A Lockheed Martin F35 furtive bomber is due to make a first appearance in Belgium at an air meet organised by the Belgian Air Force on 8-9 September at its base in Kleine-Bogel, Limburg, Belga news agency learned from an informed source.
The bomber, an Italian Lightning II F-35, will be presented in a static exposition at the Belgian Air Force Days (BAFD), a military official told Belga.
It will be alongside two other candidates vying to replace the F-16s: the meeting’s organizers have already obtained the participation of a British Typhoon Eurofighter and a French Rafale. These will participate in demonstration flights.
The F-35 and the Eurofighter will remain in contention in a competition launched in 2017 by the Belgian Government to buy 34 new combat aircraft at an initial price of 3.6 billion euros.
The Rafale, built by Dassault Aviation, is also a potential candidate, but Paris did not respond to the official call for bids. Instead, it proposed to Belgium an “in-depth and structuring partnership” based on the Rafale and Belgian involvement in the development of a new-generation fighter plane that France and Germany plan to build by 2040 as part of a European defence relaunch.
The BAFD, whose theme is “Ready for the Future”, will also be an opportunity to see the new NH90 Caiman helicopter and the A400M Atlas transport plane, on the ground and in flight.
The NH90 has just completed its first operational mission under United Nations colours in Mali.
The A400M Atlas is scheduled to replace the C-130 Hercules from the year 2020.