The Patria unit PBEC (Patria Belgium Engine Center) operating in Belgium has been responsible for the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of Pratt & Whitney F100 engines of F-16 and F-15 fighters for quite a while.
Since September last year, cooperation with the Belgian Defence Forces deepened further when, alongside working in their own repairshop, Patria personnel also started working at Florennes Air Base.
“The new operating model shows that the Belgian Defence Forces have strong confidence in our operations. We have partnered with the Defence Forces for several decades. This is a natural step in developing our cooperation,” says Manu Sidiropoulos, General Manager of PBEC.
New operating model increases flexibility
On its website, Florennes Air Base says that the new operating model will ensure the operational capability of F-16 fighters and provide flexibility for how the personnel is used.
There will be retirements among the Air Force maintenance personnel in the coming years. At the same time, Belgium is preparing to deploy the new F-35 fighters, the maintenance of which will require personnel resources.
The Patria repairshop doing F100 engine repairs is located in the city of Liège. For repairs, the engine modules are detached from the aircraft at the air base and delivered to Patria to undergo the required actions. Earlier, Air Force mechanics were responsible for detaching and reinstalling the modules, but now Patria will take care of these work phases.
“Currently, there are four Patria employees working in the new operating model, but four new mechanics will start their work in September this year and additional four mechanics in 2022.”
Other countries also interested in similar services
At Florennes Air Force Base, Patria is collaborating with another Belgian aerospace company, SABCA, which has been responsible for the repairs of F-16 fighters, for example, for a long time.
The new operating concept and the expanding cooperation between the Defence Forces and enterprises has attracted a lot of positive attention in Belgium. It has been reported by the country's leading business newspaper L’Echo, the country's largest French-language newspaper Le Soir and local television channels.
“This is the first time companies are allowed to work inside the premises of an air base in Belgium,” Sidiropoulos points out.
Manu Sidiropoulos believes that the proven operating concept is also of interest to other national air forces.
“Like Belgium, the defence forces of many other countries are facing the same challenges when they have specialists getting retired, but the critical functions must still be secured. Patria is well placed to sell additional service to other countries as well. The operating model has also proven its functionality in Belgium, which is a valuable reference for us.