Denmark was considered “a waste of time”, but Belgium is a different story. Sweden has decided to join the race for the next-generation multi-role fighter jet for the Belgian Air Component.
The Swedish Defence and Security Export Agency (FXM) confirmed it submitted a background document to the Ministry of Defence of Belgium on 15 December 2014. “In June this year, FXM received a request on joining a feasibility study for the country’s future combat aircraft procurement. FXM accepted. The request applies to the next generation of SAAB Gripen, the Gripen E,” a press release reads.
Interesting detail in the Belgian communication about the current process is that Brussels calls it the Gripen R. Sweden is not the only country in the race. Belgium is also requesting information from France for the Dassault Rafale, from the United Kingdom for the Eurofighter Typhoon and from the United States for the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II and Boeing (McDonnell Douglas) F/A-18 Hornet. Judging the current climate in Belgium we at Airheadsfly.com believe that the finale will be between the F-35, Rafale and Gripen, in that order of choice. Dassault already sent in its papers.
Since 1979, Belgium has been flying the Lockheed Martin (General Dynamics) F-16A/M which is due to be fully replaced by 2028. The Belgian Air Component officially has 54 of the F-16s left, but not all of them are operational. With the increased co-operation in a joint air defence with northern neighbour the Netherlands, the F-35 might be a most logic, but also an expensive choice. The Netherlands already buy 37 F-35s to replace their F-16s.
How many new fighters Belgium will buy is not decided yet. The base need is four fighter jets for Quick Reaction Alert, a maximum of 10 fighters deployed in two operations abroad, plus a number of jets for immediate ground support and longer term air defence in case of a threat/conflict at home.
© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger, based on source information of the FXM and the Belgian MoD
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