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Thread: Future of Belgian Air Component

  1. #1
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    Future of Belgian Air Component

    Not much has been heard about the Belgian Air Component's future plans in recent years.

    The Belgian forces as it stands:

    59 X F-16AM/BM - in 4 sqns + 1 OCU at 2 bases

    32 X SF 360D/M

    28 x Alpha Jet (stationed in France)

    3 x SA-316B

    23 x A-109

    4 x Sea King (being replaced by NH90)

    11 X C-130H

    8 x Executive Jet (also support EU HQ at Brussels)

    On Order
    7 x A400M to replace C-130. An 8th example will be operated on behalf of Luxembourg
    8 x NH90 - to replace Sea King

    So what are the plans for the BAC in terms of:

    a. F-16 replacement - some rumours of F-35 though not commitment. What sort of numbers. Will current compliment of 4 small squadrons plus OCU be maintained

    b. Training fleet - any news of replacement for SF260 (some quite old) and Alpha Jet

    c. Future of A-109 fleet (currently reduced from 46 a/c to 23 a/c. Initial delivery was subject of corruption scandal).

    d. Allouette replacement

    e. Any other capabilities

  2. #2
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    7 x A400M to replace 11 x C-130? That´s a pretty large transport fleet isn´t it? Considering Belgium´s small territory and the fact that Belgium doesn´t seem to engage that much in international operations, why do they need 11 C-130?

  3. #3
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    the future of our BAF ?

    for Thobbes,

    the best thing you can do is to ask the question straight at our Staff/PR:
    (even in English );

    Name:  logo_COA_IPR-coul-HiRes.jpg
Views: 1588
Size:  29.5 KB

    http://www.mil.be/aircomp/contact/index.asp

    much success,
    & keep us informed, please, about their reply ...

    friendly yours,

    Etienne

  4. #4
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    Well, the A-400M and NH-90 are a lock in, being European projects, urgently needed and fitting in well with the peace keeping direction the Belgian military is taking.

    The F-16 will be source for a hot debate, the bottom line is that there probably won't be much or even any money available for replacements. A sharing program with the Dutch and/or Danish or even France or Germany would certainly be on the table and politcally desireable, maybe within a larger European integrated air defence network.

    But as I said cost will be a big issue, the Dutch are going for the F-35 but that's likely to be much too costly. The Gripen NG would be a more realistic choice for most of Northern Europe, being very capable yet cost effective and user friendly, as well as being European made.

    I'd strongly suggest moving to UAVs: the BAF has operated the Israeli Hunter with succes since 2001. A medium sized UAV like the MQ-9 Reaper costs only a fraction of a jet fighter, and would be extremely useful in every mission the BAF has been deployed in the last decades. Complemented with a handful of cost-effective Gripens, for specific missions like air superiority, this would greatly increase the effectiveness of the BAF at a reduced cost. Also the comming years are likely to see an explosion in both available models and capabilities, as UAVs mature and Europe develops its own designs.

  5. #5
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    I've read an article in the newspaper "Le Soir" a few days ago talking about the fact that debates in the Senate around the F-16 replacement will start this year.

  6. #6
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    I think the Transport and helo problems are sorted in the up coming years I feel they should do a deal with the French for Rafale and the to counties may look to start a trainer program

  7. #7
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    Belgium RFP:

    http://www.vandeput.fgov.be/sites/de...Proposal_0.pdf


    Have a look at those scenarios in Annex C....

    executing those missions with no AWACs, no jammer support, only a 4-ship....

    I wonder why Saab, Boeing and Eurofighter bother to participate in this competition.

    I hope Belgium will do as the Danes; publish high-level summaries. If memory serves, Typhoon and SH were roughly in the same ballpark (both having some weak and strong points), with the F-35 doing significantly better in the most demanding missions.

    What I wonder about is where the Rafale F4 will be compared to the SH/Typhoon, and compared to the F-35...

    On verra.

    Edit: The scenarios are quite interesting -- how would people on this board address them? Any takers?
    Last edited by Loke; 25th March 2017 at 06:53.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by thobbes View Post
    snip

    So what are the plans for the BAC in terms of:

    a. F-16 replacement - some rumours of F-35 though not commitment. What sort of numbers. Will current compliment of 4 small squadrons plus OCU be maintained

    b. Training fleet - any news of replacement for SF260 (some quite old) and Alpha Jet

    c. Future of A-109 fleet (currently reduced from 46 a/c to 23 a/c. Initial delivery was subject of corruption scandal).

    d. Allouette replacement

    e. Any other capabilities
    Germany/The EU should hurry up and make a European Pilot Training Centre with Pilatus and Leonardo aircraft + Simulators.

    Considering it's decreasing costs the F-35 will be a shoo-in to replace the F-16 as long as the US doesn't do anything crazy with Trump at the wheel.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loke View Post
    Have a look at those scenarios in Annex C....

    executing those missions with no AWACs, no jammer support, only a 4-ship....
    Impressive, good to see that they are actually taking this seriously! What we see are some very realistic scenarios for 2030-35 which is exactly what should be considered.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loke View Post
    Belgium RFP:

    http://www.vandeput.fgov.be/sites/de...Proposal_0.pdf

    Have a look at those scenarios in Annex C....

    executing those missions with no AWACs, no jammer support, only a 4-ship....

    I wonder why Saab, Boeing and Eurofighter bother to participate in this competition.
    RFP specifies that first four aircraft, all internal systems installed, must be delivered 2023. This is too soon for Gripen E or Rafale F4.

    Scenarios have JF-17! Did NATO just rat out its plan on who to invade next?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ozair View Post
    Impressive, good to see that they are actually taking this seriously! What we see are some Avery realistic scenarios for 2030-35 which is exactly what should be considered.
    Mmmm, those scenarios (and I agree that they are realistic) look more like 2018 than 2035, from all the "red forces" hardware described in the doc, the only one wich is not (maybe) operational today is the J16, the rest its all in active duty.
    One thing that caught my eye was that the first one might has well be called "Putin goes rogue in the Baltics next year".

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loke View Post
    Belgium RFP:

    http://www.vandeput.fgov.be/sites/de...Proposal_0.pdf


    Have a look at those scenarios in Annex C....

    executing those missions with no AWACs, no jammer support, only a 4-ship....

    I wonder why Saab, Boeing and Eurofighter bother to participate in this competition.

    I hope Belgium will do as the Danes; publish high-level summaries. If memory serves, Typhoon and SH were roughly in the same ballpark (both having some weak and strong points), with the F-35 doing significantly better in the most demanding missions.

    What I wonder about is where the Rafale F4 will be compared to the SH/Typhoon, and compared to the F-35...

    On verra.

    Edit: The scenarios are quite interesting -- how would people on this board address them? Any takers?
    Taking into acount that the Belgians dont have AWACS and no jammer suport I think its normal that the scenarios also dont have them, they also didnt scripted the amunitions to be used in each scenario, this in itself speaks volumes.
    All in all, it seems a very decent doc.
    Kudos to the Belgian Air Force for that.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sintra View Post
    Taking into acount that the Belgians dont have AWACS and no jammer suport I think its normal that the scenarios also dont have them, they also didnt scripted the amunitions to be used in each scenario, this in itself speaks volumes.
    All in all, it seems a very decent doc.
    Kudos to the Belgian Air Force for that.
    Since Belgium is part of NATO they do have access to AWACS and jammer support...

    One may speculate in the (purely hypothetical scenario) how the missions would have looked like if the F-35 had not been available to Belgium.

    Of course since the F-35 is available one may as well specify the requirements such that AWACS and jammer support is not available....

  14. #14
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    Since Belgium is part of NATO they do have access to AWACS and jammer support...
    And also fighters I assume
    Old radar types never die; they just phased array

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sintra View Post
    Mmmm, those scenarios (and I agree that they are realistic) look more like 2018 than 2035, from all the "red forces" hardware described in the doc, the only one wich is not (maybe) operational today is the J16, the rest its all in active duty.
    One thing that caught my eye was that the first one might has well be called "Putin goes rogue in the Baltics next year".
    Look at the orbats of today, littered with 90s and early 2000 acquisitions. The threat for the DCA scenario were Su-34/35 with suppprt from Su-30, all in production today, expected to serve for the next 30 years and likely to remain the backbone of Russian aviation during that period.

    Agree no PAK-FA and no J-20 but I think in a NATO scenario Belgium could rightly expect to those systems would be tackled by other partners.

    I also think the SAMs were representative of what we will see in 15-20 years. A few high end systems with a mix of currently in service systems that likely have a few upgrades.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yama View Post
    RFP specifies that first four aircraft, all internal systems installed, must be delivered 2023. This is too soon for Gripen E or Rafale F4.
    I am sure France can tweak things and make it available to Belgium in the 2023 time-frame -- or at least a Rafale F3R++ that can very easily be updated to the full F4 once it becomes available.

    For Gripen (and also Typhoon and the SH) I doubt it will fare well in the most demanding scenarios, given the constraints on number of a/c, and lack of support.

    The interesting thing is how Rafale will do -- it can carry quite a lot... including stand-off missiles for the most demanding missions. In addition the sensors and sensor fusion is quite good; the next iteration of SPECTRA will be quite awesome I suspect, probably reducing the need for a separate jamming capability even further. It is the only 4.5 gen fighter that may have chance to complete the missions IMHO...

    From one viewpoint the scenarios are not really over the top, as commented by Sintra technologially this is more like 2018 than 2035. No PAK FA and/or J-20 for instance.

  17. #17
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    2023 is also a timeframe Lockheed could offer block 4 as a standard option depending upon the plan that could be approved as early as next month.
    Last edited by bring_it_on; 25th March 2017 at 11:22.
    Old radar types never die; they just phased array

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by bring_it_on View Post
    2023 is also a timeframe Lockheed could offer block 4 as a standard option depending upon the plan that could be approved as early as next month.
    Anw, it is specified in Rfp that plnas can be retrofitted until FOC (last date 2029-12-31) as far as all planes are at the same standard te day of FOC.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by MP703 View Post
    7 x A400M to replace 11 x C-130? That´s a pretty large transport fleet isn´t it? Considering Belgium´s small territory and the fact that Belgium doesn´t seem to engage that much in international operations, why do they need 11 C-130?
    They participate to a european common transport fleet

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yama View Post
    RFP specifies that first four aircraft, all internal systems installed, must be delivered 2023. This is too soon for Gripen E or Rafale F4.

    Scenarios have JF-17! Did NATO just rat out its plan on who to invade next?
    Read it again (see above) van be retrofitted until 2030

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by halloweene View Post
    Anw, it is specified in Rfp that plnas can be retrofitted until FOC (last date 2029-12-31) as far as all planes are at the same standard te day of FOC.
    Right, that is why i said block 4. They should be able to provide block 4.1 software, and block 4.2 hardware by 2023 deliveries and later upgrade 4.3 software and 4.4 hardware in the post 2025 time-frame.
    Old radar types never die; they just phased array

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by bring_it_on View Post
    Right, that is why i said block 4. They should be able to provide block 4.1 software, and block 4.2 hardware by 2023 deliveries and later upgrade 4.3 software and 4.4 hardware in the post 2025 time-frame.
    What do you mean; are there problems with upgrading from bl 3 to bl 4??

    Norway's first F-35 are bl 3 of course...

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loke View Post
    What do you mean; are there problems with upgrading from bl 3 to bl 4??

    Norway's first F-35 are bl 3 of course...
    No. What I said was that if the IOC and FOC timeframe is 2023-2029 or thereabouts, Lockheed could offer a baseline Block 4 with full block 4 capability being provided within he IOC-FOC window. Current foreign partners and FMS customers are using block 3F (most anyways) as their baseline and later upgrading to block 4.
    Old radar types never die; they just phased array

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loke View Post
    What do you mean; are there problems with upgrading from bl 3 to bl 4??

    Norway's first F-35 are bl 3 of course...
    The post indicates that there are H/W changes in Block 4 aircraft.
    It will cost to upgrade Block 3 to Block 4.

  25. #25
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    Yup the program office submitted a 4 part block 4 program with block 4.2 and 4.4 focusing on hardware and 4.1 and 4.3 software. JROC approval is expected by April so we will know the exact details then.

  26. #26
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    Those scenarios in annex c are quite demanding.

    The question now is, what is the minimum number of airframes that is needed to maintain the operational availability of the 4 required? With just 1 type, those same airframes are also needed to develop the pilots flying experience and skills without a second type as a stepping stone to build flight experince. Then there is all the peacetime missions that is needed to be done, like QRA and air policing. Would those kind of missions can be done with a second cheaper type, while acting as a place for pilots to hone their skills and experience before moving to the more expensive to operate main fighter type?

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by EagleSpirit View Post
    Germany/The EU should hurry up and make a European Pilot Training Centre with Pilatus and Leonardo aircraft + Simulators.

    Considering it's decreasing costs the F-35 will be a shoo-in to replace the F-16 as long as the US doesn't do anything crazy with Trump at the wheel.
    It would be really stupid for a European Union member to send money overseas to support the US military industrial complex when they have indigenous industry to support like Eurofighter , Dassault and Saab. But yeah. They probably will.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sintra View Post
    Mmmm, those scenarios (and I agree that they are realistic) look more like 2018 than 2035, from all the "red forces" hardware described in the doc, the only one wich is not (maybe) operational today is the J16, the rest its all in active duty.
    One thing that caught my eye was that the first one might has well be called "Putin goes rogue in the Baltics next year".
    NATO top boss: No threat against the Baltics
    Published March 17, 2017

    http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/03...t-baltics.html

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ozair View Post
    Look at the orbats of today, littered with 90s and early 2000 acquisitions. The threat for the DCA scenario were Su-34/35 with suppprt from Su-30, all in production today, expected to serve for the next 30 years and likely to remain the backbone of Russian aviation during that period.

    Agree no PAK-FA and no J-20 but I think in a NATO scenario Belgium could rightly expect to those systems would be tackled by other partners.

    I also think the SAMs were representative of what we will see in 15-20 years. A few high end systems with a mix of currently in service systems that likely have a few upgrades.
    This is just ridiculous. Belgium has an air force because it happens to be a country. It has a more serious chance of going to war with a rogue regime in Germany than it does to fight Russia.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by KGB View Post
    This is just ridiculous. Belgium has an air force because it happens to be a country. It has a more serious chance of going to war with a rogue regime in Germany than it does to fight Russia.
    Well Belgium is a member of NATO but that is besides the point. The Belgiums themselves determined the threat scenarios, you are welcome to believe or disbelieve them as you will but military professionals within their Defence Department crafted them.

    As for my reference to the threat types and Russian aviation, it was to demonstrate that the airframes in question will be used by the primary operator for a significant period and within the timeframe I was suggesting. You would assume that the Russians are interested in exporting the Su-34/35 so it is certainly a justifiable threat.

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