What if Belgium buy a small Rafale M fleet rather than additional F-35As?

In a previous article, we referred to the reflection initiated by the Belgian authorities concerning the extension of the 34 F35A fleet ordered in 2018 by 14 new devices. It would seem that like the Netherlands or Norway before it, Belgium must review the format of its fighter fleet to respond to operational pressure. After having weighed all its weight to get Belgium to choose the F35, NATO would also be at the origin of this reflection, the Alliance estimating that with only 34 aircraft, the Belgian air forces will not be able to support its operational demands. But this reflection could be an opportunity to simultaneously strengthen operational capacities for the benefit of NATO, the protection of the national sky and European operations, by replacing, for the same budget, these 14 new F34A by 16 to 18 Rafale Marine.

The call for tenders for the replacement of the F16 of the Belgian air force had, in its time, caused much ink to flow, the majority of Western industrialists judging it biased in favor of the Lockheed-Martin F35A. Information published after the choice of the American plane confirmed this perception, since NATO had, so to speak, put Belgium in a "no-decision" situation, by requiring that it equip itself with aircraft specializing in the removal of anti-aircraft defenses, and by considering that only the F35A would be capable of such missions today. The French offer, outside the framework of the call for tenders, only added to the confusion, especially as Dassault, the French aircraft manufacturer, was very unfavorable to this political offer. Beyond the choice of the aircraft, the provisional format of the air force, with only 34 aircraft in the fleet, had been widely commented on and criticized, knowing that it was impossible that 34 F35A could sustain the same operational pressure as the fifty of F16 currently in service, and yet already in saturation.

The Rafale F4 will have nothing to envy to the F35 in terms of detection, communication and data processing capabilities. On the other hand, it will retain its aeronautical performance superior to the American aircraft.
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