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Belgian MoD officially announced program to replace its fleet of F-16

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World Aviation News - Belgium
 
 
Belgian MoD officially announced program to replace its fleet of F-16
 
The Belgian MoD presented its Air Combat Capability Program at a press conference on Thursday, July 24. This program is for the replacement of Belgian Air Force F-16. Colonel Georges Dejaeger (Chief of Staff of the Air Component) and Lieutenant Colonel Steven Lauwereys Aviation (project leader) outlined the different steps for the acquisition of new aircraft.
     

The Belgian MoD presented its Air Combat Capability Program at a press conference on Thursday, July 24. This program is for the replacement of Belgian Air Force F-16. Colonel Georges Dejaeger (Chief of Staff of the Air Component) and Lieutenant Colonel Steven Lauwereys Aviation (project leader) outlined the different steps for the acquisition of new aircraft.
Belgian Air Component's F-16 Fighting Falcon Combat Aircraft

     

For years, our fighters play a crucial role in the protection of the Belgian and international airspace (missions in Afghanistan or in the Baltic to name a few). Over the years, these aircraft and their pilots have proven their worth in the execution of their missions as well as in cooperation with their global partners.

But soon will come a time when our F-16 will need to be replaced after a few decades of loyal service (arrival of the first fighters in 1979). The last of these jets should "retire" in 2028.

The replacement of the F-16 will consist in three phases:

- a preparation phase (in which is currently on going until the first quarter of 2015) which includes a information gathering to understand the broader context;

- a programming phase (one or two years) with the participation of experts followed by data analysis;

- an acquisition phase (expected to end in 2018) including negotiations and a government agreement.

The MoD contacted five state agencies to replace the current fleet of fighters: France for the Rafale, the United Kingdom for the Typhoon, the United States for the F-35 and F-18 and Sweden for Gripen R. "We do not need a fighter, but a combat capability that will continue over the next 50 years," said Lt. Col. Steven Lauwereys. "That's why we called agencies and not the industries that would not be able to provide us with non-obsolete equipment after a few years."

Finally, it is important to note that the MoD can not communicate about the budget for the purchase or the number of aircraft required (it will get the data after the preparatory phase). But one thing is certain: it wants to maintain its current level of ambition, namely the Quick Reaction Alert 24/7 with two to four aircraft. In addition, the Begian Chief of Staff wants to continue flight operations abroad with a maximum of ten aircraft with two locations as starting points.