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The no 2 Squadron “Comet”; Florennes, June 24 – 27, 2016

De Belgian Air Force Days 2016, part 2; Text and Photograph's by Alex van Noye

Besides the no 1 Squadron, the no 2 Squadron was also one of the older units in the Belgian Air Force. The squadron was always easily recognizable by the bright red comet which was displayed on the aircraft. Due to some drastic reforms and cutbacks in the Belgian Air Force the no 2 Squadron was disbanded in April 2001.

The no 2 Squadron is a direct descendant of the no 1 Squadron, which was founded in Brasschaat in 1913. During the First World War, the no 1 Squadron was moved to France to Dunkerque-Les Moëres and in 1917 the unit had too less planes. It was decided to set up a second squadron in addition to the no 1 Squadron. The unit received right away several Nieuport XI and XVI planes to fight against the German army. The no 2 Squadron served in the Belgian army during the rest of the First World War. After this fight, both the no 1 Squadron and the no 2 Squadron were disbanded. Only after the Second World War, the unit was reactivated again. The no 2 Squadron was reactivated and equipped with the Spitfire Mk XIV in 1947. In 1951, the squadron would enter the jet era when the F-84E/G Thunderjet became operational. In 1957, the Thunderjets were replaced by the F-84F Thunderstreak. These aircraft were deployed at the beginning of the Cold War in the tactical attack role. In 1970, the no 2 Squadron received at Florennes the first Mirage Vs. The Mirage V started in Belgium in the ground attack role. The Mirages would be used by the no 2 Squadron until the end of the 80s. The no 2 squadron was the first Mirage unit in Belgium which would undergo the conversion to the F-16 Fighting Falcon in 1988. The first F-16s were received by the unit from Kleine-Brogel and were previously used by the OCU. Just before 1990, the no 2 Squadron was fully operational with the F-16.

Initially the F-16s of the no 2 Squadron were deployed in the same role as the Mirages in the past. The aircraft would be deployed in the ground attack role. This role was in Belgium often also referred as the mud-moving role. Mud moving means the unit was specialized in attacking at very low altitudes. The aircraft of the no 2 Squadron were able to perform precision bombardments at a very low altitude with a very high speed. Besides the mud moving role, the F-16s of the no 2 Squadron were also used for the air defense of the country in the daylight period. The no 2 Squadron got this role in

addition to the no 349 and no 350 Squadron at Beauvechain who had the all-weather interception role. The no 2 Squadron had a supporting role next to these specialized interception units. Shortly after the Cold War the mud-moving role was redundant and there was a ban on such kinds of attacks, because there were too many accidents during these kinds of workouts. The new tactic within NATO was attacking from average heights. These techniques were applied to all F-16 units in Belgium. From 1996, the no 2 Squadron was like all the other F-16 units in Belgium reduced in size with six aircraft. The squadron would operate a total of twelve aircraft which were ready to serve in the Belgian Air Force and NATO. The no 2 Squadron was the last Belgian F-16 unit which would undergo the MLU conversion in 2001. At the end of 2001, the unit was fully operational in the MLU role.

The no 2 Squadron had always a remarkable and well recognizable batch. The badge contains a red comet with a bright red track behind it. The comet is surrounded by a golden crown which is depicted in the squadron spell. The background of the batch is blue, and the shield is surrounded by a thin white line. The motto of the squadron is also in this unit written in Latin. The motto of the no 2 Squadron is "Ut Fulgur Sulca Aethera". Translated this means the lightning which crossed the sky. This batch and the respective spell means the unit is able to operate very quickly and that it can act decisively. The no 2 Squadron is like the no 1 Squadron at Florennes a real air defense unit of origin. The F-16s of the no 2 Squadron were from 1989 until 1995 recognizable by the blue tail band featuring just like the no 1 Squadron the logo of the city of Charleroi. Also in this unit this city was considered as the godmother of the unit. In the blue belt the red comet was displayed next to the city logo. In the period from 1995 until 1997, the F-16s of the no 2 Squadron flew like the other F-16 units in Florennes with a gray tail band including the wild boar of the 2 Wing. The wild boar is the symbol of the 2 Wing and indicates that the unit is stationed at Florennes. Also, a number of F-16s of this unit would fly with the tail code FS. After the MLU update which started from 1997 all squadron markings were in Belgium removed from the aircraft. The F-16s were from that moment only flying with the Belgian flag on the tail.

Since the no 2 Squadron flies the F-16, the Belgian government has sent the unit several times to foreign conflict areas. Especially during the war in the former Yugoslavia, the no 2 Squadron flew the most of its deployments. The no 2 Squadron participated in the deployment Decisive Endeavour and flew from Villafranca Air Base in Italy until December 1996. This operation took place in support of the IFOR troops which were led by the UN in Bosnia-Herzegovina. From December 1996 until June 1998 the unit participated in the operation Deliberate Guard. UN forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina received more mandates which resulted in a name change from IFOR to SFOR. The no 2 Squadron also took part in the deployment Determined Falcon at Villafranca; this brief operation lasted from June 5, 1998, until June 16, 1998. During this one-day operation, the muscles of the NATO were shown to ensure that the Serbian politicians would stop the bloodshed in Kosovo. In 1999, the no 2 Squadron also took part in the bombing of Serbian targets during the Operation Allied Force. The no 2 Squadron was not yet equipped with the MLU F-16 and flew only air support sorties during the conflict. During the reorganization which took place in Belgium in 2001 under the name Falcon 2000, it was decided that each squadron would fly 18 aircraft again. A few months later it was decided to disband the no 2 Squadron, even though the unit only recently received its first MLU F-16s. After 54 years of operational service within the Belgian Air Force, the no 2 Squadron was disbanded on April 20, 2001. The unit had flown a total of 12 years with the F-16 when it was over.

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