Belgium picks US F-35As fighter planes to replace aging F16s

BRUSSELS (AP) — The Belgian government has picked the U.S. F-35A fighter plane to succeed its aging fleet of F16s, a decision criticized for its cost when a European alternative was also available.

The F-35A is produced by the U.S company Lockheed Martin and several NATO allies, including the neighboring Netherlands, have already picked the U.S. plane too, allowing for more cooperation and synergies across the alliance.

The estimated cost of the 34 planes is some 4 billion euros ($4.6 billion). Vice Premier Alexander De Croo said Thursday: "If you want security, you have to contribute to it."

The Eurofighter, made by several EU countries, and France's Rafale were among the other options for Belgium to pick from.