Belgian technicians working on an F-16 in a hangar at Siauliai Air Base. Photo Courtesy Belgian Air Force
“Our job here is to ensure that the aircraft is always technically ready,” said the detachment’s director of maintenance operations. “We conduct pre-flight checks before the pilots take off for training or alert mission and when they return from a mission, we conduct a complete post-flight inspection and secure the jets. Besides regular scheduled maintenance we are also conducting repair jobs as required,” he added.
“We cannot accomplish our Allied mission here without jets ready to launch.” said the Belgian detachment commander Major “SAM” Vanophem.
Our maintenance team sets the conditions for our aircrew to accomplish the mission – protect the Baltic Airspace, underlining Alliance solidarity and cohesion
“At the end of the day my maintenance team sets the conditions for our aircrew to accomplish that mission – to protect the Baltic Airspace, underlining Alliance solidarity and cohesion. Kudos to them as they never let us down.” he added.
Belgium was the first Ally to deploy its F-16 to Šiauliai in the spring of 2004 when NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission started. This detachment is the eleventh Belgian Air Force deployment to the Baltics and a special one at that as it is the first time an Ally does an eight-month deployment as lead nation ensuring continuity of the mission.