15 AT Wing
Belgian air transport (AT) was born in the U.K. during the Second World War. After the liberation of Belgium in 1944, a communication flight service was formed and took base out of Hendon, near London, conducting regular service between the capital of the UK and Brussels. In August 1946, the Belgian transport service moved to Evere and renamed the 169th Wing. It consisted of two squadrons, the 366th - equipped with DC3 - and the 367th Squadron, using smaller aircrafts types as Anson, Oxfords, Dominies and Proctor. In addition, a Transport Conversion Unit - the 47th TCU - was created. Its tasks involved the conversion of fighter pilots into transport pilots. At this time the 169 th Wing was renamed the 15th Transport and Communications Wing (WTC 15).
From then till present, the 15th Wing operated different types and generations of air transport aircraft like the DC-4 Skymaster, Percival Pembroke, Fairchild Flying Boxcar, Hawker Siddeley 748 or Boeing 727.
The motto of the 15th Wing is: "Gelijk wat, gelijk wanneer, gelijk waar naar toe" (Anything, anytime, anywhere).
In 1972 the 20 th squadron received the first deliveries of their C130H and were earmarked to perform tactical AT- missions. Since its introduction, the C130’s have received different updates to be able to perform its mission in an constantly changing and challenging environment. The C130H can handle loads up to 20 tons while maintaining excellent STOL-capabilities (Short Take Off and Landing) - even on unpaved remote airstrips. Over the years, the 20th Squadron has distinguished itself numerous time providing much needed humanitarian support to people in distress in remote areas of the world. Furthermore, the Hercules has been the backbone of UN and NATO led operations and non-combatant evacuations in Africa. Presently, a C130 flies towards Kabul almost every week for the logistic support of the Belgian troops in Afghanistan. The UN operation in DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) is supported by the constant presence of a Belgian C130. And the 20th Squadron is always ready to fly to anywhere in the world to support any kind of mission in need of its skills.
The 21st squadron, first equipped with DC-3 Dakota, was specialized in AT right from the beginning and assured since April 1948 regular connections to the Belgian Congo. Over the years, the 21st Squadron had DC-4, DC-6, Merlin, Hawker Siddeley, B727 and 2 A310 in its inventory. Today the 21st Squadron is equipped with different types of aircraft to perform missions ranging from VIP flights, AE (Aeromedical Evacuation) to strategic troop transport to remote theatres of operations. The 21st Squadron operates a leased Airbus A330, four Embraer 135 and 145, two Dassault Falcon 20-5 and one Falcon 900, the last mainly used to fly the Head of State and the Royal House.
Pictures: Marcus Zinner, Belgian Air Force