100 Years Belgian Military Aviation: Exercise Centennial
On 16 April 1913, King Albert I of Belgium signed the Royal Decree with regard of the creation and organisation of the Military Aviation, consisting of the Vliegerscompagnie/Compagnie des Aviateurs and the Flying School. This decree was published in the Belgian Staatsblad/Moniteur on 20 April 1913 () and was essentially based on a number of proposals formulated by Commandant Mathieu towards the end of 1912, early 1913 for the integration of military aviation into the Belgian Army. At the start of World War I on 3 August 1914 the Vliegerscompagnie/Compagnie des Aviateurs was composed of 5 squadrons, 4 of them being equipped with the JERO/Farman Type Militaire 1913 or JERO/Farman HF.20 while the 5th squadron was essentially grouped eight civilian pilots which were called up for duty together with their own aircraft (Deperdussin, Bleriot, Morane Saulnier) to strengthen the new arm. At war’s end the Aviation Militaire Belge could boost some 200 modern aircraft organised into 12 Squadrons. The 287 military pilots scored a total of 125 aerial victories over enemy balloons and aircraft. No mean result for a small country in the face of the tough German army.
Pilot Fernand Jacquet in JERO-Farman Type Militaire 1913 N° 2 N° 2 during the "Autumn Manoeuvres" in the region between the rivers Sambre and Meuse which started on 25 August 1913.
Part of the HQ Compound with a Dingo II multipurpose protected vehicle FAC/FI in the background
Belgian Land Component units provide assistance by training national
security forces to combat the irregular forces threatening peace and
stability. Other Land and Air Component assets are deployed to provide
force protection and support. NATO allies providing air assets are among
others France and the Netherlands. The Belgian forces are headquartered
in a compound at Beauvechain Air Base. The Air Component is deployed
here with F-16 combat aircraft, A109BA multirole helicopters and
B-Hunter Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. Force protection of the HQ is ensured
by troopers of the 2nd Commando Battalion. Reconnaissance and
observation means are provided by the Battalion ISTAR (Intelligence,
Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) in the form of
daylight and infrared capable Pandur Recce & Observation vehicles.
Several Land Component units put Forward Air Controllers (FAC) and a
MPPV FAC vehicle at the disposal of the HQ.
attack supported by rocket launches risks to overwhelm the air base
protection securing the HQ.
A pair of F-16 Ground Close Air Support aircraft is launched to help stopping the attack. A B-Hunter UAV is orbiting the area and keeps its eyes on the air base scrutinising the situation on the ground. When it deteriorates, an air campaign is initiated to protect the own installations and to destroy the enemy’s assets threatening them.
Ground Close Air Support F-16s are launched, ...
... while a B-Hunter UAV is orbiting the area and keeps its eyes on
the air base
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the country:
A GCAS F-16 launches flares and rolls in for a strafing attack on the rebels.
Lockheed C-130H Hercules CH-04 performing an Assault Landing bringing in a Compagnie of Paratroopers.
Additional troops are brought in aboard Agusta A109BA helicopters under the protective cover of a KLu AH-64 Apache combat helicopter.
descending by rope from a Seaking helicopter (soon this task will be
taken over by the NH90 TTH - see also
KDC10 tanker (T-264) of the Royal Netherlands Air Force providing much needed air-to-air refueling service.
A NATO E-3A Early Warning And Control System (AWACS) protected by a Belgian F-16AM
MEDEVAC configured Agusta A109BA H-26 evacuating some casualties...
...while the Boeing AH-64D Apache of the KLu is always nearby the provide protection.
Happy birthday Belgian Air Force!
Shape of things to come
A glance into the future was provided by the fly by of an Airbus A400M transporter, 7 of which are ordered by the Belgian Government to replace the still potent C-130H Hercules which has been in service for 43 years.
© Daniel & Kris Brackx (September 2013)
Last updated 07/11/11 10:59 Daniel Brackx