On this Thursday 8 July 2021 at Koksijde Air Base, the Belgian Air Force will retire the last two Alouette III helicopters.
A third aircraft of the Alouette III fleet has already been definitively retired in August last year. This aircraft has found its place on the Saffraanberg Campus (Sint-Truiden) where it is used as teaching material for the training of future defence technicians. The departing helicopters will become part of the collection of the War Heritage Institute Museum. One will be displayed in Beauvechain. The other will go to the museum’s depot in Landen.
Since their commissioning in 1971, the Alouette helicopters have regularly embarked on Navy command ships for logistical and tactical support missions. Among other things, they participated in deployments in the Persian Gulf.
Later, they also embarked on multipurpose frigates, notably during counter-piracy missions in the Horn of Africa. Stationed on Dutch Navy ships, they also successfully participated in various counter-drug operations in the Caribbean. In addition, the helicopters have carried out rescue and medical evacuation operations and participated in anti-pollution missions over the North Sea.
The Alouette IIIs made their last deployment during the Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 exercise on the BNS GODETIA (command ship) which ended on 25 June. Earlier this year they participated in Operation Agenor, in the framework of EMASOH (European led Maritime Situation Awareness in the Straight of Hormuz) onboard the frigate Leopold I to perform an escort mission for the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle.
The three Aerospatiale SE-316B Alouette IIIs were part of a pool attached to 40 Squadron since April 1st 1971. That makes 50 years of good and loyal service for this tireless machine.