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ACCaP Program: French offer appears increasingly doomed

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World Aviation Defense & Security News - Belgium
 
 
ACCaP Program: French offer appears increasingly doomed
 
By Nathan Gain

France's proposal to offer the Rafale fighter jet to Belgium appears increasingly doomed following new comments from the latter's defence minister, Steven Vandeput. As France didn't correctly answered the RfGP, Dassault's "announcements concerning the economic side can not be taken in account," Vandeput said today to the Belgian Parliament National Defense Commitee.
     
ACCaP Program French offer appears increasingly doomed 640 001Two BAF F-16AM fighter jets
(Credit: BAF/Adj Rosselle)
     
Without being allowed to push on economic side of their proposal, Paris will undoubtely face difficulties to affect the Belgian final choice. In late December 2017, Belgian medias suggested, based on Dassault documents, that the french planemaker is promising around 20 bn of economic compensation over 20 years, and more than 5,000 high-technology jobs. An information that Vandeput said "to be too good to be true", finding that Dassault was doing an "economic blackmail".

Moreover, Vandeput rightly points out that the French team "chose to communicate by press instead of introducing a proposal into the procedure we launched". He also confirmed that "the governement position didn't change since my answer to the (National Defense) committee in December 20, 2017", when Vandeput declared that he "personally had neither formal nor informal contact about it (the French proposal)" with its French counterpart.

On February 14, Belgium will officially select the best and final offer. It will then be evaluated by no less than 33 experts, splitted in seven different teams.

Strongly criticized by the Belgian MoD, Steven Vandeput (N-VA), the French proposal is currently being screened by the Belgian government, in order to avoid any legal process from the two other contenders, Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems. Needless to say, Belgium will do everything to avoid a new “Agusta–Dassault Scandal”, after which Brussels in the 1990s thoroughly revised its arms procurement process.

Belgium approved in December 2016 the purchase of 34 new fighter aircraft to be acquired from Spring 2018 for an amount of 3,573 billion euros ($4.2 bn). Two contenders are officially competing: Lockheed Martin with its F-35A JSF, and BAE Systems with the Eurofighter Typhoon.