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Playing away

On fire at K-B

Michael Balter & Tanja Köster report from Kleine Brogel's recent spotters' day. Pictures by Michael Balter

Kleine Brogel, home of the 10th Tactical Wing, Belgian Armed Forces, hosted a large Operational Integration Exercise during July with the participation of seventy aircraft and almost two hundred and fifty aircrew.

On Monday 18 and Tuesday 19 July some smaller DACT (Dissimilar Air Combat Training) missions took place. On Wednesday 20 July a large COMAO (Combined Air Operation) was conducted with forty aircraft from nine countries.

The purpose of the exercise was to improve and train tactical co-operation and skills in a multinational environment. Together with the NATO Operations Centre in Kalkar, Germany, a complex scenario was set up, including all the elements of a modern air operation. These included attack on ground targets from low and medium altitude level and air-to-air refueling. After departing Kleine Brogel, the aircraft flew to a reserved air space in the north of Germany and the south of Belgium.

Playing at home
Playing away

A spotters' day was held on the Wednesday, with the opportunity for many enthusiasts to get close to the action. First and foremost their attention was undoubtedly focused by the all-too-rare sight of four Romanian Air Force MiG-21s, recently arrived from the UK where they had spent two weeks at Lossiemouth, flying with the based Tornado GR4s, as well as attending the Waddington and RIAT airshows. Just as enticing was the single Su-22UM-3K from 6 elt, Polish Air Force, in a gorgeous tiger colour scheme, plus its support, a CASA 295 from 13 elt. Needless to say, this pairing remained extremely popular throughout the day. To quote a favourite phrase, "My camera was on fire!" Unfortunately the Romanians and the Polish Su-22 didn't fly in the COMAO.

For the first time two French Navy Rafale Ms joined the COMAO, together with a further four French Navy Super Etendards from 11F and 17F. Meanwhile, parked between all the other guest aircraft were other comparatively rare beasts; Elliniki Polemiki Aeroporia (Hellenic Air Force) A-7 Corsairs 154477 (a TA-7C) and 160736 (an A-7E) from 335 MV, 116 PM, based at Araxos, Greece.

Another F-16 special paint job!

FA-134, one of the 10th Tactical Wing's F-16s, was displayed at the spotters' day with special markings, celebrating the air base's 60th anniversary. Canadian forces constructed the airfield in the north of the province of Limburg in 1945, in support of the advancing Allied forces. Spitfires were the first aircraft to be based here, so in celebration of this event FA-134's markings include a Spitfire and a F-16 together with the years 1945 - 2005.

 

With lunch just about digested, the distinctive sound of a F-16 engine starting up could be heard from across the airfield. This noise soon assumed a greater prominence, as it quickly became apparent that further examples were following suit. Whilst this was happening, everyone's anticipation was further heightened by the appearance of open canopies and cockpit ladders on a number of the visiting aircraft in the static park. A short while later, as the first waves of Belgian F-16s began to taxi out to the runway, many of the static participants were preparing to join the fray - subsequently the first airborne jet heralded the start of a period of intense activity, which pretty much lasted the rest of the afternoon.

At times it was difficult to know which way to look, with F-16s roaring overhead and other participating aircraft rolling down the taxiway. As if all these movements were not enough, there were also a number of flypasts from various aircraft in the vicinity, which included aircraft training for the National flypast in Brussels the next day.

On that high note, everyone who attended would have surely returned home with more than a hint of satisfaction after such a finale. All the organising staff from 10 Tactical Wing at Kleine Brogel should be applauded for organising such a fine spectacle, so whoever you are, please take a bow, as your efforts were greatly appreciated by many enthusiasts.

Acknowledgments: My special thanks go to Lieutenant Gregory Bogaerts, Belgian Air Force and his staff for their great support and help, without which this report would not have been possible.

 

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