On Tuesday, Defence Minister, Steven Vandeput, denied being up to date with the report by Lockheed Martin, stating that the lifespan of the current F-16s could be extended without exorbitant government expenditure. Speaking on VRT-Radio, Mr Vandeput stated that if this report does actually exist, if its contents are correct and if the Ministry of Defence decided not to share it, “there is a problem.”
The minister indicated, “I have learned that a report to this effect may exist. I have not yet been able to familiarise myself with its contents. Currently, I would first like to know what this report says, what its implications are and why it has remained confidential within the Ministry of the Defence.” Mr Vandeput intends to understand “both at what level, and why, it was decided not send it to him, as the minister for the department.”
Mr Vandeput repeated that if the existence and the contents of the report are true, and if the military decided, despite all of the facts, not to inform the minister, “then there is a problem.”
The N-VA minister has no intention, at this stage, to suspend the procedure to select new fighter aircraft, contrary to the sp.a’s requests put to him. He indicated, “The selection procedure must continue.” However he stated that, if the updated elements were able to be established, the government should take account of this in coming to its decision in finalising the matter.