On October 25, 2018, the Belgian government announced it had chosen the F-35 as the future multirole fighter of the Belgian Air Component.
The belgians chose the stealth american fighter to the detriment of the Eurofighter Typhoon.
In total, 34 F-35A Block 4 aircrafts will be purchased for EUR 3.8 billion. In this sum are also included two simulators, the pilots helmets, and the training of the pilots an technicians who will serve these planes.
Today, Belgium has in its inventory 53 F-16A/B jets, including 44 F-16As and 9 F-16Bs, which will be gradually replaced by the F-35A.
Belgium was one of the four European partners in the F-16 program, along with the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway. Unlike the three countries, which again, chose to financially participate to the F-35 program, this time, Belgium has not done so.
The first F-16 entered service with the Belgian Air Force 39 years ago, in 1979.
Over time, Belgium operated 160 F-16s that were assembled locally by Societe Anonyme Belge de Constructions Aeronautiques (SABCA). The belgian company also assembled the danish F-16s.
Also, another belgian company, the Belgian Fabrique National (now Techspace Aero), assembled the Pratt & Whitney engines for all four European nations involved in the F-16 program.
The third belgian company involved in the program, MBLE, manufactured the AN/APG-66 radars for three of the four European partners.
Along with the acquisition of the F-35, the belgians announced they would also buy armored vehicles and drones.
The armored vehicles that will equip the Belgian Land Component will be of french origin, more precisely, 60 ERBC Jaguar 6x6 reconnaissance vehicles and 382 VMBR Griffon 6x6 armoured personnel carriers.
As for the drones, Belgium will purchase two MQ-9B SkyGuardian UCAVs from the United States.
This unmanned aerial vehicles are capable of bombing ground targets, both armored vehicles and fixed targets, using AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles and laser-guided high-precision bombs such as the GBU-12 Paveway II.
See below how the F-35A compares against other 5th generation fighters and also against the most performant 4th generation fighters:
Army Recognition - www.armyrecognition.com
- Belgian army buys French armored vehicles, US F-35s, drones / Author: Army Recognition