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Belgium’s special forces show of force

18th April 2017 - 15:47 by Andrew White in London

Belgium’s special forces show of force

Belgium's Special Forces Group (SFG) has completed a series of demonstrations designed to demonstrate a 'show of force' in the wake of multiple terrorist attacks across Europe.

On 12 April, the Belgian Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Belgian Air Force (BAF) co-hosted the 'Heliday' event at Beauvechain Air Base, which included a demonstration of its rotary wing special operations capabilities, service officials explained.

The special operations demonstration featured air support from NH90 Caiman Tactical Transport Helicopters (TTHs) and AH-64D Apache attack helicopters for assault teams from the tri-service SFG who first immobilised target vehicles with heli-borne sniper teams before fast-roping onto the ground with K-9 military working dog teams to secure the high value targets (HVTs).

Operators were equipped with FN Herstal 5.56mm x 45mm Special Operations Combat Assault Rifle-Light (SCAR-L) weapons.

The demonstration follows the eighth and final delivery of its NH90 Caiman platform in NFH configuration at the Koksijde Air Base on 20 March. SFG currently retains access to four NH90 TTH platforms, operated by the BAF's 18 Squadron out of Beauvechain Air Base.

Meanwhile, 31st March saw Belgium also celebrate the 75th anniversary of its special forces at the Château de Beloeil which included another 'dynamic demonstration' of its special operations force (SOF) capabilities

The exercise comprised another vehicle interdiction (VI) serial, executed by assault teams from the SFG. The demonstration also included air support from an AgustaWestland A109BA helicopter.

In December 2016, the MoD published its Strategic Vision 2030 Defence Plan which called for the SFG to be better equipped to deal with 'emerging threats'.

Beyond uplifts in rotary wing support, the 2nd Commando and 3rd Parachute Battalions of the Belgian Army have also been re-roled into a Special Forces Support Group.

'The world has changed dramatically in recent years. Europe remains a relatively safe haven, but is getting more to do with instability in the East and South. At the same time, [Europe] must be able to act independently in its own environment, independent of other global players, both politically, economically and militarily. Belgium will position itself to herein as a caring and reliable partner,' the document reads.

The show of force follows terror attacks in Antwerp, London and Stockholm over recent weeks which has seen special forces across the Continent remain on short notice to move in response to larger incidents.

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