Text: As mentionned - Translation: Marc Arys  © sbap 2016
Pictures: Serge Van Heertum, Marc Arys, Bruno Ghils, Pierre Taquet, Alain Debras, Philippe Decock
Anthony Graulus, Serge van Oosterzee, Jacques Vincent & Thierry Fievet
Belgian Air Force Days 2016: The reflections of the past...

This event was muchly awaited by the passionate who already blocked the date of June 25 and 26, 2016 quite a long time ago in their 
agenda (be it electronic or not).
But is it necessary to comment on the results? I do not think so. 
The social networks were an eloquent showcase generating polemics on the ban on backpacks for safety reasons, rehabilitated afterwards or the traffic jams all around the base and the poor accessibility of the outside parking lots, most of them soaked by the torrential rains of the previous days.
We are not here to criticize or feed the polemics, justified or not.
The aficionados of Facebook, Twitter and other already had a field day spoiling the work of the men of the Air Force with some slayering lines.
Although I permit myself to open a parenthesis engaging only me (and this is the first time I use the first person singular in my reports). The so called social networks are the end of people like SBAP or 
other specialized magazines, which try to deliver a thorough and in depth report on various subjects. These people are simply walked 
over by all kind of spotters, who publishes their pictures, be they good or bad quality, seconds after depressing the shutter button, giving room and space to gossip. Social networks for me remain a two-edged sword and, alas, seem to be far more appreciated than 
the research and lay-out as we provide it and will continue to provide.
Let us stop here to sprawl these grievances, but it had to be said.

Noteworthy is also the fact that a few days before the event a new base commander was appointed at Florennes airbase, host to the Belgian Air Force Days (BAF Days). Our collaborator Alain Debras was present at this ceremony and you will find a little report on this further on, allowing thanking the one who leaves and welcome hardly the newcomer.

To get back to the event, three themes were retained. First of all the 70 years of the Belgian Air Force, which took off in 1946. To emphasize this anniversary, a well-documented and thought-out exhibition was set up in one of the airbase shelters. The second theme was dedicated to the old and good "Ambiorix" blowing out his 75th candle and believe it or not, he is not ready to retire yet. Just for him a second exhibition was on show so the public could see and live what happen to this squadron, which saw daylight during the dark hours of the Second World War. The third theme, clearly more modern but sadly also still of topical interest, was the 20 years of operations abroad with an exhibition tracing back missions from all over the world and in particular these regarding ex-Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and more recently Syria or Irak.
In short, to see and learn what our Air Force is all about!
This event was enlightened by the presence of the Minister of Defence and also by a private visit of our majesty King Philippe accompanied by princes Gabriel and Emmanuel, who showed the same interest for aviation as the king.
Visitors had the opportunity to admire a myriad of airplanes exhibited on the static line, visitors which were sadly compelled to walk some kilometers to reach this line-up.

But let us get back to the heart of the matter with the flying part, which stays a must for the passionate and occasional visitors. A superb plateau of international jets and warbirds offering magnificent demonstrations, some deafening and full of power, others softer only by the purr of a Rolls Royce Merlin or Griffon engine.
This anniversary airshow was to be a reflection of history and some beautiful formations were flown such as the Spitfire Mk IX MH434, flown together with three F-16 AM of the 350th Squadron. Only regret was the specially decorated FA-129, which only flew on Friday, much to the discontent of the people who came on Saturday or Sunday.
Training was up next with the SV-4bis and T-6 Harvard and a superb formation of our "Red Devils" together with the Fouga MT5. This latter back in Belgium after a stay in Israel and the United States. This genuine Belgian Fouga, which carried already the Red Devil colours a while back, is actually based at the Antwerpen-Deurne airport.
Other presentations emphasized on the know-how of the Air Force. The Alpha Jets trailing the tri-coloured smoke, the brand new NH-90 NFH with a SAR demo, the Agusta A109 solo-display and "Gizmo" with his F-16AM "Blizzard". It is a pity that our Air Force was not highlighted some more with a power demo, a fly-by of the Airbus A321 with escort or a mass drop from the old, but reliable "Hercules".
Either way, it was a high standard program although bad weather hampered somewhat the festivities. The spectators were granted a beautiful show where the common point for the jets was the vapor clouds generated during the high speed passes or tight turns.
To report on this awaited and great airshow, we have decided not to give you a chronological overview, as no less than 9 collaborators were present during one of these 4 days (the bravest during all 4 days). We asked every one of them to give us a panel of pictures reflecting their point of view on the event.
So you will have pictures of the arrivals, rehearsals, the operational zone, the demonstrations, the static line and the departures. All this in random order based on the preferences of the photographer. We wish you an excellent "replay" of these BAF Days 2016 and take already note for the next rendez-vous in 2018.

Through these lines and pages SBAP would like to thank ComOpsAir IPR for the press accreditation to our chief editor Serge Van Heertum.
We also thank the airbase of Florennes by means of the OSN, the 350th Squadron and its Commanding Officer, which chose our collaborator Bruno Ghils to design the special decoration for the FA129, but also allowing him to take some exclusive pictures in the operational zone and on other strategic places during the event.
Our thanks go also out to the "Red Devils" for their always warm and heartily welcome and the collaborators of SBAP, who took their time to present you this imperishable souvenir.
Text: Serge Van Heertum

70 years Belgian Air Force exhibition (©Serge Van Heertum) (©Serge Van Heertum)
(©Philippe Decock) 75 years 350 Squadron exhibition (©Philippe Decock)
(©Philippe Decock) In the dispersal (©Philippe Decock)
Mr Steven Vandeput Minister Of Defence visiting the event
Danny Carels)
Royal visit of the show with a special attention to our "Red Devils"
(©Serge Van Heertum)

On June 16, 2016 during a ceremony held at the 2 Tactical Wing at Florennes airbase, Colonel Aviator Ir. Thierry Dupont passed the command on to Colonel Aviator Ir. Didier Polomé. Placed under the authority of General-Major Aviator Frederik Vansina, Belgian Air Component Commander, the ceremony was honoured by the presence of General Aviator Gerard Van Caelenberg, Chief of Defence, Lieutenant-general Marc Compernol, Chief of Operations and various civilian and military personalities. For the record General Compernol was appointed Chief of Defence on July 12, 2016 succeeding to General Gerard Van Caelenberg.
Colonel Aviator Thierry Dupont took his functions as a base commander on October 18, 2013. Soon to be promoted General-Major and before departing for a staff employment at the "Combined Air Operations Centre" in Germany, he had his last flight on F-16 some days ago. During the ceremony, filled with emotions and warmth, Col. Thierry Dupont passed on the command to his successor Col. Avi. Ir. Didier Polomé.
This latter becoming the 25th base-commander of the Florennes airbase employing about 1.200 staff members.
After graduating as a civil engineer at the Royal Military School (143 Pol) he received his American wings at the ENJPPT at Sheppard (95-03) and his Belgian wings in May 1995. Having converted to the F-16 in 1997, he rejoins the 350 Fighter Squadron at Florennes and took part in two NATO operations over ex-Yugolsavia. In 2004, working at the general headquarters of the NATO at Ramstein, he coordinated the Baltic policing missions as well as planning various NATO aerial exercises. "Polom" deployed also to Kaboul within the ISAF headquarters.
Back at Florennes in 2007 he commanded the 350 Fighter Squadron and led the first F-16 detachment at Kandahar, Afghanistan in support of ISAF missions.
In 2009 he was chosen to follow courses at the Air University of Maxwell in the United States of Americ and in 2010, within the general staff at Evere, he planned the participations of the Belgian Defence in foreign operations like Afghanistan, Libya, Mali and the air policing in Lituania.
He was accepted at the National War College in Washington DC in 2013.
Before being appointed as a Base-Commander at Florennes, he served as a commander of the operational division of the Air Component, in charge of the aerial means : combat, transport, helicopter and the reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities of the Belgian Defence during operations such as "Operation Inherent Resolve" against IS in Irak.
After all these missions, he is back to the origins of his career at Florennes, where he also becomes the first Base-Co having followed a complete and unique training on F-16. "Polom" is married and have two children.
Text: Alain  Debras

 


Colonel Aviator Ir. Didier Polomé (©Alain Debras)
Colonel Aviator Ir. Thierry Dupont Alain Debras)
 
The Belgian Air Force Days 2016 seen by SBAP collaborators
 
 
Friday morning fog Moisture along the event...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Red Devils forever: "Paolo" (1) - "Jean" (2) - "Daffy" (3) - "Papy" (4)
 
(©Thierry Fievet) Wonderful historical formation...Red Devils forever in the heart
  (©Thierry Fievet)
(©Thierry Fievet)
"Fifi" the dynamic PR The technicians, the almost needed shadow men
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 Hasegawa Egg Planes ?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  The event began the Friday with heavy fog and finished the Monday 
with water and rain
 
Rendez-vous in 2018 for the next edition of the BafDays...Sun is already ordered ;-)

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