Tag Archives: Belgian Air Component

Belgium aims for ’34 new fighter jets’

Belgium aims to have 34 new fighter jets in 2030, according to a long term defense strategy made public on Tuesday 22 December.  The statement doesn’t mention the type, however the Lockheed Martin F-35 should be considered the most likely candidate. A decision is still some time away.

Belgium now operates sixty F-16s, all of which are due for replacement. Contenders are the Dassault Rafale, Saab Gripen, Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, Eurofighter Typhoon and Lockheed Martin F-35. A request for information was issued to all manufacturers in 2014.

Numbers

The number of 34 new jets is lower than anticipated, although Airheadsfly.com already predicted the number would be lower than the larger numbers that were rumoured earlier . These numbers went up to 55 aircraft.

A head on view of the F-35A. (Image © Lockheed Martin)
A head on view of the F-35A. (Image © Lockheed Martin)

Joint defense

The choice for the F-35A Lightning II seems only a matter of time in light of the Dutch order for 37 Lightnings and the joint Benelux air defense cooperation that was agreed this year and comes into effect in 2016.

The latest Belgian defense strategy also mentions an inquiry into the deployment of a tanker aircraft, again with no type mentioned. The Belgian could very well join the European tanker effort that is aimed at buying at least four Airbus A330 MRTT aircraft.

The strategy remarkably doesn’t mention the seven Airbus A400Ms on order, the first of which is due in 2018. Doubts were raised in Belgium about the necessity of this airlifters.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: A Belgian Air Component F-16BM. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

 

 

Belgian Vipers withdraw from fight against IS

Belgian Air Component F-16s no longer take part in operations against IS-forces in Iraq. The six fighter aircraft and 120 personnel returned home on 2 July after ending their participation earlier in the week.

The Belgians had been supporting operations from October 2014, flying from an airbase in Jordan along with Dutch F-16s. The latter are continuing their effort, albeit with four aircraft instead of six used earlier.

The Belgians withdrew their aircraft since the government in Brussels did not allocate any more budget to the operation.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (above):  A Belgian Air Component F-16. (Image © Marcel Burger)

Red Flag for big guys

For the past two weeks, Beja airbase in Portugal was the scene of multi national exercise European Air Transport Training (EATT15), organized by European Defence Agency (EDA) and European Air Transport Command (EATC). In other words: C-27J Spartan and C-130 Hercules galore in Portugal. This is Red Flag for the big guys.

Taking part in EATT15 were Portugal, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Romania, Sweden and the UK, as well as observer countries Brazil, the United States and Poland. Next to C-27Js and C-130s, also present at Beja were Airbus C295s and C-160 Transall aircraft. In total, 20 transport aircraft and 2,500 military personnel were involved, not counting in three Portuguese Air Force F-16s and a sole P-3C Orion.

The EATT15 aims to train and prepare the crews of tactical airlift squadrons in order to guarantee their readiness for all kinds of operations within the European alliance. The concept of the exercise is to “provide joint training and ensure interoperability among the participating forces”, said Lt. Col. Laurent Donnet, overseeing EATT15 on behalf of the Belgian Air Component.

 (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
A long way from home: a Swedish Hercules in Portugal. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
Also a long way from home, is this C295 from Finland. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
Also a long way from home, is this C295 from Finland. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
 (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
A fine study of a Alenia Aermacchi C-27J. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)

Scenarios
During the exercise, crews trained for various scenarios, such as operations to and from unprepared air strips, Combat Search And Rescue (CSAR), extraction of military and non-military elements, medical evacuations, plus air support in an urban environment and emergency situations.

The home team. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
The home team. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
(Image © Jorge Ruivo)
Blue skies surround this Spartan…. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
 (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
… and this Hercules. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)

JPADS
During EATT15, crews used the Airdrop Joint Precision System (JPADS), a US military airdrop system using GPS, an onboard computer and steerable parachutes to direct cargo to a designated impact point.

EATT15 was also about efficient use of logistics, tooling and spare parts. The proximity of similar aircraft types and their crews allowed for standardization of procedures, exchange of know-how as well as the fostering of a spirit of unity. This spirit is embraced by European Air Transport Command (EATC), the institution directing and overseeing operations of hundreds of European military transport and tanker aircraft. The latter had their own exercise earlier this year.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com guest editor Jorge Ruivo – www.cannontwo.blogspot.pt
Featured image (top): A C-130 overhead Beja in Portugal. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)

A Lithuanian Spartan. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
A Lithuanian Spartan. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
 (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
Touchdown for the Spartan. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
Flaring for landing. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
Flaring for landing. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
EATT15's final landing was on 26 June. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
EATT15’s final landing was on 26 June. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)

Dutch reduce ISIS fighting force

The Netherlands is reducing its airborne effort in fighting the so-called Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) forces in Iraq. According to sources in The Hague the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) will start sending its F-16s home from the operations base in Jordan.

Due to the increasing need for maintenance, costs and worries about the combat capability (read: lack of training for other missions) continuation of the entire RNLAF contribution to the international military effort to fight ISIS was in doubt.

The military and political leadership of the Netherlands now opt to reduce the number of F-16s dispatched to Jordan from the current six to four, plus two fighter jets in reserve. Plans call to keep the mission going until the end of June 2016 and there seems to be a majority in the Dutch parliament supporting the decision.

Belgian Air Component
There are still Dutch hopes for a rotating deployment in cooperation with Belgium. The Belgian Air Component currently flies six F-16s separately from the same base in Jordan as the RNLAF does, but Brussels says there is no money left to continue the mission after June.

But the Dutch decision that will be made public on Friday might influence the Belgians to reconsider sending a quartet of F-16s (plus two reserve) in October for a 3 month deployment, to be taken over by the RNLAF again in January 2016. High-level talks on this matter have already been done prior to the decision making.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: Formation of Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16s (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Belgian choppers wrap up Czech exercise

The Belgian Air Component’s three Agusta A109 utility, armed scout and armed escort helicopters are wrapping up their bilateral exercise with the Czech armed forces on 10 April 2015. Exercise South Plains saw action of the rotary wing and ground forces of both countries from the beginning of April. Base of operations: Námest in the Czech Republic.

(Image © Dennis Spronk)
Airheadsfly.com exclusive report from Beauvechain Air Base

Beauvechain Air Base is normally the home for the A109s, but not for three lucky ones and their crew that were involved in a ten-day exercise in the Czech Republic. They were engaged in night flying missions, low altitude flying, close air support, and training for joint missions (COMAO – Composite Air Operation). The helicopters stayed mainly close to Námest, but used the Libava Military Training Area for live air-to-ground firing practices.

The Belgians were welcomed in style, landing in quite snowy conditions on the 1 April. Námest is home to the Czech Air Force’s 22 Wing (22.Základna Vrtulníkového Letectva (22.zL)), operating the Mil Mi-24V and Mi-35 “Hind” attack helicopters, as well as the Mil Mi-171Sh “Hip” assault/transport choppers.

The next exercise involving both Belgian and Czech helicopter units is planned for May this year during the Tactical Helicopter Procedures Update which will take place at the Belgian Beauvechain Base, then again in June in Italy during the Italian Blade Exercise, followed by the Trident Juncture Exercise in Spain in September.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger, based on source information provided by the Ministerstvo obrany ČR
Featured image: The three Belgian Air Component A109s just after arrival at Námest in the Czech Republic (Image © CPT Jana Skrivankova / Ministerstvo obrany ČR)