With sincere regret Airbus Defense and Space has taken note of the decision by the government of Belgium to select the F-35 to replace its existing fleet of F-16 fighter aircraft.
Airbus Defense and Space accepts this decision by Belgium and is aware of the strong links between Belgium and the United States on defense industrial matters. Therefore, yesterday’s decision does not come as a complete surprise.
However, Airbus Defense and Space remains firmly convinced that the offer submitted by Team Eurofighter, consisting of the industrial partners of United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and Spain, would have represented a superior choice for the country both in terms of operational capability and industrial opportunities. The Eurofighter solution would have resulted in more than € 19 billion direct contribution to the Belgian economy.
This partnership could have also laid the path for Belgium to join the Franco-German Future Combat Air System program, which Airbus is currently defining with its strong industrial partner Dassault Aviation.
Yesterday’s announcement by the government is a sovereign decision which all contenders have to respect. Yet, it is a lost opportunity to strengthen European industrial cooperation in times when the EU is called upon to increase its joint defense efforts.