1st squadron (BAF)

"Stingers" 

1 sqn "Stingers" (BAF)
Status:
Active
Version: F-16A/B block 20 MLU
Role:Multirole, Reconnaissance
Tailband: N/A
Motto: Nemo Me Impune Lacessit (No one wounds me with impunity)
Badge: A yellow 'thistle' on a black background surrounded by a golden finishing line.

Sideways profile for 1 sqn in 2001 with the 1st squadron tailband.

F-16 History

Conversion to the F-16 within 1 sqn started in 1989 and was completed by the end of 1990. The last Belgian F-16 rolled off the production line at the SABCA factory in September of 1991, completing the force structure of 1 sqn. The squadron was the last to convert on the F-16 since the Belgian government decided in 1983 only to order a batch of 44 aircraft as both attrition replacements and follow-on buy for another two squadrons. Financial difficulties prevented from ordering 40 more to equip another two squadrons who where forced to soldier on with their venerable Mirage V fighters.

Soon after equipping this squadron with the F-16, the fall of the Iron Curtain resulted in the withdrawal of the Mirage V aircraft from service. Since this was the only aircraft in the Belgian inventory who had a dedicated reconnaissance version, this role had to be taken over by the F-16 since the Joint Chiefs of Staff didn't want to give up this very important asset.

The last Belgian recce Mirage V flew in the spring of 1993 without having a successor at that time. As an interim solution the Belgian government asked for a number of Oudedelft reconnaissance pods from the Dutch, who flew the F-16 in the recce role since the early eighties. In 1996 however, the Belgian government decided to by a complement of Medium Altitude Reconnaissance Systems (MARS) from the Danish manufacturer 'Per Udsen'. At first they where equipped with the old camera's who where salvaged from the Mirage aircraft. During the late nineties these camera's where replaced by new high resolution examples and also with a line-scan, making real-time imagery possible.


BAF F-16A block 15 #FA-97 from 1 sqn is parked on the concrete at Aalborg AB on June 18th, 1992 armed with a dummy Sidewinder missile. [Photo by Erik Frikke]

Since the introduction of the MLU version, all F-16s are capable of carrying a reconnaissance pod. However, the Belgian Air Force kept the recce asset centralized within one squadron to make more use of scaling advantages and knowledge pools. Besides this reconnaissance role, all F-16 squadrons within the Belgian Air Force have a swing-role concept forcing them to be competent on all fields.

With the first major restructuring after the end of the Cold War, the squadron 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.

In 2002 the structure of the squadron was changed once more. Because of the fact that all squadrons had a multi-role task at that time, it proved more efficient to have 18 aircraft in every squadron. With the disbandment of the 2nd sqn within the 2nd Wing, 1 squadron received half of its 12 airframes strong fleet, thus having 18 F-16s at their disposal again.

In late 2003 the Belgian government announced a further reduction of the F-16 fleet as part of a cost reducing effort for the armed forces. This will mean that 1 squadron will loose 1/3rd of their F-16s again and will keep 12 planes operational in 2015.


BAF F-16A block 15 #FA-47 from 1 sqn seen at Kleine-Brogel AB on July 18th, 2002 during the first NATO Lions Meet. This aircraft was flown into storage in April of 2004, still wearing its distinctive color scheme. [Photo by Hans Rolink]

Aircraft Markings History

1990 - 1995

A black tailband with the town logo of Charleroi (who is the wings' godmother) together with the 'Thistle' squadron logo underneath the Belgian flag adorned the F-16s in this timeframe.

1995 - 1997

The tailband was changed to the Wild Boar's head of the 2nd Wing. An 'FS' tail code for Florennes AB was added in the center of the tail. This was only a temporary marking that wasn't painted on all aircraft and ultimately wasn't accepted by the Air Force staff.

1997 - present

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


Unit History

  • 1913: Activation of the squadron in Brasschaat
  • 1913: 'Farman' MF-16
  • 1913: 'Farman' MF-16 (Kiewit)
  • 1914: 'Farman' MF-16 (Ans)
  • 1914: 'Farman' MF-16 (Dunkerque-Les Mo√®res [France])
  • 1914: 'Farman' MF-11
  • 1916: 'Nieuport' X
  • 1917: 'Nieuport' XI
  • 1917: 'Nieuport' XVI
  • 1917: 'Hanriot Dupont' HD-1
  • 1917: 'Sopwith' Camel
  • 1918: Disbanded
  • 1948: Activation of the squadron in Florennes
  • 1948: 'Spitfire' Mk. XIV (part of 2 Wing)
  • 1952: F-84G 'Thunderjet'
  • 1953: F-84E 'Thunderjet'
  • 1956: F-84F 'Thunderstreak'
  • 1972: Mirage VB (part of 3 Wing, Bierset)
  • 1990: F-16A 'Fighting Falcon' (part of 2 Wing, Florennes)
  • 2003: F-16AM 'Fighting Falcon'

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. 1 sqn wasn't yet equiped with the MLU F-16 and only flew air support sorties during the conflict.
'Air Policing Baltic States'
Siauliai AB, Lithuania (March 30th, 2004 to June 30th, 2004)
This operation started when Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia joined NATO. These countries don't have fighters themselves and rely upon NATO for their air coverage. In a three-month rotation Belgian F-16s will patrol the skies over the Baltic States.
'ISAF - Eastern Eagle'
Kabul AB, Afghanistan (July 14th, 2005 to January 14th, 2006)
As a reinforcement for the ISAF air asset, the Belgian government decided to station 4 F-16s at Kabul AB together with the same number of Dutch aircraft to secure the parliamentary elections of September 2005. The initial four-month deployment was eventually extended to 6 months.
'Air Policing Baltic States'
Siauliai AB, Lithuania (December 1st, 2006 to March 31st, 2007)
This is the second deployment of the Belgian Air Force to the three Baltic states (Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia). This time a four-month rotation will see the Belgian F-16s patrol the skies over the Baltic States.
'ISAF - Guardian Falcon'
Kandahar AB, Afghanistan (September 1st, 2008 to December 31st, 2008)
In the summer of 2008 the Belgian government decided to step up and Join the NATO effort in Afghanistan with F-16 fighters. A total of 4 fighters were dispatched who strenghtened the Dutch contingent. The Belgian operation was called Guardian Falcon.
'ISAF - Guardian Falcon'
Kandahar AB, Afghanistan (September 1st, 2009 to April 30th, 2010)
This marked the second deployment of the squadron in the Guardian Falcon rotational deployments. By this time the detachment had risen to 6 aircraft being deployed.
'ISAF - Guardian Falcon'
Kandahar AB, Afghanistan (January 1st, 2011 to August 31st, 2011)
This marked the third consequitive deployment to Afghanistan for the unit. This was part of OGF VIII and IX.
'Odyssey Dawn / Unified Protector'
Araxos AB, Greece (March 23rd, 2011 to October 31st, 2011)
During the units' stay in Afghanistan the situation in Libya got very hot. During the latter part of the deployment personnel returning from Afghanistan were already dispatched to Greece with a number of aircraft also sent there to relieve units of the 10th Wing. This was a very busy period for the squadron.
'ISAF - Guardian Falcon'
Kandahar AB, Afghanistan (January 1st, 2012 to April 30th, 2012)
OGF XI was a shorter deployment of the squadron. This was done to relieve the sisterunit of the 10th Wing a little relieve since their busy deployment schedule.
'ISAF - Guardian Falcon'
Kandahar AB, Afghanistan (January 1st, 2013 to August 31st, 2013)
Another rotation into Afghanistan. These missions are always conducted together with the sister squadron, the 350th.
'Air Policing Baltic States'
Siauliai AB, Lithuania (September 3rd, 2013 to January 2nd, 2014)
This marked the third deployment of the Belgian Air Force to the Baltic states. Yet again a rotation in Afghanistan was followed by a another deployment keeping the high rythm of missions.
'ISAF - Guardian Falcon'
Kandahar AB, Afghanistan (May 1st, 2014 to August 31st, 2014)
This marked the final rotation of the squadron into Afghanistan as the mission was set to close later in the autumn of 2014.

F-16 Airframe Inventory

Photos

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