Belgium aims to have 34 new fighter jets in 2030, according to a long term defense strategy made public on Tuesday 22 December. The statement doesn’t mention the type, however the Lockheed Martin F-35 should be considered the most likely candidate. A decision is still some time away.
Belgium now operates sixty F-16s, all of which are due for replacement. Contenders are the Dassault Rafale, Saab Gripen, Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, Eurofighter Typhoon and Lockheed Martin F-35. A request for information was issued to all manufacturers in 2014.
The number of 34 new jets is lower than anticipated, although Airheadsfly.com already predicted the number would be lower than the larger numbers that were rumoured earlier . These numbers went up to 55 aircraft.
The choice for the F-35A Lightning II seems only a matter of time in light of the Dutch order for 37 Lightnings and the joint Benelux air defense cooperation that was agreed this year and comes into effect in 2016.
The latest Belgian defense strategy also mentions an inquiry into the deployment of a tanker aircraft, again with no type mentioned. The Belgian could very well join the European tanker effort that is aimed at buying at least four Airbus A330 MRTT aircraft.
The strategy remarkably doesn’t mention the seven Airbus A400Ms on order, the first of which is due in 2018. Doubts were raised in Belgium about the necessity of this airlifters.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: A Belgian Air Component F-16BM. (Image © Elmer van Hest)