June 28, 2016 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Six Belgian F-16 fighter jets left Kleine Brogel airbase yesterday heading for Jordan. They will resume operation "Desert Falcon" which was started in October 2014 but interrupted in June 2015 due to budgetary constraints.
BAF F-16AM #FA-98 manoeuvres into position behind a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft before an aerial refuelling over an undisclosed location in southern Afghanistan on August 18th, 2011. The pilot was on a mission providing close-air support to coalition forces. [USAF photo by MSgt. Jeffrey Allen]
From a Jordanian airbase they will now carry out raids against Daesh (IS) targets in both Syria and Iraq
. Previously Belgian jets had only been deployed in operations in the fight against the so-called Islamic State in Iraq. From now on they will also perform reconnaissance and surveillance tasks in Syria.
According to Belgian Defense Minister Steven Vandeput the mission is very important for Belgium
. "It is important that we remain active in the fight against IS. We have seen in our own country what this means for our security. We need to beat the terrorists over there to be safer here”.
The Belgian F-16 fighter’s mission will last a full year. This means that the costs incurred as a result of the operation will be spread over two financial years.
The Belgian fighters are replacing Dutch F-16s at the air base in Jordan
used by the coalition.
The coalition is led by the US forces and consists of more than 60 nations that have been carrying out airstrikes against Daesh in Syria and Iraq since 2014. The operation is called "Inherent Resolve" by the US.