F16 replacement – parliament’s Military Procurement Committee approves new specification
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    F16 replacement – parliament’s Military Procurement Committee approves new specification

    © Belga
    The replacement of the F16 is a contentious issue alongside Belgium's purchase of other military hardware.
    © Belga

    Parliament’s Military Procurement Committee decided yesterday (Wednesday) in favour of a specification to replace the Ministry of Defence’s current F-16 fighter jets. The Socialists and the Greens voted against the decision.

    In particular, they denounced the lack of transparency in the decision-making process.

    The committee met in camera and its members were bound by a duty of confidentiality. During Wednesday’s meeting, the deputies barely had time to review the potential specification. Benoît Hellings (of the francophone green party – Ecolo) considered this situation unacceptable.

    He said with regret, “The deal of the century will thus soon be launched in an environment completely lacking in transparency. This is a huge transaction aiming to acquire military hardware, the strategic desirability of which is somewhat questionable. The transaction will take place well away from the scrutiny of both the public and the press.”

    The transaction may have a contract value of some 15 billion euros, a total considered utterly excessive by some deputies.

    Sebastian Pirlot of the PS, lamented, “Is the procurement of 34 combat planes really necessary? in any case, what missions will they be used for? The decision to make such a significant investment should have been dependent upon a genuine European strategic vision.”

    Pirlot went on, “Now is the time to be developing such a European strategy and putting in place the necessary synergies. The potential replacement of the F-16 should feature as an option within such a strategy. Belgium cannot both buy 34 fighter and renew the military hardware of other Ministry of Defence components at the same time.”

    He said, “The plan is not possible within the government’s available budget. The reality is the same for all of our European partners.”

    The Socialist deeply regrets the absence of dialogue with the regions, whilst pondering the economic benefits for the Walloon region.

    Lars Andersen
    The Brussels Times