The Air Force undertook 796 operations and 163 ground attacks in Iraq on behalf of the international coalition led by the United States against IS terrestrial targets, over 9 months, said a senior military commander, 3 weeks after the end of a mission which should start again next year, in a rotational program with the Netherlands. 6 Belgian F-16 fighter-bombers operated – only in Irak – out of Jordan between the beginning of October 2014 and the end of June 2015, in support of Iraqi forces on the ground in particular, in an effort to stop the progress of IS (a.k.a.Daech in Arabic). They clocked in 3,552 hours of flight including some at night, attacking 163 Daech targets, in some cases with several 250-kilo bombs, which represents 5.5% of the international coalition effort.
“There was no collateral damage,” thanks to precautionary measures, claimed the commander of the Air force, General Frederik Vansina, at a press conference at the Kleine-Brogel air base (Limbourg) on the occasion of a flight in a F-16 for Defence Secretary Steven Vandeput.
The air campaign is effective and Daech has been halted, as the movement lost 30% of territories previously under their control in spite of some “temporary tactical victories,” he added, whilst admitting the fight against IS will be “a long one.”
Belgian participation in the air strikes was suspended for budgetary reasons at the end of June, and planes were back in Florennes a few days later.
Belgium and the Netherlands agreed to alternate however, which means that the 2 air forces will take turns from the summer of 2016.