The government will not stop the purchase of the F-35s

There is no reason to question the purchase of 34 American F-35A fighter-bombers, reiterated Defense Minister Ludivine Dedonder.

Defense Minister Ludivine Dedonder reaffirmed Wednesday before MPs that the government had “no intention of terminating the purchase contract” of 34 fighter-bombers F-35. This new clarification came during a debate requested by members of the House Defense Committee, who had been arrested by recent ambiguous statements by senior US officials.

Comparing the F-35 to a Ferrari, the Chief of Staff of the American Air Force, General Charles Brown, had suggested that Lockheed Martin’s aircraft was probably not essential to fulfill all the missions assigned to it, including those relating to low intensity combat. Some had deduced that the senior officer had just admitted that the F-35 program was a failure. and that less efficient planes could be ordered. This would save money and advance the entry into service of a new generation device. General Brown, however, had quickly rectified the point by calling the F-35 a “cornerstone” of the US combat capability.


Citing figures from the staff, the minister indicated that the hourly cost of using the F-35 has already been reduced by 40% since 2015.

The minister reiterated Wednesday during a confused debate her statements made last Thursday in plenary, when she said that he would not be responsible for going back on this contract concluded at the end of 2019 with the US government for an amount of 3.6 billion euros. Ludivine Dedonder assured that there were “no elements of concern”, referring to the current cost hours of the F-35. Citing figures from the staff, the minister indicated that these charges have already been reduced by 40% since 2015 and will be comparable to those of the F-16 fleet, which is however larger (54 aircraft).

Discrepancies on the cost of use

This did not convince the opposition MP Georges Dallemagne (cdH), who argued that the cost of the flight hour of the F-35 would be, according to the latest reports, twice that of an F-16. For the entire Belgian fleet, “this would represent 4.24 billion” more than expected over the life of the aircraft, according to him.

For specialists, if the questions about the cost of using the F-35s are legitimate, using the pretext of a possible reduction in orders by the USA to question the Belgian contract seems irrelevant on the other hand, since this could not have any effects on the price paid by Belgium. Many military acquisition programs are marked by order reductions from the initial target.

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