Pending technical updates delay delivery of Belgium’s first F-35A fighters

Belgian Air Force expected to take delivery of the first two 5th generation fighters in December, but upgrade packages have yet to be approved and certified

The celebration for receiving the first F-35A fighters from the Belgian Air Force at the end of this year was canceled by the country’s government. The government in Brussels has decided not to accept the first two Lockheed Martin aircraft due to be delivered to the Belgian Air Force in December because of delays in introducing new electronic systems to the fighter jet.

According to the VRT NWS, the delivery of the first fifth-generation fighters to the Belgian command must be delayed for six months. The first two aircraft of the type for Belgium are on Lockheed Martin’s final assembly line in the United States and should be completed in the coming weeks.

Follow ADN: Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

“Based on the current schedule, the hardware will be ready by December 2023,” the Belgian Ministry of Defense said in response to the outlet. “The certification and qualification of the software and the final delivery of the aircraft depend on the results of the test campaign and are currently estimated for the second quarter of 2024,” he added.

Belgium confirmed the purchase of 34 Lockheed Martin F-35As in 2018 to replace the fleet of F-16 fighters, which have been flying in the country since 1979. The US supersonic jet was the winner in the dispute against the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Dassault Rafale.

F-35 equipped with Tech Refresh 3 (USAF)

Tech Refresh 3

The delay in receiving the first F-35A is due to a contractual issue, in which Belgium stipulates that the planes must be delivered in the most recent and modern existing configuration. Lockheed Martin is currently developing a major hardware and software upgrade for the aircraft.

The overhauled version of the F-35A still under development is known as “Tech Refresh 3”. The update includes more advanced on-board computers and new dashboard screens to implement a series of additional features to the aircraft, such as new weapons, electronic warfare systems improved, among others.

With the delay in the delivery of the fighters, the training of Belgian pilots in the US must start later than scheduled. The country’s defense ministry, however, showed no concern about this possibility. “If the delay is limited to a few months, it will have little or no impact on the eventual gradual operational build-up”, reassured the institution.

Despite the rescheduled delivery of the first F-35As to Belgium for 2024, the country’s air force should reach full operational capacity for the aircraft only in 2030.


Popular posts

Previous Post

China Eastern Airlines now has two C919 jets in service

Next Post

Wizz Air acquires 75 more A321neo jets from Airbus

Related Posts