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By Communiqué, the Belgian Ministry of Defense announced on 15 March that the consortium BNR (BELGIUM NAVAL & ROBOTICS) consisting of the French NAVAL GROUP and also French ECA Robotics contract for construction and maintenance of twelve mine hunters for Belgium and the Netherlands received. Inlet of the first (of six) Belgian system during the year 2023, the first Dutch (also of six) in the 2025th

Both governments gave their approval on March 15 to choose from, a European tender, which was led by the Belgian Ministry of Defense, based lay ((for the construction of the so-called. M-frigates for both navies two), the Netherlands Ministry of Defense, the lead partner) , The BNR offer sat against the Dutch Damen Schelde 'which with the company IMTECH Belgium and the consortium Sea Naval Solutions by consisting of Thales Belgium, the two French shipyards STX France (, Chantiers de l'Atlantique'), Socarenam and the Antwerp company Engine deck Repair (EDR). (We reported - s. ESUT from February 7, 2019)

Crucial to the choice may the expected for Belgium economic benefit, which was now estimated at 1.6 billion euros (50% for Flanders, 35% in Wallonia, 15% for Brussels - the allocation to the provinces in the neighboring country an important criterion) , have been. With Belgian company more than 30 (of 45 planned) partnership agreements were drawn. The shipyard Flanders Ship Repair, in Zeebrugge, is provided for maintenance. Local media reported a turnover of 4 billion euros and the support of 7,000 jobs over 20 years. What if also very optimistic Seeming, given the comparatively high unemployment in Belgium (5.6% (January 2019)), could also have been a cogent argument its motion for wobbly government. Like the previously made against France decision for the F-35 to replace the outgoing F-16 of the Air Force.

Finally, higher chances of obtaining know-how and thus strengthen the market position would offer up with this solution. Especially NAVAL GROUP and ECA Robotics intend to transfer their skills as well as their global export activities in the area of ​​the mine warfare to Belgium. There are a competence laboratory, a center for Internet security at sea, a research and development center, ECA Robotics Belgium, created in Brussels as well as a production and maintenance center in Zeebrugge. The combination of skills, "offers opportunities in addition to the Belgian-Dutch purchase, since this is a new technology with significant export opportunities are," said the Belgian Minister for Economy and Employment Kris Peeters.

Hans Uwe Mergener