Belgium’s federal government has decided to set aside 135 million euros in defense credits to finance businesses that will produce horizontal tail planes for US F-35 fighter planes, 34 of which were ordered in 2018, according to multiple sources.
This was approved during a budget review on Friday, at which the public deficit for 2021 was set at 29.94 billion euros (6.3% of GDP).
The transfer to the Economic Affairs and Finance Departments of 135 million euros, out of a 277-million-euro provision for the Ministry of Defence under the military programming act, was one of the adjustments approved by the team of Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, according to the Secretary of State for Budgetary Matters, Eva De Bleeker.
The sum of 105 million and 35 million euros will be transferred to Economic Affairs and Finance respectively.
“At the time of the purchase of the fighter planes, it was agreed that part of the production of the F-35s would take place in Belgium,” Minister De Bleeker recalled. “That enables our country to share in the economic returns generated by the production of the F-35s,” she explained in a press release.
Three aeronautic companies, Asco, Sabca and Sonaca, will produce the horizontal tail planes for 300 to 400 F-35 Lightning II planes that the US corporation Lockheed Martin hopes to export.
The assistance, provided through the Federal Government’s financing arm, the Société fédérale de participations et d’investissement (SFPI), will come as a shot in the arm, enabling the companies to make the investments they need.