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Belgium: two "Best and Final Offers" (BaFO) for the F-16 replacement


On February 14, Lockheed Martin (for the F-35A) and the Eurofighter consortium (for the Typhoon II) handed Belgium their best and final offer, their definitive proposals for the replacement of the 54 aging F-16s of the Air component of the Belgian army. These offers, for an initial market of around € 3.6 billion (but estimated at €15 billion over the expected 40 years of the new combat aircraft's lifespan), was handed over to the Air Combat Capability Program (ACCaP), which is responsible for piloting this program within the Defense Staff in the form of large files.


Belgium two Best and Final Offers BaFO for the F 16 replacement 54 aging F-16s must be replaced (Picture source: Belgian DoD)


To be accurate as reported by the Belga news agency, the British offer was presented by the Royal Air Force's wing commander (colonel) Paul Carrier, and by James Cooper of BAE System, for the company that promotes the Eurofighter “Typhoon II”. The Eurofighter consortium is formed by companies from United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and Spain.

For the F-35A, the offer was delivered by representatives of the USAF, the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO), the Pentagon office that oversees the program of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter), the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), the United States Embassy, Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney.

But there was – there is ! – a third offer, however not submitted within the legal tender procedure: in spite of clear warnings about the risk taken by maneuvering outside the set framework, France did not submit any quantified offer at the end of the BaFO procedure known as the "Request for Government Proposal" (RfGP), launched in March 2017 and closed on February 14. Paris has preferred to offer Belgium a "thorough and structuring partnership" based on the Rafale and a Belgian involvement in the development of a new-generation combat aircraft, envisaged by France and Germany by 2040 in the context of a revival of European defense. Asked about the French proposal - which comes out of the framework defined by the government - the Defense minister Vandeput said that it was up to the latter to decide on the follow-up.

"The next step is to start evaluating" offers, Belgian minister of Defense Steven Vandeput said this 14 February. This evaluation will be implemented by 33 people - mainly military - in seven different working groups, which will then send him a report containing a recommendation that he will submit to the government. Steven Vandeput hopes that a final decision on the choice of the aircraft could take place before the next NATO summit, set on 11 and 12 July.

"We are still in the legal analysis," Prime Minister Charles Michel recently told the committee. "First, legal clarity, then the political assessment," he added.