Operations in Kleine Brogel

 

Text & Pictures : Serge Van Heertum - SBAP


 

Since the beginning of 2011 and after the refurbishment of the main runway of Kleine Brogel Air Base the F-16 operations are back to their normal level. The good weather conditions of early February ensured that many flights could be performed and our team had the opportunity to follow one day of operations with a perfect blue sky.

Early morning at sunrise, the pilots scheduled for the first missions of the day where already busy with their mission preparation. This day many trainees of the OCU had a heavy flight program. Different missions like air to ground, navigation and finally touch and go procedures were exercised.

 

Sunrise at Kleine Brogel The first mission of the day

 

At 12:30 we had a rendezvous at 349 (F) Squadron to follow a mission. We met with the two pilots scheduled for this mission: “DJ” as leader and the “OSN” (Officer Superieur Navigant) of Kleine Brogel. Their mission of the day was an air to air dogfight session. Actually this kind of training is very important because the focus of the F-16 pilot was set on the Afghanistan missions (air to ground support, air observation…)for the last time.

The first step was a computer operated automatic briefing giving all the basic information of the mission. Weather forecast (Very good conditions, 10/10 blue sky but  a cloud front coming up from south for the late afternoon), Air Base info and runways in use, designed aircraft and location on the base (for the present mission the FA101 and FA107), safety recommendations…

Afterwards, “DJ” the leader of the mission, gave his own briefing underlining the 3 different phases and various combat maneuvers that would be applied during the dogfight. After the briefing a last consultation of the maps and the mission zone with the possibility to displace the training area if the cloud front should come in faster as foreseen. A last check of the material to take with them like the maps, mission database cartridge and other data recorders.

 

Computer operated automatic briefing
   
Some coments about the infos Mission leader briefing
   
Maps consultation A last check of the material before leaving the mission planning room
   

 

Next step was held at another place of the base, the technical planning room. This is the nevralgic center where all the planes affected at Kleine Brogel are followed at technical side. Before taking his plane in charge the pilot has to check and sign the form where all is noted like last technical issues, results of the different troubleshooting, last maintenance issues…

Time now to put the G suite and safety life jacket on .

 

The technical planning room were the aircraft form are checked and signed for aproval by the pilot
     
  Time to put the flight equipement on  

 

Afterwards our both pilots went to their designated aircraft. The FA101 for the leader “DJ” and the FA107 for the “OSN”.

After the usual external plane check up, the pilot installed and strapped in, the startup was done. Different checks with the help of the crew chief and awaiting the inertial platform alignment. All is ready and the clearance for taxi is given, the FA101 is now rolling to the holding point and will rejoin the wingman there.

At 15:08 they got the take off clearance and the two pilots made a perfect pair take off. Mission was launched.

 

The FA101 waiting his "driver" Concentration for "DJ"
   
   
   
The external turn around performed by the pilot
   
Installed and strapped
   
Communication test between the crew chief and the pilot Helmet adjustement, a maximum of comfort is important
   
Start up Visual verifications with help of the crew chief
   
Engine and flight controls check The impressive F-16 exhaust
   
Taxi clearance received, rolling to the holding point
   
15:08 take off clearance and perfect pair take off
   
Backlight FB24 during touch and go

 

During this time other missions were flown by the three Kleine Brogel squadrons, the 349 “Mace”, the 31 “Tiger” and the OCU (operational conversion unit).

After a mission of 46 minutes, our both pilots went back to the their home base. Integrated in the local circuit, after a long approach the two aircraft made again a perfect pair landing on the runway 23R.

 

FA56 back from mission Some other touch and go for the OCU student
   
Close up on the two seater A perfect fighter for more than 30 years in Belgium
   
The FA101 and FA107 in final approach FA107 full speed brakes
   
FA101 just before touch down Last final for the FB24
   

 

Mission was successfully completed but the work of the two pilots was not finished. The important debriefing of the mission was held to review the different phases with a critical point of view, the main goal is to underline the positive match and bring ameliorations on the negative points. In general a flight of  1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes takes a preparation and an post flight work from at least 6 hours. This shows the seriousness and the knowhow of the Belgian Air Component F-16 “drivers”.

 

After this mission, the flying day at KB was not over, some OCU students exercised some more touch and go’s, and the late afternoon missions came back to the base. Effectively around 5 o’clock local time, the cloud front announced arrived from the south…no more blue sky above KB…At 5:20 pm a last pair came back to the home base and after a tactical break both airplanes landed on the runway 05L this time. All the missions of the day where over, time for the technicians to take the last incoming planes and prepare them for the next day and the next missions.

 

The last pair coming back home Lined up on the tags after the tactical break
   
short final Missions of the day are over
   

 

This report was possible with the appreciated support of :

 

Kolonel Vli Peter STAMS, COMOPSAIR IPR

Kolonel Vli Frederik  VANSINA, Kleine Brogel base commander

Lieutenant Els FOBLETS Kleine Brogel adjunct officer

Adjudant Erwin HAMERS (KB IPR) my precious guide

And of course the two F-16 pilots


My sincere gratitude to all of them.

 

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