One-O-Four at "Zara"



BA 126 Solenzara insigna Sattelite view of the BA 126 (Google map)


Text : Serge Van Heertum - Pictures : SBAP archives



Since the sixties, the Belgian Air Force deploys regularly the fighter squadrons at Solenzara Airbase for shooting exercises. This is important for the training of the pilots so they can exercise with real ammunition.  In our country, this is an impossible matter due to the concentration of cities and dense populated areas.

Solenzara is located in Corsica, an island owned by France. There, near the east coast  the French base BA126 is located. The French authorities provide locations and base facilities for different air forces who wants to perform shooting exercices. During the years this base saw many of Belgian Air Force fighters like F-104G, Mirage V, F-16 but also Alpha Jet and earlier T-Birds. This kind of campaign is always a real interesting period in a fighter pilots life. During the training period, the pilots also take part at survival exercises in the sea. This is performed with the help of the Puma helicopters permanently based at Solenzara.


Shooting campaign are realy important parts of a pilot carreer


But one of the most important parts of this deployment is for the technical and administrative personnel of the squadrons who are also deployed to help getting the exercises to a higher level. Those guys are working discretely but hard to maintain the availability of the armed aircrafts, so all the planned missions can be performed correctly with the highest level of quality and security.

In our archives we have pictures of a deployment performed by the 349 squadron and their Lockheed F-104G in the seventies. These pictures show the work of the technical personnel in between missions to get the aircraft ready for the next flight.

Without those specialists nothing could be possible...This page is for all the shadow workers !


Analyse of the impacts on the target Defolding of the target
Between two missions evacuation of the casings
Rearmement of the Vulcan gun with the 20mm shells
Verifications of the gun An important matter, the communication between pilot and technician
The munition stock fixing of the additional tank
Inspection of the towing targets
Fixing and verifications of the target pod
Bomb dispencer mounting under the wing
Missions air to ground are also planed Folding of the drag chutes
Pilot preparation Ongoing for the next dogfight
NASARR radar testing Maintenance of the 20mm Vulcan gun
Engine change


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