A brief history.
No. 349 (Belgian) Squadron was founded on November 10, 1942 as a Belgian unit within the British Royal Air Force.
Its first missions were flown from Ikeja, Nigeria, with the P-40 Tomahawk, in preparation for an expected invasion of the German African Corps in Central Africa. In June 1943 the young squadron moved to RAF Wittering in the United Kingdom to continue the fight from there. Equipped with the iconic Supermarine Spitfire, No. 349 (Belgian) Squadron participated in virtually every operation to liberate Western Europe, of which the best known is undoubtedly Operation Overlord, the landing of allied forces in Normandy, on 6 June 1944, also known as D-Day. Over the course of the Second World War the first generation of 349 pilots carried out hundreds of missions, flying from a whopping 26 different locations, achieving 15 air victories.
In 1946, command of the Squadron was transferred to the young, newly established Belgian Air Force. The Squadron moved from Germany to Beauvechain, Belgium, to become part of the 1st Fighter Wing, a valuable element of the integrated air defense system of NATO.
During it's first 50 years of operations, 349 Squadron was operational on no less than 7 different aircraft: the P-40 Tomahawk, the iconic Supermarine Spitfire, the Gloster Meteor Mk. 4, the Hawker Hunter, the Avro Canada CF-100 Canuck, the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter and of course the Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon.
With this last aircraft, the F-16 Fighting Falcon, the Squadron became not only the first Belgian F-16 squadron but also the first operational F-16 unit within NATO.
After being part of the 1st Fighter Wing for half a century, we moved to Kleine Brogel Air Base in 1996 to join the 10th Tactical Wing. In 1998, 349 became the first Belgian unit to be equipped with the F-16 Mid Life Update.
Even after the end of the Cold War, 349 (Belgian) Squadron remains on standby 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Besides our stand-by duties, we took part in all air operations that the Belgian Air Force has carried out over the past 25 years, with deployments to Italy, to support peacekeeping operations in Ex-Yugoslavia, the Baltics, as part of multiple Baltic Air Patrol rotations, Afghanistan, in support of ISAF, the International Security Assistance Force, to Greece, from where we flew the first operations over Lybia and Jordan, to aid in the fight against ISIS overhead Iraq and Syria.