Brussels-Melsbroek, 28 and 29 September 2002

C-130 Open Door



The final Air Show of the Belgian Armed Forces during the 2002 season was organised under this title. It is hard to imagine that the trusty Lockheed C-130 Hercules has already completed 30 years of frontline service with the Belgian Air Force. Yet, that is the case. To celebrate this jubilee, a small scale Air Show was organised at the type's home base at Melsbroek by the operating unit, 20 Squadron of 15 Wing. As Melsbroek is on the opposide side of Brussels' Zaventem Airport it uses the same runway complex. This of course prohibited a full scale flying display. Yet, the Air Show proved to be well worth a visit. Apart from 20 Squadron, 15 Wing's other component unit is 21 Squadron, the BAF's VIP transport unit. 21 Sq is in the process of retiring elderly Hawker Siddely HS.748 and Fairchild Merlin light transports and has just completed taking delivery of a pair of EMBRAER ERJ.135 as well as two ERJ.145 regional jet airliners to replace the older aircraft. All four of them could be seen in full sunshine. Add to this the fact that of all the other types of 21 squadron, Airbus A.310, Dassault Mystere 20 and Mystere 900 were also to be seen, alongside foreign C-130's from France, Portugal, the USA and the Netherlands. Of course, 20 sqaudron painted one of it's C-130's in a commemorative livery. Unfortunately, it was set aside from the main static display, making it impossible to photograph.


All pictures (c) Hans Rolink

This C-130H Hercules CH-10 is one of 11 remaining out of 12 delivered to the Belgian Air Force. The C-130 replaced the Fairchild C-119G Packet. 

It is intended to replace the C-130 from around 2008 by the Airbus A.400M. As the prototype of this successor is still to fly at the time of writing, this C-130 is set to do some more years of service.


An unexpected, but nevertheless very welcome, visitor in the shape of a Mississippi Air National Guard C-130H, serialled 86-1391

This aircraft belongs to 180 Airlift Squadron. 



The Royal Netherlands Air Force is a recent addition to the ranks of C-130 operators. Operating just two of the stretched C-130H-30 version, 334 sq is based at Eindhoven Air Base. This aircraft, G-273, bears traces of a deployment to the Middle East in relation with Operation Enduring Freedom. Note the Arabic representation of it's serial number on the fin, applied in quite small silvery lettering.



As already mentioned above, these are examples of the new VIP jets of the Belgian Air Force. To the left ERJ.135 CE-02, to the right the slightly longer ERJ.145 CE-04. Introduction of these aircraft meant the retirement of the HS.748 and SA.226T Merlin.


The other VIP jet types in service with 21 sq include the Dassault Mystere 20 (left) examplified by CM-01. The pair are to receive new engines in due course. To the right is CD-01 , the only Mystere 900B on charge.


Seen returning from a flood relief mission to Albania is Airbus A.310-225 CA-02. The Airbus is the successor to the Boeing 727 and is tasked with long range freight and passenger transport.

Finally, the now retired Hawker Siddely HS.748-2A CS-02 (left) and the Fairchild SA.226T Merlin CF-02 (right).