The possibility of relocating military helicopters to Ostend airport will be discussed by the army and concerned municipalities on Tuesday, military sources announced today.
The helicopters have been stationed for decades at the Koksijde air base, but this “old” idea of a move is again on the drawing table.
A press conference is expected on Tuesday afternoon in Bruges with Air Component Commander Major General Frederik Vansina, and CIS & Infrastructure Defense Division Commander Major General Frederick Goetynck, after this “consultation” between Defense and representatives of the province of West Flanders and of municipalities Koksijde and Ostend, Mayors Marc Vanden Bussche and Bart Tommelein (both Open VLD – Open Vlaamse Liberalen en Democraten, Flemish liberal democratic.)
The prospect of this move was raised by Defense Minister Didier Reynders (MR, reformed movement), during a visit on Thursday to the Air component in Florennes.
Koksijde air base, which has existed since the First World War, houses a detachment of 1ste Wings from Bevekom. The main subunit is the 40th squadron, which is composed of three – soon four – naval versions (NFH) of the NH90 Caiman, which replaced end of March the iconic 40 year-old Sea Kings, and three venerable Alouette IIIs in service since 1971.
To run its two “Search and Rescue” (SAR) sea missions and boarding frigates (“Maritime Operations”, MAR) Koksijde Air Base has approximately 330 military (technical support staff and operational services such as air traffic, fire and bird control), most of whom will retire in the coming years, a military source said.