7th, 8th and 9th badges 7th Wing Chievres Air Base - © Copyright

The Eight Squadron

The eighth Squadron is founded in Chièvres in December 1950 at the time of the creation of the 7th Fighter Wing. The unit includes three squadrons, the 7th, 8th and 9th Squadrons: all three bear a white cygnet (Cocotte) but with different backgrounds, respectively red, blue and green.

 Gloster Meteor - © Copyright

The Eighth flies on Gloster Meteor until 1956 when it is replaced by the Hawker Hunter F.4 and in 1958 by the Hunter F.6.

The 7th Wing is disbanded in 1963, resulting in the disbandment of the 8th Squadron.

Chièvres Airbase end of the fourties Chièvres Airbase end of the fourties - © Copyright
Gloster Meteor Gloster Meteor - © Copyright
Hawker Hunter F.4 Hawker Hunter F.4 - © Copyright
Hawker Hunter F.6 Hawker Hunter F.6 - © Copyright
 8th sqn pennant ceremony in Florennes - © Copyright

On July 15, 1970 the Blue Cocotte Squadron is re-created in Florennes, with the mission of converting pilots as part of the introduction of the Mirage 5B in the Belgian Air Force.

F-84F F-84F - © Copyright
RF-84F RF-84F - © Copyright
Landing Mirage 5 BD01 in Florennes Landing Mirage 5 BD01 in Florennes - © Copyright
Mirage 5 BA01 Sabca apron Mirage 5 BA01 Sabca apron - © Copyright
 Core of the first belgian Mirage 5 instructors - © Copyright

So a core of eight pilots is converted in France on Mirage III. Becoming instructors, they then train the pilots of the three squadrons mentioned above, starting with the 2nd and 42nd at Florennes.

BR 12 42 sqn BR 12 42 sqn - © Copyright
BA 17 2 sqn BA 17 2 sqn - © Copyright
 8 sqn line at Bierset Air Base - © Copyright

The Eighth then leaves Florennes to settle permanently in Bierset and carry out the conversion of the 1st Squadron.

In June 1972 the conversion is completed for all three units.

 OCC formation training - © Copyright

From that moment on, 8 Squadron focuses on training young graduates arriving on the Mirage 5B; it is also responsible for maintaining the flight standards, both general and instrument, of all pilots of the four Mirage squadrons.

 Badge Mirage 5B - © Copyright

During its existence, 8 Squadron converts no fewer than 404 Belgian pilots.

 Fighter bomber role - © Copyright

8 Squadron is also tasked with the role of fighter-bomber and by the end of 1972 it is officially incorporated into the NATO structure.

 AMF badge - © Copyright

In March 1989, 1 Squadron leaves Bierset for Florennes to start transitioning to the F-16. Among other things, this squadron is responsible for the AMF mission (Ace Mobile Forces ––Ace for Allied Command Europe–) « South » ; in the event of a conflict, this involves strengthening NATO’s southern flank (Italy, Greece, Turkey) if necessary.

 Belgian Ace Guard Mission badge - © Copyright

On the occasion of the transfer of the 1st to Florennes, the AMF South mission is taken over by 8 Squadron. During the first Gulf War, it is deployed to Turkey for several weeks, assisted by 42 Squadron and personnel from the entire 3rd Wing.

Pilots ready to fly during Ace Guard 1991 Pilots ready to fly during Ace Guard 1991 - © Copyright
Belgian Mirages BA and BR above Türkiye Belgian Mirages BA and BR above Türkiye - © Copyright
 The "eight" in flight - © Copyright

In September 1991, following yet another restructuring of the Air Force, 8 Squadron is dissolved again.

 Mirage 5BA in flight - © Copyright

Throughout the so-called Cold War period, the squadron does not participate in any conflict, except in the First Gulf War, but it contributes within NATO to preserving peace by participating in the policy of deterrence until the end of the 1980s.

 White coquotte on an Hanriot - © Copyright

Badge

The silver cygnet is created in 1917 by Willy Coppens – Already awarded 'Knight' by King Albert 1 in 1919, King Baudouin awarded him the title of 'Baron de Houthulst' –.
He has the cygnet or Cocotte painted on his first fighter plane, a Bébé Nieuport.

 8 sqn badge till its disbound - © Copyright

Over time, the emblem evolves and is used in different forms by several units.

 Rémy Van Lierde DFC and 2 bars - © Copyright

Initially, the Cocotte is presented in a circle. The shape we know today is on a shield of azure color inclined to 45°: the original motto « Boutez en Avant – Aim forward » is translated to « Get In », a translation by Major Van Lierde, the then commander of 7 Wing.