On 21 July 2009, Lieutenant General Gerard Van Caelenberge was appointed as new Deputy Chief of Staff Operations and Training of the Belgian Defence Staff. Major General Claude Van de Voorde succeeded him in his position of Commander of the Air Component and was officially inaugurated during a ceremony held at Beauvechain Airbase on 23 July 2009.


Major General Claude Van de Voorde is the third Commander of the Air Component. Before the introduction of the unified command structure of the Belgian Defence in 2002, the Air Force had 11 Chiefs of Air Staff since its formation in 1946.


Chiefs of Air Staff

Lieutenant General Lucien LEBOUTTE, DFC


Lieutenant General Frans BURNIAUX, DFC


Major General Albert HENRY


Lieutenant General Jan CEUPENS


Lieutenant General Albert DEBECHE


Lieutenant General Marcel DE SMET


Lieutenant General Yvon DEDEURWAERDER


Lieutenant General Jacques LEFEBVRE


Lieutenant General Alexander MORIAU


Lieutenant General Guido VANHECKE


Lieutenant General Michel MANDL



Air Component Commanders

Major General Michel AUDRIT


Lieutenant General Gerard VAN CAELENBERGE


Major General Claude VAN DE VOORDE



 Claude Van de Voorde

Major General Claude Van de Voorde started his miltary career in 1980 at the Royal Military Academy with the 120th Promotion Social and Military Sciences. On 31 July 1985, he graduated as military pilot with the 83B Promotion. After his conversion on F-16 Fighting Falcon, he joined No. 31 “Tigers” Squadron at Kleine-Brogel Airbase. During this period, he participated in numerous international exercises and courses like the Tactical Leadership Programme (Florennes), Red Flag (Nellis AFB, USA), Very Low Level Flying (Meknès, Morocco) and the Fighter Weapons Instructor Training (Ørland, Norway).  In 1994, Claude Van de Voorde joined de Air Staff in Evere, until he became the Commanding Officer of No. 31 Squadron in 1998. With his squadron, he deployed to Italy, from where he actively participated in combat missions over Bosnia and Kosovo in the framework of Operation “Allied Force”. From 2001 onwards, he is successively attached to the Air Staff in Evere, the Belgian Delegation at the NATO Headquarters and the NATO Defence College in Rome. Claude Van de Voorde became the 21st Base Commander of the 10th Tactical Wing at Kleine-Brogel on 20 September 2007.



In his farewell speech as Commander of the Air Component, Lieutenant General Gerard Van Caelenberge made a retrospective of the accomplishments of the Air Component during the 43 months of his command. During this period, the pilots of the Air Component performed 150,000 flight hours. Of the 49,000 hours accomplished by the F-16s of Florennes and Kleine-Brogel, over 2,000 were flown over Afghanistan. Twenty-seven times they intervened over Belgium in the air policing role. The white and grey transport fleets of the 15th Wing totalised 40,000 flight hours, worldwide. The Alouettes, Hirundos and Seakings of Bierset and Koksijde achieved 29,000 hours, during which the latter flew 242 SAR missions. 32,000 hours of flying training on Marchetti and Alpha Jet resulted in 54 new military pilots. The UAVs became a fully fledged arm and flew operational missions from Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. The new Deputy Chief of Staff Operations and Training praised his successor as a fine manager with a great gift for communication, but most of all as an exceptional combat pilot who participated in person in missions over the Balkans, although he could have stayed safely in Italy as detachment commander.


 It was planned that a massive flypast of all types of aircraft and helicopters serving with the Air Component would conclude the inauguration ceremony. The low cloud base, however, prevented all flying other than by helicopters.

VaandelsNot Not often seen together, the standards of all units of the Air Component.


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 © Jos Schoofs (July 2009)


Last updated 29/07/09 09:46   Daniel Brackx