Text: Serge Van Heertum - Pictures: SBAP Team as mentioned - Translation: David Niemegeerts   © sbap 2017
  
(Serge Van Heertum ©)
 

From 07 to 16 June, a large-scale exercise was held on the Florennes airbase in the Ardennes: The Tactical Weapon Meet edition 2017.
This exercise was undoubtedly the largest one ever organized on the base since the deprture of the Tactical Leadership Program (TLP) in 2009.
Five countries responded to the invitation of the 1st squadron, organizer of the exercise, and thus the old TLP parking was visited by the Bae Hawk T.1 of the 100 Squadron of RAF Leeming, the Spanish and Italian Eurofighter Typhoon belonging respectively to the Ala 11 based at Morón and 4° Stormo from Grosseto, Mig-29A of the 23 BLT of the Polish Air Force based at Minsk, and probably the stars of this Tactical Weapon Meet, the Greek Air Force F-4EPhantom II belonging to the 338 Mira based at Andravida.
This international exercise was organized as part of the centenary of the 1st squadron, which took the "Scottish Thistle" as its emblem in 1917, and of which we have made an anniversary page which you can find by clicking on the "Thistle".

 
  

In addition to the celebration of the anniversary, the Tactical Weapon Meet was meant to enable the various participants in our alliance within the NATO to share various experiences that they were able to acquire during their participation in other NATO exercises, or in the course of actual operations carried out in recent years.
Based in Florennes for almost two weeks, participants refined their close combat tactics during the first week, highlighting the striking differences in performance and agility between the different types of machines involved.
The second week brought participants, mostly young pair leaders, to a higher operational level to integrate all available platforms into larger scale exercises.
Mission scenarios involved operations in "enemy territories", involving air support to troops on the ground in a hostile environment such as airborne threats from interceptors, and phases of pure electronic warfare.
These missions obviously required a great deal of preparation in the design of the scenarios to make them as close as possible to the actual engagements, taking into account the needs of each participating nation.
The scenarios put in place were very restrictive for the staff, but especially for the pilots and crews. The typical crew day began around 8:30 am with a presentation of the day's scenario by the Tactical Weapon Meet (aka White cell) intelligence cell. Then, the Mission Commander (MC) was in charge of mission planning. His goal was to integrate the various aerial means at his disposal, to fulfill the objectives of the mission. After the planning phase, it was time for the briefing by the Mission Commander, for about one hour. Once the briefing was completed and the day mission defined, each crew had to take off at the assigned timing, usually between 1:30 pm and 2:15 pm, to complete the mission in accordance with the Mission Commander's instructions. Each mission under the TWM lasted on average between 1:30 and 2 hours depending on the complexity of the mission. The areas of operation were mainly located in Belgium, in the TSA26, above and in the vicinity of Florennes airbase, but the TRA205 located in Germany was also used for some of the missions.
Once the mission was completed, after the landing all the crews, including the "bogeys", would meet between 3:30 and 4 pm for the debriefing. The Mission Commander's goal was to verify whether his guidelines had been met, whether the mission's objectives had been met and highlight the strengths of each participant. The mission was generally closed between 5.30 pm and 6 pm, which means long days for all parties involved.
For his reborn (the last TWN was in 1976), the Tactical Weapon Meet archived a total of 300 flight hours during 382 sorties.

 
 (Courtesy 1st Squadron / Vador©)
 
The objective of these two weeks of exercises was fully achieved, and as part of the centenary of the 1st Squadron, a press and aviation photographer day was organized on June 15th. Successfully done so, the aim, besides the presentation of the planes participating to the exercise, was to bring specially decorated planes, and if possible squadrons which also had passed the centennial frontier, to the base as much as possible. Thus, most of the decorated aircraft in the Belgian Air Force had made the trip, but also 2 Mirage 2000-5F of the GC1/2 "Cigognes" of Luxeuil air base, including the 2-EJ with a superb decoration thanks to talent of our collaborator Régis Rocca, in memory of Captain Georges Guynemer, fallen on the battlefield in 1917 in Poelkapelle on our national territory, or the pass of the Typhoon 30 + 90 of the TaktLwG 71 "Richthofen" of the Luftwaffe. Not to forget the Royal Air Force's Bae Hawk T.1, present for the exercise, and proudly wearing the colors for the 100th anniversary of the 100 Squadron.
To conclude, another successful bet for the Florennes airbase and the 1st Squadron, as part of this 2017 edition of the Tactical Weapon Meet. Let us presume that this was a starting point and that the base of Florennes will still be used as platform in similar exercises.
The SBAP team wishes to thank the authorities of the Florennes Base and the members of the 1st Squadron, for the organization and facilities during the making of this report. A special thanks to "Vinny", "PeC" and "Rudi Fontaine for their support and information.
 
 (Philippe Decock ©)
 
Royal Air Force Bae Hawk T.1 100 Squadron
(Serge Van Heertum ©)
(Philippe Decock ©) (Serge van Oosterzee ©)
 
(Serge Van Heertum ©)  (Serge Van Heertum ©)
 (Serge Van Heertum ©) (Pierre Taquet ©)
 (Serge Van Heertum ©) (Jacques Vincent ©)
 Eurofighter Typhoon Ala 11
(Serge Van Heertum ©)
 (Philippe Decock ©) (Serge Van Heertum ©)
 (Anthony Graulus ©) (Serge Van Heertum ©)
 (Serge Van Heertum ©) (Serge Van Heertum ©)
 (Serge van Oosterzee ©) (Pierre Taquet ©)
 (Serge Van Heertum ©) (Jacques Vincent ©)
  Eurofighter Typhoon 4° Stormo
(Serge Van Heertum ©)
 (Philippe Decock ©) (Serge Van Heertum ©)
 (Anthony Graulus ©) (Serge Van Heertum ©)
 (Jacques Vincent ©) (Serge Van Heertum ©)
 (Philippe Decock ©) (Serge Van Heertum ©)
 (Serge Van Heertum ©) (Serge Van Heertum ©)
 Mikoyan Gurevitch Mig 29A 23 BLT / 1 Sqn
(Serge Van Heertum ©)
 (Philippe Decock ©) (Serge Van Heertum ©)
 (Serge Van Heertum ©) (Anthony Graulus ©)
 (Serge Van Heertum ©) (Serge van Oosterzee ©)
 (Serge Van Heertum ©) (Anthony Graulus ©)
 (Serge Van Heertum ©) (Philippe Decock ©)
 (Serge Van Heertum ©) (Jacques Vincent ©)
 Mc Donnell-Douglas F-4E Phantom II  338 Mira
(Serge Van Heertum ©)
 (Philippe Decock ©) (Serge Van Heertum ©)
 (Serge Van Heertum ©) (Pierre Taquet ©)
 (Serge Van Heertum ©) (Anthony Graulus ©)
 (Jacques Vincent ©) (Philippe Decock ©)
 (Jacques Vincent ©) (Philippe Decock ©)
 (Serge Van Heertum ©) (Serge Van Heertum ©)
 (Serge Van Heertum ©) (Pierre Taquet ©)
 (Serge van Oosterzee ©) (Serge Van Heertum ©)
 Lockheed-Martin F-16AM / BM 1st Squadron
(Serge Van Heertum ©)
 (Serge Van Heertum ©) (Anthony Graulus ©)
 (Serge Van Heertum ©) (Serge Van Heertum ©)
 (Serge van Oosterzee ©) (Serge Van Heertum ©)
 (Philippe Decock ©) (Anthony Graulus ©)
 (Pierre Taquet ©) (Pierre Taquet ©)
 (Serge Van Heertum ©) (Serge Van Heertum ©)
 (Jacques Vincent ©) (Serge Van Heertum ©)
 
Special paint aircraft
 


 (Serge Van Heertum ©) (Jacques Vincent ©) (Anthony Graulus ©)


 (Serge Van Heertum ©) (Jacques Vincent ©)


 (Serge Van Heertum ©) (Jacques Vincent ©)


 (Serge Van Heertum ©) (Anthony Graulus ©)


 (Serge Van Heertum ©) (Serge van Oosterzee ©) (Pierre Taquet ©) (Anthony Graulus ©)

 (Serge Van Heertum ©)
 
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(Jacques Vincent ©)
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(Serge van Oosterzee ©)
 Mirage 2000-5F GC 01.002 French Air Force
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(Serge Van Heertum ©)
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