“Decision about replacement for F-16 before the end of the legislature"

Ahead of Friday morning’s meeting of the Federal Cabinet a number of ministers, including the Defence Minister Steven Vandeput (Flemish nationalist) have said that a decision will be taken soon about a replacement for the Belgian Airforce’s fleet of F-16 fighter jets. Mr Vandeput told VRT News that “I absolutely think that this government has the intention to take a decision that will maintain aerial combat capacity.

On Thursday it was revealed that the government had asked the Americans for more time to reach a decision on a replacement for the F-16.  

There are currently two candidates in the running to replace the F-16’s: the American company  Lockhead Martin’s F-35 and the Eurofighter Typhoon that is built by a British-German-Spanish-Italian consortium. The purchase of new jet was discussed at ministerial level on Thursday. However, no decision was made and the Federal Government needs more time. It has asked Lockheed Martin to extend its offer beyond 14 October.

However, several minister in the Federal Government have said that it is not their intention to put off a decision to beyond next May’s elections.    

The Flemish Christian democrat Deputy Prime Minister in the Federal Government Kris Peeters told VRT News that “The decision will be taken during this legislature. We have already had an important meeting and another one will follow. A decision will be taken after that”.

The Flemish Liberal Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo told VRT News that “The process is running. I think that were are not far from reaching a decision”.

Meanwhile, the Defence Minister Steven Vandeput is less forthright "I absolutely think that this government intends to implement the decisions taken with relation to the Defence Department. Maintaining our aerial combat capacity is part of this. The government will take a decision when the time is right.

We have asked the American show long the quote is value for. I haven’t received an answer yet”.