2002 Recce meet at Florennes Air Base, Belgium

 

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 Recce Meet 2002 was held in Belgium at the Florennes Air Base. Today, the base is home to the Belgian Air Component’s 2nd Tactical Wing, with two squadrons of F-16 Fighting Falcons. In 2002, a trio of F-16 Squadrons were based at the airfield, 1 Squadron, 349 Squadron and 350 Squadron, all flying F-16AM (upgraded F 16A fighter jets) Fighting Falcons. The Recce Meet brought many NATO and other friendly units together.

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The base was opened in 1936 for the Belgian Air Force, and after capture subsequently used by Germany fighter aircraft during the early part of World War II. By late 1944, the U. S. had captured the field and the Army Air Force operated P-38 and P-61 fighter aircraft there until the end of the War. After the formation of NATO, Belgian aircraft and notably USAF BGM-109 GLCM ground launched cruise missiles were based there. The base was home to the NATO Tactical Leadership Program from its inception until 2009, when it moved to Spain.

Here’s a look back two decades ago at the aircraft that participated in the Meet:

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Belgium Air Force F-16AM with Modular Recce Pod

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French Air Force Mirage F-1CR with internal cameras

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Turkish Air Force RF-4E with internal cameras

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Italian Air Force AMXs with Oude Deft Orpheus pod

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German Air Force Panavia Tornado ECR with EADS/GAF Recce pod

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German Navy Panavia ECR with Telens pod

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Royal Air Force Canberra PR.9 with internal cameras

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Swiss Air Force Mirage IIIRS with internal cameras

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Other participants included:

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Belgian Air Force F-16AMs without recce but with ECM equipment

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French Air Force Mirage 2000C fighters

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USAF F-16 Block 50 Wild Weasel fighters

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Our Photo Day for Recce Meet 2002 was held early in the week, under cloudy skies. Showers moved through during early afternoon, and the sun popped out just as we were exiting the Belgian air base.

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During the day, a Belgian Alouette II helicopter flew over the static display with a TV cameraman in the rear seat.

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The Belgian F-16 Solo Display pilot performed his routine. An array of participating aircraft were parked on static display and offered to photographers too.

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Of note were aircraft since retired during the two decades that followed the Meet up through today.

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The Swiss Air Force’s Mirage IIIRSs were retired in 2003.

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The German Navy retired their Tornadoes in 2005, transferring them to the German Air Force

The Royal Air Force’s final Canberra PR.9 was retired from service in 2006.

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The French Air Force’s Mirage F1CRs left service in 2014.

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The Turkish Air force’s RF-4Es were retired in 2015.

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