The shutdown of the US administration entered into force on Saturday because no budget compromise could be found to finance the Federal State. This has compelled Washington to reveal prematurely the amount of the offer made to Belgium for 34 F-35 fighter jets, the specialized information site defense-aerospace.com revealed on Monday.
The State Department on Friday approved the possible sale of these 34 Lockheed Martin Corp. F-35 Lightning II fighter jets to Belgium for an amount of $ 6.53 billion (about € 5.355 billion), more than the initial estimate of the cost of replacing the current 54 F-16s, which the Belgian government had set at around 3.6 billion euros.
However, 1.2 billion euros must be added to this amount in operating costs during the first years after the entry into service of new aircraft, said Monday the entourage of the Minister of Defence Steven Vandeput.
According to defense-aerospace.com, it is the prospect of the “shut-down” that may have precipitated the announcement made Thursday by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), which reports to the Pentagon. It is obliged to notify in advance to Congress any sale of US military equipment under the so-called FMS (Foreign Military Sales) procedure; Congress has the power to oppose it.
Due to the “shutdown”, which came into effect on Saturday at 00:00 (06:00 CET), DSCA had closed down and its website put on the back burner. That’s why the notification is dated Jan. 18 when Lockheed Martin and the DCSA would have hoped to keep the price of the F-35 blank until February 14, the date of the last offers (the “Best and Final Offers”, or BAFO in jargon) to the Belgian Ministry of Defence, underlines the specialised site.