by WorldTribune Staff, October 29, 2018
The Belgian government has chosen to replace its aging fleet of F-16s with the U.S. F-35.
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said on Oct. 25 that he’d chosen the F-35 over the Eurofighter Typhoon (developed by Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain) because it was cheaper. Costs for the F-35 have decreased by 60 percent since it was first unveiled.
French President Emmanuel Macron was livid as Brussels chose to purchase 34 of the Lockheed Martin warplanes over Eurofighter Typhoons or French Rafales.
Macron said the sale “goes against European interests” and that “Europe won’t be strong unless it is truly sovereign and knows how to protect itself.”
The sale of the F-35s to Belgium will also result in a windfall for Britain, which as a “Level 1” partner in Lockheed Martin has a 15 percent stake in the manufacture of the warplanes.
Jean-Dominique Giuliani, of the European Robert Schuman Foundation think tank said Belgium’s choice of the F-35 is “worse than a slap – it is dreadful for European defense” because the F-35 requires a whole maintenance and operational system that depends “on the control of the United States.”
Prior to Belgium’s decision, Lockheed Martin had already sold 3,500 F35s.
Britain has a larger (35 percent) stake in the Eurofighter, but only 623 have been ordered so far.
“The value of the F-35 is unmatched. From a capability perspective it is a generational leap ahead of legacy aircraft,” said Lockheed Martin spokesman Robert Gage. “And now that we’ve reduced the unit cost so significantly, it delivers significantly more capability at the same or less cost than its rivals.”
Breitbart News noted that “Lockheed Martin has made a number of significant commitments to the United Kingdom since the British public voted to Leave the European Union in 2016, although awareness of these positive developments is limited due the focus of EU loyalists and Remain-leaning mainstream media on the real and imagined economic downsides of Brexit.”