Belgian Aerospace at Le Bourget


 Seven aerospace and defence associations and more than 50 companies were present at the Belgian Aerospace stand and the outdoor static park of the 47ième Salon International de l’Aéronautique et de l’Espace held at Le Bourget, Paris, from 18 till 24 June 2007 . The Belgian Aerospace stand was a joint initiative by the Wallonia Foreign Trade and Investment Agency (AWEX), Flanders Investment & Trade and Brussels Export.

 Zaventem based ASCO is world leader in the design and manufacture of complex aircraft components made from titanium, high strength steel and aluminum. It has design laboratories and workshops in Belgium, Canada and Germany.

The ASCO presentation stand at Le Bourget

 FN Herstal designs and manufactures a broad range of weapon systems for military helicopters and subsonic aircraft, mainly machine guns and rocket pods. The Eurocopter EC.725 Caracal of the French Armée de l’Air in the static park was equipped with a 7.62 mm Fabrique Nationale Herstal FN MAG 58M (Mitrailleuse d’Appui Général) general-purpose machine gun for active self-protection in the small port front cabin door. The gun has an effective range of up to 1,000 meters and can deliver precision fire using a Pirat LD15 laser aimer. Ammunition is available from a magazine containing 1,000 rounds, allowing the machine gun to deliver uninterrupted fire cover during 1 minute and 15 seconds. The special light pintle head allows the gun to be swiveled fully forward and fired vertically to the ground. FN also designs and manufactures the famous Minimi machine gun, which is the weapon of choice of many Special Forces worldwide.


A 7.62 mm Fabrique Nationale Herstal FN MAG 58M (Mitrailleuse d’Appui Général) on the Eurocopter EC.725 Caracal

SABCA is one of the major Belgian aerospace companies since the beginning of last century. Its Brussels’ plant is specialised in design, development and manufacturing of metal and composite structures, mainly for civil aircraft and space launchers. Final assembly, repair, overhaul, upgrading, as well as ground and flight tests of military aircraft and helicopters take place at SABCA’s Charleroi plant. One of the company’s latest projects is the F-16 wing refurbishment programme, providing maintenance, repair and strengthening as necessary. The company has ample experience in this field as it produced about 5,000 sets of wings for the type and provided maintenance for the F-16s of numerous air forces.


SABCA refurbished F-16 wing.

SONACA’s core business is the development and manufacturing of advanced aerospace structures and their associated systems. Since 25 years, SONACA develops and manufactures the leading edge slats for the entire Airbus family, including the A380. It also produces the centre and rear fuselage sections for the Embraer 145 regional jet, its wing leading edges and anti-icing system. SONACA is also involved in the Dassault 7-X business jet programme and in military programmes like the Airbus A400M transport aircraft, the B-Hunter UAV and the F-16 combat jet. It recently created or acquired companies in Brazil, the United States and Canada.


Sonaca stand at Le Bourget

Techspace Aero, now part of the French Groupe SAFRAN, designs, develops and supplies modules, equipment, services and test cells for aircraft and space engines. It has partnerships with major engine manufacturers like General Electric, Pratt & Whitney and Snecma.


Techspace Aero stand

SABENA Technics is specialised in the maintenance, overhaul, modification and upgrade of a broad range of civil and military aircraft. It is one of the major specialists in the development of engine nacelles and engine test nacelles, as illustrated by the engine nacelles of the ZERO-G Airbus A300 in the Le Bourget static park.


Sabena Technics engine nacelle on the ZERO-G(ravity) Airbus A300 in the Le Bourget static park.

Things you learn at Le Bourget

" What is the difference between an AIM-9L and AIM-9M mode of the venerable Sidewinder? "

The Lima is European-built by Diehl BGT Defence, while the Mike is of US Raytheon origin. Both missiles are externally almost identical, but are quite different internally. The European model has far more developed electronics and software, based upon experience gathered from Soviet-made weapons and radar systems that became available to researchers upon the reunification of East and West Germany. The IRIS-T (Infra Red Imaging System – Thrust/Tail Controlled) in the background is much more than an “Infra Red Improved Sidewinder” and has only mass, length, diameter and centre of gravity similar to the AIM-9L/M.

AIM-9M (foreground) and AIM-9L (background)

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 Text and pictures by

© Jos Schoofs (June 2007)

Last updated 02/07/07 14:32   Daniel Brackx