Military to return ex-flight academy

By STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 21, 2010

The last vestiges of an American-sponsored school for NATO aviators in Belgium will be returned this year as part of the U.S. military drawdown in Europe, the Defense Department announced Friday.

Last summer, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Tactical Leadership School moved from Florennes Air Base, Belgium, to Los Llanos Air Base, Spain. The school had been located for 20 years at Florennes, which is home to two Belgian air force F-16 squadrons.

The Belgium military is taking over the 10 empty buildings once used to support the school. They include aircraft hangars, briefing rooms, a dining facility and fitness center, according to the Belgian Ministry of Defense.

The Defense Department announcement said the return of the buildings, which has begun, will have no impact on DOD personnel because the school is already closed.

Built in the early 1940s by the German military, the facility was used by the U.S. 9th Air Force during World War II to launch its bombers on German targets. The U.S. military deployed cruise missiles to Florennes in the 1980s, drawing the ire of some residents.

The Defense Department estimates the return of the buildings will save about $1.8 million annually.

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