Saturday 23rd of March 2019 |
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Macron Says Belgium Purchase of U.S. F-35s 'against European Interests'




Belgium's decision to buy U.S.-made F-35 fighter jets instead of a rival European aircraft "strategically goes against European interests," French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday.
Belgium announced on Thursday it will purchase Lockheed Martin's stealth jets in a multi-billion-euro deal to replace its ageing fleet of F-16s in a blow to rival French aircraft maker Rafale.
"I regret this choice. This wasn't just the Rafale offer, it was also the Eurofighter, a real European offer," Macron told reporters in Bratislava.
"The decision is linked to a Belgian procedure, to the political constraints of the country, but strategically goes against European interests."
He said: "Europe must develop a real capacity for a European defense industry, in all the countries that believe in this venture." 
The F-35 ran against a bid from the Eurofighter Typhoon, developed by a European consortium that also comprises Italy's Finmeccanica and Airbus.
The Belgian government said it would buy 34 radar-evading F-35s to replace its F-16 jets, from 2023.
Prime Minister Charles Michel had attempted to ward off criticism saying Belgium was looking to both Europe and the United States for its defense needs.

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