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Belgium casts doubts on Rafale offer

France's bid to offer the Dassault Rafale to Belgium appears increasingly doomed following comments from the latter's defence minister.

Under questioning from fellow lawmakers in the Belgian parliament, defence minister Steven Vandeput said Paris had not responded correctly to a request for proposals (RfP) covering the replacement of its Lockheed Martin F-16 fleet.

Instead, French defence minister Florence Parly sent a letter in early September to Vandeput which proposed an operational and industrial partnership between the two countries if the Rafale was selected for the 34-aircraft deal.

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Vandeput told parliamentarians that only two conforming bids were received, from the governments of the UK and USA, respectively offering the Eurofighter Typhoon and Lockheed Martin F-35.

None of the 164 questions contained in the RfP to enable a complete evaluation had been answered by Parly's letter, he says.

Belgium has sought legal advice on the French position. This will be presented to the government by the end of October to inform a final decision on whether or not to rule out the Rafale.

Brussels hopes to select the winning aircraft by mid-2018.

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