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New Failure of Europe of Defense : the Belgian F-35s

Unsurprisingly, Belgium has announced that it has chosen the American F-35 fighter.Unsurprisingly, Belgium has announced that it has chosen the American F-35 fighter. Second betrayal of partners by Belgium, "heart of the European Union" since the 1970s. After 48 years, new proof to what extent Belgium's policy is influenced by the Americans, which was also the case in 1970. New proof to what extent European integration can be considered serious. Quo vadis European integration?

Why has Belgium once again turned its back on the European preference?

Thanks to two defining criteria that were insinuated in the specifications for the replacement of the F-16: the ability to carry a US-made nuclear bomb and stealth. Two crucial criteria for the success of the F-35. Belgium has been carrying out the nuclear mission on behalf of NATO for decades. The F-16s stationed at Kleine-Brogel (F-16A) are capable of carrying and dropping an American B-61 nuclear bomb. In any case, Brussels who wishes to keep it, had made it known.

This skewed the competition and favored the American F-35 against its four competitors: F / A-18E / F Super Hornet, Rafale F3R, JAS-39E / F Gripen and Eurofighter Typhoon. Only the F-35 will be able to carry out the mission of nuclear attack by carrying a B-61 American gravitational bomb. It is designed as dual capacity (conventional and nuclear) and should be able to carry a bomb B-61 in a later phase (!) of its development, probably from 2022 (!).

What is not the case for other contenders to Belgian market, with the exception of the Rafale, which already carries a nuclear weapon. However, Germany has also made a formal request to the United States to integrate the B-61 under the Eurofighter. In theory, this ability could also be certified on the European fighter. Not sure if Washington shares with anyone the firing and releasing codes of the B-61s.

"Within the Alliance, Belgium has accepted, five decades ago, that its fighter jets have both conventional and nuclear capabilities, taking into account a joint analysis of the global threat. NATO is asking us to continue to maintain our combat aircraft available for any such missions, and we look forward to meeting all our obligations in this regard, " said Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders.

In addition, the Belgian Air Force is close to that of the Netherlands, which without hesitation bought eight F-35s in March 2015 on a target of 37 aircraft.

Despite the fact that about 38,000 signatures were collected against the idea of ​​equipping the Belgian air force with F-35 stealth fighter jets, the finance committee of the House of Representatives refused to hear the arguments opponents of this project.

The F-35 project is the most expensive project ever seen. The aircraft had several hundred defeats (hardver + software) his "brother" the F-22 Raptor, after it was put in place with the US Army, was less effective in the fight against the Eurofighter and the former F-16 is stealth is also highly doubtful.

According to a leaked test in 2015 also the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s demonstrated performance is inferior to the current fighters it is designed to replace. Specifically, the report marked for official use only (FOUO) finds that, in a series of 17 dogfights, the F-35 was consistently outmatched by an aging F-16 :

"One of the significant new issues raised by the report was the F-35’s difficulty in sustaining energy in close-in maneuvering combat—that is, the energy needed to turn and accelerate. The test pilot found this to be “substantially inferior” to older planes like F-15s, F-16s, and F-18s. In the tests, the F-35’s maneuverability against the F-16 was so limited that it could only point quickly enough to achieve a missile shot by executing one specific maneuver. But this move consumed so much energy that if the shot failed the F-35 would “ultimately end up defensive again”—which is to say, at the mercy of any opponent.

The report also homed in on flight control problems in the 20 to 26 degrees angle of attack zone, crucial for hard maneuvering. The pilot described the F-35’s computer-controlled flying qualities as “sluggish” for evasive maneuvering and “not intuitive or favorable.” This echoes information in a recent report from the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) that described severe flying quality problems in this high angle of attack region—including uncontrollable wing drop and heavy buffeting (shaking) “that degraded the flight control system (two of three flight control channels become disabled), requiring a flight abort.”