Open Door at the Arsenal of Rocourt - 21/05/2006

 

The names “Arsenal” and “Rocourt” without doubt evoke images of fortresses, cannons and large formations of ground troops. These evocations are indeed correct, at least, they were so in the past.

The Arsenal of Rocourt has a history that goes back more than two centuries. The present-day Arsenal has its roots in the cannon foundry that was established on the ruins of the priory of Saint-Léonard in 1803. In 1831, a state arms factory was built next-door. Both factories played an important role in the establishment of the belt of forts around the city of Liège. Due to the severe damage inflicted to the installations during the Second World War, both factories had to move to the present location in 1948.

 

Nowadays, and especially since the reform of the Belgian Armed Forces in the early years of this century, the Arsenal of Rocourt shows more and more aviation related activities. It also assumed a new name to better reflect its present-day occupations: Centre of Competence for Rolling Material and Armament.

 

Rocourt's newest gate guardian/monument Lockheed  F-16A FA-36      

 

Gate Guardian to be at Techspace Aero? - Lockheed F-16A FA-46

As you can read elsewhere on this website (Rocourt where Falcons go to die), the Arsenal has been involved in the revalorisation of 31 F-16A/B-OCU airframes that had become redundant following the major political and military changes in Europe in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Only two of these 31 aircraft are still present at the Rocourt barracks: FA-36 and FA-46. FA-46 is probably destined to become a gate guard at the nearby factory grounds of engine manufacturer Techspace Aero. The destination of FA-46 is as yet unknown. All other aircraft are reduced to piles of wings and boxes full of spare parts.

 

Piles of F-16 wings.

Due to its past, the Arsenal has an undeniable competence in explosives-related matters. In its workshop for prototypes it develops, tests and executes modifications and upgrades not only for trucks and armoured vehicles, but also for aircraft systems. Good examples are the separation mechanisms that are activated by explosives, like the ejection seat actuators or the underwing fuel tank release systems.

 

   Rocourt is also renowned for its competence in the field of anti-corrosion preservation of equipment and vehicles. The Arsenal nowadays maintains among others munitions and specialised vehicles for the Air Component. Bomb bodies, like these of Mk.82 Mod.1 500 lbs practice bombs, are cleaned, sandblasted and repainted by the Competence Centre. The same goes for the fire engines of the Air Component, which are almost completely dismantled before receiving their new internationally imposed yellow colour scheme.

 

Bomb bodies of Mk.82 Mod.1 500 lbs practice bombs

  

© Text and pictures by Jos Schoofs (May 2006)

Last updated 30/05/06 16:09   Daniel Brackx

brackda@gmail.com