Since October 1, our Belgian Air Component has been participating in the fight against the Islamic State (Daesh) within the framework of the Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF - OIR).
The Belgian operation, called Operation Desert Falcon (ODF), consists of a detachment of 117 soldiers, drawn mainly from the Florennes air base and four F-16 MLU fighters. Today our [soldiers] have already been on the pitch for a little over a month. As for our F-16s, they already have 30 operational missions over Iraq and Syria. Each mission is carried out by two aircraft.
"For now, everything is fine" specifies Maxime, public affairs officer of the detachment on the phone. “As long as safety rules are strictly followed, we are able to protect staff against the COVID-19 pandemic. Missions continue unabated and our members prepare for the arrival of the next detachment. The Force Protection detachment of the Dutch armed forces, which arrived on October 27, will take care of the surveillance and security of our installation and our planes. On Sunday November 8, our pilots carried out the 30th operational mission, totaling 286 flight hours. That's 30 missions in 30 days. The operation goes smoothly. "
“In addition to our daily missions, we focused on international cooperation last week,” continues Maxime over the phone. An international shooting championship was organized on the base between Belgian, German and American soldiers. Two of our own Belgian Force Protection specialists took second place. Our colleagues in the German contingent could learn more about the deployment capabilities as well as those of our F-16 fighter jets. Last Saturday, November 7th, we organized a ceremony with flags in the presence of a Belgian, Dutch and German peloton. Small efforts which bring great significance and which are highly appreciated in the field of international cooperation.”
On June 26, at the request of the Minister of Defense, the Belgian government approved the deployment of four Belgian F-16 fighter jets in Iraq and Syria for a period of one year as part of the fight against Daesh. The next detachment will mainly be made up of soldiers from the Kleine-Brogel air base. They are currently in compulsory quarantine for their scheduled departure on Monday, November 23.