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http://www.airforcesmonthly.com #361 APRIL 2018 // 11

Belgium


planning to


sell VIP fl eet
BELGIUM IS to launch
a public procurement
process to find a civilian
contractor that can provide
a corporate air transport
capacity. This could
replace the Belgian Air
Component VIP fleet, the
so-called ‘white fleet’,
which would then be sold.
The proposal, put forward
by the defence minister
Steven Vandeput, was
approved by Belgium’s
Council of Ministers at its
meeting on January 12.
The current fleet,
operated by the 15th Air
Transport Wing’s 21st
Squadron at Brussels-
Melsbroek, comprises
two ERJ135LRs, two
ERJ145LRs and a Falcon
900B. Their mission is to
support military operations
by carrying passengers
in commercial aircraft,
performing VIP flights
and providing transport
for the king, members
of government and
European authorities.
A study will verify
whether requirements
for this type could be
fulfilled by a civilian
contractor, which at the
very least should be able
to provide the current level
of availability for a lower
cost. The requirement
will be put out to tender
and the ensuing contract
will be for eight years,
with a possible extension
for four more. Once in
place, the existing fleet will
be sold. Dave Allport

France boosts defence spending


Above: A French Navy Rafale intercepts a US Air Force B-52H during a fl ight en route to a Corsica training range in January
this year. Under the LPM, work on the improved Rafale F4 standard will be launched this year. USAF/Tech Sgt Joshua J Garcia
A DRAFT of the French
Loi de Programmation
Militaire (LPM, Military
Planning Act), covering
the period 2019-
was presented to the
Council of Ministers for
consideration on February


  1. This includes a proposal
    for a major increase in
    defence spending. Total
    expenditure over the
    period is scheduled to be
    €295bn, of which €198bn
    has been budgeted for
    during the present five-
    year government term
    between 2019 and 2023.
    With a general election
    due in 2023, spending
    beyond that date may
    be subject to change. It
    will be considered over
    several months but is
    expected to be passed by
    parliament in the summer.
    The LPM provides for
    the delivery of 28 new-
    build Rafales to the Armée
    de l’Air (French Air Force)
    between 2022 and 2024,
    while 30 more of the type
    will be ordered in 2023 for
    delivery by 2030. Efforts
    to further improve the
    Rafale’s capabilities will
    include developing the F
    standard, work on which
    is due to be launched this


year. A mid-life upgrade
of the ASMPA missile
will also be carried out.
Additionally, the air
force will benefit from the
delivery of 55 refurbished
and upgraded Mirage
2000Ds. New laser
designation pods will also
be handed over before


  1. Handover of A
    MRTT aircraft will be
    accelerated, compared
    with previous planning, with
    12 due to arrive by 2023
    and a further three now
    expected to be ordered,
    bringing the total MRTT
    fleet to 15 by 2025.
    The tactical transport
    fleet renewal will continue,
    with 11 A400Ms due to
    be accepted during the
    period, along with the final
    two C-130Js in 2019. All
    14 existing C-130Hs will
    undergo modernisation,
    although a programme
    to replace them will be
    initiated by 2030.
    In 2023, 12 helicopters
    will be ordered to
    replace the Puma.
    An avionics retrofit and
    modifications to the four
    E-3F AWACS aircraft will
    ensure full interoperability
    with NATO forces. The
    search for a replacement


will begin by 2035.
The LPM will also
consider a Système de
Combat Aérien Futur
(SCAF, Future Air Combat
System), which will be a
co-operative programme,
with development of
certain elements being
launched during this time
period. The SCAF will
comprise interconnected
platforms and armaments,
centred on a multi-role
combat aircraft covering
the entire spectrum of
operations. It is targeted
for service entry by 2040.
Intelligence capabilities
will continue to be ramped
up, including receipt
of the final two MQ-9A
Reaper systems in 2019.
Studies carried out in
co-operation with Germany,
Spain and Italy will be
continued with a view to
launching a European
MALE (Medium-Altitude
Long-Endurance) UAV
programme next year and
delivery of the first system
in 2025. It is planned to
have eight MALE UAV
systems in operation by


  1. The first three
    Patroller tactical UAV
    systems will be handed
    over and it is intended


to have up to five in the
French Army inventory by


  1. In addition, 15 UAV
    systems will be ordered
    for the French Navy, with
    entry into service planned
    for 2028. Light tactical
    UAVs, with multi-sensor
    intelligence capabilities
    and a weapons option, will
    be acquired for the special
    forces in 2019. Airborne
    intelligence capability will
    be strengthened, with
    orders for two more Avion
    Léger de Surveillance et
    de Reconnaissance (ALSR,
    Light Surveillance and
    Reconnaissance Aircraft)
    in order to have eight
    ALSRs in use by 2030.
    The navy’s 18 Atlantique
    2s will be upgraded and
    remain in use, but a
    programme will begin to
    search for a replacement.
    A decision should be
    made within the LPM
    time period. Under the
    Charge Universelle de
    Guerre Électronique
    (CUGE) programme, three
    Dassault Falcon dedicated
    electronic warfare aircraft
    will be acquired to replace
    the two ageing C-160G
    Gabriele aircraft currently
    employed in the role.
    Dave Allport


Dutch Apaches to be remanufactured to AH-64E standard
THE US State Department
has approved a possible
Foreign Military Sale to the
Netherlands of items and
services to support the
upgrade/remanufacture of
its AH-64D Block II Apache
attack helicopter fleet to
AH-64E configuration.
The estimated cost of the

work is $1.191bn, including
engines, targeting and
other systems. The deal,
revealed on February
20 by the US Defense
Security Cooperation
Agency, still awaits
approval from Congress.
Twenty-eight AH-64D
Block IIs are involved in

the standard revision –
also known as Apache
Guardian – requested by
the Dutch government.
It will include bringing
the 51 remaining T700-
GE-701C engines up to
T700-GE-701D standard
(42 engines to be installed,
plus nine spares). Also

included in the package are
17 AN/APG-78 fire control
radars and 28 AN/ASQ-
170 Modernized Target
Acquisition and Designation
Sights (MTADS)/AN/AAR-
11 Modernized Pilot Night
Vision Sensors (PNVS) that
are slated to be installed
in the rebuilt aircraft.
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