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ACCaP program: Belgian Defense Minister final decision imminent.

| 2018

By Nathan Gain

The Belgian Air Component’s fighter jets replacement program (ACCaP) accelerates again, after having definitively closed the so-called  “F-16 gate”. According to the Belgian Defense Ministry spokesperson, the Minister Steven Vandeput is writing the final note which should announce the winner of a hard-fought competition.

Vandeput final note on F 16 replacement 001 A Belgian Air Component F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft refuels from a U.S. Air Force KC-10 Extender over Syria during a sortie in support of Combined Joint Task Force- Operation Inherent Resolve, April 10, 2017
(Credit: U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Marjorie A. Bowlden)

Vandeput is now “preparing the note that he will present during a future Council of ministers, but I will not say which one to not set a deadline,” said on Friday the spokesperson to the French-speaking newspaper Le Soir. Another real sign confirming the Defense Minister willingness to complete the RfGP phase before the NATO summit in early July, as requested by the Belgian Prime Minister, Charles Michel. So there are five Council of ministers left before the summit, which will be held on July 11-12 in Brussels.

The 33 experts in charge of studying the two official Governmental proposals received to date, the Lockheed Martin F-35 and the Eurofighter Typhoon, have completed their assessment. The country’s Inspectorate of Finances, responsible for evaluating the ACCaP financial aspect, also concluded its final statement. 

This announcement comes a few weeks after France finally detailed its “comprehensive and structuring partnership," which clearly received a negative welcome from the Belgian military. This meeting, planned "at the request of the Prime Minister," did not suggested anything new in regards to the letter received on September 2017, the Ministry’s spokesperson stated. “There is nothing more concrete,” she added. 

On the basis of the two offers considered as legally valid, and probably the French "proposal", the ACCaP pool must now send a final recommendation to the Defense Minister. The complete report, along with the economic aspects, will then be submitted to the federal government.

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