Overall, initiatives were undertaken to stabilise the defence budget and military pensions in the short term; in fact, through significant measures, Belgium expected to decrease its defence expenses to about 0.81% of GDP by 2019. However, under current and future challenges (i.e. high risk of terrorist attacks, migration crisis, cybersecurity incidents, etc.), Brussels should strengthen their efforts, in order to achieve their 2030 Defence plan goals.

The acquisition of the F16s in 1975, has a significant impact even today, to the country’s Defence Sector. Under this collaborative-purchase (of Belgium, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands) – which can be seen as one of the first “Pool & Share” initiatives, as well as offset programs worldwide-, technical and organisational skills were acquired, new markets were opened for the country’s industrial sector, enabling Belgian companies to develop long-lasting relationships with European and American firms. In light of this, Belgian companies were selected for the development, manufacturing and after-sales services of spare parts and equipment for Airbus aircraft and Ariane (rocket family) projects. Since then, a series of projects, within the context of “Pool & Share”, have been realised by the Belgian Defence industrial sector, such as the A400M transport aircraft, where Belgian companies contribute as far as the landing gear doors, leading edges, flap supports and skins, resulting in a work-share in excess of €500 million for Belgium.   

Under such initiatives, the Aerospace, Defence & Security sector of the country has evolved significantly in recent years, overriding other sectors of the Belgian Industry.

During the 2005-2015 decade, major Arms exports by the country included Ships, Aircraft and armoured vehicles, with the top exports’ destinations being Jordan (37%), Bulgaria (35%), Chad (7%), Chile (6%) and Morocco (6%).

Moreover, it should not be omitted, that between only 2010 and 2012, the Belgian Defence sector signed contracts with national firms, of more than €950 million. Further, in 2015, turnover by the sector increased by 10.5%, while the ICT (Information Communication Technologies) sector followed, with only a 6.5% increase.

With the main objectives being the safeguarding and promotion of the member companies and their products, domestically and internationally, the Belgian Security and Defence Industry (BSDI) association, part of the AGORIA organisation, was created as per the request of Belgian authorities, the National Armaments Director (NAD) and all the Belgian Industries. Having a €1.5 billion turnover and with 90% of its production being exported, the BSDI companies employ today some 15,000 people.  


The member companies’ activities, consist in the development of telecommunication systems, aeronautical and space systems (such as metallic and composite structures, wiring assemblies and optical fibres, propulsion systems, avionics, satellite payloads and ground systems), protective equipment, weapons and ammunition, night vision systems, composite materials, armoured vehicles, flexible containers and software solutions. The high level of technology of its members -including Esterline, Sonaca, Safran, Thales, Simtech, FN Herstal and Asco- is favoured many times in international cooperation programs within Europe, as well as internationally.

It should be noted that the derived value of the Belgian Security & Defence Industry, can be measured also at the communal level (through employment and products manufacturing), as well as in indirect effects, resulting from the acquisition of cutting-edge technology, expertise and research. Considering the latter, local Defence Industry has always contributed to the progress in the fields of geology, environmental monitoring, fishing and education.


What is the value of a national defence? What does it cost the state and the Belgian population, what are the benefi ts and what is the return on investment of a national defence for society?


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The Minister of Defence, Steven Vandeput asked from some experts to document their opinions regarding the future of Defence for 2030. This is a document of 197 pages, expressing their views-estimations, in terms of societal and operational factors, as well as todays’ and future risks that might arise. (Text in French)


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Defence is an essential mission of the public authority. Investing in Defence both today and in the future is investing in the security of our society, and in the freedom, well-being and prosperity of all citizens. As stated in the Government agreement, this government gives Defence back the means to execute its tasks properly. During the last three decades Defence has continuously contributed to the rehabilitation of our public finances by reducing the defence budget. The strategic vision that follows gives new breathing space to Defence in order to ensure our population that the armed forces will be able to contribute significantly to the security of our society in the years and decades to come.


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