report by: Pierre-Yves Lecoeur
Kleine Brogel Air Base (ICAO: EBBL) is a Belgian Air Component military airfield located 0.8 nautical miles (1.5 km; 0.92 mi) east of Kleine-Brogel, in the municipality Peer, Belgium. It is home to the Belgian 10th Tactical Wing, operating F-16 Fighting Falcons, which are capable, among other capabilities, of delivering B61 nuclear bombs. 31 and 349 squadrons equiped with F-16AM/BM. And the Operational conversion unit wit F-16BM are the full members of 10 Wing.
Over the weekend of 12th to 14th September 2014 the celebration of a century of Air Power in Belgium took place at the Belgian Air Force Days which were held at Kleine-Brogel AB. “KB” was one of the most highly anticipated airshows of 2014. On the ground this included a Norwegian P-3 Orion and German Typhoons together with a specially painted Belgian F-16AM to replicate the original F-16 prototype colour scheme for the types 40th anniversary. A consequent Eastern European participation was held with no less than two Mig-29 displays one from Poland and another from Slovakia, joined by a pair of displays from the Czech Republic consisting of their popular Mi-24 Hind solo demonstration and a duo from a pair of Mi-171. Those that have visited an event at KB will know, the majority of the flying static are located along secondary runway/taxiway in front of the display runway. This year’s static was very well attended with a number of fast jets from around Europe present.
The flying participation contained a number of military displays including the Italian Typhoon, C-27J, Rafale, Rafale Marine Duo, Team Zeus, Solo Turk and the awesome Ramex Delta. According to this strong line-up were a number of international teams including the Red Arrows, Al Fursan, Frecce Tricolori, Swiss PC-7 Team, Royal Jordanian Falcons. The centrepiece of the flying display involved an air power demonstration sequence involving all aspects of the Belgian Air Component including eight F-16AMs, C-130H, A109, Hunter-B UAV and their newly entered into service NH90-TTH. Arriving on Saturday , the first feeling was not positive, the area was shrouded in low cloud but there was some hope that this would clear by the time the display began at 9am.Sadly this bad weather led two of the star to not be seen by Saturday ; they were, Team Zeus and the Slovakian Mig-29.
The use of the runway allows for uncluttered background static photos however as has been the criticism of a number of shows this year, how they are grouped together can cause difficulties. In this instance, the specially painted F-16AM was flanked by other aircraft in way that meant the special scheme could not properly be painted, a real shame. It again seemed that this portion of the static was set up for the benefit of the VIP’s and not the paying public. Thankfully, following the completion of the air power sequence the low cloud lifted, the sun came out and the temperature rapidly increased. Very quickly the flying display got back on schedule and the flares started to fly. As can be expected with such a high quality line-up the competition for star of the show was intense but this eventually came down to three acts. Showing why they are considered the best fast jet duo in Europe right now, the Mirage 2000N’s of Ramex Delta stole the show with their demonstration of sheer power and agility. The Rafale C solo display confirmed its reputation of being the best solo fast jet display in Europe right now, a superb display of power and agility unmatched anywhere else. Then the Polish Mig-29 display took this slot.
Not seen for a number of years, the Polish display even included a tail slide which made the display unique. Yes the line-up was excellent despite the weather and cancellations but the organisation should have been better especially on the ground and the flying display should have been more fluid. It was also unfortunate that the main celebration theme wasn’t exploited more. Despite all those regrets Globalairpower was satisfied to be present during what will remain one of the most important event of 2014.