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Belgian companies Sonaca Sabca and Asco started producing parts of F-35 fighters.

| 2021

The three Belgian companies of the BeLightning consortium have started producing parts of the F-35 aircraft, Belga news agency reports.

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Belgian companies Sonaca Sabca and Asco started producing parts of F 35 fighters

The 34 Belgian F-35A Lightning II fighters will be built at the Block 4 standard (Picture source: The Aviation Geek Club)

Through the Essential Security Interest (ESI) program, Lockheed Martin will provide industrial opportunities for multiple Belgian companies in all three geographic regions (Flanders, Brussels and Wallonia). The projects secured through the ESI program will bring cutting-edge manufacturing techniques and benefits, expanding the Belgian industry’s skills and knowledge and providing high-tech jobs for Belgians for decades to come. Some of the companies that have secured projects through the ESI program include ASCO, Feronyl, ILIAS Solutions, SABCA, Sonaca, and AMI Metals. The Belgian Air Component will operate F-35As from Kleine-Brogel Air Base in the Flanders region and Florennes Air Base in the Walloon region.

Three Belgian aeronautical companies boarded the Lockheed Martin F-35 program in March 2021 thanks to a significant public investment: the federal government has in fact decided to grant a total aid of 135 million euros to Sonaca, Sabca and Asco so that they can manufacture rear fins (horizontal stabilizers) for the F-35 Lightning II ordered, among others, by the Belgian Defense. 

BeLightning has officially started manufacturing horizontal tail units and related components. This work is carried out in coordination with Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems which holds the contract for the production of the horizontal stabilizers of the F-35. BeLightning will deliver the horizontal stabilizers to BAE Systems. The work will be carried out at three production sites: final assembly at the Sonaca site in Gosselies, the production of composites at the Sabca site in Lummen and the production of metallurgical products at the Asco Industries site in Zaventem. The goal is to build a minimum of 400 horizontal stabilizers representing approximately US $ 400 million in estimated revenue, Belga reports.

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