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ACCaP Program: And now, over to the evaluation phase


By Nathan Gain

On February 14, 2018, the UK Department of Defense representing Eurofighter Typhoon and the US Joint Program Office representing the Lockheed Martin F-35A introduced their Best and Final Offers (BaFO) to the Belgian procurement team in charge of the ACCaP program, the country's Minister of Defense, Steven Vandeput, said on its website.


ACCaP Program And now over to he evaluation phase 003 An F-35A Lightning II prepares to be refueled by a KC-135 Stratotanker during a flight to Graf Ignatievo Air Base, Bulgaria, April 28, 2017
(Credit: U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Kate Thornton)


The ACCaP program evaluation phase begins, during which the evaluation team can't have contact with public authorities or companies. The two offers will now be evaluated following evaluation criteria described in the RfGP: 33% for the total cost (financial), 21% for the operational commitment (capability), 16% for the partnership and military cooperation (capability), 10% for the "essential security interests (economic returns), 8% for the growth and evolution potential (capability), 6% for the ease of use and deployability (capability), and 6% for the operational and technical support (capability).

"Evaluation of the offers themselves is carried out by a team of 33 experts, assigned to 7 pools, each of which will assess an evaluation criterion. The 30 defense experts were appointed by the Chief of Defense, while the 3 experts of the Finance Ministry were selected by the public service president. Each of these experts has only access to the part of the offer he evaluates. To guarantee consistency of evaluations, the purchasing team, composed of 5 people, has a supervisory role," detailed Vandeput.

The procurement team detailed the whole assessment process in an "evaluation manual" sealed in early September in the presence of the Finance Auditor and now kept in a safe. The manual may, if necessary, be transferred to the competent authorities once the evaluation completed.

As stated in the RfGP, the criteria are too broad to be properly evaluated, and that's why specific questions were formulated for each criterion. These questions are not part of the RfGp but have been transfered to all Belgian state agencies. Previously, the ACCaP team submitted the same information to the Court of Audit, which exerts external control on the budgetary, accounting and financial operations of the Federal State and any other public service institutions, and which declined to accept the document.


ACCaP Program And now over to he evaluation phase 001 An Italian Eurofighter Typhoon at the RIAT 2014
(Credit: Geoffrey Lee/ Eurofighter)


The ACCaP procurement team will now "consolidate the results of all evaluations and submit a proposal to the Finance Auditor, then I will present the document to the government, no information about the offers will be disclosed during the evaluation phase", added Vandeput. According to the RfGP, the selected platform would be known by July. 

If the process seems clear for the Typhoon and the F-35A, nothing could be less certain regarding the French proposal, on which the Belgian government failed to provide a clear vision for now. 

"These proven jets offer Belgium a formidable capability which forms the backbone of European air power, as well as a comprehensive long-term defence and industrial partnership with the UK. A unique partnership with the RAF and integration with our world-leading support service mean Belgium’s selection of the Typhoon would be a powerful demonstration of us working together to support security across the continent in the face of intensifying threats," the UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said yesterday in Brussels.

On February 13, Dassault Aviation CEO, Eric Trappier, signed a new batch of 13 new agreements with Belgian companies in the framework of the French offer. Thus, the overall industrial return for Belgium is valued at €20bn over 20 years. An amount that is "to good to be true," stated Vandeput in December 2017.

On February 14, 2018, the UK Department of Defense representing Eurofighter Typhoon and the US Joint Program Office representing the Lockheed Martin F-35A introduced their Best and Final Offers (BaFO) to the Belgian procurement team in charge of the ACCaP program, the country's Minister of Defense, Steven Vandeput, said on its website.