Boeing pulls out of 'unfair' Belgian fighter replacement bid

By Ryan Maass   |   April 20, 2017 at 3:28 PM
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April 20 (UPI) -- Boeing will not participate in Belgium's effort to replace its F-16 fleet, leaving rival Lockheed Martin and other European contractors in the competition, the company said this week.

The aerospace manufacturer responded to the Belgian request for proposal with its F/A-18 Super Hornet, a multirole fighter marketed as a 4th-plus-generation aircraft. The plane has been viewed as a more cost-effective alternative to the 5th-generation Lockheed Martin F-35.

Other competitors include Saab with the Gripen, Eurofighter with the Typhoon, and Dassault with the Rafale. Boeing announced its withdrawal from the competition on Wednesday.

"Boeing informed the Belgian government that it will not participate in its bidders conference today, nor respond to the request for proposals for a new fighter aircraft," the company told UPI in an emailed statement. "We regret that after reviewing the request we do not see an opportunity to compete on a truly level playing field with the extremely capable and cost-effective F/A-18 Super Hornet."

Boeing added its removal from the program will free up company time to focus on other customers. Recently, the contractor inked a $2.1 billion deal to produce 17 Poseidon aircraft for the U.S. Navy.

The company also received a $41 million contract modification in early April to update Super Hornets and EA-18 Growlers operated by various U.S. foreign military sales customers. The modification includes work for the governments of Australia, Finland, Kuwait, Malaysia, Switzerland, Canada and Spain.

The F/A-18 Super Hornet is a twin-engine air supremacy jet built for taking off from aircraft carriers. Updates for the aircraft include conformal fuel tanks, an enclosed weapons pod, a reduced radar signature and an enhanced engine.

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