Belgian Defense Minister Ludivine Dedonder confirmed in parliament on Wednesday that the air force will only receive two F-35 fighter jets from the United States in December, with the other two planned deliveries being delayed until next year.
Belgium will receive only two US F-35s this year
The Belgian government has agreed to buy 34 F-35 jets from the US in 2018 for 4.5 billion euros. Both administrations have agreed to a schedule in which four or five planes will be delivered each year between 2023 and 2030.
However, Dedonder announced on Wednesday that this year’s deliveries have been delayed. She explained that the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are still being felt in the American military-industrial complex.
In addition, the first two F-35s will not be equipped with the latest RT3 configuration, as previously agreed. The Pentagon has confirmed that this update can only be added in April 2024.
The delays will no doubt add to Belgium’s growing disillusionment with the deal. De Morgen had previously reported that the federal government did not consider the acquisition to have brought the hoped-for economic results.
However, Dedonder remained optimistic and argued that the full number of fighter jets should still be delivered by 2030.
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