Things come in threes: Dassault may not bid for Belgian F-16s replacement program

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Things come in threes: Dassault may not bid for Belgian F-16s replacement program
According the Belgian newspaper La Libre Belgique, Dassault Aviation would give up bidding for the Belgian Air Force's ACCAp program, which intends to replace its ageing fleet of F-16 fighter jets. It appears that the suspense will remain complete, as the RFGP must be sent for today midnight.
A Dassault Rafale fighter jet
(Credit: Dassault Aviation)
If Dassault, which was supposed to bid through the French Defense Procurement Agency (DGA), leaves the competition, only two contenders will compete for this 3.5bn € ($4.2 bn) program: Lockheed Martin with its F-35A JSF, and BAE Systems with the Eurofighter Typhoon.

In some ways, Eric Trappier, CEO of Dassault, prime contractor for the Rafale program, already sowed doubt a few days before Paris Air Show 2017 opening. "Generally speaking, I feel there is a desire to buy american," he said to the Belgian economic newspaper L’Écho. "It's surely linked to the relationship with NATO. But it is not incompatible to be in NATO and to use non-American aircraft, as the Rafale shows," Trappier added.

Moreover, the Chief of Staff of the French Air Force, the General André Lanata, on July 19 expressed concern about the success and performance of the F-35, which, "will become a benchmark in the global air force, not just in the US, but also in our major partners."

In any case, if Dassault withdraws, BAE Systems will have to put forth strong arguments against the Belgian Air Force's favorite, the F-35.

In April, Boeing first decided not to compete for Belgium's F-16 fighter jets replacement program, followed in July by Saab and its Gripen E. Boeing was supposed to answer the RfGP issued in March with its F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet.

Belgium approved in last December the purchase of 34 new fighter aircraft to be acquired from Spring 2018 for an amount of 3,573 billion euros.