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Pushing Merchandise; France Promises Belgium $20 billion if it Buys Expensive Rafale Fighters

December 31st - 2017

Belgium's government is currently in the process of choosing a light fighter to replace its F-16 fleet. Competitors include the French Rafale, American F-35 and the Eurofighter Typhoon. The F-35 presents the only fifth generation fighter in the competition, while the fourth generation European fighters have capabilities more closely resembling the F-16. Due to a combination of the relative inefficiency of European aircraft producers compared to their American counterparts and the lower quantities of aircraft produced, the Eurofighter and Rafale have similar costs to the U.S. platform despite being effectively a generation behind - approximately $100 million.

The Rafale has performed relatively poorly on export markets, largely a result of its phenomenal costs. In an attempt to gain an advantage and sell its fighters to neighboring Belgium, France has offered the small country 20 billion euros if the country buys the Rafale. France has promised a “strategic and economic partnership” and has since worked on a more concrete proposal to make its fighter more attractive. Dassault has promised an economic return of 100% of the purchase price, which amounts to about 20 billion euros over 20 years and more than 5,000 high-tech jobs, should Belgium purchase its fighter. This is a significant deviation from procedure - but one which France finds itself very much in need of if its costly fourth generation platform is to be chosen over the similarly priced American F-35. Indeed, while the F-35 would otherwise be the most likely choice for Belgium's Air Force, a longstanding customer for U.S. arms, France's offers of economic benefits which the U.S. has failed to match means it's platform may well be chosen over the F-35. Ultimately France remains far more desperate to sell its platform that the United States is, with the latter receiving orders from across the world from Japan to the UAE to Canada and set to produce the F-35 in its thousands - compared to the Rafale of which only a few dozen have been ordered for export.


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