Belgium Picks F-35 Lightning II over Eurofighter Typhoon to replace F-16. Belgium has chosen Lockheed Martin’s F-35 stealth jets over the Eurofighter Typhoon to replace its aging F-16s, news agency Belga cited government sources as saying, in a move that would cement the U.S.-made war plane’s position in Europe.
In February, the US defense contractor Lockheed Martin and a European consortium of aerospace manufacturers became the only two participants in a competition to provide state-of-the-art warplanes to Belgium, pitting the F-35 against the Eurofighter Typhoon.
Brussels has picked the advanced US F-35 Lightning II fighter jet to replace Belgium’s aging fleet of F-16 jets, the Belgian newspaper DeMorgen cited several government sources as saying on Monday.
Last month, US Ambassador to Belgium Ronald Gidwitz urged the Belgian government to make a decision on the tender for acquiring 34 new fighter jets by mid-October. The latest deadline for the decision was reportedly scheduled for October 29.
The country has been deliberating for months over a multibillion-dollar purchase of 34 new fighter jets, with the latest deadline for a decision being Oct. 29.
Lockheed spokeswoman Carolyn Nelson did not confirm that a decision had been made but said the company remains confident that the F-35 is the right choice for Belgium.
“The F-35 offers the transformational capability for the Belgian Air Force and, if selected, will align them with a global coalition operating the world’s most advanced aircraft.”
If confirmed, the decision will make Belgium the 12th country to buy the radar-evading F-35 jets and could help to strengthen the U.S. aerospace company’s position in forthcoming tenders in Switzerland, Finland, and Germany.
The new aircraft are due to replace the fleet of F-16 fighters that have been in service with the Belgian Air Force since the early 1980s.
The Belgian government reportedly plans to allocate a total of 15 billion euros (17.2 billion dollars) for the purchase and maintenance of the 34 new warplanes.