As Belgium decides on a new fighter, Combat Aircraft looks back at a prestigious career for the F-16 with this small but capable air arm.

IN THE EARLY 1970s, the then Belgian Air Force and its Danish, Dutch and Norwegian counterparts initiated the search for a common replacement for their aging F-104 Starfighters. After a thorough examination of the Saab Viggen, Dassault Mirage F1/M53, Northrop F-17 and General Dynamics F-16, all four nations opted for the F-16 in 1975. Belgium signed an order for a first batch of 96 F-16A single-seaters (serials FA-01 to FA-96) and 20 F-16B combat trainers (FB-01 to FB-20) during May 1977. The first of the new fleet was Off cially handed over in January 1979.

A follow-on batch of 40 F-16As (FA-97 to FA-136) and four F-16Bs (FB-21 to FB-24) was ordered in February 1983 to partially replace the Mirage 5 fleet. The last of these were delivered in September 1991.

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