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  Koksijde Airshow - Koksijde, Belgium 30th June 2006

Review - Over 100,000 visitors flocked to the Belgian coast for the annual Koksijde International Airshow held over the weekend of 1/2 July.  The base is home to the Sea King and Alouette III helicopters of 40ste Smaldeel and these featured strongly in the show, while in the static park a NH Industries NH90 signalled the future, as the units Sea King MK.48s are due to be replaced by ten of these state of the art helicopters in 2008.  Home grown talent also included a pair of Beauvechain based Fouga CM170 Magisters which are now in their last year of displaying pending the types retirement, incredible when you consider that the prototype CM170 first flew in July 1952.  Fast jets in the shape of F-16AM Fighting Falcons starred in solo and pair ‘airfield attack’ slots, their second phase M5 mid life update, which will include the Link-16 tactical data link and Helmet Mounted Cueing System, being approved by the Belgian Government in April of this year.

Participation in the show was Europe wide bringing several gems, both historic and modern, to the Belgian skies.  Highlight of the modern military hardware in the display was the Czech Republic SAAB J-39C Gripen from 211.tl.  This was joined by an Aero Vodochody L159A ALCA Albatross of 212.lt and supported by an Antonov An-26 of 241.dsl.  The Swiss Air Force were ably represented by a pair of F/A-18C Hornets and the F-5 Freedom Fighters of the Patrouille de Suisse, while a Spanish Air Force Mirage F.1M of Ala 14 contrasted well with a pair of younger Armee de l’Air Mirage 2000Cs of EC02.005 from Orange-Caritat Air Base.  Rotor powered gems included a 303sqn AB412SP of the Royal Netherlands Air Force while a Belgian Air Component Agusta A109BA put in a very sprightly display.

Slightly overshadowing the event was the news that parts of the airfield are being sold for development, which will mean the runway is reduced to 600 metres in length preventing fast jets from landing.  However, it is planned that the show will continue next year with helicopters still operating from the base itself while fast jets will be based elsewhere, transiting to Koksijde for their display.

These images were taken on arrivals day with thanks to the organisers for arranging the 'spotters weekend' which allows such excellent access to the flying.

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