In the North-East corner just over the border with the Netherlands is one of the two Belgium F-16 airbases situated. Kleine Brogel AB hosts the 10th Wing, that is divided into three squadrons. The first two squadrons are the 31e Escadrille "Tiger" and the 349e Escadrille "Goedendag", both operational F-16AM & BM squadrons. The last squadron and also the host of this years Operational Integration Exercise is the Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) "Semper Vulture". The task of the OCU is to convert young pilots from Alpha Jet to F16 and get them to a basic operational status, and teach pilots how to fly an aircraft and which tactics best exploit the performance of their aircraft and its weapons.
On 17 July the Kleine Brogel Air Base celebrated the 20th Anniversary of the Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) with a special book and a large scale "spotters day". From the early years at Koksijde on Supermarine Spitfires and De Havilland Mosquito's to the Gloster Meteors and Lockheed T-33A "T-Birds" as used at Brustem. In combination with the 20th Anniversary was also in line with the OCU training opportunities a OIE or Operational Integration Exercise organized with more than 80 military aircraft from 10 different countries. Two COMAO's (Combined Air Operation) where flown over the North of Germany, divided into a Low and High COMAO. The purpose of the exercise is to improve and train tactical co-operation and skills in a multinational environment. Together with the Combined Air Operations Centre in Uedem, Germany a complex scenario was set up, including all the elements of a modern air operation. These included attack on ground targets from low and medium altitude level, and air-to-air refueling from the participating RAF VC-10 normally based at Brize Norton. After departing Kleine Brogel, the aircraft flew to a reserved air space in the north of Germany and the south of Belgium.
Ofcourse was the Belgium AirForce also in large numbers present during the exercise. The Belgium Solo Display F-16 performed a great display between the exercises, together with the Fouga Magister that performed his last fly-by ever. Before the COMAO exercises where started showed the Royal AirForce, Belgium AirForce and the Czech Republic how a CSAR "combat search and rescue" is flown. The RAF Puma was used to pick-up the "shot-down" pilot, while the BAF A-109's where giving close air support together with the three L-159 ALCA's from the Czech Republic.
Kleine Brogel's OIE 07 continues to live up to its reputation as a vast live-flying NATO exercise and provides realistic training opportunities
for participating experienced aircrews. That is also the reason that a very large number of participants where present at Kleine Brogel from all corners of Europe, and showed that they found it well worth to participate in this exercise after traveling long distances to arrive at KeeBee. More than 80 military aircrafts participated in this large scale, one day exercise. To give some more flavor to a normally "boring" straight take-off of all the participants, where all pilots asked during their briefing to make some "waves" with the aircraft on take-off. This was followed by all pilots, which created some absolute stunning angles to photograph all the aircrafts in.
Again a great event organised by the Belgium AirForce which showed that a large exercise can be combined with a very well organised "spotterday". With as highlights two Greek A-7E Corsairs and two F-4E Phantom II's. And furthermore two Turkish F-16 C/D's from the 192 Filo "Tiger" Squadron, notably marked with the tiger markings on the tail and drop-tanks. And last but not least a Spanish SF-5B(M) Freedom Fighter from the Ala 23 based at Badajoz - Talavera la Real. Not flying during the day was the Belgium F-16BM marked with a special birthday tail and lower fin's. Also very special as participant, and first time to visit Kleine Brogel was a Vickers VC-10 K4 from the 101 squadron based at Brize Norton in a special 90th anniversary scheme. Thank you 10 Tactical Wing at KB, and hopefully till next year.