report by: Koen Wullus & Sebastien Mousty
Base aérienne 133 Nancy-Ochey is a front-line French Air Force base located approximately 11 km west-southwest of Neuves-Maisons in the Département de Meurthe-et-Moselle, France. Ochey airfield was of particular importance to air operations during the latter stages of World War I. From 1917 onwards, No. 41 Wing of the Royal Flying Corps was flying a considerable number of sorties against strategic targets in Southwest Germany. It was also used by No. 3 Wing Royal Naval Air Service.
The base was seized by the Germans in June 1940 during the Battle of France. The Luftwaffe, however did not station any flying units at the airfield until April 1943, when a glider unit, Luftlandegeschwader 2 (LLG 2), equipped with Heinkel He 111s medium bombers being used to tow Gotha Go 242 transport gliders. LLG 2 moved out in June, being replaced by Luftlandegeschwader 1 (LLG 1) in September 1943, equipped with Dornier Do 17/DFS 230 gliders.
Nancy Air Base was liberated by Allied ground forces about 20 August 1944 during the Northern France Campaign. Almost immediately, the USAAF IX Engineering Command 826th Engineer Aviation Battalions began clearing the airport of mines and destroyed Luftwaffe aircraft, and repairing operational facilities for use by American aircraft. Subsequently, it became a USAAF Ninth Air Force combat airfield, designated as Advanced Landing Ground. During the early years of the Cold War, the French Government allocated Ochey airfield to the United States Air Force as an emergency NATO Dispersed Operating Base for its fighter aircraft stationed in France in the 1950s and 1960s.
In French control after the war, Nancy-Ochey Air Base was completely rebuilt. The wartime east-west (07/25) concrete runway, severely damaged by the war was removed, and a modern 8000′ asphalt jet runway was laid down 01/19. In addition, three circular marguerite system of hardstands that could be revetted later with earth for added protection were laid out, two on the north end of the runway and one on the south. Each margueriete consisted of fifteen to eighteen hardstands around a large central hangar, with each hardstand capable of one or two aircraft, and allowed the planes to be spaced approximately 150 feet (46 m) apart. Each squadron was assigned to a separate hangar/hardstand .
Today, Nancy Air Base is a front line French airfield, well equipped, flying state of the art aircraft. It is the home of EC01.003 ‘ Navarre ‘ with 3 squadrons of Dassault Mirage 2000D multirole fighters. The Dassault Mirage 2000N is a variant of the Mirage 2000 designed for nuclear strike. It forms the core of the French air-based strategic nuclear deterrent. The Mirage 2000D is its conventional attack counterpart. Dassault has also developed the Mirage 2000D, which is a development of the Mirage 2000N designed for long-range precision strikes with conventional weapons. This aircraft is exactly the same as the Mirage 2000N, but introduces support for conventional attack missiles such as the Apache and Scalp missiles, as well as the AASM weapons. The first aircraft, converted from the Mirage 2000N prototype, flew on 19 February 1991, and the French Air Force ordered a total of 86 aircraft.
On June 30th and July 1st, 2018, a Meeting de l’Air was held on the “Base aérienne” 133 of Nancy-Ochey. The airshow did not bring a lot of foreign visitors, but the Armée de l’Air and other French Military Forces brought their front line equipments to the Airshow. The most special visitor was the last Mirage 2000N ‘357-125-CO’ wearing a nice looking special scheme. The event also marked the last official appearance of the Mirage 2000N before its final retirement.
As expected from the French Air Force, their well-known tactical display team “Couteau Delta” as well as the Rafale Solo Display did a great job. But also notable were the other displays as well as a few interesting arrivals before the airshow for static displays. As it is now common with the FOSA Airshows ; we had for the flying display, a balanced mixture of preserved flying Aircraft and modern warfare.