May 10, 2007 (by Lieven Dewitte) - From May 21st until July 22nd the Belgian Air Component will deploy 10 F-16 fighters to the North-American continent for the annual Cross Continental Deployment (CCD).
Every year, in spring, this great intercontinental exercise takes place. Intended to improve the pilots' formation, a four week training is planned in El Centro (USA) and four others in Cold Lake (Canada).
The Belgians will also send 5 F-16s to Azraq air base in Jordan
where the pilots will participate from May 14th until June 1st in exercise "Falcon Air Meet 2007".
The concept of that exercise is a friendly competition centred on the world's only multi-role fighter jet, the F-16 Fighting Falcon. It was inspired by Prince Feisal Bin Al Hussein, special assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Jordanian Armed Forces, and first organised in 2006. The goal of this F-16 competition is the improvement of the relationship of Jordan with its partners and the promotion of the stability in the region.
"The idea was to get all the F-16 users in the region to exercise and hopefully learn from each other and exchange information," Prince Feisal said. "The nice thing about making it a competition is that you get the best of the teams together and with the smartest and brightest people working together they tend to learn from one another. The idea eventually will be to make this more of a coalition exercise."
Prince Feisal's vision became reality when the 522nd Fighter Squadron from Cannon AFB
, the Turkish Air Force and the Royal Jordanian Air Force competed in Falcon Air Meet 2006.
Last year, the U.S. Air Force (522FS - Cannon AFB), the Turkish Air Force and the Royal Jordanian Air Force competed in the event. Along with those 2006 competitors there were several observing countries such as Bahrain
, United Arab Emirates
and Saudi Arabi, some of which are now also planning to participate to the exercise.
The first official day of last years' air meet was the scramble competition in which each country launched two aircraft under timed conditions. Each aircraft had two crew chiefs and a pilot. Teams were timed and graded on speed and accuracy of a successful and rapid launch.
The second event was the bombing competition where each country launched four aircraft on a bombing run of the royal Jordanian air force’s bombing range. The bombing competition was followed by the formation flying event and the large force employment competition. Each country was tasked and graded on their successful and rapid deployment of four aircraft per country. While in the air during these events, pilots engaged in mock combat maneuvers.