Belgian Air Force retires CH-09, one of its remaining Lockheed C-130H Hercules transport aircraft

Belgian Air Force Lockheed C-130H Hercules CH-09

On Friday 18 December 2020, the Belgian Air Force officially retired CH-09, on of its remaining Lockheed C-130H Hercules transport aircraft.



On Sunday 13 December 2020, the Belgian Air Force announced on various social media platforms that, on Thursday 17 December 2020, CH-09 would operate a final scenic flight over Belgium, including a flyby or landing at some of Belgium’s most important airports and air bases. During the week, more updates were communicated, and on Wednesday 16 December a final update was communicated, including a flight plan for that final flight as follows (source: Facebook 15th Wing Air Transport):


Thursday 17 Dec
Take-off Brussels 25R 1345L
Routing VFR to Coast via Affligem
Oostende if granted 1405 L
Koksijde Low Approach 1410L
Kortrijk Stop&Go 1420L
Beauvechain T&G 1450L
IFR to Liège due Météo T&G 1505L
IFR to Brogel, multiple appr 1530L
Via Schaffen 1600L
Back to Melsbroek especially for spotters corner planned landing on 25L. 1610L


And indeed, the aircraft did operate two flights on Thursday 17 December 2020: one morning sortie to Limburg, Belgium and the announced final flight in the afternoon, followed by the announced landing on RWY 25L at Brussels Airport, where Melsbroek Air Base is located (on the north side of the airport).

Melsbroek Air Base (EBMB) is the home of the Belgian Air Force’s 15th Wing Air Transport and 20th Squadron, who operate the Belgian Air Force’s fleet of Lockheed C-130H Hercules transport aircraft. At moment of writing, there were still seven Lockheed C-130H Hercules aircraft in the active fleet (including CH-09).

During its latest update on social media, the 15th Wing Air Transport already stated there might be one more flight for CH-09 the day after, i.e. on Friday 18 December 2020. This was confirmed on Thursday 17 December 2020.

Belgian Air Force Lockheed C-130H Hercules CH-09

Lockheed C-130H Hercules CH-09 ready for the low level flyby over RWY 25L.


Final landing

On the early morning of Friday 18 December 2020, Lockheed C-130H Hercules CH-09 spread its wings one last time and took off from RWY 25R at Brussels Airport as flight BAF677. Its mission: an aerial drop over Schaffen, Belgium.

At around 10:30 CET (09:30 UTC), the aircraft headed back to Melsbroek Air Base, its home for the past 47 years (CH-09 was delivered in February 1973). Before landing on RWY 25L however, CH-09 performed a low level flyby over RWY 25L with open cargo doors. This was followed by entering a left traffic pattern for the very last landing, also on RWY 25L.


With the retirement of CH-09, the Belgian Air Force will now operate just six Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft (CH-01, CH-05, CH-07, CH-11, CH-12 and CH-13). By the end of next year (2021), all of these are expected to be retired as well. They will be replaced by the bigger, more powerful and more versatile Airbus A400M Atlas transport aircraft. The Belgian Air Force ordered seven aircraft, together with the Luxembourg Armed Forces, who ordered one aircraft. All eight aircraft will be operated by the 15th Wing Air Transport, under a bilateral partnership between Belgium and Luxembourg. The first aircraft, owned by the Luxembourg Armed Forces and registered as CT-01, was delivered on Friday 9 October 2020. The second aircraft, the first one for Belgium and registered as CT-02, is expected to be delivered on Tuesday 22 December 2020.

Belgian Air Force Lockheed C-130H Hercules CH-09

Final landing of Lockheed C-130H Hercules CH-09 on RWY 25L.

So long Lockheed C-130H Hercules CH-09. Godspeed and thank you for 47 years of loyal duty.

Hi-res versions of my photos of the final landing of Lockheed C-130H Hercules CH-09 at Melsbroek Air Base are available here.

18 December 2020

All photos copyright © Ivan Coninx unless stated otherwise.