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Boeing not to compete 'unfair' Belgian fighter requirement

21 April 2017

Boeing has chosen not to compete Belgium's fighter replacement requirement, citing an unfair advantage for one or some of its competitors.

In announcing its decision on 19 April not to respond to the request for proposals (RFP) that the Belgian government issued in March, Boeing said that its F/A-18E/F Super Hornet would not be competing on "a truly level playing field".

Seen here in Australian service, the Super Hornet was one of five platforms expected to compete Belgium's fighter replacement programme. However, Boeing has pulled its participation, citing concerns it unfairly favours one of its competitors. (Royal Australian Air Force)Seen here in Australian service, the Super Hornet was one of five platforms expected to compete Belgium's fighter replacement programme. However, Boeing has pulled its participation, citing concerns it unfairly favours one of its competitors. (Royal Australian Air Force)

"Boeing informed the Belgian government that it will not participate in its bidders' conference today, nor respond to the request for proposals for a new fighter aircraft. We regret that after reviewing the request we do not see an opportunity to compete on a truly level playing field with the [...] F/A-18 Super Hornet," a company statement said. "Where there is a full and open competition we look forward to bringing the full depth and breadth of the Boeing company to our offer," it added.

The Belgian Air Component (BAC) is looking to replace its 44 single-seat Lockheed Martin F-16AM and 10 twin-seat F-16BM aircraft in the 2023-28 timeframe with 34 new multirole platforms to serve through to 2058 (deliveries will run to 2030, at which time full operating capability will be declared). Boeing was one of five companies that had received the RFP, with the others being Dassault for the Rafale; Eurofighter for the Typhoon; Lockheed Martin for the F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF); and Saab for the Gripen E.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source told Jane's that Boeing's reference to 'a level playing field' was made following preferences and/or criteria that it saw in the RFP, "which was detailed and very clear". As noted by the source, the Belgian government has a stated preference to follow the decisions of other EU and NATO nations that have already selected the F-35. At the same time, Boeing determined there were several areas where the Super Hornet has strong positive attributes which were not included in the preferences stated in the RFP.

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