Belgium says goodbye to a legendary helicopter today Thursday 8 July 2021, the Belgian Air Force will retire the last two Alouette III (M-1 and M-2) helicopters from service. The retirement ceremony will take place at their home base in Koksijde, this will bring the final curtain on over 50 years of Alouette III operations.
The third aircraft of the type (M-3) remained permanently grounded as early as August last year. That helo, meanwhile, got its place at the Campus Saffraanberg (Sint-Truiden) where it acts as a training airframe for future Defence engineers. The last two being retired today will now be part of the museum collection of the War Heritage Institute Museum. One airframe will be exhibited at the 1 Wing Historical Centre (1WHC) Beauvechain Air Base (EBBE). The other helo goes to the museum depot in Landen.
The Alouette III helicopters can bow to an impressive record. Since their commissioning in 1971, they regularly boarded the Navy’s commando and logistics support ships for carrying out supporting logistics and tactical missions. Later, deployments followed on multifunctional frigates, such as during anti-piracy missions in the Horn of Africa. They also successfully participated in various counter-drug operations in the Caribbean, stationed onboard Koninklijke Marine (Royal Netherlands Navy). In addition, these helicopters also conducted rescue and medical evacuations and participated in anti-pollution assignments over the North Sea
At least here in Malta, we saw one in May on one of its final deployments.