The State Department plans to sell 34 F-35A Joint Strike Fighter jets to Belgium for a possible $6.53 billion, the department told Congress on Friday.
The proposed foreign military sale includes the aircraft, four spare engines and various communication and navigation systems “to provide Belgium with a credible defense capability to deter aggression in the region and ensure interoperability with U.S. forces,” according to a Defense Security Cooperation Agency statement.
The U.S. Air Force already flies the F-35A, which takes off and lands in the conventional way. The Marine Corps flies the F-35B vertical takeoff and landing version, while the Navy flies the F-35C carrier variant.
Several U.S. allies have already bought the F-35, including Japan, Israel, the United Kingdom, Australia, Norway, Italy and Turkey, awith several other countries — including Finland, Germany, Switzerland and Spain — mulling an eventual deal.
The Lockheed Martin’s F-35, the most expensive weapons program in history, is estimated to cost $400 billion for 2,457 planes. Critics of the jet have called the program a costly boondoggle.
President Trump was among the critics of the program, tweeting prior to his inauguration that the costs of the program were “out of control.” He has since pushed NATO allies to purchase the F-35.