According to De Standaard newspaper, the Belgian military has revealed concerns about the structural integrity of its F-16 fighters following considerations over a possible delivery to Ukraine.
Belgium’s recent acquisition of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II stealth fighters led to deliberations about sending part of its fleet of F-16s to the Ukrainian Air Force. However, this plan could be reconsidered.
The driving factor for this reconsideration lies in the current conditions of the Belgian F-16s and how it might influence the transition to the F-35 as the force experiences delays about the configuration they want to receive.
According to statements by the Belgian army officer, Frederic Goetinck, in charge of supplies, it is highly unlikely that deliveries of F-16s to Ukraine will take place given the conditions of the aircraft.
In an interview for De Standaard newspaper, Goetinck stressed that sending worn-out planes to Ukraine would be irresponsible. “You can’t send planes you wouldn’t use to Ukraine,” he said.
The reason for their concern lies in possible cracks detected in the fuselage of the F-16, which could put the lives of the Ukrainian pilots at risk.
Discovering cracks on the aircraft is not something unusual. There is a routine investigation to find the crack as soon as possible. Most of the time, "longeron" or "stringer"s are replaced to solve the problem.