The Belgian Ministry of Defence has issued a request for information (RFI) to five foreign government agencies regarding various aircraft that could replace the national air force's ageing F-16.
The RFI does not commit to a future purchase nor to the selection of a specific aircraft, but aims to gather information beyond the open-source data used for initial evaluation.
The RFI does not mention the number of aircraft to be acquired.
RFI has been issued to the Joint Program Office (JPO-F-35), the Navy Integrated Program Office (NIPO-F/A-18F Super Hornet), the Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) of the French Ministry of Defence (Rafale), the Swedish Defence and Security Export Agency (FXM-JAS-39) and the UK Ministry of Defence, the RFI marks the first step in a process that will lead to the acquisition of a new fighter before the retirement of the F-16s starts in 2023.
The MoD prefers a government-to-government agreement, rather than a commercial purchase from a contractor.
The selection is likely to take place in 2015 or early 2016, to facilitate the aircraft's entry into service between 2023 and 2025, when the F-16s will retire.
The Belgian Air Force currently has 54 F-16s in its inventory and all of them have completed the mid-life update (MLU).