Special markings on combat jets are an important part to honour the history and heritage of Fighter Squadrons. Despite its relatively small size, the Belgium Air Component, or formerly Belgian Air Force, is very attentive to hold on this long tradition. This time, the markings of 1 and 350 Squadrons out of Florennes Air Base were in focus.
Where? Belgium Airspace
When? June 2022
Florennes Air Base is home of the 2nd Tactical Wing of the Belgium Air Component. The 2nd Tactical Wing consist of 1 Squadron “Stingers” and 350 Squadron “Ambiorix”, which both operate the F-16AM/BM Fighting Falcon.
Belgium became a user of the F-16 Fighting Falcon in 1979, with the fleet peaking at 160 jets in the 1990s. Following the end of the Cold War, and going along with weapon system upgrades, mid-life update (MLU) programs, and aircraft losses, this number shrunk to currently approximately 50 aircraft, all of them representing the currently most modern Block 20 MLU standard.
Following the reduction in size of the whole Air Force to only four fats jet Squadrons and one Operational Conversion Unit (OCU), this translates into 12 aircraft strong frontline Squadrons. Despite this rather small size, and regular combat deployments, Squadrons are allowed to brightly honor their tradition. Regularly their jets receive special schemes to celebrate distinctive anniversaries, and those schemes might stay on the jet for up to two years.
105 years 1 Squadron “Stingers”
In 2022, it has been the 105th anniversary of 1 SQN “Stingers”, resulting in a nice special marking on F-16AM FA-57, The “Stingers” are Belgiums oldest serving Fighter Squadron, their foundation dating back to 1917 when their Squadron insignia, the Scottish Thistle, first appeared on Hanriot Dupont HD-1 and Sopth Camel fighter aircraft. Obviously one major feature of FA-57 special scheme is this thistle, largely painted on the left side of the tail, with the “ONE” Squadron’s square design adorning the other side.
350 Squadron “Ambiorix”- Belgium’s Bravest
Additionally to the new scheme of 1 SQN at Florennes in summer 2022, 350 SQN “Ambiorix” was also still up with their 80th anniversary yet (FA-86). “Ambiorix”, is a Belgian national hero because of his resistance against Julius Caesar. This historic origin is also well represented by the Squadrons motto “Belgae Gallorum Fortissimi” (The Belgians, bravest of the Gauls), and also by the badge, showing an ancient Belgian warriors head with the motto at the bottom and the British crown on top. And this Belgian warrior also had a threatening look down from FA-86.
The 2nd Tactial Wing was more than proud to present the formation of these two jets up in the Belgium sky.
Thanks a lot to each and everyone within the Belgium Air Component who made this flight possible!
Belgium Air Force F-16s Photo Gallery
More info on Belgium’s F-16s on the web:
Disclaimer: Information in this article has been sourced from those webpages.