On September 2, 2008, four Belgian F-16 fighter bombers which departed the day before from Melsbroek AFB near Brussels, arrived on Kandahar Airfield (KAF), in Afghanistan's volatile south. It was a two-legged journey, with a stop on the Greek island of Crete and in-air refuelling probably somewhere over the Caspian sea from a French KC-135 tanker, see above. This is relatively standard practice since there is some sort of an operational agreement between the French and Belgian air forces whereby our jets always train with their tankers, I suppose because it is the most common type throughout NATO. Our northern neighbors, the Dutch, also have tanker capacity but consisting of two modified KDC-10's, originally civilian planes (unlike the KC-10 Extenders used by USAF), and AFAIK the only ones in Europe.
The mission of the F-16's in southern Afghanistan will last 6 months. Unlike in 2006, this will be a fighting mission whereby, apart from shows of force, the guarding communication lines, and reconnaissance, they will also be deployed actively to strafe and bomb Taliban targets. This represents a sea change in Belgian ISAF participation, since, although Belgian ground troops have been in Afghanistan since 2002, guarding Kabul Airport and demining in Kunduz, they were never allowed to engage terrorists unless attacked directly. Though the operation, dubbed "Guardian Falcon" is essentially a part of ISAF, the jets may also, if required, operate within the framework of "Enduring Freedom". The F-16's will operate in an international squadron together with four Dutch F-16s, some six French Super-Etendards and/or Mirage 2000s and several US jets. They will be equipped with a novelty, the sniper pod, a brand new electronic gondola carried under the fuselage allowing surveillance, detection and identification of a target, this in tandem with ground controllers who pinpoint the targets with a laser beam.
The four F-16s and roughly one hundred personnel will be based at Kandahar Airfield (KAF), an international base populated by more than 13,000 troops from 17 different nations. KAF, autonomous in terms of electricity and water, has to be supplied regularly by transport aircraft, since it is located in a remote area away from Kandahar City. The plus of this is that the airfield is less prone to attacks by land or air. Our government is still cautious, since ground personnel cannot not leave the KAF perimeter during our presence. Two F-16 missions, each comprising two planes, are planned daily. All in all an amazing feat for a country like Belgium. The current Belgian government, the Christian-Democrat dominated Leterme 1 administration, is unpopular, ineffective and moribund, but in its short existence it has accomplished what was impossible during eight years of socialist rule: active participation in the War On Terror.
PS: YouTube video of F-16 refuelling over AF (2006 video)
Some info on the Belgian F-16s