Text: Serge Van Heertum - Pictures: Serge Van Heertum, Marc Arys & Patrick Brouckaert - Translations: Marc Arys 
©sbap 2021
 
Why and what is Galileo ?

Galileo: Global Positioning System of the European Union

Galileo is the Global Positioning System of the European Union, aiming to ensure independency and autonomy in the field of navigation and timing solutions from space

Since the declaration of initial services in 2016, Galileo has been providing positioning and timing services to almost 3 billion users. From the very first days, Galileo has been providing a Search And Rescue (SAR) service, based on transponders installed on the satellites. The SAR service has been integrated in the Cospas-Sarsat Programme, the satellite-based distress alert detection and information distribution system, best known for detecting and locating emergency beacons activated by aircraft, ships or backcountry hikers in distress.
Thanks to its Medium-Earth Orbit and the large number of satellites in the constellation, Galileo immediately provided an unprecedented boost in speed and accuracy of the location of distress signals. While with the former system, finding the location of a beacon could take up to 4 hours, with an accuracy of +/- 10 kms, Galileo reduced this to a mere 10 minutes with a precision of 2 km.
Today, Galileo/SAR is continuing to develop new life-saving functionalities. By supporting the Galileo SAR Meet 2021, the EU renews and confirms its commitment to include operational Search and Rescue crews in the definition of the service evolutions, in order to deliver the features they need to carry out their missions in the safest and most efficient way.

The SAR meet: Enthusiasm and deceptions:

From 27 September until 1 October, the Galileo Search-and-Rescue (SAR) Meet 2021 took place at Koksijde airbase home of the 40 Squadron integrated in the 1st Wing Heli of the Belgian Air Force.
The 40 Squadron is responsible for helicopter rescue operations on the Belgian coast and in the country.
The 2021 SAR meet was planned with the participation of 13 helicopters and more than 100 crewmembers originating from 13 European countries, this exercise was considered, by the authorities, as the largest SAR meeting ever organized (a simple look in the archives of the years 1980 - 1990 will show that this was absolutely not the truth).

You will find in the page a resume of the participating countries and yes, the advertising on social networks reeked of false media coverage to attract people to the paid event. Indeed, out of sensational nineteen team's participation announcements, five were announced as observers who came therefore without an helicopter. But on social networks, the pictures of the observers team's helicopters came out as the stars of this event.
Seven teams cancelled their participation and what about the participation of the Leonardo Company with a helicopter in delivery for the Brazilian Fire Brigade that was well hidden to the photographers during the public event !
So a short overview of the real participating team's showed a total of seven helicopters, but only four from foreign nations…
Of course people not used to NATO exercises in the 1960's to 1990's, found this event interesting and well provided, but despite some inspiring notes, most of the comments seen on the various social networks were mainly negative, highlighting the countless defections and the price of 40.00€ paid for a generaly poor event (for this price, you received a badge, a T-shirt, a ballpoint pen and a paper notepad ... yesss!). Personally I prefer to pay 40.00 € and see a lot of exotic helicopters rather than to receive a T-shirt and a some French fries ...
In the end, the photographic point of view outside the base was real good, if not the best and , most of all, for free! In addition and icing on the cake, the organizers, at the last minute, adhered to the principle of the "Covid Safety Pass" to make their job easier and not have to keep an eye on the masks and other distances ... should I remember the size of the Koksijde airbase regarding the 'distance' issue?
In short, the spotters and press day of September 29th, were not a huge success in the eyes of everyone.

Out of fairness to the military involved in organizaing this tactical event, it is certainly a big job. Hats off to them.

Let us note in conclusion that the winning team is the one of the MFG-5 with their Seaking Mk41, like what, one does not always need recent and modern machines to stand out from the crowd ... The good old Seaking is enough on its own!

 
Dawn breaks at Koksijde airbase, simply beautiful
(Serge Van Heertum©)
We take out the crocodiles... Oops Caimans...
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Four of the five foreign participants
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Preparing for the competition day
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Technical checks on the Sokol
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Heerflieger machine in preparation too
(Serge Van Heertum©)
What a beautiful job...cloud eraser!
(Serge Van Heertum©)
The King of the Sea and the Dolphin
(Serge Van Heertum©)
The Falcon's gaze (Sokol is a Falcon in Polish language)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Caiman in tow
(Serge Van Heertum©)
RN-04 in stand by
(Serge Van Heertum©)
RN-03 is one of the participating helicopter
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Anti-torque rotor duo
(Serge Van Heertum©)
H-26 was dispatched as photoship
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Agusta A109BA from 1 Wing Heli / 17 Squadron of Beauvechain
(Serge Van Heertum©)
A member of the observation teams...
(Serge Van Heertum©)
  
SAR Competition Wednesday September 29th
 
  
Team N°1: Belgian Air Force * 1st Wing Heli / 40 Squadron * Airbus Helicopter NH-90NFH
 
RN-02 on taxi
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Do not pass otherwise you will pass...away
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Majestic lift off
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Departing for the first part of the competition: navigation contest
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Back to base for the winching and precision contest
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Stationary and jet wash
(Serge Van Heertum©)
The big game!
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Mission fully accomplished
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 

Team N°2: German Heerflieger * Transporthubschrauber- regiment 30 (THR30) * Airbus Helicopter H145M SAR

 
The second team in the starting blocks
(Marc Arys©)
The 77+07 was delivered in July 2020
(Serge Van Heertum©)
The SAR version of the Airbus H145
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Equipped with a large rear cargo door
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Positioning at holding point
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Waiting for clearance
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Here we go!
(Serge Van Heertum©)
The big SAR game after the NAV
#1 (Marc Arys©) - #2 (Serge Van Heertum©)

With Koksijde Sint Pieters Church as background
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Pac Man and game over
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 

Team N°3: Norway Defence Forces * 139 Luftving / 330 skvadron * Agusta Westaland AW101 Mk612 "SAR Queen"

 
Her Majesty SAR Queen
(Marc Arys©)
Impressive 15 tons helicopter
(Serge Van Heertum©)
A smile from Norway...
(Serge Van Heertum©)
...and thumb up!
(Marc Arys©)
Powerplant: No less than 3 x General Electric CT7-8E
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Overall Height: 6.66 m
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Rate of Climb: 9,5 m/s waouw
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Awaiting take-off clearance
(Marc Arys©)
No doubt, the star of the SAR Meet
(Marc Arys©)
Take off for the NAV before the SAR games
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
Back to Koksijde airbase for the SAR games
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Game boy terrain
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Gear up
(Serge Van Heertum©)
High speed passes to conclude the prestation
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Port and Starboard
#1 (Marc Arys©) - #2 (Serge Van Heertum©)
A last pass and climbing turn
(Serge Van Heertum©)
The high viz underside
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
Mission accomplished, final approach
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
 

Team N°4: Czech Air Forces * 24.Základna Dopravního Letectva (24 Wing) / 243. vrtulníkovou letka (243 Sqn) * PZL W-3A Sokol

 
On departure, the Czech Air Force
(Marc Arys©)
Sokól is a medium-size, twin-engine, multipurpose helicopter
(Serge Van Heertum©)
The W-3A version is used by Czech Air Force and Philippine Air Force
(Serge Van Heertum©)
The Czech Air Force align 10 Sokol helicopters in SAR version
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Lift off
(Serge Van Heertum©)
First the navigation part
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Back to base for the giant beach games
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Extreme concentration to succeed in the course
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Finished and back to the apron
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
Team N°5: Belgian Air Force * 1st Wing Heli / 40 Squadron * Airbus Helicopter NH-90NFH
 
Second Belgian team waiting for clearance
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Here they go!
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Back track
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Turning into the wind
(Serge Van Heertum©)
RN-03 ready
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Lift off
#1 (Serge Van Heertum©) - #2
(Marc Arys©)
Face to face with the Belgian crew
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
Back after the mission
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Touching down
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Clear view on the cabin crew: SARSO (search and rescue system operator) and diver
(Serge Van Heertum©)
The King and the Beast
(Marc Arys©)
 

Team N°6: German Marineflieger * Marinefliegergeschwader 5 (MFG5) * Westland Seaking Mk41A

 
Time for the MFG5 to start the competition
(Serge Van Heertum©)
The 89+63 was delivered in 1975!
(Serge Van Heertum©)
The characteristic nose of the Mk.41
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Rear view of the majestic Seaking
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Back track and holding for clearance
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Power...
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Face to face with the King of the Seas
(Marc Arys©)
Majestic rainbow take off
(Marc Arys©)
Fly Marineflieger
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Back from the NAV contest
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Winching up
(Serge Van Heertum©)
SAR games completed, waiting the verdict now!
#1 (Serge Van Heertum©) - #2 (Marc Arys©)
Back to the apron
#1 (Marc Arys©) - #2
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
Team N°7: Netherlands SAR * NHV Noordzee Helikopters Vlaanderen * Eurocopter AS-365N-3 Dauphin 2
 
Last competition, NHV helicopters for Netherlands
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Elegance and efficiency
(Serge Van Heertum©)
A team ready to fight ;-)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Back track also
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Hotel Mike clear for take off!
(Marc Arys©)
Lift off
(Marc Arys©)
Gaining speed
(Serge Van Heertum©)
When the SAR operations are no more military only!
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Go for the NAV contest
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Heading for the Flanders Fields
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Winching out
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Power and jet wash
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Mario Bros games completed, back to the apron
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
The Brazilian Agusta Westland AW-169 on the way to delivery, made a stop-over at Koksijde airbase on Monday September 27th. 
Sadly this exotic machine was not integrated in the SAR competition and was hidden from the press and photographers during the flying day. 
Why make such a big publicity on social networks if the result after all is not to present this exotic bird ? A very rare appearance in our regions...
Luckily, one of our collaborators was able to immortalize this helicopter destined for the South American continent.
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
  
Guest NH-90NFH flights and Solo Display Czech Air Force Sokol
 
Some more pictures of the RN-02 during a couple of convenience flights
(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©)
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
To close the press and spotters day, an amazing solo display of the PZL W-3A Sokol of the Czech Air Force
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Marc Arys©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Marc Arys©) (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©)
 
 As long as the event organizers will tend to baricade themselves behind the Covid Safety Pass masquerade, we will refuse to report on the inside part of the event but only cover the outside part, where everyone has unrestricted access and in total freedom. 
In addition, in each report this picture will appear to summerize this clownesque situation!

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