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JOBDAGEN Gefascineerd door gevechtsvliegtuigen of gepassioneerd door techniek?

FA-95 8000 Hr

The F-16 Fighting Falcon was developed in the 1970s by General Dynamics. Under the Multi-National Fighter Program (MNFP), Belgium decided in 1975 to replace the aging F-104 Starfighter. On January 29, 1979, the first European-built F-16 was delivered to the Belgian Air Force by the Société Anonyme Belge de Constructions Aéronautiques, SABCA for short.

In total, Belgium put 160 F-16s into service, which were delivered between 1979 and 1991. Restructuring and financial cutbacks have resulted in 45 F-16As and 8 F-16Bs still in service today.

The F-16 with registration FA-95 rolled off the assembly line at SABCA in Gosselies in January 1985. This aircraft is the first Belgian F-16 to reach the milestone of 8,000 flying hours. This milestone means that the aircraft will be decommissioned. Our F-16s are designed to fly for 8,000 hours. Flight operations beyond this limit no longer guarantee the structural integrity, safety of the aircraft and, consequently, of the pilot and the population being overflown.

The first flight of the FA-95, an Acceptance Check Flight (ACF), was performed on January 28, 1985, by Serge Martin, factory test pilot at SABCA with a background as a retired fighter pilot in the Belgian Air Force. After he had approved the aircraft, it was flown on February 18, 1985, from SABCA Gosselies to Kleine-Brogel by Senior Captain Paul Nijs, a military pilot of the 10th Tactical Wing at Kleine-Brogel.

On March 18, 1985, the aircraft started a great career within the Belgian Air Force. Captain Kortleven, pilot in the then 23rd “Devil” Squadron, had the honour of carrying out the first Belgian military flight, a training flight over Belgian territory.

More than 38 years and almost 6,500 flights later, the FA-95 will achieve its 8,000th flight hour and will fly for the last time on September 8, 2023, during the Spotters' Day of the Belgian Air Force Days.

During its lifespan, the FA-95 flew in the 23rd, 31st and 349th squadron of the 10th Tactical Wing at Kleine-Brogel. In addition, it also flew a short period in the 2nd Tactical Wing at Florennes.

The FA-95 has taken part in numerous exercises and in every military operation for the past 35 years. For example, it was deployed to Afghanistan during Operation Guardian Falcon, during Operation Unified Protector over Libya and during Operation Desert Falcon from Jordan to provide close air support over Iraq and Syria. The FA-95 also made several appearances during QRA missions over the Baltic States, the Baltic Air Policing, the Enhanced Air Policing Mission and the Enhanced Vigilant Activity.

The FA-95 was used alongside the Dream Viper (FA-87) by Senior Captain Steven “Vrieske” De Vries during the preparation of the 2022 demo season.

8,000 flight hours and countless stories and experiences from pilots and technicians later, the story of the FA-95 comes to an end. On the occasion of this milestone, the aircraft was painted for the last time with a design by Thomas Vercauteren and Tiziano Romano. The specially painted tailplane symbolizes reaching the 8,000 flight hours. After the last flight, the FA-95 will continue to exist as a training aircraft for the training of a new generation of technical personnel.

 

Bert B © Copyright on content & photos - PR KeeBee icc with Belgian Air Force