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Belgian F-16s train with French KC-135s

February 24, 2005 (by Lieven Dewitte) - From February 21st till February 25th a KC-135FR tanker from the French Armée de l'Air will be stationned at Kleine Brogel AB, Belgium for qualification training of Belgian F-16 pilots and French KC-135 boom operators in in-flight refueling procedures.
This joint exercise is part of an operational concept in which French Air Force KC-135 tankers provide in-flight refueling support for Belgian F-16s.

Untill recently, the French KC-135s only used the "hose-and-drogue" aerial refuelling system. A boom was recently installed on a number of these KC-135FR aircraft and all crew members need to be qualified to operate it.

For the Belgian F-16 pilots, this exercise is well suited to maintain their aerial refuelling qualification.

During this 5-day exercise, eight missions are planned. Monday will see a large COMAO (Combined Air Operation) with approximately 20 Belgian F-16s participating, both from Kleine Brogel AB and from Florennes AB. Tuesday and Wednesday exercises will focus on nighttime qualifications.

The exercise is a result of a Franco-Belgian agreement in which Belgian F-16s use French tanker capacity. Early in April a Cross Continental Deployement is planned for 10 Belgian F-16s, in order to attend exercises at NAS El Centro (California) and Cold Lake CFB (Canada).

This year will mark the first time that this crossing will be achieved using French KC-135FR tankers.