Dassault Aviation officialy promotes its Rafale for the Belgian F-16s fleet replacement


World Defense & Security Industry News - Dassault Aviation

Dassault Aviation officially promoting its Rafale F3R for the Belgian F-16s fleet replacement
The Economic Interest Group (Groupemen d'Intérêt Economique in French) "Rafale", which produces the eponymous fighter aircraft, on Tuesday moved a step forward in Belgium's F-16s fighter aircraft replacement by promising significant industrial benefits to Belgium if it chose the French aircraft to succeed its aging F-16s fleet.
The French proposal to the Belgian government will include "a 100% technology transfer", without any restriction, and an "industrial cooperation program that ensures Belgium an economic return at least equal to the investment it will make in the F-16s replacement" said on Tuesday night the Senior Vice President of Dassault Aviation and director of the Rafale's Brussels office, Yves Robins, at a reception at the residence of the Ambassador of France in Belgium, Bernard Valero.

Technology transfer will ensure a "total commonality" between Belgian and French (Rafale) aircrafts, but also the possibility for the Belgian industrialists to be "fully associated in the support of the fleet" of the two devices countries, he said before an audience of industrials and Belgian and French soldiers. Regarding industrial cooperation, French companies - the three members of the EIG - Dassault Aviation, Snecma (Safran group) and Thales and their 500 subcontractors - "do not favor an accounting approach but rather a medium and long term cooperation strategy which is really structuring for the future of the Belgian aviation industry".

Mr. Robins also said that the cost of purchasing and using the Rafale lifetime of the aircraft were "known, moderate proven, guaranteed and without drift" and removing in passing a rival, the American jet fighter F-35 Lightning II, of which development has experienced delays and cost overruns. The head of Dassault also promised "full integration of Belgium as a partner in the Rafale program for defining future standards in the next 40 years".

By opening an office in Brussels, the French aerospace industry "enters officially in competition" for the market for the replacement of the F-16s, said M. Valero, expressing the hope that the "contest" must be "as fair as possible" . He also stressed the character "omnirole" of the Rafale, a multirole combat aircraft that has been combat proven in Afghanistan, Libya, Mali and more recently in Iraq against the Islamic State (EI). As French ambassador, "I am pleased to participate in this adventure," told Mr. Valero.

Belgian Defense sent in June to five state agencies, two American and three European, a query about five existing aircraft which are likely to succeed to the F-16 as part of the "Belgian Defence - Air Combat Capability (CLHIA) Successor Program", a market of at least four billion euros.

The five state agencies are the Joint Program Office (JPO), which manages the Lockheed Martin's F-35 Lightning II fighter program , the US Navy PMA 265 for the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet from Boeing, the French "Direction Générale de l'Armement" (DGA) of the French Ministry of Defence for the Dassault Rafale, the Swedish Defence and Security Export Agency (FXM) for the Saab JAS-39E and the UK Trade and Investment Defence and Security Organisation (UKTI DSO) of the UK Ministry of Defence for the Eurofighter Typhoon.

These agencies have to provide, by November-end, figures and an estimate number of devices needed by them to ensure the required missions, in Belgium and abroad, as well as for everyday training pilots. Belgian Defense hopes to obtain in 2018 a government approval to acquire a new fighter aircraft to replace the aging F-16 between 2023 and 2028, year of the end of expected life of the Belgian Fighting Falcons.