BFM training for OCU pilots in Beja

From the 4th until the 15th of December the Belgian Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) was guest at BA11 Beja AB in Portugal for a training session of 7 new pilots that joined the squadron earlier this year. During this deployment the student attained their Basic Fighter Maneuver Training (BFM) qualification that is part of their entire training package they will receive in the OCU.


Splendid weather conditions over Beja aibase and the Belgian OCU F-16's

BA11, Beja AB, was chosen for the good weather conditions during this time of the year. Also the availability of buildings, support and other facilities were part of the reasons for the squadron to deploy to this location. The south of Portugal is normally an area with stable weather conditions during this period, with temperatures varying between 10 and 15 degrees and almost dry condition. But after arriving at Beja AB it became clear that the weather was not as good as expected and they even had to make a weather abort during the first day of the deployment. Luckily the weather became more stable during the second part of the first week and even very nice weather conditions were experienced during the last phase of the deployment. This resulted in only one weather abort during the whole period of the deployment.


The Flight Profile Recorder pod (FPR) on a twin seater.

The squadron left Kleine Brogel airbase with a total of 7 F-16s (4 F-16AM’s and  F-16BMs), together with 7 instructor pilots and 7 student pilots. The F-16s involved were the FB-10, FB-23, FB-18, FA-77, FA-123, FA-136 and FA-116. All F-16s were equipped with a training AIM-9 sidewinder missile and a Flight Profile Recorder or FPR pod. The latter is for mission recording and debriefing purposes. Supporting personnel and material was transported from Eindhoven AB with a KDC-10 freighter/tanker aircraft and additional material was brought to Beja by means of a German C-160 Transal.


KLu KDC-10 T264 silhouet reflected on the clouds over Mallorca island.

The fact that the OCU qualified 7 student pilots, in the BFM skills, during a period of 7 flying days resulted in a high number of flights during a short period of time. This intensive flying could only be established with a lot of teamwork between IP’s, students, supporting personnel and local authorities of Beja airbase. 

Preparing for an early morning flight in FB-23 

This deployment was the first time the OCU moved to BA11, Beja AB in Portugal for Air to Air training. Because all objectives were reached and with good relations ships between the Força Aérea Portuguesa and the Belgium Air component, the mission was classified as a success for the OCU and they will deploy to this location again to train new pilots in the art of dog fighting and intercepts in the near future.


Interesting formation of Portuguese AF Alpha Jets 15224 and 15286 (Asas de Portugal) together wijth F-16AM FA-77 caught by OCU Commander "Patja" Stams.

© Dirk Voortmans  (December 2006)

Last updated 05/08/08 18:10   Daniel Brackx