From today, 14 September 2018, the Dutch F-16s protect the airspace of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Belgium and the Netherlands carry out this mission jointly and in turn.
One of the tasks of the Belgian Air Component and the “Koninklijke Luchtmacht” is to respond appropriately to violations of the Benelux airspace. There are always two F-16s ready in case of an alert. In Belgium, the F-16s of the Kleine-Brogel and Florennes air bases carry out this mission in turn. In the Netherlands, the Volkel and Leeuwarden air bases take turns to ensure permanence. This time, it’s the turn of the Volkel Air Base.
The airspace is monitored 24/7 by the Glons Control and Reporting Center for the Belgian-Luxemburg area and the Air Control Station in Nieuw-Milligen for the Dutch sector.
If the air traffic controllers detect an aeroplane flying in the Benelux airspace without radio contact, the “Quick Reaction Alert” (QRA) is activated. The QRA aircraft takes off in a few minutes to intercept the unidentified aircraft. European control stations work closely together when suspicious aircraft fly into the airspace of a neighbouring country. They are therefore well prepared for a possible imminent threat.
The Netherlands and Belgium alternate in principle every four months. However, with mutual agreement, Belgium has carried out this QRA mission over the past eight months as the Dutch F-16s are currently operating in the Middle East. In January, Belgium will resume the mission from the Dutch.
Since the beginning of September, the Belgian F-16s have been protecting the airspace of the Baltic countries for a period of four months. For this QRA mission, the Belgian Air Force deployed four aircraft and a detachment of 50 soldiers to the Siauliai Air Base in Lithuania.