Purchase of F-35 aircraft by Belgium : the wrath of Macron

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Emmanuel Macron’s displeasure is most ardent. The French president said on Friday the decision of Belgium’s purchase of us combat aircraft, rather than european, which “strategically goes contrary to the interests” of the Old Continent, critics swept away by Brussels. The belgian government announced Thursday its choice of the multi-role F-35 american to replace its F-16 fighter jets, to the detriment of the French Rafale, which had not complied with the procedure in belgium. “I regret the choice made. It was not just the offer of the Rafale, there was also the Eurofighter, a true european offering. The decision is linked to a procedure of belgium, political constraints of the country, but strategically will, a contrario, of the european interests “, said Emmanuel Macron in Bratislava.

Even the sound of a bell in the cabinet of the French minister of the Armies of Florence Parly : “It is a lamentable fact that a european choice has not been selected at the time where we must move forward more than ever in the construction of the Europe of defence. “In Brussels, these criticisms are seen as null and void, the F-35 with” the best quality/price ratio ” and the French had not complied with the procedure of the call for tenders, according to the Prime minister, Charles Michel.

“there has been no French offer, there has been a proposal that does not correspond to the criteria of the procedure,” said Charles Michel, blaming also the French government have not specified the price of the plane proposed. “When I buy a car, before that there was the order, I want to know what the price is. Here, we do not know, ” he said Friday morning, before the critics of Mr. Macron. “The decision of the belgian is not extravagant, is not extraordinary ( … ), because other european countries have also chosen this device “, according to him. The Dutch neighbors Belgium in particular have opted for the F-35 as the two countries have enjoyed closer military relations.

“Double alliance european and transatlantic”

Charles Michel had estimated Thursday that the belgian choice was ” both in the framework of Nato and in the european framework “. “For me, the United States does not become an enemy because Donald Trump is the president “, he argued Friday. And, despite the “differences of views” with Washington, ” the safety of our children’s children will be related to the maintenance and strengthening of a double alliance, european and transatlantic “. The remonstrances French fall at a time when Europe is in full strategic questioning on his defense, in the context of the critical us recurring for Nato, and that the French president has made the development of a true european defence policy, one of his horses to battle.

Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized Nato, saying that several european countries did not pay enough, and he had doubts in July on the willingness of Washington to comply with the principle of mutual defence of the Nato in case of aggression. For all that, the atlantic Alliance launched on Thursday in Norway, its largest military maneuvers since the end of the cold war, intended as a proof of the commitment of the United States to the collective defence. From the industrial point of view also, Europe is seeking its own way and Mr. Macron tries to guide it, in the different european programmes.

” Europe must develop a real ability of the european defence industry, in all countries who believe in this adventure. My determination is strengthened “, said the head of the French State. “Europe will only be strong if it is truly sovereign and if it knows how to protect herself. We inherit the habits of the past, the projects listed have been initiated before my arrival “, he further specified.

Belgium buys 442 French armour

Even if the Rafale has not been able to appeal to the government of Charles Michel, France will provide the belgian army, 442 armour, for an amount of approximately € 1.5 billion, announced Friday the French minister of the Armed forces, Florence Parly. In a press release published the day after the announcement of the purchase by the Brussels aircraft fighter F-35 american in particular to the detriment of the French Rafale, the minister welcomed ” this is excellent news, for France as for Belgium “. This agreement, which had been the object of a “letter of intent” for a “strategic partnership” signed in June 2017, focuses on the sale of 382 vehicles, light armoured multi-role type Griffon and 60 armoured reconnaissance and fighting-type Jaguar.

“This unique partnership also includes an operational component, including workouts, training and maintenance in operational condition of the affected devices,” adds the press release. These armored vehicles were developed in France in the framework of the program Scorpion a renewal of the fighting capabilities of the French army, in which participate including groups of French Nexter Systems, Thales, Renault Trucks Defense, or Saffron for the optronics. They will be available in Belgium by 2025.

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