Twelve F-16 fighter planes from the Florennes Base in Belgium will be deployed from 6 to 24 September at the marine air base in Landivisiau, northwestern France, military sources reported on Sunday.
The deployment is linked to infrastructure work at Florennes, Colonel Philippe Goffin, commander of the base and head of the Second Tactical Wing, which is stationed there, told Belga news agency.
The main runway at the base in Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse is being equipped with an arrester cable capable of stopping an F-16 and, from the year 2025, an F-35. Both types of plane will be equipped with a tailhook that will be caught by the cable if the plane has braking problems.
“We have a second runway in Florennes, but it’s shorter,” Col. Goffin explained. “It’s harder there to do night flights (suspended since early June for the length of the summer holidays) whereas the pilots need to keep up their qualifications” after the holidays.
Landivisiau, which is close to Brest, was selected as host base after the Belgian authorities contacted partner countries willing to take in Belgian planes to do night flying.
French sources indicated that the Landivisiau Base and the embarked air group squadron on board the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier have been exchanging and cooperating for years now with the Second Tactical Wing in Florennes in training as well as operations.
The French Ministry of the Armed Forces said in a statement that the coming of the Belgian F-16s was an opportunity to continue developing new tactics, forge new know-how indispensable to future operations, and prepare the embarked air group fleets for future combat.
The deployment, which coincides with the arrival of the new Rafale F3R Standard in the embarked air group, is also linked to a “high-level operational preparation exercise with our Belgian partners,” the French press quoted the Ministry as saying in its statement.
Military planes operating out of the Landivisiau Base have supersonic air-flying zones above the Atlantic Ocean around the tip of Brittany that enable them to train with this flight dimension, which is difficult to do over the European continent.