In the view of the Eurofighter consortium, there are only two real candidates to replace the Belgian F-16s. These are the F-35 American aircraft Lockheed Martin and the Eurofighter. Anthony Gregory, the Director of the Campaign for the Belgian market, stated, “I am asking what the content of the strategic partnership (which France is proposing, editor’s note), will be. The partnership is not being offered through the official tendering procedure.”
Unlike France, Washington and London have strictly followed the procedure laid down in the invitation to tender documents last year by Belgium, to replace the F-16 combat planes. Washington has offered the F-35 Lightning II, produced by the American group Lockheed Martin. The British are proposing the Eurofighter-Typhoon, delivered through the eponymous consortium, bringing together BAE Systems, Airbus Defence and Space SAS and the Italian company Leonardo SpA.
France has proposed, outside of the formal tendering process, a “global strategic partnership”. It is built around the supply of 34 combat planes produced by the Economic Interest Grouping (EIG) Rafale International, made up of Dassault Aviation SA, Safran SA and Thales Group.
For the British, speaking at BAE Systems, the official procedure has taken place in a “professional, fair and transparent [way], within a very difficult environment.” Anthony Gregory said this during a press visit to BAE systems in the UK. Gregory further stressed that the French have “opted to do otherwise”, whilst “our offer is equivalent, not to say superior, to the French proposal and has been done through the official procedure.” He stressed that the Eurofighter offer is also “a genuine European co-operation programme.”
The consortium is proposing a strategic sustainable partnership between the British Royal Air Force (RAF) and the Air Component of the Belgian Army, which are fostering a historic relationship. The Belgian Air Army will use British Air Space and bases. Furthermore, both the RAF and the Air Component will be able to train their pilots together.
The Eurofighter also depends upon a collaboration with Belgian industry. If Belgium opts for the consortium, the economic advantages to the country would amount to €19 billion, a point which has already been showcased.
In addition, Belgium would have access to technological innovations that will be developed by the companies as well as the two academic centres with which the consortium wishes to collaborate, one in Flanders and the other in Wallonia.