60 Years Pampa Range


    The NATO shooting range located at the “Donderslagse Heide” at Houthalen-Helchteren or “Pampa” range in military language, celebrated its 60th anniversary on Wednesday 3 July 2013.

   Pampa which is administered by the Flying Group of the 10th Wing at Kleine Brogel is mainly used for dropping practice ordnance and rocket runs coming in from the East while in Westerly direction strafing runs using life ammo on targets are trained. Belgian Defence’s DOVO (Dienst voor Opruiming en Vernietiging van Ontploffingstuigen or Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD)) also uses Pampa range to destroy unexploded munitions.
   Completed in the spring of 1953, the first recorded use of Pampa range goes back to September of that year when Republic F-84G Thunderjets of Kleine Brogel airbase made the first reconnaissance and practice runs to establish the operational rules and instructions.
Due to its restricted access and isolation the area offers a unique natural reserve composed of unspoiled inland dunes, dry and wet heathlands, fens and marsh depressions, characteristics it shares with nearby military area of Kamp Beverloo. Well aware of the importance of this reserve, Belgian Defence collaborates directly with the “Agentschap voor Natuur en Bos“ (Agency for Nature and Forrest) that on regular basis undertakes nature restoration actions thus helping to prevent wildfires which in the past wreaked havoc through this exceptional biotope.
  To underline this collaboration, the “Agentschap voor Natuur en Bos” demonstrated how sheep are used to cut the grass on the most natural way.

From the military side the visitors could witness a fire-power demonstration, showing how a target area could be identified by an armed Agusta A-109BA in collaboration with a Dutch Apache attack helicopter followed by a pinpoint attack by F-16s of the 10th Wing.  
A photo report:

Pampa Range contrtol tower

The Pampa Range control tower

Colonel Avi Paul 'Polle' DESAIR

Host of the event, Colonel Avi Paul 'Polle' DESAIR - Commander of Kleine Brogel Air Base, during his opening address.


A sight not unlike a Western movie, ... the sheep and sheperds making sure that Pampa remains save and natural.

Red Devils

In spite of appalling weather conditions, the Belgian Air Force's "Red Devils" gave a splendid performance.

Agusta A109BA H-21

Armed Agusta A109BA H-21 identifying the potential target

Boeing AH-64D Apache

Ferocious looking Boeing AH-64D Apache attack helicopter of the Koninklijke Luchtmacht in action.

F-16AM dropping two bombs

Lockheed F-16AM dropping two inert MK.82 AIR 500 pound bombs modified with a BSU-49/B high drag tail assembly. The "ballute" air bag which deploys from the tail provides a high speed, low altitude delivery capability by quickly slowing the bomb and allowing the aircraft to escape the blast pattern.

F-16AM Starfing

The same F-16AM making a strafing run using the fighter's on board M.61 A1 Vulcan 6-barrel 20mm gatling cannon.

Pampa Range 1954

Pampa Range Then: A N° 23 Squadron 10th Wing F-84G Thunderjet making a low pass in the summer of 1954.

Marchetti ST-41

Pampa Range Now: The Chief of Defence (CHOD) General Avi Gerard Van Caelenberge (l.) making a low pass in Marchetti ST-41.





©  Kris Brackx (July 2013)






Last updated 07/11/11 10:59   Daniel Brackx