The fifth-generation US fighter is being considered even though it costs more than the Rafale and despite the Belgian Defense Ministry’s firm belief that the F-35 is too expensive and the country should look for more affordable options.
“As a fourth-generation plane, the Rafale is cheaper, is more available and is easier to fly. However, contracts like this are more about military strategic and political cooperation between countries than the technical characteristics of a given plane,” Alexandre Vautravers, an expert with the Institute for European Prospective and Security (IPSE), told Sputnik.
”However, the F-35 should not cost more than $30 million, but right now the price tag is between $150 million and 160 million,” he noted.
Vautravers added that many countries which once staked on the F-35 are no longer able to pay the bill.
”The Dutch have realized the difference between their desire to buy an excellent plane and its exorbitant price for a country like theirs. Still, together with the Italians and the British, they are trying to force Belgium to buy the F-35s they themselves can no longer afford, ” he noted.
”The Americans are go-getters. Their F-35 program envisaged the sale of US warplanes during the 1960s and 1970. They needed to secure a list of potential [European] buyers to make up for the losses they incurred under the Marshall Plan. This dependence has been around since the 1960s, so it’s nothing new,” Alexandre Vautravers concluded.
In March, the company’s F-35 program director Jeff Babione called for the US and its allies to step up their yearly purchases to help Lockheed make their goal of an $80 million jet by 2020 a reality.