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

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

The tender for the replacement of the F16 of the Belgian air forces had, in its time, caused a lot of ink to flow, the majority of Western industrialists deem it biased in favor of the F35A from Lockheed-Martin. Information published after the choice of the American plane supported this perception, since NATO had, so to speak, put Belgium in a “non-decision” situation , by demanding that it be equipped with aircrafts specializing in the suppression of anti-aircraft defenses, and by considering that only the F35A would be capable of such missions today. The French offer, outside of the call for tenders , only added to the confusion, especially since Dassault, the French aircraft manufacturer, was very unfavorable to this political offer. Beyond the choice of aircraft, the forecast format of the air force, with only 34 aircrafts in the park, had been widely commented on, and criticized, knowing that it was impossible for 34 F35A to support 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 maintain its aeronautical performance superior to the American plane.
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