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    Head of F-16 purchase project defends decision

    Colonel Harold Van Pee, the Belgian air force officer in charge of the project concerning the replacement of Belgium’s outdated F-16 fighter jets has defended himself following an accusation made in the parliamentary defence select committee that he did not inform Belgian defence minister Vandeput of a Lockheed Martin report. Belgium is in the process of concluding a decision to purchase a new set of aircraft to replace the F-16s, but on Tuesday the Flemish socialist opposition revealed the existence of a Lockheed Martin (the aircraft’s manufacturer) report that suggests the longevity of the fighter jets could be extended by a further six years. Belgian defence minister Steven Vandeput  did not seem to be aware of this report.

    Van Pee said, ”I plead guilty to receiving an email and I’m looking forward to providing MPs with a full explanation. He continued, “The report says nothing new and its importance is exaggerated. You can get an old-timer to ride for a hundred years if you want! The question is: what can you still effectively do with these F16s. The study concentrates on the bodywork not on the weapons systems.”

    The Brussels Times