349 Squadron @ Payerne

 

 Just one week after the change of command in 349, the pilots and crewmembers of the squadron deployed from the 22nd till the 31st of Agust on the Swiss airbase of Payerne.

During this period the pilots train there air combat manoeuvres against multiple adversary aircraft. In the beginning of the period the pilots will train the 1vs1 BFM (Basic Fighter Manoeuvre) missions against the Swiss Air Force F/A-18C Hornets. After these missions the scenario will change to 2vs2 and 4vs4 and even 4vs6. This latter will include the role of the Swiss Air Force F-5 Tiger also based at Payerne.

 

Swiss hardware present at Payerne airbase; the F-18C Hornet and F-5E

After their arrival on Monday the pilots got a familiarisation flight. This mission is of great important in order to adapt to the local airspace and airfield procedures. Swiss airbases like Meiringen, Sion and Emmen were visited during this flight. Pilots were astonished with the glide slope angle of the airbase Meiringen. The nice weather during this mission was perfect for the complete overview of the magnificent scenery of the Alps.

 

349 pilot in the back-seat of a F/A-18D

The squadron deployed with 4 Lockheed Martin F-16AMs and 1 spare F-16BM, the A-models were equipped with one centre line fuel tank and a red training sidewinder on the wingtips. Due to local noise abatement procedures and limitations in fuel, the F-16s needed to take off without the afterburner. Only the B-model carried 2 external fuel tanks and was able to take off with AB. Even the local F/A-18s did not take off with their AB. In addition to this noise abatement procedure the aircraft needed to be on the ground at 1150h local time, and the activity could be restarted at 1330h.

 

349 Squadron F-16AM ready for take-off at Payerne

Belgian Defence sticker adorned Lockheed C-130H CH-05 provided the necessary logistics support.

Spirited "Goedendag" take-off.

This deployment of the squadron is the first deployment for the fresh new Commanding Officer of the squadron. Nevertheless the old CO paid a little visit on Thursday together with another squadron member that will leave for a 3 year period to the Portuguese Air Force as an exchange pilot. Ironically this latter came with the FA-94, which is special decorated in a Tiger livery, in the near future the pilot will join the 301 Tiger Squadron in the Portuguese Air Force and this ended up in some friendly competition between the pilots… If the pilot deliberately chooses to fly with the FA-94 to Payerne or if it was assigned to him via base-ops is still a question to be answered.

 

N° 349 Squadron F-16AM itaxiing out of a Swiss shelter at Payerne.

 

Special thanks to the 349 CO and squadron members for their cooperation during the photoshoot.

  

DIRK VOORTMANS (August 2006)

Supplementary pictures  by Kelly Lambers

Last updated 31/08/06 14:47   Daniel Brackx

daniel.brackx@telenet.be