A Lost Opportunity for European Defence
(Source: Airbus Defence and Space; issued Oct 26, 2018)
MUNICH --- With sincere regret Airbus Defence and Space has taken note of the decision by the government of Belgium to select the F-35 to replace its existing fleet of F-16 fighter aircraft.
Airbus Defence and Space accepts this decision by Belgium and is aware of the strong links between Belgium and the United States on defence industrial matters. Therefore, yesterday’s decision does not come as a complete surprise.
However, Airbus Defence and Space remains firmly convinced that the offer submitted by Team Eurofighter, consisting of the industrial partners of United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and Spain, would have represented a superior choice for the country both in terms of operational capability and industrial opportunities. The Eurofighter solution would have resulted in more than € 19 billion direct contribution to the Belgian economy.
This partnership could have also laid the path for Belgium to join the Franco-German Future Combat Air System programme, which Airbus is currently defining with its strong industrial partner Dassault Aviation.
Yesterday’s announcement by the government is a sovereign decision which all contenders have to respect. Yet, it is a lost opportunity to strengthen European industrial cooperation in times when the EU is called upon to increase its joint defence efforts.
Airbus is a global leader in aeronautics, space and related services. In 2017 it generated revenues of € 59 billion restated for IFRS 15 and employed a workforce of around 129,000. Airbus offers the most comprehensive range of passenger airliners from 100 to more than 600 seats. Airbus is also a European leader providing tanker, combat, transport and mission aircraft, as well as one of the world’s leading space companies. In helicopters, Airbus provides the most efficient civil and military rotorcraft solutions worldwide.
(Source: BAE Systems; issued Oct 29, 2018)
Responding to our query, a BAE Systems spokesperson issued the following statement:
“We note the announcement by the Belgian Government in regard to the replacement of its F-16 combat aircraft fleet. We and the UK Government are looking forward to gaining a greater understanding of how Belgium reached it decision.
“Eurofighter Typhoon is a world-class aircraft with proven capabilities and proven success in the export market. We continue to pursue a number of opportunities for Typhoon both in Europe and internationally.
“We submitted a comprehensive proposal to the official F-16 replacement process which we believe offers the best solution for Belgium and Europe, uniquely providing the strategic benefits of enhanced European defence collaboration, security, economic value and industrial partnerships.”
Belgium Choses the F-35 and the United States
(Source: Dassault Aviation; issued Oct 26, 2018)
SAINT-CLOUD --- Dassault Aviation takes note of the sovereign decision by the Belgian authorities to select the American option to replace the Air Component’s F-16.
Dassault Aviation takes note of the Belgian government decision regarding the replacement of the F-16 of the Air Component
Saint-Cloud, 26 Octobre 2018 – Dassault Aviation takes note of the sovereign decision by the Belgian authorities to select the American option to replace the Air Component’s F-16.
Dassault Aviation is not surprised by the Belgian government decision, some actors’ preference for the F-35 had long been clear enough.
Dassault Aviation participated in France’s global strategic partnership offer to the Belgian Government with the Rafale fighter and an economic and societal package in high-tech sectors worth €20 billion over 20 years. This unique partnership by France to Belgium, outside the call for tenders, has not been examined.
The choice of the F-35 is a bad signal for the construction of a European defence. Once again, we can see an American preference prevailing in Europe.
Dassault Aviation and its industrial partners are continuing to develop the operational capabilities of the Rafale, in service in France and in countries that want to have a first-rate air force at their disposal in full sovereignty.
Dassault Aviation is also mobilized with its partner Airbus to support the political will of France and Germany to prepare for the future with the Future Combat Air System project.
With over 10,000 military and civil aircraft delivered in more than 90 countries over the last century, Dassault Aviation has built up expertise recognized worldwide in the design, development, sale and support of all types of aircraft, ranging from the Rafale fighter, to the high-end Falcon family of business jets and military drones. In 2017, Dassault Aviation reported revenues of €4.8 billion. The company has 11,400 employees.
French President “Regrets” Belgium’s F-35 Choice
(Source: Wire services; posted Oct 29, 2018)
French President Emmanuel Macron "regrets" the decision of the Belgian government to buy US F-35 fighter jets "rather than a European offer", a decision that "strategically goes against European interests", he told reporters on Friday in Bratislava.
"I regret this choice very deeply, nevertheless I respect a procedure which was launched before we have all these European initiatives," said the French president. "It's a decision that is related to a procedure that I respect and which is Belgian, which is linked to the political constraints of the country, and it's not up to me to comment on them. contrary to European interests ", according to Emmanuel Macron.
"I will do everything to ensure that, in future calls for tenders from other countries, European offers are promoted," he added.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: BAE Systems, which led the Eurofighter sales campaign in Belgium, has not made any statement on the issue, and referred enquiries to the UK Ministry of Defence.)