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AUGUST 2015 ISSUE #329


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II (AC) SQN TYPHOONS Work With Royal Navy

Airbus F_P.indd 1

01/07/2015 11:39

CONTENTS August Issue 329 60 First Typhoon det for II(AC) Squadron

‘Griffins’ Come West 38

The RAF’s newest Typhoon squadron deployed for a week to RNAS Culdrose in June and Alan Warnes drove straight down to Cornwall after the Paris Air Show to find out why.

68 EXERCISE REPORT Aviadarts 2015


All the world’s military aviation news, by region. 4-5 Headlines 6-9 United Kingdom 10-12 Continental Europe 14-21 Paris Air Show Report 22-25 North America 28-29 Latin America 30 Africa 31 Middle East 32 Russia & CIS 34 Asia Pacific 35 Australasia/Contracts


Claim your FREE Rafale Cockpit DVD worth £12.49, when you subscribe to AirForces Monthly. See pages 48 and 49 for full details.

Exercise Report Aviadarts 2015 68

36 All Go for the Pak AF

For two weeks in June, the Pakistan Air Force manned an incredible three deployments to Europe, as Alan Warnes reports.

38 ‘Griffins’ Come West Six Pakistan Air Force F-16s deployed to Konya, Turkey for another Anatolian Eagle exercise for three days in June. Chris Lofting was there to see them in action.

40 Annual Alpine Action Kees van der Mark and Jan Jelle Dam report on the annual refresher course for the Hornets and Tigers of Wing 14 at Sion, Switzerland.

42 Rafale’s Certain Future France’s air force and navy pilots prepare to fly the Rafale at Saint-Dizier, with ETR2/92 ‘Aquitaine’. The course is tough and the flying demanding, but as Sebastien Buyck discovered, Rafale sales abroad are bringing new challenges to the unit.

48 USMC - Big Deck Amphibs. Anytime Anywhere

Lt Cdr Rick Burgess (Rtd) examines how the US Marines Corps employs air power from the navy’s fleet of ‘carriers’.

54 EXERCISE REPORT Thracian Eagle

The first round of several small exercises involving US and Bulgarian fighters at Graf Ignatievo took place recently. Dino van Doorn, Hans van der Wilt and Bas Stubert joined Thracian Eagle I to provide coverage for AFM.

56 Fuerza Aérea Colombiana on the Front Line

Colombian government forces have been engaged in a war against guerrilla fighters and drug traffickers for more than 50 years. David Oliver visited Luis Fernando Gómez Niño Air Base at Apiay to examine Fuerza Aérea Colombiana (FAC) operations.

Alexander Mladenov reports on Russia’s strongly contested combat employment competition held at the Pogonovo firing range near the Russian city of Voronezh.

72 FORCE REPORT Mexican Air Force

The Mexican Air Force (Fuerza Aérea Mexicana or FAM) remains a little-known air arm. It may lack much in the way of glamorous jets and global combat exposure, but has been involved in numerous combat actions. Force report on the FAM by Mariano García, with an order of battle by David Hernández.

80 Border Boys

Dino Marcellino flew a maritime night patrol mission off Sardinia with Italy’s Guardia di Finanza Air Section, based at Cagliari Elmas, hunting down illegal activities in the Mediterranean Sea.

86 AIRCRAFT PROFILE Revolutionary Coalers

Babak Taghvaee discovers the Islamic Revolutionary Guard of Corps Air and Space Force operates the world’s largest An-74 fleet. These Coalers are now the backbone of the Revolutionary Guard’s domestic transport network.

92 Attrition

AFM’s Dave Allport reports on the world’s latest military accidents.

96 Debrief

Reviews of recently published books on military aviation. Cover: The AV-8B Harrier IIs of the USMC are the heavy hitters aboard the assault ships. This one from VMA-214 ‘Black Sheep’ conducts a local training sortie out of MCAS Yuma, Arizona. Ted Carlson/

Glenn Sands AFM Brand Editor

#329 AUGUST 2015




USMC F-35B OPERATIONAL ORDNANCE DROPS BEGIN A VMFA-121 F-35B Lightning II prepares to land the USS Wasp during trials with the ship on May 18 on the first day of initial operational testing with the type. The unit has now completed live weapons drops as one of the final hurdles to be overcome in achieving initial operating capability. USMC/Lance Cpl Remington Hall

US MARINE Corps Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning IIs have completed one of the final steps towards achieving initial operating capability (IOC). The USMC was planning to declare IOC in July. Officials announced on July 2 that pilots from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA-121) ‘Green Knights’ at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma,

Arizona, had carried out the first operational F-35B ordnance drops between June 22 and 26. The weapons were launched in Restricted Area 2507 in southeastern California. A group of 14 pilots flying six F-35Bs used both inert and high-explosive munitions. In total, 18 GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bombs, and 12 GBU-32 Joint

Direct Attack Munitions were launched during the training. According to Chief Warrant Officer 2 Matthew Beard, ordnance officer with VMFA-121, the munitions were the same as those dropped by legacy USMC fixed-wing aircraft, but the dimensions, installation and technology that targets and uses them were different.

New Saudi Typhoon Unit Gains First Aircraft A NEW Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) Eurofighter Typhoon squadron has taken delivery of its first aircraft. The two Typhoons for 80 Squadron, single-seaters 8001/ZK600 (c/n 445, CS031) and 8002/ ZK601 (c/n 450, CS032), left BAE Systems factory airfield at Warton, Lancashire, on June 5 for their delivery flight. Their first stop was at Base Aérienne 705 Tours-St Symphorien, France, where they made a welcome appearance at the airshow there that weekend. These aircraft had made their maiden flights at Warton respectively on March 13 and February 26. Three more aircraft for the squadron are 8003/ZK602 (CS033), 8004/ZK603 (c/n


AUGUST 2015 #329

459, CS034) and ZK604 (c/n 464, CS035), which made their maiden flights, respectively on

April 20, April 2 and May 19. Prior to the latest arrivals, the previous RSAF deliveries had been 1013/

He added that the training had been hugely successful. In accordance with the guidelines set by US Marine Corps Deputy Commandant for Aviation Lt Gen Jon Davis, fleet F-35Bs need to demonstrate the ability to use ordnance before the squadron can declare IOC. The squadron will employ ordnance in the future as part of its normal training cycle. 

ZK386 (c/n 387, CS023) and 1022/ZK393 (c/n 419, CS028), which left Warton on May 14. 

Above: Royal Saudi Air Force Typhoon 8001/ZK600 (c/n 445, CS031) arrives at Tours, France, on June 5 from Warton on its delivery flight. Oliver Jonischkeit

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RAF Typhoons at Anatolian Eagle ROYAL AIR Force Eurofighter Typhoons from No XI Squadron at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire, have been participating in Exercise Anatolian Eagle at Konya Air Base, Turkey. The event, one of the most complex airpower exercises in Europe, was held from June 7-18. Four aircraft left Coningsby for the exercise on June 1, followed by four the next day. Support was provided by NATO/TNT Boeing 757-28AC OO-TFA, which flew out personnel and equipment from Coningsby on June 1. It returned on June 19. Anatolian Eagle 2015 drew fighter squadrons and support aircraft from Spain, Pakistan, Germany and the US to train with large numbers of host nation jet fighters. Over the course of two weeks, RAF fighter pilots

from XI Squadron flew a series of increasingly complex training sorties designed to enhance co-operation and understanding between the participating nations. Wing Commander Chris Layden, Officer Commanding XI Squadron, said: “We’re here at Anatolian Eagle to exercise with our NATO and regional partners to optimise our skills in high-end warfighting, which is not something we get to practise on this scale very often at home. The value here comes on a number of levels. On the first level it is effective air-air training and slightly different to what we do in other theatres. Second, the scale on which they operate on Anatolian Eagle is almost unsurpassed in the world. When we go to war we

tend to operate from dispersed bases all around the theatre so the opportunity to operate co-located with our regional and NATO allies here allows us to form the personal relationships and intimate knowledge of each other’s capabilities and platforms that will stand us in good stead for contingent operations.” During the exercise the full range of Typhoon capabilities were used – in the air-to-air role it was escorting other nations’ aircraft and in the swing role it bombed targets and shot down any enemy aircraft. Each aircraft carried a sensor to monitor in real-time every manoeuvre, action and radio transmission made by the pilot, for later debrief. See p38-39 for more on the Pakistan F-16s involved. 

RAF/XI Squadron Typhoon FGR4 ZJ925 ‘DXI’, in special markings to celebrate the unit’s 100th anniversary, lands at Konya Air Base, Turkey, on June 6 while participating in Exercise Anatolian Eagle. MOD Crown Copyright/Sgt Neil Bryden

Hürku˛s and T-FX top of TAI’s Agenda MUCH OF the focus of Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) fixedwing division these days is on its two-seat Hürku˛s trainer and the new Turkish Fighter Experimental (TFX) programme. There are now two Hürku˛s prototypes flying, used for EASA and Turkish CAA type certification, which should be achieved in the first quarter of next year. In addition, there are to be two structural test-beds – one for static tests, which have already been completed, and the second, a fatigue test aircraft, which is due to be ready for assembly in its test rig later this summer. The Turkish Air Force has 15 of the military variant of Hürku˛s on order (+40 options) with TAI orders now being placed for its sub systems. Deliveries are expected to begin in June 2018 and be completed a year later.  The Turkish Air Force is looking at three solutions for its TFX fifthgeneration fighter programme: a twin engine with conventional tail,

single engine with conventional tail and a single engine with canards. On June 5, the Turkish Government required prime contractor TAI to issue requests for proposals (RFP) for a company to collaborate with TAI for the fighter’s preliminary design work. The RFP was sent to five firms: BAE Systems, Finmeccanica Alenia, Airbus Defence and Space, Saab and CATIC. Responses are required by August 3. Meanwhile, engine proposals have already been received from Eurojet, GE and Safran Snecma. If Eurojet wins, its partner company Rolls-Royce has been selected by the Turkish MoD to provide the EJ 200 engine. A powerplant decision is expected to follow aircraft configuration selection. TAI’s Executive Vice President, Head of Aircraft Business Unit, Özcan Ertem told AFM at Paris: “We are trying to develop the programme on an existing engine which may later be

replaced by the upgraded ones. “This time the RFP calls for work sharing rather than consultancy and the preferred collaboration company will have some performance commitments in addition to TAI.” He added: “All three designs are consistent with air force requirements and we need to match everything up with those needs. The minutest detail is being taken into consideration, including the aircraft’s thrust when fully loaded, the aircraft’s maximum carriage and weapons, to the cooling, powering budgets matched with systems’ need.” The new fighter is expected to fly by 2023, when the Turkish republic celebrates its 100th anniversary. Between 2011 and 2013, TAI worked with Saab as a consultant on a two-year contract on conceptual design work of TFX at a cost of around US$20 million. Alan Warnes 

Brand Editor: Glenn Sands World Air Forces Correspondent: Alan Warnes Editorial contact: [email protected] Military News Editor: Dave Allport Chief Designer: Steve Donovan Assistant Chief Designer: Lee Howson Production Editor: Sue Blunt Deputy Production Editor: Carol Randall Advertising Manager: Ian Maxwell Production Manager: Janet Watkins Group Marketing Manager: Martin Steele Mail Order & Subscriptions: Liz Ward Commercial Director: Ann Saundry Executive Chairman: Richard Cox Managing Director & Publisher: Adrian Cox Copies of AirForces Monthly can be obtained each month by placing a standing order with your newsagent. In case of difficulty, contact our Circulation Manager. Readers in USA may place subscriptions by telephone toll-free 800-676-4049 or by writing to AirForces Monthly, 3330 Pacific Ave, Ste 500, Virginia Beach, VA234519828. We are unable to guarantee the bonafides of any of our advertisers. Readers are strongly recommended to take their own precautions before parting with any information or item of value, including, but not limited to, money, manuscripts, photographs or personal information in response to any advertisements within this publication. Postmaster: Send address corrections to AirForces Monthly, Key Publishing Ltd, c/o Mail Right International Inc. 1637 Stelton Road B4, Piscataway NJ 08854. Printed in England by Warners (Midlands) plc, Bourne, Lincolnshire. AirForces Monthly (ISSN 0955 7091) is published monthly by Key Publishing Ltd and distributed in the USA by Mail Right Int., 1637 Stelton Road B4, Piscataway, NJ 08854. The entire contents of AirForces Monthly is a copyright of Key Publishing Ltd and cannot be reproduced in any form without permission. The Editor is happy to receive contributions to AirForces Monthly. Please note that all material sent to the Editor is forwarded at the contributor’s own risk. While every care is taken with material, the publishers cannot be held responsible for any loss or damage incurred. All material rates available on request. Submitted material (especially illustrations) should have the contributor’s name and address clearly marked and a stamped addressed envelope should be enclosed if it is required to be returned. All items submitted for publication are subject to our terms and conditions, which are regularly updated without prior notice and are freely available from Key Publishing Ltd or downloadable from www.keypublishing. com. All digital imagery should be at least 300dpi and 10 x 8 inches (25.4cm x 20.3cm) in size and submitted on a CD/ DVD with thumbnail prints to the Editor at Key Publishing Ltd, PO Box 100, Stamford, Lincs., PE9 1XQ, UK. Tel: +44 (0)1780 755131 Fax: +44 (0)1780 757261 Subscription: [email protected] Website: Distributed by Seymour Distribution Ltd, 2 Poultry Avenue, London, EC1A 9PP. Tel: +44 (0)20 7429 4000 Fax: +44 (0)20 7429 4001

#329 AUGUST 2015



UNITED KINGDOM Royal Navy to Train RAF EW WSOps RNAS CULDROSE-based 750 Naval Air Squadron (NAS), which operates four Beech 350ER Avengers, will start training RAF Electronic Warfare Weapons Systems Operators (EW WSOps) in August. Six non-commissioned officers will start the eight-week Sensor Operator Lead-In Course (SOLIC) to learn the basics of radar, EW, data linking and navigation. Since the demise of the Nimrod in 2010 and with only two or three operational Sentinel R1s and five Shadow R1s, there has been little requirement for EW WSOp training. Now, with more ‘parametric’ aircraft like the RC-135 Rivet Joint and MQ-9 Reaper, plus the possibility of a future maritime mission aircraft (MMA), the need has arisen to train more RAF EW WSOps. “Some of the work will be carried out by 45 (R) Squadron at RAF Cranwell, but all the flying time will be on 750 NAS,” the CO, Lt Cdr Craig Whitson-Fay told AFM. All four of the unit’s Avengers are fitted with Selex RDR 1700 radars, so the six RAF NCOs will train with a live system at one of the two consoles in the cabin of the aircraft. No 750 NAS trains Royal Navy air observers and master aircrewman in partnership with Ascent. Once graduated from their respective courses, they will eventually be posted to 824 NAS (Merlin Training Unit) or 825 NAS (Wildcat Training Unit). The Avengers are expected to be used to train 36 students – 16 on the SOLIC and 20 observers – per year. Alan Warnes 

Additional Voyager Delivered The 12th Voyager tanker/ transport aircraft has been delivered to the Royal Air Force/Air Tanker. The aircraft, Airbus Voyager KC2 ZZ341/ (G-VYGL)/MRTT027 (c/n 1555, ex EC-336), callsign ‘CASA327’, arrived at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, on June 22 from the Airbus Defence and Space facility in Getafe, Spain. Two days later, it was presented to the UK Civil Aviation Authority, which granted the aircraft its Certificate of Airworthiness. It arrived at Getafe for conversion on August 25, 2014 and was flown to Manching,

Germany, on May 13 this year. Becoming the first of the type to be painted up at the ADS facility at Manching, it returned to Getafe on June 8 to undergo final preparations for delivery. As part of the ‘surge’ fleet, it can provide additional capacity to support Ministry of Defence tasking. It is the 12th Voyager to be delivered, leaving just two more to complete the fleet. Nine aircraft form the core fleet, which has amassed more than 26,000 flight hours. Eight of the aircraft are operated by the RAF, while AirTanker flies the ninth as an A330-200 on the UK Civil Aircraft

Register on behalf of the MOD. A further five form the surge fleet, available for AirTanker for either commercial or military leasing when not required by the RAF. The first to be leased out, G-VYGK, is the eleventh aircraft delivered and has joined Thomas Cook Airlines. It follows a three-month in-house conversion by AirTanker to remove military modifications and restore it to its commercial A330-200 configuration. It entered service with the airline on May 1 with a flight from the airline’s base at Manchester to Cancun and Punta Cana. 

Above: RAF/Air Tanker Voyager KC2 ZZ341 lands at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, following its delivery flight from Getafe, Spain, on June 22. Air Tanker

Scorpion Jet Demo in UK TEXTRON AIRLAND’S Scorpion Jet prototype, N531TA, spent around ten days in the UK for various demonstrations and exercises after appearing at the Paris Air Show in June. The aircraft was flown to QinetiQ’s base at Boscombe Down, Wiltshire, where it was temporarily based. It performed air-to-air intercepts as part of its demonstration to the RAF and also made daily visits to RNAS Culdrose, Cornwall, from June 29 to July 2, returning to Boscombe Down each

night. While at Culdrose it flew maritime surveillance missions off the Cornish coast. After showing off its capabilities to the Fleet Air Arm, test pilots and engineers from the Empire Test Pilots’ School (ETPS) at Boscombe flew the aircraft as part of the school’s fast jet pilot and flight test engineer training courses. The aircraft had already previously been flown by ETPS pilots when it visited the UK last year. It was also due to appear at the RNAS Yeovilton Air Day on July 11 and Royal International

Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford from July 17 to 19. Before arriving in the UK, it was demonstrated to several countries in Eastern Europe, one of which is known to have been Bulgaria. The company plans to complete a second, production-standard Scorpion Jet early next year, incorporating small design changes to enhance performance. This will include a slightly revised wing with 6° more sweep and a change to the tailplane, which will no longer be fixed, but become an all-moving stabilator. 

Two More Chinook HC6 Deliveries

A FURTHER two Chinook HC6s have been delivered to the RAF by Boeing. Both were shipped by sea to Liverpool Docks, re-assembled and then flown to RAF Odiham, Hampshire. The first was ZK556 (c/n M7707, ex N707UK), which made the journey on May 31 using callsign 'Boeing 21', followed by ZK557 (c/n M7708, ex N708UK) on June 26. They bring total deliveries of the new variant to eight, leaving a further six still to be delivered. 


AUGUST 2015 #329

Above: The Scorpion Jet prototype, N531TA, lands at RNAS Culdrose on June 29. Bob Sharples

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UK SAR S-92 Deliveries Completed SIKORSKY HAS comopleted delivery of seven S-92s to Bristow Helicopters for the latter’s new contract to replace the UK military search and rescue (SAR) task nationally. Arrival of the final helicopter was announced on June 16 by Sikorsky at the Paris Air Show. They join four S-92s already in service since June 2013 as part of the UK Gap SAR contract with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA). Bristow is progressively taking over UK SAR operations under a £1.6 billion contract announced on March 26, 2013 – see UK SAR Contract Finally Awarded, May 2013, p5. AgustaWestland is also to supply 11 AW189s to bring the full force to 22, but de-icing issues have caused their introduction to be held up (see Delays in Coast Guard AW189 Programme, July, p10). The first two bases to go live under the new contract, at Humberside and Inverness, became fully operational on April 1, respectively replacing RAF/202 Squadron Sea King HAR3s operated by E Flight at DST Leconfield and D Flight at RAF Lossiemouth, which both ended their SAR commitment on the same day. On July 1, two more bases opened, one at Caernarfon Airport and another at Lydd Airport. These replaced the 22 Squadron Sea Kings of C Flight at RAF Valley and B Flight at Wattisham respectively, which both ceased operations on that date. Manston Airport was originally selected to replace Wattisham for SAR coverage in the area, but its closure led to operations being moved to Lydd. Three of the four new SAR bases that have already opened are all operating S-92s initially, with a fourth at Lydd using two leased AW139s to cover for the delays in AW189 certification. The next base to become operational will be one at St Athan on October 1; Prestwick and Newquay will follow on January 1 next year with the remaining three bases at Lee-on-Solent, Sumburgh and Stornoway coming on line in 2017.

RAF A400M Deliveries Resume After Grounding A THIRD A400M Atlas C1 has been delivered to the Royal Air Force. The aircraft, ZM403 (c/n 0020), callsign ‘RR4029’, was flown on July 5 from the final assembly line at Seville-San Pablo Airport, Spain, to RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, where it landed at 2010hrs. On the morning of June 16, RAF A400Ms resumed flights when ZM402 took to the air again at RAF Brize Norton for training. This was the first RAF sortie with the type since the aircraft were grounded after the fatal crash of the third Turkish A400M on its maiden flight on May 9. Officials at Brize Norton said: “Having undertaken and

completed a series of thorough checks on the UK’s A400M aircraft and how it is operated, the RAF is satisfied that the additional processes and procedures introduced means it is now safe for the RAF to resume flying. During the pause in flying, crew maintained their skills through ground and simulator training. They will resume training with immediate effect." The day before RAF training resumed, one other RAF A400M flight from Brize Norton – (ZM401)/A4M016 (c/n 0016, ex EC-406) – departed back to Getafe, Spain, after tests on the aircraft’s defensive aids sub-system (DASS) during its time at the Oxfordshire base. This

aircraft had arrived at the base for testing on May 7 – see RAF A400M DASS Test Aircraft, June, p6. The aircraft is still in primer and has yet to enter RAF service. An additional RAF A400M, ZM405 (c/n 0024), is also test flying, and took to the air for the first time as A4M024 on July 2 from Seville-San Pablo Airport, Spain. This was the third RAF A400M maiden flight this year. It followed ZM403/A4M020 (c/n 0020) on March 22 and ZM404/A4M024 (c/n 0024) on April 10. The next two RAF aircraft, ZM406 (c/n 0025) and ZM407 (c/n 0026), are also now complete at Seville and being prepared for flight-testing to commence.

The third RAF A400M Atlas C1, ZM403, landing at RAF Brize Norton on the evening of July 5. MOD Crown Copyright

Sentry Marks Centenary

Above: Close-up of Royal Air Force Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW1 ZH106 at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire, on June 25 wearing special markings to celebrate the 100th anniversary of 8 Squadron. The squadron was formed on January 1, 1915, at Brooklands, Surrey, as a Royal Flying Corps unit. The markings were applied during maintenance at its home base at RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire, before it departed on June 9, when it made the short hop across to Coningsby, where the unit is temporarily based while runway work is carried out at Waddington. As AFM went to press the aircraft had flown just twice in these markings, on June 11 when it returned for a full emergency landing and again on July 3. Jamie Ewan

#329 AUGUST 2015




Bombers in Britain James Ronayne reports on the recent B-52H Stratofortress deployment to RAF Fairford.

Above: Stratofortress 60-0047 wears ‘Neanderthaul’ nose art. All images by author unless stated


hree Boeing B-52Hs from the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot AFB, North Dakota, deployed to RAF Fairford in early June with the 23rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron (EBS). Deployed in Gloucestershire under the command of Lt Col Brad Dyer from June 5 to 20, the aircraft took part in two multinational exercises – Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 15 and Saber Strike 15. Fourteen NATO and three partner

nations participated in BALTOPS with 49 ships and 61 aircraft, making it the largest collection of air, ground and maritime forces in the exercise’s 43-year history. The B-52s’ involvement was focussed on their maritime capabilities, simulating mining drops in the Baltic Sea. They conducted the first-ever MK-62 Quick Strike mine drop and practised air intercepts and formation flying with Swedish Air Force JAS-39 Gripens to hone skills between pilots from different countries. “For BALTOPS we’re executing integrated exercises with United States European Command Forces as well as allied forces in the Baltic region,” explained Lt Col Dyer. “We’re integrating with aircraft from 15 different nations as well as maritime forces. We’re... executing mine drops there as part of the exercise

Above: Lt Col Brad Dyer, commander of the 23rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron. Below: The pilots of B-52H 60-0018 perform a touch and go at Fairford. During their stay in Gloucestershire, the B-52Hs took part in the BALTOPS 15 and Saber Strike 15 exercises.

Left: One of the three B-52Hs deployed to RAF Fairford, releases its brake parachute after returning from another mission.


AUGUST 2015 #329

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and we’re integrating with a lot of air assets while we are out there.” Saber Strike was a two-week exercise spanning several countries, including Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Estonia. As part of it, the B-52s engaged in close air support, air intercept training and inert ordinance drops. During Saber Strike the 23rd EBS bombers dropped inert munitions into a target zone in Latvia, took part in simulated air strikes and co-ordinated with Latvian, Polish and Lithuanian Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACS). “One of the highlights of our time here, already, has been employing inert ordnance in Latvia using Latvian controllers, which is actually the first time the B-52 has dropped inert ordnance in Latvia, so that’s been a great experience for our crew,” revealed Lt Col Dyer. Four B-2 Spirits from Whiteman AFB, Missouri, also visited Fairford on Global Power missions. Arriving in pairs, the B-2s launched long-duration missions from Whiteman, and in Gloucestershire were hot-pit refuelled and new crews

took over before making the return journey to the US. The first pair arrived early on Sunday, June 7, but only 88-0329 was able to return to the US as 82-1068 developed a technical problem. It eventually departed two days later. The second pair – 82-1069 and 90-0040 – landed at Fairford in the early evening of June 8 and left later that night. Chief Master Sgt Craig Smith, 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron low observable superintendent, noted: “Flying the B-2 here solidifies the alliance we have with several of our allies, the commitment we provide and the power we demonstrate – which we were able to showcase on this platform by refuelling the aircraft in minimal time.” 

Above: The AN/ALQ-172 defensive countermeasures system is housed in teardropshaped pods below the cockpit on either side of the fuselage. The bulges under the nose contain the AN/ASQ-151 electro-optical viewing system which consists of the Raytheon AN/AAQ-6 forward-looking infrared camera (starboard) and the Northrop Grumman AN/AVQ-22 low light level television camera (port). Left: The B-52Hs carry Sniper Advanced Targeting Pods.

USAF Bomber Deployment to RAF Fairford Serial


Nose Art



Boeing B-52H Stratofortress

‘POW MIA You Are Not Forgotten’

69th BS


Boeing B-52H Stratofortress


69th BS


Boeing B-52H Stratofortress

Spirit of Minot

23rd BS

#329 AUGUST 2015



CONTINENTAL EUROPE C-27J Tested with Winglets Sagem to ALENIA AERMACCHI has begun successful, it is currently unclear test flying a C-27J Spartan fitted as to whether the modification will Upgrade for the first time with winglets. be applied only to new production aircraft or if it will also be available French EC725s These are undergoing trials to SAGEM HAS been awarded a contract by France’s defence procurement agency, the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA – General Directorate for Armament) to upgrade the capabilities of the Euroflir 350 optronic systems on the French Aviation Légère de l’Armée de Terre (ALAT – Army Air Corps) Cougar helicopters. As part of the contract, the modernisation will also be applied to the Caracal fleet deployed by France’s special and conventional forces. The gyrostabilised Euroflir 350 optronic system will incorporate a new Matis infrared imager with continuous zoom function, an eye-safe laser rangefinder and a laser pointer. The new version of the Matis imager offers longer range. Along with these sensors, the Euroflir 350 also includes a full high-definition colour video camera with continuous zoom. Coupled to the aircraft’s own INS (based on Sagem’s Sigma laser gyro reference system), the Euroflir 350 allows the crew to identify and precisely locate ground targets. The contract, announced on June 15 at the Paris Air Show, covers 55 Euroflir systems. Four Sagem plants will be involved: Massy (R&D), Poitiers (imagers), Fougères (pc boards) and Dijon (system integration). 

improve aerodynamic performance and increase range by reducing fuel consumption. If tests are

as a retrofit for existing C-27Js. The aircraft being used for the trials is test bed and demonstration

Above: Alenia Aermacchi C-27J Spartan test bed and demonstrator C.S.X62127 (c/n NC.4033) taking off from TurinCaselle Airport, Italy, on June 23 for a test flight after having new performance-enhancing winglets fitted. Marco Rossi

Terma DIRCM for Italian C-130Js TERMA AIRBORNE Systems is to integrate Elettronica ELT/572 directional infrared counter measures (DIRCM) on C-130J Super Hercules of the Aeronautica Militare Italiana (AMI – Italian Air Force) under a contract signed recently with Lockheed Martin. The Danish aerospace company announced the agreement on June 16 at the Paris Air Show. The deal includes DIRCM installation on an unspecified number of the AMI fleet of C-130J/ KC-130Js. This will be the first fully integrated DIRCM solution

installed on a C-130J. Terma says this system has the potential to be integrated into other C-130J and legacy C-130 platforms. Terma had previously signed a contract in 2014 with Lockheed Martin to supply Programmable Interface Blanking Units (PIBUs). The PIBU tracks active transmitters and receivers, in turn eliminating radio frequency interference from other aircraft. These PIBUs have been installed on a number of C-130Js, including existing airframes and new production models. 

First NATO E-3A Now in Storage NATO BOEING E-3A Sentry LX-N90449 made its final flight on June 23, when it was flown from Geilenkirchen, Germany, to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona. After the useable components have been stripped from the aircraft, which is expected

to take about three weeks, it will be placed in storage at the base with the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group. The aircraft is the first NATO AWACS to be retired and on May 13 had performed its final operational mission,

an 11hr 30min sortie from Geilenkirchen – see NATO Retires First E-3A, July, p12. It was then stripped of non-flight essential parts, prior to being delivered to Davis-Monthan. The aircraft will now go into storage for three years before being scrapped. 

NATO Boeing E-3A Sentry LX-N90449 touches down at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, after its final flight on June 23. It will be stripped for spares and then scrapped after a three-year storage period. USAF/309th AMARG

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aircraft C.S.X62127 (c/n NC.4033), which still carries its black colour scheme and ‘MC-27J’ titles that were applied when it was used as a demonstrator for the armed multi-mission MC-27J Praetorian. Marco Rossi 

Engine Run for ItalianAssembled F-35 MAIDEN FLIGHT of the first Italian-assembled F-35 Lightning II, F-35A AL-1 for the Aeronautica Militare Italiana (AMI – Italian Air Force), is due in the first or second week of October. Pratt & Whitney announced at the Paris Air Show on June 15 that the aircraft successfully completed its first engine start and ground run on June 2. The aircraft rolled off the Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facility in Cameri, Italy, on March 12 – see First F-35 Rolls Off Italian Production Line, May, p12. Following six planned pre-delivery test flights, it is due for handover in December. Italy plans to buy 60 F-35As and 30 F-35Bs. The FACO in Cameri will assemble both of Italy’s variants and also the F-35As for the Royal Netherlands Air Force. AL-1, along with the second aircraft, AL-2, is scheduled to be flown to Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, in the first quarter of 2016 for training of AMI and MMI pilots. Eleven aircraft are to be used for Italian pilot training, with AMI pilots going to Luke for F-35A training while AMI and MMI pilots will train on the F-35B at MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina. 

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Airbus Resumes A400M Deliveries

AIRBUS DEFENCE and Space (ADS) has recommenced A400M deliveries. This follows removal of all remaining flight restrictions on new production aircraft by Spanish regulator DGAM on June 18. Following approval, the first to be handed over was the seventh Atlas for the Armée de l’Air (French Air Force), 019/F-RBAG (c/n 019, ex-A4M019), which was delivered on June 19 to the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA – General Directorate of Armament), France’s procurement agency. It was flown from the factory in Seville, Spain, to Base Aérienne 123 Orleans-Bricy on June 21 to join Escadron de Transport 1/61 ‘Touraine’. The aircraft, the 13th production model delivered, differs from the six previous French A400Ms in having the initial capability to drop paratroopers from its rear ramp. A six-week parachute drop testing campaign with the A400M was due to begin around the end of June, having been postponed from May due to a crash on May 9, which resulted in the suspension of deliveries. France was the only country to continue flying the type operationally following the incident, using it for essential missions to support operations in Africa and the Middle East. Since the crash, the six French A400Ms have clocked up around 150 flight hours. All A400Ms are now cleared for flight provided they have undergone the checks specified by the manufacturer in the Alert Operator Transmission (AOT) of May 19, 2015. ADS´ own three development aircraft and the 12 delivered to customers prior to the accident, were not affected by the restrictions. The production plan for the year is under review following the crash, says ADS, but the company is still planning to hand over at least 13 aircraft this year, plus up to four more subject to flight-test results due this summer. The second of the two aircraft which were due for delivery at the time of the accident, the third for the RAF, has also been delivered (on July 5) - as reported in the UK news section. 

IOC for Belgian NH90s BELGIUM HAS reached initial operational capability (IOC) with its four NH90 MRH (Multi-Role Helicopters), as the country designates its Tactical Transport Helicopter (TTH) variant. The milestone was celebrated by NHI on June 17 in its pavilion at the Paris Air Show in presence of Col Georges Dejaeger Chief of Staff of the Air Component of Belgium. The helicopters achieved IOC on May 20, when an event was held at Beauvechain Air Base, where the type is flown by 18 Squadron. At the ceremony, the commander of the Air Component, Maj Gen Frederik Vansina, formally handed over the IOC certificate to Col Georges Franchomme, commander of No 1 Wing at Beauvechain. No 18 Squadron now has four of nine planned crews and 29 of 45 planned engineers. IOC means it is able to deploy one MRH for overseas humanitarian operations for a four-month period in a ‘permissive’ (ie non-hostile) environment, in countries with suitable facilities. Within six months, this capability will grow to two helicopters being available for transport and cargo missions, day and night. Full operational capability is expected by the end of next year.

Above: Belgian Defence-Air Component NH90 MRH RN-06 performs a role demonstration at Beauvechain on May 20 during the ceremony to mark achievement of IOC with the type. Benoît Denet

The NH90 provides a new capability for Belgium, which previously had no dedicated transport helicopters, apart from the lightweight A109. Belgium ordered eight NH90s under a contract signed on June 18, 2007, comprising four TTH and four NATO Frigate Helicopter (NFH) variants. All four TTHs have been delivered, the first one arriving on October 2, 2013, followed by one on January 24, 2014; another on June 13, 2014; and the

fourth on November 13, 2014. The first NFH was delivered on May 9, the second on July 31 and third on December 2, 2014. Preparations are being made to hand over the final NFH. The NFHs are operated by 40 Squadron at Koksijde. Discussions are currently being held with NATO regarding the possibility of allocating one of the NFHs for operation with the NATO Response Force, with effect from January 1, 2016, possibly adding a second one later that year. 

Last Transall Leaves LTG62

Above: Luftwaffe (German Air Force) Transall C160D 50+93 departs from Wunstorf on July 3, marking the end of 46 years of operation of the type by Lufttransportgeshwader 62 (LTG62). The aircraft, carrying ‘Fly Out Wunstorf’ titles and artwork on the tail, was flown to Hohn to join LTG63, the last German unit flying the type. LTG62 now only flies the single A400M so far delivered to the Luftwaffe. Michael Balter

French Army’s 15th NH90 TTH Delivered NHINDUSTRIES HAS delivered the Aviation Légère de l’Armée de Terre’s (ALAT’s – French Army Aviation’s) 15th NH90 Caiman Tactical Transport Helicopter (TTH). A ceremony to mark the handover, attended by ALAT commander Gen Olivier Gourde de la Mote, was held in the NHI pavilion at

the Paris Air Show on June 15. It will join the ALAT’s 1 Régiment d’Hélicoptères de Combat (1 RHC – 1st Combat Helicopters Regiment) at Phalsbourg. Two ALAT NH90 TTHs are currently deployed to Mali, whith two more due, to provide support for French forces.

The manufacturer says that around 245 NH90 helicopters have been delivered to date in Naval and TTH variants. They are in service in Australia, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman and Sweden. 

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CONTINENTAL EUROPE LOM Praha to Support Bell in Europe BELL HELICOPTER signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Prague-based service and support provider LOM Praha on June 18 for discussions on collaboration involving reassembly, customisation and maintenance of Bell Helicopter military aircraft. LOM Praha General Director Roman Planiˇcka said: “We are looking forward to working closely with Bell Helicopter. During the past 100 years, LOM Praha has been the leading European company providing military aircraft lifecycle support in NATO and Europe, and we share Bell Helicopter’s vision for the path ahead for the Czech Republic.” Founded by the Czech Ministry of Defence in 1915, LOM Praha provides customer support in all areas of helicopter and aircraft operation, including overhauls, upgrades and dynamic component lifecycle support. The company also manufactures and repairs piston engines and propellers and provides training for pilots in its Flight Training Centre in Pardubice. LOM Praha also provides tactical aircraft simulation for aircraft, helicopters and ground forces training. John Garrison, Bell Helicopter President and CEO, said: “LOM Praha will deliver a wealth of customer knowledge and technical experience in Central and Eastern Europe to our H-1 operators in the region. Today’s signing reinforces our commitment to the Czech Republic and is another step towards increasing Bell Helicopter’s level of participation in the Czech aerospace industry.” 

Turkish Air Force F-4E Unit Disbands A LAST-flight ceremony was held at 1 Ana Jet Üssü (1st Main Jet Base) at Eski˛sehir on June 12 to mark disbandment of the Türk Hava Kuvvetleri (THK’s – Turkish Air Force’s) 112 Filo ‘˛Seytanlar’ (112th Squadron ‘Devils’). The unit flew the upgraded F-4E-2020 Terminator variant of the Phantom II. The event was attended by the THK Commander, Gen Akın Öztürk and Combatant Air Force and Air Missile Defence Commander Gen Abidin Ünal. Gen Öztürk flew during the event in F-4E-2020 Terminator

69-7585, which had been painted with special tail-art. The final sorties by the unit involved a 40-minute flight with six of the remaining aircraft. After the flight, the personnel of 112 Filo were re-assigned to 111 Filo ‘Pant erler’ (‘Panthers’), which also flies the F-4E-2020 Terminator at Eski˛sehir . The squadron was founded in 1952 at its current base at Eski˛sehir , where it has remained ever since. It received its first F-4Es in 1974, when the type replaced North American

Below: Turkish Air Force McDonnell Douglas F-4E-2020 Terminator 69-7585, painted with special tail-art to mark the disbandment of 112 Filo ‘˛Seytanlar’, takes off from Eski˛sehir during the unit’s final-flight ceremony on June 12. The ‘Son S ˛ eytanlar’ (Last Devils) colour scheme for the aircraft was designed by Ömer Erkmen. Cem Dogut

French Atlantique 2 Crews Qualify on GBU-12

Above: A French Aéronavale Atlantique 2 maritime patrol aircraft drops a GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bomb on June 18 over the Biscarosse range in southwestern France. Two ATL2 crews were qualified on procedures for deploying the GBU-12, self-designating with the aircraft’s Wescam MX-20HD electro-optical turret. Aéronavale

Sagem and DCI Collaborate on Surveillance SAGEM AND Défense Conseil International (DCI) have signed a collaboration agreement on airborne surveillance systems, based on light aircraft and unmanned air vehicles (UAV), for both France and international markets. The teaming was announced at the Paris Air Show on June 15. The manned airborne surveillance services offered by DCI will use the Diamond DA42 light twin-engine aircraft, equipped with Sagem’s Euroflir 350 or 410

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F-100D/F Super Sabres then operating with the unit. With the Phantom it was assigned the air-to-ground attack role until it was re-assigned to all-weather interception in 1979. Some of the unit’s F-4Es were modernised under the S ˛ im˛sek (Thunder) project in 2010, after which they were re-designated as F-4E/TMs. After the F-4E/TM aircraft were officially decommissioned on June 12, 2012, the squadron took on the F-4E-2020 Terminators, which had previously been in use with 111 Filo. Cem Dogut 

optronic pod. Under the terms of the agreement, DCI will contribute its expertise in services, training and customer assistance. Sagem will focus on the surveillance and intelligence UAV market, based on its Patroller UAV, with the operational support of DCI for contract proposals entailing system operation or maintenance for government forces or the private sector. The twin-engined, four-seat DA42 has been outfitted by DCI with an optronic payload, maritime

surveillance radar, data transmission system and data post-processing system. DCI was displaying its DA42, fitted with the Euroflir optronics pod, at Le Bourget. Developed by Sagem, the Patroller, which was also on display in Paris, is a one-ton class UAV featuring a modular design, enabling it to carry a multi-sensor payload up to 550lb (250kg) in the fuselage or in pods (optronics, radar and electronic warfare), with a ceiling of 20,000ft (6,100m) and endurance exceeding 20 hours. 

M-346 Being Tested in Aggressor Role AN ALENIA Aermacchi T-346A Master from the Aeronautica Militare Italiana’s (AMI – Italian Air Force) 61° Stormo at LecceGalatina has been deployed to Grosseto Air Base to begin testing the aircraft’s capability as an aggressor in dissimilar air combat training (DACT) missions. Announcing the move on June 19, the manufacturer said the training will be with Eurofighters of 4° Stormo’s 20° Gruppo, the Operational Conversion Unit (OCU). Beginning in August, AMI Eurofighter students will accomplish phase IV training on the M-346 – the final step before moving on to operational aircraft. The capabilities and characteristics of the M-346 offer training markedly different from the current provision. The tests have validated the M-346 in training future Eurofighter pilots in DACT scenarios. 

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PARIS AIR SHOW Editorial ONE OF the biggest talking points of this year’s Paris Air Show (June 15-21 at Le Bourget), was the absence of several major aerospace players. BAE Systems, Saab and Northrop Grumman were among the higher profile absentees, while Finmeccanica had reduced its presence to a small stand in Hall 2A. Let us just hope – for the sake of the military aerospace industry– that this is an anomaly and not the start of a worrying trend. Not too surprisingly, Dassault had its usual huge profile presence with an everincreasing number of model aircraft. Among them were two Rafales marked in Qatar and Egyptian markings. The lack of flying display fast jets, such as the Typhoon, Gripen and F-16, meant it was left to the Dassault Rafale and Chengdu JF-17 to fly the flag for the fighter types. It was all a far cry from previous events, when fighters continuously broke the peace during the flying programme and everyone organised meetings or press conferences around the fast jet flight schedule. In the static display there were three Rafales, two from the Armée de l’Air (French Air Force) as well as an Aéronavale example, along with a single Pakistan Air Force JF-17 Thunder. In the US Department of Defense static there was a 48th Fighter Wing F-15E Strike Eagle from RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk, two 31st FW F-16Cs from Aviano, Italy and a 355th Wing A-10C from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona – the latter currently on deployment in Europe. Alan Warnes

Thunders Roar in French Skies

Above: Wg Cdr Usman taxies out in a JF-17 for his flying display routine on June 16. Alan Warnes

THREE PAKISTAN Air Force JF-17s were undoubtedly one of the highlights at Paris. With Pakistan being around 4,000 miles from France, flying them to the show was a mammoth task, involving ten flying hours with four night stops. After leaving Pakistan on June 7 they headed for Taif, Saudi Arabia, for an overnight stop before refuelling in Tobruk, Libya, and a second overnight stay at Minhad, Abu Dhabi (8th). Then it was to Izmir in Turkey

(9th) and Pratica di Mare, Italy (10th) before arriving at Paris on the 11th. They were supported by two C-130E Hercules. Three pilots played their part in the deployment. Wg Cdr Usman (OC 26 Squadron) was the main display pilot and the flight lead to Paris; Sqn Ldr Yasir (CCS) was deputy lead and support display pilot while Sqn Ldr Zeeshan (26 Squadron) was navigation lead.   Poor visibility on the first day of the event saw Wg Cdr Usman

Il-76MD-90A Looking for Export Orders

Above: Wg Cdr Usman and Sqn Ldr Yasir (back-up display pilot) both flew the aircraft to Paris along with Sqn Ldr Zeeshan. Alan Warnes

An-178 Makes Public Debut

Above: Antonov’s latest aircraft, the An-178 prototype, UR-EXP, which had only made its maiden flight on May 7, appeared in the static display. Certification and service entry is scheduled for the end of 2016. The company forecasts a total market of 1,100 aircraft. Alan Warnes

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fly a bad weather profile (with the loop manoeuvres dropped), but full displays followed on Tuesday and Wednesday when he reached 7-8g in the display. Wg Cdr Usman, who has been flying JF-17s since 2011, has around 450 hours on the jet and became OC of 26 Squadron in June 2014. He said: “My display lasted 8mins and 30secs. It is a fantastic experience for me to fly in front of so many people from all over the world.” 

AS PRODUCTION of the new Ilyushin Il-76MD-90A for the Russian Air Force ramps up, Rosoboronexport is also looking to secure export orders for the type. The agency's head of the Air Force Equipment Export Department, Sergey Kornev, said at Le Bourget on June 18 that there was interest from a number of unspecified export customers for 25-30 of these aircraft. He said this included all three main variants: transport, air tanker and AWACS. Kornev said the main limitation on increasing exports was that production at the Aviastar SP factory in Ulyanovsk is currently largely focused on fulfilling the state defence order for 39 of the type for the Russian AF, which designates it the Il-476. The first Russian AF Il-476 is with Beriev at Taganrog for A-100 AWACS conversion, while the second departed from Ulyanovsk on April 29 on delivery. The third, c/n 0105, was rolled out of the paint shop at Ulyanovsk on June 9 and will be the second to enter service. 

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France Considering C-130J Purchase

FRANCE MAY decide to buy several Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft to supplement its larger A400Ms and alleviate problems caused by delayed deliveries of the latter. In an interview with Reuters at the Paris Air Show on June 16, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Division’s head, Orlando Carvalho, confirmed there had been initial contact from the French Government regarding the type. The possibility of a C-130J purchase had first been mooted on April 2, when France’s procurement agency, the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA – General Directorate of Armament) released its results. During the presentation, the DGA’s Laurent Collet-Billon claimed that in addition to delays with the A400M, problems with wake turbulence from the type’s huge propellers meant it was not safe for refuelling helicopters. In addition, the veteran Transall C160Fs are becoming worn out and need replacements sooner rather than later. On May 20, French defence officials said that around €330 million had been set aside to buy four C-130Js through the Foreign Military Sales route. This forms just one element of the €3.8 billion increase in defence spending announced by President Françoise Hollande on April 29. Officials said two of the C-130Js will be armed with Raytheon AGM-176 Griffin precision air-to-surface missiles and two equipped as KC-130J tankers to refuel helicopters. They will be operated alongside the existing 14-strong C-130H/C-130H-30 Hercules fleet, in service since 1987. 

IOMAX Archangel - Armed and Dangerous TWO YEARS after exhibiting the Thrush S2R-T660 as the Archangel border patrol aircraft (BPA) concept, IOMAX was back at Paris showing off its demonstrator. The dual-seater in the static display, N925KH (c/n T660XP-131DC), is the company’s Engineering Manufacturing and Development (EMD) aircraft and was armed with weapons that its first customer, the United Arab Emirates Air Force and Air Defence (UAEAF&AD), is looking to acquire. According to the company, the first Archangel BPA was handed over to the UAEAF&AD at its North Carolina facility during the Paris Air Show, on June 17. It was just seven months after IOMAX had signed a contract with the UAE for 24 BPAs. The first two were due to be delivered in July with completion in the first quarter of 2016.   The order comes just five years after the UAE ordered an

initial batch of 24 Air Tractor AT-802U Block 1 and 2 BPAs and IOMAX delivered the first pair of aircraft in late 2010. However, with the imminent deliveries of the Archangels, the AT-802Us are being donated to other countries, including Egypt, Jordan and possibly Lebanon, for counter terrorist ops. IOMAX Executive Vice President K C Howard told AFM why the change of type happened so quickly after initial delivery. “It was time to take the next step, and it couldn’t be done with Air Tractor. So we looked at the S2R-T660. It provides the speed, space because of its dual seats which allows the aircrew to split the work, visibility and the adaptability of more advanced weapons systems. It can also carry enough fuel to fly for ten hours and be equipped with 48 2¾in Roketsan Cirit rockets.” The weapon, specifically requested by the UAE military, had already been integrated on the Air Tractor, while two other Roketsan weapons are expected to be tested on the Archangel.

These are the UMTAS laser-guided anti-armour missile (seen on the T129B in static) and the Teber GPS-guided bomb. The firing trials are expected to take place in the UAE during August. Archangel is currently cleared to employ Hellfire missiles, Roketsan Cirit 2¾in laser-guided rockets, 500lb (227kg) GBU-12 and 250lb (114kg) GBU-58 Paveway II laser-guided bombs. IOMAX also ordered 28 L3 Wescam MX-15D electro-optical/ infrared (EO/IR) imaging and designating turrets in February, which will be fitted on the aircraft. Four will be spares. Danish company Terma has been selected by Iomax to provide modular aircraft self-protection equipment (MASE) for the Archangel. Flight-testing is expected to begin later this summer. Managed by Terma’s ALQ-213 electronic warfare management system, the MASE is a configurable pod tailored to various mission requirements. With the Archangel the pod will house missile warning systems and countermeasure dispensers. 

Above: One of the military highlights at Paris was the IOMAX Archangel BPA N925KH, equipped with the weapons it is qualified to employ. It was also seen with the Thales FF-LMM small precision-guided glide weapon, which was later taken off. Alan Warnes

French Army NH90 on Show Left: The French Army (ALAT) NH90 in the static, 1291 ‘EAF’, which also took part in the flying display, is one of eight that are currently serving with 1 RHC at Phalsbourg. Since last November, two have been on an operational deployment in Bamako, Mali, supporting the tactical transport needs of French Army troops, while another pair is likely to join them shortly. Meanwhile, 5 RHC at Pau is expected to be the next ALAT unit to re-equip with the NH 90. Alan Warnes

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AFTER LAUNCHING the re-engined L-39NG at Farnborough last July, Aero Vodochody announced three contracts for the type at Paris on June 16. Czech aerospace company LOM Praha will be the launch customer, upgrading its seven L-39s to NG standard. They will be fitted with the more powerful Williams FJ44-4M engine and new avionics. The first is expected to fly by late September and there are aspirations it will appear at the NATO Air Days event at Ostrava, Czech Republic from September 19 to 20. LOM Praha trains Czech Air Force pilots on helicopters, transport aircraft and jets with a fleet of Mi-2s, Mi-17s, LET410s and L-39s at Pardubice. Aero Vodochody also confirmed it will build new L-39NGs, which will be certified within two years, allowing deliveries to begin from late 2018. With more than 1,000 L-39s delivered to 40 countries, the company believes there is a sizeable market and the L-39NG is a cheaper option to other trainers like the Hongdu K-8, KAI T-50, BAE Hawk T2, Alenia M345 and Alenia M346.   A memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by Aero Vodochody and VR Group includes delivery of a four-level training simulation system, allowing a data link between the customers’ simulators and the LOM Praha tactical simulation centre in Pardubice. At the June 16 press briefing, Aero also announced a letter of intent had been signed to upgrade the L-39s of the Breitling Jet Team and Draken International’s Black Diamond Jet Team. 

TAI’s T129B on Show

The second series production Turkish Aerospace Industries T129B gunship, AG13-1011, could be found in the static display. The Turkish Army has 50 T129s on order, including nine early development helicopters (EDH), of which eight have so far been delivered. Alan Warnes

Skunk Works Teams up for J-STARS Replacement LOCKHEED MARTIN Skunk Works has teamed up with Raytheon and Bombardier to bid for the new J-STARS’ (Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System) replacement. They will be competing against Boeing and Northrop Grumman for the $4.3 billion contract. The teaming, announced at the show on June 16, will see Raytheon provide the primary sensor package for the Bombardier Global 6000, which has been selected as its primary platform. However, the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works Vice President of strategy

and customer requirements, Jack O’Banion, confirmed the Global 6000 offer is not exclusive to their bid. The USAF plans to replace 16 E-8C J-STARS with 17 new jets. Moving to a smaller aircraft, the onboard crew is expected to shrink from 18 to ten, due mainly to automation and increased software use, said O’Banion. The USAF plans to issue a request for proposals for a development contract late next year or early in 2017. A contract award is expected in late 2017 with two development aircraft likely to be delivered in 2019. 

Iraqi L-159 Deal Still On

Aero Vodochody’s President, Ladislav Šimek, confirmed at the show that the sale of 15 L-159 Advanced Light Combat Aircraft to Iraq was progressing with all contract requirement milestones so far passed. The deal includes ten L-159A single-seaters and two L-159B dual-seaters with a further three aircraft for spare parts. The first four, including a twin-seater, are expected to be delivered by end of the year with the balance next year. One of the dual-seaters will be converted from an L-159A. 

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Above: An impression of the solution proposed by Lockheed Martin, Bombardier and Raytheon for the USAF JSTARS Recap requirement. Lockheed Martin

Airborne Technologies wins Croatian Beech 250 contract HAVING CUT its teeth on integrating systems on to DA42s and Tecnam P92s, Austria’s Airborne Technologies has won a contract to carry out similar work on a King Air 250. The company announced at the show on June 16 it will fit its Airborne LINX systems into the turboprop to carry out maritime patrol and border

surveillance under a contract with Croatia’s Ministry of Interior. The work will be carried out at the company’s Wiener Neustadt facilities, with delivery expected in July 2016. The aircraft will be equipped with a high definition EO/IR laser turret and a Selex long-range maritime radar in a ventral pod. 

Ka-52 Alligator Export Contract Signed RUSSIA HAS signed its first export contract or contracts for the Kamov Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopter. The revelation was made by Sergei Kornev, head of the Rosoboronexport delegation at the Paris Air Show, during an interview with Russian news agency RIA Novosti at Le Bourget on June 18. He did not specify which country or countries had purchased the type or how many had been ordered. Currently the Ka-52 has only entered service with the Russian Armed Forces. Several countries have previously been reported as showing interest in the type, including Azerbaijan and Belarus. Iraq was also mentioned some time ago as possibly already having signed a deal, but this was never confirmed. The country's recent purchase and delivery of its first Mi-28Ns suggests that it is unlikely to also buy the Ka-52. Despite this, in early April a Ka-52 was seen test flying near Moscow in an identical camouflage scheme to Iraq's new Mi-28NEs see First Ka-52 for Iraq?, May, p26. Another country known to be interested in the Ka-52 is Algeria, which has been on an arms spending spree in recent years, particularly in respect to rotary-wing acquisitions. In JSC Kamov's annual report for 2014, the annexe notes that the company was awarded a 90 million ruble ($1.7 million) contract on December 8, 2014, to prepare for and organise demonstrations of the Ka-52 to the Algerian military in July-August 2015. 

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Orbital ATK Attack Caravans ORBITAL ATK, the Fort Worth, Texas-based special mission aircraft company, has built a formidable reputation for arming Cessna 208B Grand Caravans. It continues to work with the Iraqi Air Force and Lebanese Air Force, which are currently using their Hellfireequipped Caravans extensively. According to one industry insider not connected to OATK, the IqAF Caravans have fired more than 1,600 Hellfires since the Islamic State terrorist activities started in Iraq a year ago. Iraq has taken delivery of three AC-208s (referred to as Combat Caravans), three recce-configured RC-208s and five C-208 trainers since 2007. Lebanon has one AC-208 and a second purchased a year ago is also being armed. OATK was awarded a $26 million contract on May 28 to arm a third aircraft that it has just acquired in a green configuration.   The Caravans are all fitted with an L3 Wescam MX-15D, installed alongside the undercarriage and away from the exhaust so nothing obstructs its vision. Linked to the Hellfire, the targeting information can then be data-linked all the way to target. In the rear of the aircraft is the ATK Mission System, where an operator works on the screen, finding the targets and tracking them with a track/ ball to slew the FLIR. The pilot also has a small monitor in the cockpit to check the target being tracked and observe the operator’s intentions. The operator in the rear will fire the Hellfire once a target is verified. OATK also handed over the second AC-235 to the Royal Jordanian Air Force in May, while discussions continue for a C295. At the last Dubai Air Show in November 2013, ATK (as it was then) was working with Alenia Aermacchi and the Italian MOD on an MC-27J. The programme was planned to evolve in two phases: to deliver and supply. An ISR system has been delivered but the supply of four roll-on roll-off systems for four aircraft has not happened. It is unlikely to take place in the near future – OATK putting this down to “the Italian’s challenging procurement policy”. 

Antonov Reveals More Details on An-132

Above: An artist’s impression of the proposed Antonov An-132 being developed jointly with Saudi Arabia, showing Pratt & Whitney Canada engines powering five-bladed propellers. Antonov

ANTONOV PROVIDED additional details of its new-generation An-132 light multipurpose transport aircraft at the Paris Air Show. The first artist’s concepts of the aircraft were released there on June 17, showing new engines slung under the wing in a similar configuration to the An-26, rather than the over-wing engine layout of the An-32, on which it is based. The Ukraine manufacturer had first announced its plans for the An-132 on May 13, when it was revealed that development of the aircraft will be undertaken in collaboration with Saudi Arabia, where a production line will be set up – see Saudi Arabia to Build Upgraded Antonov An-132s, June, p22. A new joint venture company has been set up under an agreement between Antonov

and Saudi Arabia’s Taqnia Aeronautics Company, with the objective of transferring aviation industry technology and training Saudi personnel. All of the staff of the new company will be either Saudi or Ukrainian nationals. Antonov signed an agreement at Le Bourget on June 16 for design and construction of the new aviation plant in Saudi Arabia. The deal was signed with Taqnia (Saudi Arabia), Ukrainian Scientific Research Institute of Aviation Technologies, Altis Holding (Ukraine) and Broetje-Automation (Germany). The company also stated in Paris that the first An-132 should be completed within 18 months. A meeting in the Antonov chalet at the show on June 16 discussed the engines

and equipment for the An-132, which will primarily be of Western origin. Attendees were Antonov, King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) and Taqnia (both from Saudi Arabia), Pratt & Whitney Canada and GE Aviation. Hamilton Sundstrand, Honeywell and Liebherr are other Western companies that will be involved in the project. The programme began in April 2015, when a contract between KACST and Antonov was signed. Saudi Arabia will own the intellectual property rights and engineering design authority for the type. It will have a two-crew, a glass cockpit and, as with its predecessor, be well-suited to hot-and-high operations, says Antonov. An in-built auxiliary power unit will enable it to operate autonomously from unprepared airfields. Pitched as a replacement for the An-26, An-32 and other similar types, the An-132 is intended initially for logistics operations, including troop transport, carriage of light vehicles, paratrooping, air dropping cargo and medevac missions. It will be able to carry up to 9 tons of freight over short- and medium-haul routes. In addition to meeting Saudi Arabia’s requirements, military and civilian operators worldwide are expected to be interested in the type. Antonov’s preliminary estimates suggest there could be an overall market for up to 900 aircraft in the An-132 category. 

DGA’s Fokker 100 test-bed

Above: DGA-EV was exhibiting its new Fokker 100 ABE-NG test-bed F-GPXL/290, in the static display. The former airliner has been upgraded by Sabena Technics with a series of modifications that will allow it to be used for testing Rafale systems. Known as the Avion Banc d’Essais-Nouvelle Génération, it is expected to enter service in December 2015, to replace a Falcon 20 currently being used for trials work. The most obvious modification is the new nose section that will house the RBE2 radar. Hard points have been added underwing for MICA AAMs and under the fuselage for a Reco NG recce pod. Alan Warnes

MBDA’s Flexible Flexis - Looking to the Future MBDA is looking at a modular approach to air warfare. It introduced its CVW102 Flexis modular missile concept – which it is part funding – at Paris. The new concept will enable operators

to configure missiles, piecemeal, according to their requirements. This will include a central command unit, a common missile power and communications bus with universal contactless

interfaces and a common composite chassis that allows for the installation of mission specific components. Weapons can then be assembled as needed and tailored for particular missions. 

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PARIS AIR SHOW LHTEC Engines for Turkish Light Utility Helicopter TURKISH AEROSPACE Industries (TAI) has selected the Light Helicopter Turbine Engine Company (LHTEC) to provide its CTS800 for the Turkish Light Utility Helicopter (TLUH) programme. Honeywell International Inc and RollsRoyce – the 50:50 joint partners in LHTEC – announced the selection at the Paris Air Show. TAI and LHTEC officials signed a memorandum of understanding on June 16 and further discussions will focus on finalising a contract for CTS800 engines. Under the programme, TAI will develop an indigenous five-ton, twin-engine utility helicopter, which will initially be certified by EASA and then converted with mission equipment for Turkish military use. The engines will be the same as those on the current T129 ATAK helicopters, with a commercialised version of the Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) system. The CTS800 currently powers the British Army Air Corps Lynx AH9A, the Super Lynx 300 and the AW159. It was also recently selected by the Brazilian Navy for the mid-life upgrade of its Lynx Mk 21As. And it serves as the boundary layer compressor drive for the ShinMaywa US-2 amphibious SAR aircraft in Japan as well as powering the Sikorsky X2 technology demonstrator aircraft. 

Antonov Reveals An-188 Military Transport

Above: An impression of Antonov’s proposed An-188, a turbofan-powered variant of the An-70, which was unveiled at the Paris Air Show. Antonov

ANTONOV UNVEILED proposals at the Paris Air Show for a new, turbofan-powered variant of the An-70 transport aircraft, designated the An-188. The development was revealed during a press conference on the opening day, June 15, by Dmytro Kiva, the company’s President and General Designer. Antonov, a Ukrainian company, has moved away from its relationship with Russia and is keen to incorporate Western avionics, engines and other

equipment into the An-188. The move should also help increase its export potential. Kiva said the An-188 would be able to operate from unpaved airstrips with 3,000ft (915m) runways and should have a maximum take-off weight of 140 tonnes and payload of 40 tonnes. Although western engines are being considered, the aircraft will initially have a Ukrainian powerplant, possibly the D436FM, a new variant of the Ivchenko Progress D436, which powers the An-158. 

Ghana AF Orders Super Tucanos EMBRAER DEFENSE & Security and the Ghana defence ministry have signed a contract for five A-29 Super Tucano light attack and advanced training turboprops. The deal, announced on June 19 at the Paris Air Show, includes logistic support and a training system for pilots

and mechanics in Ghana. The contract should be finalised later this year. The A-29 will be used by the GAF for advanced training, border surveillance and internal security. Ghana’s President, John Dramani Mahama, had announced plans for the purchase on November 20. 

TAI Displays Anka MALE UAV

Above: TAI’s presence at the Show included this Anka medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned air vehicle, 15-008. An initial contract for ten Ankas for operation by the Turkish Air Force was signed on October 25, 2013, with first deliveries due in 2016. Alan Warnes

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TPE-331-12B for HAL HTT-40 HONEYWELL AEROSPACE has been selected by India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) to provide the engine for its prototype HTT-40 military training aircraft. Honeywell announced the selection of its TPE331-12B turboprop for the aircraft at the Paris Air Show on June 19. HAL's HTT-40 is being developed to replace the Indian Air Force’s (IAF’s) HPT-32 Deepak basic trainers, which were withdrawn after a fatal crash on July 31, 2009. To meet the urgent requirement for a replacement, the IAF ordered 75 Pilatus PC-7 Mk IIs from Switzerland as an interim measure, pending completion of HTT-40 development. However, having become happy with the PC-7, the IAF had recommended to the Defence Ministry that it should be the sole basic trainer and indicated in September 2012 that it did not want the HTT-40. On February 28 this year, India’s Defence Acquisition Council approved exercising options for a further 38 PC-7s, but ruled that the IAF’s remaining trainer requirements must be fulfilled by purchasing 68 HTT-40s. As yet, HAL has not even flown a prototype of the latter, although the company says it is expected to take to the air later this year. 

Czech Police Order Bell 412EPI

DBELL HELICOPTER achieved its first Bell 412EPI sale in Europe during the Paris Air Show. A contract for a single helicopter was signed on June 18 with the Czech police. The helicopter will be used for search and rescue missions and is expected to be delivered by the end of the year. The Czech police have operated various versions of Bell 412 aircraft for over 20 years. “Bell Helicopter has remained committed to the region and rooted in the Czech Republic with the opening of our Bell Helicopter Prague European customization, completion and delivery centre last year,” said Patrick Moulay, Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing at Bell Helicopter. 

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French Alpha Jet Replacement

FRANCE HAS begun searching for a replacement for the Armée de l’Air’s ageing Alpha Jet trainer fleet. It emerged during the Paris Air Show that the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA – General Directorate of Armament), the French arms procurement agency, had issued a pre-solicitation request for information (RFI) in April. Previous reports have suggested the requirement could be for up to 35 aircraft, together with ground-based training systems. However, the aim is to provide 12,000 flight hours per year and it will be left to the bidders to decide how many aircraft are needed to meet this requirement. A formal request for proposals is expected to be issued before the end of this year, possibly around September. A contract with the winning contender could follow in early 2017. Alenia Aermacchi has confirmed that it formally responded to the RFI by the deadline of June 1, offering its M-345 High Efficiency Trainer, while Aero Vodochody is proposing its L-39NG upgraded variant of the L-39 Albatros. It is not known how many other contenders have shown interest as French defence officials have declined to comment. Other competitors could include the Beechcraft T-6 Texan II and Pilatus with either the PC-7 or PC-21. The replacement programme has been tentatively dubbed ‘Project Cognac’ by the French Air Force. 

A400M Deliveries Resumed

Above: Airbus A400M EC-406 gives a spirited display at Le Bourget on June 16. After being grounded following the fatal pre-delivery Turkish Air Force A400M crash, Airbus Defence and Space has resumed deliveries of the A400M following the lifting of all remaining flight restrictions on new production aircraft by Spanish regulator DGAM on June 18. USAF Tech Sgt Ryan Crane

Ten More Sniper ATPs for Jordan LOCKHEED MARTIN is to deliver ten Sniper Advanced Targeting Pods (ATPs) to the Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF) to meet an urgent operational requirement. Under the contract, announced on June 17, Lockheed Martin

will deliver the pods and provide integration support, beginning later this year. The RJAF is currently conducting precisionstrike missions against IS in Iraq and Syria with five Sniper ATPs acquired in 2014. 

H160 Maiden Flight

Above: Airbus Helicopters H160 medium helicopter prototype F-WWOG making its maiden flight on June 12 from Marignane, France. Although primarily aimed at the civil market, it is expected to also find favour in various military, search and rescue and parapublic operations.  A full-scale mock-up of the H160 was on display at the Show all week. Airbus Helicopters

Swiss AF Cougar Upgrade Begins RUAG AVIATION has begun work on an upgrade to the TH-89 (AS532UL) Cougars of the Swiss Air Force. Details were announced by the company on June 17 at the Paris Air Show. The Cougar modernisation follows RUAG’s upgrade of the Swiss TH-86 (AS-332M-1) Super Puma fleet, which was completed last year. RUAG is pressing ahead with a Cougar prototype upgrade, following award of a contract last December. Although the company can build on much of the experience gained from the Super Puma project, it notes the Cougar, as a newer generation helicopter, presents a number of its own challenges. RUAG’s main task in this latest project is to unify the two different fleets by installing the same cockpit architecture. Engineering work on the helicopter is currently under way, involving the replacement of hundreds of kilogrammes of cabling and tens of thousands of point-to-point connections. Thanks to the similarities between the Super Puma and Cougar upgrade programmes, RUAG said it had been able to accelerate its decision cycles, avoid delays when drawing up specifications and even use a number of the same certifications. As part of the project, RUAG is also upgrading the Cougar’s integrated selfprotection system (ISSYS) and mounting a new flare dispenser.

More Thales I-Master Radars for Royal Jordanian AF THALES IS to provide the Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF) with additional I-Master synthetic aperture radar/ ground moving target indicator (SAR/GMTI) radars. The selection, announced in Paris on June 16, follows successful delivery and installation of the radar on to the RJAF’s AC-235 gunship aircraft last year. I-Master is a compact, lightweight, all-weather SAR/GMTI tactical surveillance radar, which also has a maritime moving target indication mode. It provides 360° day/night surveillance, giving high-fidelity imagery for classification and positioning. 

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PARIS AIR SHOW Gabbiano Radar for Brazilian KC-390s

SELEX ES has been awarded a contract by Embraer Defense & Security to provide an undisclosed number of Gabbiano T20 radar systems for the KC-390 transport aircraft being procured by the Força Aérea Brasileira (FAB – Brazilian Air Force). Deliveries will begin this year. The deal was announced by Selex at the Paris Air Show on June 18. Gabbiano is an X-band radar capable of delivering highly accurate intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) for search and rescue, and patrol missions over sea, land or around coastal areas. It has been selected by ten international customers. The version that will equip the KC-390 incorporates radar modes optimised for military transport aircraft. The production contract from Embraer follows the earlier selection of the Gabbiano as part of the KC-390’s baseline equipment. 

Brazilian Caracal On Show

Above: Brazilian Marinha Airbus Helicopters H225M Cougar N-7107, one of 50 being acquired by the Brazilian Armed Forces, was on display in the static park. The order includes 16 for the Força Aérea Brasileira (FAB – Brazilian Air Force), which has designated the type the H-36 Caracal, plus two VIP transport VH-36 Caracal versions which will also be operated by the FAB. A further 16 will join the Exército under the designation HM-4 Jaguar, whilst the remaining 16 are for the Marinha, which will operate them in two different versions. Eight of the Navy helicopters will be basic transport and search and rescue (SAR) UH-15 Cougars, whilst the other eight are to be more advanced UH-15A Cougars, which will be equipped for additional missions, including anti-surface warfare (ASuW) and combat SAR. Alan Warnes

Qatar Orders Four More C-17As BOEING HAS gained a new order for four additional C-17A Globemaster III airlifters from the Government of Qatar. The new contract was announced by the manufacturer at the Paris Air Show on June 15. They will supplement four C-17As already in Qatar Emiri

Air Force (QEAF) service. With this sale, Boeing now only has one 'white tail' C-17A still looking for a customer. Algeria had evaluated the type at Boufarik last year, but no sale has materialised and it now seems likely to have lost out on acquiring the type. 

Selex SAGE ESM Airbus Helicopters Launches X6 for Indonesian CN235 MPA SELEX ES is to provide its SAGE electronic warfare system for a Tentara Nasional Indonesia – Angkatan Udara (TNI-AU – Indonesian Air Force) CN235 maritime patrol aircraft (MPA). The order, announced by the company on June 15 at the Paris Air Show, marks the first time that the SAGE electronic support measures (ESM) has been selected for a fixed-wing maritime patrol aircraft requirement. Selex ES has signed a contract with US-based prime contractor Integrated Surveillance and Defense Inc (ISD) to provide a SAGE 600 ESM system for the TNI-AU. The system is due to be delivered in September. The TNI-AU currently has just one CN235-220 MPA in service, operated by Skadron Udara 5 at Hassanuddin. The aircraft being prepared by ISD will be the second one for the TNI-AU, while the contract with the company will also configure two more CN235s as MPAs for the Tentara Nasional Indonesia – Angkatan Laut (TNI-AL – Indonesian Navy). 

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Above: An impression of the new Airbus Helicopters X6. Airbus Helicopters

AIRBUS HELICOPTERS has launched a long-awaited replacement for its H225 Super Puma. The company’s President and CEO, Guillaume Faury, unveiled details of the futuristic-looking X6 nextgeneration heavy-lift rotorcraft at a press conference during the Paris Air Show on June 16. Although targeted initially at the civil market and, specifically, oil and gas industry support missions, the company said it would also be perfectly suited for search and rescue, VIP and other applications. The concept phase will cover a two-year definition period. Major

marketing, architecture and design choices for the twinengine aircraft will be assessed to meet customer operational requirements during this phase. One of the major innovations to be integrated on X6 is the fly-by-wire flight control system. The X6 will benefit from Airbus Helicopters’ long history of innovation and expertise and share commonality features with the company’s latest rotorcraft – including the new H175 and H160. Once adequate programme maturity has been achieved at the concept stage, a development phase will lead to an X6 entry into service anticipated in the 2020s. 

Terma SelfProtection for UAE Archangels TERMA IS to equip the Iomax Archangel Border Patrol Aircraft with its modular aircraft self-protection equipment. The contract provides design, development and sustainment for systems to support aircraft deliveries beginning this year. Delivery and flight testing will begin this summer in order to meet the schedule for delivery of the first aircraft to the United Arab Emirates Air Force and Air Defence, which has ordered 24 Archangels. The aircraft self-protection suite is managed using the latest Terma ALQ-213 electronic warfare management system hardware and software. Terma’s configurable Modular Aircraft Self-Protection Equipment (MASE) pods provide a mission adaptation capability and can be arranged to support a variety of aircraft self-protection solutions depending on the specific aircraft and mission requirements. In the IOMAX aircraft, the pods house missile warning sensors and countermeasures dispensing systems. The contract was announced on June 15 at the Parish Air Show. In addition to fixed-wing use, variations of this system have been developed by Terma, the Danish-headquartered aerospace and defence company, for use on the AW101 and Fennec, plus the AH-64 Apache gunship. 

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Bell V-280 Four T-6Ds Delivered to US Army Valor Assembly Begins SPIRIT AEROSYSTEMS, as a subcontractor to Bell Helicopter, has begun major assembly of the fuselage for the first Bell V-280 Valor advanced tiltrotor. The two companies announced the milestone at the Paris Air Show on June 15. The delivery of the first V-280 fuselage to the Bell Helicopter facility in Amarillo, Texas, is expected later this year. First flight of the V-280 Technology Demonstrator is anticipated in the second half of 2017. 

Saudi Arabia Orders Four C295Ws

SAUDI ARABIA’S Ministry of Interior has ordered four C295W medium transport aircraft. The contract was announced by Airbus Defence and Space (ADS) on June 16 at the Paris Air Show. The company said the type was chosen based on its demonstrated excellent operational capabilities in hot and severe conditions and its proven affordable maintenance and operational costs. 

Six A-29s Ordered by Mali EMBRAER DEFENSE & Security signed a contract at the Paris Air Show on June 15 with the Republic of Mali’s Ministry of Defence and Army Veterans for the purchase of six A-29 Super Tucano light attack and advanced training aircraft. The ceremony was attended by the Mali Minister of Defence, Tiéman Hubert Coulibaly. The contract also includes logistical support and provides a training system for pilots and mechanics of the Force Aérienne de la République du Mali (FARM – Mali Republic Air Force). The A-29s will be used for advanced training, border surveillance and internal security. Mali had confirmed its selection of the A-29 during a meeting on March 9 between the Malian defence minister and his Brazilian counterpart, Jacques Wagner. During that meeting, two draft defence co-operation agreements were signed. 

Above: The formal hand-over of T-6D 14-0065 with (from left) Col Steve Clark, US Army Fixed-Wing Project Manager; Dan Grace, Vice President, Business Development, Beechcraft Defense Company; and Col Patrick Mason, Commander, RTC. The aircraft is one of four recently delivered to the US Army. Beechcraft Defense

BEECHCRAFT DEFENSE Company has delivered four Beechcraft T-6D aircraft to the United States Army. The delivery was announced at the Paris Air Show on June 15. They will be operated by the US Army Aviation Technical Test Center, stationed at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, where they will replace the Beechcraft T-34Cs currently in use at the facility. Upon arrival in Huntsville, the four T-6D aircraft will perform missions including operational

support airlift, utility, training, chase, airspeed calibration support, cloud physics research and stores component research and qualification. The T-6D variant is a hybrid of the T-6B and T-6C trainers. It features new standard avionics, with integrated mission computers, up-front control panels, multifunction displays and a heads-up display. The US Army T-6Ds have a hard point wingfor up to six wing-mounted pylons and two external fuel tanks. 

Pakistan Gains First JF-17 Export Order PAKISTAN’S Chengdu/PAC JF-17 Thunder has secured its first export order. Air Commodore Khalid Mahmood, CEO of JF-17 Sales and Marketing, confirmed a contract had been signed with an unspecified Asian country when speaking at the Paris Air Show on June 15. He remained tight-lipped regarding the customer, although it is strongly suspected to be Myanmar. He indicated deliveries would begin in 2017. It is believed the order comprises around 12 aircraft, which will reportedly include some of the long-expected tandem two-seat version, now under development. A prototype two-seater is slated to make its maiden flight around December next year. Three Pakistan Air Force (PAF) JF-17s were at Le Bourget, with two available for the daily flying displays, one being a spare (10-123 and 13-143 both from 26 Squadron ‘Black Spiders’), while the third (13-146 from 16 Squadron ‘Black Panthers’) was in the static park. 

Indonesia Orders Two SAR AS365N3+ Dauphins TWO AS365N3+ Dauphins have been ordered to boost the search and rescue (SAR) capabilities of Indonesia. They will be purchased on behalf of the Indonesia Government by PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI) under a contract signed with Airbus Helicopters on June 15 at the Paris Air Show. The manufacturer will deliver the helicopters to PTDI within one year. They will then be

reassembled, tested, qualified, completed and customised by PTDI with mission equipment including hoists, flotation systems, direction finder, an electronic optical system and casualty evacuation devices. The strategic alliance between PTDI and Airbus Helicopters has seen them manufacturing and delivering more than 130 helicopters over the last 40

years. There are currently five Dauphin helicopters in service in Indonesia, with the police for law enforcement and national search and rescue organisation Basarnas for SAR missions. In addition, the Indonesian Navy ordered 11 Panthers (the military version from the same family) for anti-submarine warfare last year. These will be delivered by PTDI within the next three years. 

Boeing Looking for CH-47F Sales

Left: US Army CH-47F Chinook 0708748 from B Company, 5-158th AVN at Ansbach AHP, Germany, on display in the static park at Le Bourget. Boeing was at the show seeking additional export customers for the CH-47F. Boeing was awarded a contract on June 17, 2013, for 155 CH-47Fs for the US Army, plus 60 options available for FMS orders. To date, 25 of these options have been taken up and the manufacturer is looking to secure orders for the other 35. Alan Warnes

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NORTH AMERICA US Navy Orders 53 AN/APY-10 Radars for P-8A RAYTHEON IS to supply the US Navy with 53 more AN/APY-10 maritime, littoral and overland surveillance radars for Boeing P-8A Poseidon aircraft. To date, Raytheon has delivered 36 of the 58 AN/APY-10 radars that had previously been ordered by the US Navy. The $152,886,443 contract for the additional radars was awarded by US Naval Air Systems Command on June 11. The latest order covers radars for P-8A full-rate production lots 2 through to 6, comprising 46 for the US Navy and seven for the Royal Australian Air Force. Work on the radar contract is expected to be completed in August 2021. The AN/APY-10 delivers information in all weather, day and night, for antisubmarine and anti-surface warfare missions, and for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. It offers a dedicated periscope detection mode, long-range detection and classification of maritime targets, plus synthetic aperture for overland surveillance. 

Special Mission Grand Caravan EX on Show CESSNA AIRCRAFT made its debut with a newly-configured Cessna 208B Grand Caravan EX demonstrator at the Paris Airshow. The aircraft, N867EX (c/n 208B5162), incorporates various special mission applications, including a surveillance console and a medical stretcher, as well as a variety of cabin and seating configurations, including newly designed lightweight production seats in a half club configuration, together with a stowable utility seat. Dan Keady, Vice President, Special Missions, said: “With a high percentage of our Caravan sales going into special mission roles around the world, this platform has proven to be a

truly versatile multi-tasker. Having a fully equipped special missions Grand Caravan EX demonstrator in the market allows our customers to experience first-hand the extensive range of capabilities available on this platform.” The company believes the Grand Caravan EX is particularly well suited for a wide array of operations due to its spacious cabin, high useful load of more than 3,500lb (1,588kg), large cargo door and the ability to operate from short, unimproved surfaces. These aircraft have proved successful in a variety of special mission applications, including aerial survey, air ambulance,

Above: Cessna’s Grand Caravan EX Special Missions demonstrator, N867EX (c/n 208B5162), which was on show in the static display at the Paris Air Show. Cessna Aircraft

Follow-On C-130J R&D Contract Awarded LOCKHEED MARTIN has been awarded a $480 million US Air Force contract for C-130J Super Hercules follow-on research and development. Under the indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract awarded on June 24 by the US

Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, the company will develop a range of capability enhancements for the aircraft. The US Department of Defense said the deal allowed “continual aircraft improvement

in all developmental areas”. An initial $98,467,000 from Fiscal Year 2015 research and development funding was released at the time of the award. Work will continue for the next 15 years, with completion expected by June 19, 2030. 

Developmental EW Pod Testing

Above: US Navy UH-1Y Venom 166768 ‘HX’ from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 21 (HX-21) takes off on June 8 for the first test flight of a new developmental electronic warfare pod. The trial took place at HX-21’s base at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. The pod is intended to provide a new tactical capability for US Marine Corps helicopters and allow for changing mission requirements in flight. US Navy

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paratrooper, amphibious operations, surveillance, training and utility/transport. The Grand Caravan EX can also be manufactured with structural provisions for two hard points on each wing, allowing the aircraft to be configured for missions requiring armament. Both the Iraqi Air Force and Lebanese Air Force operate armed versions of the type, using the hard points to carry Hellfire air-to-surface missiles. The demonstrator aircraft is making its global debut throughout the year with appearances scheduled in Europe, the Caribbean, Latin America, Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific. 

SDB II LRIP Contract RAYTHEON HAS received its first low-rate initial production (LRIP) contract for the Small Diameter Bomb II (SDB II), after achieving Milestone C in its development programme. The contract, announced by the company at the Paris Air Show on June 16, had been awarded by the US Air Force on June 12. Valued at $30,947, 228, the deal covers 144 LRIP Lot 1 SDB IIs, 156 Lot 1 SDB II single weapon containers, eight SDB II weapon load crew trainers and conventional munitions maintenance trainers and four Lot 1 SDB II practical explosive ordnance disposal system trainers. Work is expected to be complete by May 30, 2017. SDB II, with its tri-mode seeker, will initially be deployed on US Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles and US Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornets. It is also later planned for internal carriage on the F-35 Lightning II. 

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AIM-9X Sidewinder Block II Testing Completed RAYTHEON AND the US Navy have completed operational testing and evaluation (OT&E) live firing of the AIM-9X Sidewinder Block II infrared air-to-air missile. Completion of OT&E was announced by Raytheon on June 17 at the Paris Air Show. Sixteen planned shots struck a mix of full-scale and sub-scale targets. during the OT&E phase The US government is finalising approval, acceptance and delivery of Block II missiles to the US services and allies for later this year. Captain Jim Stoneman, from the PMA-259 Air-to-Air Missiles Program Office, which led the development work undertaken on the Block II missile, said: “The AIM-9X Sidewinder Block II builds upon the proven reliability of Block I with significant advancements that improve handling, loading, in-flight safety and, most importantly, the ability to acquire, track and destroy an adversary.” The new AIM-9X retains all of the Block I’s dogfighting capabilities and continues to deliver the ‘First Look, First Shot, First Kill’ capability, Raytheon said. It has new processors in the guidance section and a new fuze including a weapon datalink, which can enable the missile to lock-on-after-launch. Future missile software updates will be able to further expand the weapon's capabilities, making use of the speed and increased memory capacity of the new processors. Mike Jarrett, Raytheon Air Warfare Systems vice president, said: “The development of AIM-9X Sidewinder Block II now brings the warfighter two very important missile capabilities. First, they have rapid, high offboresight acquisition to enable the first firing opportunity in a hard-turning visual dogfight. Second, the pilot can now extend their reach through the use of aircraft sensors and weapon datalink to engage with Sidewinder missiles well before the initial merge to help ensure the survival and triumph of our warfighters.” 

CH-53K Programme Moving Ahead SPIRIT AEROSYSTEMS has delivered the third fuselage section for the CH-53K King Stallion heavy lift helicopter programme’s System Demonstration and Test Article (SDTA) contract to Sikorsky. The company, based in Wichita, Kansas, announced the delivery on June 19. Its arrival allows Sikorsky to begin assembling the third of the four SDTA aircraft to further solidify the final production configuration of the CH-53K aircraft for the US Marine Corps. The composite-skinned fuselage section produced by Spirit comprises an integrated cockpit and cabin structure, with a separately attached tail section. Phil Anderson, Spirit senior vice president of Defense Programs, said: “The strong, lightweight composite structures we are providing to Sikorsky will in turn give the Marine Corps a much needed increase in payload capability.” Sikorsky was awarded a contract by the US Navy on May 30, 2013 to assemble and deliver the four SDTA aircraft by 2017 in support of USMC operational evaluation of the CH-53K. Spirit is on contract to deliver the final SDTA fuselage unit to Sikorsky later this year.

The US Marine Corps will employ the four SDTA aircraft to verify the helicopter’s design capability to carry 27,000lbs (12,247kg) over 110nm (204km) under ‘high hot’ ambient conditions, tripling the external load carrying capacity of the current CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter. The US Navy has included the four SDTA helicopters within the existing $3.5 billion System Development and Demonstration (SDD) contract initially awarded to Sikorsky on April 5, 2006. From 2011 to 2012, as part of the SDD contract, Spirit delivered to Sikorsky seven fuselage sections from its Wichita facility. Sikorsky has used those fuselage sections to complete two non-flying test articles, one ground test vehicle and four flight test aircraft. Chris Falo, Spirit’s CH-53K programme director, said: “The CH-53K fuselage is one of the most complex composite structures ever built by Spirit.” In another move related to the programme, US Naval Air Systems Command awarded a contract to Sikorsky on June 15 for the procurement of critical parts and associated support for two CH-53K SDTA aircraft. The $38,838,189 deal covers

various parts including forgings, castings, cores, beams, blocks for assemblies, frames, skins, spars and fitting assemblies. Contract completion is anticipated in December 2018. These are two of the four SDTA helicopters, which will be built as production representative aircraft for operational evaluation by the USMC.  They will follow the initial four Engineering Development Model (EDM) airframes. The first of the EDM helicopters, YCH-53K Bu No 169019, was formally unveiled on May 5 last year at Sikorsky’s Assembly and Flight Operations Facility in West Palm Beach, Florida. Maiden flight of the first EDM prototype had been anticipated by the end of 2014. Problems which surfaced with the main rotor gearbox during ground testing have delayed getting the aircraft into the air, although NAVAIR officials hoped to have a solution in place by July. The Marine Corps intends to order 200 CH-53K production aircraft (including the four SDTA aircraft) to replace the entire CH-53E Super Stallion fleet and to stand up eight active duty, one reserve and one training squadron to support the US Marine Corps’ operational requirements. 

Above: The third SDTA Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion fuselage, which has now been delivered by Spirit AeroSystems. Spirit AeroSystems

Thales I-Master Integrated on Scorpion Jet THALES AND Textron AirLand have successfully jointly integrated Thales’ I-Master radar on to Textron AirLand’s Scorpion Jet. The achievement was announced on June 17 at the Paris Air Show, where the jet was on display with the radar installed. The addition to the Scorpion’s mission system compliments the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) sensor suite which already includes an electro-optical/ infra-red (EO/IR) capability. Having integrated the multi-mode radar into Scorpion within just two

weeks, the first flight trials took place in late May. Combined with an EO/IR camera, I-Master adds long-range, wide-area surveillance and target tracking. Both payloads can be operated simultaneously by a single operator. Textron AirLand’s Scorpion has completed more than 400 hours of flight testing with an exceptionally high mission availability rate, the company said.  Scorpion is promoted as a highly affordable, multi-mission aircraft offering diverse capabilities including

ISR, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, advanced training and precision strike. The Thales I-Master radar is a compact, lightweight, all-weather tactical surveillance radar, providing ground moving target indication (GMTI), synthetic aperture radar (SAR) performance and maritime moving target indication (MMTI) modes. I-Master provides high fidelity imagery for locating and classifying both moving and stationary targets at long standoff ranges over land and sea. 

#329 AUGUST 2015 23


NORTH AMERICA First Six RCAF Cyclones Accepted

Above: Royal Canadian Air Force Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone 148802/N8040J (c/n 92-5002) on the deck of HMCS Halifax on April 18, 2015, during sea trials in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Nova Scotia. Royal Canadian Navy/Jacek Szmanski

A MAJOR milestone has finally reached, after years of delays, with the official acceptance by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) of an initial six Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone maritime helicopters. To mark the occasion, a ceremony was held on June 19 at 12 Wing, CFB Shearwater, Nova Scotia. It was attended by Defence Minister Jason Kenney, Public Works and Government Services Minister Diane Finley, as well as Regional

US Army Orders 19 More MQ-1C Gray Eagles US ARMY Contracting Command has awarded a contract to General Atomics Aeronautical Systems for 19 MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned air vehicles, financed with Fiscal Year 2015 funding. The $121.35 million deal, awarded on June 23, also includes 19 satellite communications air data terminals. The award exercises options included in the Fiscal Year 2013 full rate production contract. Work will be performed in Poway, California, with an estimated completion date of September 30, 2018. The US Army's programme of record anticiaptes a total fleet of 167 Gray Eagles, of which 127 have been delivered to date. Final deliveries are planned for Fiscal Yerar 2018. 

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Minister for Nova Scotia and Justice Minister Peter MacKay. The six helicopters were accepted in accordance with the revised schedule set out in January 2014 and provide the operational capability for the RCAF to begin retiring the CH-124 Sea Kings, which are now more than 50 years old. The new aircraft will be based at 12 Wing and are being used for training and testing with RCAF personnel.

In its final configuration, the Cyclone will be capable of a full range of anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, search and rescue, and utility missions. Sikorsky, the RCAF and the Royal Canadian Navy conducted sea trials with the CH-148 Cyclone on the frigate HMCS Halifax (FFH 330) between December 2014 and May 2015. The Cyclone conducted 67 sorties, including 322 landings and take-offs

from the frigate. On June 18, 2014, the Canadian government signed amendments to both the acquisition contract and in-service support to include an additional ten years of support at rates based on those current when the type was originally selected in 2004. The six helicopters are the first of 28 Sikorsky will deliver to the RCAF under a contract signed on November 23, 2004. The first CH-148 made its maiden flight on November 15, 2008. Since then various technical problems have plagued the programme and delayed handing over of the helicopters. The first Cyclone, in an interim configuration, arrived at Shearwater on May 13, 2011 followed by three more in 2012. Until now, all those delivered to Canada had remained under Sikorsky control, pending resolution of the problems. Sikorsky will phase in increased capabilities while the RCAF determines operational strategy and more personnel are trained on the aircraft. More than 40 military personnel have already completed initial training. The first two Sea Kings will be retired later this year. The Sea King fleet will continue operations until 2018 to allow for completion of the transition to the Cyclone fleet. 

More Luke F-16s Transferred to Holloman ARRIVING AT Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, on June 16 were 12 US Air Force F-16C/Ds for the 314th Fighter Squadron ‘Warlords’, which was scheduled to stand up as a new F-16 training unit at the base on July 14. The aircraft were previously operated by the 308th FS ‘Emerald Knights’ at Luke AFB, Arizona. They comprised F-16Cs 88-0434 ‘LF’, 88-0458 ‘LF’, 88-0484 ‘LF’/‘308 FS’, 88-0487 ‘LF’, 89-2107 ‘LF’, 90-0712 ‘LF’, 90-0730 ‘LF’, 90-0758 ‘LF’ and 90-0770 ‘LF’ plus F-16Ds 89-2160 ‘LF’, 89-2161 ‘LF’ and 89-2170 ‘LF’. The 314th FS is under the control of the 54th Fighter Group, a tenant unit at Holloman which operates as a detachment of the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke. Lt Col Heath Wimberly, 314th FS director of operations, said: “As the 308th FS at Luke graduated their most recent class, they’re beginning their deactivation. However, we still need to train F-16 pilots, so we moved their aircraft here.”

Above: US Air Force F-16Cs 88-0458 ‘LF’ and 90-0770 ‘LF’ arriving overhead Holloman AFB, New Mexico, on June 16 after a ferry flight from Luke AFB, Arizona. They were two of the 12 F-16s which arrived at Holloman on that day for the 54th Fighter Group’s 314th Fighter Squadron, which will be activated on July 14. US Air Force/Senior Airman Aaron Montoya

On July 15, the 314th intends to begin training new instructor pilots. “We have ten pilots here that are just waiting be trained to become instructor pilots. Some of them already have experience as instructors, so we just need to refresh them. It should take between a few weeks and about four months to have them all trained,” said Wimberly. The 56th FG was activated on

March 11, 2014 at Holloman as an F-16C/D Formal Training Unit – see Holloman’s First New F-16 Training Sqn Activated, May 2014, p15. On the same day, the first of its two F-16 training squadrons, the 311th FS ‘Sidewinders’, was also activated. The second will be the 314th FS, with 19 ex-Holloman F-16C/Ds. The 54th FG expects all its 50 F-16C/Ds by the end of this year. 

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RCAF Re-forms Ski-Jump Tests Begin for F-35B Lightning II arresting gear used on US carriers. 433 Squadron ANOTHER MAJOR milestone in the ski-jump testing throughout the A CEREMONY was held to re-form 433 Tactical Fighter Squadron 'Ti-pics', Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), on June 9 at CFB Bagotville, Quebec. The event saw the restoration of the squadron colour to the unit, which comes under the control of 3 Wing at Bagotville. Participants in the ceremony included Colonel Sylvain Ménard, the commander of 3 Wing, and Lt-Gen Yvan Blondin, commander of the RCAF. The unit, which previously flew the CF-188 Hornet, had been disbanded on July 14, 2005, after 62 years of operation at Bagotville. Since then all Hornets at the base have been operated by 425 Tactical Fighter Squadron 'Alouettes.' Lt-Col Billy Mitchell is the commanding officer of the reactivated squadron, which will again fly the Hornet. Col Ménard said at the event that the addition of a fourth RCAF fighter squadron was in response to the recent and numerous world changes, which have resulted in increased commitments for Canadian personnel as part of coalition forces. He said the formation of the new unit would provide "more resilience and greater operational flexibility." 

Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II programme was reached on June 19, when F-35B BF-04 carried out the first ever ski-jump take-off. The test was conducted by the F-35 Lightning IIPax River Integrated Test Force at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. The joint UK-US test team will continue with Phase I of

summer as a lead-up to eventual UK aircraft carrier operations. Peter Williams, who flew the sortie, is the BAE Systems test pilot and ski-jump project leader. He said the first ski-jump was a great success. The UK has used ski-jumps on its carriers for more than 30 years as an alternative to the catapults and

Above: USMC F-35B Lightning II BF-04 takes off from a ski-jump for the first time on June 19 at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. USN

Prowler Retires After 44 Years Service US NAVY Electronic Attack Wing, US Pacific Fleet, hosted a three-day Sunset Celebration commemorating the retirement of the EA-6B Prowler electronic attack on June 25-27 at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington. The farewell ceremony culminated on June 27 with the last US Navy Prowler, 163890 ‘AJ-502’ from Electronic Attack Squadron 134 (VAQ-134) ‘Garudas’, departing

from Whidbey’s Ault Field for the final time. VAQ-134 will now transition to the EA-18G Growler. A ‘missing man’ formation was also part of the celebration, involving the last Prowler and three EA-18G Growlers, the type which is replacing it in Navy service. Among over 1,000 guests at the event was retired Capt Fred Wilmot, who was a Prowler test pilot and delivered the first one to Whidbey while

serving with VAQ-129 ‘Vikings’ in January 1971. He also flew in the back seat of the Prowler in the formation with the Growlers. However, this is not yet quite the end for the Prowler, which will continue to serve with the US Marine Corps, which has flown the type since 1977. It will remain in service with four squadrons at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, until 2019. 

Above: US Navy EA-6B Prowler 163890 ‘AJ-502’ from Electronic Attack Squadron 134 (VAQ-134) ‘Garudas’ departing for the final time on June 27 from Whidbey’s Ault Field. It was flown to NAS Point Mugu, California. Northrop Grumman

This was the second milestone within a week for the F-35. On June 12, RAF test pilot Sqn Ldr Andy Edgell released two inert 500lb dual-mode Paveway IV precision-guided bombs from the aircraft for the first time. The mission was carried out using F-35B BG-03 over the Atlantic Test Ranges. 

USAF B-52Hs' Round-Robin to Australia

TWO US Air Force Boeing B-52H Stratofortress bombers assigned to the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, have completed a non-stop mission to Australia and back. The 44-hour, sortie landed back in the US on July 2. During the mission, the B-52s integrated with Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) ground forces and conducted an inert conventional weapons drop on the Delamere Air Weapons Range. They also performed a low approach at nearby RAAF Base Tindal, Northern Territory. The sortie, closely co-ordinated with the Australian Department of Defence, was intended to demonstrate the US ability to project its flexible, long-range global strike capability and enhance co-operation with a key ally. 

#329 AUGUST 2015 25





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LATIN AMERICA Colombian ISR Contract Awarded AIRTEC INC of California, Maryland, has gained a contract to provide intelligence services in Bogota, Colombia, to support US Army Southern Command. The $80,661,914 deal was awarded on June 26 by the US Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division at Lakehurst, New Jersey. It covers provision of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) services using a contractorowned, contractor-operated Bombardier DHC-8 Dash 8 Srs 200 multi-sensor aircraft, with government-furnished property that had previously been installed on the aircraft. The new award is a modification to a $12,485,799 contract awarded on September 29, 2014, to Airtec, to provide operations, maintenance, and developmental test and evaluation services on this Dash 8 in support of Southern Command operations out of Bogota, Colombia. That contract expired in June 2015. 

First EC225LP for Prefectura Naval Argentina

Prefectura Naval Argentina EC225LP Super Puma PA-14 (c/n 2958) during a pre-delivery test flight from the factory in Marignane, France. Airbus Helicopters

AIRBUS HELICOPTERS has completed a new EC225LP Super Puma for the Prefectura Naval Argentina’s (PNA- Argentine Naval Prefecture) Servicio de Aviación. The helicopter, PA-14 (c/n 2958), was still at the factory in Marignane, France, during

Second Peruvian C-27J Delivered A SECOND Alenia Aermacchi C-27J Spartan was delivered to the Fuerza Aérea del Perú (FAP – Peruvian Air Force) during a ceremony at Lima-Callao/Jorge Chávez International Airport on June 19. The aircraft, FAP-329, was officially incorporated into service with the FAP’s Grupo Aéreo 8/Escuadrón de Transporte 844, which has been formed at Callao to operate the new type. Italy’s Ambassador to Peru, Mauro Marsili, officially handed over the aircraft to the Commanding General of the FAP, General del Aire Dante Arévalo. The ceremony was

also attended by Minister for Defence Jakke Valakivi and the President of the Council of Ministers, Pedro Cateriano. The first FAP C-27J, FAP328/C.S.X62295, had arrived in Peru on March 15 – see Peruvian Air Force C-27J Delivery, May, p19. A formal ceremony to induct the aircraft into service was held on March 27 at Base Aérea Las Palmas, Santiago de Surco, Lima. The FAP has ordered four of the type. A $121.7 million contract for the first two was signed in December 2013. A order for a further two was singed on December 31, 2014 and valued

mid-June for crew training. It is the first of two on order, while an option is held on a third. The type will be used for search and rescue, replacing two older model SA330L Super Pumas. Approval for a budget to fund the purchase was granted by a

at $120.8 million. The third and fourth will be delivered in 2016 and 2017, respectively. In the longer term, it is also planned to establish a regional maintenance facility in Peru for the type and examine the possibility of co-production. The C-27Js, which are replacing the FAP’s ageing Antonov An-32s, will be used for a variety of missions, including passenger and cargo transport, paratrooping, fire-fighting, search and rescue missions (for which they have emergency kits) and humanitarian aid at times of natural disasters. 

Below: The official ceremony to mark arrival of the second Peruvian Air Force C-27J Spartan, FAP-329, at Lima-Callao/ Jorge Chávez International Airport on June 19. FAP

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Ministry of Finance resolution on November 20, 2013. The €30,692,804 tender for the first EC225, submitted by sole bidder Airbus Helicopters, was opened on October 7, 2014. The contract was signed in November. Juan Carlos Cicalesi and Agustín Puetz 

Erickson to Train Uruguayan Air Force Pilots US AVIATION services provider Erickson has been sub-contracted by another US company, Chilcott, to provide flight currency training for Fuerza Aérea Uruguaya (FAU Uruguayan Air Force) helicopter pilots. The training will be conducted entirely in Spanish. Under the terms of the agreement, Erickson pilot instructors will train FAU pilots in readiness for work with the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO). The Erickson instructors will provide ground refresher training and more than 200 hours of supervised flight currency training on a Bell 412 helicopter at the company's facility in McMinnville, Oregon. The training will be completed before FAU crews deploy as part of scheduled UN mission pilot rotations in the third quarter of this year. Chilcott was contracted by US Southern Command. 

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Additional SAR SC-105s for Brazil Due in 2017 DELIVERY OF the first of three SC-105 Amazonas dedicated search and rescue variants of the Airbus Defence and Space (ADS) C295 transport to the Força Aérea Brasileira (FAB – Brazilian Air Force) is scheduled to take place in 2017. The contract for these aircraft was announced by ADS on July 28, 2014 – see Brazilian Air Force Signs Contract for Three SAR C295s, September 2014, p21. At that time, ADS said that deliveries would begin at the end of that year. However, the FAB announced on June 30 that the first delivery will not be until 2017, although it is unclear why there has been a delay. The three additional SC-105s will join two already in service with the FAB, delivered in April and June 2009. They are operated by 2° Esquadrão ‘Pelicano’ of 10°Grupo de Aviacão, based at Campo Grande. The unit will also fly the new aircraft. In addition to the SAR variant, the FAB also flies ten standard transport C-105s. Equipment fit on the new SC-105s will include an electrooptical/infra-red system and EL/M2022A(V)3 radar, capable of searches over land or sea at up to 190nm (360km) range. A satcom system will allow contact with other aircraft and rescue co-ordination centres, even when operating at low level. They will have an eight-man crew: two pilots, a mechanic, two mission systems operators and four observers. Additional observers can be accommodated to relieve the others on missions which could last up to ten hours. The new SC-105s will be multi-mission aircraft, capable of also embarking paratroopers and a loadmaster who would be responsible for launching lifeboats and/or supplies to survivors once they have been located. They will also be used for medevac, cargo transport and surveillance missions. Because of their multi-role use, they will be in a more basic configuration in comparison to the two earlier SC-105s, with only two observation windows and without much of the specific SAR equipment. 

Two Grand Caravan EXs Join Argentine Army NEW ARGENTINE Comando de Aviación de Ejército (Army Aviation Command) Cessna 208B Grand Caravan EX AE-225 (c/n 208B-5196, ex N3045W) arrived at Campo de Mayo Military Airfield on June 9 on completion of its delivery flight to Agrupación de Aviación de Ejército No 601. The aircraft’s ferry flight from the factory in Wichita, Kansas, took five days, with stops in Honduras, Ecuador, Peru, Arica and Santiago de Chile (Chile), Mendoza, and San Fernando, before finally arriving at Campo de Mayo.

The new aircraft is equipped with a Garmin G1000 glass cockpit, including two primary flight displays (PFDs) and one multi-function display (MFD), offering critical flight data and radar in three high-resolution, configurable screens. It is outfitted for transporting up to 12 passengers, but is also equipped with a removable medevac kit. A second Grand Caravan EX, AE-226 (c/n 208B-5204, ex N3053R) arrived at Campo de Mayo on June 27. They are to be used in the air ambulance and general transport role.

They were ordered for the Argentine Army through a $10,870,228 US Air Force Foreign Military Sales contract that was awarded to Cessna Aircraft on January 26, which also included a used Cessna 550 Citation Bravo – see Air Ambulance Cessna 550 and 208Bs for Argentine Army, March, p19. The Citation Bravo will also be in an aeromedical evacuation configuration. It is also planned to buy two more Caravans fitted for paratrooper transport and deployment. Juan Carlos Cicalesi 

Above: New Argentine Army Cessna 208B Grand Caravan EX AE-225 on the ramp at Campo de Mayo on June 16. Juan Carlos Cicalesi

Satena ATR42-600 Deliveries Begin MILITARY-RUN airline Satena, the commercial arm of the Fuerza Aérea Colombiana (FAC – Colombian Air Force), has taken delivery of its first ATR42-600. The aircraft, FAC-1192/HK-5114-X (c/n 1019, ex F-WWLD), arrived in Colombia on June 19 after a five-day ferry flight from the factory in Toulouse, France. The ATR, which had made its maiden flight on June 4, covered almost 6,835 miles (11,000km) in about 25 flying hours during

its delivery flight, which routed via Tenerife (Spain), Sal (Cape Verde), Fortaleza (Brazil) and Paramaribo (Surinam) before arriving in Bogota. It was formally handed over on June 22 and entered service on June 25. The aircraft is one of five due to be delivered under a contract announced on February 14. The first four will all be delivered before the year-end and the fifth in 2016. The second will be HK-5129-X (c/n 1201), which

is already being prepared for delivery, while the third and fourth will be HK-5103-X (c/n 1203) and HK-5128-X (c/n 1204). FAC serials for these aircraft have yet to be confirmed, as have the details for the fifth aircraft. All are being supplied on lease by Danish-based lessor, Nordic Aviation Capital A/S, which already leases seven older model ATRs to Satena. The new aircraft will progressively replace ATR42-500s in the fleet. 

Above: Satena ATR42-600 FAC-1192/HK-5114-X, which was delivered to Bogota on June 19. FAC

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AFRICA Egypt Orders AASM for Rafales SAGEM HAS signed a contract with the Egyptian Ministry of Defense to supply AASM Hammer air-to-ground missiles. Announced at the Paris Air Show on June 15, it follows Egypt’s order for 24 Rafales from Dassault Aviation, which was signed on February 16 – see Egypt Signs First Rafale Export Order, April, p5. Developed and produced by Sagem as prime contractor, the AASM Hammer is a new family of precision-guided air-to-ground weapons. The Hammer system adds a propulsion kit and a choice of guidance kits to standard bombs. Sagem will deliver the first AASM Hammer missiles by the end of 2016, along with associated support services. The contract with Egypt covers all three versions of the AASM Hammer in service: hybrid inertial/GPS guidance, inertial/ GPS and terminal infrared guidance, and inertial/GPS plus laser terminal guidance. Sagem reports the AASM Hammer has a range of more than 37 miles (60km), giving Egypt’s Rafales a significant operational advantage by providing the ability to conduct all-weather, day/night precision ground strikes against fixed or moving targets, while also reducing collateral damage. The AASM Hammer missile has been deployed since 2008 by French Air Force and Navy Rafales. All three current versions of the AASM Hammer were on display at Paris. 

Anonymous Military S-92s Operating in Djibouti

Above: Anonymous Sikorsky S-92A 34377 on the US military ramp at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport on June 29. The second S-92, 34376, is visible in the hangar behind. Michael Ward

TWO ANONYMOUS Sikorsky S-92As are currently flying with an unknown unit operating out of Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport. Both were noted on June 29 in the area used by the US military and wear an overall grey colour scheme, with no nationality markings. One was parked on the ramp and carries serial ‘34377’, with a probable full serial of 13-4377, while the other, 34376, was in a nearby hangar. No further details are known about the pair

or what they are being used for, although it seems likely they are supporting US Africa Command missions in the region. The origin of the helicopters is also unknown, as most S-92 production has been accounted for and is well documented. They could be two of three S-92s operated by Exploration Services of Gainesville, Florida. The company dry leases these aircraft to commercial operators and wet leases them to federal, state and local government agencies. It is possible that two

of them are currently leased to the US military, but this is only speculation and they could be from a completely different source. The three helicopters owned by the company are N191ES (c/n 920120), N192ES (c/n 920130) and N193ES (c/n 920162). Other possibilities are a pair of S-92s, N138BW (c/n 920138) and N139UN (c/n 920139), which were cancelled from the US register on May 13, 2011, as ‘exported to Kuwait’, but have not been seen since. 

Tunisia Orders Four More UH-60Ms

SIKORSKY AIRCRAFT has won a foreign military sales deal to provide four modified UH-60M Black Hawks for the Government of Tunisia. Work will be performed in West Palm Beach, Florida,

with an estimated completion date of June 30, 2019. The $79,680,022 contract was awarded on June 30. It is an amendment to the March 17 order for eight ‘green’ UH-60Ms for Tunisia – see Tunisia Orders 8

UH-60M Black Hawks, May, p24. These orders follow US State Department approval in July last year to supply 12 UH-60Ms to Tunisia – see Tunisia to Buy 12 UH-60Ms, September 2014, p25. 

Operation Sangaris Helicopters Head Home

Above: Two SA342 Gazelles and a pair of Tigers from France’s Aviation Légère de l’Armée de Terre (ALAT – Army Aviation Corps) are prepared for shipment home from the Central African Republic (CAR) on June 8 after supporting Operation Sangaris, the French military intervention in the CAR. As of July 1, France had approximately 900 military personnel still deployed for the Sangaris mission. They will now support the MINUSCA (the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic), responsible for maintaining regional security in the country. Armée de Terre

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MIDDLE EAST NEWS Lebanese Super Tucano Deal Approved FURTHER PROGRESS has been made with the acquisition of Embraer A-29 Super Tucanos by the Lebanese Air Force, which has now been approved by the US State Department. The go-ahead was announced on June 9 by the US Defense Security Co-operation Agency (DSCA), which also said it had formally notified Congress of the possible sale. The DSCA said the estimated cost will be $462 million, including associated equipment, parts and logistical support. The Foreign Military Sale deal comprises six A-29s, two spare PT6A-68A engines, eight ALE-47 countermeasure dispensing systems, 2,000 Advanced Precision Kill Weapon Systems (APKWS), precision laser-guided rockets, eight AN/AAR-60(V)2 missile launch detection systems and non-selective availability anti-spoofing module (SAASM) embedded GPS/INS (EGIs). The DSCA noted the proposed sale serves US interests by providing Lebanon with airborne capabilities needed to maintain internal security, enforce United Nation’s Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1701, and counter terrorist threats. Plans for the acquisition had first been revealed by the US Ambassador to the Lebanon, David Hale, on September 12 last year. According to local media reports, the purchase is to be funded by Saudi Arabia. The sale will provide Lebanon with a much-needed close air support (CAS) platform to meet present and future challenges posed by internal and border security threats, the DSCA said. The principal contractors will be Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) of Centennial, Colorado; BAE Systems of Nashua, New Hampshire; Pratt & Whitney of East Hartford, Connecticut; Terma North America of Arlington, Virginia and L-3COM Systems of West Salt Lake City, Utah. SNC has already been involved in buying 20 A-29Bs for the US Air Force Light Air Support programme, which will provide them to the Afghan Air Force after completion of pilot training. 

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First PC-21 in Qatar Display Team Colours

Above: New Qatar Emiri Air Force Pilatus PC-21 QA-366 (c/n 226) being towed across the apron at Stans-Bouchs, Switzerland, on June 10. Stephan Widmer

APPEARING OUTSIDE the factory for the first time on June 10 at Stans-Bouchs, Switzerland, was Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF) Pilatus PC-21 QA-366 (c/n 226), the first to be painted in

the colours of the QEAF’s new aerobatic display team. The incomplete aircraft is the 17th for the QEAF and was towed from the painting hall to the wooden hall for final assembly.

The QEAF has 24 PC-21s on order under a contract signed on July 30, 2012. The first flew on February 24, 2014 and the first two were delivered to Qatar in October of that year. 

Saudi Arabia Buying 23 H145s SAUDI ARABIA is buying 23 H145 rotorcraft from Airbus Helicopters. The contract was announced on June 24 during a visit to Paris by Saudi Defence Minister and Deputy Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman. French

Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius revealed the deal during a media briefing, saying it was part of a series of contracts being signed, valued in total at $12 billion. The $500 million deal for the H145s (previously known

as the EC145T2 before the company re-branded its models on March 3), followed the first Franco-Saudi Joint Commission meeting in Paris on the same day, led by Fabius and the Saudi Defence Minister. 

Australian F/A-18A Hornets Continue Anti-ISIL Ops

Above: Royal Australian Air Force avionics personnel from No 75 Squadron work into the night at Al Minhad Air Base in the UAE to get F/A-18A Hornet A21-31 ready for its next Operation Okra mission against ISIL in Iraq. The legacy Hornets took over from RAAF Super Hornets on these missions earlier this year. RAAF

Kuwait to Order 24 H225Ms KUWAIT IS to order 24 Airbus Helicopters H225M Caracals (EC725s) from France to equip its air force, according to an announcement on June 10 by the Élysée Palace in Paris. The contract will be be signed

“as soon as possible” in the presence of French Minister of Defence, Jean-Yves le Drian, and his Kuwaiti counterpart, Sheikh Khaled Al-Jarrah Al-Sabah. The announcement came after the French President, François

Hollande, spoke on the telephone with the Emir of Kuwait, His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al Amhad Al Jaber Al Sabahm. Discussions included the ongoing commitment of France to Kuwait to ensure its security. 

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RUSSIA & CIS Belarus Orders 12 Mi-8MTV-5s RUSSIAN HELICOPTERS has signed a contract with the Belarusian defence ministry for 12 Mi-8MTV-5 military transport helicopters. The deal was announced on June 16 at the Army 2015 International MilitaryTechnology Forum in Kubinka, Russia. They will be delivered between 2016 and 2017. Russian Helicopters CEO Alexander Mikheev said: “Belarus is an important partner for Russia in military technical co-operation. The signing of this contract is another step toward strengthening the friendship and business relations.” The contract will be in accordance with the agreement between Russia and Belarus on the development of military technical co-operation signed on December 10, 2009. The helicopters will be delivered in the same configuration as those for Russia’s own armed forces. 

Uzbekistan Air Force C295W

Above: Uzbekistan Air Force C295W ‘01 White’ returns to Seville-San Pablo Airport, Spain, following a pre-delivery test flight on June 25. This is believed to be the first of four on order for the UzAF. Antonio Muñiz Zaragüeta

A NEW Airbus Defence and Space (ADS) C295W has begun test flying from Seville-San Pablo Airport, Spain, wearing the colours of the Uzbekistan Air Force (UzAF), revealing the country as a new and unannounced customer for the type. The aircraft, ‘01 White’/137 (c/n S-137), was first flown at Seville on June 17,

painted in full UzAF colours. Uzbekistan is known to have been interested in the C295 for some time, a delegation from the UzAF having visited ADS in Seville during February 2014. While there, they were shown C295 aircrew and technician training procedures, acquainted with the type’s capabilities and

Fifth Upgraded Russian Navy Il-38N delivered

Above: The fifth modernised Russian Navy Il-38N, ’78 Yellow’, departing from Zhukovsky on its delivery flight to join the Pacific Fleet following its official hand over on June 30. The Indian Navy also flies similarly upgraded Il-38s. Ilyushin

ILYUSHIN HAS delivered the fifth and final upgraded Il-38N anti-submarine aircraft from the initial batch ordered by the Russian Navy. The aircraft, ’78 Yellow’, was handed over in a ceremony on June 30 at the Gromov Flight Research Institute airfield at Zhukovsky. At the same time, the aircraft was officially named ‘Fyodor Zolotukhin’ after the chief designer of the Leninets Novella P-38 search and track targeting system which is one of the primary elements of the modernisation programme.

Following a prototype conversion, a three-year contract for the five production upgrades was awarded on May 25, 2012. Work was undertaken at the No 20 Aircraft Repair Plant at Pushkin, near St Petersburg. The first of these was delivered on July 15, 2014 – see First Upgraded Il-38N Delivered to Russian Navy, September 2014, p29. The modernised aircraft are easily distinguishable externally by means of the distinctive box-shaped housing mounted on legs above the cockpit to house the new P-38 system. They are

also repainted in a new standard overall dark slate grey colour scheme, replacing the much lighter grey previously worn. During the hand-over of the fifth aircraft, the commander of Russian Naval Aviation, Igor Kozhin, confirmed that a contract for the upgrade of additional aircraft was being discussed and it is still planned to eventually modernise the entire fleet. Previously it had been reported that this will involve a total of 28 aircraft, all of which should be completed by 2020. 

Russia May Restart Amphibious Mi-14 Production RUSSIAN HELICOPTERS is considering restarting production of the amphibious Mi-14 helicopter. The company announced the possibility on July 2 at the 7th

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International Maritime Defence Show in St Petersburg, Russia. If there is sufficient customer interest, the company says it is ready to upgrade the type with the latest

technology. Although it served with the Russian Navy and various commercial operators, today the Polish Navy remains the only military operator of the type. 

flown on a demonstration flight. Earlier this year, ADS had announced the sale of eight C295Ws to two customers who did not wish to be identified. During the Paris Air Show, ADS identified a customer for four of these as Saudi Arabia. This implies that the remaining four will be for Uzbekistan. 

Ukrainian Air Force An-26 Upgrade ANTONOV HAS completed the first stage in modernising the An-26 transport aircraft fleet for the Ukraine defence ministry. The company announced on June 19 that the first aircraft completed is one of 14 being upgraded for 'anti-terrorist' operations. Specifically, the type is being protected against ground fire from portable anti-aircraft missile systems by installing a decoy system produced by Artem SJAH, a division of Ukroboronprom. Future modifications will be carried out in the field, rather than at the factory. The aircraft’s fuselage is also being strengthened during the upgrade and additional electrical wiring installed. All the work is being performed at Antonov’s expense. Mykhaylo Gvozdov, the head of the company, said more than 20 Antonov aircraft, previously having undergone similar work by the manufacturer, are already operating in the Donbass region, where there has been continuing armed conflict since March last year. 

Iceburg F_P.indd 1

01/07/2015 11:35


ASIA PACIFIC KAI Flies First Philippine FA-50PH

South Korea Selects A330 MRTT As New Tanker

Above: The first Philippine Air Force KAI FA-50PH, 15-001, returns to the ramp at Sacheon on June 19 after completing its maiden flight. KAI

KOREA AEROSPACE Industries (KAI) has completed the maiden flight of the first Philippine Air Force (PAF) FA-50PH lead-in fighter trainer. The first flight of the aircraft, serial 15-001, took

place on June 19 from Sacheon. KAI said it intends to deliver the first two PAF FA-50PHs by the year-end. The Philippines signed a contract for 12 FA-50PHs on March 28, 2014 – see News

Fourth Afghan C-130H Delivered FORMER US Air Force Lockheed C-130H Hercules 1665 (c/n 4604, ex 74-1665) touched down on June 20 at Kabul-Hamid Karzai International Airport, Afghanistan, after completing its delivery flight to the Afghan Air Force. The aircraft, which had departed from Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, for its week-long ferry flight, is the fourth and final C-130H for Afghanistan. The first two C-130Hs had arrived at Kabul on October 9, 2013 - see Afghan Air Force's First Two C-130Hs in Service, December 2013, p28. The third followed in September 2014. In a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on July 10, 2014, doubts were expressed by John F

Sopko, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), about the need for the fourth aircraft, as the initial two were being underutilised at that time – see Need for Fourth Afghan C-130H Questioned, December 2014, p30. By then, major work had already been completed on this airframe, which was being refurbished at Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. This included replacing the complete nose section and fitting a new centre wing box. Afghan Air Force Capt Muhammad Azimy, a C-130 pilot who has been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the aircraft, said: “Afghanistan needs to perform

Briefs, May 2014, p23. The deal stipulates that, following delivery of the first two, the next pair should follow 12 months later and the remainder by the end of an agreed 38-month period. 

more missions and having a fourth C-130 allows for that. We need to support more troops, moving them as soon as possible from one point to another, getting them into the fight faster. Getting commandos from the north to the south by helicopter would take days, but by C-130 it will take only a few hours.” Before the aircraft became fully operational, personnel were familiarized with the new equipment and technology. Pilots, mechanics and loadmasters trained in the United States in preparation for the arrival of the fleet and the Afghan Air Force can now conduct regular maintenance and training in country. 

Above: The fourth and final Afghan Air Force Lockheed C-130H Hercules, 1665, taxies in at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, on completion of its delivery flight on June 20. USAF/Capt Eydie Sakura

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SOUTH KOREA has selected the Airbus Defence and Space A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport to meet its requirement for four air refuelling aircraft. The decision was announced on June 30 by the country’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA). Under a deal expected to be worth 1.488 trillion won ($1.33 billion), Airbus will supply the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) with the first aircraft in 2018 and the last before the end of 2019. DAPA said the A330 MRTT had been competing with the Boeing KC-46A Pegasus and an IAI offer of a Boeing 767-300ER-based Multi-Mission Tanker Transport conversion. The aircraft, which will be the country’s first tanker, was selected on the basis of price, performance, fuel capacity and the amount of personnel and cargo it could carry, said DAPA in a statement. The fact that, unlike the KC-46A, it is already in service with a number of air forces around the world was also a factor in its favour, added DAPA. The decision comes as another blow to Boeing, which has yet to find an export order for the KC-46A – the US Air Force being the only customer so far. On the other hand, the A330 MRTT has already been ordered by Australia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, the UAE and the UK. It has also been selected by France, India, Qatar and a European partnership of three nations (the Netherlands, Norway and Poland), which are all expected to place orders in due course. The ROKAF has been seeking a tanker aircraft for some years and DAPA finally gave the go-ahead for the KC-X acquisition programme on August 12, 2013 – see South Korea to Buy Four Air Refuelling Tankers, October 2013, p27. On March 31, 2014, a competitive bidding process was then launched. The three bidders submitted their proposals on June 30, 2014 – see Bids Submitted for ROKAF Tanker Aircraft Requirement, August 2014, p26. 


AUSTRALASIA Two More RAAF KC-30As TWO ADDITIONAL KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transports have been ordered for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). Minister for Defence Kevin Andrews announced the decision to acquire them on July 1. Unlike the existing KC-30As, which were new-build airframes, the two extra aircraft will be ex-Qantas Airlines examples converted to MRTT configuration by Airbus Defence and Space (ADS) in Getafe, Spain. The RAAF chose these aircraft because they are extremely close to the same basic specification as KC-30As already in service. Australia’s Department of Defence has signed an update to the existing acquisition contract with ADS for the two aircraft and associated conversion at a cost of approximately AUS$408 million (US$314.5 million). They will be delivered in 2018 to join five others in service with 33 Squadron at RAAF Base Amberley, Queensland. The KC-30A continues to play an important role in the Middle East region as part of Operation Okra, in support of missions against IS in Iraq. Since last September, the KC-30A deployed to Operation Okra has delivered more than 10,800 tonnes of fuel. 

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First C-27J Arrives Down Under AUSTRALIA’S INITIAL C-27J Spartan battlefield airlifter has arrived in the country. A ceremony was held at Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Richmond, New South Wales, on June 30, to mark its arrival. The aircraft, A34-001 (c/n 4179, USAF/12-27048), was welcomed by Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Geoff Brown, at the event that also celebrated the base’s 90th anniversary. It had made its maiden flight from the factory at Turin-Caselle Airport, Italy, on December 18, 2013. It was ferried to prime

contractor L-3 Communications’ facility in Waco, Texas, in March 2014, for outfitting with electronic warfare/self-protection systems, ballistic protection matting and a communications suite. In December the same year, along with the second RAAF C-27J, A34-002 (c/n 4181, USAF/12-27049), it was transferred to Australian military markings. Aircrew training began at Waco the following month. The aircraft had left Waco on June 15 on its delivery flight and arrived at RAAF Base Townsville, Queensland, on June 24. It then

completed the last leg of the journey to RAAF Base Richmond the following day. The second aircraft is scheduled at Richmond in August. Initial operational capability is expected in late 2016 and within a further two years full operational capability should have been reached. Initially based at Richmond, the aircraft’s permanent home will be at RAAF Base Amberley, Queensland, from around the end of 2017, once all infrastructure is in place. No 35 Squadron has re-formed to operate the C-27Js, ten of which are on order. 

Below: The first Royal Australian Air Force C-27J Spartan, A34-001, arrives at RAAF Base Richmond on June 25. Commonwealth of Australia/Cpl Veronica O’Hara

New Contract Award Summary Air Force


No and Type


Royal Australian Air Force

Lockheed Martin

8 x F-35A

June 4

Delivery Date and Notes By May 2019, long-lead items only

Royal Australian Air Force

Airbus D&S

2 x KC-30A

Jul 1

By 2019, converted ex-Qantas aircraft

Belarus Defence Ministry

Russian Helicopters

12 x Mi-8MTV-5

June 16


Croatian Government

Airborne Technologies

1 x Beech 250 MPA

June 16

July 2016

Czech Police


1 x Bell 412EPI

June 18

By end of 2015

Ghana Air Force


5 x A-29 Super Tucano

June 19


Indonesian Government

Airbus Helicopters

2 x AS365N3+

June 15


Italian Air Force

Lockheed Martin

2 x F-35A

June 4

By May 2019, long-lead items only

Italian Navy

Lockheed Martin

2 x F-35B

June 4

By May 2019, long-lead items only

Lebanese Air Force


1 x Cessna AC-208B

May 28

By May 30, 2016

Mali Air Force


6 x A-29 Super Tucano

June 15


Royal Norwegian Air Force

Lockheed Martin

6 x F-35A

June 4

By May 2019, long-lead items only

Qatar Emiri Air Force


4 x C-17A

June 15

Not announced

Saudi Arabia

Airbus Helicopters

23 x H145

June 24


Saudi Arabian MOI

Airbus D&S

4 x C295W

June 16


Turkish Air Force

Lockheed Martin

2 x F-35A

June 4

By May 2019, long-lead items only


Lockheed Martin

3 x F-35B

June 4

By May 2019, long-lead items only

US Air Force

General Atomics

8 x MQ-9A Reaper

May 20

By December 31, 2017

US Air Force

Lockheed Martin

44 x F-35A

June 4

By May 2019, long-lead items only

US Marine Corps

Lockheed Martin

9 x F-35B

June 4

By May 2019, long-lead items only

US Navy/Marine Corps

Lockheed Martin

2 x F-35C

June 4

By May 2019, long-lead items only

US Army

General Atomics

19 x MQ-1C Gray Eagle

Jun 23

By September 30, 2018


Lockheed Martin

16 x F-35A

June 4

By May 2019, long-lead items only

Unidentified (Myanmar?)


? x JF-17

June 15

Unknown, probably Block 2 aircraft

Uzbekistan Air Force

Airbus D&S



Order not announced, but first aircraft test flying in June

#329 AUGUST 2015 35


All Go

for the Pak AF

For two weeks in June, the Pakistan Air Force manned an incredible three deployments to Europe, as Alan Warnes reports.


he logistic and transport capabilities of the Pakistan Air Force were put under an enormous strain during June. Its fleet of around ten C-130E Hercules was supporting three JF-17s with engineers and other personnel bound for Paris Air Show (June 15-21) for a trip that took eight days – four there and four back. At the same time six 9 Sqn F-16A/Bs were participating in Exercise Anatolian Eagle at Izmir, Turkey (June 5-19) – see next two pages. As both of these events were taking place, the PAF announced a Super Mushshak would be at a Bucharest Air Show (June 20-21) and demonstrated to the Romanian Air Force as a future primary flight trainer. The aircraft, upgraded with a new glass cockpit, was being flown by two afm female PAF pilots.

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Above: The JF-17 taxies past the business jets at Le Bourget and towards the end of the runway for the eight-minute flying display slot at the Paris Air Show. Right: Air Vice Marshal Arshad Malik, JF-17 Chief Project Director, listens to his Chinese colleagues from CATIC and AVIC, who also attended the JF-17 press conference. Below: Wg Cdr Usman Ali lifts off from the Le Bourget runway for his second routine of the week. All photos, Alan Warnes


Above right: Wg Cdr Usman Ali with his JF-17 groundcrew after returning from the flying routine. Above: The air spare sits on the ramp, ready to fly if necessary. Right: The JF-17 static display featured several of the weapons that are operational on the aircraft, including the C802AK anti-ship missile and SD-10A, labelled as 'medium range interception air-to-air missile'.

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Come West Six Pakistan Air Force F-16s deployed to Konya, Turkey for another Anatolian Eagle from June 16 to 19. Chris Lofting was there to see them in action.




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3 1: Former Royal Australian Air Force C-130E 4159 was one of three 6 Squadron Hercules transports of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) used to support the return of the F-16s to Mushaf Air Base at the end of the exercise. All images by Chris Lofting 2: With its undercarriage already retracting just a few metres off the ground, F-16AM 84704 heads off to the training area while in the background a PAF Gulfstream IV arrives with VIPs to attend the end-of-exercise debrief. 3: A ‘Griffins’ F-16AM 83703 departs for its penultimate sortie during the exercise. On this occasion 9 Squadron flew all six of its jets. 4: Two of the six PAF F-16s taking part in Anatolian Eagle 2015-1 taxi towards runway 01R at Konya air base. For this mission, the ‘Griffins’ put up four aircraft consisting of two F-16AMs and a pair of F-16Bs. 5: The two twin-stick F-16Bs 90614 and 92621 had spent more than 16 years stored at Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center, Davis Monthan AFB, Arizona after a US embargo just as they were about to be delivered to Pakistan. They were eventually sent to Pakistan at the end of 2006.


#329 AUGUST 2015 39



Alpine Action

Above: There was a limited number of F-5E Tigers available – owing to cracks having been found in the wings of 16 examples – so Fliegerstaffel 19 had to use four jets in Patrouille Suisse colours along with this two-seat trainer F-5F. However, this jet flew throughout the course with just a solo pilot aboard.

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Kees van der Mark and Jan Jelle Dam report on the annual refresher course for the Hornets and Tigers of Wing 14 at Sion, Switzerland.

Above: The proposed acquisition of 22 Saab Gripens was rejected by the Swiss Parliament in 2014 – as a result the F-5s are expected to remain operational until 2018, even though some examples are now 37 years old. Left: Flown by Fliegerstaffel (squadron) 18 but carrying the markings of sister unit 17 ‘Falcons’, F/A-18C J-5017 approaches Sion’s runway 07 with its hook down for an arrestor cable test on Wednesday, April 29. Below: All the Hornets were involved in night flying until 2200hrs, including J-5009 photographed returning to its hangar box on April 27. The landing lights of another two F/A-18s can be seen on the runway in the background. All images Kees van der Mark and Jan Jelle Dam

Sion’s Uncertain Future The Swiss armed forces presented its current base allocation concept in November 2013 and owing to budget cuts and force reductions, several military installations were earmarked for closure, including Sion. A final decision on its future is expected this summer. If the plans go ahead, regular Swiss Air Force operations at Sion will gradually wind down between 2017 and 2020. The air force would like to continue using Sion in preference to Meiringen and Payerne.


witzerland’s armed forces have a long tradition of combining a relatively small professional core with large numbers of militia personnel. The Schweizer Luftwaffe (Swiss Air Force) is no exception, with 1,600 professional and 26,000 militia work force. While full-timers exclusively operate its F/A-18C/D Hornets, the F-5E/F Tiger II squadrons are manned by militia pilots and maintainers. Today’s six fighter squadrons have their wartime bases at Meiringen (Air Base 13), Payerne (Air Base 11) and Sion (Air Base 14). Each base has its own annual exer-

Among the participating Fliegerstaffel 19 F-5Es was J-3038, which received special tail markings to mark the squadron’s 75th anniversary in 2013

cises, including a three-week long Wiederholungskurs (WK – refresher course). Sion is the capital of the Valais canton in the Rhône Valley. The facility, which is a combined military/civilian airfield, is home to Fliegerstaffel (squadron) 18 (flying Hornets) and 19 (Tigers), both reporting to Fliegergeschwader (wing) 14. Like other Swiss air bases, Sion is small owing to the limited space available in its narrow valley. It has a single, 6,562ft (2,000m) long concrete runway but unlike at Alpnach, Buochs, Emmen, Meiringen and Payerne, it doesn’t have any public roads crossing the runway or taxiways. This year’s WK at Sion was held from April 20 to May 8. As usual there wasn’t much flight activity during the first week, but this increased in the second week and the first three days of the last one, when up to eight jets of each type flew four missions a day. Flying started at 8am sharp and continued until 6pm. Additionally, Hornets were involved in night flying until 10pm on April 27 and May 4. The limited availability of F-5Es after the recent discovery of fatigue cracks in the fleet (see Swiss Cuts F-5E Fleet to 26, June, p8) had an effect on the WK: only half of the ten Tigers taking part were camouflaged single-seaters. The other five comprised a single F-5F – the trainers hardly ever participate in WKs – and four F-5Es in the colours of the Patrouille Suisse display team. Sion’s next WK will be held from afm February 29 to March 18, 2016.

#329 AUGUST 2015 41



t’s late in the afternoon. The town of St Dizier is slowly running down, commuters driving home to neighbouring villages, workers completing the last tasks of the day. Then jet noise emanates from the south of the city; it’s the sound of the M88 engines in an Armée de l’Air (French Air Force) Dassault Rafale. The two-seater remains ‘in the pattern’ for half an hour, its young pilot practising approaches under his instructor’s supervision. It’s the final training sortie of the day and once the Rafale B has landed at BA113, St Dizier’s airfield, the pilot shuts it down and the three based Rafale flying units continue their preparations for another working day. Nobody in St Dizier complains – the townsfolk are proud to host l’Armée de l’Air’s most sophisticated aircraft. Around 11 Rafales have been delivered annually for more than a decade and the type has become l’Armée de l’Air’s primary combat aircraft. Now in two-seat ’B and single-seat ’C models, it is the most numerous French fighter – and the fast jet with the most certain future. Most young pilots therefore want to fly Rafale when their basic fast jet training is over and they earn their wings. Only the most skilled pilots were assigned

42 AUGUST 2015 #329

RAFALE’S CERTAIN FUTURE French Air Force and Navy pilots prepare to fly the Rafale at SaintDizier, with ETR2/92 ‘Aquitaine’. The course is tough and the flying demanding, but as Sebastien Buyck discovered, Rafale sales abroad are bringing new challenges to the unit

RAFALE AT ST DIZIER Rafale units also receive ex-Mirage pilots, who enjoy the challenge of converting to the new jet. It’s common to find a young pilot at St Dizier or Mont-de-Marsan giving advice on how to fly the Rafale to a more experienced officer, who in turn tells the youngster how to organise a complex mission.

Rafale OCU

Above: Flt Lt Matt Johnstone (left) walks to a jet with his French instructor prior to a qualification mission. The first RAF exchange officer to be converted on the Rafale by ETR, he is now flying at Mont-deMarsan with EC 2/30 ‘Normandie Niémen’. Sirpa Air Below: With the dramatic surge of Rafale sales in recent months, flying training on the new-generation fighter will be ramped up to take pilots from Qatar, Egypt and India. Air Team Images

to the first Rafale squadron, EC1/7 ‘Provence’, but now young men and women are posted directly to Rafale after completing fast jet training at Cazaux. Being assigned to a Rafale squadron at this stage means a pilot (or WSO) will almost certainly spend their career on the aircraft, perhaps in various roles. As Mirage 2000 squadrons close down,

All these pilots (and those destined for the Aéronavale’s Rafale M) convert onto the type at Escadron de Transformation Rafale (ETR) 2/92 ‘Aquitaine’, the Rafale operational conversion unit (OCU), at BA113 St Dizier. Created in November 2010, the unit has two escadrilles (flights), 4B3 ‘Hibou’ and I/25 ‘Bison’. Before 2010, EC1/7 trained Rafale crews, but with an increasing number of students it was decided an operational squadron was not the ideal organisation to run a training syllabus. The OCU stood up as the third of St Dizier’s Rafale squadrons, after EC1/7 and EC1/91 ‘Gascogne’. New buildings housing state-of-the-art

#329 AUGUST 2015 43


Back from a two-ship navigation mission, two Rafales on short finals to runway 11. ETR 2/92 often uses the type with a ‘light’ payload, with no targeting pods. Bruno Dellière

equipment were built and ETR2/92 is now among the busiest air force units. In keeping with operations at other bases, BA113’s aircraft no longer belong to individual squadrons but to Escadron de Soutien Technique Aéronautique (ESTA) 15/007 ‘Haute Marne’, which maintains the jets and distributes them across the three squadrons. St Dizier’s Rafales carry two escadrille badges on their fins but, given the system of aircraft allocation, they do not reflect the operating crew’s unit. Nuclear and quick reaction alert (QRA) duties apart, priority is given to ETR missions, since it is very difficult for a student to progress if sorties are cancelled through unserviceability. Rafales flying ETR missions generally fly without pods or weapons, given their use

Above: Located close to the EC 1/7 ‘Provence’ facilities is the ETR building, accommodating the simulator suite and briefing/preparation rooms. Sébastien Buyck

Above: Former French defence minister Hervé Morin introduces the official flag of ETR 2/92 ‘Aquitaine’ to the first commander during the unit’s inauguration ceremony on October 6, 2010. Sirpa Air

44 AUGUST 2015 #329

is not an ETR role. Nonetheless, a student might well be flying an unarmed aircraft while the instructor flies a Damocles-equipped Rafale, since they take whichever aircraft are available on the line on a particular day. The Rafale syllabus is the longest of any French fighter, taking around a year to complete. Even then the pilot is nonoperational, requiring six more months of training to achieve the Pilote de Combat Operationnel (PCO) qualification. With this phase of training complete, pilots and WSOs train for specific tasks on their assigned units: nuclear and long-range attack with EC1/91, multi-role work with EC1/7 and EC3/33 ‘Lorraine’ and, primarily, air-to-ground and reconnaissance with EC2/30 ‘Normandie-Niemen’. The emphasis at the ETR is on air-to-air combat, which is the most difficult to learn for young pilots coming from the Alpha Jet. Having the same training syllabus for all crews is enhancing standardisation across the Rafale community and an important ETR2/92 goal, because no time is wasted when a pilot changes unit. Air-to-air refuelling (AAR) is taught at the end of the course, relieving another burden from the operational units. The AAR qualification is based on five Rafale B missions and a sixth in a Rafale C. On the other hand, there are no night-vision goggle (NVG) or terrain-following radar (TFR) sorties; new pilots and WSOs need more Rafale experience before attempting these more demanding missions. Rafale is essentially easy to fly. However, the most challenging part of the training is the management of complex missions with three or four phases – AAR, reconnaissance run, bombing run and combat air patrol (CAP), for example – in one sortie, employing multiple sensors and the electronic countermeasures (ECM) suite. It takes many years for a pilot


Above: Rafales configured with various payloads on the St Dizier flightline. This example only carries a central 1,250-litre fuel tank for a local mission. Sébastien Buyck

to become fully mission-capable and ready for deployment anywhere in the world.

Rafale Instruction

Pilots embark on the training syllabus just days after their arrival at ETR2/92. The course begins in the classroom, learning the basics of the Rafale. It’s very important for students to understand the aircraft’s construction and systems before going flying. At this stage the first sortie is some way off; 11 simulator ‘rides’ and a test are scheduled before the student is judged ready to fly. The first flight is in the front seat of a B-model with an instructor ‘in the back’. Pilots go

solo after their tenth sortie if all is going to plan. If a student is having difficulties, the instructors can decide to allow one or two extra missions. After that the trainee flies with another ETR instructor for further assessment, since it is considered important to have more than one point of view on their ability. There is a cadre of 15 ETR instructors. Two of them are WSOs (the unit also running weapon systems officer courses), who are most often required on air-to-ground sorties, employing their core skill sets. Instructing at ETR2/92 ‘Aquitaine’ is a popular posting. Pilots and WSOs often fly every day, enjoying watching their

Aéronavale Rafale Training For the first time in their history, the Armée de l’Air and the French Navy’s air component, the Aéronavale, are flying the same type as their primary combat aircraft. The navy will soon operate only the Rafale M, a navalised version of the fighter, which has replaced the F-8 Crusader and will soon oust the Super Étendard. The differences between the naval Rafale and ’C version are minimal and primarily relate to the M’s reinforced landing gear, which adds around 650kg (1,433lb) to its weight. The Aéronavale and Armée de l’Air have followed a common upgrade programme (to Standard F3) and employ the same weapons on their aircraft. The navy was first with Rafale. Its pilots were flying aircraft of a much earlier generation, which meant they faced a big learning curve when working in the Rafale’s modern cockpit and its systems. Future Aéronavale Rafale pilots were therefore posted onto Armée de l’Air squadrons for a few years during the 1990s, flying the Mirage 2000D, ’C and -5. They learned about the intricacies of advanced ECM and how to use hands-on-throttle-and-stick (HOTAS) controls and

modern weapons. Now the Armée de l’Air trains more Rafale crews than the navy. No requirement for a twoseat carrier-borne Rafale was foreseen, since Crusader and Super Étendard pilots had learned to fly without two-seaters and Rafale pilots were expected to do the same. But safety concerns emerged, and the navy began placing new pilots on the Armée de l’Air’s Rafale B training syllabus. Aéronavale pilots train at NAS Meridian, Mississippi, on the US Navy’s T-45 Goshawk before returning to France and flying the Falcon 10 from Brittany. They learn to fly the Falcon at low level over the sea, an experience denied them from land-locked St Dizier, before following the standard progression with ETR2/92. There are four Rafale Ms based at BA113 St Dizier, where ETR2/92’s chief of operations is a naval officer and two of the unit’s instructors are also from the Aéronavale. They monitor the handful of Aéronavale pilots passing through every year, but are also full ETR members, flying with all students regardless of service. Two units operate the Rafale M – Flottille 12F

and Flottille 11F. A third, Flottille 17F, is expected to abandon its Super Étendards for Rafale M in the near future. ‘Old’ Rafale Ms built to standard F1, and with limited capability, have been modernised to F3 Standard, while aircraft serial M40 is the most recently delivered naval Rafale; the final aircraft on order remain in production (the last Rafale M batch has not yet been ordered). Four of the variant have been lost in flying accidents. One flottille takes the lead during at-sea detachments, flying off the carrier Charles de Gaulle, while the other continues training at Landivisiau in Brittany. They swap roles for the next sailing. With a third flottille the system could be improved with a more efficient training syllabus, since maritime specifics – including deck landing procedures and tactical air support for maritime operations missions – are only taught at Landivisiau, where all the Rafale flottilles are based. 

A Rafale B, no 329, waits for its crew as a pilot climbs aboard a single-seat ‘C’ version, no 120, on a cold February morning. Both jets will be used during the morning wave by ETR crews and by EC 1/7 ‘Provence’ on the second wave in the afternoon. Sébastien Buyck

#329 AUGUST 2015 45


Essential Simulator The Armée de l’Air uses Rafale simulators built by Dassault and owned by the French Sogitec company, and a trainee Rafale pilot may spend more hours in the simulator than in the jet. St Dizier has a complex simulator system, in use since 2008, although the navy was first into service with a dedicated Rafale sim. Two simulator ‘desks’ are installed at Landivisiau, providing essential training for maritime operations. St Dizier has four desks, all connected to the Landivisiau system. Each represents a singleseat cockpit, but can be configured to replicate a back-seater’s ‘office’ so a pilot and WSO can work together, albeit in separate ‘cockpits’. Complex four-aircraft missions are also possible, a facility mostly exploited by EC1/7, which flies Rafale C. The simulator cockpits are fixed, with images projected around them to create a moving, threedimensional effect. Once the pilot is installed, the seat moves forwards into the cockpit, locking into place before the mission begins under the control of one of ten dedicated simulator instructors. Multiple mission profiles can be generated, but the simulator is primarily used to teach safety procedures (assessing how a student reacts to in-flight incidents) and missions that would be difficult to fly in the real world (where supersonic speed is required or a nuclear weapon carried, for example). Every simulator ride requires thorough preparation and debriefing and ‘bonus rides’ are available in the evenings, when most of the squadron’s staff have gone home, for students looking to run through procedures again or prepare for flying sorties. Most serious students prepare their next two missions in the simulator to be sure of a good performance in the aircraft. BA118 Mont-de-Marsan is set to take on more

46 AUGUST 2015 #329

Rafales and a brand new simulator will soon be installed. It will be connected to St Dizier and Landivisiau, and all the simulators upgraded to Standard F3. Sogitec is running a project aimed at achieving global connection so that Mirage 2000D and Rafale crews can simulate complex missions without launching aircraft. Money, as ever, is the key factor in whether the plan comes to fruition. 

Above: French Air Force and French Navy officers discover the high-fidelity Rafale simulator system in the ETR building. The Martin-Baker Mk16 ejection seat is inclined at 29 degrees to provide better high-G resistance. Sirpa Air Below: A sophisticated display system is installed in front of the Rafale simulator cockpit. The simulators have all been upgraded to the latest Rafale F3 standard. Sirpa Air


Highly focused on his duty, this young Rafale pilot prepares to touch down on St Dizier’s runway 29 under his instructor’s supervision. Bruno Dellière

students progress, and can be sure they will make the most of a lengthy respite from operational detachments. Each training flight is divided into three: briefing, flight and debriefing. The instructor observes how the trainee copes with new tasks during the briefing, even allowing minor mistakes. In the air they look for safety issues and mission progress. Discussion between pilot and instructor is in French, but air-to-ground communication is in English. The instructor takes a strict teaching role in the debrief, when the mission is deconstructed point-by-point. The conversation is frank and debriefing can last hours because some missions are very challenging. After every debrief the instructor completes a detailed report for the student’s file. Missions are recorded by the Thales SERPAM mission debriefing system and rated using colour coding (known to the Armée de l’Air as ‘Picasso’). Blue is allocated to a perfect sortie, green is average, yellow poor and red dangerous. The trainee must achieve green or blue; a red rating can lead to suspension while efforts are made to see if mistakes can be corrected or if the pilot needs to be reassigned to a different course.

to-ground work. The focus for those coming from the Mirage 2000D or ’N, or Mirage F1CR, is on using Rafale’s RBE2 radar and MICA EM (radar-guided) and IR missiles. Another of ETR2/92’s primary goals, regardless of syllabus, is the constant improvement of safety within the Rafale community.

Rafale Display Pilot

The future of ETR2/92 ‘Aquitaine’ is secure. It plays a key role in forming the backbone of the Armée de l’Air’s fighter pilot and WSO cadre. Its personnel travel around Europe throughout the airshow season, ETR2/92 providing the official Rafale demo pilot – Captain Benoit ‘Tao’ Planche has held the position since 2012. His Rafale career began on EC1/7 and progressed through EC1/91 before he became an instructor on ETR2/92. Every Monday he becomes an instructor again until Friday, when he departs for the next airshow.

Export Deals

Rafale export deals (to Egypt, India and Qatar) will have a big impact on ETR2/92. When it sells fighters, France traditionally trains air and ground crew for the customer. This means new uniforms will soon be seen at St Dizier, a dedicated ETR cell or flight standing up to receive them. The influx of foreign students may slow the rate of French Rafale crew training, which is likely to mean more Rafale Bs will move to St Dizier. Rafale production for l’Armée de l’Air has recently been mostly ’B models (for a second nuclear squadron), but the export sales could change this situation. Delaying deliveries to the frontline units might free Rafale Bs to boost ETR2/92’s capacity. Operational strength could be maintained by flying EC2/4’s Mirage 2000N and EC1/2’s Mirage 2000-5 jets for two or three years longer than planned, while afm the Mirage 2000D could be upgraded.

A Rafale being put through its paces during an air show. Capitaine Benoit Planche has been the Rafale Solo display pilot since 2012. Walter van Bel

Constant Assessment

Personnel from across the training branch meet annually to examine Armée de l’Air training capability. If problems arise in a course they attempt to enhance the syllabus. Meanwhile operational units might have new requirements from their recruits and it’s important that trainees ‘see’ these needs before reaching the front line. St Dizier currently trains between 15 and 20 students at a time, 10% of them WSOs. Courses run simultaneously, so that at any moment some trainees will be close to the end, others in the middle and some just beginning their courses. A lighter course is run for experienced pilots or WSOs coming to Rafale, and if a pilot comes from an air defence unit the emphasis is on air-

#329 AUGUST 2015 47



he US Navy is required by law to maintain a force of 11 aircraft carriers, but temporarily authorized at a level of ten until Gerald R Ford (CVN 78) is commissioned in early 2016. However, the US Marine Corps (USMC) makes full use of another nine carriers that the Navy has on hand: the Wasp-class LHD (Landing Helicopter Deck) and America-class LHA (Landing Helicopter Assault) amphibious assault ships, often called ‘big-deck amphibs’, loaded with vertical take-off-and-landing attack aircraft, tiltrotor assault transport aircraft and a variety of four helicopter types. Though not as capable of high-end warfare as a CVN, the LHAs and LHDs are able to project power in a ‘limited war’ environment and provide US combatant commanders with a wide range of options in responding to international crises. The navy currently operates eight Waspclass LHDs and one America-class LHA. The last of five Tarawa-class LHAs, USS Peleliu (LHA 5), was decommissioned and placed in reserve on March 31. Its numerical replacement, USS America (LHA 6),

was commissioned in October 2014. Until the appearance of America, the distinction between an LHA and an LHD was insignificant. Both types had large, full-length straight flight decks with island superstructures to starboard. Both types had large well decks accessible for amtracs and landing craft from the stern. America and her sister ship, the USS Tripoli (LHA 7) which is under construction, were specifically designed to accommodate more aviation capability and were designed without well decks. However, the USMC

reversed its concept for the America class and decided that subsequent LHAs, beginning with LHA 8, would feature well decks. America and her sister ships are powered by gas turbines, as is the last Wasp-class LHD, USS Makin Island, LHD 8, the latter having marked

US Navy Amphibious Assault Ships LHA 6 USS America

NS San Diego, CA

LHD 1 USS Wasp

NS Norfolk, VA

LHD 2 USS Essex

NS San Diego, CA

LHD 3 USS Kearsarge

NS Norfolk, VA

LHD 4 USS Boxer

NS San Diego, CA

LHD 5 USS Bataan

NS Norfolk, VA

LHD 6 USS Bonhomme Richard NS Sasebo, Japan LHD 7 USS Iwo Jima

NS Mayport, FL

LHD 8 USS Makin Island

NS San Diego, CA

Right: A sailor assigned to Helicopter Sea Combatant Squadron (HSC) 25, looks thorugh the door of an MH-60S Sea Hawk as the aircraft flies by the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6). US Navy/Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class Naomi VanDuser

Anytime Anywhere

Lt Cdr Rick Burgess (Rtd) examines how the US Marines Corps employs air power from a fleet of 'big deck amphibs'.

48 AUGUST 2015 #329


#329 AUGUST 2015 49

USMC - BIG DECK AMPHIBS US Marine Corps Amphib-Deployable Aircraft Units Squadron


Aircraft Type

Code Base

Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadrons (VMM)



Aircraft Type

Code Base



AH-1W, UH-1Y


MCAS Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii



AH-1Z, UH-1Y


MCB Camp Pendleton, CA


Sabre Rattlers

AH-1W, UH-1Y


MCAS Cherry Point, NC




MCB Camp Pendleton, CA


Red Dog

AH-1W, UH-1Y


Robins AFB, GA

Det A


AH-1W, UH-1Y


NAS New Orleans-JRB, LA

Det B


AH-1W, UH-1Y


JB McGuire-Dix Lakehurst, NJ


Grey Hawks



MCAS Miramar, CA


Golden Eagles



MCAS New River, NC





MCAS Miramar, CA





MCB Camp Pendleton, CA


White Knights



MCAS Miramar, CA


Sea Elks



MCAS Miramar, CA


Raging Bulls



MCAS New River, CA


Flying Tigers



MCAS Futenma, CA


Thunder Eagles MV-22B


MCAS New River, NC

Note: The HMLA-773 element at Robins AFB is consolidating with Det B at McGuireDix-Lakehurst in 2015. HMLA-469 is upgrading from the AH-1W to the AH-1Z in 2015.


Black Knights



MCAS New River, NC

Marine Attack Squadrons (VMA)





MCAS Futenma, Okinawa




Fighting Griffins MV-22B


MCAS New River, NC

Wake Island Avengers


VMM-266 VMM-268

Red Dragons



MCAS Miramar, CA


Black Sheep





Red Lions



MCAS Miramar, CA





MCAS Cherry Point, NC


Purple Foxes



MCB Camp Pendleton, CA


Ace of Spades



MCAS Cherry Point, NC


Blue Knights



MCAS New River, NC










MCAS Miramar, CA





MCAS Cherry Point, NC


Wild Goose



NS Norfolk, VA

Note: HMM-774 will be redesignated VMM-764 on October 1, 2015, as it transitions to the MV-22B. VMM-362 and VMM-212 will be activated in FY 2018 and 2019, respectively, and will be based at MCAS Miramar, CA, and MCAS New River, NC, respectively. Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadrons (HMH)

Marine Fighter-Attack Squadrons (VMFA) VMFA-121

Green Knights




Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadrons (VMU) VMU-1


RQ-7B, MQ-21A FZ

MCAGC Twentynine Palms, CA

MCAS Cherry Point, NC


Night Owls

RQ-7B, MQ-21A FF

MCAS Cherry Point, NC

MCAS New River, NC




MCAS Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii


Evil Eyes

RQ-7B, MQ-21A

MCAS Camp Pendleton, CA


Flying Tigers



MCAS Miramar, CA






Iron Horse




Heavy Haulers



MCAS Miramar, CA





MCAS Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii





MCAS New River, NC





MCAS Miramar, CA





MCAS Miramar, CA



JB McGuire-DixLakehurst, NJ

HMH-772(-) Hustlers

Note: VMA-211 will be the first Harrier unit to convert to the F-35B and will be redesignated VMFA-211.

Note: HMH-366 is moving to New River in 2015.

Note: VMU-1 is moving to Yuma in late 2015 and will receive MQ-21As. VMU-4 will receive MQ-21As in 2015. Helicopter Sea Combat Squadrons (HSC) HSC-21




NAS North Island, CA


Sea Knights



NS Norfolk, VA





NAS North Island, CA


Island Knights



Andersen AFB, Guam



MCAS Iwakuni, Japan

Det 6

Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadrons (HMLA) HMLA-167


AH-1W, UH-1Y


MCAS New River, NC



AH-1Z, UH-1Y


MCB Camp Pendleton, CA



AH-1Z, UH-1Y


MCB Camp Pendleton, CA



AH-1W, UH-1Y


MCAS New River, NC





NS Norfolk, VA


Dragon Whales MH-60S


NS Norfolk, VA

Note: The HSC squadrons listed are the ones that provide two-aircraft detachments for LHAs/LHDs. HSC-25 Det 6 in Japan supplies the MH-60Ss for USS Bonhomme Richard. *Denotes a reserve squadron

US Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier II 164143 ‘CF-20’ from Marine Attack Squadron 211 ( VMA-211) ‘Avengers’ refuels from a Royal Australian Air Force KC-30A over Iraq on January 29 during a mission against IS. Up to six Harrier IIs deploy aboard an amphibious assault ship. In recent years the AV-8Bs have also been regularly forward deployed to airfields close to areas of conflict. VMA-211 has been operating out of Sheik Isa Air Base in Bahrain for its attack missions in Iraq and Syria for the last few months. Commonwealth of Australia/Sgt Shane Gidall

50 AUGUST 2015 #329

USMC - BIG DECK AMPHIBS a significant design change with the use of gas turbines instead of steam boilers. Compared with Makin Island, America features a larger hangar deck, improved aviation maintenance facilities, additional storage areas and a reconfigurable command-and-control suite. The big-deck amphibs typically deploy as the flagship of an amphibious ready group (ARG), which also includes an amphibious transport dock ship and a dock landing ship. The ARG deploys with a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) embarked, a composite organisation that includes a ground combat element (typically an infantry battalion, augmented by tanks, amphibious assault vehicles and other vehicles), an air combat element (ACE) and a combat logistics element. The USMC fields seven MEUs: the 11th, 13th, and 15th based at Camp Pendleton, California; the 31st on Okinawa, Japan; and the 22nd, 24th, and 26th at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. With a few exceptions, the units assigned to the MEUs are not permanently assigned. The ACE is the USMC’s term for the ‘air wing’ of the MEU. It is formed around a core squadron, nowadays a marine medium tiltrotor squadron (VMM), equipped with ten Bell-Boeing MV-22B Osprey tiltorotor transport aircraft. (This year the Marine Corps retired its last CH-46 Sea Knight tandem-rotor helicopters, long the core of the ACE.) The commander of the VMM serves as a defacto ‘CAG’. Detachments from three other squadrons are assigned to the VMM for the duration of the deployment. A marine heavy helicopter squadron (HMH) provides a detachment of four Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion heavylift helicopters. A marine light attack squadron provides four Bell AH-1W Super Cobra or AH-1Z Viper helicopter gunships and three Bell UH-1Y Venom armed utility helicopters. Completing the ACE are six AV-8B Harrier II attack aircraft from a marine attack squadron (VMA). Rather than retain their separate identities during the deployment, the detachments become part of the VMM, adopting its tail codes, hence the oddity of Harriers bearing markings of VMM helicopter squadrons. With the advent of the MQ-21A Blackjack unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), marine UAV squadrons (VMUs) will be sending detachments of MQ-21A UAVs with the MEUs.

MV-22B Osprey

The MV-22B entered operational service in 2007 and, after three deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq, embarked on USS Bataan in May 2009 as part of the 22nd MEU. The Osprey stead-

Above: USMC MV-22B Osprey 168303 ‘ES-00’ from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 266 (VMM-266) ‘Fighting Griffins’ offloads a platoon of marines from the Black Sea Rotational Force on May 26 at the Babadag Training Area in Romania during Exercise Platinum Eagle 2015. When it transitioned to the Osprey in 2007, VMM-266 was required to pass a competency grading known as Milestone 33, prior to being declared operatonal to support the Marine Expeditionary Unit Mission. USMC/Sgt Paul Peterson Below: Bell UH-1Y Venom 168792 ‘SE-08’ from Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469 (HMLA-469) ‘Vengeance’ at Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, California, being loaded with supplies by Nepalese military personnel in Sindhuli, Nepal, on May 11 as part of earthquake relief efforts by Joint Task Force 505. The following day this helicopter crashed during one of these missions, killing all six USMC personnel, two Nepali soldiers and five local villagers on board. USMC/Lance Corporal Hernan Vidara

ily replaced the CH-46 with that ARG/MEU through 2014, when the MV-22B completely assumed the ACE role from the Sea Knight. The Osprey’s speed, range and payload – when compared with the CH-46 – made an immediate impact in the minds of Marine Corps leaders. While one LHD was stationed off Yemen providing unspecified, classified

Above: Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 163 (Reinforced) Bell AH-1Z Viper 168517 ‘YP-41’ takes off from the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS San Diego (LPD 22) during a Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPUTEX) off the coast of San Diego, California, on May 7, 2014. The standard complement of four Cobras provide the offensive 'rotary-muscle' when at sea. USMC/Gunnery Sgt Rome M Lazarus

support in counter-terrorist operations, its Ospreys were able to fly to Djibouti, with tanker support from KC-130J Super Hercules aircraft staged to Djibouti, and transport vital cargo and personnel to and from the ship. The Osprey’s capabilities made it ideal for the Marine Corps mission of TRAP – Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel, to speedily launch and arrive at a datum to recover downed fliers. It is able to carry an infantry force to secure a landing zone, retrieve personnel and egress quickly. This was demonstrated on March 22, 2011, when an Osprey TRAP mission launched from USS Kearsarge retrieved US Air Force F-15E aviators from Libya during Operation Odyssey Dawn. US Marine Corps leaders are keen to praise the Osprey. The USMC’s deputy commandant for aviation, LtGen Jon M Davis, said the MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor transport aircraft is “so amazingly popular” that the service is challenged to meet the demand for the aircraft, as well as the training for its maintenance personnel. Speaking to reporters at a Defense Writers Group meeting in Washington on May 19, LtGen Davis said the V-22 “has changed the way the Marine Corps operates, probably more than anything I’ve ever seen. We are a vastly different US Marine Corps today.

#329 AUGUST 2015 51


Above: Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 (VMFAT-501) ‘Warlords’ F-35B Lightning II 169024 ‘VM-11’ lands on the USS Wasp (LHD 1) on May 18 during the first phase of operational testing (OT-1) with the type. In the future, the USMC’s amphibious assault ships will routinely carry the F-35B Lightning II as part of their air combat element. OT-1 saw six F-35Bs deploy on the Wasp from May 18 to 29. US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Zhiwei Tan

“Ten years ago, we couldn’t do any of the stuff we’re doing right now,” he said. “We’re running really hard to provide that capability and we’re growing into it. We have been in surge operations [with the V-22] since 2007. We’re feeling some of that pain right now.” LtGen Davis said the most challenging aspect of maintaining V-22 readiness is training enough enlisted maintenance personnel to ensure they get the qualifications they need to do the job. “The flexibility, speed and endurance that the MV-22B has, particularly when tied to a KC-130, is untouchable,” said Col Jason Bohm, commander of the first Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response Central Command (SPMAGTF-CRCC), speaking to an audience May 19 at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies in Arlington, Virginia. The Osprey “can fly across the entire 20 countries of the CENTCOM [Central Command] AOR [area of responsibility] without ever having to touch deck, because it can do aerial refueling,” Col Bohm said. “That unique capability” was critical to the unit’s casualty evacuation capa-

bility, he said, when it was tasked by CENTCOM “to fly casualties that had been stabilized in Iraq back to Kuwait to a high level of medical care.” The Bell-Boeing team has experimented with a kit to give the MV-22B the capability to refuel another aircraft – if funded, this would enable the Osprey to refuel the AV-8B and F-35B, thereby greatly extending their range and payload.

UH-1Y Venom

Three UH-1Ys are provided to the ACE to fulfil roles as a command-and-control platform, assault transport, gunship, and provide terminal guidance for supporting arms, including naval gunfire support and land-based artillery. The UH-1Y completed replacement of the UH-1N Iroquois, or Huey in September 2014. The Venom first deployed on a big-deck amphib with a detachment from HMLA-267 ACE in January 2009.

AH-1W SuperCobra/ AH-1Z Viper

A detachment of four two-seat AH-1W and AH-1Zs are provided to the ACE for

precision fire support for ground forces and to escort other helicopters into and out of landing zones. They have lethal capabilities against armoured vehicles and small boats, and even other helicopters. The AH-1W is slowly being phased out in favour of the AH-1Z, which is being fielded more slowly than the UH-1Y. The AH-1Z first deployed in October 2011 with a detachment of HMLA-367 (later becoming a detachment of HMLA-267), the first full squadron to make the transition to the AH-1Z.

CH-53E Super Stallion

HMH squadrons provide detachments of four CH-53E Super Stallions to the ACE. The CH-53E provides the heavy lift capability to the ACE, able to transport marines and their heavy equipment, including the M777 howitzer and Humvee. Each active-duty HMH squadron is equipped with 16 CH-53Es, with an eight-aircraft ‘mother’ squadron and two four-aircraft detachments. The more-capable CH-53K King Stallion now under development is scheduled to begin replacing the CH-53E in 2019.

Above: The USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), with MV-22B Ospreys and CH-53E Super Stallions from the embarked 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit ranged on its flight deck, sails through the Gulf of Aden on May 8. US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Gary Ward Right: Marines from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Maritime Raid Force (MRF) fast-rope out of a CH-53E Super Stallion onto the flight deck of the USS Essex (LHD 2) in the Indian Ocean on June 17. Fast-roping from a helicopter onto a moving vessel is an essential skill regularly practised by MRF personnel for visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) missions. USMC/Cpl Anna Albrecht

52 AUGUST 2015 #329

USMC ON CALL Below: US Marines with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Maritime Raid Force fast-rope out of US Navy MH-60S Seahawk 168565 ‘VR-65’ from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 21 (HSC-21) ‘Blackjacks’ onto the flight deck of the USS Essex (LHD 2) at sea in the Indian Ocean on June 16. Each of the LHAs/LHDs, although primarily carrying USMC aircraft, are also normally deployed with two US Navy MH-60S helicopters from one of the HSCs to perform a variety of roles. US Marine Corps/Cpl Anna Albrecht

AV-8B Harrier II/II+

Six VMA squadrons are available to provide detachments of six AV-8B Harrier II short take-off/vertical landing attack aircraft to the ACE. The Harriers, in their night attack version or the radar- equipped Harrier II+ version, are able to put precision guided munitions on targets on land or at sea. They also provide air defence of the ARG or of a beachhead. During Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, USS Bataan acted as an attack aircraft carrier by supporting two VMA squadrons in missions in Iraq. During Operation Odyssey Dawn in Libya in March 2011, AV-8Bs from USS Kearsarge conducted strikes, obviating the need for an aircraft carrier to be hurried to the region. More recently,

Above: MV-22B Osprey 168216 ‘EP-10’ from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 (Reinforced) ‘Dragons’ lifts off from the flight deck of the forward deployed USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) on June 4 in the East China Sea, while sister aircraft 168028 ‘EP-07’ waits its turn. The vessel is the lead ship of the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group, with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked and is assigned to the US 7th Fleet area of operations to support security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Naomi VanDuser

AV-8Bs in 2014 to the present have carried out attacks against Islamic State (IS) forces. The USMC will deploy detachments of Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II strike fighters on board LHAs/LHDs before the end of the decade. VMFA-121, the first F-35B operational squadron is scheduled to bring the F-35 to initial operational capability in July. The squadron will be permanently deployed to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan, by 2017. As it grows to a 16-aircraft squadron, it will provide a six aircraft detachment to the forward-deployed LHD, currently USS Bonhomme Richard. As other VMFA squadrons switch from F/A-18 Hornets and other VMA Harrier units become VMFAs with F-35Bs, the Harriers will be phased out, an event currently scheduled for 2025. The VMFAs assigned to provide detachments to the ACEs will be equipped with 16 F-35Bs,

whereas other VMFAs will have ten F-35Bs.

MH-60S Seahawk

In addition to the marine aircraft of the MEU’s ACE, the LHAs/LHDs deploy with two navy MH-60S Seahawk helicopters. These detachments’ aircraft are provided by several helicopter sea combat squadrons (HSC) and perform a variety of duties including search and rescue, shipping surveillance, anti-fast attack craft missions, special operations forces insertion, logistics, and plane guard. During Kearsarge’s operations off Libya in Operation Odyssey Dawn, its MH-60s provided armed reconnaissance of the littorals and stood ready to counter any fast attack craft threat against the ARG. The MH-60S proved so useful that the ARG commander suggested each MH-60S detachment should afm be increased to three helicopters.

A Marine Attack Squadron 311 (VMA-311) ‘Tomcats’ AV-8B Harrier II assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit prepares to take off during low light deck qualifications aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) on June 15 while the ship was sailing off Japan. USMC/GySgt Ismael Pena

#329 AUGUST 2015 53

EXERCISE REPORT Thracian Eagle 1

Bayou Militia Go East The first round of several small exercises involving US and Bulgarian fighters at Graf Ignatievo took place recently. Dino van Doorn, Hans van der Wilt and Bas Stubert joined Thracian Eagle I to provide coverage for AFM.


RAF IGNATIEVO Air Base is one of only two fighter bases of the Balgarski Voenno Vazdushni Sily (BVVS – or Bulgarian Air Force) and among just five air bases that remain in the country. Today, there are two squadrons flying there: 1/3 Iztrebitelna Avio Eskadrila, with MiG-21Bis and -UM, and 2/3 Iztrebitelna Avio Eskadrila, operating MiG-29A/UBs. Bulgaria’s premier base hosted eight F-15C/D Eagles from the 159th FW, Louisiana Air National Guard, also known as the ‘Bayou Militia’, from April 14 to May 5. They arrived at Graf Ignatievo on April 14 and 16, stopping en route at RAF Lakenheath in the UK (see news items).

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Bulgarian Air Force Su-25UBK ‘017’ takes off from Graf Ignatievo for an afternoon mission to the Black Sea training area in eastern Bulgaria. In general, the Su-25 missions lasted almost two hours, while the F-15s were back in 35 minutes. Dino van Doorn/GMAP

The 159th deployed the following F-15Cs:78-0496, 78-0536, 80-0029, 81-0036, 81-0041 (marked 159th MXG), 82-0037 plus F-15Ds 82-0047 and 83-0048. Air support for the Atlantic crossing of the F-15 package was provided by KC-10 Extenders, while all ground equipment was airlifted by several C-17s. The Louisiana Air National Guard’s 159th Operations Group commander, Lt Col Matt Rippen, and around 150 Airman from the 159th FW were present, augmented by Iowa ANG crash tender crews and other USAF assets. During the two-week deployment, missions were flown with MiG-29A/UBs and Su-25K/ UBKs from 1/22 Shturmova Avio Eskadrila on TDY from Bezmer AB while the runway at Bezmer is being extended. Missions flown included Basic Combat Training (BCT) and Dissimilar Aircraft Combat

Above: US Air Force F-15D Eagle 82-0047 ‘JZ’ taxies out at Graf Ignatievo together with seven other F-15s from the 159th Fighter Wing. The F-15Ds carried Bulgarian pilots in the backseat for air experience flights. Dino van Doorn/GMAP

Training (DACT). SAM missile Squadron patches

Bulgarian Air Force

122 FS - unofficial

batteries equipped with among others, the 9K37 Buk (NATO reporting names SA-11 Gadfly/ SA-17 Grizzly) and 9K33 Osa (NATO reporting name SA-8 Gecko) with missiles were also involved, giving the visiting Eagles some realistic training against modern Russian-designed weapon systems. Typically, two missions were flown each day. Usually the Su-25s would form a strike package, protected and attacked by MiG-29s and/or

122 FS - official

F-15s. The number of aircraft per mission varied, but there were normally seven Eagles, up to four MiG-29s and three Su-25s. Bulgarian and American pilots got a taste of the other air force’s aircraft too, with two dual-seat F-15Ds and a pair of MiG-29UBs providing both teams with the opportunity to fly a mission in each other’s fighters. Many of the flights were flown into the afm eastern part of Bulgaria.

Above: MiG-29A Fulcrum-A ‘23’ from the 3rd IAB taxies towards the runway during Exercise Thracian Eagle I. The exercise saw Bulgarian MiG-29s and Su-25s operating with visiting F-15s from the 159th FW, Louisiana ANG. Bas Stubert/GMAP

New old fighters

Below: Ground crew from the 159th FW prepare the F-15 Eagles for the next launch. All the ground equipment (including firetrucks) was flown into Graf by C-17s. The Bulgarian AF participated in each mission usually with two MiG-29As. Dino van Doorn/GMAP

#329 AUGUST 2015 55



he Colombian military has been battling left-wing guerrillas, including the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) and Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN) for more than five decades, and now well-armed drug traffickers are adding to the mix. The Fuerza Aérea Colombiana (FAC, Colombian Air Force) combats FARC and organised crime with a fleet of light-attack and counter-insurgency (COIN) aircraft, as well as its ageing Cessna AT-37Bs and IAI Kfir C10s, which it is looking to replace with Lockheed Martin F-16s or Saab Gripens. Among its most active units, Air Combat Command No.2 (CACOM-2) is based at Luis Fernando Gómez Niño Air Base at Apiay, 75 miles (121km) southeast of Bogotá. Previously the home of the FAC’s AT-33As, AT-37Bs and OV-10A Broncos, Apiay is at the forefront of the ongoing air war. The command’s executive officer, Lieutenant Colonel Alvaro Bello Vega, a former Dassault Mirage 5CO pilot, who ejected from one of the delta-winged fighters in 2009 after a technical failure, told AFM that thanks to its varied aircraft fleet, the unit fulfils 40% of the air force’s strafing and bombing missions against FARC. Apiay is a base of critical importance, with operational responsibility over a zone covering 193,000 sq miles (500,000km2) in the centre of Colombia, over the Andes to the east and the vast savannahs that extend to the south. Three fixed-wing squadrons and a helicopter

Above: The 13 Embraer A-29B Super Tucanos of 211 Squadron are flown as single-seat attack aircraft with a fuel tank in the rear seat, or as two-seaters with two under wing 73 imp gal (330 lit) fuel tanks depending on their mission. Below: The Colombian Air Force’s 211 Squadron has applied its motto ‘We’re the Force’ to its Embraer A-29B Super Tucanos. All images David Oliver unless stated

flight fly from the base as part of Group 21. No 211 Squadron, motto ‘We’re the Force’, is equipped with 13 A-29B Super Tucanos; 212 Squadron has 14 armed AT-27 Tucanos, and 213 Squadron a mixed fleet of one Basler AC-47T Fantasma, two Schweizer SA2-37B Vampinos, a medevac Cessna C 208 Caravan, two CASA 212-300s and a Beechcraft C95. A former US Army Sikorsky MH-60L Black Hawk ‘Angel’ comprises the rotary-wing element, delivering SAR and medevac cover.

Frontline FAC on the

Colombian Government forces have been engaged in a war against guerrilla fighters and drug traffickers for more than 50 years. David Oliver visited Luis Fernando Gómez Niño Air Base at Apiay to examine Fuerza Aérea Colombiana operations.

56 AUGUST 2015 #329


With the last of the air force’s veteran OV-10A Broncos being withdrawn from service with 103 Squadron at Yopal in February 2015, the A-29B, armed with 0.5in (12.7mm) FN machine guns, 250 and 500lb iron bombs, and 2.75in (70mm) unguided rockets, is the air force’s primary COIN aircraft (see Colombia's Gun-Slingers. April, p56-60. Colombia finalised a contract for 25 Super Tucanos in 2005. The US$235 million contract included a simulator, instructor training in Brazil, and Tactical Operations Support Services training programmes tailored to meet mission specific/geographic training objectives. Air Combat Command No.2’s 14 AT-27 Tucanos are being updated with Cobham avionics, Collins nav/comms systems and strengthened landing gear. Embraer modified the first aircraft and the Corporación de la Industria Aeronáutica Colombiana (CIAC) is reworking the remainder. Four upgraded aircraft have been delivered to date. They are used for weapons training, carrying 20mm cannon pods and practice bombs. Almost 4,000 pilot training missions were flown in 2014, during which ten A-29B and 21 AT-27 pilots graduated.

Operational Tempo

One of the Colombian Air Force’s only two ex-US Army MH-60L Black Hawks, which use the callsign ‘Angel’, are based at Apiay and used for special forces insertion and extraction as well as combat search and rescue (CSAR).

Apiay had the highest operational tempo of any FAC base in 2014, flying 208 combat missions, one every other day on average, plus 44 logistic support missions. Its objectives are to destroy the structure of the armed elements of FARC and ELN and neutralise their lines of communication. As part of this, it contributes to the strategic aims of Joint Task Force Omega (tasked with countering FARC and the ELN, with US funding) and the Army’s 4th Division, interdicting the airbridges used by drug traffickers, and associated illicit activities. It is also responsible for the protection of the civilian population and their resources. In the past decade, airstrikes killed several FARC and ELN leaders. In 2014, Group 21 aircraft flew

Above: Two Schweizer SA2-37B Vampino surveillance aircraft operated by 213 Squadron at Apiay were upgraded by CIAC with Garmin 9000 glass cockpits in 2014. FAC Below: This is the sole Basler AC-47T (1681) Fantasma long-range surveillance aircraft of 213 Squadron. The former World War Two-era RAF Dakota, KN605 is one of five converted to a gunship by ARINC Engineering Services in 2006.

1,752 hours on 194 operations, including 177 interdiction and 13 close air support (CAS) missions, attacking 590 targets. It also intercepted 73 suspected illegal flights. In the first four months of 2015, it carried out 11 interdiction and two CAS missions, attacking 34 targets.


Another important CACOM-2 role is intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR). Last year more than 1,500 hours were flown on ISR missions and in excess of 250 hours had been accrued by the end of May. Number 213 Squadron’s last AC-47T Fantasma flies long-range ISR missions alongside the SA2-37A Vampinos. In 2003 Basler Turbo Conversions of Oshkosh, Wisconsin received a US$7.1 million contract to provide the FAC with five turboprop AC-47T gunship conversions. ARINC Engineering Services installed nightvision and optical sensors on the aircraft, which were armed with 12.7mm GAU-19/A machine guns, slaved to a FLIR system. The gunships were delivered in 2006, their sensor suite also providing a useful ISR capability. Five US-funded SA2-37Bs were handed over

#329 AUGUST 2015 57

FUERZA AÉREA COLOMBIANA OPERATIONS when one of the aircraft’s engines caught fire after being fired upon, (see Drug-Running Hawker 800 Crashes Off Colombia, July, p24). Colombia’s coast guard found the pilot’s body among the wreckage, along with 1.2 tonnes of cocaine packaged in 1kg (2.2lb) blocks. He was reportedly travelling on a Mexican passport. The aircraft had landed at a clandestine airstrip in the western Apure, one of the southwestern states of Venezuela, shortly after midnight. Once it was back in the air, Venezuelan jets ordered the pilot to descend, but he refused and shots were fired, hitting the aircraft before it was lost near the Colombian border.

Ceasefire Breach

Above: The Colombian Air Force’s AT29B Super Tucanos are armed with wing-mounted FN Herstal M3P 0.5in (12.7mm) machine guns and LAU-68 rocket pods for close air support missions, while external stores include Mk 81 250lb (113kg) and Mk 82 500lb (227kg) iron bombs, and Griffin laser-guided bombs.

in 2001. The single-engined, two-seat Vampinos normally fly 5.5-hour missions, although they are capable of remaining airborne for up to 11 hours. The CIAC upgraded the SA2-37Bs with Garmin 9000 glass cockpits in 2014. Luis Fernando Gómez Niño Air Base is also home to the FAC’s Elbit Hermes 450 longendurance tactical UAVs, and recently acquired Hermes 900 medium-altitude, long-endurance UAVs. According to Elbit, the multi-million dollar 2012 contract included Hermes Universal Ground Control Stations, Elbit Systems Electro-Optics DCOMPASS surveillance turrets, and satellite communication systems that enable the UAVs to operate over remote areas. Nine Hermes pilots graduated at the base in 2014, and others are undergoing training with FAC instructors and Elbit technicians. In 2014, the US Naval Air Systems Command Counter Networks and Illicit Trafficking Project Office awarded a US$12.7 million contract to Airtec of California, Maryland, to support US Southern Command’s (USSOUTHCOM’s) requirement for airborne ISR over Colombia. Two multi-sensor contractor owned/ contractor operated Beechcraft King Air B200Ts and a single Bombardier Dash 8-200 are therefore also based at Apiay. The modified Dash 8-200 is fitted with

foliage-penetrating Falcon 1 light detection and ranging (LIDAR) equipment, supporting USSOUTHCOM efforts to integrate, develop and test the system; the aircraft also mounts synthetic aperture radar (SAR). In addition to airframes, Airtec runs Government Furnished Property (GFP) ground processing systems used in conjunction with the SAR, primarily for reconnaissance, human activity detection, target identification and geospatial collection. It also has responsibility for providing pilots, operators and analysts, and maintains the forward operating location at Apiay. Between 2003 and 2008, the US State and Defense Departments provided the Colombian Air Force with seven surveillance aircraft and maintenance support. The package included five radars that operate inside Colombia, other radar systems outside the country, and airborne radars.

Drug War

In December 2014, FARC declared a unilateral ceasefire. In March 2015, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos halted bombing raids against the organisation for a month while peace talks continued in Cuba’s capital, Havana. Operations against the ELN and narcotics industry continued. After FARC guerrillas killed ten Colombian soldiers and injured 20 others in a pre-dawn attack in western Colombia on April 15, President Santos ordered a resumption of air strikes less than a week after he had extended the earlier suspension for another 30 days. Two days later, FARC officially suspended its unilateral ceasefire after a FAC bombing raid. Columbian ground forces killed 26 FARC guerrillas in a jungle camp in the key drug trafficking region of Cauca, in the southwest of the country along the Pacific coast, where FARC has a strong presence. President Santos claimed the military was ready for a renewed offensive shortly after the commander of FARC’s 14th Division, Alfredo Alarcon Machado (better known as Roman Ruiz) was killed in a bombing raid in the north-western Chocó province on May 25. There has been a recent escalation of violence on both sides even as the peace talks continue in Havana, and FAC remains at the forefront of the action. afm

The FAC’s battle against drug traffickers has continued unabated. During the night of May 20, for example, a Hawker 800 jet was intercepted after it entered Colombian airspace. Its pilot attempted to escape at low level, but crashed into the Caribbean off the coast of Puerto Colombia

No 211 Squadron’s A-29Bs range over land and sea to interdict drug traffickers, and can carry a total of 3,307lb (1,500kg) external load in the form of weapons or reconnaissance pods. FAC

58 AUGUST 2015 #329

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First Typhoon De RNAS Culdrose

Situated just south of Helston, the base is occupied by nine different squadrons: four Merlins, two Sea Kings, a Hawk, a Beech 350ER and a ScanEagle UAV unit. Since February, the commanding officer of HMS Seahawk, as the base is named, has been Captain Ade Orchard, a former Sea Harrier and Harrier GR pilot. He said: “It’s great to have the Typhoons here, bringing fast jets to a base which

The RAF’s newest Typhoon squadron deployed for a week to RNAS Culdrose in June and Alan Warnes drove straight down to Cornwall after the Paris Air Show to find out why.

doesn’t see them very often.”


ir-Land Integration (ALI) has been the name of the game for the RAF over the past decade. Working with ground forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, providing close air support to troops on the ground had become a way of life. Now those days are over, the RAF is keen to refresh those skills it has neglected in recent years. Air-Maritime Integration (AMI) is once again in vogue and it’s the Typhoon, which was never involved in Afghan ops, taking up the challenge. The RAF’s latest fighter has been operational for ten years now, primarily fulfilling an air

60 AUGUST 2015 #329

Main image: An aerial view of six Typhoons operated by II(AC) Sqn – one of them in 1(F) Sqn marks, sitting on C Dispersal at RNAS Culdrose. The unit flew from its home base, RAF Lossiemouth, on June 22 for five days, marking its first deployment since standing up on January 9. All photos, Alan Warnes unless stated

defence role and today it’s manning QRAs at Lossiemouth, Coningsby and the Falklands while simultaneously fulfilling the UK’s Baltic Air Policing commitment from Estonia. Typhoons also fulfilled an air-to-ground role during Operation Ellamy over Libya in 2011 working in mixed formation with the Tornado GR4 – but operating with ships is a new tasking. On June 22 six Typhoons flown by II(AC)

Squadron led by Wing Commander Roger Elliott deployed to RNAS Culdrose, Cornwall, from their base at RAF Lossiemouth, Moray, for a week of intensive AMI. Wg Cdr Elliott, who has been flying Typhoons since 2006, told AFM, “Defending skies is our main priority, but coming down here we can train with the based navy squadrons and also use the south-coast exercise area.”


Det for II(AC) Sqn

Flying from the Cornish base also offered the RAF the opportunity to train with the Royal Navy Type 45 destroyer, HMS Defender, taking part in a series of Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) serials. This sees all the on board systems and procedures tested to ensure the ship along with the crew is ready for its next operational deployment later this year. The role of the Type 45 is to control and defend the skies around a high value asset (HVA), such as an aircraft carrier. With the HMS Queen Elizabeth expected to go to sea in

Above: Back from the first mission, left to right, Sqn Ldr Jim ‘JJ’ Calvert (XO), Flt Lt Simon Bowman, Flt Lt Ben Geal and Flt Lt ‘Smithy’ Smith (QWI). The middle two pilots were close to being qualified as ‘combatready’, which was one of the many reasons II (AC) Sqn flew south.

#329 AUGUST 2015 61


Above: This Typhoon pilot keeps a close eye on one of the navy Merlin HM2s hovering over the runway, as he taxies the jet back to the dispersal.

Left: The local media was keen to question the II(AC) Sqn OC, Wg Cdr Roger Elliott about the reasons for the Typhoons’ deployment to RNAS Culdrose. “Was it because of the recent upturn in Russian activity off the coast...?” they asked. Right: A four-ship Typhoon formation passes over HMS Defender. The jets were at RNAS Culdrose to hone the pilots’ air-maritime integration skills, which is a new role for the RAF’s newest fighters.

A new flavour of Typhoon

b) jets, meanFour of the six Typhoons were P1E( d with loade and ed ifi mod ing they have been that allows the lates t hardware and software aircr aft can them to be truly multi-role . The role, arme d -air air-to the l fulfi simultaneously iles, and/ with AIM-120 AMR AAM radar miss iles, and the or AIM-132 ASRA AM infrared miss way IV laserair-to -ground role with the Pave b. It can also bom kg) (227 b guide d/GPS 500I ing III pods . ‘lase’ the weapon itself with Liten

62 AUGUST 2015 #329


Helmet Mounted Sighting System

Former Sea Harrier and Harrier GR pilot, Captain Ade Orchard, who is effectively the captain of HMS Seahawk hands a large Cornish pasty inscribed II(AC) Sqn to the unit’s CO. The unit had just arrived at the base, and the 80-strong engineering team made short work of the traditional dish. RNAS Culdrose

2018, the RAF is keen to show it can provide an organic air defence capability role for the navy’s prize asset and other vessels. Armed with the Sea Viper missile system, HMS Defender is a large air defence destroyer armed with SAMs, able to fire at any enemy aircraft that break a no-fly zone around the HVA. “We have slightly different capabilities, but essentially it gives both of us a chance to target the enemy together,” the OC, II(AC) Sqn told AFM. HMS Defender and the Typhoons both worked as one during the exercise as Blue Air against the Cobham Aviation Dassault 20s, which pitted their electronic warfare wizardry against them, and Culdrose-based 736 NAS Hawks acted as medium and low-level aircraft and low-flying missiles.

Wg Cdr Elliott said: “We seldom practise with the Type 45 and its radar control. It can datalink the recognised air picture [RAP] through the Link 16 system to us in the air and we can prosecute the situation, which I can see in my cockpit.” The RAP being sent out by the Type 45 is the same as that sent by an AWACS aircraft and providing the aerial picture around HVAs is why AMI will be important when the carriers are at sea. It also adds another much-needed facet to the Typhoon’s armoury as it prepares to work with the navy and the F-35B when it comes online in 2018. Wg Cdr Elliott added: “It’s not often we get the chance to train with an air defence destroyer up in the far north, so that was another key reason for coming to Cornwall.”

“It’s not often we get the chance to train with an air defence destroyer up in the far north, so that was another key reason for coming to Cornwall.”

With a heavy training burden, the dual-seat T3 flown by II(AC) Sqn provided junior pilots with the chance to gain some more flying experience. Note the back-seater is wearing a Mk 10 helmet rather than an HMSS.

The HMSS has now been operational for just over a year. It provides pilots with enhanced situational awareness when looking through the helmet’s visor. The helmet is covered with sensors that offer 360-degree coverage. The wearer is able to see radar tracks and friendly aircraft cued by either on-board sensors or Link 16, simply by moving his or her head. All the II (AC) Sqn pilots who wore them at RNAS Culdrose, gained the edge in the air. Sqn Ldr Martin ‘Perty’ Perts, the Flt Cdr of A Flt and responsible for pilot training on the unit, said of the HMSS: “There are three sensors in the helmet, which the aircraft interfaces with, that reflect the imagery or siting cues on to the clear visor. It does require an element of embodiment within the jet, such as interfacing it with ejection seat, but it’s a game-changer.” Not all the aircraft house the Helmet Equipment Assembly (HEA) which is the complete system and includes the HMSS. They don’t need to be P1E(b) configured, but have to be Tranche 1 Drop 2 or Tranche 2 Typhoons. The helmet is custom-made to fit the pilot’s head during pre OCU preparations, when he or she visits the RAF Henlow-based Centre of Aviation Medicine in Bedfordshire. Minor ‘mods’ have been made to survival jackets to accommodate the big block of electronic gadgetry that is connected to the ejection seat. Hose assemblies also have to be modified as they are different from the Mk10 helmets. Flt Lt Perts added: “It doesn’t completely replicate the HUD [head-up display], but provides the safety parameters: heights, speed and heading. There is also a degree of targeting info. We can declutter and pick up targeting data and cue the radar to the helmet. Through the helmet you can visualise the radar contacts. “The Litening pod can also be slaved to where the pilot is looking. Previously, you had to move the cursor across the MFD, with a switch on the throttle. The main benefit is it increases situational awareness – I can see all the friendly aircraft in the vicinity, in 3D; it knows from the Link 16 systems where they are. “Most of the work can be done without looking at the HUD. It aids you when looking for radar contacts – cueing your eyes. For example, intercepting non-squawking airliners – you can’t see it with your eyes at 40 miles or so, but it will appear as a box in your helmet visor – it gets layered on to it.” But for the former Red Arrows and Harrier pilot, who has been flying the Typhoon since October, the most amazing thing about the aircraft is its thrust: “It blows you away every time,” he said.

Above: Flt Lt Andy ‘Perty’ Pert shows off his helmet mounted sighting system (HMSS), which is making the Typhoon pilots’ life a little easier in the cockpit.

#329 AUGUST 2015 63

TYPHOON AT CULDROSE With the pilot sitting in his Martin-Baker Mk 16 ejection seat, this II(AC) Sqn Typhoon is ready for the next sortie.

64 AUGUST 2015 #329

TYPHOON AT CULDROSE Rafales in Red Air. It was a mission that saw us attack simulated targets on the northwest coast of France ingressing from the west.” Practising COMAOs with their French neighbours, while based in the southwest of England, also meant there was no need for the Typhoons to land at Landivisiau, from where the Rafales were flying.

The II(AC) Sqn XO, Sqn Ldr Jim ‘JJ’ Calvert climbs out of his jet after the detachment’s first sortie.

Combat Ready in 2016

Working with the French

As well as working with HMS Defender, the Typhoons flew with Rafales and Super Etendards of the Aeronavale (French Naval Aviation) in composite air operation (COMAO) sorties on at least two occasions. After a four-ship Typhoon formation returned to base on June 23 Sqn Ldr Jim ‘JJ’ Calvert told AFM: “Today following the flypast of HMS Defender, we worked alongside four French Rafales in Blue Air, with two acting as sweepers and two as strikers against four

‘Preparing for global ops is one of the Typhoon Force missions, which means the unit could go anywhere to do anything, hence their detachment to Cornwall.’

The exercise on the Cornish coast was also the first squadron-sized deployment by II(AC) Squadron operating Typhoon. The unit comprised 80 engineers, five support staff and 11 pilots, with 50% of the latter being junior pilots (JPs), giving the unit a considerable training burden. However, the squadron brought its own dual-seat T3, which meant all pilots had the chance to fly. The unit re-roled on January 9 at RAF Marham, Norfolk, before relocating to RAF Lossiemouth, where it is working up to being multi-role combat ready by January 2016. Preparing for global ops is one of the Typhoon Force missions, which means the unit could go anywhere to do anything, hence their detachment to Cornwall. When declared ‘combat ready’ it will be the fifth operational Typhoon unit – after 1(F), 3(F), 6 and XI(F) Sqns. Wg Cdr Taylor CO enthused: “It is a great opportunity to deploy to a welcoming, friendly base where you can practise afm operations in a different part of the UK.”

Above: A pairs’ departure from RNAS Culdrose marked the first sortie of the detachment which included flying with French Navy Rafales as part of a COMAO. Left: Break left! The lead ship of this formation heads towards the HMS Seahawk runway, followed by the wingman. Below: The last Typhoon taxies on to the flight line after a morning sortie. There were two sorties a day, comprising four jets, one at 10.30am and the second at 2.30pm, both lasting over an hour.

#329 AUGUST 2015 65









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This breathtaking film from Lionel Charlet features amazing aerial displays by some of the most impressive aircraft in the world. Including Russia’s MAKS Airshow this DVD combines the most picturesque scenery with the finest fighter jets on the planet. Region-free DVD. Running time 72 mins.

Originally designed for low altitude nuclear strike missions, the onset of the Vietnam War completely changed the role of the F-105 Thunderchief or ‘Thud’. This DVD showcases never-before-seen footage of the supersonic fighter-bomber in action. The footage is supplemented by compelling pilot diaries shared by Bill Hosmer, Frank Tullo, John Morrisey, George Acree and David Brog. Regionfree DVD, Running time 45 minutes.


Strap on your very own F-16 Fighting Falcon and experience the visual spectacle of the air war over Afghanistan! Witness the daily challenges that face the brave men and women (both in the air and on the ground) from training sorties in the USA to actual deployment and live operations in Afghanistan! Region-free DVD. Running time: 60 mins.

Air and Lumiere DVD


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F-105 Thunderchief DVD

Thanks to the aircraft’s awesome loadcarrying capacity, legendary long range and the advent of a bolt-on targeting sensor pod for precision bombing, the F-14 Tomcat evolved into the ‘Bombcat’, and it went on to play a pivotal role in the US military’s ‘War on Terror’. With firsthand accounts from the crews involved, as well as in-action photographs from both private and official sources, this 100page special magazine from the team behind AirForces Monthly magazine pays tribute to the F-14 Bombcat.

KC-135R Cockpit DVD


A-7 Corsair II DVD Enjoy a rare and historic look into one of the most distinctive shapes in the sky - the A-7 Corsair II! Having entered service during the Vietnam War, this mighty warbird soldiers on in the capable and trustworthy hands of the airmen proudly serving Greece and the Hellenic Air Force. Includes commentary from real-life A7 pilots! Region-free DVD, Running time 60 mins.

Code: DVD556

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Mirage F1 Cockpit DVD Go where few have been before... on board the super carrier USS John F. Kennedy during the first wave of attacks during the Gulf War. AirUtopia cameras were the only ones there! You’ll feel like you’re on board as you watch this live action production with numerous unbelievable takeoffs and landings, both day and night. A must see for all military aviation fans! Region-free DVD. Running time: 70 mins.

Code: DVD338

Code: DVD310

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AirUtopia join 2/33 Squadron in Mont-de-Marsan Air Force Base in France with coverage of the F-1 including exclusive footage of the war in Mali and flights over Africa. After four decades of service, Dassault’s durable air superiority fighter and attack aircraft is still a force to be reckoned with. Region-free DVD, Running time 70 mins.

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Eurofighter Typhoon

Transport Aircraft DVD

The Tornado DVD The Tornado was jointly developed by the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy, and first flew on the 4th August 1974. A total of 992 Aircraft were built with production finishing in 1999. As well as the three main operators, Tornados were also bought by RSAF (Royal Saudi Air Force). Region-free DVD, Running time: 68 mins.

Transport aircraft may not attract as much attention as fighter planes and bombers, but their role in warfare is just as critical. This programme throws the spotlight on transport aircraft including Hitler’s favourite, the JU-52, and the successful American workhorse, the DC-3, e C-130 Hercules and the Soviet II 76. Region-free DVD, Running time 60 mins

Produced by the expert team behind AirForces Monthly magazine, Eurofighter Typhoon is a 100-page special publication that gives you the complete and detailed story of Europe’s premier strike jet.

Code: DVD538

Code: DVD530


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Reconnaissance Aircraft DVD

AirForces Monthly Binder

The Hawker Siddeley Nimrod was direct development from the De Havilland Comet. Mainly designed for maritime operations, the Nimrod was the successor to the Avro Shackleton and took over the maritime role in the early 1970s. Region-free DVD. Running time 68 mins.

Military Aircraft Of The 20th Century is a series of programmes featuring the aircraft that had the most significant impact on the numerous military conflicts during the last century. Reconnaissance aircraft play a significant role in both war and peace time. Region-free DVD. Running time: 61 mins.

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EXERCISE REPORT Aviadarts 2015

Young Gun Russia’s pilots show their skills

68 AUGUST 2015 #329


Alexander Mladenov reports on the latest Aviadarts – the strongly contested combat employment competition held at the Pogonovo firing range near the Russian city of Voronezh. Above: An Su-35S pilot, seen before a sortie at Lipetsk airfield, with a GoPro camera attached to his GSh-7 protective helmet, using the bracket normally reserved for the helmet-mounted cueing system.


Left: The Ka-52 was represented in the gunnery competition by eight examples from the 39th Helicopter Aviation Regiment at Dzhankoy in Crimea, the 393rd Air Base of Army Aviation from Korenovsk and the Torzhok-based 344th Combat Training and Aircrew Conversion Centre of Army Aviation. All photos Andrey Zinchuk

he third and final stage of the Russian-only annual Aviadarts series of gunnery and combat employment skills competitions, between May 27 and June 1, was the biggest to date – with all main Russian Air Force branches and commands plus the frontal, long-range bomber and army aviation combat training centres participating. As many as 144 aircrew were despatched by the air force commands to compete in seven categories: fighter, attack, frontal bomber, long-range bomber, transport aircraft, attack helicopter and tactical transport helicopter. In addition, a competition was held between the air force’s display teams. The participating aircraft operated from five airfields: VoronezhBaltimor (helicopters), Lipetsk (fighters, attack aircraft and frontal bombers), Borisoglebsk (trainers), Buturlinovka (frontal bombers), Ryazan-Dyagilevo (long-range bombers and transports) and Akhtubinsk (unidentified types).

Aviadarts 2015 began with preselection phases held in each unit, and then within each air force command, in March and April to pick the best aircrews for the final stage. Entrance to this year’s competition was limited to crew members aged 35 or under who occupy job positions up to flight commander level. According to Russian Air Force commander-in-chief Col Gen Vladimir Bondarev, a keen supporter of the Aviadarts series, the contest is conceived not as a traditional military exercise but as a pure competition to judge the accurate firing of aircraft guns and rockets as well as precise delivery of bombs and air-dropped cargo from low-level flight. Participants are expected to demonstrate a combination of their best skills in employing their aircraft and delivering weapons in various situations. The flying stages of Aviadarts 2015 took place on May 30 and 31, with the first day dedicated to flying low-level sorties for visual reconnaissance over an area of 19.3sq miles (50km2). Crews had

Participating aircraft in Aviadarts 2015 Su-25/SM






























Left: Su-24Ms upgraded with the SVP24 nav/attack system demonstrated remarkably precise hits with FAB250M-54 ‘iron’ bombs.

#329 AUGUST 2015 69

EXERCISE REPORT Aviadarts 2015 Winners

The 4th Air Force and Air Defence Command (headquartered at Rostovon-Don in Russia’s Southern Military District) took first place on overall score, followed by the 4th State Centre for Aircrew Training and Field Trials (a centrally subordinated unit headquartered at Lipetsk) and the 3rd Air Force and Air Defence Command (headquartered at Khabarovsk in the Eastern Military District). The winner in the fighter category, graded on its performance in the first and second stages, was the pair from the Lipetsk centre flying Su-30SMs – followed by their colleagues from the Kursk-based 14th Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment (14th GIAP) with MiG-29SMTs; and the 3rd GIAP at Krymsk flying Su-27SMs. Winner in the frontal bomber category was the crew from the Morozovsk-based 559th Bomber Aviation Regiment (559th BAP) with a Su-24M (upgraded with the SVP-24 system). Second place was taken by the Lipetsk centre crew, again with a Su-24M (SVP-24 upgrade). The third spot was taken by the representative of

the 277th BAP at Khurba (227th BAP), flying the upgraded Su-24M2 (a different upgrade, without the SVP-24). Victorious in the attack aircraft category was the pair from the Lipetsk centre, flying the Su-25SM – followed by the pair from the 187th Attack Aviation Regiment (187th ShAP) at Tchernigovka with the Su-25SM and, in third place two from the 37th Composite Aviation Regiment (37th SAP) at Gvardeyskoe with non-upgraded Su-25s. The tactical transport helicopter category winner was the pair from the 546th Air Base of Army Aviation (546th AB AA) at Rostov-on-Don, flying Mi-8AMTShs – followed by the pair from the Klin-based squadron of the 344th Combat Training and Aircrew Conversion Centre of Army Aviation, and in third place a pair from the 562nd AB AA from Novosibirsk-Tolmachevo. The best attack helicopter crews came from the 575th AB AA, stationed at Tchernigovka, flying the Ka-52 while second place went to aircrews from the 39th Helicopter Aviation Regiment (39th VP) at Dzhankoy, also flying the Ka-52. Third place was shared between

to search the assigned area, with the task of detecting three objects, and report by radio their type and position with an accuracy of within 656ft (200m). This sortie was also used to evaluate participants’ aircraft handling and navigation skills. The weapons employment sorties on May 31 included evasion manoeuvring when pitted against ground-based air defences (GBAD) stationed in close proximity to the Pogonovo range. The anti-aircraft systems used were an S-300 longrange surface-to-air missile (SAM) system and a truck-mounted Pansir-S1 short-range SAM/ anti-aircraft artillery system. In addition to GBAD evasion, the mission elements in the gunnery/bomb-drop sortie were required to arrive at the range

in an allotted time slot, launch a direct attack on the assigned target upon arrival and then a repeat attack from a low-level circuit. The attack helicopters in the gunnery competition used 30mm rounds, while the attack aircraft fired 80mm (3.15in) rockets in a shallow dive. The frontal and long-range bombers dropped FAB250M-54 free-fall high-explosive bombs from level flight at an altitude of 1,968ft (600m) above terrain and fighters competed in air combat manoeuvring. Transport crews delivered cargo platforms descending on parachute as they competed in low-level accuracy.

Display team competition

The ‘Aviamix’ dedicated air display

the crews from the Torzhok-based 344th Combat Training and Aircrew Conversion Centre of Army Aviation, flying the Ka-52, and the 393rd AB AA at Korenovsk, flying the Mi-35M. The military air transport category winner came from the 708th Military Aviation Transport Regiment (708th VTAP) at Taganrog, followed by aircrews from the 117th VTAP at Orenburg and the 334th VTAP at Pskov. The long-range bomber aviation category winner was a Tu-22M3 aircrew from the 43rd Combat Training and Aircrew Conversion Centre of Long-Range Aviation. Next were representatives of the 200th Guards BAP at Belaya, who occupied second and third spots. The winners in all categories will take part in this year’s main international Aviadarts event planned for August, which will include participants from at least seven foreign states as well as Russian Naval Aviation– plus selected test pilots from Russian aircraft companies such as the Irkut Corporation, manufacturer of the Su-30SM and Yak-130. 

tion between the air force’s air display teams, which performed their standard routines for this season. The Strizhi (Swifts) team, flying four MiG-29s, took first place, followed by the Russkie Vityazy (Russian Knights) with six Su-27s and the Sokoly Rossii (Russian Falcons) with three Su-27s and an Su-30SM. In a speech during the prizegiving ceremony held at the Lipetsk Aviation Centre on June 1, Col Gen Bondarev said

Above: An Su-25SM is loaded with S-8 80mm (3.15in) rockets – an accurate yet affordable weapon for the destruction of ground targets.

event within the Aviadarts 2015 programme on May 30 involved all Russian Air Force demonstration teams, including the recently formed Yak-130 team (Krylya Tavridy – Wings of Taurida, an historic name for the Crimea region) with six aircraft from the Borisoglebsk training centre. There was also a spectacular ultra-low-level ‘slalom’ demonstration flown by Su-25s trailing thick red-coloured smoke to demonstrate their flightpath – and the first public appearance of the Sukhoi T-50 fifth-generation fighter (its fourth prototype, number ‘054’), armed with four R-77-1 active-radar-guided beyond-visual-range (BVR) missiles on external hardpoints. Aviamix also involved a competi-

Above: One of the two non-upgraded Su-27s involved in Aviadarts. The type is believed to be operated by the 38th Fighter Aviation Regiment based at Belbek in Crimea; it was formerly used by the 159th Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment at Besovets.

70 AUGUST 2015 #329

“Usually the helicopter aircrews have the best scores but this time their frontal bomber, long-range bomber and attack branch colleagues demonstrated better accuracy.” the competition had been held in a fair and uncompromising manner. He also noted that demands are increasing year by year, while most of the participants in this year’s Aviadarts were first lieutenants and captains. “This is a clear indication that youth strives to get better and better. I have attended the competition from the first to last sortie, watching and evaluating. And I’m proud of you.” He added he was particularly pleased by the performance shown

by the fixed-wing aircrews. “Usually the helicopter aircrews have the best scores but this time their frontal bomber, long-range bomber and attack branch colleagues demonstrated better accuracy.” Meanwhile Maj Gen Sergey Kobylash, the Russian Air Force’s Aviation Force Chief, noted that gunnery and bombing accuracy this year was better than in 2014. The accuracy of each of the participants was evaluated by the panel of judges mainly using

ground-mounted cameras and video footage from unmanned air vehicles circling over the range. Maj Gen Kobylash said the Su-24M aircrews achieved the most accurate hits in their bombing runs, thanks to the highly precise SVP24 nav/attack system (used on Su-24M bombers upgraded by the Gefest i T company). But, speaking about the helicopter crews’ gunnery results, he noted that their hits were somewhat dispersed. The Tu-22M3 long-range bomber

crews also demonstrated accurate hits when delivering free-fall bombs. According to Maj Gen Kobylash, this too was achieved thanks to the SVP system, borrowed from the Su-24M/SVP-24 (designated the SVP-24-22 when integrated on the Tu-22M3). Ordnance expended during the competition included 71 FAB-250M-54 free-fall bombs, 220 30mm rounds, 372 rockets, 13 anti-tank guided misafm siles and 960 flares.

Only two Mi-28Ns were present at this year’s Aviadarts.

Above: This Su-34 belongs to the Voronezh-Baltimor-based 47th Composite Aviation Regiment (operating temporarily out of Buturlinovka). As in 2014, the Su-34 units failed to rank in the winners’ list in the frontal bomber category. Below: Aviadarts 2015 was the first competition of the series to include the new Su-35S, which was used in the gunnery display to fire 122mm (4.80in) rockets at ground targets.

#329 AUGUST 2015 71

FORCE REPORT Mexican Air Force Below: The Mexican Air Force needed a new tactical jet fighter in the early 1980s. Several options were considered, including the F-4 Phantom and the IAI Kfir, but the Northrop F-5E/F Tiger II was eventually selected. The initial requirement was turned down by the US Congress but was later revoked when Mexico began negotiations with Israel to acquire at least 24 Kfirs. The Tiger IIs were delivered to Santa Lucia Air Base between August and December 1982. Vincent Martens

Eagle Aztec Face the Future S

ome consider the FAM to be a cash-strapped air force – but, as we will see, its current condition is not primarily determined by finances but by an incumbent government. Mexico’s politicians remain largely unaware of the benefits of air power and consider it appropriate that the FAM serve as a kind of ‘airline and cargo hauler’ for the Mexican Army. Indeed, it is closer to what might be termed an army aviation service than a ‘real’ air force. The FAM may well be the last ‘air force’ in the world still under army control. In becoming a modern air force, it was not until the 1980s that the FAM managed to obtain a dozen supersonic Northrop F-5E/F

72 AUGUST 2015 #329

Tiger II fighters, its first Lockheed C-130A Hercules, almost 30 Bell 212s and more than 88 Pilatus PC-7s. The purchases reformed the FAM and the surviving aircraft continue to provide the backbone of its inventory today. Back then, counter-insurgency (COIN) was the main focus for Mexico’s armed forces, followed by protection of its exclusive oil production zones and a limited level of anti-narcotics operations. Today, the priority has effectively been reversed. In addition to these missions, the armed forces are active in humanitarian relief and disaster support missions: the entire Mexican military is involved every time a catastrophe affects

Mexican territory, and in some cases also provides relief abroad.

Slow progress

The 1990s was a difficult time for the FAM, not least because of the fiasco when it attempted to induct 74 Vietnam-era ‘Huey’ helicopters which were eventually returned to the US and replaced by 74 Cessna C182 Skylanes. The FAM also felt the fall of the Soviet Union. After purchasing its first Mil Mi-8/17 Hip, two Mi-26 Halo heavy-lift helicopters and four Antonov An-32B Clines, the level of support provided by Moscow was disappointing. Today, after several accidents, only the Mi-17 remains in service; in 2014, 15

were sent to OPK Oboronprom for a complete overhaul, including their TV3-117MT/MB engines, at a cost of nearly $60 million. In 2000, the FAM obtained two ex-Royal Air Force C-130 Hercules C3s and two C1s alongside two ex-Israeli C-130E/ Hs – finally enabling the retirement of the ageing C-130As. By 2006, the Mexican Government had decided to use the armed forces to fight the crime and violence spreading across the country, mobilising troops and supporting detachments all over the country. But neglect of the FAM meant it lacked the necessary hardware to support such endeavours. In response,


The Mexican Air Force (Fuerza Aérea Mexicana or FAM) remains a little-known air arm. It may lack much in the way of glamorous jets and global combat exposure, but has been involved in numerous combat actions. This force report on the FAM is by Mariano García, with an order of battle by David Hernández.

Above: The recently delivered AW-109SP provides VIP transport and is operated by Mexico’s Secretariat of National Defense (SEDENA). Its high-cost purchase remains controversial. All images by Mariano Garcia unless stated.

it took on six EADS CASA C295s to replace the ancient IAI Arava fleet. The C295s performed so well that a follow-on order was placed for two more. Four new Alenia C-27J Spartans were also introduced, complemented by four ex-Mexicana de Aviación Boeing

727s overhauled in Florida. Both Hercules C1s retired in 2013, probably to cover the expense of work on the sole FAM Lockheed L-100. Meanwhile both Hercules C3s were sent to Cascade Aerospace in Canada for a complete overhaul and a

Rockwell Collins avionics suite upgrade. The first of these returned in April this year and the second was due to arrive in Mexico in late June. The FAM is also likely to purchase at least one C-130J, which will be diverted from the US Air Force production line,

but this is yet to be confirmed. In 2014 an Airbus A400M Atlas visited Mexico with the expectation that one would be ordered. However, according to the FAM, no formal evaluation or study of the type has been undertaken. Nevertheless, this recent upgrading and investment has placed the FAM transport fleet at the forefront in the Latin American region. The FAM’s helicopter fleet has also had a major facelift, incorporating 12 new Airbus EC725 Cougars, while four expensive-to-operate Sikorsky CH-53 Yas’ur 2000s have been retired from frontline service. At the core of the helicopter fleet are three squadrons of veteran

#329 AUGUST 2015 73

FORCE REPORT Mexican Air Force Bell 212s, known to the troops as ‘Boludos’, which continue to handle the bulk of daytime rotarywing work. In the past six years they have logged 19,615 flight hours, representing 34% of all FAM helicopter combat operations. At night, most missions are carried out by 12 Bell 412EPs with FLIR turrets and armed with defensive 0.5in machine guns at the door stations. Last but not least, almost 30 Bell 206s (known as ‘Bicycles’) from Escuadron Aereo 111 (EA 111) are deployed in small flights, crop-dusting narcotics fields in the most difficult sierras – frequently being fired on. Probably as a result of a Cougar being shot down in May this year, and a lack of real gunships and the political will to buy them, the decision has been taken to upgrade and overhaul an undisclosed number of Bell helicopters. This will most likely involve the Bell 212, which is better suited as a platform for a 20mm cannon since it can bank to open fire without losing much altitude. Six FAM Sikorsky UH-60L Black Hawks fly infrequently, and the type’s operational status is considered poor, by aircrews, in terms of its sluggish nature in hot and high conditions and of the US Foreign Military Sales processes required to support and maintain them. Because of the continued presence of the Bell 212 and Mi-17, the Black Hawk force now only registers sixth place in terms of utilisation. This year, however, the FAM confirmed the procurement of two batches (of eight and 18) UH-60Ms. While the surviving 15 to 20 Mi-17s are being overhauled, the obvious candidate for their replacement is the Bell 212. As UH-60Ms and overhauled Hips arrive, the Bell 212 will likely be partially retired, leaving the FAM helicopter fleet as one of the most modern in the region.

Above: Beech Super King Air 350s serve as VIP transports and in a supporting role for the Integrated Air Surveillance System (SIVA). All the King Airs carry minimal markings to avoid attracting attention. Vincent Martens Below: Three Boeing 727s are still used by the air force for troop transports, all were seen flying earlier this year. One was deployed recently to Toronto, Canada for an air exercise. Vincent Martens


Above:Spartans are expected to serve alongside two C-130J-30s that are due to arrive in service, although SEDENA has yet to confirm a Hercules order to date. Jose A Quevedo

Above: Traditionally an escort of Tiger IIs accompanies every President on his last flight in EA401. The Boeing 757 will soon be replaced by a 787 Dreamliner. SEDENA Right: Air assets supporting SIVA are rarely photographed. The aircraft spend little time at their headquarters at Santa Lucia Air Base. Four specially modified C-26A Metroliners, similar to this example 3903, operate on a number of classified tasks.

74 AUGUST 2015 #329

To become a FAM pilot, candidates must pass rigorous academic, physical, medical and psychological tests. The Colegio del Aire (CdA), or Air College, is one of the most demanding academic institutions in Mexico; aspirants can apply after senior school and will spend their first year studying theory and flight fundamentals. Once accepted, cadets spend four years with the CdA at Base Aérea Militar (BAM) 5, Zapopan Jalisco, and are assigned to a particular specialty at one of its three faculties: the Aviation School (EMA), Specialists School (EMEFA) or the Supply and Maintenance School (EMMA). Students begin real and simulated flying in their second year, using the Skylane in the air. After 40-45 hours they are cleared to fly solo. In their third year they move on to the Aermacchi SF-260U and then finish their fourth year on the Pilatus PC-7 or Bell 206. By the end of their fourth year, a cadet will have logged 300-plus flight hours before graduating as a sub-lieutenant. The CdA recently underwent an ambitious transformation of equipment and facilities, and finally retired 19 Beechcraft F33 Bonanza basic trainers to be replaced by 25 Grob 120TPs,

‘a lack of real gunships and the political will to buy them, the decision has been taken to upgrade and overhaul an undisclosed number of Bell helicopters.’

ORBAT and facts

Despite various political roadblocks, on paper the FAM doesn’t seem to be doing too badly. Its budget has increased significantly since 2006, and aircraft availability is reportedly a healthy 80%. From December 1, 2012 until November 2014 the FAM reported 135,006 flight hours, of which 72,943 were for training, 21,086 transport

(including hauling nearly 2,000 tons of relief material), 36,690 for security actions and 3,567 for air vigilance. The FAM numbers 12,024 officers and troops – and 352 aircraft (134 fixed-wing and 218 helicopters) within four aerial regions: north, central, northwest and southeast. The force includes 18 air bases, nine air stations, three

training centres and three or four AN/TPS-78 radar sites without any anti-aircraft defence systems. There are 26 reported Air Squadrons (EAs), within five Air Groups and two Wings. In parallel is the VIP aviation component: UETAAM and CAGTP or, as it is caustically known within the FAM, ‘The Imperial Aviation’.

Mexican Air Force ORBAT Sqn COMBAT WING 1st Aerial Group EA 101


EC725 Cougar (11), UH-60L (6), Bell 412EP (12) MD530F/MG (10-15) F-5E/F (9) PC-7 (5), T-6C+ (probably 2)


BAM 1 Santa Lucía

EA 112 EA 401 EA 402 BAM 2 Ixtepec 2nd Aerial Group EA 201 PC-7 (6) BAM 4 Cozumel EA 202 PC-7 (6) BAM 6 Tuxtla EA 203 PC-7 (6) BAM 3 El Ciprés EA 204 PC-7 (5), PC-9M (1) BAM 18 Hermosillo RECONNAISSANCE AND TRANSPORT WING 3rd Aerial Group EA 301 C295 (6) BAM 1 Santa Lucía EA 302 Hercules C3 (2), C-130E/H (2), L-100 (1), C-27J (4) EA 303 Mi-17 (15-20), Mi-26 (1) (unserviceable) EA 502 B727-100 Cargo (1), B727-200 Advanced (3) 4th Aerial Group EA 102 Bell 212 (7), Bell 206 (5) BAM 14 Escobedo EA 103 Bell 212 (6), Bell 206 (6) BAM 15 Oaxaca EA 104 Bell 212 (8), Bell 206 (5-6) BAM 8 Mérida EA 111 Bell 206 (10-15) BAM 5 Zapopan 5th Aerial Group EA 105 C182 Skylane (6-8) BAM 5 Zapopan EA 106 C182 Skylane (6-8) BAM 9 La Paz EA 107 C182 Skylane (6-8) BAM 18 Hermosillo EA 108 C182 Skylane (6-8) BAM 14 Escobedo EA 109 C182 Skylane (6-8) BAM 16 Cd Pemex EA 110 C182 Skylane (6-8) BAM 13 Chihuahua Integrated Air Surveillance System (SIVA) Air Vigilance Sqn EMB-145AEW&C (1), EMB-145RS/ AGS (2), C-26A (4), King Air 350 (4), King Air C90 (4), PC-6 (3) Divided into 1st, 2nd and 3rd Flights, based at Hermosillo, Santa Lucía and Mérida. Unmanned Aerial Hermes 450 (3), S-4 Ehécatl Systems Sqn (unknown numbers), G1-Guerrero, E-1 Gavilán; Dominator XP (2 to be delivered)



Photo Technical Sqn

Intelligence interpretation


AIR COLLEGE Military Aviation School (EMA) Preparatory Sqn, 2nd year

C182 Skylane

Primary Sqn, 3rd year


Advanced Sqn, 4th year


Air College Aerobatic Display Team (Instructors)


BAM 5 Zapopan

AERO-TACTICAL APPLICATIONS SCHOOL, EMAATFA Postgraduate, T-6C+ PC-7 (11) tactical pilot course

BAM 11 Santa Gertrudis

Aircraft of UETAAM & CGTAP Presidential Transport Co-ordination Group Air Station #1. Mexico City International Airport, AICM TP-01

Presidential B757-225






Gulfstream III


Gulfstream III


Learjet 35A


Learjet 36A


Citation Sovereign (FAM CO), Gulfstream G450


EC225 Super Puma


EC225 Super Puma


AS332 Super Puma


AS332 Super Puma


AS332 Super Puma


AS332 Super Puma


SA330 Puma


SA330 Puma, AW109SP, B737-2B7, Beech 200


Beech 350i, Cessna 680


CL-605, EC145 (Loaned to CFE)


Gulfstream G550


Learjet 45XR

Notes: Bold numbers denotes aircraft numbers are confirmed. UETAAM and GCTAP appear combined due to VIP roles. EA: Air Squadron. BAM: Military Air Base.

#329 AUGUST 2015 75

FORCE REPORT Mexican Air Force

In 1999 the FAM required an AEW&C aircraft to enhance the fight against drug trafficking and to strengthen the military capability to respond to natural disasters. A contract was signed with Embraer for a single EMB 145 AEW&C. Mexico intends to acquire a second AEW&C asset by 2018, although the type has yet to be confirmed. Jose A Quevedo

Above: Media reports within in Mexico have indicated that UAVs operated by the FAM carry weapons, but has not been officially confirmed to date. The UAVs are used for reconnaissance only.

starting this year. Acquired for $110m, the Grobs, along with two simulators, will also replace the Skylane and the SF-260U. Cadets are expected to start training on the new aircraft this September. Since 2007 the CdA has accepted female applicants, 33 women pilot and air traffic control officers having graduated to date. The college regularly conducts cadet and instructor exchanges with the Mexican Navy and also invites students from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Newly inducted and planned

rotary-wing equipment means the FAM currently suffers a shortfall in helicopter crews. Pilots were formerly allocated from the general pool to train within each rotarywing unit, but since 2007 nearly 50 Bell 206s have been transferred to the FAM from the Procuraduría General de la República (PGR, the attorney general’s office); the air force has also taken on the Bell 206’s crop-dusting mission. So the FAM established a Helicopter Training Centre (HTC) at BAM 5 with the purpose of pooling Bell, MD530 and Mi-17 crews’ instruction – and 469 helicopter pilots have graduated since 2007. BAM 5’s installations have also been modernised to accommodate four FLYIT simulators and all necessary equipment. EA 111 is responsible for co-ordinating all crop-dusting missions using the Bell 206 and has been outstandingly successful, spraying more than 161,200 acres despite coming under hostile fire. EA 111 and the HTC are also modernising: 16 Bell 206s retired from service

Tiger: the last fighter

Above: A special paint scheme on FAM F-5F 4501 commemorated 25 years of operations in 2007. SEDENA The FAM fighter force depends on seven F-5E and two F-5F Tiger IIs operated by EA 401. According to an official attrition report, two F-5Es have crashed, but unofficial sources suggest a third loss in the past two years after an unknown F-5E broke its wing spar during a hard landing and was considered beyond repair. In all probability, only nine of the original 12 aircraft remain at different levels of serviceability. By the end of 2014 it was likely that three F-5s were operational, and a programme to revive the squadron was launched. This involved the Swiss company RUAG Schweiz AG, and the local Gler Dealers, and its task was to “recover to operational status five airframes” via non-destructive airframe inspections of 1,200, 1,800 and

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2,100 hours, a 900-hour inspection of the J85-GE-21C engines and repairs to minor components. The stated cost was $250,000. As big as Mexico is, its air defences have developed little since 1982. Somehow, the current government considers an air defence establishment based upon a handful of centralised, short-legged F-5s and several turboprop trainers to be adequate. The FAM has confirmed it will not look for a Tiger replacement during the current administration, based on the airframes having only limited flight hours (which is true) and that “they comply with current needs for rapid response”, which is debatable. SEDENA has proposed an avionics and weapon systems upgrade, but it is conditional on the airframes’ fatigue

condition. It is believed that on March 7, 2014 North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) completed a hijack response exercise with the FAM, though the latter’s involvement has never been officially confirmed. Five days earlier, four F-5s from EA 401 flew 1,000 miles (1,609km) from Santa Lucía AB to Hermosillo in readiness for the ‘alarm’. In a real-world scenario, F-5s will not be based close to the front line, and would be expected to fly at least 621 miles (1,000km) to their objective, if travelling north, or 994 miles (1,600km) if the hijack occurs in the southeast. The F-5 pilot would have to fly supersonic to cover the 994 miles to the Merida peninsula and once there – even if perfectly guided by the EMB-

145AEW&C – the F-5’s persistence would depend on how much fuel it had left. Considering the FAM possesses no aerial refuelling capability, in all probability the fighter would have to land, refuel and resume what would become a hopeless pursuit. Supplementing the PC-7 is the incorporation of 12 already delivered T-6C Texan IIs (out of 36 officially confirmed) in the EMAAFA, the postgraduate tactical flying school. It’s likely that Pilatus Squadrons 201, 203, 204 and 402 will convert to the new trainer while most of the remaining PC-7s will then be concentrated in EA 202 and the Military Aviation School. It is still unclear if the T-6C will have a combat capability like the PC-7, but this might be expected as it will equip four frontline squadrons. 

‘the latest policy is to finance purchases via national banking institutions; and sign contracts between governments. This makes purchases more transparent,’

The first unit to receive T-6Cs was EMAATFA. The aircraft’s offensive capabilities remain unknown at present. Jose A Quevedo

in 2014 will be replaced by 15 new Bell 407GXs, one of which has already been delivered. Mexican Army candidates can also undergo a ‘fast track’ helicopter course delivered initially by the HTC, but mostly completed abroad, including in Colombia. Once back in Mexico, the applicant must pass flight and tactical examinations by HTC instructors and will only then be considered as a FAM helicopter pilot. Once assigned to a squadron, they have to qualify on type to be considered combat-capable. In 2014 the FAM assigned half a course of third-year EMA cadets directly from the SF-260 to the Bell 206, for graduation this year. The measure may have been taken as a counter to the ‘fast

track’ army approach, which has proven unpopular in the air force.

Not Yet Quite World Class

Procurement plans for the FAM remain a black hole; there is little government openness or effort to promote development and competitiveness. The public might know how much money Mexico’s Secretariat of National Defense (SEDENA) will spend on equipment, but most of the time aircraft types are not made public and, worse, there is no way to question costs and acquisition prices, audit industrial compensations or reveal the selection process until contracts are signed. However, the latest policy is to finance purchases via

national banking institutions; and sign contracts between governments. This makes purchases more transparent, and was used for the C295, Grob and overhaul of the Hercules C3. Unlike defence administrations in most countries, however, SEDENA does not operate competitive bidding, but instead makes direct purchases. This has led to concerns about excessive expenditure on, for example, the presidential Boeing 787 Dreamliner, (see, Mexican AF Presidential 787-8 Being Outfitted, Dec 2014, p20), costing more than $430m, and the recent purchase of six AgustaWestland AW109 VIP helicopters without any proper viability studies. These purchases have been

questioned by some opposition members within the government due to their high cost and questionable need. However, Mexico’s current legal structure allows such acquisitions to take place with the minimum of government oversight. In March, the FAM confirmed it’s acquiring five Beechcraft King Airs – although only two will be used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR).

Air defence, the final frontier

The FAM’s ‘vigilance force’, codenamed SIVA (Integrated Air Surveillance System) is one of the best in the region and has dedicated airborne early warning and control (AEW&C), electronic intelligence

Above: The Bell 412EPs are suitably equipped for their many anti-narcotics raids with FLIR, and armed with door-mounted 0.5in machine guns. Vincent Martens Left: At least ten MD530F/MGs are ANVIS 5 compatible and work as armed escorts for the Bell 412s during nocturnal raids on illegal drug hideouts. Vincent Martens

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FORCE REPORT Mexican Air Force BAM 12, Tijuana

United States of America

BAM 18, Hermosillo


BAM 13, Chihuahua BAM 11, Santa Gertrudis

BAM14, Escobedo

BAM 3, El Cipres

Gulf of Mexico


BAM 8, Merida

BAM 1, Santa Lucia


BAM 16, Cd Pemex BAM 9, La Paz

Mexico City

BAM 10, Culiacan

Pacific Ocean


BAM 17, Copalar


BAM 7, Pie de la cuesta

(ELINT) and communications intelligence (COMINT) platforms in the form of an Embraer 145AEW&Cs, two 145RS/AGSs and four Fairchild C-26As. The COMINT/ELINT Metros are expected to be replaced by the two new King Air 350s to be used for ISR. Both of these King Airs have been spotted incognito with fake serials, suggesting they could have been acquired at the same time as those for the Mexican Navy. The FAM is also making increasing use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). As well as three Elbit Hermes 450s, the force is incorporating and developing unmanned systems

BAM 4, Cozumel

BAM 6, Tuxtla

BAM 5, Zapopan


designed by local company Hydra Technologies, and currently uses three of its products – the Guerrero, Ehécatl and Gavilán. One of the lessons learned from the Chiapas conflict in 1994 was the need for dedicated intelligence platforms. Initially, four Schweizer SA-237As were acquired in 1994-95 for surveillance of Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN) guerrillas. In 2008 three Hermes 450 systems were obtained directly from Elbit Systems for $25m, including training in Israel. The FAM’s UAV squadron is known to be based at Atlagatepec, but mainly operates from Hermosillo

BAM 15, Oaxaca


BAM 2, Ixtepec


in the north of Mexico. At least two Dominator XP systems are expected to be delivered soon. Meanwhile the FAM has been using the Hydra UAVs since 2012, and flying them as much as its Hermes 450s. The twin-engine S-4 Ehécatl can cover more than 386 square miles (1,000km2) per flight hour at an operational cost of around $100 and is equipped with a high-definition photographic camera and a FLIR turret with a 50 x 25mm electro-optical camera. Radar coverage is one of the FAM’s darkest secrets; only a few pieces of information are known. Operators refer to it as ‘el Arma de Avanzada’


(or forward-deployed arm) though radars are officially controlled by the Detection and Control Group 1, established in 1992. This began using the AN/TPS-63 and recently started to incorporate at least three TPS-78s to replace older TPS-70s in southern, central and, probably, northern areas of the country; these stations act as co-ordination centres for vigilance aircraft. Despite a number (undisclosed) of Oerlikon GAI 20mm anti-aircraft guns declared by SEDENA, no other ground-based anti-aircraft system is known to be operational with the FAM or the army, although the navy has several Igla man-portable missiles.

Above: Bell 206s from EA 111 conduct defoliant operations as a secondary duty to support the war against drug gangs. Left: The 12 EC725 Cougars in the heavy lift tactical support helicopter role have filled the space left by four retired CH-53s.

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‘Considering the FAM possesses no aerial refuelling capability, in all probability the fighter would have to land, refuel and resume what would become a hopeless pursuit.’ Right: Black Hawks, Cougars and Hips are to become the backbone of tactical helicopter operations within the Mexican Air Force. Below: The FAM originally procured 24 Mi-17 Hip-H transport helicopters in two batches, the first in 1996 followed by another in 1998. The type has proved ideal for operating in Mexico’s central high land. Vincent Martens

Myths and reality

Very few in Mexico’s Government have acknowledged the FAM is not only inadequately equipped but also lacks the structure to guarantee safety throughout Mexican airspace. Proof of this are the events of May 1 this year when Cougar serial 1009 from EA 101 was operating against cartels in the state of Jalisco. The helicopter detected a convoy of ten

trucks with armed gunmen but, owing to the politically imposed rules of engagement (RoE), little could be done until it was fired on and hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. The Cougar crashed and was engulfed in flames, leaving seven dead and 11 wounded. SEDENA and the wider government must start to consider the terrible risks their soldiers face by updating defence policies

and RoE. A positive move would be to give serious consideration to creation of an army aviation service while allowing the FAM to exist as an independent organisation with a specific task of controlling airspace. For many observers, evasive political arguments about a lack of money are no longer acceptable. When former Secretary of National Defense Gen Guillermo Galván

requested money to buy F-16 fighters to replace the ageing Tigers, he was turned down on the basis of a lack of resources. It is abundantly clear this is not the root cause of the FAM’s problems, especially bearing in mind the use of public funds to acquire VIP aircraft. Until this discrepancy is addressed, SEDENA’s promises of delivering a world-class air force will afm continue to ring hollow.

Left: Mexican special forces disembark from a Bell 212 into a marijuana field, during a raid on an illegal drug plantation.

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edia attention on illegal immigration in Mediterranean waters tends to focus on tragedies occurring in the Strait of Sicily, but people traffickers move along many different routes. The Guardia di Finanza’s (Financial Guard - GdF) Air Section works hard all year, by day and night, combating not only those who will smuggle asylum seekers but also drugs, weapons and they are on the lookout for illegal fishing. Nocturnal helicopter patrols in search of suspect vessels are particularly challenging – the work is exacting and risky and the public knows little about it.

Sardinian Summer

In September the weather in the south of Sardinia is still that of a splendid summer, the sun and calm sea attracting those lucky tourists who can take a holiday outside the crowded summer months. The climate is also favourable for illegal activities and the day before AFM visited the Air Section of the GdF, based at Cagliari Elmas Airport, another group of migrants was reported to have landed on the on beaches along the southwest coast, near Cape Teulada. Asylum seekers departing Tunisia and


tions over land and the twin-engined HH-412, used predominantly at sea.” Our take-off is scheduled for 2200hrs, allowing two hours for a detailed briefing. If we had been tasked against a specific target we’d have planned for a mission of up to 3hrs 30mins, using auxiliary fuel tanks to give a one-hour safety margin. This evening there was no specific target and if nothing unexpected happened we’d be airborne for around 2 hours 30 minutes. We would be patrolling over international waters, checking vessels flying non-European Community flags and sailing in an area chosen to coincide with the routes used by illegal immigrants. At the same time, we would also verify other vessels, the activity providing useful crew training. Right: All HH-412s of the Guàrdia di Finanza (GdF) are equipped with a large starboard-mounted hoist for both maritime and mountain rescues. When operating over the sea the helicopter carries a four-man lift raft in the cabin in the event of a ditching or to be dropped to any ships in distress. All images by author unless stated

Algeria often follow a straight course that brings them close to this particular stretch of coastline. The voyage represents a lengthy and difficult navigation. Vessel monitoring is among the missions flown from Elmas, which has jurisdiction over a wide area known as the ‘district of service’. This includes the region of Sardinia and its territorial waters: to the east towards the Tyrrhenian Sea between Sardinia and the Italian peninsula; to the south, the Mediterranean to the Tunisian coast, and to the west, out to the Strait of Gibraltar and Spain. The Air Section also occasionally monitors the operational area of Lampedusa. The GdF flies night-time helicopter patrols as part of its regular operations, which aim to protect Italian territory (land and sea) and economic interests, provide search and rescue cover, fight illegal immigration and prevent the trafficking of weapons, drugs, toxic waste and other illegal commodities in international waters.

Mission Profile

I arrived at the military airport, former home of the Italian Air Force’s 30º Stormo Antisom (anti-submarine wing) at 2000hrs on the evening of the mission. Major Comitini Alessandro, then commanding the Air Section and now ‘boss’ of the GdF’s Aviation Training Centre at Pratica di Mare, described the unit’s aircraft. “We’re equipped with the single-engined NH500, which is dedicated to opera-

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Border Boys Dino Marcellino flew a maritime night patrol mission off Sardinia with Italy’s Guardia di Finanza Air Section based at Cagliari Elmas.

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Marshal Tommaso Todaro, a mission specialist/ winchman, shows me around HH-412, callsign ‘Fox 209’, our mount for the evening. The aircraft is suitable for medium- to long-range missions. Removing the cabin rear seats makes space for two large auxiliary fuel tanks, one on each side, which makes it possible to extend endurance up to 4hrs 30mins, sufficient to fly to the Tunisian coast and back. The left side of the cabin accommodates the systems operator’s position at a large console where the radar, FLIR and GPS are managed. This leaves three free seats, one each for the commander and myself, and another that could be occupied by the mission specialist/winchman if off-base landings or other activities were expected. The radar is mounted in a massive cylindrical container on the helicopter’s roof. The system is used for sea searches and to provide weather information, navigation and other secondary functions. The FLIR turret is mounted on the lower forward fuselage along with a searchlight. The FLIR is used to acquire thermal imagery in real time, for the detection and classification of targets at long distances and as an aid to navigation. Emergency inflatable flotation gear is fixed to both sides of the skid undercarriage. During flight the pilot primes the automatic activation system as the helicopter crosses the coast, activating water-retaining sensors. In the eventuality of a crash into the sea, the sensors immediately fill with water, causing the floats to fire. Alternatively, if the crew is forced to alight in an emergency, the pilot can fire the system manually when the helicopter comes into contact with water. The HH-412 remains afloat

depending on sea state and its weight, but can do so for at least six minutes. Configured as described, the aircraft exceeds five tonnes.

Pre-flight Briefing

The flight crew is pilot Marshal Fabrizio Pisano, co-pilot Captain Giacomo Di Cosimo and system operator Corporal Sergio Sanarica. Marshal Pisano explained the mission plan: “Weather conditions are good, the sea is calm, wind 9kts. We have 2,500lb of fuel, sufficient for a three-hour flight. We’ll take-off from Cagliari Elmas and fly along the coast to Pula, then over Cape Teulada; from there we’ll fly out to the south for 25 miles offshore – that’s the direction from which the immigrants come.

Above: The FLIR screens show a fishing boat at night with an image clear enough for the operator to read the name of the vessel. The new FLIR systems used by the GdF offer greatly improved detection and screen resolution.

“We’ll search along this route using ‘broken’ (parallel) flight segments to cover as much area as possible. If we locate a vessel of interest, we’ll make a standard circuit to help us identify it.” Guardia di Finanza procedures demand that detection and interception manoeuvres against vessels be flown under autopilot – they are only flown manually during training. “We’ll lose contact with the air traffic control, but we’ll always be in touch with our operations room at Cagliari and we’ll contact the ops room at least every 30 minutes – they’ll act as a ‘bridge’ and update the authorities on our progress.”

Safety Briefing

Marshal Todaro shows me the safety briefing: “There are passenger emergency exits on both sides of the cabin. They’re the door windows, which are knocked out by applying pressure on them. In the event of an emergency landing on land, passengers must move away from the helicopter in the one o’clock direction, with their heads down.” Crew and passengers wear life jackets; they’re quite heavy and, after a four-hour flight, quite tiring to wear. In addition to providing flotation, the life jacket contains emergency equipment. Its use is quite instinctive – by simply feeling the pockets it is easy to find the emergency radio (which lights up and sends a distress signal that travels around the world in just a few seconds), a small oxygen cylinder allowing up to 30 breaths and fitted with a fluorescent mouthpiece for easy location, a light, a pocket knife, drinking water and a box containing several small signal rockets. Uranine, a compound that lights up in contact with

“The radar will be our eyes; we’re flying IFR [instrument flight rules] because the night is very dark since the moon is in its last quarter and currently obscured.”

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GUARDIA DI FINANZA AIR SECTION Left: Systems Operator Corporal Sergio Sanarica at his FLIR workstation. If the helicopter crew wants to surprise a target it is possible to switch the display screens to red light to reduce the chances of the helicopter being spotted at night. Below: An illegal vessel is approached by a highspeed dinghy belonging to the GdF. The helicopter will remain on over-watch to provide any assistance if required. GdF via author

water, used to be part of the emergency equipment suite, but is now deemed toxic and has been removed. It was also useful as a shark repellent, although there are generally no aggressive predators in the Mediterranean Sea. Nevertheless, there are around 120 species of fish liable to bite people in these waters. Since there will be five people on board our flight we carry a larger life raft; the standard one only accommodating four. The helicopter is also equipped with an emergency locator transmitter (ELT).

The Air Section at Cagliari Elmas Cagliari’s Air Section was established by Lieutenant Pilot Pietro Sgarlata in 1967 and was initially equipped with Agusta-Bell AB47J (‘Jota’) helicopters. Its strategic location in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea makes it the ideal base for counter operations against illegal activities stemming from the African coast, the Balearic Islands and the Strait of Gibraltar. Over the years, several helicopter types have served the unit, with the NH500 introduced in 1973, the A109A in 1991, and the HH-412 from 2006, each introducing improved sensors and enhanced safety systems. Also in 2006, the Air Section became part of Operational Naval Air Command as the Air Section of Manoeuvre. By 2015 it had returned to Air Section status. It also has a ‘rescue unit’ for search and rescue on land and at sea.

Left: An HH-412 illustrates the amount of equipment each helicopter carries as it prepares to depart for another patrol over the Mediterranean Sea, which will see it operating just a few hundred metres above sea level. The FLIR, search light, inflatable flotation gear, roof-mounted radar and the extra fuel tanks in the rear cabin are all clearly visible.

Mission Execution

The radar is switched on soon after take-off, initially to monitor the weather and sea conditions. According to the pilots: “The radar will be our eyes; we’re flying IFR [instrument flight rules] because the night is very dark since the Moon is in its last quarter and currently obscured.” There is a continuous exchange of information between the pilots and systems operator. Navigation in these conditions is exacting – as we leave the last coastal lights behind us, impenetrable darkness lies ahead. Nothing can be seen outside the cockpit and

there’s no horizon. The sea and sky merge and it is easy to become disorientated. The radar/FLIR console features two large screens. The coast shows up clearly on the radar screen, marked with an intense red outline; over the sea the dominant colours are light blue and yellow, creating a set of irregular spots that show wave motion. Regular shapes in red are surface vessels. We detect a ship early on. We perform a circuit as the system operator and pilots work together. At 2nm (3.7km) from the vessel, the operator notifies the pilots of the distance to the target, then at 1.5nm (2.8km) the approach begins, the autopilot reducing speed to 60kts (111km/h) and altitude to 200ft (61m). At this point the searchlight is switched on to illuminate the ship. The vessel’s name is read from its stern and the operator contacts the ops room to assess its legality. Its appearance is confirmed as 116m long (380ft), grey hull, white quarterdeck and blue funnel. There is nothing suspicious about the vessel, so we watch as it is swallowed by the darkness, and continue our patrol. Soon another regular shape appears on the radar screen, this time smaller.

A map illustrates the massive operating area for the Air Section of the GdF based at Cagliari Elmas Airport. When necessary the detachment operates in the Lampedusa area to reinforce other units within the zone which is a major route for people smuggling.

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The main hangar at Cagliari Elmas houses the other helicopter used by the GdF, a float-equipped NH-500. The service has flown NH-500s since 1973 and used them extensively for mountain and maritime patrols.

It suddenly starts to move. We repeat the approach pattern and the system operator uses the FLIR to assess how many people are on board. It appears the vessel is fishing, although the area is protected from this activity and to do so would be illegal. The FLIR screen enables the boat’s name to be read, and the vessel is described as 20m long (66ft), with blue and white hull and cabin. We leave the fishing boat as if to continue our sortie, but turned back to approach a second time. Now we flew with all exterior and interior lights extinguished until close to the suspect vessel, when we illuminated it with the searchlight and FLIR, the scene before us confirming illegal fishing activity. The system operator reported all the information to the control room. Had we confirmed illegal immigrants were on board, our mission would have changed from one of prevention to an operational footing. Through the control room we would have activated Coast Guard and/or Guardia di Finanza vessels, and then assisted them to intercept the suspect boat. At the same time, the control room would have alerted ground forces to check along the coastline.

Return to Elmas

With the mission coming to an end, we head back towards Elmas. On the way, Commander Comitini highlights aspects of the GdF’s work: “All the national territorial control and monitoring services are integrated, and our activity scheduled and shared with other agencies, including the carabinieri, police and Coast Guard. “When illegal immigrants are found, their location is reported to the Guardia di Finanza control room which, as the point of contact for the European Union, transmits all information to Frontex [the EU border agency set up in 2004]. “Off Sardinia, the Guardia di Finanza’s aircraft and vessels have legislative jurisdiction with regard to illegal immigrants in Italian territorial waters and the contiguous zone. Operations on the high seas are the navy’s responsibility and, if search and rescue at sea is required, it falls to the Coast Guard.” (Territorial waters extend 12nm [22km] out from a baseline that is not necessarily the coastline, but nonetheless carefully defined. The contiguous zone, or contiguous waters, extend out to 24nm [44km].) “As we’ve seen, illegal immigrants are one of the many variables possible in a mission. We recently found a ship loaded with more

The radar and FLIR console in the rear cabin of the HH-412. During a typical night sortie the operator watches the screens for up to four hours while continually providing pilots with a commentary on what he can see. Information will also be relayed back to GdF’s headquarters during the flight.

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than 30 tonnes of hashish from Morocco. We flew from Elmas almost to the Tunisian coast, tracking the vessel and passing it to naval units when it was south of Sardinia. “A ship can be approached in international waters under agreements between countries or international law – usually permission is sought from the vessel’s flag authority.” Patrols are flown by day and night throughout the year, reaching their peak in the summer, when the weather and sea conditions are generally more favourable for smaller craft. This constant vigilance is achieved through considerable organisational effort and cost at a time when funding is scarce, as well as the skill and afm professionalism of the GdF’s personnel.

Major Alessandro Comitini Captain Pilot Luigi Fusco is now in command of the Air Section, but at the time of AFM’s visit Major Alessandro Comitini was in charge. Comitini has more than 3,800 flying hours, 1,000 of them in the Alps, and has flown the NH500, A109A and HH-412 in Guardia di Finanza service. He earlier commanded the Air Section at Venegono (in northern Italy), where he converted onto twin-engined helicopters. Comitini led at Cagliari Elmas from 2006 to 2014, going on to command the GdF’s Aviation Training Centre at Pratica di Mare.

Major Alessandro Comitini in his office at Pratica di Mare. All the aircrew within the Air Section of the GdF undergo continuous training, even during a ground tour.




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Coalers Iran’s An-74 fleet in focus


oday, the survivors of 12 An-74s delivered between 1997 and 2002, including four An-74TK-200s, are used for up to three daily flights between Tehran and Iran’s larger cities. They also routinely carry cargo and personnel between air bases in support of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard of Corps (IRGC). The former Islamic Revolutionary Guard of Corps Air Force (IRGCAF, now the Islamic Revolutionary Guard of Corps Air and Space Force — IRGCASF) was originally one of three forces within the Revolutionary Guard. An aviation group was first formed in 1980, under the control of the IRGC. Two years later its first aircraft were delivered, consisting of two Bell 206s, two Dassault Falcon 20s, several Cessna O-2As, one Piper PA-23, one PA-31, one Turbo Commander

and three Cessna 310s. These were supplied under direct orders from the Ayatollah Khomeini. In early 1986 the IRGCAF was formally established as an independent force within the IRGC and the former O-2 hangar of the Islamic Revolutionary Committees Aviation Force on the northwest of Mehrabad International Airport was handed over to the IRGCAF. IRGC commanders made several unsuccessful attempts to obtain

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As Babak Taghvaee discovers, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard of Corps Air and Space Force (IRGCASF) operates the world’s largest An-74 fleet. These Coalers are now the backbone of the Revolutionary Guard’s domestic transport network.

fighter aircraft, first from North Korea (second-hand F-6s), then from East Germany (12 MiG-21PFs and four MiG-21U-600s), from China (18 F-7N/FT-7Ns) and finally from the Soviet Union (11 MiG29As). All these attempts failed for two important reasons: US sanctions and the lack of experience and knowledge in IRGCAF ranks to operate such aircraft. In 1988 the Iranian Ministry of Defence placed an order for

Above: The Coalers of the IRGCASF are heavily involved in daily cargo flights between Iran’s tactical air bases. One of the An-74s used on these sorties is pictured approaching Mehrabad International Airport. Right: One of the most active An-74s within the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Air and Space Force (IRGCASF) fleet was 15-2257. Preparing to take off from Mehrabad International Airport, Tehran, on March 12, 2013 this Coaler was withdrawn from service the following year after a landing accident at Yazd Airport. All images by author unless stated

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AIRCRAFT PROFILE IRGCASF An-74 25 Embraer EMB-312 Tucanos from Brazil. Between 1989 and 1991 only 15 of these aircraft were delivered while the others were embargoed. The Tucanos, which had been acquired for counter-insurgency and training purposes, remained the only combat aircraft in the IRGCAF inventory for around ten years. One of the IRGCAF’s other roles was to provide aircraft for liaison and VIP flights for IRGC commanders and personnel. There also existed a requirement to establish several transport squadrons to provide logistics and help mobilise its forces in wartime. In 1991, 142 Iraqi aircraft fled Iran in the wake of the Gulf War and most of them were captured by Iran as a small part of Iraq’s compensation for the eight-year IranIraq War. Thirteen Il-76MDs and two airborne early warning conversions of the same type were among the ‘refugee’ aircraft. In 1993, the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) restored several of these ex-Iraqi Candids with Ukrainian assistance under Project Simorgh. Most of the transports were relocated from Tabriz to Shiraz. In 1995, Supreme Leader Seyyed Ali Khamenei ordered the IRIAF to share these airlifters with the IRGC. Five Candids were passed on to the IRGCAF and formed the core of the transport fleet. The aircraft were sent to Russia for overhaul by Ilyushin and returned to Iran between September 1996 and February 1997.

These five Il-76s were soon used on the IRGC’s domestic air routes, carrying personnel and their families as well as cargo including military equipment. However, the IRGC still needed a transport capable of operating in Iran’s harsher climates: the cold and mountainous areas of the north, the hot and dry deserts of central Iran, and the humid weather of the Persian Gulf region. Such an aircraft was required to carry cargo and passengers between IRGC air bases and operate from airfields with unpaved, muddy and short runways.

Above: Flown in passenger configuration by the IRGCASF, 15-2258 was last overhauled in early 2014 by Pars Aviation Aircraft Center, Tehran. Returned to operational service in 2015, this Coaler is only used for domestic flights in support of IRGC. Below: The flight deck of An-74 15-2251 (c/n 365470991028) photographed during a public relations flight for Western aviation correspondents. The aircraft is flying at 23,000ft (7,010m) over the outskirts of Tehran on November 23, 2014. Lars Hentschel

Antonovs in IRGCAF service

In 1994, one year before delivery of the five Il-76s, IRGCAF commanders and the IRIAF commander-in-chief Brig Gen Mohammad Hossein Jalali (former Minister of Defence and former commander of the Iranian Army Aviation) announced an

IRGCASF’s An-74 fleet Model

Serial No.

Construction No.

Civil Reg.






















Due to hard landing in Yazd Airport on May 27, 2014 An-74T-200







Last overhaul performed in 2010. An-74T-200



Crashed at Mehrabad International Airport on November 27, 2006. Above: The unique location of the two Motor Sich D-36 Series 3A turbofan engines on the An-74 is partly why the aircraft has exceptional STOL capability for its size. This aircraft, 15-2257, taxies towards Runway 29L at Mehrabad International Airport for a military flight to Mashhad Air Base in northeast Iran. Left: Known as Coaler by NATO, the An-74 had the Russian nickname Cheburashka after the cartoon character that had huge ears. This was inspired by the location of the engines above the wings which looked like ears from the front. Alireza Khodakarami

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Temporarily in Pouya Air Service. An-74T-200



















Temporarily in Pouya Air Service. An-74TK-200



Temporarily in Pouya Air Service. An-74TK-200



Temporarily in Pouya Air Service.

Action in Afghanistan The short take-off and landing (STOL) characteristics of the IRGCAF’s Coaler were first demonstrated in a combat zone in 2001. On November 12, 2001 the IRGC participated in a joint operation with US special forces in Herat, Afghanistan. Three An-74T-200s carried 120 commandos from the IRGC’s Qods Force towards an unknown airfield located near Herat where several US military helicopters were stationed. The operation was planned by Gen Yahya Rahim Safavi and Gen Tommy Franks. US special operations teams including US Army Rangers and Delta Force together with Qods Force commandos and around 5,000 Northern Alliance militiamen under the command of Ismail Khan succeeded in taking Herat. The operation was successful and the Taliban left the city, its forces fleeing to the mountains west of Herat. Between November 11 and 13, the IRGCAF conducted more than 36 An-74T-200 sorties. Aircraft involved included 15-2250, 152251, 15-2254, 15-2257 and 15-2258, which carried Qods Force commandos and provided logistics support for US special forces. Several months later, a tripartite agreement was signed between the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR), Iran and Afghanistan to provide for refugees of the war in Afghanistan as well as humanitarian aid for Afghans in the surrounding region. 

urgent requirement for the acquisition of a medium transport aircraft. The Iranian Ministry of Defence was tasked to meet the IRGC’s need. In the same year, the Ministry of Defence began negotiations with Antonov in order to procure a special version of the An-74 that met the demands of the IRGCAF. A contract was signed covering design of a new variant of the An-74T — the freighter version of the Arctic-configured An-74 (alternatively An-72A). The specially developed sub-variant of the An-74T for the IRGCAF was the An-74T-200. It was a nonconvertible version of the An-74T with a two-man flight deck that did not require a navigator. Maximum payload was ten tons and the transport was able to operate from short runways with concrete, gravel or dirt/grass surfaces. During one test flight, Iranian experts demanded to see how the aircraft responded to an engine failure at an elevation of 16,732ft (5,100m). The flight crew was unable to maintain the aircraft’s altitude for the desired time while flying on a single engine. Fyodor Mikhailovich Muravchenko, considered one of Antonov’s best engineers, developed a quick and effective modification to the D-36 engine and the problem was solved. As a result, IRGCAF An-74s are all equipped with D-36 series 3A engines. The first An-74T-200 prototype (c/n 365470991021) was delivered from the Antonov

factory in Kharkov in 1997. After several test flights and modifications, this aircraft, together with seven more An-74T-200s, were delivered to the IRGCAF in 1998. Iran’s total order was for 12 An74s worth a total of US$133 million. The remaining four Coalers were delivered between 1998 and 2002, and represented the An-74TK-200 variant. These were convertible light transport/regional airliner sub-variants of the An-74T-200. The order for An-74TK-200s was added in 1995 for use by the IRGCAF’s airline and to carry IRGCAF personnel and their families. The An-74T-200s were painted in a three-tone desert camouflage and received serials from 15-2250 to 15-2257. The An-74TK-200s received serials from 15-2258 to 15-2261 and were painted overall white to reflect their civilian duties. Following delivery of the An-74s to Mehrabad International Airport, they entered service with Qadr Air Base of the IRGCAF, and a group of Ukrainian technicians arrived in Iran to maintain the fleet. Qadr AB offered a large maintenance hangar to house the An-74s. Most technical work was performed here by the Ukrainians. In 2000, two Russian companies, Aviaexport and Tupolev, built an aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) centre for the IRGCAF. This was named Pars Aviation Service. The facility included two large aircraft hangars (named Martyr Abdoveis and Martyr Sohrabi) with 20 specialised shops plus two

equipment calibration centres and a spare parts store located within the IRGCAF’s Qadr AB at Mehrabad. The An-74 fleet underwent periodic checks and routine maintenance including overhaul which is now performed by Ukrainians together with Iranian engineers from Pars Aviation Service.


Pars Air, an IRGC cargo airline, had operated two civilian-registered Il-76s since 2006 and was renamed Yas Air in 2008. Several more aircraft, including one Il-76TD, two An-74T-200s and an An-74TK-200 were added to the airline’s fleet in 2008 and 2009. By 2009 the airline’s fleet had doubled and the three An-74s had received Iranian civil registrations. The Coalers 15-2252, 15-2256 and 15-2260 respectively became EPGOQ, EP-GOX and EP-GOY on the civil register. Prior to their transfer the aircraft were no longer in military service and both EP-GOQ and EP-GOX had been grounded by the IRGCAF due to a lack of spare parts and funds for their programmed depot maintenance. Subsequently, Yas Air, like Pars Air before it, faced sanctions due to illegal activity including transportation of Iranian-made arms. Due to economic difficulties resulting from US sanctions imposed against Iran’s nuclear programme, Yas Air lost most of its potential Iranian civil customers. Those that did require air transport preferred to use Iran Air Cargo services.

Below: Disembarking Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Council (IRGC) members and their families at Shiraz International Airport, Coaler 15-2257 is operated by the IRGCASF on a weekly scheduled service from Shiraz to Tehran.

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Due to a lack of funds and US sanctions, An-74 activity was reduced in 2012. One-third of the fleet was grounded due to unavailability of spare parts caused by US pressure on Antonov OKB. As an example, 15-2251 was totally phased out during its depot maintenance, and 15-2256 and 15-2259 were gradually grounded and then cannibalised for parts. The situation was tough for the IRGCAF, which had been merged with the IRGC missile force in 2009 and renamed as the IRGCASF. The main problem was that most of the force’s budget was now being allocated to missile programs. Before the foundation of the IRGCASF, IRGCAF An-74s saw significant participation in routine exercises such as dropping paratroopers, air dropping cargo, tactical cargo delivery, operating from short and unpaved fields, and mobilisation of IRGC ground forces. In order to compensate for the lack of funds, the IRGCAF established a separate branch of Yas Air to provide lucrative helicopter services. The previous 14 weekly flights by IRGC An-74s had dropped to six. However, two Il-76TDs newly overhauled by Ilyushin were now in service to transport IRGC personnel. In 2012, Pouya Air was established to replace Yas Air and all three Il-76s and three An-74s were re-registered accordingly. Of the Coalers, EP-GOQ, EP-GOX and EPGOY were respectively re-registered as EP-PUA, EP-PUB and EP-PUC. Thereafter the IRGCASF performed almost 90% of its routine An-74 services under Pouya Air callsigns. Such work compensated for the IRGCASF’s lack of funds, and Pouya Air also received governmental subsides to buy cheaper fuel. Meanwhile, spare parts for the An-74 could be obtained under the guise of civil usage. By 2013, seven An-74s remained

90 AUGUST 2015 #329

An-74 accidents

Above: One of six An-74T-200s operated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Air Force (IRGCAF), 15-2253, received a three-tone desert camouflage at Antonov’s Kharkov production facility in Ukraine prior to delivery. The colour scheme was later changed to overall white during its 2010 overhaul in Iran.

airworthy, comprising serials 15-2250, 15-2252, 15-2253, 15-2254, 15-2257, 15-2260 (EP-PUC) and 15-2261. On February 8, 2014, during an official ceremony at Qadr AB, the head of the Iranian Civil Aviation Organisation delivered a Certificate of Airworthiness (CofA) for EP-PUC, as well as for two ‘new’ Pouya Air Coalers, EP-PUM (15-2261) and EP-PUN (probably 15-2259). Although these aircraft entered Pouya Air service and were specified for civil passenger flights, they were routinely used for IRGCASF transport sorties alongside 15-2250, 15-2252, 15-2253 and 15-2257. On May 27, 2014 IRGCASF An-74T-200 serial 15-2253 was damaged after an emergency landing. Before the accident the crew had performed seven ‘touch and goes’ at Yazd airport during a training flight from Tehran. During the eighth landing the nose landing gear suffered a tyre blowout, starting a fire that damaged the aircraft’s nose. None of the crew was injured. Another An-74 was damaged by fire in August, due to a short circuit

while parked on the main apron at Bandar Abbas International Airport. The aircraft’s avionics bay was badly damaged and the Coaler was grounded at the airport. As a result, all civil operations by IRGCASF An-74s on behalf of Pouya Air were stopped on the order of President Hassan Ruhani. Pouya Air restarted civil operations in March 2015, with permission of the Iranian Civil Aviation Organisation. As a result, three IRGCASF An-74s received their CofAs in order to be used as civil airliners once again. The aircraft are EP-PUA, EP-PUC and EP-PUM. Another three operational An-74s remain in IRGCASF service for military purposes. Two more An-74s are under programmed depot maintenance at Qadr AB. Thanks to the three operational An-74s in Pouya Air service, the IRGCASF has recorded a significant net profit since March 2015, and now intends to buy three new Airbus A320s or three An-148s as well as accelerate the overhaul of the two An-74s in maintenance and restore another Coaler afm airframe to airworthiness.

Catastrophes struck the IRGCAF in 2006. On January 9, one of the force’s two Dassault Falcon 20Es (15-2233) crashed near Orumiyeh killing all 11 occupants including Brig Gen Ahmad Kazemi, commander of the IRGCAF. Other IRGC commanders perished after the jet suffered a two-engine flameout as a result of engine icing. Only a few months later, the IRGCAF also lost another aircraft with 37 individuals on board. A desertcamouflaged An-72T-200 serialled 15-2255 (c/n 365470991045), of Qadr AB, crashed in an accident on November 27, 2006. During take-off from runway 29R at Mehrabad, the bucket-type thrustreverser on the number two (right) engine was unexpectedly engaged due to a technical failure and the aircraft stalled and then crashed just metres from the Qadr AB ramp at the end of the Mehrabad runway. An-72T-200 15-2255 was carrying 32 IRGCAF personnel and IRGC Marines plus six crew. Its destination was Shiraz, from where it was to fly on to Bandar Abbas. Only one passenger survived. At first the MKO terrorist group was accused of planting a bomb on the aircraft, but further investigations by Antonov and Pars Aviation revealed that technical failure and human error were the main reasons for the accident. Between 2006 and 2008, all other IRGCAF Coalers were operational with the exception of 15-2254 (c/n 365470991040), which was under programmed depot maintenance in the Imam Khomeini hangar at Qadr AB.  Below: IRGCAF An-74 15-2257 was seen in the static display at Kish Island in November 2002, when relations between Iran and the west were better. A year earlier the aircraft had been involved in a joint Iran-US-Northern Alliance operation, to oust the Taliban from Herat. Alan Warnes


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Indonesian KC-130B Crash Kills 142 A TENTARA Nasional Indonesia - Angkatan Udara (TNI-AU – Indonesian Air Force) KC-130B Hercules crashed on June 30 in the city of Medan, northern Sumatra, killing a total of 142 people. The aircraft, A-1310 operated by Skadron Udara 32, had taken off from Soewondo Air Base, Medan, at 1148hrs local time for a routine cargo flight to Lanud Tanjung Pinang in the Riau Islands. The pilot almost immediately reported a technical problem and was attempting to return when the aircraft crashed, only two minutes after departure, 3 miles (5km) from the base. A TNI-AU official said that the No

Above: Indonesian Air Force KC-130B A-1310, which was the one involved in the fatal crash in Medan on June 30. Theo Aji Baruno

4 engine had failed on take-off and at a reduced rate of climb the aircraft hit a 100ft (30m)

antenna before coming down. The Hercules, with 12 crew members and 122 passengers

on board, hit a hotel and several houses in the Jalan Jamin Ginting suburb, starting a large fire and killing all on board. Indonesia temporarily grounded its remaining C-130Bs pending further information on the cause of the accident. The Hercules was operated by SkU 32 at Abdul Rachman Saleh Air Base and was one of two tanker variants acquired in the early 1960s, along with eight standard C-130Bs. The TNI-AU also operates the newer C-130H, C-130H-30 and L100-30 variants, which are currently being added to with deliveries of former Royal Australian Air Force C-130Hs. 

Fatal Marine Osprey Incident Prompts Safety Changes NEW SAFETY measures for the USMC MV-22B Osprey have been implemented following the near loss of one of an aircraft and the death of a crew member during an incident on October 1 last year. Details of the investigation, released by the USMC, reveal that the Osprey was started up in maintenance mode, causing a reduction in power and meaning it was unable to maintain flight. The MV-22B involved was 168234 ‘YP-03’ from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 163 (VMM-163) ‘Ridgerunners’ at MCAS Miramar, California. It was deployed aboard the USS Makin Island (LHD 8) in the northern Arabian Gulf at the time. The aircraft was the third in a group of five being deployed to protect the US Embassy in Iraq. After engine start-up, the crew noticed both engines hang up for about 15 seconds, but then spooled up normally. They also noticed that the exhaust deflector was set to ‘ON’ instead of ‘AUTO’ as expected. As the Osprey seemed to be operating normally, they assumed a harmless software update was to blame. At 1659hrs, the aircraft was lifted into a 15ft (4.5m) hover, but as it slid to port over the edge of the flight deck, it plunged towards the ocean. The senior crew chief, flight commander and the ship’s control tower all quickly called for more power. The co-pilot replied with “It's all in!” and adjusted the nacelles and nose to level the aircraft and steer it away from the ship, saying “Brace for impact.” After the Osprey descended the 70ft (21m) from the deck,

92 AUGUST 2015 #329

the sergeant on board said “We are ingesting salt water and we will continue to lose power to salt incrustation.” The flight commander said “I think we need to leave the aircraft” and the two crew chiefs were ordered to depart. They slipped into the water from the rear ramp, but did not deploy a life raft, as they believed they would not have time before the Osprey sank. Both were being pulled down by their body armour and having trouble inflating their life preservers. One of them, 21-year-old Cpl Jordan Spears, was unable to stay afloat, despite the efforts of the other crew chief and is assumed drowned – his body could not be found, despite an extensive search. He became the first American killed in action in Operation Inherent Resolve, the

fight against ISIL in Iraq and Syria. The other crew chief was rescued. Meanwhile, the two pilots fought to get the Osprey out of the water, hovering in whiteout conditions caused by the rotor downwash. The crew dumped several thousand pounds of fuel to lighten the aircraft. Although it immediately lifted out of the water, it still could not maintain flight and settled back into the water five times. Finally, after more than ten minutes, on the sixth attempt, the co-pilot used the maximum gross take-off adjustment to lower the nacelles and it finally flew up into the air. Despite a recommendation to switch to aircraft mode and fly to land, 20 minutes away, the crew decided to return to the ship, with the flight commander at the controls, as

Above: The crew of US Marine Corps/VMM-163 MV-22B Osprey 168234 ‘YP-03’ struggle to keep the aircraft airborne alongside the USS Makin Island during the incident on October 1 last year, which resulted in one of the crew chiefs being drowned after exiting the stricken aircraft, which was eventually got back into the air, with some effort, after about ten minutes. USMC

the co-pilot could not see through his salt-encrusted windscreen. Still dumping fuel, they landed and performed an emergency shut-down to prevent fuel ignition. The crew then safely exited. The loss of power was caused by start-up in maintenance mode, which meant the exhaust deflector that protects the avionics from overheating remained on, reducing engine power. In the report, the commanding officer of the 11th MEU, commented: “It is inexplicable that an aircraft systems design would allow a crew to take an aircraft flying with a potential degradation in engine power of 20% without providing a caution or warning alerting them of the situation. This poor design and the fact there is no documentation to warn the crew of this design in naval operating procedures is a contributing factor to this mishap.” The accident report also said that the crew not strictly following start-up procedures contributed, as did the lack of any warning to them of the potential hazards of flying in maintenance mode. After being partly submerged in corrosive salt water, there was considerably damage to the aircraft, repairs to which cost an estimated $1,309,648. This included replacement engines and various other components. A week after the accident, the USMC ordered revisions to the flight manuals for the aircraft to warn of the danger. A fleet-wide MV-22 software update was also implemented in January, making full power available if the Osprey is inadvertently flown in maintenance mode. 

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Accident Reports D: Apr 13 N: US Navy/VX-30 T: C-130F Hercules S: 148897 ‘400’

A ground accident at Naval Base Ventura County (Naval Air Station Point Mugu), California, resulted in this aircraft being damaged beyond repair. The incident occurred at 1232hrs, when the C-130F, operated by Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 30 (VX-30) ‘Bloodhounds’, was on the unit’s ramp. It rolled forward unexpectedly and struck a ground power unit. This resulted in Class A damage which would cost an estimated $4,001,472 to repair, according to a brief report by the US Naval Safety Center, which has categorised the aircraft as a write-off. It had originally been delivered in October 1961, and after more than 53 years service, the cost of repairs are likely to have been deemed prohibitive. D: Jun 3 N: US Navy/VFA-113 T: F/A-18C Hornet S: 164895 ‘NA-304’

This aircraft was damaged in an incident at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California, when it experienced a keel fire while returning to base at 1200hrs. The pilot made a safe arrested landing. Post-flight inspection of the aircraft revealed Class A damage, but it has been classed as repairable, according to the US Naval Safety Center. D: Jun 10 N: Hungarian Air Force/1 ‘Puma’ Sqn T: JAS39C Gripen S: ‘30’

After taking off from Kecskemét Air Base at 0905hrs for a routine training sortie, the nose undercarriage failed to fully retract. The pilot, Major Alexander Kadar, burned off fuel to reduce the fire risk and made a belly landing at 0915hrs. After touching down, the aircraft began to veer to the left and the pilot ejected, suffering a fractured vertebra. An HAF Mi-8 search and rescue helicopter took him to hospital, where his condition was reported as stable condition. This was the second Hungarian Gripen accident in less than a month, following the runway overrun on May 18 by two-seat JAS39D ‘42’ ˇ áslav in the Czech Republic, at C which destroyed the aircraft.

Above: After being lifted and having its undercarriage lowered following its belly landing on June 10 at Kecskemét, Hungarian Air Force JAS39C Gripen ‘30’ is towed back to the ramp, showing remarkably little damage apart from a smashed canopy due to the pilot’s ejection. Hungarian Air Force D: Jun 11 N: Libya Dawn Air Force T: 2 x L-39ZO Albatros

These two aircraft of the Fajr Libya (Libya Dawn) Air Force were destroyed during an attack by IS while parked on an apron in front of a hardened aircraft shelter at Al-Qardabiyah (Ghurdabiyah) Air Base, Sirte. A video and still photographs showed both exploding in flames during the attack. According to local reports, a tank and heavy mortars were used by IS. D: Jun 11 N: Syrian Air Force T: Su-24 Fencer

This aircraft crashed in the Najran area on the western side of the southern province of As-Suwayda. The fate of the pilot is unknown. The loss was confirmed by the Syrian Army, although the cause is undetermined. A video posted on line by the opposition-affiliated Syria Media Organisation showed the aircraft spiralling to the ground engulfed in flames, with the entire nose section missing. The Yarmouk Army rebel group claimed to have shot it down with anti-aircraft guns.

D: Jun 16 N: Indian Air Force T: Jaguar IB S: JT060

D: Jun 19 N: US Marine Corps/VMM-161(R) T: AV-8B+(R) Harrier II S: 165419 ‘WL-52’

The crew reported technical problems within minutes of taking off for a routine training sortie from Allahabad-Bamrauli Air Force Station at 0725hrs. The pilots, Wing Commander S Kinha and Flt Lt Soni, ejected when they could no longer control the Jaguar. The aircraft crashed 8 miles (13km) southeast of Allahabad at about 0847hrs. It came down on open land at Naini, adjacent to a Food Corporation of India warehouse, about 30 miles (50km) from Bamrauli and was destroyed by the impact and post-crash fire. There were no reports of casualties or damage to property. An unconfirmed report in the Times of India said one of the undercarriage legs was damaged while attempting to land, forcing the crew to take off again. The crew abandoned the aircraft as it seemed unlikely they could make a safe landing. With most of the wreckage buried in the crater caused by the high-speed impact, the flight data recorders could not be recovered immediately.

This aircraft was substantially damaged during an emergency landing on the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) while on operations in the Indian Ocean. The AV-8B was attached to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit and operating as part of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 161 (Reinforced) ‘Greyhawks’. It was on approach at 1621hrs local time for a roll-on landing after a routine flight when the main undercarriage hit the ship’s stern. No injuries were reported and the flight deck remained operational. The accident has been categorised as a Class A mishap, indicating that the aircraft sustained damage valued at more than $2 million. D: Jun 22 N: Colombian Army/Brigada 30 T: UH-60L Black Hawk S: EJC-2185

Four Colombian soldiers were killed and six others injured when this UH-60L landed in a minefield planted by rebels from

Above: Two Fajr Libya (Libya Dawn) Air Force Aero L-39ZO Albatros aircraft explode into flames during an attack by IS on Al-Qardabiyah (Ghurdabiyah) Air Base, Sirte, on June 11.

Abbreviations: D: Date N/U: Nationality/Units T: Type S: Serials

#329 AUGUST 2015 93

APRIL 13 - JULY 3 2015

ATTRITION REPORT Accident Reports Above: The wreckage of Indian Air Force Jaguar IB JT060 following its crash on June 16. PTI Below: Indonesian Air Force F-16A TS-1609 rests on its nose following a landing accident at Iswahyudi Air Base on June 24. Only minor damage to the aircraft was reported. via Alan Fairclough

the Catatumbo Resistance squad of the FARC in northeastern Colombia. As the helicopter landed, the rebels detonated explosive charges, blowing the Black Hawk in half and throwing debris over a 160ft (50m) radius. The attack took place at 1256hrs at El Bejuco, Teorema municipality, Norte de Santander. The UH-60L was being operated by Brigada 30 and supporting Task Force Vulcano ground troops in offensive missions around the Norte de Santander area. It was one of a number supporting repairs on a section of the Cano Limon-Covenas oil pipeline destroyed in a bomb attack on June 16. The helicopter had 15 personnel on board and was about take soldiers back to Cucuta. The site had been used previously to land military helicopters and should have been fully secure. An investigation is under way to determine how the rebels set the trap without being seen. D: Jun 22 N: US Air Force T: MQ-1 Predator

This unmanned air vehicle crashed in southeastern Iraq. The loss was confirmed by US Air Forces Central

Command, which said it had been flying a combat mission when it went down. US officials said the loss was not due to hostile fire. D: Jun 23 N: US Marine Corps/VMU-2 T: RQ-7B Shadow UAV

During a routine training flight, this UAV crashed into the Neuse River near Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina. There were no reports of any injuries or property damage. The UAV was being operated by the resident Marine Unmanned Air Vehicle Squadron 2(VMU-2) ‘Night Owls’. Personnel from MCAS Cherry Point were searching for the aircraft as of 1800hrs that evening. D: Jun 24 N: Indonesian Air Force/SkU 3 T: F-16A S: TS-1609

The aircraft’s nose undercarriage leg collapsed on landing at Iswahyudi Air Base after returning from a routine training sortie.  The F-16A came to rest on its nose but sustained only minor damage and the pilot was unhurt. It is thought a hydraulic problem was responsible.

D: Jun 24 N: Iraqi Air Force T: F-16D Block 52 S: 1601

While on a night training mission from Tucson International Airport, Arizona, this aircraft crashed at about 2000hrs near Leslie Canyon, 5 miles (8km) east of Douglas Municipal Airport, Arizona. The pilot, Brigadier General Rafid Mohammed Sidq Hassan, was killed. The crash sparked a brush fire, close to a high-pressure gas pipeline, which was dealt with by local fire crews. The aircraft was the first to be handed over to Iraq and had been training with the Airzona Air National Guard's 162nd Wing at Tucson. D: Jun 24 N: Royal Thai Air Force/1 Wing T: F-16A ADF S: 10208 ‘KRT’

While the engine was idling at Korat-Nakhon Ratchasima Air Base, at around 1300hrs, the aircraft suddenly lurched forward. It ran across the ramp for almost 330ft (100m) and fell into a drainage ditch. The pilot ejected safely without serious injury, but the F-16 was badly damaged.

D: Jun 25 N: Republic of Korea Air Force T: Antonov An-2 S: HL1090

After losing engine power during a training exercise, this An-2 was badly damaged near Okcheon, North Chungcheong province, South Korea, when it made an emergency landing in a stream at 1309hrs. It was not reported whether there were any injuries to the four crew on board. The ROKAF has taken delivery of at least ten An-2s, which were first noted in service in 2003. One was lost in an accident on May 4, 2009, injuring both crew. The remainder are based at Seongmu Air Base and it is believed they are used in support of special forces missions. D: Jun 25 N: Syrian Air Force T: Mi-25 Hind

This helicopter was lost in a crash near Ezeddin village, Homs governorate, killing all three crew. State media said a technical failure had caused the crash, while rebels claimed it was shot down. A video posted on line by the rebels, purportedly showed the helicopter being downed, spiralling into the ground, trailing smoke. D: Jun 25 N: US Navy/HT-28 T: TH-57B Sea Ranger S: 163327 ‘E-170’

Above: US Marine Corps AV-8B+(R) Harrier II 165419 ‘WL-52’ from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 161 (Reinforced) ‘Greyhawks’ takes off from the flight deck of Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) on June 19 in the Indian Ocean. Later that same day, this aircraft struck the stern of the ship with its main undercarriage while on approach, resulting in Class A damage to the airframe. US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Bradley J Gee

This TH-57B from Training Air Wing 5 (TAW-5)/Helicopter Training Squadron 28 (HT-28) ‘Hellions’ was involved in an accident at its Naval Air Station Whiting Field base, Florida. During a hover taxi at 1455hrs, the helicopter impacted the ground, incurring Class A damage and has been declared a write-off. Injuries to the crew were not reported.

Abbreviations: D: Date N/U: Nationality/Units T: Type S: Serials

94 AUGUST 2015 #329

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D: Jun 27 N: Honduran Air Force/Academia Militar de Aviación T: Maule MXT-7-180 Star Rocket S: FAH-277

While attempting to get airborne in very strong winds, this aircraft veered off runway 02 at Tegucigalpa-Toncontín International Airport, Honduras. It ran across a taxiway and passed between two parked aircraft before its port wing struck a parked refuelling truck. It came to rest against the wall of the air traffic control tower. The pilot, identified only as Lt Brito, is believed to have been unhurt. The Maule’s port wing was extensively damaged when it smashed the windscreen of the truck and the propeller was also bent. D: Jun 28 N: Afghan Air Force T: Unidentified helicopter (probably an Mi-17)

This helicopter crashed in Kandahar province at around 1200hrs. A local security official said eight personnel were on board when it came down in the Naw Abad locality of the Garmawak area, between the districts of Maiwand and Ghorak. The official said it had been shot down by militants, killing three soldiers and injuring three others, while two others were reported missing. Another source said at least two were killed, another two were missing and that one survivor was rescued. However, the provincial governor’s office denied it had been shot down, claiming it made a heavy emergency landing due to technical problems and then caught fire. A Taliban spokesman also claimed the group had shot it down. It is assumed that the helicopter was most likely to have been an Mi-17, in view of the number of personnel on board.

D: Jul 3 N: Russian Air Force T: MiG-29 Fulcrum

Above: The rear section of Colombian Army UH-60L Black Hawk EJC-2185 after the FARC rebel attack on June 22 in northeastern Colombia, which blew the helicopter in half, killing four of those on board and injuring six others. D: Jun 29 N: Argentine Air Force/EAM/GAE T: EMB-312A Tucano S: E-113 (c/n 312178)

Both crew members were killed when this Tucano crashed during a training flight. The aircraft, from the Grupo Aéreo Escuela of the Escuela de Aviación Militar at Córdoba, came down just after 1330hrs, about 6 miles (10km) south of Arroyito city, Córdoba Province. The two pilots, 1er Ten Matías Fabricius (instructor) and Alf Sebastián Bolzi (student), died on impact. An investigation board will be set up to determine the cause of the accident. D: Jun 29 N: Bangladesh Air Force T: Chengdu F-7 S: 1416

This fighter crashed in the Bay of Bengal, minutes after taking off from BAF Base Zahurul HaqueChittagong (Patenga). A search was under way for the missing pilot, identified as Flt Lt Tahmid Rumman. The Bangladesh Navy and Chittagong port authorities assisted the BAF in the search. The aircraft took off at around 1100hrs and lost contact with the

control tower at 1114hrs – it was reportedly seen crashing into the sea at around 1130hrs, about 6 miles (9.5km) off Patenga beach. D: Jun 29 N: US Coast Guard T: MH-65D Dolphin

After returning from a postmaintenance test flight at 1455hrs, this Dolphin was involved in an accident at Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco, California. It was hovering over the apron approximately 10ft (3m) from the ground when it experienced an apparent malfunction as the pilot attempted to land. The helicopter rolled over and came to rest on its port side. The two aircrew members, a pilot and a flight mechanic, escaped and were treated by paramedics for minor injuries, then taken to San Francisco General Hospital. An investigation will be conducted. Four USCG helicopters are based at CGAS San Francisco, located on the northern edge of San Francisco International Airport. Replacement search and rescue coverage in the area was provided temporarily by CGAS Humboldt Bay and CGAS Los Angeles.

This aircraft crashed at 1437hrs near the village of Kushchevskaya in the Krasnodar region. The pilot is reported to have ejected safely and was in good condition. The aircraft was on a routine training flight when it came down in an uninhabited area, 5 miles (8km) Krasnodar Air Base. The Defence Ministry said it is believed a failure of one engine caused the crash, but all Russian Air Force MiG-29s have been grounded as a precaution, pending further information on the cause of the crash. D: Jul 6 N: Kenyan Air Force T: Hughes 500

This helicopter crashed at around 1815hrs when it lost power attempting to land at a Kenyan Defence Force Camp in the Boni Forest. Both pilots were critically injured. D: Jul 6 N: Russian Air Force T: Su-24M Fencer-D

Both crew members were killed when this aircraft banked sharply to the left and crashed just after take off at 2135hrs from the 6,983rd Aviation Base at Khurba, Khabarovsk region. This was the fifth Russian Air Force loss within a month.  Two separate accidents on June 4 resulted in the loss of a MiG-29UB and an Su-34, while a Tu-95MS was involved in an accident on June 8 and a MiG-29 crashed on Jul 3.  Additional material from: Juan Carlos Cicalesi, Horacio J Clariá, Alan Fairclough, Scramble/Dutch Aviation Society and Alex Sidharta.

Above: Honduran Air Force Maule MXT-7-180 Star Rocket FAH-277 after its accident on June 27 at Tegucigalpa-Toncontin International Airport, Honduras. Mario Theresin Left: Royal Thai Air Force F-16A 10208 following its accident on June 24 at Korat Air Base.

#329 AUGUST 2015 95

DEBRIEF Book reviews RAF Chinook 1980 onwards (Marks HC-1 to HC-6) Haynes Publishing Chris McNab £22.99 ISBN 978-0-85733-401-5 The UK’s war in Afghanistan focussed the media spotlight on the RAF’s Chinook fleet. Countless television news reports showed the big twin-rotor helicopters racing across the desert on medical evacuation flights or to rescue coalition troops under Taliban

Looking Down the Corridors Allied Aerial Espionage over East Germany and Berlin 1945-1990 The History Press Kevin Wright and Peter Jefferies £18.99 ISBN 978-0750955775 The RAF’s clandestine intelligence gathering operations over East Germany and Berlin have been made public for the first time following the latest declassification of the Official Secrets Act. Few people would have guessed such covert sorties started at

fire. But this was only the most recent part of the RAF Chinook story. The fleet has seen action in Northern Island and the Falklands, supported peace-keeping missions in Bosnia, conducted operations in Lebanon and Kosovo, so it’s no wonder that the UK operates the largest fleet of Chinooks after the US Army. Public interest in the Chinook is at fever pitch and when it appears at an air show there’s always a large crowd surrounding the helicopter, eager to chat to the aircrew. For Haynes it was a must-do type for its workshop manual series. Initial chapters on the development of the Chinook are followed by specific sections looking at how the engine gearboxes intermesh without the blades striking one another, of course, along with the loadmaster’s duties and crew coordination as one cohesive team when on a mission. The detailed text is complemented by images from private and official sources; there’s even a few from the camera-shy 7 Squadron that supports the UK’s special forces. For Chinook fans it’s a must-buy! Glenn Sands the end of World War Two and continued in complete secrecy for the 45 years that followed. There was a need for intelligence about the build-up of Warsaw Pact armed forces and their order of battle within East Germany and the practical solution was to gather it by air. The RAF performed this task by flying along designated air corridors to Berlin. The corridors were established in November 1945, and provided the ideal opportunity for the RAF to photograph Soviet tank formations, troop movements and East German radar establishments. Such reconnaissance sorties were not without risk and the authors recount numerous incidents when shots were fired at aircraft as they flew to and from Berlin. But it’s not only the RAF’s role that is covered. The army also

Sukhoi Su-24 Famous Russian Aircraft Crecy Publishing Yefim Gordon and Dmitriy Komissarov £39.95 ISBN 978-1-857-80370-9 From the 1980s to the end of the Cold War, Russian Air Force Su-24 Fencers were regarded as the most serious threat to NATO due to their high-speed and long-range strike capability. It was Russia’s response to the USAF’s F-111. Although the two were never to meet in combat, the debate continues among aviation enthusiasts’ about which was the more capable. With a combat record that begins with Russia’s war in Afghanistan and includes both Chechen campaigns and flying strikes with the overseas air forces of Iraq, Iran, Algeria, Libya and Syria, the authors had plenty of material from which to choose. They have chosen wisely. While there are inevitable chapters on the Fencer’s development, and the problems Sukhoi encountered in developing swing-wing technology and a terrain-following radar that operated at low-level at high-speeds, the book quickly moves on to the operational

service of the Su-24. This is where the authors excel. Rather than focussing only on the bombing missions of Fencers, they have gathered exclusive details on electronic warfare (EW) Su-24s, which can’t have been easy given the classified nature of such types. The multitude of sub-variants is cleverly broken down into sub-sections, with relevant images of each type alongside. It’s surprising how many EW versions of the Su-24 were produced, some highly specialised models having a production run in single figures, and the reasons for such small production runs are fully explained to the reader. This is one of the best reference books on Russian aircraft published in recent years. Highly recommended. Glenn Sands

flew lightweight Gazelles along the Berlin Wall and buzzed East German watch towers – all in the name of intelligence gathering, of course! The authors also describe the low-key helicopter operations of the French Air Force, a complete contrast with those of the United States that were based around large transport types fitted with numerous concealed cameras and electronic intelligence gathering devices. This book is more than a collection of historical facts; it’s a peek into how intelligence-gathering operations were conducted in one of the Cold War’s hot spots. A great read. Glenn Sands

These titles are available from: The Aviation Bookshop, 31-33 Vale Road, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN1 1BS, United Kingdom. Telephone: +44(0)1892 539284 Website:

96 AUGUST 2015 #329



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Next Issue

A C-130J Hercules carrying aid arrives at Kathmandu International Airport in Nepal on May 15. The RAF was among air forces that provided humanitarian relief following the earthquake between Kathmandu and Pokhara. The April 25 disaster left thousands without shelter or food. Supplies flown in by the RAF totalled nine tonnes and included high energy biscuits from the World Food Programme, shelter kits and solar lanterns. Sgt Neil Bryden RAF


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