Text: Serge Van Heertum - Pictures: Serge Van Heertum, Bruno Ghils & Serge van Oosterzee © sbap 2014

One week after the Payerne airshow AIR14, the Belgian Air Force presented its Belgian Air Force Days 2014 hosted by the Limburg airbase of Kleine Brogel. This international airshow was particular as it was a successful cooperation between the Air Force authorities and the dynamic team of the renowned Sanicole airshow. This combination ensured the numerous visitors of a very high standard show with a delightful program. It is now common practice to present one or more themes as found since several years at British airshow. The themes of this Belgian Air Force Days were 100+ years of aviation in Belgium, the 40th anniversary of the roll-out of the first F-16 at Fort Worth (Texas) and which became the spearhead of the Belgian Air Force and, more unnoticed because always in the shadow of the F-16, are the 35 years of dedicated service of the Alpha Jet.

It is already common talk in the media, the replacement of the F-16 is well and truly on its way and this was the occasion for future contenders to be at Kleine Brogel to prospect and valuate their products. This is why, beside the F-16AM FA 104 painted in the colours of the pre-series aircraft, we had Boeing with a Swiss FB/18, Saab through an Hongarian JAS 39C “Gripen”, Dassault Aviation with a Rafale C from Saint-Dizier or the Eurofighter consortium with a Typhoon in Luftwaffe colours.

Lockheed-Martin was also present, not with the F-35 as the European tour was cancelled due to technical problems inherent in new technologies, but with an F-35 simulator located in the VIP area. In short, the procurement market seems to be going and the future months will generate considerable attention as in the 70's during the famous “sale of the century”... To be continued...

But let's go back to the airshow which drained around 65.000 to 70.000 visitors each day. All of them had the opportunity to admire quite a lot of flying machines from the Blériot XI to the Spitfire, Hunter and other Fouga Magister on to the F-16.
On the program was also an 'Air Power Demo' which allowed us to see how a combined operation is unfolding in a conflictual zone. The script was not without recalling recent operations in which the Belgian Air Force was involved.

This demonstration saw, of course, the F-16 in action, but also the UAV, Agusta A109, the Airbus Helicopter NH-90 and other venerable C-130H. The scenario emphasized the multinational support as well with the intervention of a Czech Air Force Mil Mi-24 “Hind” or the support of a E-3A “Sentry”, better known as the “AWACS” in NATO markings.

Almost a one hour demonstration of the Belgian Army and Air Force know-how in particular, much to the delight of the visitors who could appreciate the field work carried out in conflictual zones.

As for the multi-colored smoke plumes the show was provided by the “Patrouille de France”, the Royal Air Force “Red Arrows”, the Aeronautica Militare Italiana “Frecce Tricolori”, the Swiss “PC-7 team”, the “Royal Jordanian Falcons”, a more exotic team the “Al Fursan” from the United Arab Emirates and of course our own “Red Devils” which marked the skies with their black, yellow and red national colours.

Might and power invaded Kleine Brogel thanks to the various solo-displays: a Polish Mig 29, the Armée de l'Air Rafale skillfully flown by Cpt Benoît “Tao” Planche, 3 F-16 displays: SoloTürk, our Dutch neighbour of the Koninklijke Luchtmacht and our national “Grat” who flew together with the Blériot XI as well as with the Red Devils and to conclude, the Mirage 2000D duo “Ramex Delta”.

The Belgian Air Force Days were beyond dispute very successful, offering the visitors a thrilling show... To be recommended without any hesitation...We would like to thank the airshow team of Sanicole, the authorities and the organizers of the Kleine Brogel airbase, Comopsair IPR and in particular Lt Els Foblets and Adj Chef Philippe Van Huyck for their help, kindness and support during our stay at this, certainly to be called, a Top Airshow 2014!

The FA 104 painted as the pre-series aircraft in the mid 70's 35 years of Belgian service and 10 years AJETS...always in the F-16 shadow...
Pictures: Serge Van Heertum

Pictures: Serge Van Heertum & Bruno Ghils
Pictures: Serge van Oosterzee
100 years later...Happy birthday Belgian Air Force!

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