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Rampant Rafale Flying with the French Air Force solo display team
Russia’s veteran Mail Amphibian survival
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US Marine Corps KC-130 Republic of China Air Force ‘Stingers’ centurions 21st century ‘Battle Herk’
Defenders of Taiwan
Belgian F-16s at war and peace
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RAF Typhoon ups its game Above: Tranche 3 Typhoon ZK356 carries a representative Project Centurion load-out of Paveway IV, Brimstone, Meteor and ASRAAM. The final Centurion upgrades will ensure the Typhoon is ready to replace the Tornado GR4 when that aircraft is retired next March. Jamie Hunter
he UK might have provided a glimpse of the possible successor to the Typhoon in Royal Air Force service, but the Eurofighter has many years of service ahead. Only days before the Tempest future fighter mock-up was unveiled, BAE Systems revealed it had returned to service the first Typhoon FGR4s with provisions for the Project Centurion weapons fit. On July 5, the company announced that the first 26 jets modified to carry MBDA’s Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) and Storm Shadow cruise missile under the Phase 2 Enhancement (P2E) upgrade had been delivered to the front line. The P3E update will add the Brimstone air-to-ground missile, which enters operational evaluation in August. Plans call for all these weapons to be cleared for use by the end of the year. While Project Centurion will address 67 Tranche 2 and the planned 40 Tranche 3
Typhoons, 24 older Tranche 1 jets will also be retained without the upgrades. New squadrons are taking shape to operate these latter aircraft, which were saved from retirement under the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) in 2015. A first new Typhoon unit – the joint UK/Qatari No 12 (Bomber) Squadron – has recently been established and will be followed by No IX(B) Squadron, which will disband as a Tornado GR4 operator later this year. No IX(B) will relocate from RAF Marham, Norfolk, to RAF Lossiemouth, Scotland as part of the process. It still seems likely that the 24 Tranche 1 machines will be utilised mainly as air defence assets and for Red Air aggressor work. They’ll be retained until around 2030. Addressing reporters at the Royal International Air Tattoo, Air Commodore Linc Taylor, senior responsible owner for the Eurofighter programme within the UK MOD said: “The Typhoon is going to
be the backbone of the RAF’s combat mass for at least another 20 years… my intent is to accelerate on Typhoon – now that the aircraft is relatively mature, we should be able to do things faster.” Looking further ahead, the Typhoon Force can expect to receive the Euroradar Captor E active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, SPEAR 3 air-to-ground missile and the Leonardo Britecloud active decoy. There’ll no doubt be further evolution to take the Typhoon’s service out to around 2040, when it will finally be replaced by the Future Combat Air System – whatever form that may eventually take.
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#366 SEPTEMBER 2018 // 3
SEPTEMBER 2018 #366
Cover: Capitaine Sébastien Nativel, callsign ‘Babouc’, at the controls of Rafale C130 ‘4-GI’ – the latest Rafale Solo Display jet. The Rafale’s solo displays were initially performed by Dassault Aviation pilots. However, in 2009, responsibility for demonstrating the ‘omni-role’ fighter was transferred to the Armée de l’Air (French Air Force), which then established the Rafale Solo Display. Anthony Pecchi Above: A US Marine Corps KC-130J ‘Battleherk’ quenching the thirst of two F/A-18s high above the desert, south of MCAS Yuma, Arizona. The US Marine Corps has flown the ‘Herk’ since 1962 and has relied on the type’s multi-mission capability perhaps more than any other operator, by maximising the number of mission sets executed by a single variant. Joe Copalman
Features 3 Comment
46 21st century ‘Battleherk’
AFM’s opinion on the hot topics in military aviation.
The US Marine Corps is intent on improving the survivability, lethality and interoperability of its KC-130 fleet, as Joe Copalman discovers.
22 Show of force in the Negev Dr Andreas Zeitler was at Hatzerim Air Base to witness the Israeli Air Force’s impressive graduation ceremony. It was a rare chance to get a glimpse of the air arm in action.
40 Polish Naval Aviation at 100 Polish Naval Aviation isn’t quite as old as its air force and army cousins, but it is part of this year’s centenary celebrations as Bartek Bera and Filip Modrzejewski explain.
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54 Rafale Solo Display Revised colours, and a different display pilot: every other year, the Rafale Solo Display gains a new look. Frédéric Lert and Anthony Pecchi caught up with the team.
64 Controlling the fight Maintaining excellence in close air support is the raison d’être of No 4 Squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force. Phil Buckley reports from
this unit of No 78 Wing at RAAF Base Williamtown, New South Wales to learn more of its specialist role.
70 Mountain avengers The Italian Army’s 5° Reggimento Aviazione dell’Esercito ‘Rigel’ flies the powerful AH-129 Mangusta, iconic UH-205A ‘Huey’ and the all-new UH-90A. Robin Coenders, Roy van Sonsbeek and Niels Roman head to northern Italy to meet its aviators.
74 Belgian ‘Stingers’ Roy van Sonsbeek and Niels Roman look back at the highpoints in the history of 1 Squadron
News by region The leading authority for all the world’s military news 6-7 .................Headlines 8-10 ...............United Kingdom 11-14..............Continental Europe 15-18 .............North America 19...................Russia & CIS 20-21.............Middle East 24-25.............Latin America 26 ..................Africa 27 ..................Australasia 28-29 ............Asia Pacific
Regular features 30 EXERCISE REPORT: Thracian Eagle 2018 Oregon Air National Guard F-15 pilots recently flew shoulder-to-shoulder with their Bulgarian counterparts and were pitted against groundbased air defence systems. Alexander Mladenov reports from Graf Ignatievo.
34 INTEL REPORT: A summer of surprises With the Farnborough International Airshow following hot on the heels of the Royal International Air Tattoo, July was a busy month for many in the industry. The publication of the UK’s Combat Air Strategy was just one of the talking points for aerospace observers at the shows. Alan Warnes reports.
58 FORCE REPORT: Defending Formosa: Part one The ‘Taiwan question’ remains a sensitive political issue almost 70 years after the foundation of the People’s Republic of China. Marco Muntz and Wiebe Karsten assess the status of the Republic of China Air Force, charged with defending Taiwan against the might of its neighbour.
84 COMMANDER’S UPDATE BRIEFING: Airborne command and control
Mirage 2000N nuclear
Baltic g Air Policin on patrol
France’s warrior stands down
80 Black Sea Berievs
Oﬃcially the world’s
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The Farnborough International Airshow saw the UK launch its latest Combat Air Strategy and unveil a model of a brand new, next-generation fighter concept – the Tempest. Jon Lake investigates.
l F-35 training
number one authority
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GER TI STRIPES
Canada’s CF-18 team on tour 8
NATO Tiger Meet in Poland
The once mighty fleet of Be-12 amphibians operated by the Russian naval air arm has dwindled to just a handful. Alexander Mladenov provides an overview of the last survivors.
94 Storm warning!
‘Panther’ taming at Luke Internationa
ces Airfor Monthly
of the Belgian Air Component, which celebrated 100 years of operations last year.
Royal Air Force at 100
Still defying the detractors?
Airforces AirforcesDe mo Ho
US air power in Korea
ment ROKAF assess air force in profile South Korea’s
88 EXERCISE REPORT: Sky Avenger 2018 For two weeks in June, six Texas Air National Guard F-16s flew with Czech Air Force fighters from Cˆáslav air base, 60 miles (96km) southeast of Prague in Central Bohemia. Alan Warnes was there.
July 2018 Issue 364 £4.95 US $12.60 CAD $14.50
l Korean standoff: specia
Air Power Association President, Air Marshal (ret’d) Greg Bagwell CB CBE, reflects on airborne early warning, a little understood mission that is nonetheless vital to modern coalition warfare operations.
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Opération Chesapeake ns Frenchmissio Sudanese Air Force Navy Rafales RC-135 spy join the Bush From Fulcrums to ‘Antonov Swedish schoolmaster action Missile monitors in bombers’ Flying with the SK 60 at Malmen
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90 Attrition Dave Allport details accident investigations and the world’s recent military accidents.
98 Coming up See what’s featuring in your AFM next month.
#366 SEPTEMBER 2018 // 5
UK unveils Combat Air Strategy
The Tempest concept model developed by UK industry in collaboration with the MOD is publicly unveiled at Farnborough. MOD/Crown Copyright
UK DEFENCE Secretary Gavin Williamson launched the country’s new Combat Air Strategy at the Farnborough International Airshow on July 16. At the same time, he revealed a concept model for a next-
generation fighter jet, known as the Tempest, intended to demonstrate the UK’s industrial combat air capabilities. The project is being led by British firms including BAE Systems, Leonardo, MBDA and
Rolls-Royce, which have joined together with the RAF Rapid Capabilities Office to form Team Tempest. Ultimately, the programme aims to field a next-generation combat air capability to replace the
RAF’s Typhoon by 2035. The defence secretary also confirmed an ongoing commitment to the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) technology initiative which aims to bring together the MOD and industry
partners to deliver over £2bn of technology investment by 2025. See p94-97 for a full report on the Tempest, and Intel Report (p3438) for more coverage from Farnborough.
F-35A deliveries to Turkey could be suspended
An artist’s concept of CMV-22Bs in flight. The rst F-35A for the Turkish Air Force, 18-0001 (AT-01), made its maiden flight at Fort Worth BellfiBoeing on May 10. It’s seen conducting a training mission at Luke AFB on July 18. Hans van der Wilt
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A HOUSE-SENATE conference report on the Fiscal 2019 National Defense Authorization Act legislation, released on July 23 proposes a temporary suspension of F-35 deliveries to Turkey until a study has been made into the effects of the acquisition. This would examine the breakdown of US-Turkish relations, Turkey’s participation in the F-35 programme and the risks of Ankara’s planned deployment of Russianmade S-400 surface-to-air missile systems. The move came only weeks after the first two Turkish F-35As were delivered to Luke
Air Force Base, Arizona for training (see Turkish F-35A delivered – despite opposition, August, p6). Approval of the conference report clears the way for final congressional approval of the bill, which will depend on a forthcoming House vote. US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warned Congress that prohibiting F-35A transfers from the US to Turkey would risk triggering an international “supply chain disruption” that would drive up costs and delay deliveries of the fighter for other customers. Turkey plans to buy 100 F-35s.
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New Indian helos take flight BOEING HAS completed maiden flights for the Indian Air Force’s (IAF’s) new AH-64E Apache and CH-47F(I) Chinook. The inaugural flight of the Apache took place at the company’s Mesa, Arizona
plant on July 16. The Chinook followed it into the air on July 23, at Boeing’s Philadelphia facility. The IAF is receiving 22 AH-64E and 15 CH-47F(I) helicopters from Boeing and delivery of both types
to the IAF is scheduled to begin next year. The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified US Congress in December 2010 of the possible direct commercial sale of
22 AH-64s. The Indian Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) approved the offset proposals for the Apache procurement in August 2014, clearing one of the last hurdles to contract signature. A deal for all 22 helicopters was confirmed in September 2015. A contract for the 15 Chinooks was placed in the same month. In related news, the Indian Ministry of Defence is reportedly concluding
negotiations with Russia to acquire 48 additional Mi-17V-5 helicopters at a cost of $1.1bn. Of these, 38 are earmarked for the IAF. The Indian MoD placed a first order for 80 Mi-17V-5s in December 2008 and the type was formally inducted into the IAF in February 2012. Further contracts totalling 71 aircraft were placed in 2012-13, and in February 2016 it was announced that those deliveries were complete.
Above: The first examples of the AH-64E and CH-47F(I) for the IAF wear the temporary civil registrations N4801A and N279RN, respectively. Boeing
Aero Vodochody wins L-39 orders, launches F/A-259 Striker
An artist’s impression of the F/A-259 Striker. Aero Vodochody
CZECH MANUFACTURER Aero Vodochody announced two new sales of its L-39NG/ CW jet trainer during the Farnborough International Airshow in July. A letter of intent has been signed with RSW Aviation, a military training provider in the US, to deliver 12 new-build L-39NG aircraft and upgrade six legacy L-39s into the L-39CW variant. David Patrick, Chief Operating Officer of
RSW said: “The addition of the L-39NG further solidifies our ability to prepare a fighter pilot for a fourth-plus-generation fighter aircraft with exceptional value.” The L-39NG/CW fleet will be made available by RSW for various customers at its US based training academy allowing tuition from ab initio up to operational clearance level. Meanwhile, Aero announced a binding
agreement with SkyTech, which provides military aviation services and funding solutions, to deliver ten L-39NGs, and the firm has taken options on an additional six aircraft. The SkyTech L-39NG fleet will be made available to customers for training on a leasing basis. Aero’s latest product is the F/A-259 Striker, developed with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and launched at
Farnborough. Described as a “multi-role aircraft for close air support, counterinsurgency operations and border patrolling with interception capabilities”, the Striker is derived from the L-159 Advanced Light Combat Aircraft (ALCA). The new model adds a ‘wet’ wing and is able to operate from unpaved runways. As an optional upgrade, the F/A-259 can be equipped with an active electronically
scanned array (AESA) radar and helmet-mounted display, plus an air-toair refuelling capability. Benjamin Cohen, general manager of IAI’s Lahav Division, said: “Our co-operation with Aero Vodochody offers the USAF impressive proven performance of the F/A-259, with new innovative IAI systems, to provide customers with aircraft that meet their OA-X requirements.”
#366 SEPTEMBER 2018 // 7
RAF Typhoons at Flying Sabre 18 TWO TYPHOON FGR4s from the RAF’s No 1 (Fighter) Squadron visited Croatia for the Flying Sabre 18 joint training exercise with the Hrvatsko ratno zrakoplovstvo (HRZ, Croatian Air Force) and the MiG-21s of its Eskadrila borbenih aviona (EBA, Fighter Squadron). The event, held at
Zagreb-Pleso air base from June 16-20, was the first of its type involving the two countries. The aim was to build understanding between the two air arms and exchange experience among air and ground crews. Joint training included formation and navigation flying, while around
three-quarters of the manoeuvres were dedicated to different air combat scenarios, involving eight to nine flights daily. The No 1(F) Squadron detachment in Croatia consisted of five pilots and around 40 support crews and engineers with two Typhoon FGR4s, ZJ923 and ZJ924. They are part
of 135 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW) in Romania that is conducting the fourmonth NATO Enhanced Air Policing (eAP) mission, Operation Biloxi. The 135 EAW has around 150 British personnel there including four Typhoons for quick reaction alert (QRA). No 1(F) Squadron deployed to Romania for two months. Antonio Prlenda RAF Typhoon ZJ924 ‘924’ with HRZ MiG-21bisD serial 116 during a Flying Sabre 18 training event over Croatia. MORH/HRZ
RAF centenary flypast
The 22 Typhoons launched from RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire, to mark the RAF 100th anniversary. Crown Copyright
THE RAF marked its centenary with a national day of celebrations on July 10. Following the service’s official 100th birthday on April 1, the events
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culminated in a flypast of around 100 aircraft over Buckingham Palace, including 22 Typhoons in a ‘100’ formation led by Wg Cdr Andy Chisholm,
commanding officer of No 29 Squadron at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire. The flypast also included three F-35Bs from No 617 Squadron, which
made their debut over the capital. A full behindthe-scenes report on the making of the Typhoon element will appear in the October issue of AFM.
MOD confirms Scampton and Lintonon-Ouse to close THE UK Ministry of Defence has confirmed that a further two RAF bases are to be closed. In a statement to Parliament on July 24, the Rt Hon Tobias Ellwood MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and Minister for Defence People and Veterans, said that RAF Linton-on-Ouse, North Yorkshire, and RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire, are to be deactivated. The RAF will stop using Linton-on-Ouse by 2020 and Scampton by 2022. Linton-on-Ouse is the main base for No 1 Flying Training School, flying the Tucano T1. However, under the Military Flying Training System (MFTS) programme, the Tucano is being replaced by a new Basic Fast Jet Training course using the T-6C Texan II, based at RAF Valley, Wales. Linton also houses the Yorkshire Universities Air Squadron with the Tutor T1, which will also have to find a new base. As there will be no future requirement for Linton-on-Ouse as an RAF station, the MOD is considering other potential defence uses, ahead of an eventual disposal of the site. Scampton is today most well known as the home of the RAF’s Red Arrows and the MOD says that it is already finding the team a new station that is ‘fit for purpose’, but no decisions have yet been made. The MOD said that it will “work closely with the local council and potential buyers to ensure the site’s future use meets the needs of the local economy.” The Lincolnshire base also accommodates No 1 Air Control Centre, the Mobile Meteorological Unit and military contractor and fast jet operator Hawker Hunter Aviation, which will also all need to find new locations. Dave Allport
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QinetiQ receives first PC-21
The first ETPS PC-21, G-ETPA (c/n 310, ex HBHYX), on a pre-delivery flight. The second aircraft is G-ETPB (c/n 311, ex HB-HYY). Pilatus
PILATUS HAS handed over a first PC-21 to QinetiQ, which will use the type to support the Empire Test Pilots’ School (ETPS) at MOD Boscombe Down, Wiltshire. The aircraft was officially presented to Steve Wadey, CEO of QinetiQ Group, by Markus Bucher, CEO of Pilatus, on July 17. The first ETPS PC-21 made its maiden flight from the factory at Stans, Switzerland, on January 15 (see First flight for new QinetiQ PC-21, March, p9). Under a contract concluded in 2016, Pilatus will provide two PC-21s to the ETPS. The second aircraft is due to be delivered in the fourth quarter of the year and will be used for test pilot training courses commencing early next year. The PC-21s are replacing QinetiQ’s Alpha Jets and Hawk T1s. The two PC-21s are equipped with a fully integrated flight test instrumentation capability for use by ETPS in training test pilots and flight test engineers.
#366 SEPTEMBER 2018 // 9
Ten AAC Apaches now in US for AH-64E conversion AS MOMENTUM builds on the UK AH-64E Apache Guardian programme, ten Army Air Corps (AAC) Apache AH1s had been shipped to the US by mid-June for upgrade to AH-64E configuration by Boeing in Mesa, Arizona. These comprise ZJ166, ZJ167, ZJ168, ZJ169, ZJ170, ZJ172, ZJ173,
ZJ175, ZJ176 and the initial trials helicopter, ZJ202, which was the first to arrive in the US – see First AAC Apache shipped to Mesa for AH-64E conversion, March, p8. All had previously been stored with the Apache Depth Support Unit at Wattisham, Suffolk, before being airfreighted
out of RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, to join the Mesa conversion line. To date, Boeing has been contracted to undertake 38 of these conversions for the AAC, although it is planned to acquire a total of 50. As yet, no contract has been awarded to convert the remaining 12. Dave Allport
Three new Shadows allocated military serials ALL THREE of the King Air 350Cs acquired by the RAF for conversion to Shadow intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft have now been allocated military serials. The first to take up military markings was G-LBSB, which was cancelled from the UK civil register on May 15, when it was formally transferred to the MOD, and has become ZZ507. It is currently still with Raytheon at Broughton, North Wales, undergoing conversion to the new Shadow R2 configuration – see RAF
Shadow upgrades, June, p8. The other two recent acquisitions, G-DAYP and G-GMAD, have been allocated serials ZZ505 and ZZ506, but currently retain their civil registrations. Of the two, G-GMAD was still operating, unconverted, with No 14 Squadron at RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire, at the end of July. The other, G-DAYP, was flown to Farnborough, Hampshire, on April 9 for attention with Gama Aviation, but is believed to have moved since to Raytheon’s Broughton
facility for R2 conversion. In addition to the three new airframes, the five existing Shadow R1s are also being upgraded to R2 standard. Work has begun on six of the eight aircraft. Team Shadow, comprising the UK MOD, Gama Aviation, Raytheon and Textron Aviation, has been formed to oversee the R2 upgrade and further enhancements to the type throughout its lifespan. An initial capability with the R2 is anticipated next year, with the full fleet expected to be available in 2022. Dave Allport
SkyGuardian crosses Atlantic THE GENERAL Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) MQ-9B SkyGuardian – which will be known in RAF service at the Protector RG1 – completed a first transatlantic flight for a medium-altitude, longendurance remotely piloted aircraft (RPA). The aircraft touched down at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire at 18.51hrs on July 11 after a 3,760nm flight from Grand Forks, North Dakota. The company-owned MQ-9B completed the journey in 24 hours 2 minutes. Linden Blue, the company CEO, said: “This historic event was a demonstration of the endurance and civil airspace capability of the MQ-9B SkyGuardian, and it is fitting to do this as part of the centennial celebration of the RAF.” He added: “The successful flight of the
MQ-9B is the culmination of the hard work and innovation of our dedicated employees, and the strong relationships that we enjoy with the RAF, the UK Civil Aviation Authority, the Royal International Air Tattoo [RIAT] and our UK industry partners such as Cobham.” The SkyGuardian was on static display at RAF Fairford during RIAT from July 13-15. Previously, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshall Sir Steven Hillier announced that the Protector will be operated by No 31 Squadron, currently flying the Tornado GR4 at RAF Marham, Norfolk. The unit will disband next March before being re-formed as the service’s first Protector unit at RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire. The squadron is not expected to receive its first RPA until 2024.
RAF Chinooks arrive in Mali THREE RAF Chinook helicopters from RAF Odiham, Hampshire, have begun operating in Mali. The aircraft are supporting the French counter-
terrorism effort in West Africa. The Chinooks are supported by around 90 British troops and will be used to provide logistical and troop movement. The
arrival of the Chinooks in Mali was announced on July 18, but it’s unclear when they deployed. According to a statement from the MOD: “The
Chinooks will provide niche logistical support and will also help improve safety by moving troops by air, rather than ground where they are more
vulnerable to attack.” Previously, the UK has supported France’s Opération Barkhane with RAF strategic transport flights.
A Chinook HC5 in Mali. The aircraft is apparently equipped with engine dust filters, an electro-optical/infrared sensor turret, IR countermeasures and Miniguns. Crown Copyright
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Mirage 2000N retires A RETIREMENT ceremony for the Armée de l’Air (French Air Force) Mirage 2000N strike fighter took place at Base Aérienne 125 Istres-Le Tubé on June
21 – the type withdrawing from operational status after 30 years’ service and 350,000-plus flying hours. Seventy-five Mirage 2000Ns were ordered
by the Armée de l’Air and the type first became operational in 1988, replacing the ageing Mirage IV in the nuclear deterrent role.
All remaining 2000Ns will go to BA 279 Châteaudun, the air force’s storage and disassembly facility, before the end of the summer. Reusable parts,
especially the wings, will help keep the current fleet of French Mirage 2000s (2000D, 2000C and -5F) airworthy. Alex van Noye and Joris van Boven
Mirage 2000NK3 serial 257 ‘125-CO’ of Escadron de Chasse 2/4 ‘La Fayette’ in its retirement scheme at Istres. Alex van Noye and Joris van Boven
Netherlands buys four MQ-9 Reapers THE DUTCH defence ministry has signed a letter of acceptance for four MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft systems (UASs).
The document was ratified at the Farnborough International Airshow by General Arie Jan de Waard, head of the
Dutch Defence Materiel Organisation, and covers four MQ-9s and their ground stations as well as sensors. Postponed in
Portugal approves more F-16s for Romania
The last three F-16 airframes from the first batch bought by Romania (1607, 1609 and 1612 – corresponding to Portuguese serials 15128, 15130 and 15139) at Monte Real air base before delivery last September. Also seen are specially marked Portuguese aircraft serials 15106 and 15136. Paulo Mata
THE PORTUGUESE defence ministry has confirmed it’s to sell a second batch of F-16 Mid-Life Update (MLU) fighters to Romania. The five Fighting Falcons would join 12 delivered between 2016 and 2017. Minister of National Defence José Alberto de Azeredo Lopes gave his approval to a request for information by the Romanian government,
and the Portuguese Air Force has made available four singleseat and one twoseater from its 30-strong fleet (26 F-16AMs and four F-16BMs). They will be replaced by four airframes taken from the US surplus inventory, after an MLU by OGMA in Portugal. Costs of the deal have yet to be announced – Romanian defence
minister Mihai-Viorel Fifor postponing an announcement until the end of the year when a funding bill will be put before his parliament. Fifor also reiterated interest in buying 36 more F-16s after this purchase, to replace the country’s MiG-21 fleet: a fatal crash of one of these ageing jets on July 7 led to a temporary fleet-wide grounding. Paulo Mata
2015, the order has now been confirmed after extra funds were guaranteed by the Dutch cabinet, and the first aircraft are expected
to arrive from summer 2020. The Reapers will be assigned to 306 Squadron which is being reactivated at Leeuwarden Air Base.
First French Phénix fully painted THE FIRST A330 MultiRole Tanker Transport (MRTT) for the Armée de l’Air (French Air Force) departs Manching, Germany, to return to Torrejón in Spain on July 6. The tanker, MRTT041 (c/n MSN1735, with the French military callsign ‘F-UJCG’), had been in Germany to receive its service paint scheme, including Groupe de Ravitaillement en Vol (GRV) 2/91 ‘Bretagne’ markings on the tail and 31ème Escadre Aérienne
de Ravitaillement et de Transport Stratégiques (31ème EARTS) markings under the cockpit. The aircraft, which took its maiden flight from Getafe, Spain, on September 7 last year, is the first of nine ordered by France’s defence procurement agency, the DGA, in late 2014, and the manufacturer expects options for another three aircraft to be exercised. In French service the type will be named Phénix.
#366 SEPTEMBER 2018 // 11
Dutch Helicopter Command marks first decade THE NETHERLANDS’ Defence Helicopter Command (DHC, Defensie Helikopter Commando) celebrated its tenth anniversary on July 4. Festivities at Gilze-Rijen Air Base a week earlier included a flypast of the four types currently operated by the DHC – AS532U2 Cougar, CH-47D/F Chinook, AH-64D Apache and NH90 NFH. After a study by the Dutch defence ministry and Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF), it was decided to create a new command responsible for all rotary operations, and on July 4, 2008 the DHC assumed control of two Royal Netherlands Navy (RNN) and five RNLAF squadrons and their six different types (at that time, the AB412SP, SA316B
CH-47D D-103 of 298 Squadron during a DHC exercise with Dutch Marines at the former Soesterberg Air Base on May 18. Manolito Jaarsma
Alouette III and Lynx SH-14D were still operated). Meanwhile a defence bill published on March 26 this year covers the budget for 2018 to 2021 and includes details of an
investment programme from this year to 2033. Fourteen new-build CH-47Fs have been purchased in two batches; the six already in service will be upgraded to the
same Common Avionics Architecture System (CAAS) standard as the new-builds. All will be delivered between 2020 and 2022, while the DHC’s CH-47Ds are withdrawn.
All 28 AH-64Ds will be remanufactured to the AH-64E Apache Guardian standard – as approved by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) on February 20 – and deliveries are expected between 2022 and 2024. From 2021, the 20 NH90s will begin a retrofit programme. The Cougar was not included in the defence bill. Its withdrawal has been planned several times and is now set for 2022. However, an article in the RNLAF magazine earlier this year revealed that 300 Squadron would remain operational until at least 2030 and will expand to become a dedicated special forces squadron (see Dutch Cougars to remain in service, July, p10). Manolito Jaarsma
Luxembourg orders H145Ms, funds A400M TWO H145M multi-purpose helicopters have been ordered by Luxembourg for defence and security missions, Airbus Helicopters announced
on July 27. The company will also provide a training and support package. The pair will be delivered before the end of 2019 and enter service in 2020,
Albanian Cougars in firefighting mission THE FORCAT e Armatosura të Shqipërisë (Albanian Armed Forces) have begun using AS532AL helicopters to tackle wildfires which hit the Balkan nation each summer. The Forca Ajrore (Albanian
Air Force) demonstrated the capability for the first time on July 6, employing one of its four Cougars, FA-633, to extinguish a small forest fire during an exercise. It used the recently procured 550-imp
shared with the Belgian Air Component – contributing 12.5% of the operational costs (around €12m) annually. It’s expected to be delivered early in 2020.
operated and serviced at Luxembourg Findel Airport. As reported last month (Luxembourg Army acquiring H145Ms, August, p10), the small European
state plans to acquire five H145Ms for its firstever military aviation unit. Its parliament has also agreed to finance a single A400M – to be
gal (2,500l) SEI Industries Bambi Max BBX 5566 collapsible multiple-drop bucket system on Farka Lake, southeast of Tirana. It’s thought the Forca Ajrore has acquired at least two such buckets. Until now, its firefighting capability was limited to a single small-capacity Bambi bucket acquired in 2015 for use by the Bo 105E-4. Igor Bozinovski
Two more UH-60Ms for Slovakia
UH-60M serial 7642 on the dockside, being prepared for its delivery flight to Prešov. Slovak Ministry of Defence
Albanian Air Force AS532AL with a Bambi MAX at Farka Lake on July 6. Albanian MoD
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AN ADDITIONAL pair of UH-60Ms has been delivered to the Slovak Air Force. The Black Hawks, 7641 and 7642, arrived in Europe by sea and flew to join the Helicopter Wing at Prešov air base on July 12, bringing the total delivered to date to four. Unlike the first two, the new arrivals have already been fitted with a fastrope insertion-extraction system, internal auxiliary fuel tank and rescue hoist systems, which will be retrofitted to the other pair. The latest UH-60Ms were
handed over to the Slovak Air Force at Prešov on July 20. Slovakia is acquiring nine of the type through a $260m US Foreign Military Sales order which includes a twoyear contractor logistics support package, plus air and ground crew training. The first Black Hawks (7639 and 7640) were handed over at Prešov on August 3 last year – see First two Slovak UH-60Ms delivered, October 2017, p10. The remaining five are scheduled for delivery next year. Dave Allport
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Macedonia offers Su-25s for sale Belgian and German helicopters back from Mali GERMAN TIGERS and NH90s, and Belgian NH90s, have completed operations supporting United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) peacekeeping operations. An An-124 landed at Beauvechain air base on July 6 carrying the two Belgian Air Component NH90 Tactical Transport Helicopters, RN-06 and RN-07, back from Gao after a four-month deployment. They had left Beauvechain for Mali on February 5 on board an An-124 – see Caimans in Mali, May, p26-27 – and, after local familiarisation and training flights, began operations on March 1. The NH90s’ mission formally ended on June 30. Two Belgian Air Component C-130Hs are meanwhile continuing
transport missions in support of MINUSMA. German Army Tiger helicopter operations supporting the peacekeeping mission in Mali ended on June 15. The Tigers flew 185 missions over 14 months of operations from Camp Castor, Gao. One crashed on July 26 last year, killing both crew. Three German NH90s supporting MINUSMA also ended their missions on June 30 – performing a farewell flypast on July 3, along with the two Belgian NH90s, over Camp Castor before leaving Mali. The combined BelgianGerman NH90 fleet undertook 181 missions and safely evacuated 43 injured UN soldiers, members of the Malian armed forces and civilians in 15 rescue operations. Dave Allport
THE ARMIJA na Republika Makedonija (ARM, Army of the Republic of Macedonia) is offering its four Su-25 ground-attack aircraft for sale as part of efforts to transform the force. The ARM’s chief of the general staff, Lt Gen Metodija Velichkovski, announced the decision on July 12 under plans to adapt to new threats – including hybrid warfare – a day after NATO formally invited Macedonia to join the
alliance. Macedonia’s three single-seat Su-25 Frogfoot-As (serials 121 to 123) and single twoseat Su-25UB Frogfoot-B (serial 120) have been grounded at Petrovec air base since March 1, 2004. The former Belarusian jets, acquired from Ukraine after an overhaul at a cost of $8m, arrived in Macedonia on June 20, 2001 and were used by the Makedonsko Voeno Vozduhoplovstvo
(Macedonian Air Force) until their grounding. Their engines were started – and ground systems checked – weekly until the aircraft were removed from the ARM inventory in October 2005. Previous attempts to sell them were unsuccessful. In late 2011, returning the Su-25s to operational condition was considered, but judged not economically viable. Igor Bozinovski
Macedonian Air Force Su-25 serials 121 and 123, stored at Petrovec air base. Igor Bozinovski
#366 SEPTEMBER 2018 // 13
Montenegro takes on new AT-802 firefighter THE MONTENEGRIN Ministry of Interior Aviation-Helicopter Unit has expanded its aerial firefighting force with a two-seat Air Tractor AT-802, equipped with tailwheel-type landing gear. Acquired new from Spanish company Air Tractor Europe, the aircraft, c/n 802-0711, was handed over to its new operator at PodgoricaGolubovci airport on July 10 under an agreement that includes training for two Montenegrin pilots in Valencia, Spain. It’s the fourth AT-802 to join the Montenegrin interior ministry since 2008. In 2009, a pair of amphibious AT-802A Fire Boss aircraft joined
The new Air Tractor AT-802 at Podgorica-Golubovci International Airport. Wearing Spanish delivery registration EC-MRV, it’s expected to adopt the Montenegrin civil registration 4O-EAD. Igor Bozinovski
the Aviation-Helicopter Unit as 4O-EAA (c/n 802A-0281) and 4O-EAB (c/n 802A-0294). The former, lost in a nonfatal accident on Skadar Lake on July 21, 2015, was replaced by a singleseat AT-802A – configured with tailwheel landing gear – which landed at Podgorica-Golubovci on December 15, 2016 and became 4O-EAC (ex EC-MIB, c/n 802A-0611). In the spring of last year, Montenegro unified its AT-802 fleet by removing the floats from 4O-EAB. The Aviation-Helicopter Unit fleet now comprises three land-configured Air Tractors, including singleseat AT-802As 4O-EAB and 4O-EAC. Igor Bozinovski
Four more T-346As for Italian training school LEONARDO AND the Aeronautica Militare (AM, Italian Air Force) are to collaborate on an International Flight Training School (IFTS).
ATR 72MP for Italian Customs Police LEONARDO HAS won a contract to supply an ATR 72MP to the Guardia di Finanza (GdF, Italian Customs Police) in a deal which, worth around €44m, includes logistics support and training services. Delivery is planned for next year and there are options for more aircraft, which could bring the contract value up to €250m. The ATR 72MP will be used for maritime patrol, searching for and identifying surface vessels, search and rescue (SAR), territorial water security, monitoring and intervention in ecological disasters and prevention of narcotics trafficking, piracy and smuggling. The GdF currently operates two ATR 42-400MP aircraft that entered service from December 1996, and a pair of ATR 42-500MPs delivered in 2007-08.
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The AM has ordered four additional T-346A advanced jet trainers for the new venture, which will begin in January at Lecce-Galatina air base,
home to the air force’s 61° Stormo. The IFTS will utilise the air force’s existing training assets and provide courses for Italian and international
aircrews. From 2021, the AM’s entire advanced and pre-operational training syllabus will be moved to a new, dedicated facility at Lecce-Galatina – which is
also expected to include rotary-wing and remotelypiloted platforms. The new T-346As will join 18 others already in service at the base.
Italian Army in CAEX 18-1 exercise CH-47F MM81780 ‘E.I.703’ follows a UH-90A during CAEX 18-1. Note the MG 42/59 7.62mm machine gun in the forward cabin window. Gian Carlo Vecchi
THE AVIAZIONE dell’Esercito (AVES, the Italian army’s air component) staged Complex Aviation Exercise (CAEX) 18-1 from May 14 to 25. Developed to prepare and verify units prior to deployment in operational theatres, it followed a planning phase at Viterbo in April.
All operational AVES units took part in CAEX 18-1, including the 1° Reggimento AVES ‘Antares’, 3° Reggimento Elicotteri per Operazioni Speciali (3° REOS, 3rd Special Operations Helicopter Regiment), 5° Reggimento AVES ‘Rigel’ and the 7° Reggimento AVES ‘Vega’. The
first week focused on integrating the various elements. Active training began in the second week, with an operational base at Viterbo and flying activities over the regions of Lazio, Umbria and Tuscany. Twenty-eight frontline AVES aircraft were involved – including AB205s, AB412s, AH-129Ds,
CH-47Fs and UH-90As – and more than 600 soldiers. Day and night missions included airborne assault by paratroopers, fastroping, capture of highvalue objectives, insertion and extraction of dog teams and extraction of diplomatic personnel from a hostage situation. Gian Carlo Vecchi
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‘Swamp Foxes’ deploy ‘downrange’ AROUND A dozen South Carolina Air National Guard (SCANG) F-16C Fighting Falcons and more than 300 personnel
have deployed to an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia for an Air Expeditionary Force rotation in support
of Operation Inherent Resolve, which is targeting so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The mission, announced
on July 19, involves the 169th Fighter Wing’s 157th Fighter Squadron ‘Swamp Foxes’. Normally based at McEntire Joint
National Guard Base in Eastover, the unit will be attached to the 407th Air Expeditionary Group in theatre.
A pilot from the 157th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron touches down in F-16C 93-0543 at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia on July 17. USAF/Staff Sgt Dana J Cable
GE offers two powerplants for B-52 re-engining GE AVIATION plans to offer two engines for the US Air Force’s B-52H Stratofortress re-engining programme. The company has earmarked its CF34-M and more advanced Passport powerplants as candidates for the Stratofortress. The CF34-M is currently employed on the Embraer 190, while the Passport will offer improved fuel efficiency. According to company officials, the CF34-M could provide 50 years of service on board
MV-22B unit moves to Hawaii
the bomber without having to remove an engine due to deterioration. Meanwhile, the Passport would increase fuel burn by a double-digit figure, offering expanded mission profiles. In its Fiscal 2019 budget request, the USAF called for $280m to modernise its B-52H fleet, compared with a request of $106m for 2018. A total of $64.5m has been allocated to launch the re-engining programme. The USAF plans to retain the B-52H in service into the 2050s. VMM-363 MV-22B Osprey 168344 ‘YZ-11’ prepares to disembark its crew after arriving at MCAS Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. USMC/Sgt Jesus Sepulveda Torres
A B-52H from the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot AFB, North Dakota, approaches a USAF KC-135 from RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk, over the Mediterranean last April. USAF/Airman 1st Class Benjamin Cooper
AN ADDITIONAL squadron of US Marine Corps MV-22Bs has begun its scheduled relocation from Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar, California, to MCAS Kaneohe Bay, Marine Corps Base Hawaii. An initial seven Ospreys from the 12 assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 363 (VMM-363) ‘Red Lions’, landed at Kaneohe Bay on July 7 after being flown off the Wasp-class
amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6). They were embarked on the vessel while it participated in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercises. The remaining five were expected to join them by the end of the month. The move sees VMM363 transfer from the 3rd Marine Air Wing (MAW), under the control of Marine Aircraft Group 16 (MAG-16) at Miramar,
to its new command, the 1st MAW/MAG-24 at Kaneohe Bay. As HMH-363, the unit had previously been based at Kaneohe Bay, operating CH-53D Sea Stallions, but was deactivated there on May 10, 2012, before being reactivated at Miramar as an MV-22B unit. Kaneohe Bay already houses one Osprey unit, VMM-268 ‘Red Dragons’, which arrived in 2016. Dave Allport
#366 SEPTEMBER 2018 // 15
Hawaii Globemasters conduct C-26A ASTARS III mass airdrop in Europe enrols at pilot school
Above: A C-17A operated by the Hawaii ANG takes off from Ramstein AB during exercise Swift Response 18 on June 8. US ANG/Senior Airman John Linzmeier
MEMBERS OF the Hawaii Air National Guard’s 204th Airlift Squadron (AS) took part in mass airdrop operations with European partners from June 4-14. The unit participated in two multinational exercises for the first time: Swift Response 18 (SR18) and Bayonet Strike. A team of 51 guardsmen, active-duty airmen and military civilians from Joint Base Pearl HarborHickam flew alongside other airlift units from Air Mobility Command and the NATO Heavy Airlift Wing at Pápa Air Base, Hungary. A mobile operations centre was established at Ramstein AB, Germany, for SR18, which focused
on high-readiness airborne forces with approximately 2,300 participants from the US, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Spain and the UK. Personnel and equipment were transported on a C-17A with deliveries made using static line jumps, high altitude low opening (HALO) jumps, equipment airdrops and air-to-land transportation. The mission included an airfield seizure operation, with airdropping of Portuguese and Italian ‘pathfinders’. The Hawaiian C-17 also flew an advance echelon (ADVON) team and their equipment to Mirosławiec air base, Poland. SR18 ended with air-to-land deliveries
Aviano ‘Buzzards’ at Lakenheath APPROXIMATELY 200 airmen from the USAF’s 510th Fighter Squadron (FS), 31st Fighter Wing (FW), Aviano AB, Italy, participated in a recent flying training deployment at RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk. The two-week effort was designed to evaluate aircraft and personnel capabilities, and train in NATO
to the newly established base in Poland, in a move called Bravo Echelon. On completing Bravo Echelon, the guardsmen and C-17 partners relocated to Aviano Air Base, Italy on June 9, for Bayonet Strike, which included more airlift operations with the 173rd Airborne Brigade, the Italian Army and paratroopers from the Spanish Airborne Brigade. The exercise fulfilled training requirements, qualifying aircrew and soldiers to rapidly assemble and deploy across the theatre. Bayonet Strike ended with Operation Rock Drop, in which hundreds of soldiers were dropped onto contested terrain.
A NEW Airborne Systems Training and Research Support (ASTARS) III aircraft, representing the newest generation of ‘flying classrooms’, has been delivered to the United States Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS) at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. The aircraft, a C-26A Metroliner, based on the SA227AC Metro III, is 860456 ‘40’ (c/n AC-747B, ex USAF/860456, N27364) and arrived at Pax River on June 29. ASTARS III, the third generation of flying classroom for the USNTPS curriculum, is custom-tailored with
military equipment and subsystems. A simulation lab with matching crew stations was also built, for students to familiarise themselves with the aircraft and its systems before flying for the first time, increasing the efficiency of flight time spent with instructors. USNTPS’ original ASTARS was a modified NP-3D Orion, which was retired in mid-2009. From February 2010 it was replaced by the current ASTARS II, a modified Saab 340A (N304ST) leased from Calspan Corporation, and that contract is due to expire in the autumn. Dave Allport
The new USNTPS ASTARS III C-26A Metroliner, 860456, on the ramp at NAS Patuxent River. It arrived from San Antonio following modification by M7 Aerospace. US Navy
F-22 Raptors fire live missiles at Exercise Combat Archer
operations with the 48th FW and allies in the UK. Fourteen F-16Cs from the 510th FS ‘Buzzards’ were involved in the training which focused on maintaining joint readiness and building interoperability. The ‘Buzzards’ used the space created at the base by the 494th FS deployment to Southwest Asia. A QF-16 from the 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron at Tyndall on July 11. Tyndall’s 82nd Aerial Target Squadron provided full-scale aerial targets for the latest Combat Archer exercise. USAF/Staff Sgt Sergio A Gamboa
F-16C 88-0491 ‘AV’ arrives at RAF Lakenheath on July 20 for the flight training excercise. Peter R Foster
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F-22A RAPTORS and more than 200 pilots, maintainers and operations support staff from the 1st Fighter Wing (FW) at Joint Base Langley Eustis (JBLE), Virginia took part in a Combat Archer exercise at Tyndall AFB, Florida. The event, from July 6-20, allowed the 1st FW to
gain experience in loading and firing live missiles. The wing joined in Combat Archer as part of the Weapons System Evaluation Program, in conjunction with Exercise Checkered Flag 18-2. The combined exercises train and evaluate the Raptor under simulated combat
environments, including firing live missiles against remotely piloted targets. F-22s and T-38s from JBLE were scheduled to fly 300 sorties, and plans called for the Raptors F-to launch 20 missiles: five radar-guided AIM120 AMRAAMs and 15 AIM-9 Sidewinders.
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Harry S Truman Carrier Strike Group returns to Norfolk
CF-18 Demonstration Team down low
An MH-60R assigned to HSM-48 ‘Vipers’ prepares to land on the flight deck of the guidedmissile destroyer USS ‘Forrest Sherman’ (DDG 98), deployed as part of the HSTCSG earlier this year. US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tyrell K Morris
THE US Navy’s Harry S Truman Carrier Strike Group (HSTCSG) arrived in Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, on July 21 after three months of operations in the US Fifth and Sixth Fleet areas of responsibility. As well as almost 6,500 sailors, the HSTCSG included the aircraft carrier USS Harry S Truman (CVN 75) and strike group ships USS Normandy (CG 60), USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) and USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98). While deployed, the strike group participated in partnership and interoperability manoeuvres,
as well as maritime and theatre security operations; exercises included Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) from the Adriatic Sea and Lightning Handshake with the Royal Moroccan Air Force. Aircraft from the embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1 supported Operation Inherent Resolve during May and June, flying 210 combat sorties, totalling 1,500 flight hours, in both Iraq and Syria. The squadrons of CVW-1 returned to their bases of Naval Air Station Oceana, NAS Whidbey Island,
NAS Jacksonville, NAS Lemoore and NS Norfolk. CVW-1 includes Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 11 ‘Red Rippers’, VFA211 ‘Checkmates’, VFA81 ‘Sunliners’, VFA-136 ‘Knighthawks’, Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 137 ‘Rooks’, Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 126 ‘Seahawks’, Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 72 ‘Proud Warriors’, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 11 ‘Dragon Slayers’ and a detachment from Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 40 ‘Rawhides’
THIS YEAR’S CF-18 Demonstration Team jet, CF-188 serial 188776, takes to the Welsh valleys for low-level training. Capt Stefan Porteous and the team were in Europe this
summer for displays at the Yeovilton Air Day at RNAS Yeovilton, Somerset, and the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire from July 13-15.
Arrestor hook tests for General Atomics MQ-25 GENERAL ATOMICS Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) has successfully concluded initial trials for the arrestor hook on the MQ-25A unmanned aerial refuelling aircraft developed for the US Navy. The performance testing focused on the arrestor hook Hold Down Damper (HDD) with GA-ASI working in collaboration with GKN Aerospace’s Fokker business unit in Helmond, Netherlands.
Fokker is slated to supply the arrestor hook for the GA-ASI bid. The test simulated dynamic conditions to assess the performance of the HDD, including damping, spring rate and pressure control functionality. David R Alexander, president, Aircraft Systems, GA-ASI said: “The validation of this model gives us confidence ahead of production and eventual deployment.”
KC-46A heads towards first delivery THE USAF’s KC-46A programme has completed the flight-testing required for a first aircraft delivery in October. The USAF announced the trials work was finished at Boeing Field, Seattle on
July 6. The test points included proving the KC-46A’s Remote Vision System, which controls the refuelling boom, and receiver certifications for the F-16 and C-17. In June, the Pegasus finished
testing for receiving fuel from the KC-135. Receiver certification began in April and was conducted from Boeing Field, and Edwards AFB, California. “With this milestone complete, the test
programme has demonstrated a level of maturity that positions Boeing to deliver, and the air force to accept, an aircraft by the end of October 2018,” said Dr Will Roper, the USAF service
acquisition executive. The next stage in the test programme is followon receiver testing and certifications required for operational testing, due to begin next year.
A KC-46A test aircraft touches down at Edwards on May 23 for another round of trials. USAF/Christopher Okula
#366 SEPTEMBER 2018 // 17
E-11A BACN visits Mildenhall Justin Ward
USING THE regular callsign ‘Velcro 4’, E-11A Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) 12-9506 (c/n 9506) arrived at RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk on July 1. The aircraft remained at the base overnight and departed the following morning.
The aircraft – based on the Bombardier Global Express – belongs to the 430th Expeditionary Electronic Combat Squadron (EECS), the only unit in the USAF that operates the E-11A with the BACN payload. It is assigned to the 451st Expeditionary Operations
Group and is normally stationed at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. The 430th EECS was created to meet a joint urgent operational need, when it was identified that the terrain of Afghanistan posed serious communication challenges.
New Air Force One under contract BOEING HAS won the US Air Force’s formalised Air Force One replacement contract. Announced on July 19, the deal calls for the contractor to design, modify, test, certify and deliver two presidential,
mission-ready aircraft by 2024. The move follows a February agreement between President Donald Trump and Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing chairman, president, and CEO. It sets $3.9bn
as the price for the two aircraft, providing a $1.4bn saving for taxpayers. Taken from storage in the Mojave Desert, the customised 747-8 aircraft will be designated VC-25B once in service.
ATAC and Draken receive Mirage F1s
Three former French Air Force Mirage F1s, including a twoseat F1B in the foreground, being refurbished in the ATACACE facility at Fort Worth Alliance Airport. ATAC
AIRBORNE TACTICAL Advantage Company (ATAC) has begun to take delivery of the 63 retired Mirage F1s acquired from the French government by the Textron Airborne Solutions-owned company. On July 11 ATAC announced that 13 of the aircraft had arrived at its Adversary Center of Excellence (ATAC-ACE) at Fort Worth Alliance Airport, Texas. The first
two had been delivered to the ATAC-ACE on June 27, with additional deliveries scheduled throughout the rest of this year. Over at Lakeland, Florida, rival adversary company Draken International has begun receiving the 22 ex-Spanish Air Force F1Ms and F1Bs it has purchased. The first, C.14-73 ‘14-45’, was delivered there on July 5, with more due to follow shortly. Dave Allport
US Marine Corps Osprey flies after two-year grounding
Ex-Spanish Air Force Mirage F1M C.14-56 ‘14-31’, with a second aircraft behind, are reassembled in Draken International’s hangar at Lakeland, Florida, on July 27. Draken International/Jose M Ramos
RCAF deploys Cyclone on Operation Reassurance
Newly repaired VMM-264(R) MV-22B Osprey 166742 ‘EH-10’ taxies out at MCAS New River prior to making its first flight in more than two years. USMC/Cpl Aaron Henson
A US Marine Corps MV-22B has taken to the air again after being grounded for more than two years because of corroded parts. The Osprey, 166742 ‘EH10’ assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 264 (Reinforced) – VMM264(R) – ‘Black Knights’ at Marine Corps Air
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Station New River, North Carolina, was finally re-flown there on July 13, after sitting idle on the ground for 866 days while marines and contractors worked to get it back to operational status. Much of the Osprey’s problems stemmed from frequent transitions from land to expeditionary
ships at sea and many aluminium parts had begun to corrode, needed replacement or at least repair. The aircraft’s corroded K-fittings, joints which combine panels on the wings, were one of the critical components requiring restoration before the aircraft could be flown safely again. Dave Allport
THE ROYAL Canadian Air Force’s (RCAF’s) CH-148 Cyclone is making its first operational deployment. The helicopter is on board the Halifax-class frigate HMCS Ville de Québec, which departed its homeport of Halifax, Nova Scotia on July 18. The warship will join Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2), one of NATO’s maritime immediate reaction forces, on its way to the Mediterranean as part of Canada’s support to NATO assurance and deterrence
measures in Central and Eastern Europe. Lt Gen Al Meinzinger, commander of the RCAF, said: “This deployment marks an exciting period for the Royal Canadian Air Force as we transition maritime helicopter operations to our new fleet of state-of-the-art, combat-capable CH-148s. During this mission, the Cyclone will provide the necessary air power to HMCS Ville de Québec as it delivers on Canada and NATO’s objectives for this operation.”
Russia & CIS
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PLAAF aircraft deploy to Russia for Aviadarts RUSSIA’S AVIADARTS competition has this year seen a significant deployment of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) to Russia. On July 21, the Russian MoD announced the initial PLAAF contingent had been among the first foreign participants to arrive at Dyagilevo in the Ryazan region, with H-6K bombers from the 10th Bomber Division, 28th Air Regiment at Anqing, Y-9 transport aircraft and JH-7A bombers – along with Belarusian
Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters, plus Su-25 attack aircraft. By the end of that week, PLAAF J-10 fighters had also arrived, as had a Kazakh contingent including Su-30 fighters, and Mi-35 and Mi-171 helicopters. This international stage of Aviadarts was held between July 29 and August 11, using the Dubrovichi training area in the Ryazan region. Deployment of the PLAAF H-6Ks and Y-9s marks the first time both have taken part in an overseas exercise. Dave Allport
The first Il-78M-90A is towed out of the paint shop prior to beginning flight testing. UAC
Ukraine acquires 55 Airbus rotorcraft
Above: PLAAF H-6K 20118, from the 10th Bomber Division, 28th Air Regiment at Anqing, after arriving at Dyagilevo for the Aviadarts 2018 competition. Russian MoD
First Il-78M-90A tanker ready for testing THE FIRST Il-78M-90A tanker, built by Aviastar SP at Ulyanovsk, has successfully completed all ground trials including fuel system tests. The news was announced by Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation on July 10. It has been fully painted by JSC Spektr-Avia
in readiness for transfer to the flight test station and was scheduled to begin company flight trials in August. The Il-78M90A made its maiden flight from Ulyanovsk on January 25 and has since undergone a series of ground tests. Dave Allport
AIRBUS HELICOPTERS and the Ukrainian Ministry of Interior have signed an order for 55 helicopters. The deal, announced on July 14, features 21 repurposed H225s, ten new H145s and 24 H125s. They will be used by the Ministry of Interior for search and rescue, public services and emergency medical service missions. The order follows an intergovernmental agreement signed between France and Ukraine in June and includes provisions for a local training and maintenance centre. The H225 aircraft will be modified for public services and SAR missions with the first examples expected to arrive in Kiev before the end of the year.
#366 SEPTEMBER 2018 // 19
Alsalam receives F-15SA order
The latest batch of RSAF F-15SA fighters passed through RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk, on their delivery flight on July 23. The five jets comprised serials 12-1018, 121024, 12-1025, 12-1026 and 12-1068 (seen here). The previous batch of four F-15SAs transited through Lakenheath on their delivery flight on May 14. Peter R Foster
ALSALAM AEROSPACE Industries of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, has been awarded a US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contract for modification of six missioncapable Royal Saudi Air
Force (RSAF) F-15S Strike Eagle aircraft to F-15SA configuration. The $59.7m award by the US Air Force Life Cycle Management Center on July 24 includes programme management,
conversion and kit storage. Work will be performed in Riyadh and is expected to be completed by August 3, 2020. An initial $17.8m in FMS funds was released at the time of the award.
Saudi Ministry of Interior H145 under test
In addition to purchasing 84 new-build F-15SAs, the RSAF is also upgrading its 68 surviving F-15S aircraft to the same standard. The first conversions have been carried out in
the US by Boeing at its St Louis manufacturing site, but later work is being undertaken by Alsalam in Saudi Arabia using Boeing-supplied kits. Dave Allport
UAE ‘Vipers’ to get new computers BAE SYSTEMS has revealed some details of its upgrade for the United Arab Emirates Air Force and Air Defence (UAE AF&AD) F-16E/F Block 60 fleet. The fighters will receive the company’s Digital Flight Control
Computer under an initial order from Lockheed Martin. As part of the deal, BAE Systems will provide services including design, qualification, integration, flight test, and certification for the flight control computer.
Qatar increases Hawk order to nine A Pfister
AIRBUS HELICOPTERS H145T2 MOI-66 (c/n 20194) for the Saudi Ministry of Interior seen under test near
Donauwörth, Germany, with test registration D-HADT. The German government approved the sale of 23
of these aircraft in March 2016 and a first aircraft was on the production line by April last year.
Israel ‘secretly hosts UAE officials’ to examine F-35 purchase THE ISRAELI Air Force (IAF) reportedly hosted a military delegation from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) recently to examine the operational and technical aspects of the F-35A Adir fighter
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at Nevatim Air Base. Although reported in local media, the IAF denied that it had happened. The UAE is examining options for a possible new fighter deal. If confirmed, the secret visit would
be exceptional since Israel and the UAE don’t have official diplomatic relations. Sources suggest an American delegation was present at the time of the UAE visit. Noam Menashe
QATAR’S PREVIOUSLY announced order for six Hawk Advanced Jet Trainers has been increased to nine, along with an initial support package, confirmed by BAE Systems in a contracts update announcement on June 29. The company said the first Hawk delivery to the Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) is expected in 2021. The acquisition of six Hawks was originally part of a larger plan for the purchase of 24 Typhoons for the QEAF announced
on September 17 last year (see Qatar signs Statement of Intent for Typhoon, November, p6). However, when the Typhoon contract was finalised on December 10, the Hawks were not included (Qatar buys Typhoon and Rafales, January, p25). The Typhoon order is subject to financing conditions and receipt by BAE Systems of first payment. Discussions on financing are ongoing and BAE anticipates initial payment being received in the third quarter of the year. Dave Allport
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Qatari C-17A at Mildenhall
QATAR EMIRI Air Force C-17A A7-MAO of 12 Squadron/Al Udeid Transport Wing arrived at
RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk, on July 14 using the callsign LHOB244. It departed on the 18th under the same
callsign. The reason for its appearance is thought to be a visit by a number of distinguished visitors,
perhaps connected with the establishment of the joint UK/Qatari No 12 (Bomber) Squadron in
London on July 24. The joint squadron will provide the QAEF with experience operating the Typhoon.
Latest Kuwaiti Super Hornet contract BOEING HAS received a $1.5bn contract for 28 F/A18E/F Super Hornet Block III fighters for Kuwait. The fixed-price-incentive-firm contract announced on 27 June provides for the production and delivery
of 22 single-seat F/A18E and six twin-seat F/A-18F aircraft by the end of January 2021. Last March, Boeing received a contract worth up to $1.16bn to produce and deliver 22 F/A-18E and
six F/A-18F Super Hornets. This covered long-lead non-recurring engineering required to develop a baseline configuration for the Kuwait jets. In addition, it provided for long-lead items including radar
warning receivers and weapons. The contract is expected to be completed in September 2022. The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced US State Department approval
for the Kuwaiti F/A-18E/F deal in November 2016. At the time, it was to be worth up to $10.1bn for up to 32 F/A-18Es and eight F/A18Fs, including 12 options. The jets will replace the current F/A-18C/D fleet.
Dubai Police AW139 breaks cover
THE DUBAI Police Air Wing based at Dubai International Airport will be augmented by at least one Leonardo AW139 – a new type of helicopter for the service. It will operate alongside an existing
rotary fleet comprising two A109K2s, two AB412EPs and a single AB412HP. The AW139 was seen wearing test registration I-EASS at Venegono, Italy, on June 29, during a test flight from nearby
Vergiate, with future serial DU-201 already applied. The helicopter is equipped with a rescue hoist, searchlight and a forwardlooking infrared turret. Leonardo has not made public details of the Dubai
Police Air Wing AW139 order. In November 2013 AgustaWestland announced the sale of five AW169s to reinforce the Dubai Police Air Wing, but these haven’t yet been delivered. The Dubai
Police Air Wing carries out a wide variety of tasks including utility, passenger transport, air patrol, road surveillance, emergency medical services, search and rescue and aerial imagery. Marco Muntz
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Dr Andreas Zeitler was at Hatzerim Air Base to witness the Israeli Air Force’s impressive graduation ceremony. It was a rare chance to get a glimpse of the air arm in action.
Show of force in the Negev wice a year, around three-dozen Israeli Air Force (IAF) officers receive their wings. Of these, roughly half will go on to become fighter pilots or weapons system officers, a third will fly helicopters, while the rest are destined to join the transport fleet in different roles. The event is celebrated with a ceremony at Hatzerim Air Base, in the northern Negev, that brings the cadets’ threeyear syllabus to a close. The graduation event for Flight Course 176 at the
Above: AH-64D Saraf 746 from 113 Squadron ‘Hornet’ unleashes 30mm rounds from its Chain Gun over the range at Hatzerim. The aircraft regularly fly with external fuel tanks for extended endurance.
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end of June additionally commemorated the 70th anniversary of both the IAF and the state of Israel. It also provided one of the first public appearances of the F-35A Adir after initial operational capability was declared for the fifth-generation fighter at the beginning of last December. Brig Gen Avshalom Amosi, commander of Hatzerim AB, addressed the graduates in a speech: “Your future is in your hands. “The operational theatre is constantly changing,
and the air force operates both near and far. I know that you are all trustworthy. You are responsible for the future of the air force’s legacy, spreading your wings over the Middle East.” Hatzerim’s Flight Academy commander, Colonel A (full name withheld on security grounds) was even clearer about the graduates’ future tasks: “You will receive great power in the near future and will be required to use it,” he observed. The importance of the IAF and the event itself were underlined by the presence of Israel’s defence minister Avigdor Lieberman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Real-world operations The air base in the Negev Desert hosts, among others, squadrons of frontline F-16I Sufa and F-15I Ra’am strike fighters. It’s located not far from the Gaza Strip, and the prime minister’s speech highlighted
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Left: Star of the show – an F-35A Adir from 140 Squadron ‘Golden Eagle’ flew direct from its base at Nevatim to take part in the air power demonstration at Hatzerim. To date, the IAF has received a total of 12 Adirs, the most recent examples arriving on June 24. Right: The tanker fleet is one notable area of the IAF that hasn’t undergone modernisation in recent years. Here, 120 Squadron ‘Desert Giants’ KC-707 Re’em 275 (A7-AAA) carries out an aerial refuelling demonstration with a trio of F-16D Baraks from 105 Squadron ‘Scorpion’. Below: F-15C Baz 552 (FMS 830059) from 106 Squadron ‘Tip of the Spear’ performs a high-speed flyby over the gathered crowd. The fighter received the individual name ‘Akev’ – meaning buzzard. All photos Dr Andreas Zeitler
“Whoever drags us into conflict will very much regret it. Here, also, the air force has a central role to play.” Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu
C-130J-30 Shimshon 662 (c/n 5742) delivers an airdropped cargo. Operating unit for the new Super Hercules airlifters is 103 Squadron ‘Elephants’ at Nevatim.
the IAF’s fundamental role as the long arm of Israel’s foreign policy. “Dangers are all around us – and the air force has a central role in thwarting them,” said Netanyahu, while standing in front of the cadets. “We will not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons,” he added. “We will continue to take strong action against Iran’s plan to turn Syria into a deadly
missile base against us.” The IAF would, said Netanyahu, “continue to operate at close and longer ranges, both openly and in secret”. Regarding Gaza, the prime minister’s words were more ambiguous, but he was clear when he stated that: “whoever drags us into conflict will very much regret it. Here, also, the air force has a central role to play.”
IAF modernisation Recent additions to the IAF fleet emphasise the significance of the air arm to tactical and strategic operations in the region. Some of these new assets were displayed during a ‘show of force’ presentation that concluded the ceremony. With the M-346 Lavi, the IAF has a modern and highly sophisticated
jet trainer that has now replaced all the veteran Tzukit (Magister) trainers at Hatzerim. It’s a platform well adapted to preparing future pilots for different versions of the F-16, F-15 and the most recent F-35. A combat search and rescue (CSAR) scenario featured a C-130J Shimshon that air-dropped cargo in a mission supported by helicopters. Rotary assets, too, are part of the IAF’s
‘long arm’, demonstrated by S-70A Yanshuf helicopters that have provision for in-flight refuelling probes and AH-64D Saraf gunships updated with satcom data link radomes. Offensive air power was demonstrated by a pair of F-15I Ra’am jets that dropped 14 inert bombs close to the crowd. An F-35 then had the privilege of closing the flying display, arriving directly from its home at nearby Nevatim AB.
Above: S-70A-50 Yanshuf 3 serial 542 carries the insignia of 123 Squadron ‘Desert Birds’ on its tail. Some of the Yanshufs that took part had attachment points for in-flight refuelling probes fitted to the fuselage, but with the receiver attachment removed. Left: Operated by 69 Squadron ‘Hammers’, F-15I Ra’am 232 departs with a load of inert bombs as part of the firepower demonstration. The last of 25 Ra’ams was delivered in 1999 and there are persistent rumours of a possible follow-on Strike Eagle order.
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Colombian Kfirs in the US SIX KFIR fighters from the Fuerza Aérea Colombiana (FAC, Colombian Air Force) visited the US for Exercise Red Flag 18-3. On their way to Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, the FAC jets took part in a week and a half of training at Davis-Monthan AFB,
Arizona. The Colombian fighters – operated by Escuadrón de Combate 111 and supported by a 767 Multi-Mission Tanker Transport from Escuadrón de Transporte 811 – flew air-to air combat training missions with A-10Cs from the 354th
Fighter Squadron and F-16s from Arizona Air National Guard’s 162nd Wing from July 5-16. The FAC sent 130 personnel to support the six Kfirs, which arrived at Nellis on July 17. Red Flag 18-3 took place from July 23 to August 3.
Brig Gen Pablo Garcia, Comando Aéreo de Combate No 1 commander said: “For the Colombian Air Force, participating for the second time in Red Flag signifies the opportunity to increase the training of our pilots in a very challenging
environment. We are ready to learn, apply our knowledge and gain more experience in combat aerial manoeuvres with combat squadrons of the US Air Force.” The Colombians made their first trip to Red Flag in 2012.
Colombian Kfir C10 serials FAC3060 and FAC3049 hold on the flight line as they prepare to launch from Davis-Monthan on July 7. USAF/Staff Sgt Angela Ruiz
First S-70i Black Hawks delivered to Chile
First Peruvian Navy SH-2G upgraded KAMAN AEROSPACE has installed a full upgraded sensor package on a first Peruvian Fuerza de Aviación Naval SH-2G(NZ) Super Seasprite. A delegation of three Peruvian Navy personnel arrived at Kaman’s facility in Bloomfield, Connecticut, on May 7 to participate in the function test and qualification flights of the former NZ3604 – the first to be completed as an SH-2G(P2) – as part of the final acceptance process before delivery. They
were due to return home on July 7, but as yet there has been no confirmation that the helicopter has been delivered. Peru bought five former Royal New Zealand Air Force SH-2G(NZ)s and the former NZ3605 was placed into service with Escuadrón Aeronaval 21 at Lima-Callao in May 2016, without any upgrade to enable crew training to begin. Since then, Kaman has been refurbishing and upgrading the other four extensively. Dave Allport
Mexico abandons plans to buy eight MH-60Rs One of the three new FACh S-70i Black Hawks, still wearing Polish test registration SP-YVF, after being unloaded from an An-124 at Santiago Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport. FACh
THE FIRST three Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawks for the Fuerza Aérea de Chile (FACh, Chilean Air Force) have been delivered to Chile. The helicopters were transported to the II Brigada Aérea (2nd Air Brigade) at Base Aérea ‘Pudahuel’, Santiago Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport, from Poland on board a Volga Dnepr An-124 cargo aircraft,
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arriving there on July 23. The initial three Black Hawks from a total of six ordered were officially delivered to the FACh at the facilities of manufacturer PZL Mielec – which belongs to Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin – on July 13. Although painted in FACh colours, they still wore Polish test registrations SP-YVD, SP-YVE and SP-YVF,
with their Chilean serials taped over. However, one of the three was identified as serial H-05. The FACh already operates one S-70A-39 from a previous order and Sikorsky announced the order for another six aircraft on December 7, 2016. The remaining three should be delivered in October. They will be operated by Grupo de Aviación No 9 at Santiago.
MEXICAN PRESIDENTELECT Andrés Manuel López Obrador has said he intends to cancel a planned order for eight MH-60R Seahawk helicopters for the Fuerza Aeronaval (Mexican Naval Aviation). He made the announcement on July 11, during talks with reporters after a meeting with incoming legislators from his Morena party. Obrador, who is due to formally take office on December 1, had won the
presidential election with pledges to fight corruption and government waste. He said the government did not have the money to fund the purchase, valued at an estimated US$1.2bn. Plans for the purchase had been revealed on April 18 by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), which said the US State Department had approved the sale and Congress had been notified the previous day. Dave Allport
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Chile acquires C-101 from Jordan
The former RJAF C-101CC is moved into a hangar at El Bosque. FACh/Escuela de Especialidades
The FAA is hopeful that cockpit upgrades will ensure the Hercules remains in service until around 2040. FAdeA
Argentine Hercules upgrade THE LATEST Fuerza Aérea Argentina (FAA, Argentine Air Force) Hercules to undergo modernisation has begun test flights at Fábrica Argentina de Aviones (FAdeA) facilities. KC-130H Hercules serial TC-70 (c/n 4816) has received the same cockpit updates as C-130H TC-61
(c/n 4308) and KC-130H TC-69 (c/n 4814). These two aircraft underwent upgrade with L3 in Waco, Texas, which involved FAdeA technicians who were then able to continue the work in Argentina. C-130H serial TC-66 (c/n 4464) is now undergoing modernisation, leaving
only C-130H TC-64 (c n 4436) to enter the programme. The Argentine and United States governments agreed the terms of the upgrade programme in 2013 and it is valued at around $75m for all five aircraft. Juan Carlos Cicalesi
A FORMER Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF) C-101CC Aviojet has been delivered to the Fuerza Aérea de Chile (FACh, Chilean Air Force) for ground instructional use. The aircraft, still in RJAF camouflage but with national markings removed, was delivered by Comando Logistico (Logistics Command) to the Escuela de Especialidades (School of Specialities) Sargento 1º Adolfo Menadier Rojas at El Bosque, Santiago, on June 12. The FACh’s Grupo de Aviación No 1 (GA 1) currently operates the
Ecuadorian Falcon visits UK
Base change for Argentine Tucanos
THIS FUERZA Aérea Ecuatoriana (FAE, Ecuadorian Air Force) Dassault Falcon 7X is seen departing Edinburgh Airport on July 25. The VIP-configured aircraft,
FAE-052, was carrying the Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno after a twoday visit to the Scottish capital. Its callsign was ‘FAE001’. The operating unit for the Falcon is
Escuadrón de Transporte 1114 at Base Aérea/ Mariscal Sucre International Airport in Quito. The single Falcon entered service in November 2013 and serves alongside
A-36 Toqui as part of I Brigada Aérea at Base Aérea Los Condores, Iquique. The Toqui is an upgraded variant of the A-36 Hálcon, which is derived from the C-101. There are reports that seven ex-RJAF C-101CCs may have been delivered to GA 1, but this has not been confirmed and, if true, it is unclear whether they are to be used for spares or to supplement the operational A-36 fleet. The RJAF has been progressively retiring its C-101CCs, seven of which were offered for sale in December 2016. Dave Allport
examples of the Beech 350i King Air, ERJ135BJ Legacy 600, Gulfstream GIISP and Sabreliner 40/60. The FAE is the only military operator of the Falcon 7X in the region.
THE TUCANO fleet of the Fuerza Aérea Argentina (FAA, Argentine Air Force) has relocated to the northern base of the III Brigada Aérea (3rd Air Brigade) at Reconquista in the province of Santa Fe. The change followed the arrival in country of the new T-6C+ Texan II trainers that have replaced the EMB-312 with the Escuela de Aviación Militar (Military Aviation School) at Córdoba. At their previous base, the Tucanos had been maintained by the Area de Material Río IV, also in Córdoba. Reconquista is home of the twinengine IA-58 Pucará, and the two types will share the mission of patrolling the country’s northern border. Juan Carlos Cicalesi
#366 SEPTEMBER 2018 // 25
Spanish Typhoons train with Moroccan Mirages
Kenya orders C-27Js ITALY’S LEONARDO has won orders from Kenya for at least one, and possibly up to four, C-27J Spartans in a contract worth around €220m, according to Italian and Kenyan media– although there’s been no official company announcement. The deal also includes an undisclosed number of AW139 helicopters – apparently ordered for
the Kenya Police. Two AW139s and one AW119 MkII were handed over to the police on June 29. The Kenyan government confirmed it’s arranged two loans to pay for the Spartans which, unconfirmed reports suggest, will be the first fitted with a new avionics suite. They’re expected to be delivered from next year.
Canadian CH-147Fs and CH-146s in Mali Above: An EdA Typhoon from Ala 11 at Morón in formation with two RMAF Mirage F1s during Exercise Atlas 18. EdA
EJÉRCITO DEL Aire (EdA, Spanish Air Force) Typhoons have flown missions over Morocco for the first time, the EdA announcing on June 27 that jets from Ala 11 at Morón had taken part that week in the bilateral Exercise Atlas
18 – operating from their home base without landing in Morocco, although they did make approaches to the Royal Moroccan Air Force’s (RMAF’s) Meknès and Sidi Slimane airfields. Also taking part were EF-18AMs from Ala 46,
based at Gando, which deployed to Meknès. The Hornets and Typhoons flew combined missions with RMAF Mirage F1s, F-5E/ Fs, F-16C/Ds and Alpha Jets, while KC-130Hs from Zaragoza’s Ala 31 provided refuelling. Dave Allport
Maldives to retain Dhruvs A DECISION by the Maldives government earlier this year to return two HAL Dhruv helicopters to India has been reversed. India donated the helicopters to the Maldives National Defence Force Air Wing, which inducted the first, a former Indian Coast Guard aircraft, into service on April 21, 2010. The second, previously flown by the Indian Navy, was handed over on December 14, 2013.
The Maldives government had been unhappy with the stationing of Indian defence personnel in the islands to operate and maintain the Dhruvs. A letter of exchange (LoE) between the countries for one of the pair expired at the end of April and the LoE for the other on June 30, resulting in a request for India to remove both rotorcraft by the beginning of July. At the same time, the islands’ administration
also refused to renew visas for the Indian pilots and technicians. However, media reports on July 23 indicated that India had received a communication from the Maldives government saying it would continue to use the helicopters until December, and that visas for the Indian personnel would be renewed. It’s not clear what will happen after that date. Dave Allport
Malian A-29s arrive in country
Above: An RCAF CH-146 approaches Camp Castor on July 23 while working up for Operation Presence. RCAF/MCpl Jennifer Kusche
CANADA HAS deployed an Air Task Force (ATF) to Mali, where it’s preparing to support United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) peacekeeping operations. The government in Ottawa announced on March 19 that it would deploy the ATF – comprising three CH-147F Chinook and five CH-146 Griffon helicopters, along with 250 personnel – to support the mission for one year, under Operation Presence.
The first theatre activation team members arrived in Mali on June 24, followed by the first CH-147F and CH-146 helicopters at their temporary base at Camp Castor, Gao, on July 15. Aircrews were due to have validated their training and be ready to conduct air evacuation missions by August 1, and expected to be fully operational and ready to support other UN tasks as required by the middle of the month. The mission will finish at the end of next July. Dave Allport
The quartet of A-29Bs on the ramp at Bamako-Sentou on July 11. Office of the President of Mali
THE FORCE Aérienne de la République du Mali (FARM, Malian Republic Air Force) has received four A-29B Super Tucanos from Embraer. They arrived at Base Aérienne 101 Bamako-Senou on July 10 before a ceremony the next day attended by Mali’s president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta.
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Their delivery flight began at Embraer’s São José dos Campos factory in Brazil on the 7th, routing first to Recif-Guarapes, then to Fernando de Noronha, Brazil, before crossing to Cape Verde and on to Bamako. The four light-attack aircraft are TZ-01C (c/n 31400228, ex PT-ZTF), TZ-02C (c/n 31400229,
ex PT-ZTI), TZ-03C (c/n 31400230, ex PT-ZTJ) and TZ-04C (c/n 31400231, ex PT-ZTN). Embraer and Mali signed a deal for six Super Tucanos in June 2015, but after delays due to financial problems the order was cut to four. They were first seen undertaking test flights in Brazil in December 2016.
Above: Technicians from 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron reassemble CH-147F serial 147311 at an Intermediate Staging Terminal in West Africa on July 6 before it’s flown to Gao to join Operation Presence. Canadian Forces Combat Camera/Sgt Jean-Francois Lauzé
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First Harpoon launch for RAAF Poseidon THE ROYAL Australian Air Force’s (RAAF’s) P-8A Poseidon maritime multimission aircraft has successfully launched its first Harpoon anti-ship missile. The milestone – announced by the Australian Department of Defence on July 22 – took place during Exercise RIMPAC 18 and involved an ATM-84J unarmed training
round. The missile was released over the Pacific Missile Range Facility off the coast of Hawaii and successfully struck its target, the former USS Racine, a decommissioned tank landing ship. Minister for Defence, Senator Marise Payne said the Harpoon is integral to the P-8A reaching full
operational capability: “The successful launch of the Harpoon requires a significant effort from a range of specialist personnel.” She added: “The men and women of the RAAF’s 92 Wing should be proud to have achieved this key step in the realisation of this important capability for Australia.”
Above: RAAF load crew personnel from No 11 Squadron position an ATM-84J Harpoon on to P-8A Poseidon A47-006 at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, during RIMPAC 2018. CPL Nicci Freeman/Commonwealth of Australia
ROYAL Australian Air Force (RAAF) E-7A Wedgetail serial A30-001 was a welcome visitor to the UK for the Royal International Air Tattoo that took place at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, from July 13-15. The aircraft is seen departing runway 27 at Fairford on July 16, using the callsign ‘ASY262’. The Wedgetail, operated by No 2 Squadron at RAAF Base Williamtown, New South Wales, received a
revised roundel reflecting the ‘RAF100’ theme and incorporating the insignia of the Royal Air Force.
First two Roulettes PC-21s arrive in Australia THE FIRST two Pilatus PC-21s for the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF’s) Roulettes display team have been delivered. The aircraft, (A54-019)/ HB-HWS (c/n 252) and (A54-020)/HB-HWT (c/n 253), departed from the factory at Stans-Buochs, Switzerland, on July 13, initially routing to Bari, Italy.
On July 22 they arrived in Adelaide, Australia, having flown via Alice Springs and Darwin. They headed to their final destination, RAAF Base East Sale, the following morning. As previously reported, the first of these made its maiden flight at Stans on March 23 – see First flight for Roulettes PC-21,
May, p30. Earlier, the first two PC-21s for the Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU) at RAAF Base Edinburgh also passed through Adelaide. The aircraft, (A54-017)/HB-HWQ (c/n 250) and (A54-018)/ HB-HWR (c/n 251), arrived there on June 24 before continuing the next day to
The first two RAAF Roulettes PC-21s at Adelaide on July 22 during their delivery flight. They left next morning for East Sale. Nathan Rundle
East Sale, prior to eventual delivery to Edinburgh. As previously reported, the first of these was noted in ARDU colours at Stans in February – see First PC-21 for RAAF’s Aircraft Research and Development Unit, April, p30. They left Stans to begin their delivery flight on June 16. Dave Allport
New Zealand to buy P-8As AS LONG expected, New Zealand is to buy the P-8A Poseidon to replace the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s (RNZAF’s) P-3K2 Orion maritime patrol aircraft. The New Zealand Ministry of Defence announced on July 9 that the coalition government had agreed to purchase four of the new maritime multi-mission aircraft from the US government. These will replace the current fleet of six P-3K2s operated by No 5 Squadron at RNZAF Base Auckland. The Orions have served since the 1960s and the current airframes are expected to reach the end of their operational lives in 2025. Minister of Defence Ron Mark said: “The purchase ensures the Defence Force can continue to deliver the country’s maritime surveillance, resource protection, humanitarian and disaster response around New Zealand and across the South Pacific.” He added: “The purchase enables New Zealand to continue to deploy in a wide range of airborne maritime situations independently and, when required, work effectively with partners including Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.” The new P-8As, training systems, infrastructure and introduction into service costs will total US$2.346bn. The aircraft will be delivered and begin operations from 2023. No 5 Squadron will move from Whenuapai to Ohakea to operate the new aircraft. The government will also consider options for a complementary unmanned maritime surveillance capability during the forthcoming Defence Capability Plan review, due to be completed by the end of the year.
The initial two PC-21s for the RAAF’s ARDU at Edinburgh on their delivery flight at Adelaide on June 24. Nathan Rundle
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Taiwan’s ‘Tiger Meet’
F-5F serial 5395 in its tiger stripe scheme. Formosa Military Image Press
THE REPUBLIC of China Air Force’s (ROCAF’s) 7th Flight Training Wing has painted three Northrop F-5E/F Tiger IIs in a special scheme for Taiwan’s ‘Tiger Meet’ –
held during an open day at Zhihang Air Force Base. The three aircraft comprised single-seat F-5E serial 5291 and two-seat F-5Fs serials 5395 and 5403.
The ROCAF received a total of 308 F-5E/Fs, which served as the main fighter force for many years. With the introduction of new aircraft, such as the F-16, Mirage 2000 and F-CK-1
Indigenous Defense Fighter in the 1990s, they were gradually retired from frontline combat missions to be used instead for leadin fighter training. The last ROCAF Tiger IIs are
expected to be retired in 2028, to be replaced by the new AT-5 advanced jet trainer now under development by Aerospace Industrial Development Corp (AIDC). Peter Ho
Nepal acquires AW139 helicopter THE NEPAL Army Air Service (NAAS) has purchased at least one AW139 helicopter. The aircraft was recently sighted in full Nepalese markings during a test flight from Leonardo’s
Vergiate production facility. The helicopter, c/n 31808, wore the temporary test registration I-EASY. The AW139 order has not been officially announced. The Nepal Army Air Service is also to receive
H125 serial NA-059 which was recently noted at Airbus Helicopter’s Singapore facility. One of two ordered last year, it was expected to be delivered to the 11th Air Brigade at Kathmandu
Tribhuvan International Airport this summer. According to Nepalese officials, the Army Air Service has also looked at buying the Bell 407 GXP. Additionally, the Nepalese Army plans to induct three
fixed-winged aircraft: a CN235-220M from PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI) and two Piper Archers. The air arm recently sold its two AS332L/L1 Super Pumas on the civilian market.
First ROKAF pilot flies F-35A
Taiwanese AH-64E fleet fully operational The Republic of China Army’s 601st Air Cavalry Brigade operates under the Army Aviation and Special Forces Command (AASFC) based in Taoyuan’s Longtan District in northern Taiwan. Formosa Military Image Press
THE INITIAL Republic of China Army AH-64E attack helicopters are now fully operational. The Apache Guardians, assigned to the 1st Group of the 601st Air Cavalry Brigade in Longtan, declared full operational capability on July 17. The $1.912bn contract for Taiwan’s purchase of 30 Apaches was awarded in December 2008 and the first AH-64E was delivered
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during a formal ceremony at Boeing’s facility in Mesa, Arizona, in May 2012. The initial batch of six Guardians to be delivered to Taiwan arrived, via sea freight, at the port of Kaohsiung in November 2013. Following reassembly, all six were flown to the army airfield at Tainan City, where an official ceremony to mark their induction was held
on November 7, 2013. Similarly, the second batch of six new Guardians arrived at Kaohsiung in January 2014, six more followed in March 2014 and another delivery took place on an unknown date during mid-2014. The final batch of six Guardians was then delivered to Kaohsiung in October 2014, to complete the order. An attrition loss occurred on April 25, 2014.
A FIRST Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) pilot has flown the F-35A. The honour went to the ROKAF’s Major Kiyun Jung, who carried out his first solo mission in F-35A 18-001 at Luke AFB, Arizona, on July 20. The sortie followed a year of preparation and instruction for the pilot provided by the 944th Operations
Group Detachment 2, Lockheed Martin and the group’s active-duty team members at the 56th Fighter Wing. Jung is the first student in the Korean chapter of flight training for the five-year Foreign Military Sales programme. Two more classes of ROK students are scheduled to be trained as F-35A pilots at Luke. Dave Allport
ROKAF F-35A 18-001 taxies onto the runway at Luke AFB on July 20 with ROKAF Major Kiyun Jung at the controls. USAF/Tech Sgt Louis Vega Jr
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India acquires surplus Jaguars INDIA, AS the sole remaining operator of the Jaguar fighterbomber, is accelerating efforts to source spares to keep the Indian Air Force (IAF) fleet airworthy until around 2034. Local media reports on July 23 indicate that two retired Royal Air Force of Oman (RAFO) Jaguars have recently been transferred to India free-of-charge, along with eight Rolls-Royce Adour engines and 3,500 lines of unused spares. In addition, two ex-Royal Air Force trainer variants have been purchased in the UK, along with a quantity of spares.
Last year, France also agreed to donate 31 surplus French Air Force Jaguars to India to act as a spares source for the operational IAF fleet. These are expected to be dismantled and shipped to India around the end of this year. According to Indian Defence Ministry sources, the IAF currently has 118 Jaguars in its inventory, of which 26 are twin-seat aircraft. However, with HAL having closed down its production line long ago, shortage of spares means that there has been a considerable drop in operational availability of the type. Dave Allport
RMAF marks 60 years of RAAF at Butterworth
The RMAF F/A-18D Hornet at the ceremony wears 18 Skuadron’s 20th anniversary tail markings. The fighter is based at Butterworth. Suresh Abraham
THE ROYAL Malaysian Air Force (RMAF, or Tentera Udara Diraja Malaysia – TUDM) held a parade on June 29 to commemorate 60 years of Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) presence at RMAF Butterworth. The RAAF took over the premises from the UK in June 1958 and it was a key base for Australian
military aviation assets until handed over to the RMAF in 1988. The RAAF is still active at Butterworth and aircraft are deployed there on a rotational basis. The event included a parade by men and women of both air forces being reviewed by the air chiefs of the two nations, while RAAF and RMAF
Four OV-10s donated to Philippines
FOUR RETIRED US OV-10 ground-attack aircraft are to be donated to the Philippine Air Force (PAF) to supplement approximately eight upgraded OV-10M variants currently in service. A solicitation was posted on the US government’s Federal Business Opportunities website on July 19 seeking a
contractor to disassemble the four Broncos – two OV-10A and two OV-10G+ models – at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia. The aircraft would then be reassembled after shipping to an unspecified location outside the continental US. The PAF is the sole remaining operator of the type and local sources indicate that the Philippines
requested the aircraft earlier this year. Initially, the PAF had been seeking parts for its existing fleet, but the aircraft were in good enough condition to put them into service. It is hoped they can be shipped before the end of this year and enter operational use next year. The aircraft involved are all thought to be
Thailand shows off Hermes 450 THE ROYAL Thai Army (RTA) has received four new Hermes 450 unmanned aerial systems (UAS) from Elbit Systems of Israel. The deal, estimated to be worth $28m, includes four air vehicles (serials 191, 192, 193 and 194) and one control station. The drones will be assigned
to the RTA’s 21st Aviation Battalion, based at the RTA Aviation Centre in Lopburi Province, and will join the IAI Searcher MkII UAS, that has been in service since 2001. The RTA and Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) are pursuing independent UAS programmes and the air
Warfare Combat Dragon II programme. They were later used by Special Operations Command in 120 combat operations in Iraq over a period of 82 days after deploying to the region in May 2015. Much of their specialised equipment was subsequently removed before they were returned to NASA. Dave Allport
First Dhruv MkIII for Indian Coast Guard
force is currently flying four Israeli Aeronautics Defense Systems Aerostars. These will be used in a variety of roles including intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), as well as for target designation and also for aerial mapping. Noam Menashe
NASA Langley examples, comprising OV-10As N524NA (USAF/67-14687) and N636NA (Bu No 155390), plus OV-10G+s N581NA (ex 155481, N34457) and N592NA (ex 155492, N3634U). The latter pair was used for light attack aircraft trials after extensive modifications under the US Navy Special
veterans who served in Butterworth were also invited. A static display comprised aircraft and helicopters from both air arms, including an RAAF C-17A, RMAF S-61A4 Nuri from Butterworthbased 3 Skuadron and EC725 from 10 Skuadron based in Kuantan. Suresh Abraham
DURING A ceremony at Bengaluru on June 29, ‘green’ HAL Dhruv MkIII CG855 – the first of 16 of the latest version of these helicopters for the Indian Coast Guard – was handed over to the Rotary Wing Research and Development Centre. The latter will oversee integration and certification of 19 new systems being incorporated in the type. The helicopter undertook its first ground
run on the same date. The Coast Guard began operations with the earlier model of the Dhruv in 2002 and has taken delivery of just four to date, although one of those was donated to the Maldives in February 2010. The order for 16 of the MkIII variant, with fixedwheel undercarriage, was placed in March last year and deliveries of certified helicopters will begin in 2020. Dave Allport
The first of the new Dhruv MkIIIs for the Indian Coast Guard, CG855, during the handover ceremony. HAL
#366 SEPTEMBER 2018 // 29
Thracian Eagle 2018
Balkan battles Oregon Air National Guard F-15 pilots recently flew shoulderto-shoulder with their Bulgarian counterparts and were pitted against ground-based air defence systems. Alexander Mladenov reports from Graf Ignatievo.
dozen F-15C/Ds – a mixture of airframes from the Oregon and Massachusetts Air National Guard (ANG) – were involved in the joint Bulgarian-American Thracian Eagle 2018 exercise at Graf Ignatievo air base, Bulgaria, for four weeks in May and June. The Oregon ANG jets – six F-15Cs – were provided by the 123rd Fighter Squadron (FS) from the 142nd Fighter Wing (FW) at Portland Air National Guard
Base, while the Massachusetts ANG Eagles – five F-15Cs and one two-seat F-15D – came from the 131st FS of the 104th FW at Barnes Air National Guard Base. Oregon guardsmen arrived in Bulgaria on May 8, their deployment having been organised as a Theater Security Package (TSP) in Europe as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, and it continued until early June. The deployment involved 260 airmen from the Oregon ANG, including 19 pilots, joined by around 40 airmen from the 52nd FW at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, plus all the ground support equipment and vehicles needed to enable four weeks of intensive flying operations on Bulgarian soil. In addition, F-16CJs from the 480th FS of the 52nd FW participated in the US-Bulgarian flight-training event, deploying to Graf Ignatievo for three days of flying in mid-May.
The TSPs are funded by the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI) and have taken place in Europe since 2015. The initiative calls for an increase in capability and readiness of US forces, in order to provide a faster response in the event of any aggression by a regional adversary against NATO sovereign territory. This was the fifth EDI-funded TSP undertaken by deploying ANG F-15s in Bulgaria. All have taken the form of the annual Thracian Eagle series of international manoeuvres that involve the Bulgarian fighter, strike and ground-based air defence system (GBADS) communities.
GBADS element Thracian Eagle is a traditional, combined air training exercise centred on polishing the airto-air skills of aircrews of both participating air arms in offensive counter-air (OCA) and defensive
Above: Lt Col Aaron Mathena, 123rd EFS commanding officer, and Lt Col Neils Barner, the squadron’s director of operations, pose in front of the unit’s F-15s on Graf Ignatievo’s central apron. All photos Alexander Mladenov
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‘In association with ....’
Bulgaria’s tiny fighter force has been plagued by restricted flying operations due to a lack of spare parts for the ‘Fulcrum’ fleet. While its combatready-rated pilots mainly focus on the quick reaction alert role, the MiG29s saw limited participation in the training event with the 123rd EFS.
counter-air (DCA) missions. The exercises are also intended to enhance interoperability with the host nation and maintain joint readiness with NATO allies. In addition to the fighters and strike aircraft, the Bulgarski Voennovazdushni Sili (BVVS, Bulgarian Air Force) also provided its legacy Soviet-made GBADS, in the form of 2K12 Kub (SA-6 Guideline) and S-125 Neva (SA-3 Goa) surface-to-air missile
systems, operating from a deployed position at the Elena training range in the southern part of the country, near the border with Greece. Lt Col Aaron Mathena, 123rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron (EFS) detachment commander, considered Thracian Eagle highly useful for his pilots, who flew missions alongside and against Bulgarian MiG-29 fighters from the 3rd Aviation Base at Graf Ignatievo and L-39ZA trainers (simulating
Above: The 123rd EFS aviators had a good chance to sharpen their air-to-air combat skills in both beyondvisual-range and withinvisual-range scenarios against capable opponents in the shape of the Bulgarian ‘Fulcrum’ force. This line-up is headed by Oregon ANG F-15C 85-0094. Right: A pair of 123rd EFS F-15Cs and two BVVS MiG-29s pass low over Graf Ignatievo airfield after returning from a composite training mission against RAF Typhoons on June 1. Left: The Oregon ANG brought six F-15C singleseaters – including 84-0003 – which equipped the 123rd EFS alongside five singleseat and one two-seat Massachusetts ANG jets. The Eagle pilots flew offensive and defensive counter-air missions in unrestricted airspace over Bulgaria.
strikers) from the BVVS training base at Dolna Mitropolia. Royal Air Force Typhoons also joined the training. These were provided by No II (Army Cooperation) Squadron, currently assigned to 135 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW) at Mihail Kogălniceanu air base near Constanța in southeast Romania and tasked with providing enhanced air policing in the East European region from May until September.
On June 1, for example, the joint training operations involved RAF Typhoons acting as aggressors, defending their assigned area of responsibility in northern Bulgaria. They were pitted against a Blue Force fighter package of 123rd EFS F-15s and BVVS MiG-29s, while a pair of L-39ZA armed jet trainers were tasked to deliver strikes on important targets in the defended area. “We are here to learn from each other, training together with the Bulgarians,” said Lt Col Mathena. “Our support to the Operation Atlantic Resolve mission underscores the commitment we have for our NATO allies, building partnerships as we train with our host nations.” He explained that the 123rd EFS brought to Bulgaria a mixture of pilots, including very senior airmen, others midway through their careers, and some with less experience under their belts. The squadron logged around 60 sorties each week, with two waves each day, weather permitting. The training included tactical intercepts (TIs), 1-v-1 basic fighter manoeuvres (BFM) and escorting L-39ZAs on strike runs. The Eagles also flew in joint packages with Bulgarian MiG-29s to defend ground targets from attacks by strike aircraft operating with fighter escorts. The TIs, undertaken against BVVS MiG-29s and RAF Typhoons, included both beyondvisual-range (BVR) and withinvisual-range (WVR) engagements. Despite their low flying hours, due to the lack of airworthy aircraft, the BVVS could still offer a small core group of Fulcrum drivers to play the role of opponents in BVR and WVR encounters, adding training value for the visiting US units. Some of the Bulgarian pilots have sharpened their skills in dissimilar air combat against various NATO fighters in the 20 or more international flying training events at Graf Ignatievo since the mid-2000s. The Bulgarian deployment offered the 123rd EFS some unique training opportunities, including valuable missions against Eastern Bloc GBADS. Another of Bulgaria’s big advantages is the availability of vast airspace free of civil traffic and situated close to the air base. “It’s very unusual for us – take off and you are immediately in the training airspace,” Lt Col Mathena noted. “This is of huge value for us. Experience gained during the deployment is good, mostly because of the people.” AFM
#366 SEPTEMBER 2018 // 31
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Intel Report This Pakistan Air Force C-130E was runnerup in the Concours d’Elegance – awarded for the best-looking livery. This same Hercules appeared at RIAT in 1993 while with the Royal Australian Air Force, wearing 50th anniversary markings for No 37 Squadron. Rich Cooper
With the Farnborough International Airshow following hot on the heels of the Royal International Air Tattoo, July was a busy month for many in the industry. The publication of the UK’s Combat Air Strategy was just one of the many talking points among aerospace observers at the shows. Alan Warnes reports.
A SUMMER OF SURPRISES he opening day of the Farnborough International Airshow, which ran from July 16 to 22, included the announcement of the UK’s new Combat Air Strategy – and the unveiling of a new nextgeneration twin-engine fighter concept, by far the biggest
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news from this and the month’s other big show, the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT). Under Team Tempest, the government will work with BAE Systems, Leonardo (UK), MBDA and Rolls-Royce to develop the new fighter programme. Unveiling the Tempest mock-
up, UK defence secretary Gavin Williamson said: “We are entering a dangerous new era of warfare and our focus has to be on the future. We have an ironclad plan to deliver this.” The fact the government is now considering this Typhoon replacement will come as
a relief to many in the UK’s defence industry. Initial operating capability is currently foreseen around 2035. Replying to questions in the House of Commons the day after the announcement, Gavin Williamson said: “Now is the time to look to the whole
‘In association with ....’
globe, see what other nations we can partner with and build strong new alliances. We have strong military links and deep connections with many nations. “We’re confident that, because of our world-leading position in combat air, many nations will want to work with us… I do not believe for one minute that being outside the customs union will in any way restrict our ability to deliver Tempest.” For more on Team Tempest and the Future Combat Air System, see p94-97.
RIAT Once seen as an enthusiasts’ event, RIAT – staged at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, from July 13 to 15 – is now a serious industry show too. “It’s a much more relaxing environment to chat about things than being at Farnborough,” one senior RAF officer told AFM. Many aerospace figures at Farnborough had been to RIAT on the first day because it gave them better access to key decisionmakers. The 20-plus companies’
chalet areas were well attended by UK’s top brass as well as senior overseas military officials, and several had attended the Chief of the Air Staff’s Air Power Conference earlier in the week. The future for Farnborough looks less secure, especially with so many similar international aerospace shows around the world. If companies are looking to sell to the UK military they might be better off heading for RIAT.
RAF chat One of the main talking points at RIAT was the RAF’s need to replace the ageing and obsolescent E-3D Sentry AEW1, which has been drained of investment in recent years. The six-strong fleet was not due to retire until 2035,
but rumours suggest the MOD is likely to cancel its current sustainment programme. When AFM interviewed Air Cdre Dean Andrew, the RAF ISTAR commander (see July issue), it was clear the E-3’s future was far from safe, even if the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) promised it would soldier on another 20 years following a comprehensive upgrade. A Royal Australian Air Force Boeing E-7A Wedgetail arrived at RIAT on the evening of the first day, after diverting to Hawaii due to a technical issue en route. While the ex-RAF E-3 pilot spoken to in front of the jet the following morning was adamant it was only at RIAT to celebrate the RAF’s 100th anniversary,
#366 SEPTEMBER 2018 // 35
Intel Report Boeing had been briefing journalists the day before on the advantages of this, their airborne early warning (AEW) option. The E-7A is undoubtedly the favourite to replace the weary E-3Ds. But in a letter dated June 26, the Chairman of the Defence Committee, Dr Julian Lewis, wrote to Guto Bebb, the Minister of Defence for Procurement, requesting that any requirement should be put out to competitive tender rather than bought ‘off the shelf’. He reminded the minister of the Bombardier controversy last year,
when Boeing was behind punitive tariffs imposed on Bombardier that threatened thousands of jobs in the UK – although this was later successfully appealed against. Dr Lewis also disclosed that other manufacturers had briefed the Defence Committee on their suggested EW solutions, with one of them judged a highly credible alternative to Boeing’s E-7A. Among the alternatives, a civilian Global Express 6000, from Bombardier and Marshall, was displayed at RIAT, where Bombardier spoke of its
experience in providing the Global Express-based AEW/ELINT jets for the United Arab Emirates. Gulfstream meanwhile brought one of its G650s to the show. Many Gulfstream and Global Express special mission aircraft are
now working around the world, their speed, flight characteristics, ceiling and ability to provide power for on-board systems proving ideal for these kinds of missions. Surprisingly, Saab officials were more reluctant to talk
Above: The No 617 Squadron ‘Dambusters’ flypast comprised a Tornado GR4 (in No 41 Test and Evaluation Squadron markings), F-35B Lightning and Lancaster – a sight likely never to be repeated at Fairford as the Tornado will leave RAF service at the end of March. Alan Warnes
AFM was fortunate enough to fly in the LM-100J Hercules, which is being used as an avionics test aircraft. Rich Cooper
LM-100J Hercules Arguably the highlight of the Farnborough air display was the LM-100J Hercules, which was put through some incredible manoeuvres – including flying inverted – by Lockheed Martin Chief Test Pilot Airlift Programs Wayne Roberts. Given he’s set to retire in September, Roberts’ display on Thursday 19 was probably his last flight in a Hercules. Lockheed Martin was introducing the LM-100J at Farnborough as a civilcertified aerial firefighting aircraft. The ‘FireHerc’ can support two different retardant dispersal solutions: the gravity-drop-based Coulson Aviation Retardant Aerial Delivery System (RADS) or the pressurised Modular Aerial Firefighting System (MAFFS) II. It will also be able to fly at night, courtesy of a cockpit compatible with night-vision goggles (NVGs) and an electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) turret.
36 // SEPTEMBER 2018 #366
‘In association with ....’
about the company’s GlobalEye AEW&C aircraft, three of which have been acquired by the United Arab Emirates.
Protector debut There was plenty of excitement in the lead-up to RIAT when General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) flew its MQ-9B SkyGuardian from Grand Forks, North Dakota, to Fairford on July 10-11. The nonstop flight was the first time a medium-altitude long-endurance remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) had ever crossed the Atlantic. As configured for the RAF, the MQ-9B is known as the Protector RG1, and the current requirement is for 16 aircraft and seven ground stations; the first were expected to enter service in 2021, with No 31 Squadron named as the lead operating unit. A recent government report, however, says it has little confidence in the Protector delivery schedule as it originally stands and that renegotiations have led to a revised contract and schedule. Speaking at RIAT, Air Cdre Ian Gale, Assistant Chief of Staff Capability Delivery Command and Control and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) told AFM that the programme was showing an initial operating capability in 2021, but that this is being re-baselined to 2023, mainly due to budgetary constraints. GA-ASI and Cobham have a teaming agreement to provide logistics and maintenance services for the Protector in RAF service, building on the support for the Reaper ground control stations and supply of weapons launchers.
Meanwhile MBDA displayed its Dual Mode Seeker (DMS) Brimstone air-to-surface missile alongside the MQ-9B, while Raytheon showed off its Paveway IV. Both will arm the Protector.
Tornado farewell… Typhoon ascendant This year’s show was probably the last chance to see an RAF Tornado GR4 at RIAT, as the joint BAE/RAF Project Centurion upgrade programme for its Typhoon replacement gathers pace. Reflecting on the BAE/ RAF teaming arrangement, Air Cdre Linc Taylor, Senior Responsible Officer for Typhoon and F-35 Lightning, said at RIAT: “We’re getting twice as much in half the time.” Stevenage-based MBDA will have its impressive Meteor beyond-visual-range air-toair missile (BVRAAM), DMS Brimstone and Storm Shadow standoff weapon operational on the Typhoon by the end of the year. The Tornado will then stand down as planned on March 31. The Typhoon’s P1EB phase has been completed, and put into service by the end of last year. Air Cdre Taylor, a former RAF Harrier and USAF F-117A pilot, added: “Phase 1 – which Eurofighter calls P2EA – is set to be cleared this summer and gives an initial Storm Shadow and Meteor capability: it’s the ‘bread and butter’ of the aircraft. That is in operational service with Nos 1 and 6 Squadrons, and brings the greatest software change to the jet. By the end of the year, P3EA, or Phase 2, will be completed with the [DMS] Brimstone capabilities.”
Below: Martin-Baker’s Meteor T7 WA638 was a welcome visitor to RIAT. In early June, the jet carried out the first live ejection seat test to have been conducted by either of the company’s modified Meteors for eight years. Rich Cooper
General Atomics’s MQ-9B SkyGuardian was hastily provided with No 31 Squadron markings – apparently borrowed from Tornado GR4 stocks – to represent the RAF’s forthcoming Protector RG1. Jamie Hunter
Aero Vodochody announcements Farnborough included the announcement of two new customers for Prague-based Aero Vodochody’s next-generation L-39NG. Lisbon-based Skytech signed a letter of intent (LOI), with a financial commitment for ten L-39NGs and options for six more. Skytech’s senior vice president, Mal Sandford, told AFM: “There are not enough modern trainers out there – there’s a shortfall. What do air forces do if they don’t have a large enough number of pilots to train? We have a lot of support from the Portuguese Air Force, but first we want to make relationships with OEMs. “The reason we were attracted to Aero is because of the possibility of Red Air aggressor work. As a commercial venture we would want to increase the amount of flying – so if it’s not in use for flying training, we could fly it in Red Air missions.” He added: “We need aircraft that are adaptable so that’s why the L-39NG stood out, and the KC-390 has as well.” Skytech, owned by aircraft leasing company HiFly, signed an LOI for six KC-390s at the Singapore
Airshow in February. Sandford also said the company was about to sign a contract for its first two of the six Brazilian airlifters. The second company to sign an LOI with Aero is Phoenix-based RSW Aviation, which wants 12 L-39NGs as well as the upgrade of its five L-39Cs and single L-39ZA to L-39CW/L-39ZAW standards. RSW has acquired 22 ex-RAF Tucano T1s, and will use some of them for basic flying training, leading into the L-39NG. According to David Patrick, RSW Aviation’s chief operating officer: “People are approaching us for pilot augmentation and we believe we can offer a training service to countries who don’t have their own aircraft. We’re hoping to sign a deal for L-39 upgrades soon and then the L-39NGs.” If contracted, all the jets should be delivered between 2020 and 2022. With these 34, and the four for Senegal announced earlier in the year, Aero Vodochody now has the prospect of selling 38 aircraft – its chairman, Giuseppe Giordo, saying he expected further orders for an additional 22 L-39NGs.
#366 SEPTEMBER 2018 // 37
Intel Report He talked about the RAF’s recent Raytheon AIM-120D AMRAAM acquisition too, which he’s also responsible for. “The Typhoon Tranche 1s were originally going to be taken out of service in the early 2020s, but we realised the jet had a lot of life left on it and the 2015 SDSR cleared the way for two to three more Typhoon units. It can still do most of what is required, it’s agile and can carry a lot, so will now remain in service to 2030. “However, the stockpile of AIM120C-5s we have would not match that out-of-service date, and because the Tranche 1s cannot take Meteor, we opted for an AIM-120D buy for the jet.” At the Air Power Conference it was also announced that No IX (Bomber) Squadron will be the first Typhoon Tranche 1 unit to be established as per the 2015 SDSR. “This is dependent upon funding, but the unit should come in reasonably quickly,” Air Cdre Taylor said. Development of the airborne electronically scanned array (AESA) radar for the Typhoon, known as the Captor-E, has been much slower. An early version was first flown in Eurofighter DA5 back in May 2007 but it wasn’t until November 2014 that a €1bn contract was signed between Eurofighter GmbH and the NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency (NETMA) for Selex ES (now Leonardo Air and Space Systems) to develop Captor-E. Little has been announced on the development of the radar, although there are clearly delays. Two Eurofighters, one at Manching, Germany, and the other at BAE Warton, UK, have been equipped to fly with the new radar. Kuwait’s acquisition of 28 AESAequipped Typhoons seemed to have resulted in some Captor-E progress. When the deal was signed in April 2016, it was said
deliveries would start next year, but the date has slipped to 2020. Since then, everyone involved has remained tight-lipped over the radar’s development. However, Air Cdre Taylor did provide some insight, telling AFM: “Our requirements are for the Mk2 radar which is not aligned with the European position. There is enormous demand on the system, to develop separate radar programmes as well as the export version, which is set to be different still. “Now we have an aligned European radar programme, under the European Common Radar System [ECRS], where some [customers] will take the Mk1 variant and the RAF will take the Mk2.” Although the air commodore wouldn’t discuss the differences between the variants, the RAF radar is believed to
2Excel Beech 200 with AESA radar
2Excel’s Beech 200 Super King Air G-IMEA equipped with the Leonardo Air and Space Systems Osprey 30 AESA radar. Alan Warnes
AFM flew in Sywell-based 2Excel’s Beech 200 for a demonstration of Leonardo Air and Space Systems’ new Osprey 30 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar. It has sea, air and ground modes, but the most interesting element was the complete lack of mission consoles on board. Instead, you simply plug your Windows-based laptop into an Ethernet hub, which connects to the Osprey radar. The radar is carried in 2Excel’s own Leading Edge Applications Pod – Radar (LEAP-R), which ensures the aircraft looks less conspicuous than most Beech 200/350s adapted for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR).
Embraer KC-390 prototype PT-ZNJ arrives over RAF Fairford. Skytech is reportedly poised to sign a contract for the first two of six of the Brazilian airlifters. Rich Cooper
Another vintage British jet at Fairford was Hawker Hunter Aviation’s Hunter F58 ZZ191, now resplendent in this decidedly modern splinter scheme. HHA uses these Cold War jets for threat simulation. Rich Cooper
have additional electronic countermeasures capabilities integrated into the system. AFM also asked Eurofighter GmbH for an update on AESA radar progress. Raffael Klaschka, Eurofighter Head of Marketing and a Luftwaffe Eurofighter pilot for four years, said: “For now, there is one development programme.
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It’s challenging but we’re moving forward, and from the results I have seen it is just eye-watering. We’re pretty confident that it will be delivered in 2019-20 to the first customer – the Kuwait Air Force.” Asked about the different radars, Klaschka said: “It’s a single radar programme but we’re looking at different options.” AFM
Polish military aviation centenary
Mi-14PŁ A1009 was one of two aircraft converted to PŁ/R standard for long-range SAR work. The radome for the new Buran weather radar resulted in the characteristic revised nose profile. Filip Modrzejewski
N O I T A I AV Dating back to 1920, Polish Naval Aviation isn’t quite as old as its air force and army cousins but is also part of this year’s centenary celebrations. Bartek Bera and Filip Modrzejewski take a closer look at this relatively little-known element of the Polish military.
A head-on view of a W-3WARM of the 43. BLM at Babie Doły reveals this variant’s Star SAFIRE II sensor turret (seen on the left) and searchlight (right). Bartek Bera
olish Naval Aviation is the responsibility of the Brygada Lotnictwa Marynarki Wojennej (BLMW, Naval Aviation Brigade), which was established in the mid-1990s. After a series of structural and equipment changes, the BLMW today performs its tasks from two numbered naval aviation bases and one additional airfield. Before 1939, a naval aviation squadron based in Puck was steadily expanded, but its development was interrupted by World War Two. During that conflict, No 304 (Polish) Bomber Squadron – flying Wellingtons – was transferred from RAF Bomber Command to Coastal Command, becoming the only Polish Naval Aviation unit in Allied ranks. After the war, Polish Naval Aviation regiments and squadrons were created at three locations: Gdynia, Siemirowice and Darłowo. For almost 50 years, equipment and organisation changed,
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but assets remained under Marynarka Wojenna (Polish Navy) control. But the structure of the Siły Zbrojne Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej (Polish Armed Forces) was altered radically in 2014. The commands of the constituent armed services were replaced with a consolidated command and various inspectorates. The BLMW now reports directly to the General Commander, who directs it through the Air Force Inspectorate. The advantages and disadvantages have been widely discussed, but some members of the current government have suggested their willingness to modify the structure again and to return, at least partly, to separate commands. The two naval aviation bases under the BLMW are headquartered in Gdynia. The 43. Baza Lotnictwa Morskiego (43. BLM, 43rd Maritime Aviation Base) is located in Babie Doły (a suburb of Gdynia) that previously hosted navy MiG-
21bis fighters. It’s now home to W-3 search and rescue (SAR) helicopters, Mi-2 trainers, a small number of An-28/ Bryza transports and SH-2G Seasprites. The second base, the 44. BLM, has a slightly more complicated structure, as it operates from two locations: Siemirowice (home of ‘Kaszubska’ Grupa Lotnicza, air group) and Darłowo (‘Darłowo’ Grupa Lotnicza). Siemirowice houses Bryza maritime patrol and surveillance aircraft (developed from the An-28 transport), while Mi-14 helicopters (in PŁ and PŁ/R versions), SAR-configured W-3s and a small number of Mi-2s operate from Darłowo. The most important mission for naval aviation in the Baltic Sea is anti-submarine warfare (ASW), a huge challenge due to the shallow waters and the topography and physical make-up of the seabed. Another combat task is reconnaissance and target indication for warships and the navy’s missile
M28 Bryza (An-28B1R) serials 1006 and 1114 from the 44. BLM cruise over the Baltic coastline. These aircraft are stationed at Siemirowice, where they are subordinated to the ‘Kaszubska’ Grupa Lotnicza. Filip Modrzejewski
unit, equipped with the Norwegian Naval Strike Missile (NSM) with a range of 124 miles (200km). Some of the Bryzas are adapted to assist in ecological monitoring of the Polish economic zone. However, the BLMW’s most visible work is its 24-hour SAR duty and related rescue operations in the Baltic zone of responsibility – an area of 11,583 sq miles (30,000km2). Unlike many other countries, all SAR duties in Poland (both on land and at sea) are performed by the military. There are currently two sites with 24-hour alert detachments: Gdynia and Darłowo.
W-3 Anakonda family Most of Polish Naval Aviation’s helicopters are from the Polish-made W-3 Sokół family. The Polish Navy was its first military recipient: two W-3T versions were delivered in 1989 and used for training and transport (they did not have any rescue equipment). Four more W-3RL Anakonda rescue versions
were commissioned between 1992 and 1993 (16 were initially planned, reduced to 12, and finally four, to replace the old Mi-2RL). The W-3RL is equipped with a hoist, floats and the ability to drop illuminating bombs. Naturally, four machines were insufficient to meet requirements, and the leasing of another helicopter from the Petrobaltic offshore oil company was a temporary help. Under a condition of the deal, the navy agreed to transport crews and supplies to the company’s oil rigs. The Petrobaltic aircraft was used for almost 20 years before being returned to its owner. Three of the newer W-3WARM version were delivered between 1998 and 2002. These are equipped with FLIR Systems Star SAFIRE II sensors, an automatic identification system (AIS) for faster localisation of vessels and a Spectrolab SX-16 Nightsun searchlight. The Anakonda fleet was reduced by an accident on March 12, 1997, when
crew error led to a machine crashing into the water with the loss of four crew. An agreement between the Polish defence ministry and PZL- widnik (part of Leonardo) aimed to modernise all navy W-3s. The primary goal was to unify the fleet to a standard similar to the W-3WARM (the oldest W-3Ts were meanwhile remodelled to a standard known as W-3TSAR, differentiated by a lack of floats). Under the upgrade, the rotorcraft received fullauthority digital engine control (FADEC), a new electro-optical sensor, searchlights and modernised electronic equipment. After Warsaw cancelled its contract for the H225M, the Anakonda modernisation became subject of heated political discussion. A delay in the upgrade work, combined with the limited number of SAR Mi-14s, could, it was argued, result in insufficient search and rescue cover. Five enhanced W-3s were eventually delivered
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Polish military aviation centenary Sub-hunter pair: Mi-14PŁs A1008 and A1010 over the Polish countryside near Darłowo. Both helicopters underwent the full upgrade by WZL-1 at Łód . Filip Modrzejewski
A trio of Bryzas in the evening light. The crew consists of two pilots, a flight technician and, depending on the mission, two or three system operators. Filip Modrzejewski
A Mi-14PŁ deploys its dipping sonar. The modern ‘Haze’ fleet employs two primary ASW search systems: the Oka-2M/Z dipping sonar and SSQ955C sonobuoy, while the Mniszka MAD ‘bird’ is used to confirm contacts. Bartek Bera
Poland’s small fleet of Seasprites are operated by the 43. BLM at Babie Doły. A gunner’s position has been added in the side door, fitted with a PK machine gun of 7.62mm calibre, for use in Mediterranean missions. Bartek Bera
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to the BLMW. At the same time, there were signals of willingness to purchase additional Anakondas and establish a third SAR detachment on the western coast. However, these plans have not been realised.
SH-2G Seasprite At the beginning of the 2000s, the Marynarka Wojenna received two Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates withdrawn by the US Navy. At the same time, the BLMW received four SH-2G helicopters worth around $4m. These were the last Seasprites built, being completed in 1992-93. After withdrawal from US Navy service, they were briefly stored at the then Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center (AMARC) at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, and subsequently went to Gdynia to resume ship-based operations. Subsequently, three of the four were adapted to carry the modern Eurotorp MU90 Impact torpedo (as used by the Mi-14PŁ) and were also equipped with Garmin GPS and a radio compass.
An-28 and Bryza The two naval aviation bases make use of a total of 14 twin turboprops from the An-28/ Bryza family. These aircraft, produced under Soviet licence by PZL Mielec since the 1980s, were first delivered to the navy in the 1990s. Since then they have been reconfigured and modernised several times. The current in-service versions comprise: * An-28E, an ecological monitoring aircraft with Ericsson MS-5000 side-looking radar; one of the two aircraft has additional fuel tanks * An-28TD, four aircraft for generalpurpose use stationed at Babie Doły * An-28B1R (M28 Bryza), the most numerous variant, seven examples for patrol and reconnaissance with equipment to search for survivors including Chelton 707-1 direction finder (DF), SC10-D2 identification friend or foe (IFF), ARS-400 radar and a CCS-400 command centre * An-28B1RM BIS (M28 Bryza Bis), the most advanced version, one only, distinguished by retractable undercarriage, FLIR Systems
AN/AAQ-22 Star SAFIRE II electro-optical sensor system, Chelton survivor search system, ŁS-10 Leba data transmission system, HYD-101 hydro-acoustic system with buoy ejector, MAG-10 magnetometer, and several other modifications. In recent years, all older aircraft have received new PZL-10S engines and Hartzell five-bladed propellers.
Mi-14 Poland bought Mi-14 helicopters in the 1980s in two versions: the Mi-14PŁ for ASW (delivered in two batches of six, in 1981 and 1983) and the SAR-configured Mi-14PS (four received in 1984). All were initially flown by two squadrons of the 16. Pułk Lotnictwa Specjalnego (PLS, Special Aviation Regiment) in Darłowo. New-build aircraft for Poland carried serials from A1001 to A1016; two ASW and two SAR versions were lost in accidents. The lack of rescue-configured airframes led to an attempt to remodel one of the PŁ machines as a Mi-14PX version, to train rescue crews. It had additional
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Polish military aviation centenary The powerful, boat-hulled Mi-14 has served the Polish Navy well since the early 1980s, but now needs replacing. The final Mi-14 should be phased out by 2021, when airframe hours will run out, but a successor is yet to be selected. Bartek Bera
model. Although the PŁ/R was envisaged as a temporary solution, efforts to acquire a successor have so far been fruitless. As they reached the end of their service lives, four PŁs from the first production series were withdrawn from use in 2015-16. As a result of delays in the selecting a replacement type, the decision was taken to extend service life of two rescue machines and four to six ASW aircraft by four years. Work has begun with Mi-14PŁ/R A1012. It is due to be returned to the BLMW imminently. The next step is to extend the life of Mi-14PŁ/R A1009, followed by the ASW machines.
Mi-2 The BLMW employs a handful of Mi-2 helicopters. Although the type has had a long career in naval hands, the current aircraft were all taken over from the air force. They are used for communication, transport and training tasks but do not perform any combat or rescue operations.
Uncertain future searchlights and a radio compass to track survivors. It was only a temporary solution, and a second-hand aircraft (serial 75137) was delivered to Poland in mid-1990. At the turn of the century, all surviving Mi-14s were retrofitted with new communication equipment, GPS and VHF omni-directional range (VOR) for navigation, tactical air navigation system (TACAN) and IFF. Work was carried out by Wojskowe Zakłady Lotnicze 1 (WZL-1, Military Air Works 1) at Łód . A further upgrade for the PŁ machines added a modified Oka-2M/Z Słowik sonar, ŁS-10 Leba data transmission system, Kryl-lot tactical ASW system,
new magnetometer and a Krab sonobuoy tracker. Helicopters from the first production series received a more limited upgrade. All were adapted to carry MU90 torpedoes. After intensive employment, by 2010 the SAR aircraft were approaching the end of their service life, with no plans for replacement. It was decided to completely remodel two Mi-14PŁ versions to PŁ/R standard (A1012 and A1009). All ASW equipment was removed, wide cabin doors fitted, a Buran weather radar installed and a DF430 radio compass added to help search for survivors. The winch was replaced by a more powerful SŁP-350
The future of Polish Naval Aviation is overshadowed by the failure to acquire new long-range SAR helicopters and ASW rotorcraft to replace the Mi-14. In 2012, after lengthy discussions dragging on from the beginning of the 2000s, the government launched a tender for the purchase of 26 aircraft based on a common platform (to reduce cost of acquisition, operations and maintenance). Of these, seven were earmarked for the navy (three for SAR, four for ASW). A year later, the purchase was increased to 70 helicopters, 12 of which (six SAR, six ASW) would now go to Darłowo. The contenders were the Airbus Military H225M Caracal, AgustaWestland AW149 and
W-3WARM serial 0511 on a winching drill during SAR training with the Polish Maritime Search and Rescue Service boat ‘Tajfun’. Originally delivered in April 1993, serial 0511 was overhauled and modernised last year, returning to Babie Doły on April 13. Bartek Bera
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A fine study of Mi-14PŁ A1008. In October 2014, this aircraft was the last ‘Haze’ to return to Darłowo after major overhaul and upgrade at WZL-1. Bartek Bera
Sikorsky S-70i. Since the latter two were produced in Poland, they were thought to have the best chance. Following a lengthy process, it was announced that only the Airbus offer fulfilled the formal requirements and it was declared that 50 H225Ms would be purchased together with an extensive package including simulators, training, spare parts and extended offsets. The latter included construction of a factory in Łód , an engine assembly facility and other investments. The BLMW was now expected to receive 13 H225Ms (eight for ASW and five for SAR/ combat SAR). One of the simulators would be located in Darłowo, alongside new hangars, aprons and buildings for personnel. However, the new Polish government elected in 2015 had promised to cancel the
tender and place an order with producers with factories in Poland to reduce costs. It failed to reach an offset agreement with Airbus Helicopters and both sides blamed each other for the breakdown of negotiations. The tender was cancelled, and the military left without a new helicopter. The new Minister of National Defence, Antoni Maciarewicz, announced a new order for S-70i helicopters and perhaps also AW101s. These declarations were made during meetings with Mielec and widnik factory workers. However, the announcements didn’t lead to any firm orders. Instead, two smaller tenders – defined as the most urgent – were opened. One of these aims to buy four “ASW helicopters with SAR capabilities”, plus four options, for the BLMW. However,
Serial 1006 is an example of the BLMW’s most numerous An-28/Bryza variant – the M28 Bryza (An-28B1R). The first was delivered in 1994 and the remainder in two batches – three in 1999 and three in 2000. Bartek Bera
the tender hasn’t received the highest priority and is less advanced than a parallel effort to purchase eight special forces rotorcraft. Combining two maritime roles in a single airframe appears difficult and it’s possible the ASW requirement will be strictly limited. The focus will likely be on maintaining 24-hour SAR duty and crew training. It’s unknown whether crews will be trained for both SAR and ASW, or if they will specialise. The rivals in the new tender are Airbus Helicopters with the H225M and PZL- widnik (part of Leonardo Helicopters) with the AW101. This time, the S-70i is not involved. The competition for a new special forces helicopter has not yet entered the final bidding phase and the naval tender is lagging further behind. There’s now a real risk that the Mi-14 will have to be withdrawn without an immediate successor. The situation is slightly different for the BLMW’s fixed-wing aircraft. In order to increase reconnaissance capabilities (including working alongside the new NSM missile unit), and to enhance offensive ASW missions, the defence ministry launched the concept and analysis phase of the Rybitwa (tern) programme. This seeks to acquire three new maritime patrol aircraft (MPAs). The new aircraft are currently slated to arrive at Siemirowice in 2023-30. The C295MPA Persuader was earmarked as an obvious candidate, due to the air force’s extensive experience with the C295M transport and the potential training and logistics benefits. However, a jetpowered MPA is also a possibility. In February, Poland joined NATO’s Maritime Multi Mission Aircraft (M3A) initiative, which intends to define common requirements for a future MPA and may lead to a joint purchase. For now, this seems a distant prospect, and there are likely to be many more developments in this field before Poland fields a successor to the Bryza. AFM
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US Marine KC-130
‘Battlehe ew military aircraft – if any – can match the longevity and versatility of the C-130 Hercules. The US Marine Corps has flown the ‘Herk’ since 1962 and has relied on the type’s multi-mission capability perhaps more than any other operator, by maximising the number of mission sets executed by a single variant. Flown by three active-duty and one reserve Marine Aerial Refueler Transport (VMGR) squadrons, the KC-130J is the primary version operated by the USMC (a second reserve squadron, VMGR-452, is transitioning to the type from the older KC-130T). Known within the VMGR community as the ‘Battleherk’, the KC-130J provides Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) commanders with a long-range heavylift asset that is not just versatile, but flexible, able to re-task from one mission to another in flight. The KC-130J routinely provides the marines with long-range movement of cargo and personnel into and out of austere landing zones, precision air delivery of cargo and personnel,
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air-to-air refuelling of fixedwing, rotary-wing and tiltrotor aircraft, air-delivered ground refuelling (ADGR) of aircraft and ground vehicles, radio relay, command and control for air mission commanders, battlefield illumination, and the ability to support artillery raids with wheeled rocket systems. Additionally, the Harvest HAWK (Hercules Aerial Weapons Kit) system enables Battleherks so outfitted to provide multi-sensor imagery reconnaissance (MIR) and precision close air support (CAS) on top of the KC-130J’s existing mission sets. Furthermore, a pending upgrade is set to add electronic warfare capabilities.
Battleherk weapons & tactics With such a broad range of capabilities, USMC KC-130J crews train for everything from zerothreat humanitarian assistance and disaster
relief (HA/DR) missions to low-altitude penetration of integrated air defence systems (IADS) against nearpeer threats. In the VMGR community, it falls on the shoulders of each squadron’s weapons and tactics instructor (WTI) to implement the training and readiness (T&R) syllabus that prepares KC-130J pilots and crewmasters to execute all these missions. WTIs are trained by Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1) during the WTI course held twice a year at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Yuma in Arizona. In addition to generating new WTIs for the fleet, MAWTS-1 also writes, refines and revises the T&R syllabi for each community within marine aviation, including the VMGRs. Given the breadth of Battleherk mission sets, VMGR squadrons arguably have one of the most demanding T&R syllabi in all of
The US Marine Corps is intent on improving the survivability, lethality and interoperability of its KC-130 fleet, as Joe Copalman discovers.
herk’ Above: Snatch and grab – a ‘Humvee’ carrying a ‘captured’ high-value individual is wheeled into the cargo hold of a running KC-130 on a desert landing strip in southeast Arizona during a long-range raid evolution. On the same flight, this aircraft refuelled three CH-53Es en route to the target area and served as the air mission command platform. All photos Joe Copalman Inset: Patch worn by a MAWTS-1 KC-130J instructor pilot.
marine aviation. Prospective WTIs (PWTIs) arrive at MAWTS-1 with extensive experience across nearly the full spectrum of KC-130J capabilities. The WTI course won’t necessarily expose them to tactics they have not employed, but rather will allow them to apply those tactics to large-force scenarios with virtually every type/model/series aircraft in the USMC, as well as a full infantry battalion with all manner of supporting ground units and control agencies. The scale of the largeforce events built into WTI is typically not possible during home-station training. Maj Tyler Burnham, a KC-130J instructor with MAWTS1, described this as “real-world planning for large-scale operations”. Beyond that, the KC-130J course forces PWTIs to employ numerous capabilities within a single mission.
As Maj Burnham explained: “They will fly evolutions where they will execute nearly every single one of our missions on one sortie. That might involve taking off as a division at night and doing low-level ingress to an airdrop, then climbing up to do some type of air refuelling, followed by landing in an assault zone. Everything in one, that’s one of the biggest things. Another thing that’s great for guys coming here is the range of threat emitters – the SA-8, the ZSU, the SA-6 – especially for the overseas marines and east coast guys; they just don’t have access to that.” Capt James O’Hara, another instructor pilot in MAWTS-1’s KC-130 division, elaborated further, telling AFM: “We practise a myriad of scenarios, such as ingress against a robust integrated air defence system without an
“Without the Herks, the MAGTF commander would be in a big hurt locker. With the amount of stuff that we provide, you wouldn’t have jets going as far, you wouldn’t have helos going as far, nobody would have their gear or their equipment, and we’d be relying on external air to support all of that.” Maj Tyler Burnham #366 SEPTEMBER 2018 // 47
US Marine KC-130 enemy air threat, ingress with an enemy air threat, multiple drop zones, single-ship, section, division, or a combination of all of the above.”
Training for the high-end fight Since taking command in 2016, MAWTS1’s commanding officer Col Jim Wellons has made training WTIs to fight and win the high-end battle his top priority. Wellons’ guidance has proven prescient, especially for the ‘Herk’ community, as US Air Force AC-130 gunships recently contended with hostile jamming in the skies over Syria. While some aircraft, like the F-35B, were purpose-built to thrive in high-threat environments, the KC-130 was not. Marine KC-130 communications and defensive systems have been continually upgraded to keep pace with improvements in enemy air defences and to leverage emerging technologies to enhance situational awareness and interoperability with other platforms. But keeping the Hercules – a large, non-stealthy aircraft with a 55-year-old design – up-to-date in terms of survivability on the modern battlefield, has, Maj Burnham concedes, “proven a little bit difficult”. “However,” Burnham continued, “we are exploring new options. We’ve been working increasingly on the comm jamming and comm intercept capabilities of our enemy, forcing the students to address that problem with proper tactics, techniques, and procedures.” Marine KC-130s are also in the
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Above: Air-delivered ground refuelling, or ADGR, is a critical mission for USMC KC-130Js, especially in the age of anti-access/area-denial operations. The ability to get into a rough, austere landing site and refuel assault support aircraft that can then continue with ample fuel for the mission is vital. Below: Infantrymen from 2/6 Marines disembark from a running KC-130J at Laguna Army Airfield north of Yuma. During each WTI, an infantry battalion operates out of Laguna in support of exercise objectives while ticking off valuable pre-deployment training requirements of their own.
process of receiving upgraded defensive systems. As Maj Burnham explained: “The biggest change currently occurring with our defensive systems is what’s called DoN LAIRCM, the Department of the Navy Large Aircraft Countermeasures System. That’s going to greatly enhance our ability to defeat threats.”
Digital interoperability One of the top priorities for marine aviation in recent years has been integrating digital interoperability (DI) technology. With the different digital ‘languages’ native to the various aircraft in the US Marine Corps, one of the service’s DI goals was to create a common infrastructure where all users in a network utilise the same digital language, as well as a common means of accessing it. MAWTS-1 has been at the forefront of the corps’ DI revolution, with the squadron’s Aviation Developmental Test & Evaluation division being the conduit through which new systems are evaluated for potential use. In this regard, WTI provides a laboratory for DI systems and procedures. Capt O’Hara, speaking on this aspect of WTI, told AFM: “I tell my PWTIs this is the place where you can
try stuff. You can put it to the test and know that it’s a controlled training environment.” For the KC-130 community, DI currently takes a few forms, most centred around ruggedised Android-based tablets called Marine Air-Ground Tablets, or MAGTabs. One of the most widely used MAGTab apps, KILSWITCH (Kinetic Integration Lightweight Software Individual Tactical Combat Handheld), was initially developed for aviation fires management but has been adapted for non-kinetic applications that are useful for Battleherk crews. Maj Burnham explained: “We use KILSWITCH, especially for the Harvest HAWK, but also for the normal KC-130 fleet. We’ll use that for things like air delivery, for imagery, run-in, threat plotting, and then battlefield illumination for drift.” The USMC is also utilising tablets for networked situational awareness. Using other apps, such as Tactical Chat, marines are able to update other units in the network on a mission’s progress, unexpected threats, or changes in the situation using pre-determined event codes. For example, if a raid force is inserted on an objective via MV-22s, the Osprey flight lead can hold down the line item for ‘raid force inserted’
Yanking and banking in a Herk
A MAWTS-1 instructor (right) coaches a prospective KC-130J WTI (left) through a defensive tactics sortie against an adversary F-5.
Night-visioncompatible instruments aglow, the cockpit of this Battleherk is ready for nocturnal operations.
One of the more interesting missions a KC-130 PWTI will fly during WTI is the DEFTAC (defensive tactics). During the DEFTAC, marine Herk crews learn how to survive aerial encounters with enemy fighters with the help of Marine Fighter Training Squadron (VMFT) 401, the USMC’s dedicated adversary unit, equipped with F-5 Tiger IIs. The purpose of the DEFTAC isn’t teaching crews how to ‘win’ an aerial engagement, but rather to disengage. Explaining the need for this training, Maj Burnham told AFM: “If we get jumped by jets, and we don’t have any friendly jets nearby to help solve the problem – we’re a large target. Our tactics are sound and it can extend our survivability greatly if done correctly.” He added: “It also builds a lot of confidence in WTIs and young aircrew alike in what they can do with the airframe. It’s a little slow to manoeuvre because it’s big, but it’s more manoeuvrable than people realise.” The level of crew co-ordination demanded by the DEFTAC is extremely high. It is probably the most intense noncombat mission they will fly in their careers, with frenzied calls between the pilots and three crewmasters saturating the intercom. Though ultimate responsibility during a DEFTAC rests with the aircraft commander, the crewmaster on the flight deck is actually managing the fight. Seated on an elevated bench while looking
through a plexiglass ‘bubble’ protruding above the Herk’s fuselage, the crewmaster has a 360º field of view, and – augmented by the two other crewmasters making threat calls from windows in the cargo compartment – has the best vantage for tracking enemy manoeuvres. Maj Myers elaborated: “Really, the way I brief when we go do the DEFTAC mission is that the pilots are there to fly the aircraft. We go where the crewmaster in the bubble is telling us to go. He’s fighting the aircraft for us, we’re just complying with his turns.” As tricky as it may seem for a large, lumbering cargo aircraft to evade two fast, nimble fighters, it’s not uncommon for KC-130 crews to avoid being ‘killed’ for a surprising amount of time. Recalling one particularly successful DEFTAC encounter, Burnham told AFM: “It was an augment instructor doing it for the first time ever, and he just nailed it. We actually survived for quite a while against two F-5s, which is really difficult.” He continued: “He called it really well, and the two observers in the back were super-involved, making flare calls for me. The guys flying the F-5s at the end of it called and said, ‘That last one was awesome. You actually defeated my [wingman] who went high… which never happens.’ And it wasn’t because I did it, it wasn’t because of the PWTI pilot with me, we just did whatever we were told by the crewmaster.”
PFC Vivian Beppler, a KC-130J crewmaster from VMGR-152, observes air-delivered ground refuelling of four CH-53Es at the Strategic Expeditionary Landing Field at Twentynine Palms during a WTI mission. Beppler is one of many KC-130 augmentees who were loaned by their parent units to MAWTS-1 to provide enough aircrew to operate the aircraft needed for the course.
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US Marine KC-130
Battleherk crew composition
Above: Crewmasters work quickly but deliberately to secure a ‘Humvee’ to the floor of the cargo hold inside a KC-130J in preparation for departure from a dirt landing strip in simulated hostile territory.
The minimum USMC Battleherk crew consists of two pilots – an aircraft commander and a co-pilot – and one enlisted crewmaster to man the Advanced Crew Station (ACS) console. Typically, though, this core crew will be augmented by two additional crewmasters in the cargo compartment to monitor the hoses and receiver aircraft during refuelling operations, serve as lookouts during tactical missions, and to monitor communications during complex missions when the flight-deck crew may ‘shed’ such tasks to them. Crewmasters also manage the loading and unloading of passengers and cargo and are tasked with setting up and managing airdelivered ground refuelling (ADGR) sites. This crew configuration permits the greatest flexibility in the not-uncommon event that a Herk is re-tasked mid-mission. In these cases, the crewmasters in the back can quickly reconfigure the aircraft for different missions as they emerge. AFM witnessed this first-hand, as a KC-130J originally tasked with air mission command duties and ground refuelling of CH-53s during a long-range raid was reconfigured mid-mission to be the primary aerial refuelling tanker as well as the recovery vehicle in a ‘snatch and grab’ mission to recover a high-value target placed in a ‘Humvee’ waiting at the side of a dirt strip. Within ten minutes, the crewmasters accommodated a complete change of mission, a testament to both the versatility of marine KC-130s and the adaptability of Battleherk crews. The Harvest HAWK crew construct builds on this with the inclusion of two fire control officers (FCOs) to manage the sensors and weapons systems. MAWTS-1 IP and Harvest HAWK instructor Maj Myers credits this composition for the Harvest HAWK’s operational successes. He told AFM: “The great thing about the Harvest HAWK mission with a well-trained crew is that every crew member is involved. Your aircraft commander, your pilot, your crewmaster at the ACS, your crewmasters in the back, and your two FCOs… everyone is battletracking the entire time. So, if FCO One has not so much missed something, but forgets about a specific area, usually it’s a crewmaster who says: ‘Hey sir, it was this area’, and he’s got a KILSWITCH tablet to show us where we need to put the sensor.”
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on a MAGTab, and anyone else in that network monitoring mission progress on a MAGTab will know that the insertion was successful. Though digital interoperability systems have been used in the active VMGR fleet, DI is still very much a developing capability. One current limitation is proximity. As Capt O’Hara explained: “It’s a line-of-sight thing; you’ve got to be close to all the players to make it work. But when you’re on the objective, it frees up communications. There’s a lot to be done with it yet, there’s a lot they need to improve. Being able to take someone’s routing and put it on KILSWITCH, have it automatically upgrade, do x number of check items so you can see progression through the objective area, and do all that without radio communications – is a benefit. It is an absolute benefit.” One means of overcoming the proximity limitations of DI is satellite communications. Maj Burnham, who helped evaluate satcom systems for the Marine Corps, told AFM: “Some of the networking we’ve been exploring and even using forward-deployed are things like ViaSat, which is a company that has an overthe-horizon satcom capability for data, voice, video… you name it.” ViaSat’s antenna is mounted in the hatch above the KC-130J’s flight deck and has been used operationally by Marine Hercules assigned to support Special Purpose MAGTF – Crisis Response – Africa, where the distances involved necessitate reliable over-the-horizon communications. Burnham continued: “I did the demo of that years ago on Harvest HAWK. We had one installed… I was on a little headset talking on Skype to the east coast, they had video of our feed, and through T-Chat I was providing them with information on what we were doing that way too, so talking all at once. It was beautiful.”
Hercules delivers One advance that has increased the Battleherk’s effectiveness and survivability is the Joint Precision Airdrop System, or JPADS. JPADS consists of an autonomous guidance unit that uses global positioning satellite data to mechanically steer a load’s parachute toward a pre-programmed impact point and
Right: All KC-130J-equipped VMGR squadrons loan aircraft and personnel to MAWTS-1 to support the WTI course. This Battleherk from VMGR-152 came all the way from Japan to participate in WTI 2-18. Insert: With MAWTS-1 having no KC-130Js assigned, the aircraft, aircrew and maintainers temporarily assigned to the squadron from the various VMGRs form a composite KC-130 unit known as VMGR-852. With operations among all VMGRs being standardised, the integration of personnel during WTI is seamless.
land within 246ft (75m) of it. Precision-guided payloads mean that marine KC-130s can perform airdrops from higher altitudes, well outside the range of small arms and manportable air defence systems. The increased probability of accurate drops into smaller drop zones also helps marines on the ground limit their exposure to enemy observation or ground fire while retrieving dropped loads. Prospective KC-130 WTIs at MAWTS-1 receive instruction on JPADS and employ it on airdrop missions during the course, working in conjunction with air delivery platoon marines, just as they would operationally.
Shoot and scoot A new event in the KC-130 WTI course is a HIMARS rapid air insert mission. HIMARS is the M142 High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System, first acquired by the Marines Corps in 2006 for long-range supporting fires. The standard munition delivered by the M142 is the highly accurate M31 GPS-guided rocket, with a published range of over 43 miles (70km), though the HIMARS system can technically launch any rocket within
KC-130Js extend the range of airrefuellable assets, such as the CH-53E, which is an increasingly important capability with further emphasis being paid to operations in the western Pacific.
the Multiple Launch Rocket System family of munitions. With anti-access/area denial being a major concern in any prospective near-peer fight, the US military is looking for ways to kick down the proverbial door (air defences, coastal anti-ship defences, prepared defensive positions, etc) to an adversary’s territory. HIMARS – which the marines have employed in recent exercises as both an air-inserted and shipboard asset – is one of the means of doing that. Speaking on the advantages of KC-130/ HIMARS integration, Capt O’Hara told AFM: “The air force and Marine Corps are very interested in how we can leverage HIMARS, which is a long-range indirect-fire asset, how we can get those [systems] rapidly inserted with KC-130 or C-17. We can use our range and our speed to get in, drop them, and get that indirect fire asset out. They can reach out further and touch [the enemy] while keeping us out of range of any type of counterbattery.”
While HIMARS units have participated in previous WTI courses, WTI 2-18 was the first in which a HIMARS insert was integrated into a large-force event. As O’Hara explained: “We integrated it in this class in the MV-22 long-range raid. You put a package of eight to ten MV-22s with a company- to battalion-sized element that’s getting ready to insert, we put one or two HIMARS in, and they can reach out and start putting out that suppressive fire. The purpose was to show that when we insert, those fires would set conditions then for the raid force to come in.”
Killer Herk In October 2010, the USMC KC-130 fleet gained overwatch and attack capabilities in the form of the Harvest HAWK sensor and weapons kit. While this upgrade enabled new mission sets for marine Battleherk crews, it remains limited in capacity, with only a handful of modified airframes in two
US-based squadrons – VMGR-252 on the east coast and VMGR-352 on the west coast. The Harvest HAWK kit consists of a fire control console in the cargo hold, a Target Sight Sensor (TSS) under the aft portion of the left-hand underwing fuel tank, a hardpoint for a quad-rail launcher for AGM-114 Hellfire missiles in place of the port-side aerial refuelling pod and a ‘Derringer’ door with two launch tubes for AGM-176 Griffin missiles. To accommodate the kit, Harvest HAWK-equipped KC-130Js lost some capacity and capability. Internally, the palletised fire control officer (FCO) workstation reduces the space available for cargo or troops, and the ‘Derringer’ door with the vertical launch tubes for the Griffin missiles at the rear of the left side of the aircraft limits the egress option for parachute insertions to the right side. Externally, the fuel tank under the left wing loses some capacity due to the TSS at the rear of the tank, and the aerial refuelling pod on that side is traded for the Hellfire rails. This limits the Harvest HAWK KC-130Js to refuelling only from the right wing, though passing fuel to other aircraft reduces the Harvest HAWK’s time on station.
KC-130J 166381, belonging to VMGR-252, is the current testbed for the Harvest HAWK Plus upgrade. It’s seen here returning to MCAS Yuma after a CAS sortie during WTI 2-18. Noteworthy are the MX-20 sensor turret mounted under the nose and the DoN LAIRCM countermeasures system mounted on the side of the rear fuselage. Michael Grove
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US Marine KC-130 Of all the capabilities Harvest HAWK brings to the fight, its endurance has proven to be the most critical in both the MIR and CAS roles. Maj Burnham, one of a handful of Harvest HAWK instructors, told AFM that missions in Afghanistan could exceed 11 hours in duration. Praising the Harvest HAWK’s endurance, Burnham stated: “If you think of continuity, most CAS assets have to conduct – depending on the mission duration – multiple battlefield handovers between assets that are coming in. The beauty of Harvest HAWK is that we can facilitate both the infil and the exfil [of ground forces] and provide additional capabilities while we’re on station. So really, we were the continuity for a lot of those missions. Once new players checked in, we gave them a situation update if the FAC or the JTAC [forward air controller or Joint Terminal Attack Controller] was unable to contact them. A lot of the time, they’d push it to us because we had really good situational awareness of what was going on in that area of operations.” Maj Andrew Myers, MAWTS-1 KC-130 division head, has also worked with Harvest HAWK KC-130Js from the ground as a FAC on a combat tour in Afghanistan. While he never had the opportunity to control fires from a Harvest HAWK, he frequently relied on the overwatch the type provided, and used video from its sensors to maintain visual contact on validated targets to direct fires from other assets such as AH-1 and UH-1 helicopters.
Harvest HAWK – the next generation With the Harvest HAWK concept being combatproven and demand for the asset expected to grow, the USMC is currently working on a Harvest HAWK Plus upgrade. The purpose of this is to improve the system’s capabilities while restoring much of the cargo and fuel capacity that was lost with the first iteration of the kit, the ultimate goal being to give Harvest HAWK-equipped aircraft the ability to perform most of the airlift and refuelling functions of baseline KC-130Js. MAWTS-1 is now supporting the developmental test/operational test (DT/ OT) of Harvest HAWK Plus by incorporating the current testbed for the new system into WTI. As Capt O’Hara explained: “Maj Myers worked with VX-20 and with our leadership to integrate the DT/OT into the WTI course.
Above: KC-130J aerial refuelling – as seen from an MV-22B Osprey. Marine ‘Battleherks’ provide aerial tanking for fixed-wing, rotary-wing and tiltrotor aircraft.
First and foremost, we get them on station. What does that do for us? It gives these guys ranges to work, it gives them FACs on the ground to control them, it gives the air officer department and anyone else in those stacks exposure to the Harvest HAWK upgrade.” Regarding the DT/OT Harvest HAWK participation in WTI, O’Hara told AFM: “They have done simulated CAS as well as livefire, both on our ranges and up in the China Lake ranges, and it’s doing really well.” He added: “It is exceeding their expectations. There has not been one bad report on it.” Harvest HAWK Plus features a chin-mounted MX-20 sensor ball, a new fire control console similar to that used on the USAF’s AC-130W Stinger II gunship, and the DoN LAIRCM defensive system. Describing the benefits of these changes, Maj Myers told AFM: “By getting rid of the Target Sight Sensor and going to the MX-20 mounting on the chin as opposed to the external tank, we regain all of our fuel. We’re limited to 42,000lb of fuel, now we’ll be back to our standard 60k. We’ll also have less masking issues with the MX-20. Then if we get outer wing station 430, we have the potential to get both hoses back. It will definitely be a mission enhancement because we can then do the same complement of VMGR missions that any standard cargo Herk could do, plus with fires.” If approved, outer wing station 430 would enable the Hellfire missile rails to be repositioned outboard of the aerial refuelling pods under each wing, making it possible to carry missiles and electronic warfare pods such as the Intrepid Tiger II. The upgrade also includes communications improvements. As Maj Burnham explained: “We’ll have data link capability for
video, we’ll have increased capability for voice, we’ll be able to talk across the entire spectrum. Right now, our current KC-130 Harvest HAWK has Ku-band only, but we are going to be multi-band on the upgrade.” With the conclusion of DT/OT, the next step will be developing the tactics for the new Harvest HAWK, a task that will fall on the shoulders of MAWTS-1. Outlining the form this will take, O’Hara asserted: “We’ll continue to assist with the tactical development of it. Now that our air officer department and other people in the building have seen them employed, we can leverage those resources to help develop tactics. Down the road, we’re trying to integrate some type of Harvest HAWK course within the construct of WTI. By next fall or next spring, I think we’ll have a one-to-two-week embedded course to bring the Harvest HAWK instructors here and make them evaluators, but also bring those aircraft in and have them be part of the problem. We’re trying to integrate them as much as possible.”
Crucial contribution Whether it’s providing lift, fuel or supporting fires, the Battleherk is a critical asset that virtually every community in the Marine Corps relies on at one point or another. Summarising the value of the KC-130J to the USMC, Maj Burnham told AFM: “Without the Herks, the MAGTF commander would be in a big hurt locker. With the amount of stuff that we provide, you wouldn’t have jets going as far, you wouldn’t have helos going as far, nobody would have their gear or their equipment, and we’d be relying on external air to support all of that. As Herk guys, we take a lot of pride in providing that level of service, and always being ready to go.” AFM
Below: Cpl Max Massa, a crewmaster from VMGR-152, oversees the loading of an M142 HIMARS vehicle onto a waiting KC-130J in preparation for a KC-130J HIMARS rapid air insert mission during a WTI course at MCAS Yuma. USMC/LCpl Skyler Pumphret
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Armée de l’Air ambassadors
New colours, and a new display pilot: every other year, the Rafale Solo Display gains a new look. Frédéric Lert and Anthony Pecchi caught up with the team. he Rafale’s solo displays were initially performed by Dassault Aviation pilots, who developed a breathtaking ten-minute routine for airshows and other public events. In 2009, responsibility for demonstrating the ‘omni-role’ fighter was transferred to the Armée de l’Air (French Air Force), which then established the Rafale Solo Display (RSD). The RSD is among the so-called ‘ambassadors’ of the air arm, fulfilling a similar role to the Patrouille de France aerobatic team, or the Alpha Jet Solo Display provided by the École de l’Aviation de Chasse (EAC, Fighter Aviation School) 314 at Tours. Capitaine Jean-Guillaume Martinez, callsign ‘Marty’, was the Rafale Solo Display pilot in 2016 and 2017. Now he has given way to his replacement, Capitaine Sébastien
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Nativel, callsign ‘Babouc’, and taken up a coaching role for the incoming aviator.
Choosing the pilot “A call for applications was issued to all Rafale squadrons for the new display pilot,” ‘Marty’ explained. “The requirements were simple: to be a qualified patrol leader, to have more than 500 hours on the Rafale and to be available for two years as a pilot and two more years as a
coach. The air force filtered the applications and sent me a list of names. The final choice came back to me, and the decision was made in full consultation with ‘Rut’, ‘Michael’ and ‘Tao’, the former incumbents of the position.” Capitaine Nativel was announced as the new RSD pilot in February last year. A native of Réunion in the Indian Ocean, ‘Babouc’ joined the Armée de l’Air in 1999 and now has 3,000 hours on jet types including 800 on the Alpha Jet, 1,000 on the Mirage 2000N and 2000D, and 1,000 on all types of Rafale, including the Marine Nationale (French Navy) Rafale M. (Hours on the carrier-capable Rafale were not acquired with the fleet but within the Rafale conversion squadron at Saint-Dizier.) He became a patrol leader in 2013 and is now aged 38. Things then proceeded very quickly, as ‘Marty’ recalled: “At the end of last season, ‘Babouc’ began his apprenticeship with three flights, with me in the back seat of a Rafale B,
Top: The stunning paint scheme for the latest Rafale Solo Display jet was devised by ‘Babouc’ together with Régis Rocca. The colours were chosen to echo the famous all-black Rafale C01 and the Rafale A prototype, which combined an overall white scheme with tricolour flashes. All photos Anthony Pecchi unless stated Above: Rafale C130 ‘4-GI’ arrives over Gloucestershire for the Royal International Air Tattoo, accompanied by the RSD’s spare jet – on this occasion, two-seat Rafale B305 ‘4-EC’. Rich Cooper Main image: ‘Babouc’ approaches the cameraship in the solo display Rafale C, with the Alps forming a spectacular backdrop. The jet is fitted with wingtip smoke generators for its demonstration role. Inset left: Capitaine Sébastien Nativel flew the Mirage 2000N and 2000D strike aircraft prior to converting to the Rafale and serving on a frontline unit at Saint-Dizier. Since 2015 he’s been with the type operational conversion unit at the same base.
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Armée de l’Air ambassadors to grasp the physical challenges of the display. Then he made five flights on the two-seat Extra 330LC of the air force’s aerobatic team, just to become accustomed to aerobatics at low altitude. The training during the winter season could then begin: 33 flights, starting at 2,000ft above the ground, then 1,000ft, then 500ft, which is the regular display altitude.”
Preparing the jet Meanwhile, the aircraft received its new colours. The 2018 scheme is the result of co-operation between ‘Babouc’ and designer Régis Rocca, while the physical application of the livery was the work of Escadron de Soutien Technique Aéronautique (ESTA, Aeronautical Technical Support Squadron) 15/4 ‘Haute-Marne’. Fifteen days in the paint shop resulted in a jet that was as spectacular as ‘Babouc’ wanted: “I wanted a plane that recalled both the prototype Rafale C01, which was entirely black, and the Rafale A demonstrator, which was white with a tricolour flag on the tail. The artwork that came out of our exchanges was presented to the chief of staff of the air force who gave the final green light.” The new-look team’s first display took place above Albacete, Spain, during the 40th anniversary celebrations of the NATO Tactical Leadership Programme on May 12-13. The following weekend, May 19-20, the RSD made its French public debut at La Ferté Alais airshow. The complete programme for the year had not been confirmed at the time of AFM’s interview and could still spring a surprise or two. After a display for the RAF Cosford Air Show in Shropshire on June 10, ‘Babouc’ performed at the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire on July
Capitaine Sébastien Nativel, ‘Babouc’ 1999 2002-05 2005-08 2008-11 2011-15 20152018-
Joins Armée de l’Air Mirage 2000N pilot with EC 3/4 ‘Limousin’ at Istres Alpha Jet instructor at Cazaux Mirage 2000D pilot with EC 3/3 ‘Ardennes’ at Nancy Rafale pilot with EC 1/7 ‘Provence’ at Saint-Dizier Rafale pilot with ETR 3/4 ‘Aquitaine’ at Saint-Dizier Rafale Solo Display pilot
13-15. While ‘Marty’ won a pair of trophies after two outings at RIAT, 2018 provided an opportunity for another Armée de l’Air unit to walk away with the honours. This time, Couteau Delta – the French Air Force tactical demonstration team of two Mirage 2000D strike aircraft – received the As The Crow Flies Trophy for the best display, as judged by members of the Friends of RIAT. AFM
Acknowledgements: The author wishes to thank SAFRAN for supporting the photo sortie Top right: ‘Babouc’ completed his conversion to Rafale Solo Display pilot in the course of 33 training flights in the winter season. He was coached by his predecessor on the RSD, Capitaine Jean-Guillaume Martinez, ‘Marty’. Right: Rafale C133 ‘4-GL’ of ETR 3/4 ‘Aquitaine’ leads the demo jet during a pre-season photo sortie. Serial C133 was the previous RSD aircraft but has now reverted to standard grey colours.
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Republic of China Air Force
The ‘Taiwan question’ remains a sensitive political issue almost 70 years after the foundation of the People’s Republic of China. Marco Muntz and Wiebe Karsten assess the status of the Republic of China Air Force, charged with defending Taiwan against the might of its neighbour.
Defending Formo Part one he People’s Republic of China (PRC), mainland China, claims sovereignty over the island of Taiwan – formerly known as Formosa – located some 90nm off its eastern coastline. The current tense situation dates back to the Chinese Civil War, fought from 1927 until 1950, when the defeated Nationalists retreated to Taiwan. Meanwhile, communists took control of mainland China, where their leader, Mao Zedong, declared establishment of the PRC on October 1, 1949. Although Taiwan functions as an independent state – officially the Republic of China – the Communist Party in the PRC strongly opposes any form of diplomatic recognition for the island state and continues to seek its reunification with mainland China. In the past it has not excluded the possibility of using force in achieving this aim. Currently, Beijing is pursuing a peaceful solution through
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diplomacy, but the PRC’s rapid military expansion is of great concern to Taiwan. To balance the military strength across the Taiwan Strait and prevent a possible armed conflict with China, Taiwan seeks to continue modernising its armed forces to maintain a sufficient defensive capability.
Taiwan Relations Act The long-standing Mutual Defense Treaty between Taiwan and the United States was ended by US President Jimmy Carter in order to reinstate official diplomatic relations with the PRC, effective from January 1, 1979. This included US acceptance of the ‘one China’ policy, acknowledging the PRC’s political position that there is only one Chinese government. Nevertheless, Washington maintained a strong informal relationship with Taiwan and established the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), signed in April 1979. Also known as Public Law 96-8, the TRA defines Taiwan’s military
mission as primarily a defensive one against the PRC, and it bans the sale of offensive weapons. Taiwan has always been heavily dependent on the US for military materiel – but most countries with diplomatic ties to China are reluctant to sell any military equipment to Taiwan to avoid protest from Beijing, which could undermine diplomatic relations and affect trade. In compliance with the TRA, the US continued arms sales to Taiwan after 1979, but has to carefully balance the nature and quantity of defence equipment transfers to satisfy Taiwanese requirements while not provoking the People’s Republic.
Facing the threat The island of Taiwan covers 13,976 sq miles (36,197km2) and is divided by a mountain ridge. Owing to topography, most Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF) air bases are situated on the coastal plane in the west of the island.
The backbone of the ROCAF air combat fleet comprises 127 F-CK-1C/D, 142 F-16A/B and 55 Mirage 2000-5Di/Ei jets assigned to five tactical fighter wings (TFWs), a structure derived from that of the US Air Force. All the wings are located on the west coast, with the exception of the 5th TFW at Hualien Air Force Base on the east of the island.
Cross-strait air superiority In January 1982 President Ronald Reagan’s administration blocked the sale of any advanced fighter to Taiwan to avoid diplomatic tensions with Beijing. In response, the Taiwanese government decided to develop an Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF). The US defence industry could provide some help, as supply of parts and technical assistance were excluded from the ban. A total of 230 F-CK-1 Ching -kuo IDFs were to be built by the state-run Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation
‘In association with ....’
The Indigenous Defense Fighter demonstrates the capabilities of the local military-industrial complex, although initial plans to acquire 230 examples were scaled back to 130. The survivors have now undergone the Hsiangchan upgrade, bringing them to F-CK-1C/D standard. This formation was put up for the Kangshan airshow in August last year. Travis Chuang
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Republic of China Air Force Taiwan is in the process of upgrading its F-16A/B fleet under the Phoenix Rising programme, becoming the world’s first operator of the latest F-16V iteration. Seen carrying AIM-9M and AIM-120C missiles, F-16A serial 6691 (c/n TA-91) is operated by the 5th TFW at Hualien. Marco Muntz
Taiwan acquired 60 Mirage 2000-5s as part of a package that included MICA medium-range and Magic 2 short-range AAMs. Single-seat Mirage 2000-5Ei serial 2040 was lost over the East China Sea during a mission from Hsinchu last November 7, resulting in a temporary grounding of the fleet. Dino van Doorn
(AIDC) to replace both the F-104 and F-5. But increasing human and civil rights violations on the mainland, and the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing in 1989, changed US policy towards the PRC. Furthermore, the PRC gained access to advanced Russian arms after the collapse of the Soviet Union and began receiving Su-27 Flankers from 1992. As a result, US President George H W Bush announced the sale of 150 F-16A/B Block 20 jets to Taiwan in September 1992. Under this Peace Fenghuang programme, the US would supply Taiwan with 120 F-16As and 30 F-16Bs of the MidLife Update (MLU) version,
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worth $6bn. F-16 armament included 600 AIM-7M Sparrow and 900 AIM-9M Sidewinder air-to-air missiles (AAMs). The Taiwanese F-16 deal also encouraged France to sell 48 Mirage 2000-5Ei and 12 Mirage 2000-5Di fighters to the island nation. The $4.9bn contract, signed in November 1992, included 960 Matra MICA medium-range and 480 Magic 2 short-range AAMs. Subsequently, the Taiwanese government reduced F-CK-1 IDF orders to 130 airframes: 103 single-seat F-CK-1A and 27 twoseat F-CK-1B aircraft. Based at Ching Chuan Kang, the 427th (later the 3rd) TFW was the first wing to receive the F-CK-1,
converting to the type between November 1993 and early 1997. The ROCAF underwent a major transformation during the second half of the 1990s as it introduced three new fighter types almost simultaneously – which led to difficulties in conversion training and logistical support. Alongside deliveries of the F-CK1, the F-16 and Mirage 2000-5 both started to arrive in 1997. The first 20 F-16s remained in the US: two went to Edwards AFB, California, for testing and 18 were assigned to the 21st Fighter Squadron at Luke AFB, Arizona, for pilot training. The remaining 130 Fighting Falcons were ferried to Taiwan between 1997 and 2001 to re-equip the 455th (4th) TFW at Chiayi and the 401st (5th) TFW at Hualien respectively. The 60-strong Mirage 20005 fleet was assigned to the Hsinchu-based 499th (2nd) TFW and began to arrive in May 1997, with deliveries completed by November 1998. The 443rd (1st) TFW was the second wing to receive the F-CK1 and completed its transition in early 2000 when the final production IDFs arrived at Tainan from the AIDC facility. Increasing combat readiness of these new fighters led to a reduction in the frontline F-5E/F fleet, 90 of which were planned to remain in use. Seven lowhour F-5Es were converted to RF-5E Tigereye reconnaissance standard by Singapore Technologies Aerospace, while
the remainder would serve as dedicated lead-in trainers. In response to the PRC’s acquisition of Russian R-77 (AA12 Adder) medium-range AAMs, the US government authorised the sale of AIM-120C AMRAAM missiles to Taiwan. ROCAF F-16s were modified accordingly and the first batch of 120 AMRAAMs taken on in 2004. To counter continuing expansion of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) with sophisticated fighters, Taiwan also announced plans to upgrade its combat capability by acquiring additional F-16C/Ds and advanced armament and modernising its existing fighters. Not all of these moves would prove successful.
F-CK-1 MLU AIDC began development of an upgrade package to improve the IDF’s capabilities in 2001, after government budget approval. The programme is known as Hsiang-chan (wings spread) and brings the F-CK-1 to C/D standard, formally named Hsiung Ying (brave hawk). The main elements comprise upgrades to the avionics, radar and weapons systems. New avionics include a 32-bit digital flight control computer system from BAE Systems and a three-colour multifunction head-up display (HUD). Improvements are also made to the identification friend or foe (IFF) system and electronic warfare suite, while new software
‘In association with ....’
ROCAF F-CK-1C serial 1496, from the 1st TFW at Tainan, carries a Tien Chien II medium-range AAM under the fuselage. Under the latest upgrade, the IDF can carry four of these weapons, as well as Tien Chien IIA anti-radiation missiles and Wan Chien II GPS-guided cruise missiles. Wiebe Karsten
enhances the existing Golden Dragon CD-53 multi-mode pulse-Doppler radar, resulting in improved multi-target tracking and jamming resistance. Modified underwing pylons mean the IDF can carry four, instead of two, Tien Chien II (TC-II Sky Sword) activeradar-guided medium-range AAMs. Air-to-surface capability is also improved through the integration of the Tien Chien IIA anti-radiation missile and the Wan Chien II GPS-guided cruise missile. The latter reportedly has a 155-mile (250km) range and can therefore hit targets on the Chinese mainland when launched from above the Taiwan Strait. Structural improvements include a strengthened main undercarriage to support higher take-off weights plus an antiskid brake system to improve landing performance and safety. Although successfully tested,
dorsal conformal fuel tanks were not adopted, due to cost. Initial funding limited the upgrade to 71 aircraft under a first phase of work launched in 2009, and the first six retrofitted F-CK-1C/Ds were delivered to the 1st TFW at Tainan in June 2011. All 71 upgraded aircraft were destined to re-equip the 1st TFW and final deliveries were completed by December 2013. Phase two covered the retrofit of the remaining 56 F-CK-1s. Work began in 2014 and was completed last December when the final Hsiung Ying joined the 3rd TFW at Ching Chuan Kang AFB.
Phoenix Rising In a bid to enhance its air defence capabilities, from 2006 Taiwan submitted several requests to acquire 66 F-16C/D Block 52s from the US, but without success. Instead, President Barack Obama’s
administration approved an upgrade programme for Taiwan’s existing F-16A/B fleet, announced in September 2011, and known locally as Phoenix Rising. In response, Taiwan issued a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) request which included 176 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars, 176 AN/ ALQ-213 electronic warfare management systems and either new AN/ALQ-211 or AN/ALQ131 electronic countermeasures (ECM) pods or upgrade of 82 existing ALQ-184 ECM pods, all with digital radio frequency memory (DRFM) technology. The FMS request also included 128 Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems (JHMCSs) and nightvision goggles, 26 new AN/AAQ33 Sniper or AN/AAQ-28 Litening targeting systems, upgrades for 28 Sharpshooter infrared targeting pods and integration of new weapons – AIM-9X Sidewinders,
Deliveries of the F-CK-1 – and subsequent upgrade programmes – have led to the F-5E/F switching to the lead-in fighter training role. Among the final frontline Tiger IIs are seven RF-5E Tigereye recce jets converted by Singapore Technologies Aerospace. This is RF-5E serial 5505 from the Hualien-based 12th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron Wiebe Karsten
Wartime planning The mountains at Chiashan – a satellite airfield of Hualien – contain an underground aircraft storage facility for protection in case of an attack by the PRC. It can accommodate at least 100 aircraft, but its exact capacity is classified. Ninety miles down the coastline, there’s a similar complex in the mountains at Zhihang (Taitung) AFB in southeast Taiwan, which is reportedly able to shelter 60 to 80 aircraft. In case of conflict, combat aircraft providing the first line of air defence are likely to be deployed to these two eastern air bases. Mirage 2000-5s of the 2nd TFW at Hsinchu and F-CK1s of the 3rd TFW at Ching Chuan Kang regularly deploy to Hualien and Chiashan. F-16s from the Chiayibased 4th TFW and F-CK-1s of the 1st TFW at Tainan routinely exercise at Zhihang, which suggests this is their wartime deployment base. Concentrating combat aircraft at five regular bases makes their runways highly vulnerable to attacks, and significant investments have been made in rapid runway repair kits and transforming main taxiways into secondary runways. Meanwhile the Portarrest P-IV mobile aircraft arresting system enables aircraft to land on damaged runways. The ROCAF also conducts training on highway strips as a means of relocating tactical aircraft across the island. At least five such strips have been identified in western Taiwan.
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Republic of China Air Force returned to service early this year when US test pilots finished the flight test phase. Beginning this year, AIDC will upgrade 24 F-16s annually until the conclusion of the Phoenix Rising project in 2023, when the last of 141 F-16Vs will be redelivered – a quantity reduced by attrition. The ROCAF is the world’s first F-16V operator, and most of the upgraded F-16s will equip the 4th TFW at Chiayi AFB and the Hualien-based 5th TFW.
P-3C serial 3302 at Pingtung early last year. The availability of the P-3C greatly enhances ROCAF anti-submarine capability, and the Orion is considered four times more effective than the S-2T in detecting submarines. Marco Muntz
AEW and SIGINT
ROCAF special schemes
Last year the ROCAF painted a number of fighters in special liveries to mark the 20th anniversary of these types’ service entry and – in the case of F-16A serial 6609 of the 4th TFW (455th TFW) at Chiayi (below) – the air force’s 80th anniversary. The scheme on F-CK-1C serial 1427 (top) is based on the ROCAF flag, while at least two Mirage 2000-5Ei jets – serials 2017 and 2020 – received 20th anniversary logos and silhouettes of the previous types flown by the 2nd TFW (499th TFW): P-47, F-86, F-100 and F-104. Travis Chuang
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GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) kits and GBU-24 Paveway III laser-guided bombs. The complete package – including avionics upgrades, system integration, training and logistics support – had a total value of $5.3bn. A letter of offer and acceptance (LOA) to upgrade Taiwan’s remaining 145 F-16A/Bs (from the original 150 aircraft acquired) was signed by both countries in July 2012. The US government selected Lockheed Martin to carry out the Taiwanese F-16 upgrade based on the F-16V variant, the core of which is an advanced AESA radar combined with an Elbit Systems multifunctional high-resolution Center Pedestal Display (CPD). In July 2013 Lockheed Martin selected the Northrop Grumman AN/APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) as the F-16V AESA radar. Taiwanese F-16s were also to be equipped with advanced avionics including a Link 16-compatible tactical data link terminal, modernised Modular Mission Computer (MMC), embedded GPS/INS for precision navigation and a ground collision avoidance system (GCAS). Lockheed Martin upgraded two F-16s (an F-16A and an F-16B) in the US to serve as prototypes, and the remainder are being retrofitted by AIDC in Taiwan. On January 16 last year the first four Taiwanese F-16s to be upgraded locally flew to AIDC in Taichung. Owing to delays in software testing in the US, they were the only F-16s retrofitted in 2017, instead of a planned ten. Under the deal, Lockheed Martin provides assistance and oversees the whole upgrade process, with AIDC completing the upgrade of the first four jets by last December; they
In May 1993 Taiwan acquired four new-build E-2T (T for Taiwan) airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft through FMS channels, although their US serials suggest they are actually used E-2B airframes. The E-2T is similar to the E-2C Group II Hawkeye, including the sophisticated AN/APS-145 (V) radar. Delivered in two batches, all four aircraft arrived in Taiwan by sea in September 1995 to enter service from November that year, significantly enhancing air defence reaction time. The 20th Electronic Warfare Group at Pingtung received two additional E-2s – the latest Hawkeye 2000 variant – in May 2005. Compared to the E-2Ts already in use, the E-2T Hawkeye 2000E retained the AN/APS145 radar system but has a new, open architecture, central mission computer. This is based on the Raytheon Model 940 computer using commercial offthe-shelf technology and is more powerful, compact and lighter than the Litton L-304 it replaced. Three new Advanced Control Indicator Set (ACIS) tactical workstations were installed, including 20in (508mm) highresolution flat-panel operator displays. Other improvements included a Joint Tactical Information Distribution System (JTIDS), Link 16, AN/ ALQ-217A electronic support measures (ESM) suite and a high-capacity vapour-cycle avionics cooling system. The Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) data link system and satellite communications (SATCOM) equipment found on US Navy Hawkeye 2000s were not added. In October 2008 a contract was signed to convert the original four E-2Ts into Hawkeye 2000 configuration, to improve
‘In association with ....’
Fitted with eight-bladed NP2000 propellers for improved aircraft performance, superior maintainability and less noise and vibration, E-2K serial 2504 is part of the 20th EW Group at Pingtung. Wiebe Karsten
capability and standardise the E-2 fleet. The Hawkeyes were upgraded in the US by Northrop Grumman and shipped back to Taiwan, arriving in two pairs at Kaohsiung Harbor in December 2011 and March 2013 respectively. Following upgrade, all E-2Ts were redesignated E-2K (‘2K’ for Hawkeye 2000). As well as the six E-2Ks, the 20th EW Group also operates a single C-130HE (E for electronic), referred to as Tien Gan (airborne jamming), and acquired in August 1993. It’s equipped with an Airborne Electronic Surveillance System (AESS) and can collect and analyse electronic emissions (signals intelligence, SIGINT) and conduct electronic warfare. It’s believed the aircraft is also capable of jamming PRC air defence radars.
Maritime security With a coastline stretching 708 miles (1,139km) and economic dependence on its harbours (90% of all its trading goods are transported by sea), Taiwan is vulnerable to maritime threats. From 1993, the country relied on a fleet of 27 S-2T Trackers for aerial surveillance and antisubmarine warfare (ASW). A decade later, the S-2 was obsolescent in a modern ASW environment, limited by its submarine detection capability, range and endurance as well as increasing defects due to age and a lack of spare parts affecting availability. To enhance ASW capability and face off a growing fleet of modern Chinese submarines, US President George W Bush’s administration approved the sale of 12 P-3C Orions in April 2001. Lockheed
Martin subsequently accepted a contract in March 2009 to upgrade 12 used P-3 airframes, including avionics enhancements and new mission systems – plus a service life extension covering standard depot-level maintenance and the fitting of new outer wings, centre wing lower surfaces and horizontal stabilisers to facilitate 15,000 additional flight hours. All the P-3C airframes earmarked for upgrade had been stored at the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, but were deemed non-airworthy due to structural fatigue. They were disassembled and transported on flatbed trucks from Davis-Monthan to the Lockheed Martin facility in Greenville, South Carolina. The first aircraft left AMARG on the 1,864-mile (3,000km) overland
journey on October 9, 2009 and took its maiden flight after modernisation in late July 2012. The first two upgraded P-3s remained in the US for flight testing and crew training before delivery. The third was the first P-3 to arrive in Taiwan when it touched down at Pingtung on September 25, 2013. Two more were ferried to Taiwan in 2013, four in 2014, three in 2015 and one in 2016 – the final Orion arriving at Pingtung on June 7 last year. A ceremony on December 1 marked the commissioning of the 12-strong Taiwanese P-3C fleet. In conjunction with the Ministry of National Defense’s (MND’s) decision to put future P-3 operations under ROCAF control, the S-2Ts operated by the Republic of China Navy since 1999 transferred back to the air force in April 2013. At the same time it was decided to keep 11 S-2Ts in active service and retire the remaining 15 to become a source of spares. As more P-3s became available, (former) Tracker crews began conversion training and working up towards final operational capability, enabling the ROCAF to wind down S-2 operations. The remaining Trackers, operated by 34 Squadron, were scheduled for retirement in April last year before an internal assessment reversed the decision, two S-2Ts continuing to patrol the waters surrounding Taiwan until their final retirement on December 1. AFM
The Fighting Falcon is set to remain the backbone of the ROCAF’s fighter force for years to come. Here, F-16B serial 6614 – in ROCAF 80th anniversary markings – leads a formation of single-seaters over Kangshan. The operating unit for all of these jets is the 4th TFW at Chiayi AFB. Travis Chuang
The second part of this Force Report includes a full ORBAT and map and examines the ROCAF’s transport and liaison, search and rescue, and training assets and looks at prospects for the future.
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No 4 Squadron, RAAF
Controlling the fight Maintaining excellence in close air support is the raison d’être of No 4 Squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force. Phil Buckley reports from this unit of No 78 Wing at RAAF Base Williamtown, New South Wales to learn more of its specialist role.
ith four Pilatus PC-9/A(F) basic trainers on its books, No 4 Squadron is no ordinary training unit. Described as an air services integration squadron, it teaches personnel how to employ air power and support ground commanders in a close air support (CAS) environment. WGCDR Michael Duyvene de Wit is the commanding officer, overseeing a small but specialised and effective unit with six to ten aircrews and 25 uniformed maintenance staff, along with combat and logistics controllers, office and life-support staff. He told AFM: “4 Squadron is highly efficient due to very bright and capable personnel.” Duyvene de Wit’s career in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) started 20 years ago in air traffic control before he entered Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) training and joined the Forward Air Control Development Unit (FACDU), the previous identity of No 4 Squadron for planning and integrating JTAC operations. In his current role he drives the unit’s doctrine and updates policy with regard to modern
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forward air controller (FAC) and forward air controller (airborne) – FAC(A) – operations. “FAC(A) personnel specialise in airborne control of air assets in the sensor-to-shooter chain,” he explains. “FAC work has a lethal effect, marking a target with smoke or weapons if needed. Onboard and groundoperated equipment has evolved to include laser rangefinders, enhanced radios and aircraft systems, many of which are now digital systems; navigation, mapping, communications along with weapons systems.” Australia is one of 22 countries that have signed up to the JTAC Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) and is the first country outside the US to have accredited standardised FAC operations. “The standardisation elements of the squadron enable FAC(A)s and JTACs to work with the Joint Fire Support Unit in
the US and alongside other nations to ensure all FAC operations are co-ordinated,” says Duyvene de Wit.
Flying FAC SQNLDR Adrian Greener has been a pilot with the RAAF for more than 20 years. Having flown the Hornet at home, and on exchange with the US Marine Corps in 2000-02, he was posted to RAAF Base Pearce to become a qualified flying instructor (QFI) on the PC-9. He then moved to RAAF Base East Sale to join the Central Flying School (CFS) and flew two seasons with the RAAF’s Roulettes display team. In 2009 he joined the FACDU before it became No 4 Squadron, and is now a qualified FAC(A), having served as a PC-9/A(F) flight commander and squadron executive officer (XO). He’s currently filling a specialist aircrew role under a five-year scheme
This image: No 4 Squadron PC-9/A(F) A23-031 takes off from RAAF Base Tindal, Northern Territory, during Exercise Pitch Black 2016. The unit’s pilots are trained to replicate other close air support platforms including bombers, fighters, gunships, light attack aircraft or helicopters. CPL Terry Hartin/Commonwealth of Australia Inset: The commanding officer of No 4 Squadron, WGCDR Michael Duyvene de Wit. His 20 years’ RAAF service includes periods as an instructor with No 44 Wing – part of the Surveillance and Response Group – and as flight commander of his current squadron. Phil Buckley
that allows senior aircrews to remain in the cockpit. Talking about the unit’s PC-9/A(F), he says: “It’s not an operational FAC(A) platform, but it facilitates the training mission. Its long endurance in the battlespace allows you to build a high level of situational awareness with the land forces and their scheme of manoeuvre. “During a typical four-hour FAC sortie, I may see three or four Hornet formations come and go. Flying a platform with long endurance allows a FAC(A) to better serve the ground commander. Great visibility outside the cockpit enables good awareness in the battlespace and the three radios allow you to talk to multiple agencies. The 1970s-era [CAC CA-25] Winjeel hand-me-down smoke racks allow FAC(A)s to mark targets with coloured smoke canisters for the attacking aircraft.” Focusing on the PC-9, Greener notes: “They are well maintained, fatigue monitored and whilst the airframes aren’t pushed to their limits in the FAC role, they are getting old and we need to treat them nicely. The PC-9
Above: A No 4 Squadron PC-9/A(F) prepares to launch from RAAF Base Townsville, Queensland to conduct a sortie as part of Exercise Black Dagger, in 2016. ADF FAC(A) technology has changed over the years from the piston-engined Winjeel to the turboprop PC-9, itself scheduled for replacement by the PC-21. CPL Glen McCarthy/Commonwealth of Australia
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No 4 Squadron, RAAF
doesn’t have any digital systems, but we solved that problem by using lots of Velcro in the cockpit to mount a GPS and small tablets with mission information.” He also noted that the squadron’s four allocated aircraft were recently modified with night-vision goggle compatible lighting for flights in darkness. New pilots to No 4 Squadron take two years to become fully qualified in the role. They learn JTAC procedures before moving to the more complex FAC(A) work. Greener says: “4 Squadron pilots are trained to replicate RAAF and coalition air power assets ranging from F/A-18s to B-1 bombers, from attack helicopters to UAVs. The different capabilities of these aircraft means that JTACs and FAC(A)s have to be prepared to work with a range of different systems, sensors, weapons and operational employment tactics, techniques and procedures. “A JTAC locates the target and devises a game plan. If neither a JTAC or FAC(A) is available to control the mission, the time needed to get air support increases the risk Above: The ‘no frills’ cockpit of a PC-9/A(F). The Pilatus is prized for its excellent visibility outside the cockpit while internal modifications have added a GPS and small tablets with digital maps and missionrelated information. Phil Buckley
PC-9/A(F) A23-032 departs RAAF Base Townsville to conduct a sortie as part of Exercise Black Dagger 2016. The grey-painted FAC(A) version of the PC-9 can carry various external stores including smoke grenade dispensers for target marking. CPL Glen McCarthy/Commonwealth of Australia
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Left: PC-9/A(F) A23-032 undergoes maintenance in a hangar at No 4 Squadron’s RAAF Base Williamtown. The aircraft are serviced by A Flight, the squadron’s flight operations element. Phil Buckley Below: SQNLDR Adrian Greener with a PC-9/A(F) at RAAF Base Williamtown. Greener joined the RAAF in 1995 and after flight training was posted to No 3 Squadron on F/A-18 Hornets. He arrived at the then FACDU in 2009, after flying Airbus A330s and A340s as an airline pilot with Cathay Pacific. Phil Buckley
to friendly forces. During a troops-in-contact situation, weapons may be directed to impact very close to friendlies, so it is vital to have these specialists managing the mission.” Greener describes life in the cockpit during such missions: “The workload can get extremely busy, talking on three radios to multiple people, whether it’s the ground commander, a JTAC, the CAS aircraft, the fires network calling in artillery, or managing airspace deconfliction with a battlefield airspace controller. “JTACs on the ground significantly enhance the CAS mission by working together with a FAC(A), who may be flying either a fixedwing aircraft or an attack helicopter. The targets may be pre-planned days in advance or could be time critical. The ground commander delegates the mission to these experts who are under pressure to get the job done as quickly as possible.”
Williamtown operations The PC-9 has a low engine noise signature that is ideal when wheeling above the local ranges. WGCDR Duyvene de Wit says the unit’s operations wouldn’t be possible without the strong support of the local population. The main training range for No 4 Squadron is located at the Salt Ash bombing range. “PC-9 pilots can mimic other platforms such as bombers, fighters, gunships, light attack aircraft or helicopters and this training helps RAAF combat controllers requiring specialised training procedures to ensure operational capability under combat conditions.” The unit comprises three flights. A Flight is the flight operations element and maintains the aircraft. These carry smoke grenade dispensers for target marking plus specialised communications equipment enabling them to work seamlessly with JTACs. B Flight is the Combat Control Team. This includes combat controllers who are responsible for the JTAC function, which includes reconnaissance and advanced force operations. The role encompasses airspace management, landing zone reconnaissance, forward air control of offensive air support and aviation meteorology. C Flight provides JTAC standardisation and training for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) via a six-week course, run bi-annually for 30-plus students a year. In addition, No 4 Squadron works with Australian Army Aviation helicopter units, assisting with the training of and providing air liaison officers (ALOs).
From the cockpit “When a CAS aircraft first checks in, the FAC(A) initially acts as an air traffic controller, sending them to certain areas to hold, whilst deconflicting them from other airborne assets,” explains SQNLDR Greener. Additionally, aircraft need to be routed away from any friendly artillery, mortar trajectories and enemy threats. In the battlespace, the FAC(A) will conduct rapid mission planning to determine the best course of action – the ‘game plan’. This starts with the FAC(A) envisioning a 3D picture of how everything will play out. “They will take into account the CAS aircraft routing into and out of the target area, all the friendly locations and how best to avoid them, how the CAS aircraft will find the target, the preferred weapon and final attack heading [which has to be balanced against minimising collateral damage], and how threats will be avoided or suppressed.” Greener went on to describe a possible scenario. “A friendly force is under attack in a semi-urban environment. Troops-incontact are pinned down by enemy machinegun fire from a building and a mortar team has been observed setting up close by. The ground commander tells the JTAC to call in CAS, but due to the JTAC being involved in
As a No 4 Squadron PC-9/A(F) flies above, instructors and students on the JTAC course discuss possible target coordinates during Exercise Black Dagger at High Range, north Queensland, in 2016. In 2005 the then FACDU was recognised as the first non-US JTAC training organisation after gaining US Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) accreditation. CPL Glen McCarthy/Commonwealth of Australia
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No 4 Squadron, RAAF
Types of CAS There are three main types of CAS missions. Type 1: where the FAC is required to see the aircraft pointing at the desired target before giving a weapons release clearance. Type 2: used where the FAC can’t see the aircraft due to poor weather or lack of daylight. In this situation the attacking aircraft will call out its final attack heading. Type 3: used when there is more than one target to be attacked – such as a collection of armoured vehicles within a certain area. the ground fight, they request the assistance of a FAC(A) to control the mission. “Incoming CAS aircraft are handed over to the FAC(A) or JTAC from the E-7A Wedgetail, which is managing aircraft in the overall area. The FAC(A) will then take responsibility for deconflicting the CAS assets and he or she has the situational awareness of where the friendlies and targets are located and will transmit a quick game plan to the attacking aircraft to inform them which weapons to prepare for the engagement. “They then prepare a ‘CAS brief’ – also known as a nine-line brief – which outlines the vital information required to execute the attack. This contains items such as the holding point to run in from, target co-ordinates, a target description, how the target will be marked and where friendly forces are located. Once the details are read back the FAC(A) gives clearance to release weapons, ensuring that the attacking aircraft’s crew has identified the correct location either visually or on the targeting pod – they are then ‘cleared hot’ for the attack.” All the while the airborne team is updating the ground commander and giving warning of impending weapons impacts. “During operations, enemy forces can be metres away from friendly locations,” added Greener. “These situations can be designated ‘dangerclose’. Such situations require a heightened sense of awareness to ensure friendly forces are protected and the ground commander has to make the final decision to accept the risk associated with such a situation.”
A PC-9/A(F) taxies out of the ordnance loading area at RAAF Base Townsville. The PC-9/A(F) has very respectable endurance with its external fuel tanks. The longest sortie flown by the squadron at the time of AFM’s visit was six-and-a-half hours. SGT Guy Young/Commonwealth of Australia
maintainer on the PC-9. He told AFM: “4 Squadron does things differently to the fighter units with regard to maintenance as we have a smaller workforce. An average week usually entails flight line duties and minor rectifications before flight, any unscheduled repairs, deeper scheduled servicing, and any fault troubleshooting.” He remarks on a particular fondness for the PC-9’s simpler systems. “Sometimes issues will pop up that are more complex or require harder work, but having a smaller work force means better team cohesion and communication so we can work together to solve most problems.” He adds: “We aim to fix problems within a two-hour window and return the aircraft to flying status. “In some cases, we are required to pull systems off the airframe to find what is going wrong. If any problems are drawn out we may cancel flying for the day. For complex faults we brainstorm and try to figure out the problem using a combination of experience and publication notes.”
In 2016, No 4 Squadron celebrated its 100th anniversary. Looking towards the future, the unit clearly has an important role to play in an evolving RAAF. WGCDR Duyvene de Wit says: “Current plans see four PC-21s being modified to replace the PC-9/A(F), which is coming to the end of its useable life. The squadron will modify and utilise the PC-21 system along with reviewing how it will be employed”. The future here looks secure, and the squadron will continue training FAC(A) aircrew – along with groundbased JTACs/combat controllers – to meet Australia’s defence needs. AFM
Acknowledgements: The author wishes to thank WGCDR Michael Duyvene de Wit, SQNLDR Adrian Greener, CPL Jordan Thomson and Jacqueline Payne, Strategic Communications, Air Combat Group for their assistance in producing this feature.
No 4 Squadron patches
A focused team The personnel of No 4 Squadron are well aware of their niche but important role. CPL Jordan Thomson is an aircraft
Phil Buckley Below: A No 4 Squadron PC-9/A(F) taxies to the runway at RAAF Base Tindal, during Exercise Pitch Black 2016. In the background is Learjet 35A VH-OVB, operated under contract to provide training support for ADF exercises. CPL Terry Hartin/Commonwealth of Australia
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5° Reggimento Aviazione dell’Esercito ‘Rigel’
avenger The Italian Army’s 5° Reggimento Aviazione dell’Esercito ‘Rigel’ flies the powerful AH-129 Mangusta, iconic UH-205A ‘Huey’ and the allnew UH-90A. Robin Coenders, Roy van Sonsbeek and Niels Roman head to northern Italy to meet its aviators.
n the foothills of the Alps, the village of Casarsa della Delizia is home to the Aviazione dell’Esercito (AVES, Italian Army Aviation) airfield ‘Francesco Baracca’, named after the famous World War One ace. Today, the base is occupied by the 5° Reggimento Aviazione dell’Esercito ‘Rigel’, made up of two flying groups – the 27° Gruppo Squadroni ‘Mercurio’ and 49° Gruppo Squadroni ‘Capricorno’ – and their support element, the Gruppo di Sostegno al Volo ‘Lupo’. Founded on January 1, 1976, the 5° Reggimento AVES was the result of a merger between the 5° Reparto Elicotteri Uso Generale (5th General Purpose Helicopter Group) and the 5° Raggruppamento dell’Aviazione Leggera (5th Light Aircraft Unit). Initially, the new-look 5° Reggimento
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consisted of two gruppos (squadrons): the 55° Gruppo ‘Dragone’, equipped with AB204s and AB205s, and the 25° Gruppo ‘Cigno’, operating AB206s and fixed-wing L-19E Bird Dogs. In 1985 the 49° Gruppo joined the regiment. Initially, this squadron was equipped with AB206s, but these were phased out in 1992 when the Mangusta attack helicopter entered service. After an extensive reorganisation, the 55° and 25° Gruppo were merged and renamed as the 27° Gruppo ‘Mecurio’, leaving the regiment with just two flying squadrons once again.
Mountain ‘Huey’ The 27° Gruppo Squadroni ‘Mercurio’ currently operates the single-engine UH-205A, a licence-built version of the Bell UH-1H. In
Italian Army service, the ‘Huey’ is used in the medical evacuation (medevac), logistics and tactical assault roles. It’s capable of carrying 2,205lb (1,000kg) of cargo inside the cabin and can lift an externalslung load of up to 3,968lb (1,800kg). For tactical missions the UH-205A can be equipped with the M23 system, which adds weapons on the sides of the helicopter. In this configuration the UH-205A is armed with a 70mm rocket launcher and a Beretta MG 42/59 7.62mm machine gun on each side of the cabin. When flying with armament, the standard crew of two pilots and a crew chief/gunner is supplemented by a second gunner to operate the sidemounted machine guns. At the same time, the helicopter can deploy a fully equipped weapons squad, and such teams are often deployed to secure landing sites to make it safe for an incoming medevac helicopter. In future, all these tasks will be transferred to the UH-205A’s successor – the UH-90A,
Aircrew and infantry embark in UH-90A MM81545 ‘E.I.228’ – one of the first examples delivered to the 27° Gruppo Squadroni. Gian Carlo Vecchi/Francesco Militello Mirto
AH-129D MM81404 ‘E.I.934’ in its element – at low level near the regiment’s Casarsa della Delizia home. The helicopter carries a single Spike-ER anti-tank missile under the starboard stub wing. Niels Roman
Above: Serial MM80725 ‘E.I.354’ is one of 27° Gruppo Squadroni’s veteran AB205A-1 aircraft. The type will eventually be retired in favour of the UH-90A. Robin Coenders Below: Mangusta pilots are trained to operate from both seats because the helicopter can be flown from either position. However, it is normally flown from the back seat, as the targeting systems and missiles can only be operated from the front. Niels Roman
the first of which was delivered to the 27° Gruppo Squadroni on June 24 last year. Col Stefano Angioni, commander of ‘Rigel’ until last December, told AFM: “The introduction of this new helicopter is one of the challenges I had to meet as commander, together with my colleagues. It means moving from an aircraft that has given so much, to completely new technology, requiring a change of mentality and of flight-line management.”
Capricorn rising The second flying unit based at Casarsa della Delizia is the 49° Gruppo Squadroni ‘Capricorno’. This unit flies the AH-129 Mangusta attack helicopter in both the C and D variants. The AH-129 was the first aircraft of its type to be completely designed and manufactured in Western Europe and employs the typical crew configuration of pilot and co-pilot/gunner seated in tandem. The AH-129 is considerably smaller than other rotorcraft in its class, making it much harder to detect visually. Lt Col Salvadori, commander of the 27° Gruppo Squadroni,
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5° Reggimento Aviazione dell’Esercito ‘Rigel’
An upgraded AH-129D leads an AH-129C through a river valley in the Alpine foothills. All Italian Army C-models will eventually be upgraded to ‘Delta’ standard. Robin Coenders
explained: “We often hear from our NATO colleagues that we are barely visible. We are fully aware of this feature and make good use of it during combat. Compared to the American-built attack helicopters we are less heavily armoured, but our smaller size makes it much more difficult to shoot at us. Knowing that we aren’t so well protected means we adopt other tactics.” The older AH-129C version is equipped with the HeliTOW system and TOW (Tubelaunched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided) missiles. In the upgraded AH-129D model the HeliTOW is replaced by the Rafael Advanced Defense Systems TopLite III sight and the TOW missiles give way to the Spike-ER, a fourth-generation anti-tank missile that greatly enhances the helicopter’s capabilities. The other main differences between the C and D models are found in the cockpit: a glass cockpit for the AH-129D in contrast to the analogue instruments of the AH-129C, and the weapon targeting system (a rounded sensor turret on the AH-129D versus the bulkier turret on the AH-129C). The D-model’s improved targeting system can slave the optics to where the pilot is looking, allowing for much easier and faster target identification.
Training regime After initial training to become army pilots, and selection for the Mangusta, 49° Gruppo Squadroni aviators transfer to Casarsa della Delizia to study specific Mangusta systems with the Centro Formazione Equipaggi (CFE, Crew Formation Centre). A simulator is available to assist this tuition, including the functions of the co-pilot/gunner. Although not a fullmotion simulator, the 3D screen provides trainees with the sensation of flight. Even experienced pilots must periodically return to the simulator to retain full qualifications that include firing a synthetic missile.
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Flying the ‘Delta’ Lt Col Pietro Linciano, commander of the 49° Gruppo Squadroni ‘Capricorno’ described the unit’s experience with the AH-129, including activities in Afghanistan: “Operations in Afghanistan include all kinds of support to ground troops: pre-planned activities, airmobile or mechanised operations, and intervention to support our troops – or troops of the coalition – under enemy fire. The ’129 is also included in the plan for the defence of the base at Herat. “For training, we are now running a new syllabus known as Airmobile Permanent Training, which aims to set up a continuing ‘playground’ to train not just regiments or the task force about to leave for Afghanistan, but all brigade assets. This aims to avoid the monotony and routine of the usual missions and create something that is different each time. Variations are introduced during training activities, so the crews’ attention is always at the highest level.
“The new ‘Delta’ version offers better operational capacity – the obsolete TOW missile system is replaced by the Israeli Spike system, which allows ‘fire and forget’ engagements. Target detection and identification are much improved. Now we begin to see a potential target at 10 miles and then, of course, we have to get down to 5 to 6km for identification. Overall, we have much greater margins than we did before. “In Afghanistan the ‘Delta’ faced the teething problems common for a new aircraft. Because the fire control system and some of the avionics were modified, there has been a series of adjustments. Employment in an operational theatre is welcome, as it allows us to test the accuracy of fire, data, and so on. In terms of engines and performance, nothing has changed – only some minor modifications to the software that manages the aircraft.” Gian Carlo Vecchi/Francesco Militello Mirto
5° Reggimento AVES – operational deployments United Nations Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG)
European Community Monitor Mission
United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon (UNIFIL)
1979 – current
International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)
2015 – current
2016 – current
‘Wolf’ maintenance Most of the maintenance for the helicopters of both squadrons is conducted on the base by the Gruppo di Sostegno al Volo ‘Lupo’ – ‘wolf’. Providing logistic and technical support, the squadron handles both the smaller inspections and scheduled line maintenance. For this work, one of the old hangars at Casarsa della Delizia has been completely refurbished to meet current safety and working standards. The helicopters receive minor maintenance after every flight, either on the flight line or in one of the hangars where they are kept overnight. When major overhauls and modifications are due, the AH-129s are sent to a secondlevel Italian Army Aviation maintenance facility in Bergamo, which is also where they are upgraded from C to D standard.
Combat employment The UH-205As and AH-129s (and now UH-90As) are part of the same regiment, both under the command of the Brigata Aeromobile ‘Friuli’ (Airmobile Brigade ‘Friuli’) – together with 7° Reggimento AVES ‘Vega’. However, the units at Casarsa della Delizia have never deployed together. In recent years the 5° Reggimento AVES has been heavily utilised in Afghanistan and Iraq. One of the more memorable combat actions of 5° Reggimento AVES personnel occurred in 2016 when a convoy including a group of tourists was attacked by Taliban insurgents in a remote area 50 miles (80km) east of Herat, Afghanistan. The tourists were able to radio for help, and the Italian Army contingent in Afghanistan was called to rescue them. In a textbook action demonstrating the professionalism and capabilities of the AVES, a small task force of two UH-90s and two AH-129s took off from Herat, swiftly locating the convoy and rescuing all the tourists. With the ‘Huey’ now being replaced by the much more capable UH-90, and the upgrade programme for the AH-129 well under way, the regiment’s future is looking bright. AFM
Acknowledgements: Thanks to the personnel of the 5° Reggimento AVES, the Italian Army HQ and the Italian MoD for their support in creating this article.
Top: A Mangusta wheels away while providing escort to UH90A MM81545 ‘E.I.228’. The UH-90A is armed with a 7.62mm Minigun in the cabin doorway. Gian Carlo Vecchi/Francesco Militello Mirto Above: Maintainers from Gruppo di Sostegno al Volo ‘Lupo’ work on an AH-129C at Casarsa della Delizia. Note the tworound TOW missile pack under the stub wing. Roy van Sonsbeek Below: Two combat medics prepare to load a simulated casualty on board a ‘Mercurio’ UH-90A while a pair of infantrymen provide covering fire. Gian Carlo Vecchi/Francesco Militello Mirto
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1 Squadron Belgian Air Component
A 1 Squadron F-16AM gets ‘down in the weeds’ during low-flying training in the UK. The squadron was created by royal decree signed by King Albert I on April 16, 1913 and its current callsign is ‘Stinger’. Robin Coenders
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Roy van Sonsbeek and Niels Roman look back at the highpoints in the history of 1 Squadron of the Belgian Air Component, which celebrated 100 years of operations last year.
he official line is that 1 Squadron of the Belgian Air Component turned 100 last year, but in fact this year is the unit’s 105th birthday having been formed in 1913 when, by royal decree, the aviation and balloon squadrons were separated from the army. The unit, often referred to as ‘a la première’, set up its base at Brasschaat, a small village near Antwerp, and its early role was observation and artillery support. This changed when World War One broke out and the unit’s role morphed into one of observation of the front lines and the aerial defence of Antwerp. The rapid advance of German forces saw 1 Squadron forced to operate out of France
briefly, however it soon relocated to Kerkepanne near Koksijde in order to be closer to the front line. On April 17, 1917, Ferdinand Jacquet scored the first air-to-air kill in the unit’s history, an action of such significance that it hailed 1 Squadron as the Belgian Air Force’s first fighter unit. Jacquet would also become the first Belgian ace and by the end of World War One he was credited with seven confirmed victories in 126 aerial battles and is the only Belgian pilot ever to have been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC). The squadron also adopted its Scottish thistle symbol in 1917 when another ace, André De Meulemeester, was inspired by the Scots Guards after they were involved in some of the fiercest battles of the war. Along with the symbol came the motto: ‘Nemo me impune lacessit’ – ‘No one can attack me unpunished’. The two endure to this day, as does the nickname ‘Stingers’. The air force had initially flown a variety of types, but the force was standardised in 1920 following an order for 108 Nieuport-
Delage NiD29c1 aircraft. The Neuports were flown by the ‘Stingers’ until 1931 when they were replaced by the Fairey Firefly. In 1939, the Hawker Hurricane came on strength when 20 arrived from Royal Air Force stocks. In the event, 15 Hurricanes were delivered to the ‘Stingers’, being supplemented with British aircraft that made emergency landings in Belgium and were interned by the Belgian Air Force. On May 10, 1940, as German troops invaded Belgium, the airfield at Schaffen, the home of 1 Squadron at that time, was bombed. Two Hurricanes were able to escape the onslaught, but the remainder were destroyed. Nine of the unit’s pilots managed to escape to England and joined the RAF where they would continue the fight against the Germans. Post-war the ‘Stingers’ re-formed as 351 Squadron at Florennes air base, on February 25, 1948, being renamed as 1 Fighter Bomber Squadron with the North American T-6 and the Supermarine Spitfire FXIV. The following years saw a succession of types, from the entry into the jet era with the Republic F-84E Thunderjet in 1951, the F-84G and then in 1955 the swept-wing F-84F Thunderstreak. After 16 years of flying the charismatic Thunderstreak the ‘Stingers’ moved to the supersonic Dassault Mirage 5, also embracing a decidedly multi-role mission in doing so. It also saw a move from Florennes to Bierset, near Liège. The Mirage was popular and flown for the next 18 years, during which they deployed to Diyarbakır, Turkey in 1991 to assist in air defence during Operation Desert Storm.
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Era of the ‘Viper’ March 1989 was a significant time for the ‘Stingers’ as the unit marked its last flights with the Mirage 5 and the beginning of conversion to the General Dynamics F-16A/B Fighting Falcon as Belgium cemented its role as one of the core members of the European Participating Air Forces (EPAF). The move to the F-16 saw the unit return to Florennes alongside 2 Squadron, initially becoming a specialist ground-attack unit. This, in turn, meant it was the ‘Stingers’ that were first called upon to deploy to Villafranca, Italy, in 1995 to support Operation Decisive Endeavour in support of NATO ground forces operating in former Yugoslavia. A change in doctrine, budgetary restrictions and improved capabilities saw the Belgian F-16 squadrons take on a multi-role stance – with the ‘Stingers’ assuming the air-to-air and reconnaissance duties – the latter having been lost with the retirement of the venerable Mirage 5. Once again, 1 Squadron led the way, able to fly such missions by day and at night. The recce task with the F-16 was initially undertaken with the Orpheus pod, procured from the Royal Netherlands Air Force, which was then replaced by the Danish Per Udsen Modular Recce Pod (MRP). Today, tactical reconnaissance is flown using the Lockheed Martin Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod, with imagery of sufficient resolution to glean the required data. Indeed, 1 Squadron is unique in being the only Belgian Air Component unit with a specific imagery analysis office.
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Path to the ‘Viper’ Aspiring young cadets with ambitions of flying the ‘Viper’ start their flying training with 5 Squadron at Beauvechain on the SF260M+/D for around 20 hours of elementary work. Those streamed for the F-16 then head for Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training (ENJJPT) at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, which has picked up this phase from the Belgian Air Component Alpha Jets at Cazaux, France. They then join the F-16 Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) at Kleine Brogel air base, ready to join one of the four frontline squadrons; often the French-speaking pilots will go to Florennes and the Flemish pilots to Kleine Brogel. When the pilots arrive, they are designated as being basic combat ready and are limited to quick reaction alert (QRA) missions and training development. The Combat Ready Wingman Course (CRWC) takes around eight months to complete and qualifies pilots to deploy on missions abroad.
‘Stingers’ today More recently, the Belgian Air Component F-16AM/BM (Mid-Life Upgrade) squadrons have been on an operational cycle in and out of Jordan, supporting the mission against so-called Islamic State (IS). The main focus has been close air support, as Capt ‘PeC’ (real name withheld for security reasons) details. “For a typical CAS mission above Iraq we would first start the mission with a complete briefing on the tactical situation of the area of interest. The intelligence personnel of the squadron prepare this briefing together with a ground liaison officer who is monitoring the evolution of the campaign. This gives us the big picture of the theatre. After that, they give us the specific details of our mission, such as the time slot for our CAS, the tanker callsigns, etc. “Once we have all this information we prepare the mission material. The
‘Stingers’ F-16 combat record Deployed period
Allied Force/Joint Guardian
Baltic Air Policing
International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)
Baltic Air Policing
Right: F-16AM FA-57 blasts off from Florennes air base, which has been home to the ‘Stingers’ since 1948. In the intervening years, the airfield has hosted 1 Squadron’s Spitfires, F-84 Thunderjets, F-84F Thunderstreaks and today’s Fighting Falcons. Ron Kellenaers Left: Specially marked F-16AM FA-132 pairs up with Polish Air Force MiG-29A ‘56’. The squadron’s Scottish thistle insignia appeared for the first time in August 1917 when the unit received its new Hanriot HD-1 fighters at Les Moëres airfield. FA-132 flew for the first time in its new scheme on May 12 last year. Belgian MoD Armed F-16AM FA-83 deployed to Muwaffaq Salti Air Base (MSAB), near Azraq, Jordan, for Inherent Revolve. The jet is carrying a 500lb GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bomb, centreline AN/ALQ-131 electronic countermeasures pod, Sniper pod, 340 US gallon external fuel tanks and a pair of wingtip AIM120 AMRAAMs. Belgian MoD
formation leader then briefs the flight [around two hours prior to take-off] and this covers all the specifics of the mission, from the basic overview to the weapon employment and contingencies.” The pilots usually step to the jets about an hour prior to take-off for external checks – with extra time allocated to examine the live weapons. The jets tend to get airborne and head straight to the tanker for a first refuelling slot. “We always start the mission by a tanker to maximise our time on station,” says Capt ‘PeC’. “Once refuelled, we proceed to the area of interest and check in with the Joint Terminal Attack Controller [JTAC] who will co-ordinate the use of air power to the benefit of the ground forces. “While we are on station, we will look for any suspicious activity nearby the points of interest given by the JTAC and report if we spot
Above: FB-22 is one of the squadron’s two-seat F-16BMs and is seen carrying the recently received AIM-9X Sidewinder. The new version of the missile began to replace the previous AIM-9M last September, when the first live rounds were delivered. Robin Coenders Below: Final checks for FA-97 before it departs Florennes on a training sortie. The standard equipment for a QRA mission above Benelux territory comprises two AIM-120 AMRAAMs and two AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles. Roy van Sonsbeek
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1 Squadron Belgian Air Component
anything. At any moment, the ground forces can request the employment of our weapons, for a case of self-defence for instance. In a case of weapon employment, we always make sure that the intervention respects our rules of engagement and ensure that we don’t cause collateral damage. “During a single CAS mission, we refuel every hour and in doing so, we ensure we keep the required fuel to safely come back to our FOB [forward operating base] in case the tanker becomes unavailable.” Once back at base, the debrief process starts almost immediately. “We start with a mission report with the intelligence personnel and in the case of a kinetic event, we will analyse it and make a complete report about the attack – looking specifically [to see] if the desired weapons effect was met and that we did not miss anything relevant [while] airborne. We share this report with coalition and our national staff.” The overall day for a profile such as this can last ten hours, from reporting in to
clocking off. When asked about the biggest differences compared with flying at home in Florennes, Capt ‘PeC’ explained: “Flying-wise, it doesn’t change much. The biggest changes are the live weapons. Every mission briefing focuses on the possible contingencies above enemy territory – the worst case being an ejection. We want to make sure that the crew is mentally prepared for the operational mission.” The Belgian mission in Jordan ended late last year as the Royal Netherlands Air Force took over the reins. Over the past 100 years, the ‘Stingers’ have always been ready for the fight and will be for the foreseeable future. As Belgium looks towards a new era and an F-16 fighter replacement, 1 Squadron will once again be at the forefront and leading the charge. AFM
Florennes celebrated its 70th anniversary as a Belgian military air base last September 22 and adorned the fin of F-16AM FA-135 with a special colour scheme including the 2nd Tactical Wing’s wild boar insignia and the last two letters of the airfield’s ICAO code – EBFS. Ron Kellenaers
F-16AM FA-127 hurtles through one of the UK’s low-flying areas. The Belgian ‘Viper’ airframes have the potential for 8,000 flying hours and some are already beyond 5,000. Robin Coenders
Returning from an air-to-ground training sortie, F-16AM FA-92 carries an SUU-20/A under the wing. This is a combined bomb dispenser and rocket launcher capable of delivering four 2.75in rockets and six practice bombs. Niels Roman
The ‘Stingers’ now have a new website (www.1sqn.be) and Facebook page.
Top left: A ‘Stingers’ pilot in his ‘office’ – F-16AM FA-132. Note the 1 Squadron 100th anniversary patch and the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System, which was first delivered to Belgium in 2008. Niels Roman Inset: James Lawrence Below: ‘Stingers’ meet ‘The Ton’. The RAF’s No 100 Squadron, based at RAF Leeming, North Yorkshire, was another unit that celebrated its centenary last year. Here, Hawk T1As XX285 ‘CK’ and XX346 ‘CP’ accompany F-16AM FA132 during the Tactical Weapons Meet held at Florennes in 2017. Belgian MoD
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Berievs The once mighty fleet of Be-12 amphibians operated by the Russian naval air arm has dwindled to just a handful. Alexander Mladenov provides an overview of the last survivors.
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he Voyenno-Morskoy Flot Rossiyskoy Federatsii (VMF, Russian Navy) includes a few obsolescent and exotic aircraft types. Without doubt, the twinturboprop Beriev Be-12 Tchaika (seagull) is the most unusual. Still in regular service with the Black Sea Fleet, the veteran aircraft continues its search and rescue (SAR), anti-
submarine warfare (ASW), maritime patrol and peacetime fleet-support duties. This odd-looking high-wing/twin-turboprop amphibian – also known by its NATO reporting name Mail and nicknamed Bekha by the Russian pilots and technicians who fly and maintain it – serves with the 318th Smeshannoy Aviatsionniy Polk (SAP, composite aviation regiment). The unit is stationed at Kacha airfield near the main Black Sea Fleet base in Sevastopol on the Crimean peninsula. On October 12, 2013, Be-12PS ‘Yellow 18’ (c/n 3602903) experienced engine failure and was involved in a fatal crash on go-around at Kacha. Russia’s entire Mail fleet was grounded as a result. The same year, plans were announced to replace the Be-12 with the four-engined – but equally outdated – Il-38 May landplane. This failed to happen for various reasons, mainly due to a shortage of serviceable
Above: Be-12N ‘Yellow 28’ was the first of the type overhauled at the EARZ plant in Yevpatoria and was redelivered to the 318th SAP in December 2016. Left: The Black Sea Fleet still prizes its small and rather antiquated Be-12 fleet employed for various frontline and support duties. The refurbished ‘Mails’ are expected to serve until the early 2020s, with no replacement yet in sight. Far left: To date, six Be-12s have been cycled through overhaul in Taganrog and Yevpatoria to extend their service lives. Work was completed between 2014 and 2017. All photos Andrey Zinchuk
year. There’s no confirmation of any follow-on orders for Be-12 refurbishment at the EARZ. aircraft within the two main fleets using the type – the Northern and Pacific. Furthermore, the VMF still considered the amphibian Be-12 useful, especially for operations in the Black Sea. The surviving Mails were in good technical condition in terms of corrosion and fatigue and it was determined that their service life could be extended up to 50 years. Consequently, the VMF command authorities decided to go ahead with an in-depth refurbishment programme for its small Be-12 fleet. Five aircraft were initially cycled through an airframe and systems overhaul at the TANTK Beriev plant in Taganrog while also receiving reworked engines and propellers. This relatively affordable effort ensured the amphibians could keep flying until the early 2020s.
The airframes currently operated by the VMF – or kept in storage and deemed suitable for refurbishment – were produced between 1970 and 1973 but have been little-used, logging between 3,000 and 7,000 flight hours each. The first of the five machines overhauled in Taganrog were returned to regular service in November 2014 and the last example was handed over to the VMF the following July. At this point, Be-12 overhaul was transferred to the EARZ aviation repair plant at Yevpatoria in Crimea. The first aircraft, ‘Yellow 28’ (wearing the Russian state aircraft registration RF-12012) arrived at the plant in June 2015 and work was completed in December 2016. The second Mail overhauled at the EARZ, ‘Yellow 76’, was handed over to the 318th SAP in November last
Mission profiles The Black Sea Fleet uses the Be-12 for ASW escort of convoys of military and commercial ships, SAR at extended ranges, support of missile and artillery firing practice by both ships and coastal artillery units, maritime surveillance, and reconnaissance. The multi-role amphibians are in high demand for their support services in particular. Be-12s are employed for shipand land-based air defence live-fire training. In this role, they drop radar-reflective and heat-emitting illumination bombs, these aerial targets descending slowly on parachutes. One of the Be-12’s most unusual missions is to bomb coastal targets in level flight. According to local media, this combat mission was last practised during a large-scale exercise
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Russian Be-12 Mission suite
VMF Be-12 fleet Version
on the Opuk range in Crimea in July last year. Together with An-26 transports, the Mail operated like a Second World War-style makeshift bomber. The same month, Be-12s – together with Ka-27 helicopters from the 318th SAP – were involved in an anti-submarine exercise. Flying out of Anapa airfield, the Be-12s were tasked to protect Novorossiysk naval base and also to search for combat divers being covertly inserted along the coastline.
Black Sea monsters The Be-12 made its first flight in 1960; production was launched in 1963 and continued for ten years. Including prototypes, 143 examples rolled out of the Taganrog Aviation Plant in southern Russia. During the communist era the Be-12 fleet was tasked with anti-submarine and sea surveillance duties up to 270nm (500km) from base, serving with all Soviet fleets. The aircraft has a combat radius of 324-351nm (600-650km) including patrol of an assigned area for three hours. The Be-12’s distinctive airframe includes a high-wing monoplane of sharply cranked configuration. The all-metal fuselage has two long strakes, one above the other, on each side to prevent spray reaching the propellers when taking off from water. The retractable undercarriage utilises a steerable tailwheel while non-retractable wingtip pods provide stability when taxiing on water. While afloat, draught is 5ft (1.54m) with undercarriage retracted. Side hatches in the rear of the cabin
allow for loading and off-loading while afloat. The fuselage is divided into ten watertight compartments and all doors and hatches are sealed with compressed air hoses. The powerplant consists of two Ivchenko AI-20D Series 4 turboprops, each rated at 5,180shp (3,863kW), driving AV-68D fourblade variable-pitch propellers. Fuel tanks in the wings and fuselage provide a total capacity of 2,420 imp gal (11,000 lit); an auxiliary fuel tank can be installed in the cargo compartment in the rear cabin, adding 434 imp gal (1,800 lit). There’s also provision for refuelling from ships while the aircraft is afloat. The flight deck is crewed by a pilot and co-pilot, while the navigator sits in a glazed station in the nose. A radio operator is accommodated in the rear cabin. The two pilots are provided with ejection seats. The Be-12’s maximum take-off weight is 79,344lb (36,000kg) and empty weight is 52,896lb (24,000kg). Maximum level speed is 297kts, cruising speed is 243kts and patrolling speed is 172kts. Range with maximum fuel load is 2,157nm (4,000km). Despite its full amphibious capability, it’s understood that VMF aircrews no longer practise operations from water. Water takeoff/landing procedures impose a lot of stress on the Mail airframe – reportedly three to four times greater than during operations from concrete runways. Amphibious work also requires very precise handling from the pilots.
Two Be-12 sub-variants remain in military service in Russia. Both feature a somewhat antiquated mission suite centred on the powerful Initsiativa-2B centimetre-wavelength search radar installed in the distinctive thimble radome above the nose glazing. The radar is used for maritime surveillance and offshore navigation, particularly in poor weather conditions over the Black Sea. Although it employs obsolescent vacuum tube electronics technology it is still effective – it’s claimed to possess a 136nm (220km) detection range against large surface ships, 5.4-11nm (1020km) range for a submarine periscope and 8nm (15km) range for life-raft detection, with the aircraft flying at up to 660ft (200m) altitude. The Initsiativa-2B is also utilised for bomb aiming and torpedo drops in bad weather and at night when the attack run is performed without visual contact of the target. It can also provide a useful coastline picture in two display scales – a feature highly prized for in-shore navigation in bad weather. The radar antenna scans within a 180-degree arc in azimuth in the forward hemisphere, and the arc can also be reduced to 90 degrees. The PPS-12N Nartsis analogue ASW suite equips the Be-12N version. This aircraft is the most advanced ASW derivative and was first tested in 1976. The PPS-12N includes the Nartsis-12 sighting/data processor device integrated with the radar (to provide data for sonobuoy/depth charge or guided torpedo release), SPARU-55 automatic radio receiver (for signals emitted by the sonobuoys), Nara multi-channel UHF receiver and APD PK-025 data link in addition to an improved Initsiativa-BN radar. The list of ’buoys available for the Be-12N includes the omni-directional RGB-NM and RGBNM-1 and the passive directional RBG-2. The APM-73S magnetic anomaly detector (MAD) is housed in a ‘sting’ fairing that
Above: The Be-12’s main sensor is the nose-mounted Initsiativa-2B radar – still relevant for the maritime patrol and SAR role. It also facilitates aiming for bomb and torpedo drops on radar-contact targets without the need for visual contact. Right: The Be-12 features a boat-style hull and a high-wing monoplane layout with a sharply cranked configuration in order to provide enough clearance for the big propellers when operating from the water surface. Note the tail ‘sting’ for the APM-73S magnetic anomaly detector.
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The 318th SAP fleet currently includes seven ‘Mails’ in a serviceable state – four of these are Be12PS SAR versions, two are Be-12Ns and one is this Be-12 outfitted with an ASW mission suite but also retaining SAR and maritime patrol capabilities.
extends rearwards from the tail. It has limited range for submarine detection, not exceeding 1,300ft (400m) at a search speed of 162-173kts (300-320km/h) and at 330ft (100m) altitude. A total of 27 Be-12s were upgraded to the enhanced Be-12N standard at the aviation repair plant in Yevpatoria during the late 1970s. Currently, two remain in active service, together with one ‘vanilla’ Be-12, equipped with the older PPS-12 ASW suite.
Weapons options The Be-12’s normal warload is 3,300lb (1,500kg), increasing to a maximum of 6,600lb (3,000kg). The internal weapons bay in the bottom of the hull, aft of the step, can
accommodate PLAB-250-120 and PLAB50 depth charges (to attack submerged submarines), SAB series illuminating bombs, OMAB-25-8N and OMAB-25-12D day/night marker bombs, or up to three AT-1/1M/2 or UGMT-1 Orlan guided anti-submarine torpedoes, on four hardpoints. The Mail can be armed with OFAB series fragmentation/ high-explosive bombs, weighing up to 550lb (250kg) each, and employed against ground and sea surface targets. Each wing panel contains one large and one smaller external stores pylon for carrying marker bomb packs. Visual aiming for bomb, depth charge, torpedo, ’buoy and life raft drops is undertaken by the navigator using an NPKB-7 collimator sight.
SAR version The Be-12PS is the dedicated SAR version, which is also suitable for maritime patrol. Ten were built between 1971 and 1973, while four more were added by converting existing Be-12 airframes, stripped of ASW equipment and fitted with SAR gear. The aircraft is able to accommodate up to 15 survivors, increasing to 29 in ‘overload’ configuration. Mission equipment includes PSN6A rescue rafts, an LAS-5 inflatable motor boat and up to eight KAS-90 droppable containers with rescue kits. The Be-12PS retains the ability to drop illumination and marker bombs. Currently, four of the SAR version remain in the active inventory of the 318th SAP. AFM
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Commander’s Update Briefing
A company-operated Saab 2000 AEW&C launches an impressive salvo of infrared defensive flares. In future conflicts, AEW aircraft and other highvalue assets could be at the mercy of evermore sophisticated air defences and long-range missiles. Saab/Peter Liander
Airborne command and control Air Power Association President, Air Marshal (ret’d) Greg Bagwell CB CBE, reflects on airborne early warning, a little understood mission that is nonetheless vital to modern coalition warfare operations. Right: An AEW capability is a prerequisite for all largescale coalition air operations, although such aircraft are increasingly being used for roles other than defensive air surveillance. Here, a USAF E-3 Sentry prepares to receive fuel from a KC-135R Stratotanker over Syria last April. USAF/Tech Sgt Paul Labbe
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any readers will be familiar with the iconic appearance of an E-3 Sentry AWACS aircraft, and its giant frisbee-like radar, but far fewer will be aware of what goes on inside the aircraft and the critical role it has played in air power over the last few decades. AWACS stands for Airborne Warning and Control System, a function that is more often shortened to AEW, or airborne early warning. The airborne and early warning element simply refers to the fact that an airborne radar is both able to position well forward of ground-based systems and also exploit the aircraft’s altitude to extend its detection range even further. Importantly, in a well-regulated international domain that relies
Above: Russia has traditionally employed its AEW assets for control of longrange interceptors, but recent deployment of the A-50 to Syria suggests this role is being expanded. This is an A-100, which will replace the older ‘Mainstay’, and is equipped with the Premier mission system. This includes a radar that’s scanned mechanically in azimuth and electronically in elevation. Beriev
is not exclusively focused on the threat of enemy aircraft, as has largely been the case for the last few decades.
Air power in the information age
“Future conflicts against peer or near-peer threats will place widebodied, manned aircraft under significant threat – indeed the speed and ranges of modern surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles now make conventional ISTAR and airborne C2 platforms very vulnerable”
more and more on co-operative secondary sources of location through identification friend or foe (IFF) transponder codes, a physical primary return from a radar is essential against uncooperative airborne contacts. The fundamental concept of an AEW platform is simply to detect airborne systems at the furthest possible range, and so enable early identification, classification and, if necessary, interception by vectoring on fighter aircraft. Fighter or air battle controllers on board the AEW aircraft perform exactly the same function as their earth-bound colleagues, but with the obvious advantage of the increased detection capability. But this type of aircraft can perform a far broader role, especially if controller capacity
Modern air power is increasingly reliant on close co-ordination and sharing information over data networks or voice communications. Although most modern air operations are ultimately commanded and controlled from static groundbased air operations centres, an airborne control node can provide a tactical hub which can enable air missions to be executed in a more decentralised way. Increasingly, today’s combat aircraft are able to download their own situational awareness (SA) through data link networks, but the management of these voice and data networks, and the information fed into them, is often a complex and labour-intensive activity. In addition, when performed over large expanses of territory, the need for airborne rebroadcasting becomes essential to preserve comms links over large distances. Effectively, an AEW aircraft acts as a radar and an aerial in the sky.
Recent operations in Afghanistan and especially Syria and Iraq have showcased the full value of an airborne warning and tactical control platform. A complex scenario with multiple moving actors and assets over large ranges has required significant co-ordination. But, although the presence of both Syrian and Russian aircraft and long-range surface-to-air systems has the potential to escalate the threat quickly, the situation has remained controlled and mostly benign. However, future conflicts against peer or near-peer threats will place widebodied, manned aircraft under significant threat – indeed, the speed and ranges of modern surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles now make conventional intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR), and airborne command and control (C2) platforms, very vulnerable and only able to operate well back from optimal surveillance orbits. Also, although such platforms are largely capable of airborne refuelling, two to three aircraft and their respective crews are required just to sustain a single orbit over a 24-hour period. If this wasn’t enough of a challenge, the advent of fifth-generation
The Boeing 737 AEW&C has been earmarked as a likely E-3D successor for the RAF. Its current operators include the Royal Australian Air Force – this E-7A Wedgetail is accompanied by an RAAF F/A-18F as they transit to the battlespace as part of Operation Okra in the Middle East. CPL Brenton Kwaterski/ Commonwealth of Australia
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Commander’s Update Briefing
The UK’s E-3D Sentry fleet has not kept pace with the improvements made to other nations’ fleets, has suffered from maintenance issues, and now needs replacing. Sentry AEW1 ZH102 wears the markings of No 23 Squadron, based at RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire, as part of the RAF ISTAR Force. Crown Copyright
Above: One of the new generation of AEW aircraft, the Saab GlobalEye ordered by the United Arab Emirates, typifies these platforms’ adoption of multiple roles. According to the manufacturer: “GlobalEye provides a sophisticated, high-performance system that can conduct simultaneous long-range detection, tracking and surveillance in the air, land and maritime domains, all from a single platform.” Stefan Kalm/Saab
Above: The Japan Air Self-Defense Force is the sole operator of the E-767 AWACS, based on the commercial Boeing 767 widebody airframe and with a conventional rotodome array as pioneered by the E-3. This example was preparing to join a Red Flag – Alaska mission from Joint Base ElmendorfRichardson, Alaska, in 2015. USAF/Alejandro Pena
fighters is making detection and the passage of data ever more difficult to facilitate or manage.
Future UK requirement
The carrier-based E-2 Hawkeye has undergone multiple upgrades since it was first fielded as the US Navy’s ‘eyes of the fleet’ in the mid-1960s. This E-2C from Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 124 ‘Bear Aces’ was returning to the USS ‘George H W Bush’ under way in the Atlantic in May. US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joseph E Montemarano
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So what does the future hold for this capability, especially now, as the UK looks to replace its ageing E-3D Sentry AEW1 aircraft? Some air forces are looking at multiple roles for such widebodied capability, such as combining signals intelligence (SIGINT) with air-to-air refuelling, early warning and airborne C2. Moreover, the increase in use of electronic or phased array radars even allows much smaller aircraft to fulfil the same role, albeit with fewer controllers on board. But here too, we could see significant changes as the ability to ‘off-board’ primary radar information might negate the need for controllers to even fly on the aircraft. Ultimately, the use of artificial intelligence might negate the need for some or all controllers
all together. Going one step further, the fusion of multiple sources of data, including the increasingly capable and prevalent sensors and systems in space, could negate the need for a central repository or hub, as air-breathing weapon systems or platforms are able to input data and extract information through a shared (cloud-like) service. Clearly, the advent of new technologies could dramatically increase capability while reducing vulnerability. Although these will be wholly reliant on secure networks, I predict that the end of the manned bespoke AEW aircraft is not so very far away. The RAF might not yet be ready to make the leap of faith necessary this time around, but, if it selects a manned air-breathing C2 platform, I sense it will probably be its last.
NEXT MONTH: Air superiority.
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Sky Avenger 2018
‘Gunfi ghter in Bohemia For two weeks in June, six Texas Air National Guard F-16s flew with Czech Air Force fighters from Cáslav air base, 60 miles (96km) southeast of Prague in Central Bohemia. Alan Warnes was there.
Above: Two Czech Air Force JAS 39Cs and a Texas ANG F-16C (an airframe borrowed from the Vermont ANG) make a fast pass over the áslav runway before breaking to land. All photos Alan Warnes
he Sky Avenger 2018 manoeuvres saw F-16s training with Vzdušné síly Armády eské republiky (VzS A R, Air Component of the Army of the Czech Republic) JAS 39C/D Gripens and L-159 Advanced Light Combat Aircraft (ALCAs), taking part in composite air operations (COMAOs) and local flying training work. The highly experienced pilots from the 149th Fighter Wing (FW) ‘Gunfighters’ at Joint Base San Antonio arrived as part of the US-Czech strategic alliance. In 1993 the US Air National Guard’s State Partnership Program paired ANG units with allied nations across the globe. There are 73 such security partnerships involving 76 nations, and the Czech Republic partnered with Texas and Nebraska. Both states’ ANG units last visited in September
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2009 and returned this year to celebrate the alliance’s 25th anniversary. The four single-seat F-16Cs and two dual-seat F-16Ds arrived at áslav on June 15 after a nine-hour flight from Andrews Air Force Base, Washington. From there, they headed out over the Atlantic with two 155th Air Refueling Wing/ Nebraska ANG KC-135Rs which landed at Pardubice Airport.
Texas F-16 training The 149th FW commander, Col Tim Madden, told AFM: “We refuelled six times from the KC-135Rs to get here, and as we have limits on how long pilots can fly, we stopped at Andrews en route. This meant we didn’t arrive here at a strange runway extremely tired, which could lead to mistakes. “Back in Texas, our job is to train new pilots in the F-16. Here
at Sky Avenger we’re learning how to operate together with our Czech Air Force colleagues in case the need ever arises.” After leaving the flying training syllabus, ANG, Air Force Reserve and USAF pilots destined for F-16s can head to Tucson Air National Guard Base, Luke AFB (both in Arizona) or Texas. Col Madden added: “I believe the ANG offers the best F-16 training because we have the most experienced aviators. They served with the active duty first and then transitioned to the ANG. Their experience is a big plus for the students.” ‘Shadow’ sorties were flown in the first week, as US pilots familiarised themselves with the base and local flying area as part of training sorties with their Czech colleagues. In the second week, missions evolved into COMAOs, which covered a two-hour flying phase each morning. This comprised six Texas ANG Fighting Falcons flying with four 211. taktická letka (211th
Tactical Squadron) Gripens and four 212. taktická letka L-159s. Air combat scenarios between the Gripens and F-16s usually led to 2-v-1 and 1-v-2 encounters, sometimes right over the base. The exercise director, Maj Miroslav ‘Gyro’ Mika, told AFM: “Most afternoons we flew shadow waves for unit training. This was when the Czech Air Force squadrons showed new pilots COMAO and dissimilar air combat training [DACT]. It was great practice for everyone.” ‘Gyro’ continued: “We’re taking advantage of these experienced US pilots to develop our pilots. The combat-ready pilots train in the COMAOs, while other pilots who have just converted to the Gripen experience a DACT mission in a 2-v-1 or 1-v-2 scenario.” The USAF F-16Ds regularly flew Czech pilots while the dualseat JAS 39Ds carried USAF F-16 pilots in the rear. Col Madden explained: “This gives our instructors the experience of flying the Gripen, knowing
ers’ Bottom left: A 212. taktická letka L-159 departs for a close air support mission. Two lucky L-159 pilots also had the chance to carry out some air combat training against the F-16s. Not surprisingly, both lost their battles. Bottom right: A 211. taktická letka JAS 39C Gripen departs áslav under a cloudy sky for another mission. Below: Czech Air Force personnel regularly flew in the pair of dual-seat F-16Ds that attended Sky Avenger 2018. Texas ANG personnel also got airborne in the JAS 39D Gripens.
what it can do during manoeuvres, and we can pass on the knowledge to our students rather than just reading it from a book.” ‘Gyro’ added: “It’s a better lesson if you are flying against a platform you don’t usually fly, rather than a Gripen-v-Gripen fight.” While the L-159s generally worked with ground troops and Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs), the pilots also twice honed their fighting skills with F-16s. As one L-159 pilot admitted: “It was great practice because we don’t get the chance to fight in the air very often – our main role is air-to-ground.”
Tanking The Nebraska ANG was involved in the 2009 exercise, and played a major part this time, albeit only refuelling the F-16s. The two KC-135Rs deployed to Pardubice only had booms fitted, so the Gripens couldn’t take part in airto-air refuelling (AAR) training. The Czech Air Force hopes the Nebraska ANG will return early next year with two KC-135Rs fitted with the necessary hose-and-drogue equipment to provide AAR currency for the Gripen pilots. Instead, the morning COMAO waves saw Gripen pilots undertake ‘hot’ refuelling – sitting in the cockpit with the
engine running and radio on while the jet was refuelled. During afternoon missions, the shadow period saw pilots of the 211. and 212. taktická letka fly in familiarisation and air combat training sorties. áslav base commander Col Petr Tománek told AFM: “The exercise illustrated our readiness, commitment and willingness to do our best and that we are able to host any NATO unit here, to fly and train together.” By the end of the exercise on June 26, the two sides had flown 175 flight hours and 94 sorties, the F-16s heading home three days later.
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Report on US Air Force F-16 collision
Above: A 157th Fighter Squadron F-16C that was involved in the June 7, 2016, collision, 93-0531. USAF/Tech Sgt Caycee Watson
IR COMBAT Command has released the Aircraft Accident Investigation Board (AAIB) Report into the mid-air collision of two US Air Force F-16Cs near Louisville, Georgia, on June 7, 2016 (see Attrition, August 2016). The aircraft involved were F-16C Block 52s 92-3899 and 93-0531, both assigned to the South Carolina Air National Guard’s 169th Fighter Wing (FW), 157th Fighter Squadron (FS) ‘Swamp Foxes’, at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, South Carolina. The report states the two aircraft collided head-on at approximately 2114hrs local time during a training mission in the Bulldog Military Operating Area. Following the collision, both pilots ejected safely, suffering minor injuries. Mishap Pilot 1 (MP1, callsign ‘Mace 31’) was assigned to the 316th FS, 169th FW. Mishap Pilot 2 (MP2, callsign ‘Mace 32’) was assigned to the 157th FS. Mishap Aircraft 1 (MA1, tail number 92-3899) and Mishap Aircraft 2 (MA2, tail number 93-0531) were both destroyed after impacting the ground in a rural area of approximately four square miles, with damage to private property. The total aircraft loss is valued at approximately $60.8m. MP1, an experienced, activeduty F-16C instructor pilot, was the flight leader undergoing an additional upgrade qualification. MP2, also an experienced F-16C instructor pilot, was responsible
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for administering the upgrade while flying in a visual (wedge) formation several miles behind MA1. The mishap occurred 10 minutes after civil twilight, in the latter phase of the training mission. After MP2 issued a low fuel (‘Bingo’) radio call, MP1 executed a sharp left turn at an altitude of 15,000ft (4,572m) above mean sea level (MSL), MP1’s assigned sanctuary altitude. ‘Bingo’ fuel state requires termination of tactical manoeuvring and return to base with normal recovery fuel. MP2, approximately 4nm behind at 16,000ft (4,877m) MSL (MP2’s sanctuary altitude) turned to follow MA1’s external lights visually, but
did not cross-check available sensors to confirm MA1’s position. MP2 did not realise MA1 had executed a complete turn and was headed towards him. MP2 pointed directly at MA1’s external lights in an attempt to acquire a visual mode radar lock on MA1. During this time, the distance between aircraft decreased rapidly and MP2 descended from his sanctuary altitude of 16,000ft without the requisite situational awareness. MP2 acquired radar lock at 2,500ft (762m) separation but failed to recognise the conflict. At the last moment, both aircraft initiated a left bank away from the other, but their high right wings impacted. Neither MP1 nor
MP2 were able to regain control of their aircraft, with both pilots ejecting shortly after impact. The AAIB found, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the cause of the mishap was MP2’s failure to fulfil his primary responsibility to ensure flight path deconfliction and separation of aircraft. In addition, MP1 did not terminate the tactical manoeuvring element of the mission following MP2’s ‘Bingo’ fuel call and MP1 and MP2 overly relied on visual cues from external aircraft lighting to judge critical flight parameters. These are said to have been the substantially contributing factors to the mishap.
Above: The right wingtip of F-16C 93-0531, showing upward blunt force indentation caused by the collision with 92-3899. USAF
Accident Reports D: Jun 26, 1992 N/U: Kenya Air Force/FTS T: Bulldog Mk127 S: 713 Not previously reported in AFM, the Bulldog was written off under unknown circumstances.
Lincolnshire, where it has been seen on numerous occasions with its propeller and engine panels removed, presumably undergoing repairs. As of the end of July, there were still no reports of it having returned to the air.
D: Mar 19, 1997 N/U: Kenya Air Force/FTS T: Bulldog Mk127 S: 712 Another loss not previously reported, this aircraft was destroyed in an unknown crash.
D: Jul 5 N: Royal Thai Army T: Cessna U-17B (A185E) S: 1454 Crashed at 1100hrs local time in a remote, mountainous and heavily wooded area, and wreckage was found near Ban Huai Sai Khao, Muang district, Mae Hong Son province, 2.5 miles (4km) from the Myanmar border. Lts Nareupol Pookthong, Wiroj Taengkratok and Khemarat Doungkaew plus Sgt Maj 1st Class Chatchanan Kheunkaew were aboard, but only one survived. The identity of the survivor was not reported.
D: Jun 22, 2000 N/U: Kenya Air Force/FTS T: Tucano Mk51 S: 812 A further aircraft loss that has only recently come to light via a batch of previously unpublished accident reports from Kenya. D: Feb ??, 2011 N/U: Libyan Air Force/1124 Sqn T: 5 x Su-24MK S: 35, 36, 37, 39 and 40 New information has been published by the Libyan Air Force that these aircraft were all destroyed during air strikes by US Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles on Ghardabiya air base. D: Aug 27, 2014 N: Chinese PLANAF T: Shenyang J-15 Crashed during a sortie from the aircraft carrier Liaoning while undertaking trials flights from the vessel. The pilot was killed but was not named by the People’s Liberation Army Navy. D: N: T: S:
Aug 27, 2014 Ukrainian Air Force Mi-8MT ‘59 Yellow’ (but with fake serial ‘79 Black’ taped on) While attempting a landing in a confined area near Elenovka village, in the Donetsk region, the helicopter struck trees and the pilot lost control before it crashed and rolled over onto its starboard side, severing the rotors and breaking off the tail boom. Five of the 30 personnel on board were seriously hurt, while three others suffered less severe injuries. The helicopter was cannibalised for spares in situ over the next few days before the wreckage was removed by road.
Above: The wreckage of Royal Thai Army Cessna U-17B (A185E) 1454 following its crash on July 5 in dense forest near the Myanmar border. Thai Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation
D: Jan 28, 2015 N/U: French Air Force/DGA-EV T: CASA 212-300 S: 378/F-ZVMP While taxiing at Istres-Le Tube, the aircraft was damaged due to a wheel bay fire. The aircraft has not flown since and was noted in July 2017, stored and unrepaired at the base. It is believed to still remain there. D: Mar 18, 2015 N/U: Egyptian Air Force/236 FGA Brigade T: Mirage 5SDD S: 9003 The Mirage was written off in a crash, circumstances unknown. It was operated by the 236th Fighter/ Ground Attack Brigade at BirmaTanta air base. D: Nov 18, 2015 N/U: USAF/27th SOW T: MQ-9A Reaper S: 08-4044 An abbreviated aircraft accident investigation board report released by the USAF on January 25, 2017, revealed details of this previously unreported Reaper loss in
Afghanistan. The UAV, assigned to the 27th Special Operations Wing at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico, and deployed to Kandahar International Airport, crashed at approximately 2338hrs Zulu in an open field near the base. It happened after an in-flight emergency was declared shortly after take-off. Immediately after becoming airborne, the launch and recovery crew noticed high oil pressure, rising exhaust gas temperature and fluctuating torque. Although an attempt was made to recover to the runway, complete engine failure occurred on the crosswind leg at about 500ft (152m) above ground level. The Reaper glided to a crash landing as the crew attempted to circle round to land. The UAV was destroyed by the impact, along with four missiles and one bomb. D: Mar ??, 2018 N/U: RAF/3 FTS/No 57 Squadron T: Grob G 120TP-A Prefect T1 S: ZM314 Following a bird strike, the training aircraft has remained grounded at RAF Barkston Heath,
Above: Carabineros de Chile Cessna 210N Centurion C-59 rests on its nose following the accident at Concepción’s Carriel Sur International Airport. Informes de Emergencias Chile
D: N: T:
Jul 4-6 US Air Force ‘Several’ KC-135R Stratotankers US Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) officials confirmed on July 6 that a small number of these aircraft had been damaged while parked at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, when Typhoon Maria swept over the island. Officials declined to specify the number of KC-135s that were actually involved or the extent of the damage inflicted because of operational sensitivities. However, on July 12, a PACAF statement said: “To date, all repairs have been accomplished on site with parts readily available in the inventory and without need for follow-on maintenance teams. The aircraft are back on duty and continue to ensure mission needs are met.” D: Jul 6 N: Carabineros de Chile T: Cessna 210N Centurion S: C-59 The nose undercarriage of the Cessna collapsed, and it veered off the runway at Concepciónçs Carriel Sur International Airport, Talcahuano, on landing at 1250hrs local time. The two occupants survived unhurt, but the aircraft’s propeller, nose section and nose undercarriage were substantially damaged. The aircraft was en route from La Araucanía Airport in Freire to Concepción.
Abbreviations: D: Date N/U: Nationality/Units T: Type S: Serials
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Attrition Report D: Jul 6 N/U: Polish Air Force/41. elt T: MiG-29 S: 4103 This fighter crashed in an open field close to the village of Sakówko, near the town of Pasłe˛k, at 0157hrs after reporting a technical malfunction during a night training exercise from Malbork air base. The crash site was 11 miles (18km) from Malbork. Although the pilot ejected, he did not survive, and his body was found some 656ft (200m) away from the wreckage. D: Jul 7 N/U: Romanian Air Force/ Escadrila 861 Aviat˛ie Lupta˘ T: MiG-21 LanceR-C S: 6707 While carrying out a display at the Baza 86 Aerianaˇ BorceaFetes˛ti Open Day, the aircraft crashed at 1330hrs to the north of the base, killing the pilot, Lt Cdr Florin Rotaru, the chief pilot of Escadrila 861, who did not eject. The aircraft was approaching the airfield to make a low pass when it went down. Following the accident, spectators were evacuated from the airfield and the remainder of the flying display was cancelled. D: Jul 9 N: Kyrgyzstan Air Force T: Mi-8MTV S: ‘103 Red’ While attempting to land at 0813hrs on the South Engilchek helipad in the Issyk-Kul region at an altitude of 13,123ft (4,000m) in the Northern Tien Shan mountain range, the helicopter was caught by a strong crosswind, hit the ground and rolled over onto its port side. Of the 15 on board (nine tourists, a guide, a medical worker and four crew members), two tourists and the four crew were injured. The Mi-8 was on a rescue operation for an injured Japanese climber at the time. D: Pre-Jul 10 N: USAF T: MQ-9A Reaper Satellite imagery of Kandahar Air Base, Afghanistan, dated July 10, shows the wreckage of this burnt and extensively damaged UAV alongside the runway. No details are known regarding the circumstances of the accident or exactly when the crash occurred.
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D: Jul 10 N/U: French Army Aviation Corps (ALAT)/3e RHC T: SA342M Gazelle S: Possibly 3866 ‘GNI’ Both crew members were seriously injured when this Gazelle crashed at around 1645hrs in Modeste village, 9.3 miles (15km) east of Port-Bouët, Côte d’Ivoire, during a reconnaissance flight in co-operation with local forces. The airmen were taken to the French military hospital in Port-Bouët, where one died several hours later. The other was flown to France for additional treatment. An unconfirmed report suggests the Gazelle may have hit a power line. D: Jul 10 N: Syrian armed forces T: Unidentified UAV This unarmed UAV penetrated 10 miles (6km) into Israeli airspace over the Golan Heights, possibly by mistake, before it was shot down by a MIM-104D PAC-2/ GEM+ Patriot air defence system over the Sea of Galilee. D: Jul 11 N/U: Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force/101st Tactical Fighter Squadron T: F-4D Phantom II Both crew were injured after ejecting at 1015hrs local time due to a technical malfunction during a training flight. The aircraft, operating from the 10th Tactical Air Base at Chabahar, crashed in a mountainous area nearby. The Phantom was one of a small number of F-4D variants remaining in IRIAF service.
D: Jul 12 N/U: Chilean Naval Aviation/ Escuadrón de Instrucción/ VT-1 T: PC-7 Turbo Trainer S: 211 Following engine failure on takeoff at 1200hrs local time from Base Aeronaval Concón, Viña del Mar, Valparaiso, for a training flight, the aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing near the Camino Internacional road. The two crew, an instructor and student, were unhurt but the aircraft received damage to the undercarriage and propeller blades. D: Jul 12 N/U: Finnish Army/Utti Jaeger Regiment T: MD500 Extensive damage to the main rotor blades and tail section of this helicopter occurred during a heavy landing while on a training flight at around 1200hrs local time at its home base, Utti. Both crew escaped injury. D: Jul 12 N: Border Police of Georgia T: AS332L1 Super Puma S: GBP 10020 This helicopter was written off during a forced landing near the Andarazari border post in the Kakheti region. All five on board (three crew from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, one border guard and one police patrol officer) were injured and taken to hospital in Telavi. The Super Puma was en route to the Lagodekhi border subdivision for a routine rotation of personnel at the time of the accident.
D: Jul 12 N: Russian Aerospace Forces T: Forpost UAV Israel launched a PAC-2/GEM+ Patriot missile towards what it believed to be a Syrian UAV flying over the Golan Heights demilitarised zone. However, later images of the wreckage showed it was a Russian Forpost UAV, a licence-built copy of the IAI Searcher II. D: Jul 12 N: Royal Saudi Air Force T: Tornado IDS The aircraft crashed at 0441hrs local time in Asir province, following a technical malfunction while returning from a training mission. Both crew members ejected and were airlifted to hospital. D: Jul 12 N: Royal Saudi Land Forces T: CASC Rainbow CH-4B UAV This armed UAV was destroyed when it crashed in Yemen after reportedly being shot down by Yemeni air defence forces near the town of Rabuah, Asir province. The type has also been reported as a WD-1K Wing Loong. D: Jul 16 N: Romanian Air Force T: IAR-99 Soim S: 723 This IAR-99 crashed at 1330hrs local time 3.1 miles (5km) west of Nicolae Ba˘lcescu following a malfunction, ten minutes after take-off from Baca˘u air base. The crew, Commander Marcel Bresug, head of Baza Aeriana˘ 95 and Captain Iulian Pena, Chief Flight
Above: The main rotor head of Republic of Korea Marine Corps MUH-1 Marineon 17002, which detached in flight shortly after take-off from Pohang on July 17.
Abbreviations: D: Date N/U: Nationality/Units T: Type S: Serials
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killed when it crashed on Syrian territory in the Yamouk Basin region. Syria said he was flying on the Syrian side of the border near the occupied Golan Heights when the aircraft was targeted.
Above: The burnt-out fuselage of Mexican Air Force/Escuadrón Aéreo 402 T-6C+ Texan II 2048 after its crash near Base Aérea Militar No 2 on July 17. FAM
instructor at the base, ejected safely, coming down without injury in the waters of Lake Galbeni. D: Jul 16 N/U: US Navy/Training Wing 4 T: T-6B Texan II This trainer made an inadvertent wheels-up landing at 1055hrs on Runway 18 at RockportAransas County Airport, Texas, while performing touch-andgo landings during a training mission. No injuries were reported and any serious damage to the aircraft is not confirmed. D: Jul 17 N/U: Japan Air Self-Defense Force/603 Hikotai T: E-2C Hawkeye S: 34-3454 ‘454’ While landing at Naha Air Base, reverse thrust was engaged to both propellers to decelerate, but the port propeller blades failed to change angle. This forced the crew to brake heavily to stop the aircraft and the nosewheel and port main undercarriage tyres burst before the aircraft came to rest at the north side of the runway. The five crew members were uninjured, but the runway was closed for 1hr 40mins and some 40 commercial flights were cancelled, delayed or diverted. Jul 17 Republic of Korea Marine Corps T: MUH-1 Marineon S: 17002 Four to five seconds after takeoff at 1643hrs local time for a post-maintenance test flight from a marine corps base in Pohang, the entire main rotor head and rotor blades separated at a height of about 32ft (10m)
and the helicopter fell to the ground and caught fire. Five of the six on board were killed (but have not been named) and the survivor was seriously injured and taken to Ulsan University Hospital. The maintenance work had reportedly been in an effort to cure vibration problems experienced on a previous flight. The marines had only received their first two Marineons, an amphibious support version of the KUH-1 Surion, on January 10 this year. They were designated Marineon 1 and Marineon 2, of which it is reported the latter was the crash example. All Marineon and Surion variants were grounded following the crash, pending an investigation. D: Jul 17 N/U: Mexican Air Force/ Escuadrón Aéreo 402 T: T-6C+ Texan II S: 2048 The Texan II was destroyed in a crash near Base Aérea Militar No 2 General Antonio
Cárdenas Rodriguez, Ixtepec, Oaxaca, following mechanical failure during a training flight. Both pilots ejected safely and without injury. Although the type has been in Mexican service for just six years, this was the fifth FAM T-6C+ loss out of a total of 60 delivered. D: Jul 18 N/U: Indian Air Force/No 26 Sqn T: MiG-21bis After taking off from Pathankot Air Force Station at 1220hrs local time, the aircraft crashed one hour later at Mehra Palli village in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh. Sqn Ldr Kumar was killed. D: Jul 24 N: Syrian Air Force T: Su-22M4 After Israel claimed the aircraft had penetrated Israeli airspace, the Su-22M4 was shot down by the Israel Defense Forces using two Yahalom (PAC-2/GEM+) Patriot missiles. The pilot was
D: Jul 26 N/U: Vietnam People’s Air Force/921 Fighter-Bomber Regiment T: Su-22UM-3K S: 8551 Both crew members were killed when this aircraft crashed into a densely forested hillside in the Ngh˜a Ðàn district of Nghê An province. The aircraft had taken off from Sao Vàng Airport in Thanh Hóa province at 1116hrs for a training flight and contact had been lost at 1135hrs. Those killed were Lt Col Khuât Manh Trí, deputy commander and Col Pham Giang Nam, commander of 921 Fighter-Bomber Regiment, which is based at Hanoi-Nôi Bài as part of 371 Division. D: Jul 27 N: Saudi coalition forces T: Unidentified UAV Yemeni air defence forces shot down this unspecified reconnaissance UAV over the al-Rabou’a region of the country’s southern Asir province. Around 20 reconnaissance UAVs are reported to have been downed since Saudi coalition air strikes on Yemen began more than three years ago. Additional material from: Igor Bozinovski, Scramble/ Dutch Aviation Society, René L Uijthoven, Łucasz Walkowicz and Asagiri Yohko.
Above: Burning remains of the Syrian Air Force Su-22M4 after it was shot down by Israeli Patriot missiles and crashed in Syria’s Yamouk Basin.
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A BAE Systems computer-generated concept of the Team Tempest Future Combat Air System. The aircraft is shown launching ‘swarming’ mini-UAVs. BAE Systems
Will Tempest follow Typhoon and Tornado? The Farnborough Airshow saw the launch of the UK’s new Combat Air Strategy and the unveiling of a model of a brandnew, next-generation fighter concept – the Tempest. Jon Lake investigates. ritish Prime Minister Theresa May formally announced the publication of the UK’s Combat Air Strategy on the first day of the Farnborough Airshow. She revealed that a joint venture, ‘Team Tempest’, had been created to spearhead the next phase of the Future Combat Air System Technology Initiative (FCAS-TI), laying the groundwork for a programme to develop a successor to the Royal Air Force’s Eurofighter Typhoons. Together, the Combat Air Strategy and the Tempest represent a bold statement of intent for next-generation British air power, and for the UK to remain a world leader in the combat air sector. The RAF’s Rapid Capability Office (RCO) has joined up with BAE Systems, Leonardo, MBDA and Rolls-Royce to form Team Tempest. The inclusion of the RAF in the team is interesting, as there are still some in the service who believe that the Combat Air Strategy is being driven by industrial and economic – not military – requirements, and who would favour simply procuring whatever the US Air Force buys, in a bid to ensure full ‘harmonisation’. Mrs May promised more than £2bn of investment up to 2025. FCAS-TI will invest
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in new technologies, supporting cuttingedge innovation to deliver next-generation capability. It will include 50 to 60 FCAS national technology demonstrations, including work on low observability (LO), advanced sensors, propulsion and future cockpit design. Though the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson each highlighted the “over £2bn” of investment in the Tempest programme, this is understood not to be ‘new money’. Instead, it represents funding originally allocated as part of the 2015 Strategic
Defence and Security Review (SDSR), which sought to deliver a FCAS-TI. The fact that this was launched as part of the 2015 SDSR demonstrates that the programme was running even before the UK was excluded from the European FCAS project following its 2016 referendum on EU membership. It’s unclear whether the £2bn includes funding from the industrial partners on the project, or whether the 50% of project funding that’s to come from industry will be additional. The PM said the announcement confirmed the government’s commitment to maintaining
The full-size concept model for the next-generation Tempest fighter unveiled at Farnborough International Airshow on July 16. MOD/ Crown Copyright
An infographic of the Team Tempest Future Combat Air System concept. BAE Systems
Britain’s world-class air power capabilities, and that it would help to secure the longterm future of its combat air industry – boosting an industrial sector that generates billions of pounds for the economy and supports thousands of jobs. It was also seen as an attempt to demonstrate that Britain plans to remain a ‘tier one’ military and industrial power after Brexit.
System of systems Later that day, Gavin Williamson formally launched the government’s Combat Air Strategy and unveiled a full-scale model of what the mainstream media dubbed “the UK’s new fighter aircraft”. It should be emphasised that this manned/ optionally manned platform is just one element of the overall FCAS, which will be a ‘system of systems’. It will act as a ‘force multiplier’, operating with a range of unmanned systems and other assets across the air, land, sea, space and cyber domains. Although this was the first public appearance of the ‘selected’ manned FCAS configuration, another full-scale mock-up had been exhibited (to invited guests only) in a marquee at the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, the weekend before the Farnborough announcement. Moreover, the models and illustrations represent just one of a range of concepts explored by Team Tempest. Charles Woodburn, the chief executive of BAE Systems, described the model as being
representative only of a “direction of travel”, while Gavin Williamson called it “a glimpse into what the future could look like”. Only ten days before Farnborough, during briefings to trade journalists, BAE Systems showed a PowerPoint slide illustrating a ‘spread’ of four quite different vehicles from its concept study. These ranged from a relatively small, single-engined lightweight fighter, optimised to operate in the air policing role in lower-threat situations, to a larger machine intended for highly contested environments. The latter, conceded Michael Christie, BAE Systems’ strategy director for air, was “something that looks a little bit like something from Star Wars!” The spread of vehicles also included an aircraft that looked like a scaled-up F-35 with longer-span wings and an air defenceoptimised machine reminiscent of the YF-23.
Replica resemblance The configuration highlighted at Farnborough was a large, twin-engined aircraft bearing some resemblance to the BAE Systems Replica – an LO (stealthy) design study which fed into the UK’s Future Offensive Air System (FOAS) programme. A fullscale radar cross-section model was built and tested, demonstrating the UK’s LO design and manufacturing capabilities and perhaps serving as an ‘entry ticket’ to the development phase of the US F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme. The Tempest mock-up shared some design features with other LO aircraft, including a
planform reminiscent of the F-117A, with a sawtooth trailing edge (as used on the F-117A and B-2A), trapezoidal twin tails like those of the YF-23 and intakes similar to the F-35’s. The aircraft is relatively large (closer to the F-22 than to the F-35), its size driven by the requirement for a large internal payload bay to accommodate weapons, sensors or additional fuel while still having sufficient performance and agility to survive the most challenging combat environments. It’s been clear for some time that any FCAS manned/optionally manned platform would be larger than the F-35, which is perceived as being too small, too shortranged and with an inadequate internal payload for future requirements. The model shown at Farnborough is large enough to be easily upgradeable with LO conformal fuel tanks and/or weapons packs, large modular sensors and even a directed-energy weapon (of a type that uses concentrated bursts of laser, microwave or particle beam energy) which would probably be employed for self-defence and, perhaps, for within-visual-range combat. The type will be capable of deploying and managing swarming munitions to operate successfully within anti-access/ area-denial (A2/AD) environments. These mini-UAVs will use artificial intelligence and machine learning to hit their targets. The customisable virtual cockpit will feature advanced human-machine interfaces including eye-tracking and gesture-based controls, enabling intuitive mission management
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FCAS An artist’s impression of the aircraft revealed in the BAE Systems concept study, alongside their fifth-generation forebears and the FCAS Tempest mock-up. Juanita Franzi
functionality, including the command and control of other systems such as UAVs. Equipment will encompass a range of sensors – fully integrated at the subsystem level – to detect, identify, locate and engage threats, and will include radar and radio frequency, active and passive electro-optical sensors plus advanced electronic support measures. The Tempest would also incorporate an advanced, lightweight ‘adaptive’ propulsion system, with embedded starter-generators eliminating the need for conventional accessory gearboxes. This has led to claims from Rolls-Royce of a step-change in thrustto-weight ratio. The new engines will feature
distortion-tolerant fan systems and a fully integrated thermal management system.
Manned fighter consensus For some years, air power professionals confidently predicted that there was no future for manned combat aircraft and no requirement for on-board pilots beyond the F-35. But the consensus has shifted, and many now believe that a range of factors – including bandwidth constraints, enemy jamming, rules of engagement and societal pressures – will demand a continuing role for the human pilot in many scenarios. But the Tempest will also support ‘scalable autonomy’ to provide a number of unmanned
modes, as well as a range of pilot decision aids, for when it’s flown ‘manned’. It will also feature next-generation ‘plug and play’ systems architectures for the easy integration of new algorithms and hardware. Air Commodore Linc Taylor, head of the RAF’s RCO, said that a spiral strategy would be employed to allow existing technologies to be leveraged efficiently when it comes to the new fighter. “Many of those technologies will first see their service through the Typhoon,” said BAE chief Charles Woodburn. “Upgrades of the avionics, upgrades in the weapons systems [and] upgrades in the radar will be deployed through the Typhoon.” Below: Another CG concept of the Future Combat Air System, this time showing a production line for Tempest fighters. BAE Systems aims to employ advanced manufacturing capabilities, including robotic and cobotic assembly. BAE Systems
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Left to right: Norman Bone, chairman and managing director of Leonardo in the UK; Charles Woodburn, chief executive of BAE Systems; defence secretary Gavin Williamson; Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier; Warren East, CEO of Rolls-Royce and Chris Allam, managing director of MBDA UK. MOD/Crown Copyright
To ensure that Tempest has the required performance, and to achieve a low unit production cost, BAE Systems intends to exploit its advanced manufacturing capabilities, including robotic and cobotic (collaborative robot) assembly, and additive layer manufacturing.
Defence secretary Gavin Williamson announces the new, national Combat Air Strategy at Farnborough. MOD/Crown Copyright
Complement to Lightning Whatever Tempest eventually looks like, it’s clear the aircraft is intended to replace the Typhoon from 2035-40 and complement the Lightning. FCAS may even threaten F-35 numbers. The UK JSF purchase could be capped at the 48 aircraft now under order or at the 66 for which serial numbers have reportedly been reserved, with FCAS replacing the remaining 72 to 90 jets in Britain’s planned buy of 138. Procuring the Tempest to meet the FCAS requirement instead of buying more F-35s promises to strengthen the UK’s role as a global leader in the combat air sector. It should also protect key skills and jobs across UK industry. Team Tempest is due to deliver a business case by the end of the year, and engagement with potential partners is beginning now. Initial conclusions on international partners are expected by next summer – and decisions on how to acquire the capability will be confirmed by the end of 2020, before final investment decisions are made by 2025. Although the team is predominantly British and the Tempest has been designed to meet a UK requirement, the government is energetically seeking international participation. Gavin Williamson said: “We want to put our world-class skills at the disposal of our friends, by embracing the high-end skills they also offer and can bring to the table.”
ACM Sir Stephen Hillier said: “Team Tempest demonstrates our commitment to ensuring that we continue to build our capabilities, draw upon our experience and history to bring forward a compelling vision for the nextgeneration fighter jet.” MOD/Crown Copyright
The firm’s strategy director for air, Michael Christie, commented: “The partnership is a reality of today’s defence market. It is very rare for major capital programmes to be undertaken on their own.” Britain had the capability to develop Tempest alone, he said, but emphasised that it made sense to pursue the project with partners to ensure wider market access. Gavin Williamson added that partners in FCAS could be “nations around the world, including ones that we haven’t worked with before”. Analysts have suggested that the most likely partners could be Sweden and Turkey as well as, perhaps, Japan and South Korea. Others see potential for the involvement of less technologically advanced and industrialised, but developing, nations such as India or cash-rich Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, it’s likely that existing Typhoon partner nations and customers will be among the first to make significant contributions to the FCAS programme. But perhaps the most surprising partners could come from an entirely different direction. Responding to the unveiling of the Tempest concept, Airbus said it was “encouraged to see the UK government’s financial commitment to the project, which supports the goal of sovereign European defence capability.” At the same time, Airbus is working with Dassault Aviation on a rival future fighter programme – confusingly also known as FCAS. On June 19 the French and German defence ministers signed a declaration of intent to provide a formal framework for their FCAS. Returning to the Tempest, Airbus added: “A future combat air system is of utmost importance to Europe’s armed forces and therefore we look forward to continuing collaborative discussions in this area with all relevant European players.” Speaking at Farnborough, Volker Paltzo, CEO of the Eurofighter consortium, said he believed the British and Franco-German programmes would eventually merge, with a single platform going into production. AFM
Foreign partners UK industry is even more committed to pursuing a collaborative approach. While proud of the role it has played in the JSF programme (producing 15% of every F-35 built, by value), BAE Systems’ group managing director, air, Chris Boardman, has emphasised the company’s ability to lead the development of future combat air systems and signalled its eagerness to share technology and achieve real partnering.
Looking every inch the ‘sixth-gen’ fighter, the Tempest mock-up includes a planform reminiscent of the F-117A, with a sawtooth trailing edge, trapezoidal twin tails and F-35-style engine intakes. BAE Systems
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Coming up in AFM The October issue is on sale globally from September 20.*
We continue our Flight Test Focus series with a visit to France’s École du Personnel Navigant d’Essais et de Réception – EPNER. With more than 70 years of experience under its belt, the French test pilot school continues to innovate to maintain its position as a global leader in its field. AFM headed to IstresLe Tubé, where a diverse fleet of instrumented test aircraft available to the school includes examples of the Alpha Jet, PC-7, Mirage 2000 and Mystère XX, plus Dauphin, Fennec and Puma rotorcraft.
Photo: Anthony Pecchi *UK scheduled on-sale date. Please note that overseas deliveries are likely to be after this date.
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