May 19, 2011 (by Lieven Dewitte) - As of last Friday Belgian F-16s have also been involved in night-time bombing raids on targets in Libya. The jets attacked a number of logistical facilities, such as maintenance complexes for tanks.
BAF F-16AM #FA-123 from 349 sqn waits to be refuelled by a KC-135T Stratotanker assigned to the 145th ARS on March 27th, 2011 during Operation Odyssey Dawn. [USAF photo by SrA. Tyler Placie]
Since May 13th Belgian pilots chalked up 52 hours of night-time operations, during which they dropped 12 bombs. They destroyed 10 targets and damaged 2 others.
Before May 13th, maintenance work at the runway of the Greek base at Araxos prevented the Belgian jets from participating in the air raids.
Belgian defense minister Pieter De Crem: "During the past week our F-16's carried out 52 hours of operations. They also intensified their work during the daytime. They are involved in the destruction of planes on the ground, ammunition depots and hangars that contain equipment that can be used against the civilian population. We are doing the same as other similar sized countries like Norway
"What our pilots are doing is not something that is free of obligation. We are working within a larger framework to eliminate the Gaddafi regime. We are counting on this operation having a psychological impact. Gaddafi's entourage will become smaller so that he is removed from power."
"We are evaluating the situation regularly. I informed the premier and the foreign minister about the start of night-time operations. I do not expect opposition in parliament because we are covered by UN Resolution 1973."
"The raids were conceived as a very active and even offensive way of protecting the civilian population. I always warned that images could bring us very much face to face with what is happening. The aim is to protect civilians from the Gaddafi regime and to disarm this regime so that it cannot use arms against its own people. There will always be some tension, but we have a red card holder who can decide whether or not an operation can proceed."