Text: Serge Van Heertum - Pictures: SBAP Team - Translation: Marc Arys   © sbap 2017
 
The creation, in Washington, of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, better known as NATO, is the result of the separation of Europe by, as the British Sir Winston Churchill called it, the "Iron Curtain".
On April 04th, 1949, ten West-European countries (Belgium, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxemburg, Norway, the Netherlands, Portugal and the United Kingdom) signed a defensive military alliance with Canada and the United States. The NATO was the counterpart of the economic alliance, which in 1948 led to the creation of the European Economic Cooperation Organization, to apportion the American financial aid, called the "Marshall Plan", between the West-European democratic countries.
In practical terms, NATO made the United-States, at that time the only nuclear realm, guarantor of the defence of the Western world, henceforth engaged in the "Cold War" against the U.S.S.R. and its allies. The latter reacting in concluding a defensive military alliance of the same kind in 1955, the "Warsaw Pact".
The permanent headquarters of the NATO are the political and administrative center of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Located at Haren-Evere, they are base to the national delegations of the member countries and to the liaison offices or diplomatic missions of the participating countries. The International Secretariat and the International Military Staff Headquarters can also be found here.

A little bit of history

During its creation in 1949, the headquarters were, at first, located at 13 Belgrave Square, London, but during a meeting of the Atlantic Council in New York on September 15th, 1950, it was decided to move them to Paris, especially regarding the central location and the excellent means of communications. So, the Atlantic Alliance was initially situated in temporary premises at the "Chaillot palace" awaiting the construction of a final building on the grounds at the Porte Dauphine, offered in April 1954 by France, on which the "NATO Palace", was built between 1955 and 1957. The organization moved in in 1959 and stayed until 1966, year in which, under the impetus of General Charles de Gaule, France left the integrated command.
In December 1966, NATO decided to install its new headquarters on Belgian soil in the vicinity of its capital city, Brussels. First foreseen on the Heysel-plateau, it was temporarily build onto the former municipality of Haren-Evere, Boulevard Leopold III, on the North-East outskirts of Brussels.
Following an international call to tender, the North Atlantic Council entrusted the construction of the new headquarters to two Belgo-German-Holland joint ventures in March 1967. Works started immediately to be concluded twenty-nine weeks later. The site was inaugurated on October 16th, 1967.
During the Washington summit in 1999, the head of States and governments of the Allied countries decided to replace the buildings of the headquarters by a more to their needs adapted one. And so the construction of a new site was launched on the premises of the air terminal of the former airfield of Haren-Evere. Construction started in 2010 and the new headquarters were inaugurated on May 25th, 2017 during the NATO summit, as you surely have seen in the worldwide media coverage.
Some numbers: 32 meters of height, about 250.000 m2 of area on a land of 49 hectare and a total cost of 1,1 billion euros. To fulfill the task, the former headquarters of the Belgian aviation, Quartier Roi Albert I (Quarter King Albert I), build around the last Brussels air terminal close to the ancient airfield of Haren alongside de "chaussée de Haacht", had to be demolished...

The summit and the inauguration

This exceptional summit brought the capital city in ebullience and during those days Brussels airport saw quite some intense activity, welcoming numerous military and governmental airplanes, including the VC-25A "Air Force One" from the President of the United States. But to landmark this summit, an uncommon fly-past was organized gathering various NATO nations as to have an impeccable flight overhead the new facilities.
The Ardennes airbase of Florennes was chosen as home base for this event and to organize the fly-past. That way, the base welcomed the Belgian participants but also American, British, German, French, Italian, Czech and Holland activities on the apron of the former TLP, which was to remember the multinational exercises held over there some years ago. Pilots and other personnel at the base were appointed to organize this fly-past on Brussels. This was a tremendous job regarding the timing and use of the airspace as, during the flight, no traffic was to be allowed into Brussels airport.
A first rehearsal was held on May 16 but only by the box leaders being Belgian F-16AM. Followed by a general repetition with the 26 participating aircraft on May 24th, with some spare aircraft holding outside the zone, moving on to THE day and perform an impeccable fly-past overhead the public and authorities of the different NATO countries, broadcasted by the media worldwide.
Florennes air based nailed the mission from A to Z, exhibiting once again the professionalism and commitment of the Belgian Air Force.
The SBAP team cut itself in six as to offer you the images of those two days on Brussels airport as well as on Florennes airbase, but also in the vicinity of Orp-Jauche, holding and gathering point or in the Brussels capital region for the fly-past.
Before starting the pictorial overview, SBAP would like to thanks the Florennes airbase authorities for the visit allowance and facilities during this uncommon event.
Follow us through these two intense days and relive this exceptional fly-past overhead the capital city of Europe.

 
 The old building was inaugurated in 1967…50 years ago
(Google Earth)
The new one
(Courtesy NATO ©)
 Dassault Falcon 50 Serbia and Montenegro Government
(Serge Van Heertum ©)
Airbus A330-243 from Republic of Turkey
(Serge Van Heertum ©)
 (Serge Van Heertum ©) (Serge Van Heertum ©)
 Boeing VC-25A "Air Force One"  (Serge Van Heertum ©)
  President D. Trump with his wife at arrival on Melsbroek apron
(Courtesy Belga ©)
The American presidential couple was welcomed by the 
Belgian prime minister Charles Michel
(Courtesy Belga ©)
 Airbus A319-112 Government of Bulgaria
(Danny Carels ©)
Airbus A319-133 (CJ) Bundesrepublik Deutschland
(Danny Carels ©)
 Airbus A330 Voyager K Mk 2/3 Royal Air Force
(Danny Carels ©)
Airbus A319-115X (CJ) Repubblica Italiana
(Danny Carels ©)
 Dassault Falcon 900B Fuerza Aerea Espańola
(Serge Van Heertum ©)
Airbus A319-115 (CJ) Ceska Republika
(Serge Van Heertum ©)
 Airbus A319-115 (CJ) Slovenska Republika
(Serge Van Heertum ©)
Airbus A400M "Atlas" Armée de l'Air
(Serge Van Heertum ©)
 
 
 Intense activity at the control tower
(Jacques Vincent ©)
The A400M fleet was also stationed at Florennes
(Anthony Graulus ©)
 As in the good old days of the TLP don't find you?
(Philippe Decock ©)
The aircraft on the flight line waiting for action
(Philippe Decock ©)
 (Philippe Decock ©)
 Airbus A400M "Atlas" RAF LXX Squadron
(Jacques Vincent ©)
Airbus A400M "Atlas" GAF Lufttransportgeschwader 62 (LTG62)
(Philippe Decock ©)
 Airbus A400M "Atlas" FAF ET1/61 "Touraine"
(Jacques Vincent ©)
(Philippe Decock ©)
 (Jacques Vincent ©)
 Lockheed-Martin F-16AM BAF 2 Wing TAC
(Jacques Vincent ©)
Lockheed-Martin F-16CM USAF 52 FW / 480 FS
(Philippe Decock ©)
 Saab JAS-39C Gripen CZAF 21.Základna Taktického Letectva 211.Tl
(Philippe Decock ©)
Eurofighter TF-2000A AMI 4° Stormo
(Jacques Vincent ©)
 Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 RAF 6 Squadron
(Philippe Decock ©)
Eurofighter EF2000 GAF Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 31 (TLG31)
(Jacques Vincent ©)
 Dassault Rafale B FAF ETR 03.004 "Acquitaine"
(Philippe Decock ©)
Lockheed-Martin F-16BM KLU 312/313 Squadron
(Philippe Decock ©)
 Casa-Nurtanio C295M CZAF 24.Základna Dopravního Letectva 242.Tsl 
in support for the Gripen's
(Jacques Vincent ©)
Everyone prepares for departures
(Jacques Vincent ©)
 (Philippe Decock ©)
 (Jacques Vincent ©) (Philippe Decock ©)
 (Jacques Vincent ©) (Philippe Decock ©)
 (Philippe Decock ©) (Jacques Vincent ©)
 (Philippe Decock ©) (Philippe Decock ©)
 (Jacques Vincent ©) (Jacques Vincent ©)
 (Philippe Decock ©) (Philippe Decock ©)
 (Philippe Decock ©) (Anthony Graulus ©)
 (Jacques Vincent ©) (Jacques Vincent ©)
 (Philippe Decock ©) (Jacques Vincent ©)
 (Anthony Graulus ©) (Jacques Vincent ©)
 (Philippe Decock ©) (Jacques Vincent ©)
 (Jacques Vincent ©) (Anthony Graulus ©)
 (Jacques Vincent ©) (Philippe Decock ©)
 (Philippe Decock ©) (Jacques Vincent ©)
 (Philippe Decock ©) (Jacques Vincent ©)
 
 Orp-Jauche area: the meeting point and holding zone before taking the fly-past axis to Brussels    (Alain Debras ©)
 (Alain Debras ©) (Alain Debras ©)
 (Alain Debras ©) (Alain Debras ©)
 (Alain Debras ©) (Alain Debras ©)
 
 (Serge Van Heertum ©)
 
 (Serge Van Heertum ©) (Serge Van Heertum ©)
 (Serge Van Heertum ©) (Serge Van Heertum ©)
 (Serge Van Heertum ©) (Serge Van Heertum ©)
 (Serge Van Heertum ©) (Serge Van Heertum ©)
 (Serge Van Heertum ©) (Serge Van Heertum ©)
 (Serge Van Heertum ©) (Serge Van Heertum ©)
 (Serge Van Heertum ©) (Serge Van Heertum ©)
 (Serge Van Heertum ©) (Serge Van Heertum ©)
 (Serge Van Heertum ©) (Serge Van Heertum ©)
 (Serge Van Heertum ©) (Serge Van Heertum ©)
 (Serge Van Heertum ©) (Serge Van Heertum ©)
 On rehearsal the Boeing E-3A Sentry was the LX-N90450 
with the 35th anniversary blue scheme
(Serge Van Heertum ©)
(Serge Van Heertum ©)
 (Serge Van Heertum ©) (Serge Van Heertum ©)
 On the D-Day it was the LX-N90458 with the tiger markings 
in prevision of the next Tiger Meet
(Serge Van Heertum ©)
(Serge Van Heertum ©)
 (Serge Van Heertum ©) (Serge Van Heertum ©)
 (Serge Van Heertum ©) (Serge Van Heertum ©)
 Smoke above the NATO to conclude the fly-past    (Serge Van Heertum ©)
 
 The official picture of the day    (Courtesy NATO ©)
 
 (Anthony Graulus ©) (Anthony Graulus ©)
 Back to Florennes after the mission   (Anthony Graulus ©)
 
 The departure of the American president at sunset...
(Serge Van Heertum ©)
...heading Sicily for the G7 summit
(Serge Van Heertum ©)
 Code 28000…   (Serge Van Heertum ©)
 …and code 29000 "Air Force One"   (Serge Van Heertum ©)
 

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