The Minister for Defence, Steven Vandeput (N-VA) said on Wednesday morning, during the De Ochtend broadcast on Radio 1, that “only the Strategic Vision counts.” He responded thus to the deputy, Dirk Van der Mealen (sp.a), who is accusing both the minister and his department of having shortened the procedure for replacing the F-16s from the start, and of favouring Lockheed Martin.
The opposition deputy obtained a copy of a working document from Vandeput’s department, which he says suggests that the dice have been loaded since 2015 in the procedure to replace the F-16s. From the beginning, the minister possibly favoured the F-35s made by Lockheed Martin.
Vandeput replied, “Dirk Van der Maelen is seeing ghosts.” He stressed that this document was only one amongst dozens of others. The minister advanced that the document “contains nothing that is a big deal.” He states, “The only thing which counts is the Strategic Vision (the thrust of the defence policy through to 2030, editor’s note), as was set out to the government, for which the preamble has been validated. The rest of it is null and void.”
The minister argues that what matters is that he receives diverse input from all stakeholders. “Hopefully, there will be a number of opinions, and my colleagues will sometimes propose ideas upon this issue with which I do not agree. I can but hope that this will be the case.”