Open School at the Royal Military Academy 2008


 The Royal Military Academy (RMA) was established in 1834 after the example of the prestigious French Ecole Polytechnique, which explains why this military university is called “school” and its students “pupils”. The Academy since then forms the military leaders of our country, now already for almost 175 years.

 Successful students of the school’s two branches, the Polytechnics Faculty and the Faculty Social and Military Sciences, obtain a masters degree after five and a half and five years respectively. They not only take courses in traditional subjects like history, mathematics, chemistry, physics, law, philosophy, sociology, psychology and languages, but also in applied military subjects like weapons systems and ballistics, telecommunication, optronics, defence and security. In addition to these courses, they also learn how to become an efficient manager and a flexible leader. As the Royal Military Academy is a federal institution, most classes are held in Dutch and French. Some courses, however, are in English only, which is the primary military language in Europe and NATO.

 The Complementary Education Division provides continuous postgraduate education for officers. This renowned education is not only attended by Belgian officers, but also by numerous officers from all over the world. It develops the officers’ competences in military operations, management, leadership and defence and security in order to prepare them for higher command and staff functions at national and international level. Courses on military administration focus on topics like budget, finance, public contracts and statutes. The School also provides complementary education for reserve officers.

 The Special Division of the RMA administers the education of future industrial engineers, military doctors, military consultants and ocean-going officers. Most of this, hower, is contracted out to civilian institutes and universities.

 The Department Air provides the academic part of the recently reformed education of student pilots and air traffic controllers of the Air Component. 

 During the Open Schools Day on 16 March, the different departments and chairs of the RMA showed how sometimes rather dull arithmetic topics can have attractive practical applications. The event attracted around 3,500 visitors.



 The Opto-electronics and Microwaves Direction showed with some practical applications how the radar cross section of an aircraft can be increased or reduced. An Ultima I target drone was used in the laboratories of this direction to determine how its radar cross section can be augmented without affecting its flying characteristics. It showed that a coat of paint containing tiny aluminium particles was the most effective and cost-efficient way. This low-cost measure significantly improves flight safety at the shooting ranges of Lombardsijde near the Belgian coast and Souda Bay in Crete. Behind the drone can be seen a model that is used during practical courses to illustrate that an aircraft’s shape can influence its radar cross section. The shape of the model clearly resembles that of the stealthy B-2 Spirit strategic bomber.

 I-R Seeker

Also exhibited at the Opto-electronics and Microwaves Direction was this seeker head of an infra-red guided Sidewinder air-to-air missile.

 Wind Tunnel

 Since 2005, the Mechanics Direction has an Open Circuit Wind Tunnel (OCWT). It was designed and constructed by the well-known von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics in Sint-Genesius-Rode. The wind tunnel, which has its air intake and exhaust in the room itself, has a test section of 0.6 x 0.6 x 1.2 metres and can generate continuous wind speeds of up to 45 metres per second. 

 MBLE Epervier D-37

 One of the few remaining MBLE Epervier battlefield reconnaissance and observation UAVs is this D-37. The Epervier was a Belgian concept that was developed more than 40 years ago, long before unmanned aerial vehicles became a mainstream weapon system worldwide.

  Astazou helicopter engine

This cutaway instructional model of the Astazou engine, which powers the Sud Aviation SA.318C Alouette II helicopters of the Belgian Air Component, once served to instruct technicians. It is now a didactic aid for young graduates.


 Text and pictures by

© Jos Schoofs (March 2008)

Last updated 24/03/08 11:00   Daniel Brackx