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15 Feb 18. Belgium joins multinational MRTT programme. On the first day of the NATO defence ministers’ meeting in Brussels on 14–15 February, Belgium joined the European programme to acquire a multinational unit of Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft. It joins lead nation the Netherlands and Luxembourg, which launched the initiative in July 2016 by ordering two A330 MRTTs, and Germany and Norway, which joined in September 2017. With the addition of Belgium to the programme, the fleet will be expanded to eight aircraft, which are scheduled to be delivered in 2020–24. The programme is open to other nations.
The Multinational MRTT Unit’s main operating base will be Eindhoven, the Netherlands, and the forward operating base Cologne-Wahn in Germany.
(Source: IHS Jane’s)
14 Feb 18. Belgian Government not obliged to choose between F-35 and Eurofighter to succeed F-16. The Belgian government will, on Wednesday, know “best and final offers” from the suppliers for the American F-35 and the European Eurofighter.
The government must choose the successor to the antiquated Belgian F-16s. The selection panel will not be obliged to simply choose between the two offers. The point was stressed by the MR deputy, Richard Miller, on Bel RTL today.
Mr Miller said, “If either of the two do not meet the criteria for the best value for money, we could still consider other offers such as the Rafale (by the French aircraft manufacturer Dassault), or other aircraft manufacturers such as the Swedish Saab (the Gripen range of fighter aircraft).” He added, “We are not simply obliged to choose between the F-35 and European Eurofighter.”
Today is the deadline for submission of “best and final offers” by the suppliers for the American F-35 and European Eurofighter. France has confirmed that it did not respond to the tender procedure launched last March by the Belgian Minister for Defence for 34 new combat planes, a state-to-state transaction for an initial sum of €3.6bn. The French government considers that it has more to offer than was explicitly expressed in the tender documents, which it feels were too restricted, and advances the idea of a “deep and structured partnership”, as part of stimulating the European Defence programme. The candidates are all offering significant economic benefits for Belgium, in the event of the government choosing their given model. (Source: News Now/Brussels Times)
15 Feb 18. Britain submits proposal for new Typhoon jets to Belgium. Britain on Wednesday submitted its final offer of Eurofighter Typhoon jets to Belgium, the UK’s defence ministry said, in a proposal which includes 34 planes and support services. The Eurofighter Typhoon is a joint project between British defence group BAE Systems, France’s Airbus and Italy’s Leonardo, and Britain said the proposal had the support of all three nations plus Germany.
“These proven jets offer Belgium a formidable capability which forms the backbone of European air power, as well as a comprehensive long-term defence and industrial partnership with the UK,” Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said in a statement.
“Belgium’s selection of the Typhoon would be a powerful demonstration of us working together to support security across the continent in the face of intensifying threats.”
No financial details of the proposal were disclosed and Belgian officials were not immediately available for comment.
Other possible options for Belgium include Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 jets, after the U.S. State Department last month approved the possible sale of 34 of the planes to Belgium for $6.53bn (£4.7bn).
Last December, Germany said it favoured the Eurofighter as it looks to replace its Tornado jets, and the defence ministry said the invitation from Belgium to submit an offer reflected “strong confidenc