Is it an offer they can refuse? As reported in Belgian media these days. Dassault has offered Belgium its latest Rafale model, the Rafale F3 R, as replacement for the Belgian Air Components aging F-16s. The offer includes a major technology transfer between the two countries. Competition however is strong.
Dassault, which along with Snecma and Thales opened an office in Brussels, says it is able to deliver Rafale F3R aircraft to Belgium from 2018 on. It will include the latest SPECTRA electronic warfare system, BE2 EASA active radar, state of the art laser designation equipment for precision air-to-ground strikes, plus the ability to use METEOR long range air-to-air missile.
France is pumping 1 billion euro into further development of the Rafale. The F3 R standard is, according to Dassult, an evolution of the Rafale F3 standard.
Belgium is looking the replace its 54 remaining F-16s from 2023 onwards. While the Netherlands and Norway have already selected the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II to replace their F-16s, Belgium along with Denmark still has to decide. Next to the Rafale and F-35, also considered are Saab Gripen E/F, Eurofighter Typhoon and the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet. The latter was seen in July, visiting Belgium and Denmark for evaluation.
Odds are in favour of the F-35. However, the industrial off sets and technology transfer with neighbouring France may tempt the Belgians, along with the fact that Belgian Air Component fixed wing aircraft training has been taking place in France for years.
© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest