23rd squadron (BAF)

"Devils" 

23 sqn "Devils" (BAF)
Status:
Disbanded
Version: F-16A/B block 20 MLU
Role:Multirole
Tailband: N/A
Motto: Diabolico Furore (With devilish fierceness)
Badge: A devil throwing two bombs with the motto at the bottom.
Disbanded on January 2nd, 2002.

Sideways profile for 23 sqn in 2001 with the 50 years anniversary tail.

F-16 History

The 23rd squadron received their F-16s as last squadron to be converted onto the type from the venerable F-104G Starfighter in 1982. A note worthy point is that the conversion took place in less then one years time. In 1987 the squadron was also the first within the Belgian Air Force to be swing role, meaning it could perform in air defence as air-to-ground and strike roles. During the early years, a number of exercises where attended. This included Red Flag, FWIT or low level flying at Meknes (Morocco).

With the first major restructuring after the end of the Cold War, the squadron escaped the axe although it lost 6 aircraft of its operational strength. Keeping 12 aircraft operational for NATO duty from 1996 onwards, just as all the other Belgian Air Force F-16 squadrons.

The squadron was also responsible for the strike role together with its sister squadron, the 31st. Although a public secret, it is generally believed that Kleine Brogel AB hosts tactical nuclear devices of the B-61 type. This is a part of NATO deterrence, which is still a key cornerstone of the alliances strategy until this day.


BAF F-16A block 15 #FA-81 of 23 sqn is residing in the static at the Open House at Kleine Brogel AB in 1991. [Photo by Ed Groenendijk]

The most drastic change in the squadron's role since the introduction of the Fighting Falcon came in 1999 when the unit converted to the updated MLU type. This update provided some state-of-the-art technology with the introduction of BVR missiles and precision-guided air-to-ground weapons like the AGM-65 missile and GBU-type weapons.

In 2001 however another reorganization took place called 'Falcon 2000'. As all squadrons had a multi-role task at that time, it proved more efficient to have 18 aircraft in every squadron. What was feared for some months became reality and 23 squadron faced deactivation. It was finally disbanded on March 8th, 2002 transferring all its assets to the 31st squadron, hereby ending 51 years of operations from Kleine Brogel AB.


BAF F-16A block 15 #FA-65 from 23 sqn is waiting for a new mission. Note the absence of the front CARAPACE sensor under the intake. [Photo by Mike Kopack]

Aircraft Markings History

1982 - 1995

A red and white tailband with the squadron's logo together with a red lion on a blue background (10 W logo) drawn under the Belgian flag adorned the F-16s in this timeframe.

1995 - 1997

A tailband was introduced in a gray format with the devil in the center. The Belgian flag was moved from the tail center to the top of the rudder with its place being taken by the 'BL' marking of Kleine Brogel AB. This was only a temporary marking that wasn't painted on all aircraft and ultimately wasn't accepted by the Air Force staff.

1997 - 2002

All squadron logos of the Belgian F-16s have been removed after the MLU conversion.


Unit History

  • 1951: Activation of the squadron in Beauvechain
  • 1951: 'Spitfire' Mk. XIV
  • 1951: 'Spitfire' Mk. XIV (Chièvres, part of 10 Wing)
  • 1952: F-84G 'Thunderjet'
  • 1953: F-84G 'Thunderjet' (Kleine Brogel)
  • 1953: F-84G 'Thunderjet' (Geilenkirchen [Germ.])
  • 1953: F-84G 'Thunderjet' (Brüggen [Germ.])
  • 1954: F-84G 'Thunderjet' (Kleine Brogel)
  • 1955: F-84E 'Thunderjet'
  • 1956: F-84F 'Thunderstreak'
  • 1965: F-104G 'Starfighter'
  • 1982: F-16A 'Fighting Falcon'
  • 1999: F-16AM 'Fighting Falcon'
  • 2002: Disbanded

Deployments

'Decisive Endeavour'
Villafranca AB, Italy (start operation to December of 1996)
From the start of the Belgian Air Force F-16 operations in former Yugoslavia till December of 1996 it was part of 'Decisive Endeavour'. This was an operation in support of the UN-led IFOR troops stationed in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
'Deliberate Guard'
Villafrance AB, Italy (December of 1996 to June 20th, 1998)
When the UN forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina changed their mandate resulting in a name change from IFOR to SFOR, also the air operations were given another name. Ultimately, 'Deliberate Guard' formed the air asset for the SFOR troops.
'Determined Falcon'
Villafranca AB, Italy (June 15th, 1998 to June 16th, 1998)
Operation 'Determined Falcon' was a one-day operation to show force over Kosovo and Albania. NATO fighters patrolled this airspace coming only within 10nm of Serbian territory. This operation was meant as a warning to Serbian politicians to stop the bloodshed in this Yugoslavian province.
'Deliberate Forge'
Amendola AB, Italy (June 20th, 1998 to end operation)
Operation 'Deliberate Forge' was the successor of operation 'Deliberate Guard'. When the SFOR troops were reorganized into a smaller force, the covering air campaign also received a new name. This operation continued until the end of Belgian Air Force operations in Yugoslavia, which ended in the summer of 2001.
'Allied Force'
Amendola AB, Italy (March 23rd, 1999 to June 10th, 1999)
Operation 'Allied Force' was the codename for the almost three month long air strikes against Serbia. 23 sqn wasn't yet equipped with the MLU F-16 and only flew air support sorties during the conflict.

F-16 Airframe Inventory

Photos

Errors and Omissions



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