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Belgium approves 6-month extension of Operation Desert Falcon

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World Aviation Defense & Security News - Belgium
 
 
Belgium approves 6-month extension of Operation Desert Falcon
 
By Nathan Gain

The Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel announced yesterday a 6-month extension of the operation Desert Falcon (ODF), in which six Belgian Air Force’s F-16AM multirole fighter jets are currently supporting the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria from Jordan’s Azraq Airbase.
     
Two BAF F-16AM fighter jets deployed in Jordan
(Credit: Belgian Ministry of Defense)
     
Belgian fighter jets were expected to fly until July 1, 2017, before rotating with the RNLAF F-16s. However, the Netherlands has decided not to continue rotations with the BAF for "technical reasons". The International Coalition therefore asked Belgium to continue the ODF mission after July 1st.

However, the number of F-16 aircraft will decrease from 6 to 4, and will be supported by around 110 soldiers.

"The missions our aircraft can carry out for the Coalition will remain unchanged. Only the number of flight hours will decrease from 400 to 250 per month," the Belgian Defense Minister Steven Vandeput said in an official statement. Extending the ODF mission will cost an extra 17 mn euros, said Vandeput.

Belgian fighter jets have been deployed in Jordan since October 2014. They recently reached 8,000 flight hours within ODF mission. As the fight against IS reached a decisive stage, "terror must be now tackled at the source. Our country is an important part of the International coalition fighting against IS," Vandeput declared.