Belgium's purchase of US F-35 jets 'against European interests': Macron
Bratislava, Oct 26 (AFP) Belgium's decision to buy US-made F-35 fighter jets instead of a rival European aircraft "strategically goes against European interests," French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday.
Belgium announced on Thursday it will purchase Lockheed Martin's stealth jets in a multi-billion-euro deal to replace its ageing fleet of F-16s in a blow to rival French aircraft maker Rafale.
"I regret this choice. This wasn't just the Rafale offer, it was also the Eurofighter, a real European offer," Macron told reporters in Bratislava.
"The decision is linked to a Belgian procedure, to the political constraints of the country, but strategically goes against European interests."
He said: "Europe must develop a real capacity for a European defence industry, in all the countries that believe in this venture." The F-35 ran against a bid from the Eurofighter Typhoon, developed by a European consortium that also comprises Italy's Finmeccanica and Airbus.
The Belgian government said it would buy 34 radar-evading F-35s to replace its F-16 jets, from 2023.
Prime Minister Charles Michel had attempted to ward off criticism saying Belgium was looking to both Europe and the US for its defence needs. (AFP) KUN KUN 10261952 NNNN.
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