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October 29, 2018 | International, Land

La Belgique renonce aux Rafale, mais achète des blindés à la France

[ACTUALISE] Si Dassault et son Rafale n'ont pas su séduire le gouvernement belge, au grand dam d'Emmanuel Macron, la Belgique a annoncé concrétiser l'achat de 442 véhicules blindés auprès d'un consortium français composé de Nexter, Thales et Arquus, pour un montant de 1,5 milliard d'euros. Malgré un niveau de commandes plus faible que prévu.

Un pas en avant, un pas en arrière. Si le gouvernement belge a suscité bien de la déception dans l'Hexagone en annonçant le 25 octobre ne pas opter pour le Rafale pour remplacer ses avions de chasse F-16 - Emmanuel Macron regrettant vendredi 26 octobre cette décision, estimant qu'elle va "stratégiquement à contrario des intérêts européens" -, il a malgré tout voulu rassurer en confirmant l'achat de véhicules blindés à un consortium français.

Ce contrat avec les industriels français Nexter Systems, Arquus et Thales, avait été annoncé en juin 2017 par le ministre de la Défense belge Steven Vandeput. Il a pourtant vu sa voilure légèrement réduite : au lieu de l'achat de "60 nouveaux véhicules de combat médians du type Jaguar et 417 véhicules de combat légers du type Griffon" promis alors, l'armée de terre belge ne s'arrogerait plus que 60 Jaguar et 382 Griffon, qu'elle devrait mettre en service pour 2025-2030.

"Ce partenariat inédit comporte également un volet opérationnel incluant des entraînements, de la formation et le maintien en condition opérationnelle des matériels concernés", annonce le ministère français des armées dans un communiqué du 26 octobre, précisant le montant du contrat: 1,5 milliard d'euros.

382 Griffon et 60 Jaguar

Ces blindés ont été développés dans l'Hexagone dans le cadre du programme Scorpion de renouvellement des capacités de combat de l'armée de Terre française, auquel participent notamment Nexter Systems, Thales, Renault Trucks Defense ou encore Safran pour l'optronique.

Le Griffon est un véhicule blindé multi-rôle (VBMR) disposant de six roues et pesant environ 25 tonnes. Il va remplacer les véhicules de l'avant blindé (VAB) que ce soit pour des missions de transport de troupes, poste de commandement, observation pour l'artillerie et évacuation sanitaire.

Le Jaguar est, quant à lui, un engin blindé de reconnaissance de combat (EBRC). Lui aussi dispose de six roues et pèse près de 25 tonnes, mais il va remplacer les chars légers AMX10RC et Sagaie ainsi que les VAB équipés des missiles Hot. Canon de 40 mm télescopé, missile moyenne portée MMP, ou encore tourelleau téléopéré, vont composer son système d'armement.

Du budget restant pour la future Europe de la défense

Par ailleurs, en choisissant le F-35 américain de Lockheed Martin pour remplacer ses avions de chasse F-16 après 2023, au détriment du Typhoon d'Eurofighter et du Rafale de Dassault, la Belgique devrait économiser 600 millions d'euros par rapport à ce qui était budgété, a annoncé le Premier ministre Charles Michel le 25 octobre. Ils "pourront être en partie utilisés pour des pré-financements afin de sécuriser les retours sociétaux pour notre pays" alors qu'une autre partie est réservée pour d'éventuels projets futurs en matière de défense européenne, comme le futur système de combat aérien, précise le média belge La Libre Belgique.

"L'offre française est arrivé après la clôture", a réagi pour sa part le 26 octobre Emmanuel Macron sur ce dossier. "Je regrette le choix fait. Il n'y avait pas que l'offre du Rafale, il y avait aussi l'Eurofighter, un vraie offre européenne. La décision est liée à une procédure belge, à des contraintes politiques du pays mais stratégiquement va a contrario des intérêt européens". "Je ferai tout pour que dans les appels d'offres à venir, des offres européennes soient promues", a promis le Président de la République, qui doit justement rendre le mois prochain une visite d'Etat à la Belgique, et discuter notamment de l'Europe de la Défense.

https://www.usinenouvelle.com/article/la-belgique-renonce-aux-rafale-mais-achete-des-blindes-a-la-france.N761104

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