Beauvechain, 1 September 2002

Belgian Defence Days


Throughout the 2002 season, many interesting and well supported aviation events took place in Belgium. Fine examples include the Helimeet at the Belgian Army Light Aviation home base of Bierset near Liege, but thoughts immediately turn to the excellent Lion's Meet Photo Call at Kleine Brogel. These events and regular air shows like the one described below certainly make Belgium not a bad place to live for an aviation photographer.

Beauvechain opened it's gates during the weekend of 31 August and 1 September 2002 under the title of "Defensiedagen" (Defence Days). This in order to reflect the unification of the Belgian Armed Forces earlier this year. This may also explain the presence of much Army hardware during the weekend. The Belgian Air Force, or Air Component as it is now officially known, has for the past several years shown extreme hospitality to the photographers, allowing them on base on the day prior to the actual Air Show and also allowing them access to the operational areas during the show. Regrettably, quite unthinkable in neighbouring the Netherlands.

Unfortunately, the weather did not play very well on the Friday during the arrivals and the  Saturday was quite wet. Thus, the undersigned was lucky to have visited Beauvechain on the Sunday. Being home to the 1 Wing which handles Belgian Air Force flight training, trainers were much in evidence, including the based SF.260's, Magisters and Alpha Jets. Foreign trainers like a Dutch PC.7 flew, while an RAF Tucano was in the static park next to a Hawk. Heavier metal could also be seen. The USAFE sent no fewer than two F-15E's, while the French Navy's elegant Super Etendard flew it's ususal well polished display. More unusual were an Irish Air Force CN.235 and a Spanish Air Force S.76C. Unfortunately, the S.76C had been placed well away during the flight line tour on the Sunday.

Photography wise, the static could have done with access to just one side. This would have avoided people in the background of the pictures. Below, a selection of what could be seen on the Beauvechain Air Show.


All pictures (c) Hans Rolink.

The static park at Beauvechain was placed in a somewhat awkward fashion. With barriers to either side of the aircraft, it was difficult to get shots without people in them. Nevertheless, a selection of aircraft could be photographed.


ST-47 is one of the based SF.260 primary trainers. In fact, it is part of a follow-on batch of nine SF.260D's delivered long after the original 36 SF.260MB's. It will propably soon receive it's new coat of trainer-yellow now applied to the SF.260 fleet. Another one of Beauvechain's residents is this Alpha Jet, AT33. The   Belgian Air Force has been using the Alpha Jet as the standard Lead-in Fighter Trainer for over 20 years now.  

Staying with the trainer theme, the RAF showed the Tucano T.1 in the static park. ZF170/170 belongs to 1 FTS and came from RAF Linton-on-Ouse in Yorkshire. The Hawk T.1A XX335/CR is from 100 sq at RAF Leeming.

The USAFE displayed no fewer than four of it's F-15's in the static park. To the left is F-15C 86-0163/LN of 493 FS, to the right is F-15E 91-0301/LN of 492 FS.

The RAF was present with two of it's Tornado GR.4's. One of those was 

ZA560/BC of No. 14 sq from RAF Lossiemouth. The other was also from this Scottish base, but belonged to No.12 sq. 

Not the FLIR pod next to the nose wheel and the absence of the 27 mm Mauser gun, modifications done during the upgrade from GR.1 to GR.4 standard.


The Belgians are always quite succesful in attracting interesting visitors to airshows. One of the eyecatchers in Beauvechain's static park was Mil Mi.17 0841. It belongs to the Slovakian Air Force. The Mi.17 was accompanied by a Mi.24 combat helicopter which took part in the flying display.

The operational area was also open to photographers. A selection of the aircraft taking part in the flying display can be seen below. Included were a trio of French Mirage F.1 including one two-seater, a pair of German Tornados, a German Phantom and MiG.29 and a Spanish F-18. Naturally, the Belgian Air Force's own SF.260's and Magister were much in evidence, as were the Alpha Jets. Even more Alpha Jets came from the Patrouille de France aerobatic team.
Still in it's Red Devils colour scheme, Magister MT40 sits ready on the tarmac for the formation fly-past that included both ALpha Jets and Magisters. Only very few of some 50 Magisters once available are still airworthy.

Over the years, many Belgian Alpha Jets have been given special colour schemes. AT26 is one of the examples. Note that the aircraft even displays the Web URL of the Belgian Air Force on it's rear fuselage!



The F-4F Phantom is now in the twilight of it's long career with the Germany's Luftwaffe. Retirement of the F-4 has now commenced and replacement with Eurofighter Typhoons will be underway from 2003. Aircraft 37+29 was exluded from a modification programme wich saw many F-4F's being equipped with the radar system from the F/A-18 Hornet, including the AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles. This jet can be recognised as being unmodified by virtue of it's black nose radome. Modified F-4F's are known as ICE and have grey radomes.

The standard fighter of the Spanish Air Force has for some time been the F/A-18 Hornet. C.15-68/12-26 belongs to Ala de Caza 12 at Torrejon. 

It was accompanied by another F/A-18A which could be seen in the static park.



 The German Air Force is about to retire the MiG.29 fleet it once inherited from Eastern Germany upon reunification in 1990. One of the fleet of 20 single seaters is 29+20. All the MiG's fly with Jagd Geschwader 73 at Laage. 29+20 was sprayed in this commemorative scheme during 2001. From 2004, it will serve with the Polish Air Force.

For a number of years, the French Air Force has been flying a two-ship demoteam of Mirage F.1's. Known as Voltige Victor, the show consists of some impressive "follow the leader"and  opposite manoeuvres.

514/33-FZ is the two-seater Mirage F.1B that escorted a pair of F.1C single seaters.