Macron says Belgium’s purchase of US F-35 jets ‘goes against European interests’

Belgium’s decision to buy US-made F-35 fighter jets instead of comparable European aircraft “strategically goes against European interests,” French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday. Belgium said the previous day that 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.” Macron added that “Europe must develop a real capacity for a European defense 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.