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In a major policy reversal, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel on Friday announced an abrupt change in the process to select a replacement for the Lockheed F-16s operated by the Belgian Air Force.

At a press conference held after the Cabinet meeting, Michel said that Belgium will thoroughly evaluate the French offer based on the Dassault Rafale, as well as the possible upgrade of the F-16s. He also postponed the decision until mid-October.

תוצאת תמונה עבור ‪belgium  Charles Michel‬‏

This is a complete disavowal of the position of Defense Minister Steven Vandeput, who insisted that upgrading the F-16 was clearly not realistic, and maintained that he could not evaluate the Rafale offer because France had not followed the procedures set out in the Request for Government Proposals (RFGP) released in March 2017.

Belgium to weigh three options

Michel also outlined three options: the service life extension of the F-16s; the purchase of one of the two aircraft participating in the ongoing RFGP competition, i.e. the Eurofighter and the Lockheed Martin F-35, as well as a third option, the French proposal to buy Rafales and join the development of the fighter of the future.

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