The airbase of Koksijde is located in the Flemish province West-Flanders, and is situated at the Belgian westcoast.
It all began in 1915 in the field next to the "Ten Boogaarde" farm (which still exists) at the South-western edge of today’s airbase. After the first world war, the airfield was changed again into farmland. During the second world war, the German Luftwaffe build a new airfield to use it as divertion field enroute to the UK. In 1946 the Royal Air Force handed over the airfield to the Belgian Air Force.
On 1st of January 1948 the Belgian Air Force started the fighter school at Koksijde airfield. On the 1st of July 1958 the airfield was renamed "Basis Koksijde" and was then used as storage airfield, administrative base for air-and sea rescue and regrouping airfield. The first of April 1961, the heliflight was formed and the first helicopters arrived at Koksijde. On the 30th of October 1974 the unit was renamed into their current name: '40th Squadron'. From 1961 till 1976 Search and Rescue duties were done by the sikorsky HSS-1 and in 1976 the Westland Sea King MK.48 took over.
In 1971 the Navyflight was formed and operates 3 Alouette III helicoptes. In 2004 the Alouette III helicopters were transfered from the Navy to the Air Force and were merged into the 40th Sqn.
Replacement for the 5 Sea King MK.48 and 3 Alouette III helicopters are 4 Airbus Helicopters (former NH Industries) NH-90NFH. The first NH-90 'Caiman' arrived in Koksijde on Friday May 9th (RN-02). RN-01 arrived on the 31st of July 2014, followed by RN-03 on the 3rd of December 2014 and RN-04 on the 20th of March 2017. The Squadron became Initial Operational Capable on the 21st of August 2015 and on Monday 24th the NH-90NFH took over partly the SAR duties from the Sea Kings. The 3 remaining Sea Kings (RS-02, RS-04 and RS-05) remained in service until 21st of March 2019. This was the day that Sea King RS-05 made its last operational flight. From then on the SAR duties have been taken over completely by the NH-90NFH. Naval training with the new helicopters continue at low speed as SAR duties have priority and so the Alouette III remains in service for some time.
To learn more about the helicopters that are based here, click on the images below.