Saab is the latest manufacturer to step away from the competition to provide Belgium with an F-16 replacement.
The Swedish Defence Materiel Agency (FMV), which was responsible for pitching the Saab Gripen E to Belgium, announced that it had chosen not to submit an answer to the Belgian request.
“In their Request for Government Proposal, Belgium is also seeking extensive operational support from the delivering nation,” an FMV statement clarified. “This would require a Swedish foreign policy and political mandate that does not exist today.”
Saab follows Boeing, which also declined the Belgian RFGP earlier this year. The FMV statement added that “Gripen is a highly advanced and cost-effective fighter aircraft system that fully meets the operational requirements in the Belgian request for proposal.”
A Belgian Ministry of Defence statement read: “The Belgian Defence takes note of this decision and thanks FMV for its open and constructive co-operation during the last three years.”
Government agencies representing the three remaining bidders must submit their offers by September 8. Still in the running are the Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon and Lockheed Martin F-35.
According to the schedule, a recommendation will be presented to the Belgian government by mid-2018.
The Belgian Air Component is seeking a replacement for its fleet of 54 remaining F-16s, the recent operations of which are detailed in the forthcoming August issue of AFM.