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  • Plucky Little Belgium
    Posted by Nicholas Fiorenza 9:32 PM on Oct 31, 2011

    Small nations like Belgium are earning praise for their participation in NATO's Operation Unified Protector, which officially ends just before the witching hour on Halloween today at 23:59 CET. Since the operation began exactly seven months ago, NATO aircraft flew over 26,000 sorties, more than 9,600 of which were strike sorties.

    The last four of six Belgian air force F-16s which participated in the operation returned to their home base of Florennes today. They clocked up 2,560 hours during 614 sorties, dropping 472 laser-guided bombs which hit 96-97 percent of their targets, according to Belgian Defense Minister Pieter De Crem, reportedly without causing any collateral damage.

    According to Belgian media reports, Belgian F-16s came close to attacking Muammar Gaddafi's convoy on 20 October as they were patrolling the area half an hour before it was attacked by a French air force Mirage 2000D and a US Predator unmanned aerial vehicle.

    A Financial Times blog posted on De Crem's website includes praise for Belgium for taking on dangerous missions (although it starts with a quote about the battle of Waterloo rather than the World War I quote about "plucky little Belgium), pointing out that 40 percent of missions over Libya were conducted by smaller NATO members and Gulf state air forces.

    Tags: ar99, Belgium, NATO

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