Belgians Confirmed for Air Tattoo
Published: 23 Mar 2017
Arguably one of the greatest fast jet displays in Europe and a rarely seen helicopter demonstration will form part of the Belgian Air Component's contribution to the Royal International Air Tattoo 2017.
Belgium has flown the F-16 Fighting Falcon since 1979, and its examples are among the oldest still in service, but thanks to major upgrades they remain very capable fighters indeed. Two wings of the country's Air Component operate a total of 54 F-16s, in the form of single-seat F-16AM and two-seat F-16BM (mid-life upgrade) models. They have taken part in coalition air operations over the Balkans, Afghanistan,
Iraq and Libya, as well as the Baltic Air Policing initiative.
The 2017 display aircraft is provided by 31 and 349 Squadrons from the 10th Tactical Wing at Kleine
Brogel, and flown - in his third and final season as the demo pilot - by Cdt Tom 'Gizmo' De Moortel. On several previous occasions, the Belgian F-16 has won one of the Air Tattoo's flying display trophies.
Cdt De Moortel said: "2017 will be my third participation at the Air Tattoo as a display pilot flying the F-16 for the Belgian Air Force. Each year, the Air Tattoo is one of the highlights of our season due to its enormous attendance and the enthusiasm of the UK public.
"I'm hoping for blue skies this year to enable me to show more than my flat routine to the public. It will be a pleasure for us to work again with the experienced team behind the Air Tattoo."
In addition to the Fighting Falcon, the RIAT 2017 flying
programme will also feature a search and rescue demonstration by a Westland Sea King helicopter operated by the Belgian Air Component's 40 Squadron at Koksijde on the North Sea coast. These veteran machines are nearing the end of their service in Belgium, making the Air Tattoo one of the last occasions on which such a display will be seen at a British event.
Backing these up will be two aircraft from the Belgian Air Component on static display, namely a single F-16 and C-130H Hercules transport.