The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Belgium of thirty-four (34) F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Conventional Take Off and Landing aircraft for an estimated cost of $6.53 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale today.
The Government of Belgium has requested to buy thirty-four (34) F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Conventional Take Off and Landing (CTOL) aircraft, and thirty-eight (38) Pratt & Whitney F-135 engines (34 installed, 4 spares). Also included are Electronic Warfare Systems; Command, Control, Communications, Computer and Intelligence/Communications, Navigational, and Identification (C4I/CNI); Autonomic Logistics Global Support System (ALGS); Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS); Full Mission Trainer; Weapons Employment Capability, and other Subsystems, Features, and Capabilities; F-35 unique infrared flares; Reprogramming center; F-35 Performance Based Logistics; software development/integration; aircraft ferry and tanker support; support equipment; tools and test equipment; communications equipment; spares and repair parts; personnel training and training equipment; publications and technical documents; U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics personnel services; and other related elements of logistics and program support. The estimated total case value is $6.53 billion.
This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of an ally and partner nation which has been, and continues to be, an important force for political and economic stability in Western Europe.
This proposed sale of F-35s will provide Belgium with a credible defense capability to deter aggression in the region and ensure interoperability with U.S. forces. The proposed sale will augment Belgium's operational aircraft inventory and enhance its air-to-air and air-to-ground self-defense capability. Belgium will have no difficulty absorbing these aircraft into its armed forces.
The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.
The prime contractors will be Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company, Fort Worth, TX; and Pratt & Whitney Military Engines, East Hartford, CT. This proposal is being offered in the context of a competition. If the proposal is accepted, it is expected that offset agreements will be required. All offsets are defined in negotiations between the Purchaser and the contractor.
Implementation of this proposed sale will require multiple trips to Belgium involving U.S. Government and contractor representatives for technical reviews/support, program management, and training over the life of the program. U.S. contractor representatives will be required in Belgium to conduct Contractor Engineering Technical Services (CETS) and Autonomic Logistics and Global Support (ALGS) for after-aircraft delivery.
There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.
This notice of a potential sale is required by law and does not mean the sale has been concluded.
The US government estimates the cost of 34 F-35s at '6.53 billion dollars'. According to Defense, that is less than it seems. SP.A is worried though.
The SP.A is concerned that another € 2 billion more will be needed than the planned € 3.6 billion to replace the F-16s. This concern was prompted by a message on the website of the American Defense Security Cooperation Agency about the possible sale of 34 F-35 fighter aircraft to Belgium. This is an 'estimated cost price of 6.53 billion dollars'. That is approximately 5.34 billion euros.
According to member of parliament Alain Top (SP.A), those amounts are completely out of tune. Minister of Defense Steven Vandeput (N-VA) must, according to him, "reduce the military ambition level of our country and purchase a smaller number of combat planes, but that implies that we will not be able to secure our airspace adequately. Either he has to budget even more resources. But the amounts are of that magnitude that this will heavily burden future generations. Taking extra funds out would be irresponsible. "
The cabinet Vandeput says that the figures are premature. The best and final offers of the candidates who responded to the Belgian request for a quote (Lockheed Martin with the F-35 and Eurofighter with the Typhoon) should not be in until 14 February.
Within the Ministry of Defense there are also comments about the American figures. This takes into account the specific inflation in the aviation sector (due to the long delivery times). This is not the case with the 3.6 billion provided by Vandeput. "If you correct that 5.34 billion for inflation, you get 4.4 billion," you can hear.
Nevertheless, this also remains a considerably higher amount than the 3.6 that Vandeput has in mind. 'The difference is in the operating costs of the devices', can be heard in his entourage. "The government has provided 1.2 billion euros for this."
Only after February 14, however, will it be clear what the different producers can deliver and at what price exactly.
Lockheed Martin’s offer to supply Belgium with 34 stealth bomber F-35 Lightning IIs, to replace the current F-16s, is “the best value proposition” for the country.
The American manufacturer of this aeroplane asserted this during a briefing on the subject, which took place at the American embassy in Brussels on Wednesday. Jack Crisler, the company’s Vice President, asserted that these are the most capable aeroplanes at the most affordable price.
The Belgian Minister for Defence has fixed February 14th as the deadline date for final offers (“Best and Final Offers”, known as BAFO in the jargon) to the invitations to tender (or “Request for Government Proposal”, RfGP) issued last March.
The next stage is for the federal government to decide in principle, during mid-2018, between the two candidates that have responded in accordance with the rules of the invitation to tender; the American F-35 Lightning II and the Typhoon made by the European consortium Eurofighter. At the same time France is proposing the Rafale made by the aircraft manufacturer Dassault, as part of a broader and more vague “strategic partnership” for this market, costing an initial total of around €3.6 billion.
Lockheed Martin declares that the F-35 is the aeroplane providing the greatest number of advantages, compared to the competition.
The manufacturer says that the aeroplane is more modern than the other two, and will have a longer lifespan. Moreover it will be produced on a larger global scale, with Lockheed Martin’s ambition being to ultimately produce a total of 3,000 globally.
If it were to take up Lockheed Martin’s offer, Jack Crisler promises, “Belgium will be able to benefit from this large-scale programme. It is a great opportunity.” Moreover, agreements have been signed with Belgian industry, in particular ASCO Industries in Zaventem, in response to government concerns around obtaining a return on investment if Belgium were to purchase this aeroplane.
The Vice-President of Lockheed Martin further states that partnerships with Belgian companies existed even before Belgium made known its wish to replace its F-16s, within spheres such as handling, information systems and training. Moreover, the current fighter plane programme for the Belgian Ministry of Defence has enabled the development of significant collaboration between Belgium and the United States, for example Sonaca, Sabca and Sabena Aerospace.
The Ministry of Defence adds the country’s aeronautical expertise is renowned worldwide, thanks to the F-16, also built by the Amerian company. Jack Crisler further mentions, “We already have a half-century partnership, and we have the potential for a collaboration which will last a century.”
Jack Crisler concludes by arguing that the F-35 is a European solution, with 25% of the components produced on the continent and, in particular, having a manufacturing plant in Italy.
ThePointblank wrote:Quoting KiwiRob (Reply 12):NATO obligatrions haven't stopped them from cutting there navy back to nearly nothing, so I can't see why supplying transport aircraft wouldn't be enough to meet this apparent obligation?
Benelux Deployable Air Task Force obligations.
Belgium has pooled parts of their air force with the Netherlands, meaning close cooperation exists between the operations and maintenance units exist between the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. Both the Dutch and the Belgian air forces had accomplished aircraft and weapons upgrades on identical schedules, so the aircraft were completely interoperable. This allowed DATF pilots to plan their missions together and enabled maintenance specialists to pool their expertise for solving system anomalies. This enhanced flight-line operations and generated higher mission-capable rates for both forces.
The DATF between the Belgians and the Dutch requires that when there is a need for fighter jet deployment, it is agreed that both the Belgians and the Dutch mutually deploy their fighters together. Basically, on deployment, Belgian and Dutch F-16's operate together as one unit, although Belgian F-16's will be flown by Belgian pilots, and vice versa. Luxembourg provides the security detail for the deployment as part of the DATF.
This agreement is best shown during Operation Joint Forge. During Operation Joint Forge the Dutch and the Belgians worked side-by-side to staff operating rooms, intelligence cell, maintenance shops, cook house, security patrols, bomb dump, and flight line. The only area not shared is the photo reconnaissance interpretation cell, since the Belgians did not bring reconnaissance aircraft. The Dutch and Belgian pilots, however, still fly aircraft only from their respective air forces. Cooperation is simplified because of similarity in aircraft type, both air forces operate the F-16.
Caryjack wrote:Belgium, Netherlands, Dutch and Luxembourg? Just curious, which language(s) do they use?
The Belgian government will, on Wednesday, know “best and final offers” from the suppliers for the American F-35 and the European Eurofighter.
The government must choose the successor to the antiquated Belgian F-16s. The selection panel will not be obliged to simply choose between the two offers. The point was stressed by the MR deputy, Richard Miller, on Bel RTL today.
Mr Miller said, “If either of the two do not meet the criteria for the best value for money, we could still consider other offers such as the Rafale (by the French aircraft manufacturer Dassault), or other aircraft manufacturers such as the Swedish Saab (the Gripen range of fighter aircraft).” He added, “We are not simply obliged to choose between the F-35 and European Eurofighter.”
Today is the deadline for submission of “best and final offers” by the suppliers for the American F-35 and European Eurofighter. France has confirmed that it did not respond to the tender procedure launched last March by the Belgian Minister for Defence for 34 new combat planes, a state-to-state transaction for an initial sum of €3.6 billion. The French government considers that it has more to offer than was explicitly expressed in the tender documents, which it feels were too restricted, and advances the idea of a “deep and structured partnership”, as part of stimulating the European Defence programme.
The candidates are all offering significant economic benefits for Belgium, in the event of the government choosing their given model.
Ozair wrote:The Belgian Government has clarified that is does not necessarily have to select one of the two valid options submitted for the F-16 replacement tender.
Nicoeddf wrote:Thanks Nicoeddf. I did get caught up searching the official languages and overlooked the obvious. Did I mention that in Holland they speak Dutch and English?As there is no common language between all parts of the three countries (you might want to consider "dutch" and "netherlands" as the same country ),
mxaxai wrote:Then the point of the tender is moot. Instead of a competition favoring the F-35 so heavily that most competitors did not even offer anything, an open tender that actually included offers for the Gripen, the Rafale and the F/A-18 would have been a lot more useful.
This is likely more of an attempt to drop the price some more, despite general knowledge that the F-35 is already the cheapest bid out there. (It should be, at least)
Ozair wrote:mxaxai wrote:Then the point of the tender is moot. Instead of a competition favoring the F-35 so heavily that most competitors did not even offer anything, an open tender that actually included offers for the Gripen, the Rafale and the F/A-18 would have been a lot more useful.
This is likely more of an attempt to drop the price some more, despite general knowledge that the F-35 is already the cheapest bid out there. (It should be, at least)
Just to be clear, all those platforms were given the opportunity to tender and the requirements were released to the public. As I have stated on this competition previously, the requirements are not that arduous that none of the platforms other than the F-35 could fulfil them, it is just that the respective vendors chose not to tender.
mxaxai wrote:Of course, but if you really want offers from all available vendors and only get one from two out of five, maybe something about your approach to the tender was wrong. Could have been any pre-tender discussions with the vendors, or the precise wording of the requirements, or perhaps public remarks that put off the other three competitors.
Boeing informed the Belgian government that it will not participate in its bidders conference, nor respond to the request for proposals for a new fighter aircraft. “We regret that after reviewing the request we do not see an opportunity to compete on a truly level playing field with the extremely capable and cost-effective F/A-18 Super Hornet, the company said in a statement.
“This decision allows Boeing to concentrate its efforts and resources on supporting our global customers, securing new orders and investing in technology and systems required to meet the threats of today and tomorrow.
“Where there is a full and open competition we look forward to bringing the full depth and breadth of The Boeing Company to our offer.”
Announcing the no-bid decision earlier this month, Sweden's FMV defence materiel administration described the new-generation Gripen as "a highly advanced and cost-effective fighter aircraft system that fully meets the operational requirements in the Belgian request for proposal".
However, it adds that in its request for a government-to-government proposal: "Belgium is also seeking extensive operational support from the delivering nation. This would require a Swedish foreign policy and political mandate that does not exist today. Therefore, Sweden and the FMV choose not to submit an answer to the Belgian request."
mxaxai wrote:Or do you think the other three looked at it and said: "Oh, a contract worth several billion dollars? Let's not go for it, we don't want the money." ?
mxaxai wrote:Of course, but if you really want offers from all available vendors and only get one from two out of five, maybe something about your approach to the tender was wrong. Could have been any pre-tender discussions with the vendors, or the precise wording of the requirements, or perhaps public remarks that put off the other three competitors. Or do you think the other three looked at it and said: "Oh, a contract worth several billion dollars? Let's not go for it, we don't want the money." ?
YIMBY wrote:mxaxai wrote:Of course, but if you really want offers from all available vendors and only get one from two out of five, maybe something about your approach to the tender was wrong. Could have been any pre-tender discussions with the vendors, or the precise wording of the requirements, or perhaps public remarks that put off the other three competitors. Or do you think the other three looked at it and said: "Oh, a contract worth several billion dollars? Let's not go for it, we don't want the money." ?
Sure, there may be something wrong or right, depending on the point of view.
Given that the contenders are different, have specific strengths and weaknesses, are built for certain purposes, it is very difficult to prepare a tender that is completely impartial, even if you try hard. Often they do not even try that hard but concentrate on their needs as they are and do not care if they favour some or not.
In the worst (and not that uncommon) case the tender purposely favours (more often disfavours) some participants. There may even be valid reasons for that, if you want to rule out politically incorrect country technically to avoid discussion. Sometimes the military experts writing the tender insert their own personal preferences in that phase using innocent phrases that the politicians do not note so that in the formal decision phase there is less room for imminent politics. The motivation for doing that may be more or less patriotic.
Here it is evident that Sweden was disfavoured by not being a NATO country. It is quite understandable - Gripen should be unquestionably better than others to win a major deal in a centric NATO country and I think the Swedish were quite aware of that from the beginning of the project. Other political requirements (like carrying nuclear bombs) may rule out other participant.
I'm not saying that favoring one contender is inherently bad but you can't do that and then act surprised if there is little competition. I think that particularly the lack of the gripen offer gives the F-35 (and to a lesser extent the Eurofighter) quite some leeway for pricing and that the Belgian government was a bit suprised by the probably not too favorable terms it saw on preliminary offers.
mxaxai wrote:Hence the recent comment that they need not accept any offer at all if none meet their expectations (regarding price).
Belgium has shown interest in the Rafale fighter jet for maritime use, said Jean-Jacques Bridey, chairman of the French Defence Committee of the lower house National Assembly.
“The Belgians are interested in the Rafale,” he told The Defense Journalists Association. “Why? If they buy the Rafale, it will be the naval Rafale.”
Belgium is interested in the aircraft’s ability to land on the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, which would boost Belgium’s deployment capacity, Bridey said. “This is a seaborne airbase, after all,” he added.
France has pitched the Rafale in an offer of broad bilateral military cooperation with Belgium, opting out of a competition that has attracted British and American offers of the Eurofighter Typhoon and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, respectively.
Laurence Mortier, the spokeswoman for Belgium’s defense minister, said she could not confirm the interest in a carrier-based aircraft.
The French government letter offering the Rafale is undergoing a legal review in Belgium, she said.
That review seeks to determine whether the French proposal can be considered despite being made outside a tender.
The Belgian Defence Ministry has posted a request for government proposal for public consultation, setting out the tender for 34 multirole combat aircraft and support equipment. An aircraft carrier capability is not among the requirements listed in the air combat capability program.
A fighter jet with carrier capacity reflects European and international cooperation in which France, one of the largest European forces, could “federate” its “discriminating capabilities,” Bridey said.
There are nations that lack equipment, and cooperation would allow their forces to take part in operations.
French cooperation could include a naval task force, cybersecurity, intelligence gathering in the exo-atmosphere, military intelligence, special forces, and command and control of large operations, he said. Frigates from Britain, Germany and Spain have sailed in a French naval task force, he noted.
Dassault Aviation, prime contractor on the Rafale, was not immediately available for comment.
Dassault last week signed 13 cooperative agreements with Belgian companies as part of the French offer of the Rafale.
At least three Belgian generals, including the chief of the air force, and several senior officers were suspended yesterday by Belgian Chief of Defense Marc Compernol as the F-16 scandal continues to widen, to the point it is now referred to in the media as the “F-16-gate.”
The officers are suspected of having hidden from Compernol and Defense Minister Steven Vandeput studies carried out by Lockheed Martin and which concluded that the Belgian air force’s F-16s could remain in service for at least six years longer that their planned 2023 retirement date.
The suspension will last at least until April 20, when an investigation board hurriedly set up yesterday is due to report. The investigation was decided by Prime Minister Charles Michel.
It is also looking increasingly possible that Vandeput will be forced to resign, to take responsibility for the scandal, as he is seen as not controlling his department, and of mismanaging the government’s largest procurement program, which now seems to be premature and unnecessary.
Gen. Compernol issued the following statement on March 21: “As Chief of Defense, and with Defense Minister Steven Vandeput, I met today with several people potentially involved in the non-transmission of the study on metal fatigue. These persons offered to withdraw from their duties for the duration of the investigation. They will remain available for the investigation. The Minister and I have full confidence in the investigation.”
Compernol did not name the suspended officers, but media reports have identified them as Air Force Commander Gen. Frederik Vansina; Gen. Luc Roelants, head of the public procurement section of the defense ministry’s Material Resources agency; and Col Peter Letten, “manager” of the F-16 fleet. Col Harold van Pee, head of Air force procurement, and of the Air Combat Capability Program (ACCaP) which is managing the fighter competition, confirmed to Belga news agency that he had also been suspended.
As chief of the ACCaP office, Van Pee supervises four officers and 33 experts, and reports directly to Vansina. Given that both are now suspended, the ACCaP office’s work is likely to slow down.
It has also been revealed this week that Simon Put, the defense minister’s deputy chief of staff, was hired by Lockheed Martin as a lobbyist.
seahawk wrote:Too much costs is such a relative term. And 6 years is probably less than 1000 extra flying hours per frame, which is good to have as a reserve if the purchase delays, but really not enough to delay the purchase of a replacement intentionally.
mxaxai wrote:seahawk wrote:Too much costs is such a relative term. And 6 years is probably less than 1000 extra flying hours per frame, which is good to have as a reserve if the purchase delays, but really not enough to delay the purchase of a replacement intentionally.
It does remove the need to decide immediately and to ask for fast delivery, potentially resulting in paying too much or going with a suboptimal choice. It especially gives them more time and more leeway to negotiate.
bennett123 wrote:If they delay by 6 years, will the F35 be the only option.
France's offer to associate Belgium with the development of the future version of the Rafale is "out of proportion" with what the competitors of the French fighter plane propose for the vast public procurement to replace the Belgian F-16 fighters, the French Ministry of the Armed Forces said Tuesday.
Eight months after Paris offered a "deepened cooperation" between the two countries’ air forces, which was welcomed without enthusiasm in Brussels, a delegation from French Minister Florence Parly was received Tuesday in the Belgian capital by advisers to her counterpart, Steven Vandeput.
This is an opportunity, according to the French, to "open talks" on the proposal to train Belgian pilots to operate from the French aircraft carrier Charles-de-Gaulle, rather than from shared air bases, or that of "widely" opening French airspace for exercises.
France has also offered that Belgium become "a European partner to discuss future developments of the Rafale", and thus to assume in this program "a weight uncommon with (what is offered by) competitors", indicated Ms. Parly's advisers, briefing reporters on condition of anonymity.
Incorporating the Belgians into the development of the next Rafale F4 version, expected by 2024, "will allow the convergence towards the future SCAF (Future Combat Air System), the centerpiece of the Franco-German strategy to ensure European sovereignty in defense matters, they added.
In March 2017, Belgium launched a competition for the purchase of 34 new fighter aircraft to replace its aging fleet of some fifty F-16s, valued at about 3.6 billion euros.
The three candidates to replace the F-16 are the U.S.-made Lockheed Martin F-35, the Eurofighter Typhoon and the French Dassault Rafale.
But Steven Vandeput, Belgian minister from the N-VA (Flemish nationalists), believes that only the first two have made - in February, via the US and British governments - a bid according to the ground rules, as he considers that France’s proposal of a wider partnership is outside the established framework.
On Tuesday, Vandeput’s cabinet received Ms. Parly’s three advisers "at the request of [Belgian] Prime Minister" Charles Michel, Mr. Vandeput’s spokeswoman Laurence Mortier told AFP.
"We are interested in the program of the fighter of the future," she said, but "we heard nothing new compared to the letter received (from Florence Parly) on September 6. There is nothing more concrete".
"Now we will give a complete file to the Belgian government," Mortier continued, refusing to comment on any timetable for the final choice between competitors.
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