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100th Anniversary of the Belgian Air Force

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The Belgian Air Force celebrated it’s 100th anniversary last September, featuring a large airshow, almost unique of it’s kind in Europe. Besides the 100th anniversary, the Belgian Air Force also celebrated the 40th anniversary of the F-16 Fighting Falcon, Belgium’s front line fighter.

The event took place at Kleine Brogel, a municipality fairly close to the Dutch border and home of the 10th Tactictal Wing. It was the first time since 1998 that an airshow took place above the skies of Kleine Brogel. The event itself attracted ten thousands of enthusiastic spectators.

 Belgian Air Component

Nowadays, two flying squadrons equipped with the Lockheed F-16 Fighting Falcon are based and operate within the Belgian Air Component.

The event attracted a large amount of military aircraft including some of the different types that were operated by the Belgian Air Force over the years.

Amongst them was a splendid looking and sounding Hawker Hunter, operated by the Dutch Hawker Hunter Foundation. The Hunter is based at Leeuwarden Air Base in the north of the Netherlands.

As the Belgian Air Force celebrated the 40th anniversary of the F-16 Fighting Falcon in operational service, several foreign Fighting Falcon’s were present, both on static display as well in the flying display.

 Joint Power Demo

One of the main themes of the airshow was a Joint power Demo. Through a realistic representation of a tactical mission, including ground troops, artillery, helicopters, fighter aircraft and tactical airlift, the Joint power Demo provided insights in Belgium’s contributions to the various missions the country is involved in.

Star of the weekend was the F-16 Fighting Falcon from the Turkish Air Force, also known as Solo Türk. The Turkish Air Force established the solo aerobatics display team as part of the Turkish Air Force 100th anniversary, back in 2011.

Other participating F-16’s were displayed by the Belgian, Dutch and Greek Air Force.

 International Demonstration Teams

Besides several aerial displays, performed by military fighter aircraft and helicopters, the real crowd- pullers came from the well known international demonstration teams, such as the Red Arrows from the United Kingdom, Frecce Tricolori from Italy and the French Patrouille de France.

The Red Arrows is the official Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, flying nine distinctive British Aerospace Hawk T1 jets. The team is based at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire and has flown over 4500 displays. The team celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2014.

The Patrouille de France is the precision aerobatic demonstration team of the French Air Force, operating with eight Dassault-Breguet/Dornier Alpha Jets. The team was formed in 1931 and is based in Salon-de-Provence.

From Italy the well known Frecce Tricolori (Tricolour Arrows in English), the aerobatic demonstration team of the Italian Air Force, participated over the weekend. The team operates ten Aermacchi MB-339A/PAN aircraft and is based at Rivolto, in the north-eastern part of Italy. Frecci Tricolori was established back in 1961.

 

Kleine Brogel also attracted some smaller international display teams such as the Swiss Air Force PC-7 team, flying the Swiss made Pilatus PC-7 trainer and the Breitling Jet Team.

Based in Dijon in France, the Breitling Jet Team is the world’s largest professional civilian flight team, operating with seven Czech-build Aero L-39 Albatros.

One of the first appearances in Europe were made by the six Aermacchi MB-339NAT jets, used by Al Fursan (The Knights in English) demonstration team from the United Arab Emirates.The team is a familiair sight at airshows in the Persian Gulf-region and they have only performed in Europe in 2012 as they visited Great Britain and Italy.

 

 

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