligation to submit an offer in the framework of the transparent competition initiated by the government.

Service life extension is expensive

A short extension of the life of the F-16 until after 2028 is financially disadvantageous. On the basis of the best-ranked tender of the competition, the additional cost for the extension would be 520 million euros for a period of six years, during which the investment will be postponed. After this six-year period, an investment in a new capacity would be inevitable.

Moreover, in case of extension, Belgium would no longer be able to share the costs of the analysis and study phase with other countries. And since then, other countries have made the choice to replace their F-16s, with the exception of Portugal.

In any case, the F-16 will lose its operational relevance. The aircraft can still fly, but it will no longer be operational for missions that meet the Belgian ambition level.

Next steps

Minister Vandeput will sign an agreement between states with the United States on behalf of our country. The first new fighter jets are expected by 2023.

The Council of Ministers today approved the proposal of Defense Minister Steven Vandeput to award the purchase of new combat vehicles for the Belgian ground forces to France.

Revolutionary cooperation

Steven Vandeput, Minister of Defense: "With 1.6 billion euros (2), it is the largest investment program for land forces, announced in my strategic vision. This acquisition, in line with the principles of strategic vision, goes hand in hand with a revolution in defense cooperation for our Earth Component. A partnership with France is set up based on identical French and Belgian combat vehicles.

The aim of this partnership is that Belgium and France will have, among other things, a common organization and that training, training and logistical support will be organized jointly. As a privileged partner of the French Army, the Land Component can now have combat vehicles based on a new operational concept. '' As announced in the strategic vision, the operationality and effectiveness of the Belgian ground forces are thus reinforced and, at the same time, the construction of a more European defense. Cooperation between the two armies can be considered an emblematic project in Europe.

Sensors

The new combat vehicles are developed in the French Scorpion program and replace the current Piranha and Dingo combat vehicles.

60 "Jaguar" medium combat vehicles and 382 "Griffon" light combat vehicles will be purchased, including communications and spare parts. These vehicles will be the basic vehicles for the Belgian Armed Forces' motorized capability and will also be used in a medical and reconnaissance version. They mean a huge qualitative step forward and will create a safer and more effective operational commitment for our military.

The entry into service of the vehicles is planned in the period 2025-2030 and it is planned to start already in the short term with the development of the close partnership with France.

A boost for our economy

The three main companies of the French consortium (Nexter, Thales, Arquus) producing the Scorpion and Jaguar vehicles for the French Ministry of Defense have been actively seeking the best way to involve Belgian companies in the production and development process.

Projects range from production to assembly, software development and cybersecurity skills through the delivery of turrets and ammunition. They are often accompanied by technology transfer. Investments in space technology applications (solar panels) and research centers for digital security applications will also benefit the strengthening of our industrial capabilities.

Steven Vandeput: "With this investment, the government explicitly chooses to modernize the existing motorized land forces so that they can continue to remain the spearhead of the Belgian commitment in the context of collective security. are necessary to continue to play a role in the operations and to ensure the individual security of the military. "
MQ-9B SkyGuardian

New reconnaissance drones

The government has agreed to negotiate with the United States for the purchase of two MALE drone systems. MALE means Average Altitude Long Endurance. These are reconnaissance drones that collect information from the sky.

European deficit

Steven Vandeput: "MALE drones play an increasingly important role in operations, but at the European level, there is a shortage of this type of drones. With this purchase, Defense is committed to the future while filling a capability deficit at the European level. Owning MALE drones and keeping them operational is a complex undertaking, and one of the conditions of this purchase was that our country would be able to establish a partnership with another country."

Cooperation with a partner country guarantees economies of scale in terms of equipment, maintenance, training and operations. Since MALE drones will be mainly engaged in EU and NATO operations, a partnership will be sought with an EU or NATO member country.

Our country wishes to acquire the MQ-9B SkyGuardian, produced by the American company General Atomics Aeronautical Systems. The MQ-9B is specifically designed to be certified in a shared military / civilian airspace. To be able to train from Florennes air base, this certification is crucial.

Moreover, this type of drone fits most easily into NATO systems. Several of our European partner countries are already flying with a drone from the same family (ITA, FRA, GBR, ESP).

This investment is estimated at 226 million euros (3). Delivery is scheduled for the period 2022-2024. The drones should be fully operational by 2025.

New technology for our companies

The MALE drones form a new technology in which Belgium can not remain in rest. The Belgian industrial sector is waiting for cooperation to position itself quickly as an important player in the development of European MALE drones.

General Atomics would undertake to make a significant transfer of knowledge for the benefit of Belgian companies and to continue to involve them in the development and production of their devices worldwide. For our companies, the transfer of knowledge is essential for them to be able, technologically speaking, to make an important contribution to a European drone project.

Steven Vandeput: "This purchase will be another step towards a more European defense for us." In the future, the intention remains to invest in the development of MALE-type European drones, a project launched at initiative of France, Germany, Spain and Italy. "


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NOTES:
(1) The amount in current euros is the total amount that we will have paid at the end of the investment plan in 2030. The amounts in the strategic vision are expressed in constant euros 2015. The conversion between the two is made on the basis of based on a price adjustment factor (based on inflation of aviation materials).

(2) (3) Idem, the price adjustment coefficient is based on "normal" inflation.


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