New Belgian Minister of Defence visits Kleine Brogel airbase


Text and photos : Serge Van Heertum - S.B.A.P.


On wednesday January 23, 2008, the new Belgian Minister of Defence Pieter De Crem visited Kleine Brogel airbase. As Minister he decided to visit all Defence Components as to perfect his knowledge from defence point of view as well as from the various units.

After a briefing given by the Base Commander Col. Avi. Van De Voorde, enclosing the different aspects of it's airbase and the assigned missions in Belgium as well as abroad, like Kosovo or Afghanistan, the Minister visited various units of the airbase. The visit started with the Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) unit when two F-16A/M took off in less than 10 minutes after the alert was given.

Following unit was the K9 unit with the demonstration of a dog attack and a search exercise for explosives. A suspect was sighted in a shelter and was swiftly intercepted by the 'protection forces'. After the apprehension, the Minister greeted the participants of this exercise.

The program went on with a visit to the Bird Control Unit (BCU) - using falcons, to deter flock of birds, which, as we all know, are a real danger to aircraft and it's pilots.

Next step was the flightsimulator. Impressed by this didactic means, the Minister took the seat and under the professional advice of "Vrieske", pilot fo the 31 Sqn, he made a virtual flight with the F-16.

The last stop was the armament section where every aspect of this unit was explained to the Minister, including the different types of armament, offensive and defensive means, as well as various the tools at the pilot's disposal to fulfill his missions. A survey on the survival equipment was also included during this last part.

Taking advantage of a pause, the Minister held a speech emphasizing the important aspects of defence in general and the air component in particular. During his speech, he stressed the need of the recruitment to reinforce the Belgian Defence, which was to much emaciated during the last years.
A media and information campaign will start as from February on and young people interested in a military career will be offerd the opportunity to gather the necessary information during the different 'recuitment' open doors.

More information to be found at or .

The afternoon was dedicated to the maintenance section, an important, if not one of the most important sections ensuring the technical quality of the aircraft.

Final visit was at the Air Component Shooting Range at Houthalen-Helchteren, also known as "Pampa Range", where F-16A/M  demonstrated their firepower during bomb- as well as strafing runs. Very impressive indeed.

This day was quite filled and permitted the Minister to receive a more concrete insight of the operations fulfilled by an operational unit of the Air Component.


The new Minister of Defence with General Van Daele, chief of Army
    Col. Avi. Van De Voorde introducing the 10 Wing Tac
The Minister sitting by the authorities and being very attentive to the explanations   Start of the visit at the QRA
Taxi...   ... lining up for take off
Intervention of the 'protection forces' to apprehend a suspect hidden in a shelter
A specialist in explosives tracking    
One of the 'anti birdstrike' systems - a member of the Bird Control Unit   Demonstration in the flightsimulator by "Vrieske"
The Minister at the flight controls...   ... also under the guidance of Gen. Avi. Van Caelenberge, commander of the
Belgian Air Component

The armament section
    Easy going in a fighter

Explanation by Lt. Gen. Avi. 'Pedro' Buyse and Col. Avi. Van De Voorde
regarding the tools at the pilot's disposal
    A survey on the 'exercise' bombs
The new Minister of Defence held its speech under the kindly look of
Col. Avi. Yvan Du Monceau de Berghendael, DFC
  Receiving some explanations about the maintenance duties
An F-16A/M undergoing maintenance   Very important to the safety and operations of an aircraft
Dropping of Mk82 exercise bombs at Pampa Range
And strafing run with the 20mm Vulcan canon   Last overflight as a  salute to the Minister


Text and photos : Serge Van Heertum - S.B.A.P.