Friday, March 03, 2017


About one hundred Belgian Special Forces and two C-130 transports are currently exercising in USMC Air Station Yuma, Arizona, of all places. Although it makes sense. Exercises like this are basically not possible in land-strapped Belgium. Via Aviation Week, 2 March:

"Belgian para-commandos are honing their skills during Exercise Belgian Beast in the Arizona desert Feb. 13 to March 12. Some 100 members of Belgium's Special Forces Group and pathfinders are practicing tactical air insertion from high altitudes wearing oxygen masks.

The drops are done from 12,000 feet, with high altitude, high opening drops involving opening parachutes after five seconds, allowing landings several kilometers away, while high altitude, low opening drops land in a smaller area.

After landing, the para-commandos conduct live firing exercises and tactical ground movement, as well as operating with joint terminal controllers for close air support. They are also doing free-fall paradrops while being filmed by cameramen from Belgium's Parachutist Training Center so instructors can give them feedback to improve their skills.

The para-commandos are being supported by two C-130s from the Belgian air force's 15th Wing based at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma during the exercise. When they are not dropping men and materiel, the C-130s and their flight crews practice low-level and night flying with night goggles, as well as landing on short desert strips.

The desert area around Yuma resembles some of the countries where Belgian forces have actually been deployed: Afghanistan, Iraq and Jordan. Unlike Belgium, it offers wider spaces to train and materiel can be dropped from high altitudes without the risk of causing damage on the ground. The wide open spaces allow Belgian paratroopers to obtain their qualifications much quicker in Arizona than they can in Belgium."

HALO, HAHO, stacks:

The venerable Hercules, pending the arrival of the Airbus A400M, is still the workhorse of Belgian Army air transport:

High altitude matériel droppings (HAADS - High Altitude Air Delivery System) are also exercised. According to "Peter", the droppings depend solely on the reigning winds, which differ from height to height. The goal is to deliver a crate within a 300 meter radius from the designated landing point, "but we haven't been able to do that yet".

Videos via the Belgian Army website.


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