The Belgian Air Force Days organised at Kleine Brogel airbase on 12, 13 and 14 September 2014 was one of Europe's major airshows for 2014. The event was built around two main themes: 100 +1 Years of Belgian Military Aviation and 35 years of F-16 in the Belgian Air Force.
In the margin of the show the future selection of the Lockheed Martin F-16 replacement also became a very actual topic with representatives and aircraft of all potential candidate companies very present.
A refreshing new item of the show was the "Joint Power Demo" offering the public a close quarters view on an integrated exercise in which many of Belgian Defence's assets where presented in action. During the exercise the public could also see for the first time the new Airbus Helicopters NH90 MTH (Multi-purpose Transport Helicopter) in action.
A photographic overview of some of the highlights on Friday:
The F-16, already 35 years in service with the Belgian Air Force
In order to replace the Lockheed F-104G Starfighter the governments of Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway decided in 1975 to acquire the (then) General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon. Belgium acquired a total of 136 F-16A single seaters and 24 F-16B two seaters. As of January 1979 the type gradually equipped N°s 349 and 350 Squadrons of the 1st Wing at Beauvechain and N°s 23 and 31 Squadron of Kleine Brogel's 10th Wing. Later on N°1 and N° 2 Squadron of the 2nd Wing at Florennes airbase followed. Ninety Lockheed Martin F-16s underwent a major Midlife Update (MLU) becoming F-16AM and F-16BM to extend their life span and turning them into one of the most capable combat aircraft of the world even by today's standards.
For the 35the anniversary of the F-16 in Belgian Air Force service FA-104 was repainted to represent the Fighting Falcon prototype "50745"
A century of Belgian military aviation
On 16 April 1913 the Compagnie d'Aviateurs was created after several years of exploring the use of aircraft for military purposes, including the first tests ever in the world to equip aircraft with a machine guns. Although Belgium was reduced to a small corner of Flanders, the Aviation Militaire Belge managed to have no less than 125 aerial victories on its war record of achievements. Unfortunately in the Interbellum the Belgian Government was late to recognise to new menace posed by Nazi Germany and the Aéronautique Militaire Belge had to go to war with aircraft that were no match against the modern German Luftwaffe. Again a new generation of Belgian aces distinguished themselves during the Second World War flying in several Royal Air Force Squadrons but in particularly with N° 349 and 350 (Belgian) Squadrons. The Belgian Air Force excelled in their mission to defend NATO's borders during the Cold War and by participating in operations over Kosovo, Libya and Afghanistan. Transport squadrons earned a widely recognised reputation for humanitarian missions in Africa, while the Sea King helicopter of Koksijde are manned by some of the best SAR (Search and rescue) crews of the world.
This Bleriot XI represented the early days of the Compagnie d'Aviateurs when in 1914 pilots such as Jan Olieslagers joined the armed forces with their personnal aircraft to form N° 5 Squadron monoplans.
Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk. IXc MK732/3W-17 of the KLu Historical Flight represented to World War II era in the historic evocation.
Hawker Hunter F.6AN-294 (G-KAXF) of the Leeuwarden based Dutch Hawker Hunter Foundation brought us back into the Cold War period.
Joint Power Demo
Unmanned B-Hunter 276 reconnaissance aircraft making a fly-by.
In a combat situation this machine would hardly be audible and extremely difficult to see.
Several F-16AM's providing close air support to ground forces.
To reinforce the security plan on the ground, additional troops and arms are flown in by NH-90 transport helicopters and C-130H Hercules while A109MG light helicopters and a Hind gunship provide armed protection to the assault landing of the C-130 and the Fast Roping of special forces into the combat area.
Lockheed C-130H Hercules CH-04 with a very potent F-16 escort.
The new "Buy of the Century".
All of the potential candidates to replace the ageing F-16 were clearly present at Kleine Brogel in an effort to attract attention to the weapon systems participating in the early stages of the evaluation.
McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D F J-5233of the Swiss Air Force Staffel 17 landing at Kleine Borgel.
Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon S 30+66 of the German Luftwaffe's TaktLWG74
Dassault Rafale C 141/113-GT of Armée de l'Air EC-01.007
Saab JAS.39C 38 of MH59.Sz.D.R. / Hungarian Air Force.
A model of the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II in Belgian Air Force colours in the companies display stand.
A Lockheed Martin representative providing information on the fully functional F-35A simulator. Notice the large displays in the cockpit.
Some Airshow particpants.
An immaculate Alpha Jet formation of the AJetS (Advanced Jet Training School) based at Cazaux (F.) opens the airshow.
Two Lakenheath based Lockheed F-15D Eagles of the USAF arriving in style
The Hellenic Air Force demo aircraft Lockheed Martin F-16C Block 52 "505" "Zeus" of 340 Mira arrives at KB.
Lockheed Martin F-16AM FA-106 "Tiger" of N° 31 Squadron.
Polish Air Force MiG29A Fulcrum N° 105 of 1ELT based at Minsk Mozowieki.
Lockheed P-3N Orion 4576 "Bernt Balchen" of N° 333skv Norwegian Air Force.
Well worn French Armée de l'Air Transall C160R R96/61-ZN of ET 00.061 taking off from Kleine Brogel.
A perfect formation by the Italian "Frecce Tricolori".
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Last updated 26/09/14 12:02 Daniel Brackx