June 22, 2003 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Belgian F-16s from the Quick Reaction Alert in Klein Brogel scrambled two times in two days time to intercept a civilian aircraft. The first interception was on Friday June 20th when a Lebanese DC-8 on route to Ostend (Belgium) had not communicated with air traffic control (ATC) for a while. The F-16s which were already in the air for a training when the NATO command centre in Kalkar (Germany) asked the F-16s to get a visual check.
The airliner followed the directions given by the F-16s pilots. Somehwere over Brussels the pilot of the DC-8 regained contact with the ATC
, after which it continued its flight to Ostend.
And on Saturday, two BAF
F-16s intercepted another airliner above the North Sea. They received the request from the NATO
-command centre in Messtetten. The plane came from Greece
with destination Luton in the UK and had also lost radio contact.
Kleine Brogel air base was alarmed at 08.52h. Less than 5 minutes later two F-16s took off. During the flight the sound barrier was broken between 09.00h and 09.08h. The civilian aircraft was intercepted above the North Sea.
Shortly after the interception the aircraft could regain contact via an emergency frequency.
The F-16s returned to their base. They tried to minimise the noise hindrance caused by the supersonic flight, by climbing to high altitude - about 40.000 ft.
During both interventions, the F-16s were controlled by the radar station in Glons, close to Tongeren.