Belgium tender, F-16 fighter replacement

Belgium Friday opened a tender for the replacement of its ageing US-built F-16 jet fighter fleet, a contract potentially worth €15 billion over its 40-year lifespan. “The current 54 F-16 fighters will be replaced by 34 new multi-role aircraft,” the ministry of defense said, arguing that because of technical advances, fewer planes would be needed to meet the same mission. The cost of the 34 aircraft is put at €3.6 billion ($3.85 billion), with another €1.2 billion to cover training and maintenance, ministry spokesman Laurence Mortier told AFP. The ministry said the supplier would likely be named in 2018 but the government had shortlisted five manufacturers in NATO or EU member states.

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