For the entire month of August, the Belgian air force's 80 Squadron UAV, based in Elsenborn in the Ardennes, has been operating a B-Hunter detachment from Coxyde air base on the North Sea coast. The detachment's four UAVs are monitoring pollution in the North Sea under an agreement between the Belgian ministries of defense and environment, transmitting images in real time to the Maritime Information Center in Zeebrugge.
Belgian air force photo
The deployment also serves to prepare the squadron for UAV NATEVAL 2009, the evaluation later this year before it is declared to have achieved full operational capability. The squadron has had an initial operating capability for some time, with the first B-Hunter flight taking place in March 2001 and its UAVs having been deployed as part of the EU Force to Bosnia in 2005 and the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2006. Two B-Hunters were lost in Congo, one to a crash and one to small arms fire. Several others are reported to have crashed in the Elsenborn area.