53° & 57° Escadrilles

53° & 57° ESCADRILLES MSL insigne_53esc

The history of 53 Missile Squadron is very similar to that of 51 Squadron. Like her, she was operational from December 21, 1959, and participated in the role of operational watch from January 1960, and, like her, her staff left Malmedy for Elsenborn in December 1960. On February 2, 1962, it was decided that 53 Squadron would remain at Elsenborn until the work was completed at Kaster (FRG). On October 23, 1963, the unit received its pennant. He bears the emblem of the "Dragon". On January 21, 1963, the 53 Squadron leaves the operational role of NATO to redeploy on the operational sites of Kaster. Reassigned to NATO on February 6, the unit is actually stationed in Ichendorf. In July 1964, the administrative district of Kaster comes to an end. The General Staff of 9 WETSA and 53 Squadron, of Dutch language regime since its passage to 9 WETSA, on August 15, 1964, settled in this barracks.

In the territorial domain, the 53 Squadron depends on the place of Grevenbroich. Located halfway between Kaster and Kapellen-Erft. Grevenbroich brings together the families of these two units. The territorial aspects relating to the 53 Squadron are examined with those of the 55 Squadron. In early 1967, 53 Squadron failed an American evaluation. The same evening, Mr. Poswick, Minister of National Defence, landed on the site. In May 1967, 53 Squadron pulled itself together and passed its NSI on the second try. She keeps the special weapons. She does even better because her staff participates in the success of 13 W MSL in the acquisition of the Stikker trophy.

The administrative site of Kaster quickly turns out to be too cramped. Expansion work began in 1967. The Flight BCA was given the first radome to protect the acquisition radar of Nike units. 1968 marks the end of the work to enlarge the administrative site of Kaster. In November 1971, the BCA's Basic system gave way to an Improved (INH) system. This was not without problems. The implementation of an additional generator and the temporary installation of the TRR allow the squadron to use its ECCM resources. 53 Squadron is the last unit to be equipped with an INH system. On March 22, 1972, the TRR platform was completed and the site could take on its final appearance. In the immediate vicinity of the launch site is a lignite mine. In 1974, the firm Rheinbraun AG, concessionaire of this operation, opposed the reconversion of the existing easement areas for the benefit of 53 Squadron. The opposition of this firm becomes more and more strong with the years. This lignite mine would later play an important role in the history of 53 Squadron. On October 20, 1975, 53 Squadron, having received its modified SAMCAP system, was once again operational. The decision to create the eighth squadron plays an important role in the life of the 53. The creation of this missile squadron had already been considered in 1964. Since 1971, negotiations for the acquisition of suitable land for its installation in Vossum-Straelen were in progress. In 1974, while a solution appeared imminent, a totally unforeseen factor was to influence the final decision: the Dutch Air Force decided to disband one of its Nike-Hercules battalions. The Netherlands offered Belgium to take over the Erle site. Despite the lengthening of the deployment of Belgian Nike units and the increase in logistical support, the project to build a new site at Straelen was definitively abandoned. NATO and Belgium agreed to occupy the Erle site from July 1975. This choice not only made it possible to fill the breach created by the departure of the Dutch, but was more judicious than the construction of a new site too close to the sites of Grefrath (12 km) and Xanten (25 km). An administrative instruction, dated October 9, 1974, prescribed the creation of the 57 Missile Squadron. This unit was created on October 21, 1975. During the training phase, it administered itself, under the leadership of Commander Claude Hottiaux in Düren. A secretarial embryo settles in the administrative premises of the 50 Squadron. The official takeover of the site by KTG and the Missile Group took place during the week of November 4, 1975, the takeover of the NATO infrastructure, a few days later, in the presence of the services concerned. The mission of 13 Wing Missiles is to guard the Erle sites and to prepare the infrastructure and installation of the new unit there. The guarding of the installations, entrusted to the 13 Wing Missiles, is ensured daily from Düren.

On December 5, 1975, American representatives, inspecting the launch area and in particular the type F depot, concluded that these sections were not suitable for receiving special weapons. 1976 was the key year for the 57 Missile Squadron. From January, the Protection Units Flight moved to the administrative site of the new squadron. In February, the squadron was given a badge: we still think of the badge of the zebra, but in the end we preferred that of the black panther. The month of March sees the arrival in Erle of the first services of the new unit. The necessary repairs were carried out at the administrative site. On the operational sites they are in progress or planned, the costs of the latter being pre-financed either by the German Ministry of Defense or by NATO. The radars and trailers (BCT and RCT) intended for the IFC of 57 Squadron have during this time been the subject of SAMCAP modifications. From April 3, 1976, the technical staff of the Support Missiles Wing received and carried out a qualifying check of the equipment in the presence of the firm Holland Signaal Apparaat (HSA). On May 16, 1976, despite the problems with the supply of ramps and launch rails, known in 1975, section C of the launch site was installed. From this date, the cleaning of the squadron and certain administrative services (Place,...) can function normally. June sees the installation of a medical detachment and the installation of the IFC system. Families move during the months of July and August and staff training begins in September. All hope that the unit will be able to participate in the role of operational watch from December. Unfortunately, this is not the case: technical and personnel problems postpone this deadline. In 1977 life got organized in Erle. The adaptation of the administrative quarter to the needs of a Belgian squadron has begun. The work begun includes the creation of an officers' restaurant, a kitchen, bar and mess complex for the non-commissioned officers. On February 17, 1978, after three years of uncertainty, the official decision fell: the whole of the 53 Squadron would leave Kaster to settle in Erle during the course of the year and would resume the name of 57 Squadron Missiles while this the latter becomes 53 Squadron with the emblem of the golden dragon. This decision should be placed in context. In July 1978, the 3 Lancers moved from Düren to Spich. The transfer of the General Staff of the 7 Armored Infantry Brigade from Düren to Marche is planned for the first half of 1979. In 1980, the 1 Lancers also joined Marche. The territorial attachment of the 53 Squadron, operationally dependent on the 13 W MSL, to the Place de Grevenbroich, commanded territorially by the Commander of the 55 Squadron and the problem of the installation of the families arises with acuteness. The move of the 53 Squadron to the Place de Düren solves these problems and saves the cost of creating a bilingual place. The departure of the 3 Lancers from Düren freed up the necessary accommodation for the 53 Squadron. The solution adopted also offers more flexibility to the 13 W MSL. Place de Düren has a complete French-speaking school network. On June 19, 1978, the 53 Squadron ceded its Kaster district to French-speaking personnel from Erle.

That same year, the Territorial Staff of the Belgian 1st Corps decided to build a television tower near Kaster. It allows the rebroadcasting of BRT and RTB programs in the Grevenbroich garrison. If single people living in the district can take advantage of this facility, it is not the same for families who settle in Düren. In addition to the advantages offered by the city, the personnel are obliged to travel daily between Düren and their place of work. The decision to disband 53 Squadron falls in 1982. The choice made by the Air Force to disband the unit is part of the savings that the Force wants to make. Other reasons seem to have influenced this choice: the proximity of a lignite mine leading to the risk of landslides, the problems posed by the absence of unit personnel on site. On June 23, 1983, the dissolution ceremony of the 53 Squadron took place in Kaster. Many soldiers returned on the occasion of the parade presided over by Lieutenant-General Avi V. Wils, ADC, Commander of the Tactical Air Force. Unit personnel wishing to stay in Germany join one of the squadrons or the General Staff of 13 W MSL. The entire neighborhood clears out and all gear, Nike or non-Nike, is transferred to other units. On October 4, 1983, the barracks were handed over to the authorities of the Territorial Staff of the 1st Belgian Corps.