Belgium to deploy F-16s to the Middle East

On September 29, four Belgian Air Component-operated Lockheed Martin F-16AM (MLU) Fighting Falcons will deploy to the Middle East in support of Operation Inherent Resolve – a coalition mission against so-called Islamic State.

The deployment comes after the Belgian government decided on June 26, 2020, to send aircraft and personnel to the region in support of the coalition operation. Supported by approximately 100 personnel, the four multi-role fighters will deploy from Florennes air base in Belgium’s Wallonia region to an undisclosed base in the Middle East. All supporting personnel were placed in coronavirus quarantine prior to the deployment and have since arrived in the region ahead of the F-16s.

F-16AM (MLU) Fighting Falcon [USAF/MSgt Adrian Cadiz] #1
A Belgian Lockheed Martin F-16AM Fighting Falcon lines up for fuel behind a US Air Force (USAF) Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker over Afghanistan in August 2011. USAF/MSgt Adrian Cadiz

A press release from the Belgian Armed Forces added: “This new deployment is necessary to avoid a resurgence of the [so-called Islamic State]. The aircraft, pilots and support personnel will operate from a base in the Middle East, from where they can intervene in support of coalition forces on the ground.”

It added that Belgium’s commitment to Operation Inherent Resolve falls within the framework of Resolution 2249 of the United Nations Security Council of 2015. This resolution refers to the global threat to international peace and security posed by so-called Islamic State.