On Thursday, the United States welcomed Belgium’s choice of the American F-35 combat plane to succeed the army’s ageing F-16s, for a contract of some €3.8 billion approved by the Belgian government. A spokeswoman from the US State Department (Ministry for Foreign Affairs), Heather Nauer stated in a communiqué, “Belgium is now ready to implement the F-35 along with its closest allies and long-established partners.”
US diplomatic staff added, “The United States is proud of its sustainable air partnership with Belgium, a country for which air power contributed to the defeat of the jihadist group, so-called Islamic State, in Iraq and Syria and the aerial police mission in the Baltic states.” The latter was in reference to recent missions involving Belgian air power, as part of the NATO alliance and the anti-IS coalition led by the United States.
Ms Nauert added, “Thanks to Belgium’s commitment to the F-35 programme, its “five-star” aerospace industry will continue to develop, owing to the support of this fifth-generation aeroplane, jointly developed with European partners.”
She recalled that Belgium’s participation in the F-16 air combat programme was one of the cornerstones of our modern transatlantic defence programme.
The spokeswoman from the US State Department added, “We are eager to continue this partnership with the F-35 programme for several decades.” She thereby echoed a Tweet from the US Embassy in Belgium.
On Thursday, the Belgian government approved the purchase of 34 F-35 Lightning II combat planes, produced by the American group Lockheed Martin, for a total of €3.8 billion. The Minister for the Economy, Kris Peters, said that this includes €3.69 billion in economic spin-offs for Belgium.