Belgium news agency Belga has reported that the F-35 has been selected over the Eurofighter Typhoon by the country to replace its F-16 fleet
The country has been deliberating for months over a multibillion-dollar purchase of 34 new fighter jets, with the latest deadline for a decision being Oct. 29.
According to Reuters, defense ministry spokeswoman declined to comment on the government’s decision and did not confirm the end-October deadline.
Lockheed spokeswoman Carolyn Nelson did not confirm that a decision had been made but said the company remains confident that the F-35 is the right choice for Belgian Air Force.
“The F-35 offers transformational capability for the Belgian Air Force and, if selected, will align them with a global coalition operating the world’s most advanced aircraft.”
If confirmed, the decision will make Belgium the 12th country to buy the F-35 stealth jet and could help to strengthen Lockheed Martin’s position in forthcoming tenders in Switzerland, Finland and Germany.
The company has said its bid will give Belgian companies significant opportunities to contribute to the global F-35 enterprise.
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel would like to make the decision on the F-16 replacement before a national election in May while Defence Minister Steven Vandeput hopes to settle the matter before he steps down at the end of the year.
Noteworthy a win for Lockheed Martin would mark a setback for Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain, the four countries behind the Eurofighter program, who had mounted a strong lobbying campaign for the European war plane.
It is also likely to anger France, which did not submit a formal bid for the Rafale fighter built by Dassault Aviation but had offered Belgium close defense cooperation to prevent a further spread of the F-35 in Europe.
Other European buyers of the F-35 include Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, Turkey and Norway.
Photo credit: Todd Cromar / U.S. Air Force
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