In the early eighties, pilot conversion and training was setup in the Wings where the aircraft were introduced. After having converted the 1st and 10th Wings, the General Staff concluded that a centralized training syllabus would be far more efficient. In 1987 the Operational Conversion Unit was activated at Beauvechain AB.
The mission of the squadron is to train young graduates coming from basic flight training and to train F-16 pilots in air defense tactics. Other training was still carried out in the squadrons (for example air-to-ground tactics etc). After the temporary installation of the Conversion Improvement Program (CIP) in 1993, the complete training of all F-16 pilots was carried out by the OCU.
BAF F-16B block 5
from the OCU is spotted at Aalborg AB on November 18th, 1997. [Photo by Erik Frikke]
In 1996 the squadron was relocated to the 10th Wing at Kleine Brogel AB. At that time a standardized conversion syllabus was installed which consists of academic courses, around 40 Operational Flight Trainer (OFT) hours and around 100 'advanced' flights. Besides that the squadron also provides re-conversion training of F-16 pilots and Staff personnel as well as the theater conversion of F-16 pilots who return from courses in the US.
Over the years a number of reorganizations took place within the Belgian Air Force. The OCU however never really suffered any hard consequences from those decisions.
BAF F-16B block 5 #FB-08
from the OCU adorned with 'BL' markings at Kleine-Brogel AB in September of 1998. [Photo by Dirk A. Geerts]