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
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
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
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
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...
and the inauguration
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
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.