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Belgium to buy F-35s

The Belgian government has opted for the American F-35 fighter jet to succeed the country's fleet of F-16s.

Belgium will purchase the F-35A Lightning II or Joint Strike Fighter produced by Lockheed Martin.  The plane ended top of a competition with the Thyphoon.  Belgium is buying 34 aircraft worth 4 billion euros.

The first F-35s will be delivered in 2023.  The purchase of the F-35s means no orders for the European fighter jet Typhoon built by the Eurofighter consortium.

The Belgian economy minister, Kris Peeters, has defended his government's decision to purchase the Joint Strike Fighter or F-35.  Mr Peeters says that the lion's share of the 4 billion euro outlay will be channelled back to the Belgian and Flemish economy.

Thirty percent of the plane's components are made in Europe.  Many Belgian companies are involved in the production of these pieces.  The Americans have also promised to give Belgium long term businesses opportunities in other sectors related to security.

The 34 JSF's Belgium is buying cost around 4 billion euros.  The Americans calculate that the order will create a turnover for Belgian business worth 3.6 billion.