Air International 2013-09 - PDF Free Download (2024)

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Carrier Air Wing Eleven



The Dawn of Low-Cost, Long-Haul?

Anatolian Eagle

Turkey’s Air War

Delta Air Lines A Gargantuan Carrier

B-52s in Guam

Spearheading Obama’s Pivotal Shift

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NEWS NEWS 04BREAKING 12GENERAL The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner breaks cover, Austria receives an upgraded C-130K Hercules, Portugal celebrates 50 years of Alouette III operations and Jat becomes Air Serbia.

The Dambusters named as first RAF F-35 Lightning II squadron, Brazilian A-4 Skyhawk upgrade flown, UAE looks at Typhoon and US stops Egyptian F-16 deliveries.

fate of different US aircraft types at the mercy of a politically-paralysed Congress.

06 PRESERVING THE FUTURE Henri-Pierre Grolleau analyses the new French Military Planning Act.

Subscri b claim y e to AIR Intern our ati Airlines free ‘Flying’ o onal and Boeing r Ethiop 7 worth u 87 co*ckpit D ian p to £1 VD 9.99. See pag

22 GROWLERS, PROWLERS, POSEIDONS AND TURBO MENTORS Rick Burgess outlines the latest stories from the US Department of the Navy.

10 OSPREYS TAKE ROOST Matthew Clements reports on basing the CV-22 Osprey at RAF Mildenhall. 14 SHARPENING TALONS Riccardo Niccoli visited Konya AB, Turkey, during exercise Anatolian Eagle.

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36 SAFETY, SECURITY & SUCCESS Nigel Pittaway reports on the major challenges faced by airlines, as presented by Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and Chief Executive Officer.

18 CONGRESS, CHINOOKS, CRASHES – AND UNCERTAINTY Robert F Dorr highlights the potential



The highly efficient Boeing 787 makes long-haul routes more attractive to lowcost operators, but can they be profitable as well? Andreas Spaeth investigates.



In the second of a three-part series on the work-up cycle of Carrier Air Wing 11 and the USS Nimitz, Scott Dworkin reports from NAS Fallon in Nevada.

In the concluding part of AIR International’s analysis of the UK’s future airport policy, Bruce Hales-Dutton considers various options for the future of the United Kingdom’s hub airport.


The Boeing B-52H Stratofortress is still a formidable strategic tool for the US Air Force, as Robert F Dorr reports.



Piotr Butowski looks at Russia’s latest developments in unmanned systems.


Editor Mark Ayton [emailprotected]

News Editor David Willis [emailprotected]

Sub Editors Sue Blunt, Carol Randall, Norman Wells

Marketing Assistants Shaun Binnington & Jess Jagger

Designer Dave Robinson

Commercial Director Ann Saundry

Production Manager Janet Watkins Production Controller Danielle Tempest

Riccardo Niccoli looks at the

Group Editor in Chief Paul Hamblin

Managing Director & Publisher Subscriptions/Mail Order Manager Adrian Cox Roz Condé Executive Chairman Marketing Manager Martin Steele Richard Cox

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Delta, the world’s biggest airline, is reaping the benefits of its merger with Northwest and planning growth through new partnerships and products. Andreas Spaeth explains.


SA Express, South African Airways’ feeder airline, is experiencing major growth, as detailed by Sebastian Schmitz.



Nigel Pittaway profiles flight training provided by BAE Systems in Australia. FRONT COVER: This month’s issue features Norwegian’s low-cost, long-haul 787 operation. Jorgen Syversen/AirTeamImages MIDDLE INSET: BaoLuo/AirTeamImages LEFT INSET: Riccardo Niccoli RIGHT INSET: Jim Haseltine

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Scott Dworkin




work of the Italian Army’s NH90s in Afghanistan.

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Breaking News

Russia Plans to Restructure Air Force

Boeing 787-9 Leaves Paint Shop

The first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner was rolled out of the paintshop at Everett, Washington, on July 27. The prototype has received a new corporate colour scheme adopted by Boeing for its commercial aircraft, with a ‘9’ on the tail to identify the variant. The 787-9 features a fuselage stretch of 20ft (6m) compared with the 787-8, and can carry an additional 40 passengers a further 300nm (555km). The aircraft is due to be flown later this year, with launch customer Air New Zealand due to receive the first of ten in the middle of next year. A total of 366 orders have been placed for the 787-9. Boeing

Boeing Invests in ‘White Tail’ Globemasters Continuing interest from international customers has spurred Boeing to keep the C-17A Globemaster III heavy transport production line open at Long Beach, California. The company will produce up to 12 of the aircraft in anticipation of receiving further orders. If all are built, it will prolong the programme into the fourth quarter of 2015 based on annual production of ten a year. The decision to keep the line active was taken in the second quarter of this year and the company had

In early August the Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group handed back the first Lockheed C-130K Hercules (8T-CC, c/n 382-4257, ex XV292) to the Östereichische Luftstreitkräfte (Austrian Air Force) after upgrading its avionics at Cambridge Airport. The contract covering three aircraft was awarded to Marshall in August 2012. The changes include replacing the autopilot and radar altimeter, updating the flight management system software, installing a standby flight display and a barometric altimeter and replacing analogue flight instruments with multifunction liquid crystal displays. The next C-130K for upgrade will arrive at Cambridge in early September. The other two will be redelivered by early 2015. Marshall Aerospace



Jat Becomes Air Serbia

committed $620 million by the end of June in parts inventory and potential termination liabilities. The first of the ‘white tail’ transports will be available from September next year. According to Boeing interest has been expressed by a number of international customers, although it has declined to name them. India has a stated desire to acquire more than the ten C-17As it currently has on order, while Australia may want more than the six it currently flies. Possible new customers for the type include Saudi Arabia and Singapore.

Upgraded Austrian Hercules Redelivered

The Russian Ministry of Defence is planning another round of redeployment and restructuring for the Voyenno-Vozdushniye Sily (Russian Air Force). While many of the details have yet to be released, it is known that priority will be given to reversing elements of the restructuring implemented in recent years that have subsequently been considered counter-productive. Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu announced on July 23, following a large-scale exercise in the Far East, that he would be submitting the restructuring plan to President Putin. He identified the concentration of air force units at a few main operating bases in western Russia as one of the recent changes he intended to reverse. Additional bases for maintenance and deployments are also sought. David C Isby

Serbia’s national airline Jat Airways is to be rebranded Air Serbia after the United Arab Emirates’ flag carrier Etihad Airways purchased 49% of the carrier. The stake was acquired from the Serbian Government, which retains ownership of the remaining 51%. Under the terms of the deal both Etihad and the Serbian Government will each inject $40 million, subject to regulatory approval, and another $60 million at a later date. Etihad has been awarded a five-year contract by the Serbian Government to manage Air Serbia. The carrier’s network will be streamlined to reflect its connections to Etihad and will introduce a range of new destinations

across Europe and the Middle East, including a flight to Etihad’s Abu Dhabi hub, which will start in October. The agreement will also mean a fleet change for Air Serbia, with its ten Boeing 737-300s due to be replaced by leased Airbus A319s. Air Serbia is the fifth airline to join what Etihad calls its ‘equity alliance’ which also includes airberlin, Aer Lingus, Air Seychelles and Virgin Australia, in which it holds significant stakes. Etihad was close to securing regulatory approval for a 24% investment in Jet Airways as AIR International went to press, meaning the Indian carrier could become the sixth member of the alliance. Mark Broadbent

Iraq Seeking Bell 412s A possible Foreign Military Sale (FMS) for 12 Bell 412EPs is being pursued by Iraq. The helicopters are required to undertake search and rescue missions

for the Iraqi Air Force. They would be equipped with a FLIR Systems Star Safire III EO/IR sensor, a NVG compatible co*ckpit and weather radar.



AIR International requires correspondents based in France, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Taiwan, the United States and South America for regular newsbased projects. Please contact AIR International at [emailprotected]

AIR International is keen to hear from readers who have news stories, photos or features of modern civil and military aviation for inclusion in the magazine. Please contact AIR International at the following address [emailprotected]

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MIG-35s FOR RUSSIA? Russia’s defence ministry is preparing to issue a contract for approximately 24 Mikoyan MiG35 fighters, according to Sergey Korotkov, general director of the Russian Aircraft Construction Corporation MiG. He stated that the order would include both singleseat MiG-35Ss and two-seat MiG35Ds. While he did not specify how many of each would be ordered, he said he expected a quarter of them to be two-seaters. David C Isby


SUPER TUCANOs DELIVERED TO ANGOLA Angola officially accepted its first three Embraer Super Tucanos on July 12 during a formal ceremony in the capital Luanda. Chief of General Staff General Geraldo Sachipengo Nunda, who officiated at the event, said the Super Tucanos would be used in the light attack role as well as for pilot training. He said the aircraft was well suited to Angola because of its all-weather capability and ability to use unprepared runways. Embraer previously delivered the first three aircraft during a ceremony at its facility in São Paulo, Brazil, on January 31 (see Angola Receives Super Tucanos, March, p21). The Força Aérea Nacional de Angola (National Air Force of Angola) has six Super Tucanos on order, which will operate alongside its dozen legacy Tucanos. Earlier this year Angola’s air force took delivery of six Cessna 172R Skyhawks for training. They were acquired through a 2010 contract with American company Africair. Defence Minister Cândido Pereira dos Santos Van-Dúnem handed over the six aircraft to the Military Aeronautical School at Lobito on April 20. The service also received a Cessna 172 TDI Level 5 simulator from Frasca. Guy Martin Guy Martin

Breaking News

Sikorsky Last Competitor for VXX

AgustaWestland has confirmed that it will not bid for the US Navy’s VXX programme, which aims to field a new helicopter to provide presidential and VIP transport. The new type would replace the Sikorsky VH-3D Sea Kings and VH-60N Night Hawks operated by Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1) from MCAF Quantico, Virginia. AgustaWestland had teamed with Northrop Grumman on the project, offering a version of the AW101. It decided to abandon bidding for the contract after examining the request for proposals released on May 3, which it believes favours its competitor. This leaves Sikorsky as the only team putting forward a solution. Its bid is built around the S-92.

The aviation world is today mourning the loss of a loyal supporter, enthusiast and friend in Michael ‘Mick’ Freer, who passed away peacefully on August 11 with his family by his side. Mick was one of aviation’s inspirational shining lights; a true father figure whose highly respected photographic images, reporting, knowledge and vivid memories of aircraft past and present, easily bridged the gap between aviation genres. Mick’s reports graced many magazines, but in particular his support for aviation journals, such as the South West Aviation Group, Norfolk Aviation Group Mick Freer, doing what (NAGMAG), British Aviation Research Group (BARG) he loved to do. and latterly Touchdown Aviation, was legendary. Alongside this, Mick was a staunch supporter of aviation events, such as Duxford and the Royal International Air Tattoo, until his recent illness. Very few can boast attendance at every International Air Tattoo (now RIAT) from 1972 until 2012, but Mick could. He enthused about the event. With his son and best mate Stu ever present by his side, Mick was someone you looked forward to meeting, to share an aviation story with. He was always kind, humorous and respectful; basically a thoroughly decent person. We will all miss Mick. Ian Harding

Sky Retires 737-200s

More Indonesian CN235s Sought by Senegal Senegal is interested in procuring additional CN235 transports from Indonesia. Armée de l’Air Sénégalaise (Senegalese Air Force) Chief of Staff General Ousmane Kane revealed the service’s interest in the aircraft in Dakar on June 5 following a meeting with Indonesian Deputy Defense Minister Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin, who was on a marketing tour of Africa. Senegal also expressed interest in the maritime patrol version of the aircraft. The timescale for delivery following a firm order was stated to be one to three years, depending on contract and payment terms. Senegal already operates two second-hand Indonesian-built CN235-220s acquired in November 2010 and August 2012. David C Isby

Chinese Subsidiary Established by Pilatus Pilatus has formed a new joint venture, Pilatus Aircraft Industry (China) Co Ltd, based in Chongqing, in which the Swiss company has a majority shareholding. An initial contract has been signed for the Chinese subsidiary to supply a total of 50 PC-6 Porters and PC-12s. The Chinese company will not be involved in producing components for the PC-7 Mk II, PC-9M or PC-21 military trainers. “The newly created company and associated activities in China will have a positive impact on production

Mick Freer 1943 - 2013

operations in Switzerland,” says Pilatus. “The gradual opening up of Chinese air space has brought new importance to civil aviation. The Chinese Civil Aviation Authority expects to see average growth of over 10% in the Chinese aviation industry in the next few years. The PC-12 and Pilatus PC-6 Porter are optimum aircraft for this booming market, and we are confident our products have great potential. China has many small airfields with short runways. Our aircraft are ideal for operating in and out of them.” Mike Jerram

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Chile’s Sky Airline has retired its last Boeing 737-200s from revenue service. On July 26 737-2Q3(Adv) CC-CVI (c/n 22367, ex-N763AA) flew from Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International in Santiago to La Florida and Desierto de Atacama airports; 737-230(Adv) CC-CTK (c/n 22402, ex N261LR) operated the Santiago-Carriel Sur International Airport sector and CC-CTH (c/n 22636, ex N271LR) flew from Santiago to Atacama. The aircraft returned to Santiago later that night before CC-CTH performed the last Sky flight with a 737-200 on July 28 – a round-trip between Santiago and Ministro Pistarini International Airport. Boeing 737-200s were flown by Sky since the airline’s launch in 2002. Sky operated a fleet of ten, which are being replaced by 11 ex-easyJet Airbus A319100s and five A320-200s. The 737-200s had transported more than 11 million people during their time with the airline. Antonio Segovia

FAP Alouette III Celebrates 50 years

The Força Aérea Portuguesa (FAP, Portuguese Air Force) celebrates 50 years of operating the Aérospatiale Alouette III this year. SE3160 Alouette III 19376 (c/n 1818) has been painted in special colours to commemorate the anniversary. The first of the helicopters was received by the FAP on April 25, 1963, at Base Aérea No 9 in Luanda, Angola, where they were assigned to Esquadra 94. Currently the nine or so that remain in service are based at Base Aérea No 11 at Beja with Esquadra 552. Roberto Yáñez




Preserving t

The new French Military Planning Act for 2014-2019 was finally published in early August. Henri-Pierre Grolleau analyses the details


bservers feared the worst, but the details outlined by Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on August 2 in the Project de Loi de Programmation Militaire (Military Planning Act) for 2014-2019 is not as severe as first anticipated. In real terms spending will fall by 7.2% and although the number of aircraft to be purchased or kept in the inventory will inevitably decrease, money will be spent to ensure that development and production capabilities are maintained for the foreseeable future. Investments will be kept at current levels during the 2014-2016 period, and progressively increased from 2017 onwards. The number of personnel will nevertheless be significantly cut, at the rate of 7,500 per year, and the percentage of officers within the military will be reduced from 16.75 to 16%, further helping keep budgets under tight control. As widely expected, a strong nuclear deterrence concept is maintained and investments will continue to prepare the next generation of nuclear submarines and their associated new ballistic nuclear missiles. Similarly, work to upgrade the air-launched ASMP-A (Air-Sol Moyenne Portée-Amélioré, or improved air-to-surface medium range) nuclear missiles arming Mirage 2000Ns and Rafale B/ Ms will begin. Special Forces will benefit from a large expansion of their manpower, with another



1,000 men to be recruited in the coming years. The Charles de Gaulle’s refuelling and major overhaul has been confirmed for the timeframe too, reaffirming France’s commitment to a strong carrier force to be maintained.

Fighter Fleet According to the Military Planning Act, the number of fighters will be reduced to 215, ten aircraft below the number stated in the French Defence White Paper published on April 29, to be split between the French Air Force and Navy. It is expected that the Aéronavale will keep around 40 Rafale M naval fighters once all Super Etendard Modernisés are withdrawn from use at some point in the 2015-2017 timeframe, while the Armée de l’Air will operate 185 fast jets split between Mirage 2000s and Rafales. This means that squadrons will have to be disbanded, and air bases closed or scaled down. The Mirage 2000D upgrade programme has been approved and the first six modernised Mirage 2000Ds are scheduled to have been delivered back to the air force by 2019. Rafale deliveries are due to be slowed down to 26 instead of 66. Production will remain at 11 per year thanks to anticipated sales abroad, but that plan will be confirmed only if contracts are signed with one, or more foreign customers. Even with just 26 deliveries, the number of Rafales will reach

152 by 2019 (out of 180 on firm order) and investments to further improve the omnirole fighter are confirmed. It has also been confirmed that the Scalp stealthy cruise missile will be modernised and that a programme for a new air-to-air missile to replace the MICA will be initiated. These two announcements, and the official launch of the MMP (missile moyenne portée – mediumrange missile) to replace the Milan anti-tank missile and the ANL (anti-navire léger – light anti-ship missile) developed in conjunction with British partners, will boost prospects for MBDA and the European missile industry as a whole.

Airlifters, Tankers and Patrol Aircraft Under the new Military Planning Act the total number of Armée de l’Air tactical airlifters (excluding the fleet of CN235s) will not exceed 50 aircraft including the 14 C-130H Hercules that are due to be upgraded. As a result, it is unlikely that the 50 A400Ms once intended to enter service with the Armée de l’Air will be all acquired, but replacing Transall C-160s with heavier A400Ms will nevertheless result in a significant increase in airlift capabilities. A400M deliveries have just begun and, by 2019, 15 will be operational in the French Air

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g the Future


Above: According to the French Military Planning Act published on August 2, the Armée de l’Air will operate 185 fast jets split between Mirage 2000s and Rafales in the 2015-2017 timeframe. All images Henri-Pierre Grolleau Opposite: The number of Rafales will reach 152 by 2019 (out of 180 on firm order) and investments to further improve the omnirole fighter are confirmed.

Force. In early 2020, the Armée de l’Air will be equipped with 15 A400Ms, 14 Transall C-160s and all 14 Hercules. The replacement of the ageing C-135FR/KC135Rs remains a key priority and a Multi-Role Tanker Transport acquisition programme will be launched in 2014. It will cover the purchase of 12 aircraft (down from an anticipated 14), the first two of which should be delivered by the end of 2019. The importance of maritime patrol aircraft is re-affirmed and a modernisation programme for the Atlantique 2 fleet is confirmed. The number of aircraft included has been cut from 18 to 15, however, and the initial four are expected to be fully operational by late 2019. The French MoD has stated that these modernised aircraft will soldier on in service beyond 2030.

Helicopters The French Military Planning Act document published in August describes a common fleet of 140 attack and reconnaissance aircraft, comprising a mix of Gazelle and Tigre helicopters. By late 2013, 43 Tigre HAP/HADs will be in service, and another 16 should be delivered by late 2019 out of a total requirement of 80. The NH90 programme will continue, but with no further orders beyond the 27 naval NFH90s and 68 army TTH90s

purchased so far. A total 42 NFH90 and TTH90s are due to be accepted by the French MoD from 2014 to 2019. In early 2020, French Army Aviation will have 59 Tigres, 81 Gazelles, 38 NH90s, 43 Pumas and 26 Cougars. The French Air Force will field 32 Pumas, Super Pumas and EC725s and 40 Fennecs, while the French Navy will be equipped with 24 NFH90s and 40 lighter types, including 16 upgraded Panthers and the last few remaining Lynx.

Intelligence Gathering The French MoD has confirmed that the Ceres electronic intelligence (ELINT) satellite programme will go ahead. The system will consist of three satellites orbiting in formation to offer better eavesdropping and geolocalisation capabilities. Ceres development will be conducted until 2019, and the satellites will be launched in 2020 to supplement the Dupuy de Lôme ELINT ship, the Transall Gabriels and the Mirage 2000Ds equipped with ASTAC (Analyseur de Signaux TACtiques – tactical signals analyser) pods. The French MoD says that all of these assets will form a robust, coherent, reactive and global ELINT force. Two MUSIS optical reconnaissance satellites will be launched by France in 2017, as part of a wider European initiative with

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Belgium, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland and Sweden, to deliver a whole range of optical and radar reconnaissance capabilities and will replace existing Helios II, SAR-LUPE and COSMO-SKYMED satellites. France has long tried to field a MediumAltitude Long-Endurance (MALE) drone and only four Cassidian Harfang unmanned aerial vehicles are currently in service. The decision to acquire 12 MQ-9 Reapers through the US Foreign Military Sale (FMS) programme seems to have been made with the purchase of the first two Reapers accelerated for a delivery by late 2013. The document released by the French MoD also lists exact figures regarding the number of aircraft that should be in service by late 2013 and by early 2020, though the overall size of each fleet in the longer term remains unclear, as deliveries of a large number of types – Rafale, A400M, Tigre and NH90 – are expected to continue beyond that date. For instance, Rafale procurement was expected to include another batch of 60 aircraft to bring the total to 240 (instead of 294), but the acquisition of this additional batch now seems to have been postponed until the next Military Planning Act is published for the period 2020-2025, the result of the financial crisis still affecting France and the greater European Union.




Two Tornado GR4 Squadrons to Disband

Red Arrows Fly With British Airways’ A380

The RAF’s Tornado GR4 force will shrink from five to three frontline units on April 1, 2014, when No.12(B) Squadron and No.617 ‘Dambusters’ Squadron will disband. One of No.617 Squadron’s last tasks will be to support Operation Herrick in Afghanistan. Both units are based at RAF Lossiemouth in Morayshire, Scotland, and will leave the Tornado GR4 operational conversion unit, No.XV(R) Squadron, as the sole fast jet operator at the airfield until Eurofighter Typhoons arrive from RAF Leuchars, Fife. The reduced need for aircrew training on the type might also signal the end of No.XV(R) Sqn’s operations – although this has not been confirmed by the Ministry of Defence

– or it may relocate to RAF Marham, Norfolk, where all of the operational Tornado squadrons are based, to concentrate the remaining fleet. The disbandments will take the number of RAF’s frontline fast jet units to seven, its lowestever level. Before the Strategic Defence and Security Review in October 2010, the RAF had around 15 such units. The outgoing Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton, revealed on July 18 that No.617 Squadron - the ‘junior squadron’ - will became the RAF’s first operational Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II unit. It will re-form in 2016 at RAF Marham. The second Lightning II operator will be a Fleet Air Arm squadron.

Rivet Joint Tanking Deal

The RAF and US Air Force are working towards making the latter’s tankers available to refuel three Boeing RC-135W Rivet Joint electronic intelligence (ELINT) aircraft being acquired by the UK. The basic RC-135 airframe is equipped with a refuelling receptacle for a flying boom, rather than a probe for the drogue system used by the RAF. A memorandum of understanding is due to be in place by the end of

British Airways’ first Airbus A380-841, G-XLEA (msn 095, ex F-WWSK), and the RAF’s Red Arrows aerobatic team displayed together on July 20 at the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire. The airliner was delivered to London-Heathrow 16 days earlier. Practice flights for the formation started on July 15. On the airshow’s second day the team flew with a prototype Airbus Military A400M Grizzly. RIAT via Ian Harding

For the second year running, RAF Leeming in North Yorkshire played host to air and ground crews from Belgium, Poland, Spain and the UK for the NATO electronic warfare exercise Trial Mace XV – which was organised by the Air Platform Protection, Test and Evaluation Squadron based at RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire, and ran for two weeks until July 12. The series of exercises began in 1978 to help develop chaff (a technique to thwart radar systems and ‘mask’ aircraft) and has been held on an ad hoc basis ever since. This year’s exercise was run to help develop radio frequency (RF) countermeasures and tactics to enhance survivability of NATO aircraft in RF threat environments. RAF Leeming’s proximity to RAF Spadeadam in Cumbria makes it ideal for the exercise, enabling crews to test themselves and their aircraft over the Electronic Warfare Tactics Range against a variety of simulated threats and targets. During the first week of the exercise, Danske Flyvevåbnet (Royal Danish Air Force) F-16 Fighting Falcons operated from



the year, by which time the first Rivet Joint should have been transferred to the RAF (see Airseeker Programme Advancing, July, p8). The first RC-135W for the RAF (ZZ664) has completed its maiden flight following conversion from a KC-135R by L-3 Communications. The RAF is scheduled to achieve initial operational capability with one aircraft in October 2014 and all three by December 2017. David C Isby

Exercise Trial Mace XV

Spanish Air Force Typhoon C.16-46/‘11-26’ of Ala 11 (based at Morón Air Base) at RAF Leeming, North Yorkshire, during Trial Mace XV. Ian Harding

their home base at Skrydstrup, joining RAF Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules and Boeing Chinooks, Royal Navy Westland Sea King HC4s and Army Air Corps Lynx helicopters. In week two, RAF Leeming hosted

Belgian F-16AMs (FA-94, FA-101 and FA-123) and Polish F-16C/D Block 52+s (4050, 4062 and 4079) from 6.elt (6th Tactical Air Squadron) based at Poznan´-Krzesiny. The Ejército del Aire (Spanish Air Force) sent three

Ala 11 Eurofighter EF2000 Typhoons (C.16-40/‘11-20’, C.16-35/‘11-15’ and C.16-46/‘11-26’) supported by a single Airbus Military C295M transport (T.21-04/‘35-42’). Ian Harding and Nicholas Hoenich

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The C295 MPA is proven in operation on a wide range of missions: SAR, MSA and ASW. The C295 MPA has also demonstrated its versatility to perform other missions, such as Land ISTAR, AEW, SIGINT...with the lowest LCC in its class. The C295 MPA is a true multimission aircraft, easily reconfigurable to other roles (Special Forces, MEDEVAC) in a short time, thanks to its ramp and palletised role equipment.


10911853.11234-AIR-MilPress_2013_C295_Air_Int.297x210_ISR.indd 1

05/08/2013 14:27



he final Sikorsky MH-53 Pave Low helicopter assigned to the US Air Force’s 352nd Special Operations Group (352nd SOG) departed RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk, on November 29, 2007, aboard a Boeing C-17A Globemaster destined for Hurlburt Field AFB, Florida – marking the temporary end of Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) heavy-lift helicopter operations in Europe. The 352nd SOG resurrected this capability on June 24, 2013, when two Bell-Boeing CV22B Ospreys touched down at Mildenhall. The aircraft (11-0057 c/n D1036 and 11-0058 c/n D1037) made the transatlantic crossing from the US with the assistance of the 352nd SOG’s fleet of Lockheed Martin MC-130Hs providing air-toair refuelling. Their routeing took them from Cannon AFB, New Mexico to Hurlburt Field, St Johns in Newfoundland and Keflavik in Iceland before arriving at Mildenhall, accumulating 21 flight hours on the flight to Suffolk. The Ospreys are now being operated by the 7th Special Operations Squadron (7th SOS) within the 352nd SOG. The CV-22 fills part of the role previously accomplished by the MH-53 Pave Low. The Osprey, however, combines the vertical take-off/ landing and hovering qualities of a helicopter with the long range, fuel-efficiency and speed of a turboprop aircraft. Lt Col Chris Goodyear, 7th SOS’s director of operations, summed up to AIR International what value the Osprey will provide: “It brings a new capability to the [European Command] theatre that hasn’t really been here for a while. When the MH-53 departed, the vertical lift piece of this [squadron] departed with it. These Ospreys are the first of ten slated to arrive as part of the 352nd SOG expansion, which will last through to the end of 2014.”

Rapid Response The CV-22 fits into a unique operating niche due to it being part aircraft and part helicopter, and enhances the 7th SOS’s ability to respond rapidly across greater distances. Col Christopher Ireland, 352nd SOG commander, explained: “The 7th SOS executes night, adverse-weather, long-range insertion, extraction and resupply

Ospreys T

Above: This shot shows MC-130J Commando II 10-5714 the first of the type

to be delivered to RAF Mildenhall for assignment to the resident 67th Special Operations Squadron’s first. Both images Matthew Clements Below: CV-22B 11-0057 arrived at RAF Mildenhall in the UK on June 24 and is assigned to the resident 352nd SOG’s 7th Special Operations Squadron.

operations. The squadron can also support non-combatant evacuation and humanitarian relief. The aircraft’s speed allows it to reach its objectives faster than its predecessor and is a proven combat asset. In addition, when in

airplane mode the aircraft is quieter than other rotary-wing aircraft, which is beneficial when over hostile territory. “It brings that vertical lift capability where you can land in austere locations that don’t necessarily require a runway, so it gives you access to places you normally wouldn’t have with a fixed-wing aircraft. But the unique thing about the CV-22 is it has the speed of a fixed-wing platform. So you get the blend of the best of both worlds. You have the speed of a fixed-wing and you have the vertical lift capability of a helicopter.”

UK Training The CV-22B will use the same operating areas as its 352nd SOG associates, including Sculthorpe, the Stanford Training Area in Norfolk and eventually the Salisbury Plain Training Area in Wiltshire. It will also use the low flying area in Wales. CV-22B operations will mainly take place at night, something common to all AFSOC platforms and the mission they perform. But the 7th SOS will initially conduct more daylight operations in and around Mildenhall, including pattern work, instrument landing system approaches and hover checks as well as ground refuelling with MC-130P/Hs and eventually the MC-130J – a method often used by the 352nd



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s Take Roost

SOG when refuelling rotary assets at Sculthorpe. All the training areas will have CV-22 operations in order to get personnel and ground crew 100% proficient on the platform. With the unit currently only having two airframes to hand, the unusually high tempo of training will continue over the next few months. The 7th SOS will continue building up its fleet of CV-22B Ospreys to full strength by next summer. Three more are due in September, another two in February 2014 and the final three in August. Once the squadron has all ten, it will start to offload its fleet of MC-130H Combat Talon IIs to other Special Operations Squadrons (SOSs) still using the type in the US and Japan. The CV-22Bs operate using the call-sign ‘KNIFE’, which has been used by all US Air Force heavy-lift helicopter units since the Vietnam War. “The arrival of the new aircraft is the next chapter in a 70-year historical relationship the US and the UK share,” said Col Ireland. “While this is a new and unique airframe, we’re still operating under the same parameters previously set by Her Majesty’s Government. We’re partners with the Ministry of Defence and follow UK aircraft regulations and restrictions. We set high standards for our people, and we’re committed to being good neighbours.”

Matthew Clements reports on the basing of the CV-22B Osprey and MC-130J Commando II at RAF Mildenhall

Going Commando The CV-22B isn’t the only new arrival at Mildenhall. On June 7 the 67th Special Operations Squadron took delivery of its first MC-130J Commando II (10-5714, c/n 5714) – the first of nine scheduled to join the unit in the next two years, with 12 expected to be resident by 2022. They will replace the older MC-130P Combat Shadow which dates back to the 1960s. AIR International spoke to Lt Col John Peak, 67th SOS director of operations, about the arrival of the new Commando: “This MC-130J left the Lockheed Martin factory in February and was initially stationed at Cannon AFB in New Mexico. When it arrived at RAF Mildenhall, it had about 100 hours on the clock. “The MC-130J is a leap forward in technology. It brings the capability to go further at a quicker pace. It climbs higher faster, consumes less fuel and can take off with a heavier gross weight. We can deliver assets to the fight faster.” Until the arrival of the first MC-130J in June, Mildenhall had a fleet of six MC-130Ps which are now gradually being phased out and retired to the 309th Aerospace and Maintenance Group (309th AMARG) at Davis Monthan AFB in Arizona. Aircraft 65-0992 was the 67th SOS’s first MC-130P to be retired, departing Mildenhall on the March

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8, 2013, as ‘CHUG41’. The retirement officially marked the beginning of Special Operations Command Europe’s transition from the Combat Shadow to the Commando II.

Crew Conversions Although the MC-130P is on its way out, many of its aircrews will return to the US and retrain on the MC-130J. Initial pilot training will be at Little Rock AFB in Arkansas to convert the crews to the C-130J airframe before MC-130J-specific training is completed at Kirtland AFB, New Mexico. Navigators on the MC-130P will go straight to Kirtland to retrain as combat systems operators. Loadmasters will also convert straight onto the aircraft. The 67th SOS currently has two MC-130J airframes on strength – the second being 096210 (c/n 5659), a Lockheed Martin trials airframe on loan to the squadron. It will be returned to the US once enough ground operations and maintenance personnel are trained on the type. The MC-130Js of the 67th SOS have been operating under the ‘STRIX’ call-sign. The use of an ancient Roman and Greek word for owl reflects the bird’s prominence in the squadron’s crest, the time of day they operate and their motto, ‘Night Owls’.




German Naval Aviation Celebrates 100 Years

Lockheed P-3C Orion 60+01 (c/n 285E-5737, ex 301) of 1 Staffel of Marinefliegergeschwader 3 (Naval Flying Wing 3) ‘Graf Zeppelin’ based at Nordholz was displayed at the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, on July 20 and 21. The maritime patrol aircraft has been painted in special colours to mark the centenary of German naval aviation. David Willis

Upgraded Polish Fulcrum Redelivered The Siły Powietrzne Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej (Polish Air Force) has received the first Mikoyan MiG-29A Fulcrum upgraded by Wojskowe Zaklady Lotnicze 2 (WZL-2), according to an announcement made on July 29. The fighter was redelivered to 1 Eskadra

Czech Gripen Extension Closer

Representatives of parties from across the political spectrum in the Czech Republic separately stated on August 11 that the new government and not the current caretaker cabinet should decide whether or not to extend the lease of the 14 Saab JAS-39C/D Gripens for the Czech Air Force. General elections are expected to be held at some point between October and Christmas. However, Prime Minister Jir˘í Rusnok did not rule out the possibility that the deal could be signed after a cabinet meeting on August 16 (after AIR International went to press). Czech defence minister Vlastimil Picek stated in Prague on July 12 that the proposed new contract for fighters is “more advantageous” to his country than the previous ten-year lease, especially in terms of logistics support and accounting for depreciation. If a deal is concluded it will end the long debate within the Czech Republic about the method of policing its airspace in the future (see Czech’s Undecided on Extending Gripen Lease, January, p8). The current lease of the Gripens expires at the end of 2014, and while the Czech Air Force is happy with the arrangement, negotiations over the price of an extension or possible replacement have been protracted. David C Isby



Lotnictwa Taktyczneg (1st Tactical Air Squadron) at the 23 Baza Lotnictwa Taktycznego (23rd Tactical Air Base) at Minsk-Mazowiecki. The upgraded aircraft first flew on March 15 and a second modernised example was due to be handed over in August. The first

two-seater will fly in early 2014. Poland ordered the upgrade for 13 MiG-29A single-seaters and three MiG-29UB combat trainers in August 2011 (see Polish Fulcrums to be Upgraded, November 2011, p10). Open architecture avionics, including



GLASS co*ckPIT M28S IN POLISH SERVICE The Siły Powietrzne Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej (Polish Air Force) recently received its seventh PZL-Mielec M28B Bryza PT twin-turboprop transport with an upgraded ‘glass co*ckpit’ featuring Rockwell Collins avionics. The aircraft, which had first flown on April 24, was delivered to the 12 Eskadra Lotnictwa Transportowego (12th Air Transport Squadron) at Kraków-Balice on July 1. The eighth and final aircraft in this configuration is scheduled to be delivered before the end of the year. David C Isby

a new multifunction display, mission planning system and data processor, are being installed. WZL-2 and Israel Aerospace Industries are undertaking the work, which should conclude at the end of 2014. Under current plans Poland will fly its Fulcrums until 2028.

Dutch Dornier Do 228 Upgraded

The Dutch Kustwacht (Coast Guard) Dornier Do 228-212 PH-CGN (c/n 8181) has been upgraded during recent scheduled maintenance at Oberpfaffenhofen in Germany by RUAG. Its original four-blade propellers have been replaced by five-blade Hartzell units and improved navigation and communications were installed. The aircraft has also received a new scheme. The second Dutch Coast Guard Do 228 (PH-CGC, c/n 8183) will also be similarly modified. David Willis

New Equipment for Portuguese C295M

Airbus Military C295MPA Persuader 16710 (c/n S-063) of the Força Aérea Portuguesa (Portuguese Air Force) has been fitted with new equipment. It is one of two Portuguese C295MPAs that are in the process of receiving the EADS Fully Integrated Tactical System, which was installed on the other three in service prior to delivery. The aircraft was noted conducting a test flight at San Pablo, Seville in Spain on July 17, prior to making its public debut at the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, three days later. Antonio Muñiz Zaragüeta

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Lightning II Handed Over to the Netherlands

Mirage F1CRs Over Wales

Dassault Mirage F1CRs 604/‘118-CF’ (seen here) and 660/‘118-CY’ with Escadron de Reconnaissance (ER) 2/33 ‘Savoie’ based at Mont de Marsan AB conducted low-level training over Wales after departing the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, on July 22. F1CR 604 carries ‘100 Ans de Reco’ titles on its tail and special markings to celebrate the centenary of BR11 ‘La Cocotte’, one of the flights assigned to ER2/33. Scott Rathbone

Croatia Signs MiG-21 Upgrade Deal

A contract has been signed in Zagreb between Croatia and Ukraine to overhaul seven of the Hrvatsko Ratno Zrakoplovstvo i Protuzrac˘ na Obrana’s (Croatian Air Force and Air Defence) MikoyanGurevich MiG-21bisD Fishbeds and MiG-21UMD Mongol-Bs, as well as to purchase five more MiG-21s from Ukroboronprom’s Odessa Aviation Plant. The deal was announced on July 8 by Croatian Defence Minister Ante Kotromanovic’ and Dmitriy Aleksandrovich Peregudov, the director of the Ukrainian state company Ukrspecexport. The decision that Ukraine would overhaul the current fighters and supply new Fishbeds was announced on June 10 (see Croatia to Upgrade and Augment Fishbed Fleet, July, p9). The ‘new’ aircraft are part of an order for 28 placed by Yemen that was cancelled. The Fishbeds will remain in Croatian service until at least 2019. David C Isby

Spanish MPAs Fly 5,000 Anti-Piracy Hours

Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II F-001 (b/n AN-01, ex 09-5008) was officially transferred to the Koninklijke Luchtmacht (Royal Netherlands Air Force) on July 25 at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas. It was later flown to Eglin AFB, Florida, by a US Air Force pilot. F-001 had been held in store at Fort Worth by Lockheed Martin, with a flight being conducted every 90 days to maintain airworthiness. Resurfacing of the runway at Fort Worth means that the company can no longer continue to provide the storage facility, as flight operations will cease for between one and two months. The second Dutch F-35A (F-002, b/n AN-02, ex 10-5019) made its maiden flight on June 27 and is currently undergoing acceptance tests. It will join F-001 in storage at Eglin AFB at the conclusion of these trials in September. The original plan was to use both airframes as instructional aircraft at Luke AFB, Arizona. Now at least one and possibly both will be used on ground tests investigating simulated lightning until around November after being leased to the Joint Project Office, saving the costs of storing them. The Netherlands originally sought 85 F-35As under Project Vervanging F-16 (F-16 Replacement Project). The increasing cost of the aircraft has been a politically sensitive issue in the country, resulting in the government announcing on March 2 that the two test aircraft would not conduct flight training until a decision had been taken on the future of the procurement programme.

Atlas Delivered to French Air Force

The Spanish Air Force marked its 5,000th flight hour in support of Operation Atalanta on July 19. Spanish Air Force

The Ejército del Aire’s (Spanish Air Force) Lockheed P-3M Orion and Airbus Military CN235 fleet in Djibouti has accumulated 5,000 flight hours with the European Union’s anti-piracy Operation Atalanta. The milestone was reached on July 19 during a flight looking for pirate camps on the Somali coast. So far the Spanish Air Force detachment in Djibouti has flown 676 missions since it began operating as part of Atalanta on January 27, 2009. It has been the only European country to have a permanent maritime patrol

presence there for counter-piracy operations. Numerous other countries contribute aircraft to Atalanta, including Portugal (P-3s flown from the Seychelles in April 2009), Sweden (Coast Guard Bombardier Dash 8 Q300s from March 2009) and Luxembourg, which deployed Fairchild Merlins from October 2009. Luxembourg’s detachment returned to Atalanta at the end of February (see Luxembourg’s MPAs Return to Seychelles, April, p7), taking over from the Swedish Coast Guard. Guy Martin

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The first production Airbus Military A400M Atlas was delivered to the Armée de l’air (French Air Force) on August 1. After being handed over the transport (0007/F-RBAA, msn 007) was flown to Base Aérienne 123 Orleans-Bricy. The aircraft made its maiden flight on March 6 (see Production A400M Flown, April, p7) and will be used for acceptance tests and crew training before being officially assigned to Escadron de Transporte 1/61. The French Air Force is due to hold an official delivery ceremony for the aircraft in September, after the country’s summer break. Airbus Military intends to deliver two more of the transports to France and one to Turkey before the end of the year. The first for Turkey flew on August 9.




Sharpening T Riccardo Niccoli reports on exercise Anatolian Eagle 2013-2, which involved aircraft from Saudi Arabia and the UAE


natolian Eagle 2013-2 (or ‘Anadolu Kartali’ in Turkish), at Konya from June 10 to 20, was the latest training exercise in a long-running series hosted by the Türk Hava Kuvvetleri (Turkish Air Force). Three Anatolian Eagle exercises take place there each year for Turkey’s and NATO air forces to sharpen their war-fighting skills. First held in 2001, Anatolian Eagle was conceived and arranged to mirror the US Air Force’s Red Flag exercises. It aims to verify and

evaluate the combat readiness of the Turkish AF’s tactical flying units and its capability to manage the development of tactical air training, and data from the exercise is collected to contribute to the air force’s ongoing air combat studies. It also puts participants under pressure to reach the required level of combat readiness in the shortest time, helps define operational requirements and supports test and evaluation of new equipment and armament. Konya (designated ‘3ncu Ana Jet Us’, or 3rd Main Jet Base) is a large airfield which currently hosts two fast-jet squadrons – 132 Filo with F-4E-2020 Phantoms and F-16C Fighting Falcons, and 133 Filo which operates NF-5As. Also at Konya are Boeing 737 AEW&C aircraft of 131 Filo, the Turkish Stars aerobatic team and the AS532AL Super Pumas of 135 Filo. The base includes a dedicated Anatolian Eagle Training Centre (AETC) responsible for planning and overseeing the exercise.

Ideal Location Close to Konya, the Anatolian highlands and surrounding areas present few limitations to military flying. The Taunus mountain range offers 120,000km2 (4,633 square miles) of free airspace and air-to-ground ranges which satisfy the need for realistic training. East of Konya are ranges at Karapinar, Koc and Tersakan, which enable exercise participants to fly from an altitude of zero feet up to 50,000ft (15,240m) and use live munitions. They also boast anti-



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g Talons


Above: UAEAF F-16Es fitted with conformal fuel tanks and equipped with AAQ-33 Pantera targeting pods. All images Riccardo Niccoli Opposite above: Block 50+ F-16D 07-1019 assigned to 142 Filo ‘Gazelle’ was one of 27 Turkish Air Force Fighting Falcons participating in Anatolian Eagle. Opposite middle: All Royal Saudi Air Force aircraft wear ‘God Bless You’ on the nose as seen on this F-15D Eagle. Opposite bottom: UAEAF F-16E 3037 touches down at Konya. Below right: Turkish Air Force F-4E 73-1021 assigned to 111 Filo ‘Pantera’ has a large shark mouth marking on the nose.

aircraft systems able to simulate the threat posed by modern weapons: SA-6 Gainful, SA-8 Geko and SA-11 Gadfly vehicles and 23mm ZSU-23 Shilka self-propelled anti-aircraft artillery systems. These are set to be coupled to or replaced by more modern equipment, such as the SA-15 Gauntlet, the SA-10 Grumble and a mobile electronic threat simulator system. As in all modern air exercises, Anatolian Eagle takes advantage of a sophisticated monitoring system for the aircraft involved, thanks to electronic instrumentation and advanced air combat manoeuvring (ACMI) pods mounted on the aircraft. All the phases of a mission are followed from the ACMI briefing and debriefing room, where all the commanders, aircrews and White Force members (the ‘referees’ and flight safety officers who oversee the exercise) convene. Each flying day usually has two main missions, one in the morning (Eagle 1, at about 10:00 hours local time) and one in the afternoon (Eagle 2, from about 14:00 hours). Usually these are combined air operations when the Blue Forces launch more than 30 aircraft to carry out a specific series of tasks while the Red Force aircraft form the opposing force. Days in Anatolian Eagle exercises are long. The briefing and debriefing rooms in the AETC are busy from early in the morning, at 07:00, until 20:30 hours and even later. The mass briefings and debrief are held in a large, modern ‘theatre’ room, in the main AETC building which seats 450. Mission briefings are attended mostly by fighter and attack pilots who will carry out escort, combat air patrol,

offensive and defensive counter air, close air support, interdiction, suppression of enemy air defences and other roles. A search and rescue service is assigned to 135 Filo’s AS532ALs. Transport aircraft sometimes present at Anatolian Eagle conduct high-value asset missions, simulating the presence of aircraft of strategic or tactical importance whose defence becomes paramount for the Blue Force.

Middle East Involvement Of the three Anatolian Eagle exercises staged each year, only the second is designed to host international air forces. Other NATO countries’ involvement is important for the Turkish AF because it develops experience in working side-by-side with fellow member air arms. But Anatolian Eagle 2013-2 didn’t involve NATO air forces other than Turkey’s because of economic constraints. It did however see participation from the Middle East, with contingents from the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) and the United Arab Emirates Air Force (UAEAF). Although these countries are outside NATO, the Libyan war in 2011 – when Arab air forces flew alongside the Western alliance’s – underlined the importance of exercises like Anatolian Eagle in bringing different nations together for training. The RSAF sent a detachment of eight F-15C and F-15D Eagles from 13 Squadron of 3 Wing, based at the King Abdullah Aziz AB. The UAEAF dispatched six F-16E Block 60 multirole

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fighters from Al Dhafra AB. The Turkish AF provided the bulk of the forces. Thirty-eight of its aircraft participated, numbering 27 F-16C/F-16Ds (from 141, 142, 151, 152, 191 and 192 Filos), eight F-4E-2020s (provided by 111 and 132 Filos), one KC-135R from 101 Filo (which flew from the home base at Incirlik), a C-130E from 222 Filo and a CN235 from 125 Filo. Aircraft playing the role of ‘aggressors’ as the Red Air force in the exercise were Block 50+ F-16C/F-16Ds from 142 Filo and F-4E 2020s from 132 Filo. The latter is a dedicated adversary squadron and, marking its role, has a red star in its badge, similar to US Air Force aggressor units. The airborne command and control mission was provided by two E-3As of the NATO Airborne Earning Warning Force from Geilenkirchen in Germany. To support the two foreign detachments, the RSAF sent a C-130H and the UAEAF a C-17A.



Russia & CIS

Krypton for Rafale

Mikoyan MiG-29UB-UPG (KB) 3306 carrying Kh-31 missiles. TMC will integrate the weapon on the Rafale, the winner of the Indian Air Force’s Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft competition. Piotr Butowski

The Russian arms export corporation Rosoboronexport is negotiating a contract with France on behalf of the Tactical Missile Corporation (TMC) for the Kh-31P/PD (AS-17 Krypton) missiles to be adapted for the Dassault Rafale fighter. The work would be carried out during 20142015 and cost about $36.8 million, according to TMC. India intends to buy the Kh-31PD missile as part of its proposed purchase of Rafales and currently uses the older Kh-31P on the Sukhoi Su-30MKI and upgraded

Mikoyan MiG-29 fighters. The Kh-31PD is a supersonic anti-radiation missile, the export variant of the Russian Kh-31PM. In comparison with the older Kh-31P, it is 640mm (2ft 1in) longer and has an increased fuel capacity both for the booster and the cruise engine; digital engine control was also introduced. The missile’s maximum range was doubled to 180-250km (111-155 miles) at a launch from an altitude of 15,000m (49,200ft) at the speed of Mach 1.5. A launch

at 100m (328ft) with a speed of Mach 0.65 gives the weapon a range of 15km (9 miles). No speed for the missile has been released, although it is estimated at 877km/h (545mph). The Kh-31PD weighs 715kg (1,576lb) – over 100kg (220lb) more than the older Kh-31P version, and has a 115kg (254lb) warhead. It is equipped with a new broadband passive radar seeker. Production of the initial batch of the Kh-31PM version for the Russian Air Force began in April 2012. Piotr Butowski

A400Ms Sought by Kazakhstan? Kazakhstan is considering buying two Airbus Military A400M Atlas transports in addition to its current order for six C295s. Details of the purchase of

the larger transport were revealed during a meeting between the Kazakh Defence Minister, Adilbek Ryskeldiuly Dzhaksybekov, and the president of

Tu-214ON and Tu-214R Closer to Service Entry

The second Tupolev Tu-214R Frakttsiya ‘Item 411’ multi-spectral electro-optical and electronic intelligence (ELINT) version of the Tu-214 airliner is being prepared at the Kazan factory for delivery to the Ministry of Defence. The aircraft has been painted in an airline-type military colour scheme over the green primer coat in which it carried out its development flights. Despite the Ministry of Defence’s widely reported dissatisfaction with the Tu-214R, which has led to litigation, Russian press reports have stated that the urgent need to replace Ilyushin Il-20M Coot-A ELINT aircraft and the absence of a viable alternative may lead to the purchase of at least two more Tu-214Rs, with additional orders also possible.



The second Tu-214ON (Open Skies) aircraft (RA-64525, c/n 42709025) is approaching completion at Kazan, where the first aircraft (RA-64519, c/n 42709019) is undertaking flight tests. The Tu-214ONs will replace the Tupolev Tu-154M-LK1 (see Present and Future of Russian Open Skies, August 2011, p20) and the Antonov An-30Bs Russia currently used for Open Skies overflights in North America and Europe. The first Tu-214ON aircraft has also been repainted in an airliner-style military colour scheme for delivery to the Ministry of Defence. The two aircraft, originally scheduled to be delivered in 2011, are expected to be handed over this year (see Tu-214R to be Delivered in 2013, August 2012, p15). David C Isby

Airbus Military, Domingo Ureña-Raso, in Astana on July 2. Discussions also covered the creation of a maintenance facility for Airbus Military in Kazakhstan.

Yeisk Carrier Training Base Begins Operations A Sukhoi Su-25UTG Frogfoot-D two-seat trainer completed the first simulated ski-jump take-off from the new Russian Naval Aviation facility at Yeisk on July 7 (further to New Shore-Based Flight Deck, May, p9). Located in Krasnodar Kray on the Sea of Azov, the new Nazyemniy Ispitateiniy Treynirovochniy Kompleks Aviatsii (NITKA, ground-based ship’s aviation experimental training facility) includes a dummy carrier deck and other facilities to train aircrew, deck handling and emergency crews for the service’s carriers. A range of aircraft types are assigned to the unit, including new-production Yakovlev Yak-130 advanced trainers, to undertake conversion and weapons training. It is tasked with upgrading the ratings of 150 pilots each year. The new complex has cost an estimated two billion rubles ($60 million). Once work on the infrastructure is completed, the Russian Navy will no longer be dependent on the Soviet-era NITKA at Saki air base near Sevastopol, Ukraine, which the service has leased for shore-based carrier training in recent years. David C Isby

Kazakhstan currently operates two C295s that were delivered earlier this year (further to Second Kazakhstan C295 Flying, February, p8). David C Isby

Coot-B Returns to Service

Ilyushin Il-22 Coot-B RF-95673 (c/n 0393610501, ex RA-75906) is another of the type that has recently been overhauled, upgraded and repainted. It is based at Chkalovsky outside Moscow. Sergy Aleksandrov

An Ilyushin Il-22 Coot-B fourturboprop airborne command post that was until 2012 the last aircraft to carry a Soviet serial number (CCCP-75898) has been overhauled at Aviaremont’s 20th Aircraft Repair Plant at Pushkin and restored to service with the Russian Federation serial RF-90786. From 1990 to 2012 the aircraft (c/n 0393607950) was in open storage at Levashovo airfield near St Petersburg. It is

now in operation with new internal systems produced by the Ilyushin design bureau. These include GLONASS satellite navigation and other updated electronics and communications systems. The overhaul is estimated to have given the aircraft (built in 1978) a further 10 to 15 years of service life. Approximately 16 Il-22 airborne command posts remain in service with the Voyenno-Vozdushniye Sily (Russian Air Force). David C Isby

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ON SALE SEPTEMBER 27 Only Available in AIR International


Congress, Ch Crashes and by Robert F Dorr

With a grim face and a gravelly voice, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel briefed reporters on July 31 about a strategic review of US choices as affected by the budget paralysis gripping Washington. Hagel announced no decisions and remains shackled by the budget-cutting process called sequestration. The Pentagon boss’s tone was tough but his message was less about toughness than about despair as the US Government continues to implode on itself. As if to punctuate the gloom almost detectable in the nostrils inside the Pentagon briefing centre, Congress picked that day to zoom away on its five-week summer recess. A new budget is supposed to be in place October 1. Only Congress can make that happen. It won’t. Forced to keep government running under a temporary measure called a ‘continuing resolution’ and with sequestration increasing total defence cuts to $10 trillion over the next ten years, Hagel doesn’t possess the means to decide anything and the air staff doesn’t have any way to plan anything. Air Force chief of staff General Mark Welsh wants a new bomber – the US has just 162 today – but there’s no money even to study the prospect. It gets worse. The same Congress that won’t enable the air force to buy new aircraft also refuses to permit it to dispose of old ones. The USAF has tried for years to dispose of 32 of its oldest C-130H airlifters (it had hoped to get rid of 22 of them by September 30) as a first step towards converting to a fleet consisting entirely of secondgeneration C-130J-30 Super Hercules transports. The two Herk



variants aren’t interchangeable: a pilot of one cannot fly the other, maintainers face different challenges and even loadmasters perform their duties differently. Unfortunately for the air force, the 32 H-model Herks are assigned, one or two per unit, in a dozen congressional districts, meaning each airframe has its own lawmaker. So far, legislation has prevented retirement of even one C-130H. So Hagel spoke vaguely of other options – squadrons shutting down; a freeze on some pay and allowances and possibly the retirement of an entire aircraft fleet that Congress hasn’t placed restrictions on. It sounds extreme, but the Pentagon is talking about retiring its entire fleet of B-1B Lancers, 66 of them. Thanks to satelliteguided munitions and new sensors, the B-1B, colloquially known as the Bone, has evolved into a valuable asset in Afghanistan where it can carry out precision close air support from high altitude. But the B-1B is also

among the most expensive aircraft to operate. Even without a new bomber on the drawing board, it may have to go – a victim of the same budget process that may reduce navy aircraft carriers from ten to eight and cut army troop strength from 490,000 to 420,000. When will the budget nightmare end? AIR International sought to ask a member of Congress. We couldn’t. They were still on their five-week vacation.

Army Aviation’s Ace Plans for US Army aviation are mostly in legislative limbo, too. Funding for key programmes, including much-needed AH-64 Apache and OH-58D/F Kiowa Warrior upgrades, is in doubt. But the army can rely on one workhorse that’s old, overweight and certain to be around for a long time to come. The CH-47 Chinook, the “Energizer bunny of the rotarywing world”, as described by James McKenna of Rotor & Wing

back in 2005, a reference to the rabbit in the television commercial that keeps going and going. The CH-47 appears to have every prospect of becoming the first helicopter to serve for 100 years and its mission-capable, or reliability, rates remain high. Powered by two Honeywell T55-GA-714A engines rated at 4,733shp each, the CH-47 is the only heavy-lift helicopter in the US Army. Studies to replace it date back 17 years, have evolved through several name changes and haven’t yielded a formal requirement or an aircraft design. Half-a-century after its first flight (September 12, 1961), the army is belatedly addressing a problem for which the ‘sh*thook’ is notorious: soldiers breaking their ankles tripping on its floorboard rollers. Incredibly the Chinook seems untouched by budget gridlock. American soldiers currently

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Chinooks, d Uncertainty Above: The Pentagon is talking about retiring its entire fleet of B-1B Lancers, 66 of them. Other types under consideration for the axe are the A-10C Thunderbolt and the KC-10A Extender. Senior Airman Corey Hook/US Air Force Opposite: The CH-47 appears to have every prospect of becoming the first helicopter to serve for 100 years. US Army

operate 400 CH-47D and CH-47F cargo haulers plus a few dozen MH-47E and MH-47G special operations aircraft. Boeing says it is “very comfortable” with its multi-year contract to provide 155 CH-47F models, including 121 rebuilds of earlier models plus 34 new builds, beginning in 2015. Unfortunately the Chinook suffers what one army aviator called “weight creep”, with average all-up heft relentlessly rising 100lbs (45kg) each year as minor tweaks are introduced in each airframe. To address weight gain, the army will introduce the Block 2 upgrade to the CH-47F fleet after 2020, when all CH-47D models will have been replaced and the service is expected to have 454 CH-47Fs. The details are yet to be determined, but minor changes are designed to trim excess weight and increase payload. The goal is to enable the CH-47F to carry a 22,000lb

(10,000kg) payload 50 nautical miles (92km). That would be an improvement of about 20% over today’s cargo-hauling capacity. Upgrades to the CH-47 include gradual introduction of the $450,000 Cargo On/Off Loading modification to give crews the capability to reconfigure the interior in flight from cargo to passengers. Previously, crews spent two hours bolting or unbolting the rollers needed to load palletised cargoes easily. As part of the mod, a redesign in the floorboard eliminates protruding rollers and helps prevent the accidents that have annoyed Chinook passengers for decades.

Routine Missions, Sort Of Despite the funding crisis in Washington, US forces continue military operations. A few USAF combat squadrons grounded last

spring by sequestration are back in the air thanks to a reshuffling of funds, although the Thunderbirds, Blue Angels and Golden Knights teams are still grounded as an economy move. Air operations continue in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Mali and other trouble spots. In reaction to an apparent al-Qaeda threat on the Arabian Peninsula supposedly detected by US intelligence – which has about as much credibility as the US Congress – MQ-9 Reaper drones carried out five air-to-ground missile strikes in Yemen on August 8-9, killing 34 alleged al-Qaeda insurgents. One Washington pundit suggested they became al-Qaeda by virtue of becoming dead. Two Block 40 F-16C Fighting Falcons of the 121st Fighter Squadron, District of Columbia Air National Guard, collided over the Chesapeake Bay on August 1. One pilot landed safely back

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at Andrews AFB. The other ejected and spent two hours in the water before being rescued by a Coast Guard MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter. An HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter of the 33rd Rescue Squadron crashed on a flight from Kadena AB, Okinawa, on August 5. Three of the four crewmembers survived but TSgt Mark Smith, 30, a much admired flight engineer, lost his life. He had been a key figure in many combat rescues in Afghanistan. The crash heightened tensions between US and Japanese officials and postponed the scheduled arrival on Okinawa of a second squadron of MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft. Officials say they see no connection between the ageing of the air force’s aircraft fleet and the August mishaps.



North America

E-2D FRP Launched Full-rate production (FRP) of the Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye has started after the US Navy issued a $617 million contract for five Lot 1 aircraft on July 24. The carrier-based airborne early warning aircraft is due to be delivered by June 2016. A contract worth $113.7 million for long-lead items for five Lot

2 E-2Ds was announced by Northrop Grumman on July 18. A multi-year procurement contract is expected to be issued in 2014. Previous contracts cover the production of 20 low-rate initial production E-2Ds, including two prototypes and 18 operational aircraft. Ten have been handed over. David C Isby

Moody’s First HC-130J Arrives

Lockheed Martin HC-130J Combat King II 11-5725/‘FT’ (c/n 382-5725) is the first of its type delivered to the 347th Rescue Group at Moody AFB, Georgia. The combat search and rescue support aircraft is seen departing Marietta, Georgia, for Moody AFB on July 19. The unit is scheduled to receive nine HC-130Js over the next five years to replace its Lockheed HC-130P Combat Kings. Lockheed Martin/David Key

Agreement to Reduce Lightning II Production Costs Lockheed Martin and the US Department of Defense (DoD) have agreed in principle to fund the next two low-rate initial production (LRIP) lots of the F-35 Lightning II, comprising 71 aircraft. The company and DoD jointly announced the ‘handshake agreement’ on July 30 in advance of signing the LRIP contracts, which they say will provide consecutive 4% reductions in the unit cost of US variants. The parties said they would release cost details when the contracts are finalised. The agreement, which followed six months of negotiations, is for the F-35 air vehicle only and does not include the Pratt & Whitney F135 engine. In a briefing at the recent Paris Air Show, Steve O’Bryan, Lockheed Martin F-35 vice president for programme integration, presented a chart showing the current US government predictions for the recurring unit flyaway cost of the F-35A conventional take-off and landing version. This shows a steady reduction from the $250 million paid for the first production aircraft contracted in 2009, to about $110 million in 2017 and $85 million in 2020. That price includes the aircraft, engine, mission systems and the cost of modifications to incorporate changes subsequently determined by the development test programme. Kieran Velon



KC-46 Programme Progressing The United States Air Force has successfully completed the critical design review (CDR) of the Boeing KC-46 tanker transport. The purpose of the review, held between July 8 and 10, was to demonstrate that the design could meet operational requirements. CDR was originally due to be completed by September 24. A company statement said: “Boeing believes the review went well and initial feedback from our customers has been positive. Final approval by the US Air Force is anticipated in the near future.” The KC-46A is based on the Boeing 767-200ER airliner and the programme covers 179 aircraft to replace older examples of the Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker tanker fleet. A total of 18 KC-46As are expected to be completed by fiscal year (FY) 2017 with production continuing into FY2027. Work started on the first production KC-46A at Boeing’s Everett facility in

Washington on June 26. The aircraft will be assembled by November and rolled out in January 2014. It will receive its mission equipment (including the tanker boom) by June 2014, make its maiden flight in early 2015 and be handed over to the US Air Force in 2016. Detachment 1 of the 418th Flight Test Squadron, 412th Test Wing, was activated at Boeing Field/King County International Airport, Washington, on July 11. It will act as the primary test unit for the KC-46A. According to air force officials, the new tanker is one of its three key modernisation priorities; the others are the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and a new long-range bomber. The KC-46A is the first phase (KC-X) in the replacement of the entire US Air Force KC-135 and McDonnell Douglas KC-10A Extender fleets. The next stage, known as KC-Y, is expected to begin next summer. Steven J Crafa and David C Isby

Aviano F-16s Deploy to Poland

F-16D Block 40 Fighting Falcon 90-0796/‘AV’ of the 510th Fighter Squadron ‘Buzzards’ taxi past Polish Air Force F-16C Block 52+ 4042 at Łask in Poland on July 16. SSgt Daryl Knee/US Air Force

Six Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 40 Fighting Falcons based at Aviano, Italy, of the 510th Fighter Squadron, 31st Fighter Wing, deployed to Łask in Poland with Detachment 1, 52nd Operations Group between July 12 and 26. The deployment is the latest in a series that enables US Air Force fighter units to train with the Siły Powietrzne

Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej (Polish Air Force). The F-16s flew with Polish Block 52+ F-16s, Mikoyan MiG-29 Fulcrum-As and Sukhoi Su-22M-4 Fitter-Ks. The sorties included large-scale operations over Polish training ranges with the support of Boeing KC-135R Stratotankers and E-3 Sentry airborne early warning and control systems.

US Air Force detachments will deploy to Poland four times a year for two weeks of intensive training. The last involved the 176th Fighter Squadron, 115th Fighter Wing of the Wisconsin Air National Guard between May 13 and 25 (see WI ANG in Poland, July, p17). The October deployment will involve Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules at Powidz. David C Isby

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North America

‘KC-45A’ Departs Getafe Airbus A330-202 F-WWCB (msn 871, ex EC-332) departed Getafe, Spain for Dresden in Germany on July 17 using the flight code AIB871. The aircraft would have been the first KC-45A produced by Northrop Grumman for the US Air Force, but the original KC-X programme for which it was destined was cancelled before it could be converted. It arrived for storage at Getafe on March 24, 2009 (see KC-X Airbus A330 in Open Store, December 2012, p7). The aircraft will undergo a C-check at Dresden. The AIB code is used by Airbus, possibly indicating that the aircraft has been transferred from Airbus Military to the company’s commercial division. José Ramón Valero

B-2A and B-52H Upgrades The Northrop Grumman B-2A Spirit Defensive Management System Modernization (DMS-M) programme was announced by US Air Force Global Strike Command on July 8. It will upgrade or replace the bomber’s on-board defensive systems, including electronic support measures and their antennas and displays. A contract for the design of the upgrade is due to be awarded in mid-2014. On the same day Northrop Grumman announced it had demonstrated its ‘no radome’ active electronically scanned array antenna designed for the B-2A. The unit aims to retain the aircraft’s low observable features while allowing connectivity with the US Air Force Advanced Extremely High Frequency military communications satellites. The demonstration included successfully using extended data rate (XDR) communications (with higher bit flow rates, enabling new coverage, networking and improved security over earlier systems) on a B-2A. Meanwhile, the first Boeing B-52H Stratofortress to go through the Combat Network Communications Technology (CONECT) upgrade departed its home base at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, for Tinker AFB Oklahoma, on July 16. The work should be completed at Tinker by April 2014. The upgrade will increase connectivity and improve datalink capability. The whole of the B-52H fleet will be fitted with the new systems during scheduled programmed depot maintenance. Flight testing of CONECT on a B-52H began on January 17, 2010 (see B-52H CONECT Upgrade Flown, March 2010, p14). David C Isby

SABR for Fighting Falcon Upgrade Lockheed Martin has selected the Northrop Grumman Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) for the US Air Force’s F-16 Fighting Falcon Radar Modernization Program, part of the wider F-16 Combat Avionics Programmed Extension Suite. The service left the decision between the SABR and the Raytheon Advanced Combat Radar (RACR) to Lockheed Martin in October 2012

(see Lockheed Martin to Select F-16 AESA Radar, December 2012, p12). “SABR will provide F-16s with unprecedented operational capability, greater reliability and viability in threat environments beyond 2025,” said Joe Ensor, vice-president of Northrop Grumman’s targeting systems division. The new active electronically scanned array radar will provide longer air-toair detection ranges, high-resolution

Sherpa Drawdown Continuing The Oklahoma Army National Guard (ArNG) retired its last Short C-23 Sherpa on July 23. It had been in use since 1996. The Kentucky ArNG

withdrew its two C-23s on July 9. They had been operated by Detachment 3, Company H of the 171st Aviation Regiment. David C Isby

US Eagles in Israel

Ten McDonnell Douglas F-15C/D Eagles of the 122nd Fighter Squadron, 159th Fighter Wing of the Louisiana Air National Guard deployed to Nevatim in Israel for Juniper Stallion 2013. For approximately two weeks from July 21 the fighters trained with Israeli F-16s and F-15s. Juniper Stallion is a combined, bilateral F-15/F-16 air-to-air exercise to improve interoperability and cooperation between US and Israeli air forces. F-15D 84-0047/‘JZ’/‘159th MXG’ is seen landing on the runway at Nevatim behind F-16A Netz (‘Sparrowhawk’) 705 used for fire-fighting and rescue training. The Eagles transitioned through RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk, on July 15 (see ‘Bayou Militia’ Transit RAF Lakenheath, August, p11), returning there on August 4 on the way back to Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, Louisiana. AISO via Shlomo Aloni

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radar mapping and automatic target recognition. It will also allow pilots to simultaneously operate air-to-air and air-to-ground modes and other radar functions. In addition to being installed in US Air Force F-16s, SABR will also form part of the upgrade of F-16A/Bs of the Republic of China (further to F-16 Upgrade Package Offered to Taiwan, November 2011, p22). Kieran Velon

Initial Production QF-16 Being Readied

Work started at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, to prepare the first Lockheed Martin F-16C Fighting Falcon to be converted to a QF-16 Full-Sale Aerial Target (FSAT) under the production programme on July 1. F-16C Block 30A 85-1455/‘DC’ last flew with the District of Columbia Air National Guard’s 121st Fighter Squadron from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, until being retired to Davis-Monthan AFB in May 2010. It will be delivered to the Boeing QF-16 conversion line at Cecil Field in Jacksonville, Florida. The aircraft has been preceded by six engineering, manufacturing and development QF-16s (two each from Blocks 15, 25 and 30) (see QF-16 Delivered to Tyndall, January, p10). The type will replace the McDonnell Douglas QF-4 Phantom II as the US military’s FSAT. Under current plans 22 F-16s will be taken from storage at Davis-Monthan each year and delivered to Cecil Field for conversion. Low-rate initial production covering 20 QF-16s will be followed by four full-rate initial production lots, each of 25 aircraft. The total requirement is for 210 QF-16s by 2022, comprising 30 Block 15s, 103 Block 25s and 77 Block 30s. David C Isby




Growlers, Prow Poseidons & Tu by Rick Burgess After




patrol squadrons with its new maritime patrol aircraft, the US Navy will pause further transitions until aircraft procurement catches up with demand. Patrol Squadron 45 (VP-45), based at NAS Jacksonville (Jax), Florida, returned from deployment in July and has begun a six-month transition from the P-3C Orion to the P-8A Poseidon. The unit will become the third fleet P-8A squadron, following VP-16 and VP-5. In a letter to the Maritime Patrol Association, Rear Admiral Sean Buck, commander, Patrol Reconnaissance Group, said: “We’re going to take a sixmonth pause in our P-8 transition at Jax beginning on December 1, 2013. The principal reason for this is that we simply do not have enough airplanes to bring another squadron on line in P-8s. “We’ll have 13 airplanes in Jax by the end of this year, but VP-16 will take six of them on deployment in December, leaving us only seven airplanes for VP-5’s and VP-45’s IDRC [interdeployment readiness cycle] and VP-30’s FRS [fleet readiness] production requirements. The six-month pause will allow our aircraft inventory to build in Jax before we bring another squadron on line in the summer of 2014 and also give VP-30 a chance to review and adjust its transition syllabus.” The navy announced on July 1 that the P-8A had successfully passed its initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E), declaring



it “operationally effective, operationally suitable, and ready for fleet introduction”. According to Naval Air Systems Command, the P-8A also reached a major milestone in June by launching a Harpoon missile. “On June 24, completing just one practice run at the Point Mugu Sea Test Range [off the coast of California], a P-8A Poseidon [assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 20 based at NAS Patuxent River in Maryland] achieved a programme milestone after six minutes of flight time,” said Capt Scott Dillon, Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft Program Office (PMA-290) programme manager. “The P-8A successfully launched a Harpoon AGM-84D Block 1C missile on the first hot run, scoring a direct hit on a low-cost modular target.

This flight test, along with past tests, demonstrates the P-8’s operational effectiveness and overall mission capabilities.” Boeing will have delivered 13 P-8As of low-rate initial production (LRIP) lots 1 and 2 by the end of 2013, and is scheduled to deliver the 11 P-8As of LRIP 3 in 2014. Boeing was awarded a $1.98 billion contract on August 1, 2013, for 13 P-8As of LRIP 4, which will bring US Navy orders up to 37. The navy has a stated requirement for 117 P-8As.

VAQ squadrons, VAQ-132, VAQ-135 and VAQ-138, already operate the EA-18G. In its 2014 budget the navy also proposes establishing two more expeditionary squadrons, VAQ143 and VAQ-144, to replace capacity that will be lost as the US Marine Corps retires its EA-6B squadrons. The single reserve EA-6B VAQ squadron, VAQ-209, will also begin Growler transition this year.

Growlers have the Majority

The US Marine Corps has converted one of its four EA-6B Prowler Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare (VMAQ) squadrons into an EA-6B replacement training squadron as it prepares to take over Prowler training from the navy. VMAQ-1, based at MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina, was redesignated Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Training Squadron One (VMAQT-1) on June 14. Prowler training is currently conducted for the navy and marines by VAQ-129 at NAS Whidbey Island. The squadron also conducts training for EA-18G Growler crews and is scheduled to phase out EA-6B training by 2014 as it transfers training of marine crews to VMAQT-1. The navy will retire its

The sixth carrier-based electronic attack (VAQ) squadron has begun transition to the EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft, leaving only four fleet VAQ squadrons equipped with the older EA-6B Prowler. Electronic Attack Squadron 133 (VAQ-133) has retired its fleet of four EA-6B Prowlers and begun EA-18G Growler training with the fleet readiness squadron, VAQ-129, at NAS Whidbey Island, Washington. This leaves VAQ-131, VAQ-134, VAQ-140 and VAQ-142 still flying the EA-6B. Transition of VAQ squadrons is progressing at a rate of two a year. The three expeditionary

Marine Corps takes over Prowler Training

An EA-6B Prowler assigned to VAQ-142 ‘catches the wire’ on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz.

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owlers, Turbo Mentors An EA-6B Prowler assigned to the Gray Wolves of Electronic Attack Squadron 142 (VAQ-142) prepares to land on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68). All images Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Raul Moreno Jr/US Navy

last EA-6B squadron in 2015. The marine corps is currently scheduled to operate the EA-6B until 2019. Its three remaining VMAQ squadrons will continue to operate the EA-6B in the expeditionary electronic attack role until they are deactivated.

corps has 117 AV-8Bs on strength and is determined to keep enough flying until the type’s phase-out begins in 2026 and is completed in 2030. The AV-8B will have served 20 years beyond its originally intended service life.

One Less Harrier Squadron

T-34C Training Aircraft to Serve Beyond 2017

Marine Attack Squadron 513 (VMA-513), one of four AV-8B Harrier II squadrons based at MCAS Yuma, Arizona, was deactivated as the corps begins a slow retirement of the AV-8B in favour of the new F-35B short take-off/vertical landing version of the Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter. The marines’ first operational F-35B squadron, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA-121), moved to Yuma in the autumn of 2012. The deactivation of the 69-year-old squadron cuts the number of operational USMC Harrier squadrons to six. The

The Beechcraft-built T-34C Turbo Mentor, steadily being replaced by its Beechcraft-built successor, the T-6 Texan II, is scheduled to serve at least until 2017, although its role as a primary training aircraft will end during 2015. In early July, one of two remaining squadrons still instructing student naval aviators in the T-34C, Training Squadron 27 (VT-27) based at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas, flew its last training flight in the type, leaving only co-located VT-28 still instructing students in the aircraft. VT-27

now is operating the T-6B. Rob Koon, a spokesman for Naval Air Systems Command, said the phase-out of the T-34C from the Naval Air Training Command is “currently scheduled for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2015”. But the T-34Cs will continue to serve in other roles for at least two years beyond 2015, such as range spotting for strike fighter training, operating as chase planes and for test unit tasks. Its phase-out is, according to Koon, “currently scheduled for some time after the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2017”.

HSL-48 to HSM-48 Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light 48 (HSL-48), based at Naval Station Mayport, Florida, will be redesignated Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 48 (HSM-48) on April 1, 2014, as it upgrades from the SH-60B Seahawk to the MH-60R version.

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HSM-48 will differ from previously upgraded east coast HSM squadrons in providing independent detachments rather than deploying with a carrier strike group. HSM-48 will deploy on ships assigned to independent missions, such as druginterdiction duties in the Caribbean. According to the internal navy directive ordering the transition, HSM-48’s revised mission is “to provide, train and support a tenplane expeditionary (independent) MH-60R HSM squadron to provide detachments to air-capable surface combatants certified for MH-60R operations as required by commanders”. As such, HSM-48 will operate in a similar manner to the traditional role of HSL squadrons. The command element will remain in Mayport from where detachments will be sent out.



Asia & Australasia

Indian Neptune Without Titles

Boeing P-8I Neptune N535DS (c/n 40612) conducting a test flight at Boeing Field/King County International Airport, Washington, on August 4. The aircraft was devoid of the Indian Navy markings and serial (IN332) it has previously worn (see Indian Navy Receives P-8I Neptune, February, p14), but ‘P8’ had been added to its tail and nose. The reason for the change has not been revealed. Joe G Walker

S-2Ts Transferred to Taiwanese Air Force

The Republic of China, or Taiwan, transferred its Grumman S-2T Turbo Tracker maritime patrol aircraft from its navy to the air force on July 1. The 11 aircraft will operate along with Taiwan’s new Lockheed P-3C Orions from new facilities at Pingtung-North Air Base in the south of the island. They have been assigned to a new anti-submarine warfare group established by the Republic of China Air Force. The first four of the 12 P-3Cs on order will be delivered before the end of the year. David C Isby

CN235-220 MPA Flown PT Dirgantara Indonesia completed the maiden flight of the CN235220 MPA (maritime patrol aircraft) on July 11. The type is destined for the Tentara Nasional Indonesia – Angkatan Laut (Indonesian National Defence – Navy) and will enter service with Skwadron Udara 800 at Lanudal Juanda, Surabaya, Java. The unit currently flies GAF Nomad N22/24s and NC212-200MP Aviocars. The new CN235 variant can be externally distinguished by its winglets. The first aircraft is equipped with the Thales Airborne Maritime Situation and Control System 200 (AMASCOS 200) suite, which incorporates an Oceanmaster 400 radar. Flight testing is scheduled to continue throughout the summer before the aircraft is delivered to the navy. An order for three was announced in December 2009, although the total requirement is six. The additional pair from the original order are due to be equipped with Israeli ELTA mission systems. David C Isby

New Scheme for Singapore’s Black Knights

The Republic of Singapore Air Force’s Black Knights display team unveiled its new scheme on July 26 at Tengah Air Base. The team last performed in 2008 and will make a comeback appearance at the Singapore Airshow 2014 in February, flying six Lockheed Martin F-16C Fighting Falcons. The team’s aircraft have had the crescent moon and five stars of the nation’s flag applied to their upper surfaces and feature larger areas of red than earlier schemes. Singapore Ministry of Defence



Additional RAAF C-130Hs Sold to Indonesia A memorandum of sale was signed on July 26 by Australia’s Chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley, and Indonesia’s Head of Defence Facilities Agency, Rear Admiral Rachmad Lubis, covering five former Royal Australian Air Force Lockheed C-130H Hercules. The five aircraft (down from six originally sought – see Six More C-130Hs for Indonesia, October 2012, p20) along with spare parts and a C-130H simulator will join four others donated to Indonesia by Australia as grant aid. Indonesian defence minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro and the country’s Australian ambassador, Greg Moriarty, signed an agreement in Jakarta on July 19 officially transferring the four Hercules of the earlier deal. The aircraft were donated to Indonesia by Australia in November 2011. One of the C-130Hs (A97-006, c/n 4786) is available for immediate transfer. The other three (A97001, -003 and -009, c/ns 4780, 4783 and 4789) will be overhauled by Qantas Defence Services at RAAF Base Richmond, New South Wales, at a cost of $A63 million and delivered between October this year and December 2014. Indonesian aircrew and technicians will be trained on the aircraft in Australia. The aircraft involved in the original batch of four has changed. C-130Hs A97-010 (c/n 4790) and -012 (c/n 4793), stored engineless at RAAF Base Richmond, were (along with A97-001 and -003) originally believed to be among the four for Indonesia (see RAAF Hercules for Indonesia, January 2012, p17), but were replaced by A97-006 and -009. David C Isby

Third Round of Bidding for FX-III During the third week of August the Republic of Korea was due to begin a new round of bidding for its FX-III requirement for 60 new fighters – the third such attempt to select an aircraft. The initial process ended on June 30 without a winner being declared because all the bids were above the available funding. On July 2 a second attempt began but ended ten days later when it was announced that bids were still above the 8.3 billion won ($7.3 billion) allocated for the programme (see FXIII Hiatus, August, p11). The Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II, Boeing F-15SE Silent Eagle and Eurofighter Typhoon are in contention, but after 55 alternative proposals in the first two rounds of bidding Korea had yet to make a selection. The programme was re-examined by the Defence Acquisition Program Administration of the Ministry of National Defence, with options ranging from new bids to restarting the competition from scratch. The Republic of Korea Air Force has always stressed the need for the selected design to enter service in 2017 when its F-4 Phantom and F-5 Tiger II fighters are retired at the end of their service lives. While the F-35 had been considered the favourite by sources within the air force, the structure of the fighter’s international programme means it would be impossible to meet demands for a guaranteed low price and additional industrial participation without offering the same to the other partners. The potential for the price of the F-35 to increase if other countries cancel their orders has also been a factor, the US being unable to offer a fixed price for a South Korean order for 60. This makes the F-15SE and especially the Typhoon (which has a bid supported by a high level of Korean industrial participation to offset its price) serious contenders, as their manufacturers can offer a set unit price. David C Isby

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Latin America

Venezuelan Navy Commander Rockwell Commander 695 AB-0211 (c/n 95007) is the sole example flown by the Aviación Naval de la Armada Venezolana (Venezuelan Naval Air Arm). The aircraft is assigned to the Escadrón Aeronaval de Transporte (Naval Transport Squadron) based at Puerto Cabello, Carabobo. It was noted at General José Antonio Anzoátegui International Airport, Barcelona, in late July. Denetworks

Chile Ponders P2006T MRI The Aviación Naval (Chilean Navy) is investigating the purchase of up to eight Indra P2006T MRI (maritime reconnaissance intelligence) aircraft for coastal patrol and SAR (search and rescue) missions. The twinengine light aircraft would replace Cessna O-2A Skymasters flown by the unit VC-1 and used to patrol Chile’s coasts since entering service

in December 1997 – although the O-2As lack of sensors makes them less than ideal for the role. The navy also wants the new aircraft to supplement Lockheed P-3ACh Orions and Airbus Military C295MPA Persuaders already in service; they could also be used to replace five Embraer EMB-111AN Bandeirulhas operated since January 1978. All three

types are flown by VP-1 from Base Aeronaval Concón – Viña del Mar. The P2006T MRI is equipped with a Selex Galileo Seaspray 5000E scanned array radar and other systems to operate at night and in all weathers. The aircraft can send information from the sensors in real time to a ground base for analysis. Santiago Riva

Colombia Closer to Acquiring F-16s The Fuerza Aérea Colombiana (Colombian Air Force) is negotiating with Lockheed Martin for a batch of F-16 Fighting Falcons to replace its IAI Kfir C10s and C12s. Air force officials have confirmed they expect

to have the first of the new fighters in two or three years’ time. The talks are understood to cover second-hand aircraft, either former US Air Force Block 30s or Block 40s, which will be modernised. Between 12 and 24 are

Additional Y-8F-200s Delivered to Venezuela

Shaanxi Y-8F-200 B-632L, one of two of the transports recently delivered in the second batch for Venezuela. The camouflage to be worn in service is visible in places through the whitewash. Ivan Peña Nesbit

Two Shaanxi Y-8F-200 Pegasus transport aircraft were delivered to the Aviación Nacional Militar Bolivariana (Venezuela National Military Aviation) from the People’s Republic of China in July. They will join Escuadron de Transporte 1, Grupo Aéreo de Transporte 6 at El Liberatador Air Base at Palo Negro, Aragua. The aircraft were ferried to Venezuela by

Southern Cross Aviation via Luqa Airport, Malta, wearing a temporary whitewash scheme over camouflage and the delivery registrations B-631L and B-632L. They were the third and fourth of eight ordered by Venezuela in May 2011. The first two were delivered in November 2012 (see Initial Venezuelan Y-8Cs, December 2012, p17). David C Isby

sought, possibly in two batches. The Colombian Air Force’s Kfir airframes are 30 years old and have been heavily utilised in both Colombia and by the Israel Air Force. Santiago Rivas

Colombia Seeks More Persuaders

The Comando de Aviación Naval (Colombian Naval Aviation Command) says it is negotiating the purchase of an additional three Airbus Military CN235MP Persuaders to increase its maritime patrol capabilities. The service received its third CN235MP (a new CN235M300MP equipped with Airbus’ FullyIntegrated Tactical System) on July 22, 2010, joining two -200s acquired second-hand and modified for maritime patrol which entered service from September 2003. Colombia wants to have two available to patrol the Caribbean Sea area and another pair to monitor the Pacific while the others will be undergoing maintenance or held in reserve. The Persuaders already in service are heavily used to monitor smuggling as part of the war on drugs. Santiago Rivas

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Upgraded Brazilian Skyhawk Flown The prototype modernised McDonnell Douglas AF-1B Skyhawk flew for the first time on July 17 at the Gavião Peixoto facilities of Embraer, in São Paulo Brazil. Development of the modernisation package began in 2009, covering nine single-seat AF-1s and all three two-seaters AF-1As. The contract was signed with Embraer on April 14, 2009. New avionics, including multi-functional displays and a new head-up display, radar, powerplant improvements and an autonomous oxygen-generating system will be installed in the carrierbased attack aircraft. Many of the systems due to be added had already been developed for the Força Aérea Brasileira’s (Brazilian Air Force’s) Northrop F-5EM/FM Tiger II upgrade, also managed by Embraer. The upgraded AF-1s (formerly Kuwait Air Force A-4KUs) are designated AF-1Bs. The (ex TA-4KU) AF-1A twoseaters will become AF-1Cs. The first upgraded examples are expected to be redelivered to the Marinha do Brasil (Brazilian Navy) in March 2014. The service has a further 11 AF-1s in storage which are used as a source of spares for the active fleet. Santiago Rivas

Chilean Orions to be Modernised

The Aviación Naval (Chilean Naval Air Arm) has decided to extend the service life of its three remaining Lockheed P-3ACh Orions to keep them operational until 2030 – instead of buying additional Airbus Military C295MPA Persuaders. The maritime patrol Orions, plus a single UP-3A used as a transport, are the last of eight received around 20 years ago from the US Navy, the other four having been retired. Chile ordered three C295MPAs in October 2007, the first entering service in May 2010, and placed options for another five. The decision to upgrade the Orions means the options are unlikely to be exercised. Each P-3ACh will have new wings and avionics, enabling them to carry and fire AGM-84 Harpoon missiles, while the engines and the rest of the airframe will be overhauled. Two have recently had new avionics installed in New Zealand, including ELTA EL/M 2022A scanned array radars. Santiago Rivas




Congolese Air Force Candid Ilyushin Il-76TD Candid TN-AFS (c/n 1033415504, ex EL-WTA) is operated by the Force Aérienne Congolaise (Congolese Air Force). The transport has served with the Presidential Flight and does not carry the air force’s roundel or any titles. It is seen at Pointe Noire, Congo, on July 30. Denetworks

SAAF PC-7 Upgrade Complete The South African Air Force (SAAF) has received all 35 upgraded Pilatus PC-7 Mk IIs following the completion of Project Ithambo, the PC-7 Avionics Replacement Programme. The remaining 18 PC-7s that were not upgraded (known as Astras) are being offered for sale by state arms procurement agency Armscor. Project Ithambo began in 2009 when the SAAF realised it needed to replace locally installed co*ckpit avionics and displays after the South African companies that supported them went out of business (see South African Astra Upgrade, December 2009, p20). Consequently, Pilatus

installed new avionics – upgraded aircraft feature a GPS antenna at the top of the vertical tail and more prominent wing root fairings. The project came to a close on May 16 this year, with the final aircraft (2025) being returned to service with the Central Flying School at Air Force Base Langebaanweg on June 25. The last three to be upgraded (2020, 2024 and 2025) were all Silver Falcons aerobatic team aircraft. The SAAF received 60 PC-7s from Pilatus, which entered service in October 1994, but around half a dozen have been lost or damaged in accidents. Guy Martin

US Stops Egyptian F-16 Deliveries The United States has stopped the scheduled delivery of four Lockheed Martin F-16C Block 52 Fighting Falcon fighters to Egypt in the wake of the military’s overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi on July 3 (further to Egyptian Fighting Falcon Production Continues, August, p22). The Pentagon said that US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel told Egyptian military chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of the decision during a

phone call on July 24. “Given the current situation in Egypt, we do not believe it is appropriate to move forward at this time with the delivery of F-16s,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said. Another eight F-16s were due to be delivered to Egypt in December. A total of 20 were ordered in March 2010 under the Peace Vector VII programme, of which four F-16Cs and four F-16Ds have been handed over. Guy Martin

Niger Air Force Receives Caravans

One of the two Cessna 208 Caravans recently donated by the United States to the Niger Air Force. via Guy Martin

The Armée de l’Air Nigérienne (Niger Air Force) took delivery of two new Cessna 208 Caravans from the United States at an official ceremony held in the capital Niamey on July 5. The Caravans – as well as ten trucks also donated – will be used primarily for cargo transport and border security, according to the US military, especially as Niger has become a smuggling route for weapons from Libya. Many of these weapons, along with militants, end up in



neighbouring Mali, to where Niger has contributed peacekeeping forces. The Caravans were purchased through the US National Defence Authorization Act Section 1206 programme, jointly administered by the US Department of Defence and the US State Department. The $11 million package covers the initial costs of the aircraft and related expenses, including maintenance and pilot training. Guy Martin

Airbus Military CN235-300M TJ-XDG undertaking a crew training flight from San Pablo Airport, Spain, on July 22. Antonio Muñiz Zaragüeta

Cameroon Receives CN235

The Armée de l’Air du Cameroun (Cameroon Air Force) has taken delivery of a new CN235-300M transport aircraft from Airbus Military, becoming the 16th sub-Saharan nation to operate the type. Airbus Military announced delivery of the aircraft (TJ-XDG, c/n C208) on July 16, which was accepted at the manufacturer’s facility at San Pablo Airport in Seville, Spain. The transport was noted conducting training flights

from the airport later in the same month. The aircraft was ordered in June 2012 and will join three Lockheed Martin C-130H Hercules and one IAI Arava 202 in service. Airbus said the CN235 was chosen for its low maintenance and operating costs. More than 275 CN235s have been built for 40 operators in 28 countries, and they have accumulated more than a million flight hours. Guy Martin

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Middle East

Omani C295M Conducts Training Flights

Flying from the manufacturer’s facility at San Pablo Airport, Seville in Spain on July 29, Airbus Military C295M 901 (c/n S100) is the first of the type for the Royal Air Force of Oman. The 100th example built, it made its public debut at the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget in June, albeit with its customer’s markings covered over. Oman ordered eight C295Ms on May 21, 2012, five as transports and three as maritime patrol aircraft. The first was handed over in June but remained at Seville for crew training. It will be ferried to Oman later this year. Antonio Muñiz Zaragüeta

Shimshon Funds Awarded Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $12.98 million contract by the US Department of Defense for procurement of long-lead items for a single C-130J-30 Hercules for Israel. Details of

the contract were announced on July 25 and work is expected to be complete by the end of 2015. The total value of the US Foreign Military Sales contract is around $1.60 billion, which is understood

to cover three C-130J-30s ordered to date by Israel, where the type is called the Shimshon (Samson). The first was handed over on June 26 (see Israel Receives Shimshon, August, p23).

UAE Holds Talks on Typhoon The United Arab Emirates Air Force and Air Defence held extensive talks with manufacturers in early July on a potential procurement of 60 Eurofighter Typhoons. Representatives from BAE Systems, EADS, Eurojet and MBDA met the air force’s leadership to promote the fighter. The UAE is looking for a wide range of weapons to be integrated with any new fighter it procures, including a beyond visual range (BVR) air-to-

air missile. It also wants to ensure that a large portion of the work is undertaken in the Emirates, as well as securing offsets for the research and development and training associated with any new fighter procurement. Major competitors for the UAE fighter procurement include the Dassault Rafale and Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. The Rafale had been considered the

front-runner for the 60-aircraft requirement, but the field is now more open after the UAE was asked (and declined) to help finance the upgrade of the French fighter in 2011. Eurofighter received a request for proposals from the UAE in November 2011 and has been supported diplomatically by the British Government (see Typhoon Promoted to UAE, December 2012, p17). David C Isby

Israel Cuts Defence Budget and Offers Aircraft for Sale A cut of 3 billion shekels ($850m) will be implemented in the Israeli defence budget for 2014. The reduction is 1 billion shekels ($283m) less than originally asked for by the treasury out of the 51.5 billion-shekel ($13.3bn) expenditure for the year. For the Israeli Air and Space Force the cut will mean fewer operational exercises, training and flight hours. It will also accelerate the disbandment of squadrons equipped with older aircraft already due to be withdrawn from service. Two squadrons of F-16A/B Netz (Sparrowhawks) and AH-1 Tzefa (Viper) attack helicopters have been ordered to disband. The Tzefa was to be retired within two years and the Netz fleet withdrawn as Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning IIs were delivered from 2017. Preparations to stand up the first two Israeli F-35 squadrons are unaffected by the cuts. A number of former Israel Air and Space Force aircraft are also being offered for sale. They include 44 Douglas A-4 Ayits (Eagles); 25 IAI Kfirs (Lion Cubs); 18 F-16A Netz; 25 IAI Tzukits (upgraded Fouga Magisters); three Lockheed C-130 Kamafs (Rhinos, two of which have been in storage since 2005 and one since 2009, including an example used in the 1976 Entebbe hostage rescue raid); 16 Hughes MD500 Lahatut (Trick) helicopters; and eight AH-1 Tzefas. In addition, Israel is offering simulators for the aircraft as well as for the Sikorsky CH-53 Yasur (Petrel), F-161 Sufa (Storm), F-15A/B Baz (Falcon), F-15I Ra’am (Thunder) and F-16I Barak (Storm). Any transfer of US-built systems or those with US components would require US Government approval. David C Isby

Israeli KC-707 at RAF Mildenhall

Israel Air and Space Force Boeing KC-707 Re’em 264/4X-JYH (c/n 20721) arrives at RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk, on August 7. The aircraft, assigned to 120 Squadron based at Nevatim, passed through Mildenhall on its way home from Greenville, Texas, where it underwent a series of upgrades with L-3 Communications. The large number of aerials on the upper and lower fuselage suggests the aircraft is equipped for roles other than aerial refuelling. Matthew Clements

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Unmanned Aerial Systems On August 6 Scion UAS of Fort Collins, Colorado, announced that the first production SA-400 Jackal (N14XH, c/n 0002) optionally-piloted rotary unmanned air system had completed its initial flights. The news came less than two weeks after the US FAA certified the aircraft. The Jackal was awarded an FAA special airworthiness certificate for experimental research and development following flight trials with the prototype (N15XH, c/n 0001). The initial pair of production Jackals will be delivered to the US Navy’s Naval Research Laboratory for sensor development and testing. The Jackal can be flown in either unmanned or manned configurations. It was designed to carry a 100lb (45kg) payload over four hours and can operate from ships. It is 19ft (5.7m) long and 6.8ft (2.07m) high and has a top speed of 82kts (151km/h). Mark Broadbent

Production Jackal Flown

The prototype Scion UAS SA-400 Jackal optionally-piloted rotary unmanned air vehicle. Scion UAS

JLENS Completes Early User Testing

One of the two aerostats that form part of the Orbit 1 JLENS at the Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, during the EUT 2 trials. US Army

The US Army recently concluded a six-week test programme for the Raytheon Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System (JLENS). The Early User Testing 2 (EUT 2) phase, carried out at the Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah between May 4 and June 14 using the JLENS Orbit 1 tested its “ability to operate in a number of complex scenarios that replicated an operational environment”, according to Raytheon. EUT 2 included an endurance test, whereby soldiers operated the system continuously for 20 days, and another period during which the 21 scenarios were evaluated. JLENS consists of two tethered 242ft (74m) helium-filled aerostats, one of which carries a 360° surveillance radar and the other a fire-control radar, and communications and processing facilities. The aerostats fly up to 10,000ft (3,048m) above sea



level and can remain airborne for up to 30 days. The system offers beyond line-of-sight detection of objects up to 343 miles (550km) away and can provide targeting information to surface-to-air missiles. The programme is run by the JLENS Project Office in Huntsville, Alabama, part of the US Army Space and Missile Defense Command. A total of 16 systems were originally due to be acquired before the programme was reduced to development only last year with just two systems sought. Following EUT 2 Orbit 1 will move from Dugway to Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, with set-up and check-out there to begin in the spring of 2014. From September 2014 it will be used to conduct a three-year operational evaluation of its utility in the air defence role for the Washington, DC, region. Mark Broadbent

Improved Gray Eagle Flies General Atomics completed the first test flight of an upgraded version of the MQ-1C Gray Eagle on July 26 at its El Mirage Flight Operations Facility in Adelanto, California. This is a company-funded development of the current Block 1 with a new engine, enhanced endurance and payload. Around 50% more fuel can be carried in an enlarged lower fuselage, while a centreline hardpoint can accommodate a 500lb (227kg) drop tank or twice the weight of sensors of the Block 1. The original Thielert Centurion engine has been replaced by a Lycoming DEL-120, but still burns diesel. The changes extend the Gray Eagle’s endurance by 23 hours. According to the company, the upgrades provide “growth capability for an improved

airworthiness design, with the potential of incorporating lightning protection, damage tolerance and traffic collision avoidance system features.” The upgraded air vehicle will undertake an endurance demonstration for the US Army later this year. On the same day the Improved Gray Eagle flew, the US Army approved full rate production (FRP) for the MQ-1C Block 1. FRP authorises the production of 49 MQ-1C Block 1s. The first Gray Eagle unit was deployed in 2012, using low rate initial production examples. The current aim is to equip each US Army division with at least one company of the remotely piloted aircraft. The army plans to acquire 152 MQ-1Cs in total. Mark Broadbent and David C Isby

Korean Report Critical of Global Hawk Procurement The Republic of Korea’s planned acquisition of Northrop Grumman RQ-4A Block 30(I) Global Hawk unmanned air vehicles should be reviewed by the government due to its high cost, according to a report from the National Assembly’s Budget Office, released on July 5. The National Assembly has been a supporter of the development of indigenous systems and has funded their procurement in preference to acquiring alternatives from abroad. The report stated that while the parliament has earmarked 485.4

billion won ($436 million) through to 2017 for the Global Hawk procurement, the cost by then is likely to be 880 billion won ($791 million). It advised the Ministry of National Defence to re-examine the procurement with input from its Agency for Defence Development. A Foreign Military Sale for four RQ-4As to Korea was revealed on December 21, 2012 (see South Korea Looks at Global Hawk Again, February, p20). Earlier plans to buy the system were postponed over concerns about cost before the programme was revived. David C Isby

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MILITARY CARRIER AIR WING ELEVEN’S WORK-UP Cdr John DePree, XO (now CO) of Strike Fighter Squadron 154 (VFA-154) ‘Black Knights’ checks his position before entering the break.


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In the second of a three part series on the work-up cycle of Carrier Air Wing 11 and the USS Nimitz, Scott Dworkin goes behind the scenes at Naval Air Station Fallon to witness some essential predeployment carrier training


aval Air Station Fallon is the US Navy’s premier air-to-air and airto-ground training facility. Located six miles (9km) south-east of the city of Fallon in western Nevada, about 70 miles (112km) east of Reno, it is currently the only US Navy facility where advanced integrated Carrier Air Wing (CVW) training can take place, combining realistic flight training in electronic warfare, air-to-ground, air-to-air weapons delivery, special weapons delivery and enemy evasion tactics. It is the only facility where

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Business Aviation




FlairJet Delivers 400th Phenom London Oxford Airport-based FlairJet has delivered the 400th production Embraer Phenom-series business jet. The aircraft (Phenom 300 D-CHGS, c/n 505000150) was captained by the company’s flight operations director, Gerry Rolls, from the Brazilian manufacturer’s factory at São José dos Campos to new owner The Hansgrohe Group of Siegerland. The jet’s delivery flight covered 8,270nm (15,316km), routing via Belem in Brazil; Barbados; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Bangor and Goose Bay in Canada; Keflavik, Iceland; and Prestwick in Scotland to Dortmund over four days. FlairJet has now delivered nine Phenom 100s and 12 Phenom 300s. Mike Jerram

New Production Citation Programmes Advance

Cessna 750 Citation X N5233J on its maiden flight from Wichita, Kansas, on August 1. Cessna

Cessna flew the first production airframe of its revamped Citation X (N5233J, c/n 750-0502) from Wichita, Kansas, on August 1. “The aircraft was flawless today,” said Cessna Senior Production Test Pilot Gary Drummond, who performed the flight with Engineering Test Pilot Steve Turner. “We took the X to an altitude of 49,000ft [14,935m], attained a top speed of Mach 0.935 [617mph; 993km/h] and conducted a 3.1-hour flight with an average cruise speed of Mach 0.915 [604mph, 1,119km/h] at 41,000ft [12,497m]. The Garmin G5000 avionics performed brilliantly and the autothrottle system is going to be a welcome feature for Citation X operators [as it simplifies] approaches into high-congestion areas. Speed and command changes were seamless... with greater situational awareness and reduced crew workload.” The ‘new’ Citation X is a slightly stretched, re-engined version of the original business aircraft of the same name, and was originally called



the Citation TEN (see Production Citation X Rolled Out, New Sovereign Flies, June 2013, p17). Powered by two 31.29kN (7,034lb st) Rolls-Royce AE3007C2 turbofans, its maximum speed of Mach 0.935 makes it the fastest business jet currently in production. It can operate up to 51,000ft (15,545m) and its 3,242nm (6,004km) range means it can fly non-stop between city pairs such as New York and London; Honolulu in Hawaii and Dallas, Texas; and Singapore and Tokyo, Japan. Customer deliveries are expected to begin in early 2014. Meanwhile, at Cessna’s Independence, Kansas, plant, the first production Citation M2 (c/n 525-0800) was rolled out in late July (further to Citation M2 in Production, March, p23). The aircraft can carry up to six passengers and uses Cessna’s Intrinzic flight deck with Garmin G3000 avionics featuring a high-resolution multifunction display with split-screen capability and touchscreen interactivity. The

single-pilot M2 is powered by two 8.74kN (1,965lb st) Williams FJ44-1AP-21 engines, will climb to 41,000ft (12,497m) in 24 minutes, cruise at up to 400kts (741km/h) and, with 1,300nm (2,408km) range, will be able to fly non-stop between New York and Houston, Texas; Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires; or Amsterdam and Moscow. Brad Thress, Cessna Senior Vice President, Business Jets, claims: “The M2 is such a versatile aircraft. It can perform superbly in many different markets and on a great variety of missions. Businesses appreciate the M2 for its low directoperating and acquisition costs. It has the performance and capacity that charter operations look for. It has the handling characteristics you need in a training platform while offering the style and power a private user looks for when taking the next step up in their own aircraft.” M2 customer deliveries are scheduled to start in the fourth quarter of this year. Mike Jerram

Piper Aircraft delivered its 800th ‘M-Class’ PA-46 Malibu Mirage during AirVenture 2013 at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, in early August. It was handed over to Muncie Aviation Company, based at Delaware County Regional Airport in Muncie, Indiana – Piper’s dealer for new aircraft in Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and southern Illinois. It was also the recipient of the 700th Mirage. The ‘M-Class’ family comprises the Malibu Matrix, Malibu Meridian and Malibu Mirage. The prototype Malibu Mirage first flew on November 30, 1979 and Piper built 404 PA-46-310Ps before introducing the current PA-46-350P, with an uprated engine and three-blade propeller replacing the two-blade unit, in October 1988. Mike Jerram

Wheels-Up Places Record King Air Order Beechcraft Corporation claims to have won the largest order (in dollar value) for propeller-driven aircraft in the history of general aviation. Wheels Up, a membership-based private aviation programme, has ordered 105 King Air 350is – 35 firm orders and 70 on option – valued at $788 million. Including a contract with Beechcraft for comprehensive maintenance, service and support of the fleet in North America and Western Europe, the value of the deal could be as high as $1.4 billion. Wheels Up’s King Airs will include modern interior furnishings and amenities, wi-fi connectivity and a luxury lavatory/vanity unit. Details of the order were announced by the manufacturer on August 1. The first nine aircraft will be made before the end of the year, with the 35 on firm order scheduled to be in service by 2015. This initial batch of King Airs will serve in the north-eastern US. In the second quarter of 2013, Beechcraft delivered 56 commercial and military aircraft, a 75% increase over the same period in 2012, comprising 12 King Air 350is, seven King Air 250s, five King Air C90GTxs, 12 Baron G58s, nine Bonanza G36s and 11 T-6B/C Texan II military trainers. The company has also made progress on certification of the Hawker 400XPR upgrade, with the test aircraft (N312GK, c/n RK-44), fitted with winglets, having first flown in May. The 400XPR package offers several factoryapproved airframe modifications that, Beechcraft says, significantly improve performance, operating costs and value. FAA certification and deliveries are expected in 4Q13. Mike Jerram

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MRJs for Japanese Government?

Alitalia A320 Keeping Italians Moving

Italian flag carrier Alitalia operated a student charter into Manchester Airport on August 2 using Airbus A320-214 EI-DSA (msn 2868, ex F-WWBE). The aircraft carries the titles ‘Muoviamo Chi Muove L’Italia’ (we move the people who keep Italy going), one of the slogans used by the airline. This was its first visit to the British airport. Nik French

The Japanese Government is considering buying Mitsubishi Regional Jets (MRJs) as VIP transports for the Imperial family, prime minister and other members of the cabinet. The aircraft would supplement the two Boeing 747-47Cs currently used in these roles. Mitsubishi has firm orders for 165 MRJ90s, plus options for a further 160. David C Isby

AeroMéxico Dreamliner The first Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner for AeroMéxico completed its first flight on July 21 from Paine Field/Snohomish County Airport at Everett in Washington. AeroMéxico is leasing N961AM (c/n 35306) from the International Lease and Finance Company, the first of nine examples that will replace the carrier’s Boeing 767-200ERs by 2016. Joe G Walker

New Wingtips For 737s

Boeing 737-824(WL) N37277 lifts off for a test flight of the Aviation Partners Boeing Split Scimitar Winglets. United Airlines

The first of a new generation of fuelsaving wingtip device for the Boeing 737NG family flew on July 16. The Split Scimitar Winglets, developed by Aviation Partners Boeing, flew on United Airlines 737-824(WL) N37277 (c/n 31595) from Paine Field/Snohomish County Airport at Everett in Washington. The Scimitar Winglet is designed as a retrofit option to replace the blended winglets on 737NGs. The new device consists of an aerodynamically-shaped winglet tip and a new ventral strake. Aviation Partners Boeing says they will cut

the fuel burn of a 737NG by 2%. United became the launch customer for the device in January, when it was ordered for its 737-800 fleet. In June it also committed to installing them on its 737-900ERs, and plans to fit them to its Boeing 757s and 767s. The airline estimates it could save up to $200 million per year in fuel costs. The TUI Group, which runs several charter airlines, including Thomson Airways and TUIfly, has also recently ordered the Split Scimitar to be retrofitted to its 737-800s, with deliveries starting in January 2014. Mark Broadbent

Locator Beacon Review

Boeing has instructed operators of 1,200 of its commercial aircraft to inspect Honeywell-manufactured emergency locator beacons in the wake of the recent Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner fire at London-Heathrow on July 12 (see Fire Could Turn Dream to Nightmare, August, p11). The UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch found the fire on a parked Ethiopian Airlines 787-8 (ET-TOP Queen of Sheba, c/n 34744) was caused by the emergency locator transmitter (ELT) overheating. An airworthiness directive (AD) was issued by the US Federal Aviation Administration, requiring all 787 operators to inspect the beacons in their aircraft. This was followed in turn by Boeing instructing operators of 737s, 747s and 777s fitted with Honeywell ELTs to do the same and report back within ten days to help the FAA gather data in its on-going investigation into the Heathrow incident. However, the FAA stopped short of issuing an AD covering checks on the other aircraft types. Mark Broadbent

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More Delays for CSeries The maiden flight of Bombardier’s new CSeries aircraft has been delayed again. The postponement was announced at the Canadian company’s secondquarter earnings call on July 10. According to Bombardier: “the highly technical last steps [before a maiden flight] are taking more time than initially anticipated.” No date has been set for the first flight of the CSeries, but it is expected in late August or early September. This is the third delay for the CSeries programme. Flight Test Vehicle 1 (FTV-1) was due to fly in December 2012, but the flight was put off to the end of June. During that month the company announced an additional month was needed to allow for software upgrades. On July 10 Chief Executive Officer Pierre Beaudoin stated the first flight would occur “in the coming weeks”. Mr Beaudoin said the causes for the delay were “nothing significant” and were related to “a lot of small stuff”. Bombardier says it still expects CS100 service entry to follow 12 months after first flight. Bombardier hopes to break into the lucrative 100- to 149-seat airliner segment with the CSeries, challenging the duopoly held by Airbus and Boeing. However, only 177 firm orders have been placed, far fewer than for the new A320neo or 737 MAX families. It will also have to compete with the larger variants of Embraer’s recently launched E-Jet E2s. The CSeries is the first all new narrow-bodied jetliner in decades and lays claim to 20% lower CO2 emissions and fuel burn, and a 15% reduction in operating costs than comparable Airbus and Boeing alternatives. Mark Broadbent and Steven J Crafa




Superjet Makes Wheels-Up Landing

Tamara Niger Beechcraft Beech 1900D 5U-TNB is operated by Tamara Niger Aviation, a charter company based at Niamey-Diori Hamani International Airport in Niger. The commuterliner was seen at its home base on August 7. Benoît Denet

Fleet Overhaul Planned for Iberia Iberia’s parent company, International Airlines Group (IAG), is to undertake a fleet overhaul of the Spanish flag carrier when its financial performance improves. IAG, which also owns British Airways and low-cost carrier Vueling, says it has agreed commercial terms and reserved delivery slots with Airbus and Boeing for 32 A350s and 12

Thousand A330s Delivered

Airbus delivered the 1,000th A330 on July 19. The aircraft (A330-343X B-LBB, msn 1436, exF-WWCV) was handed over to Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways at the Airbus delivery centre in Toulouse, France. Cathay now has 38 A330s, making it the largest operator of the type, having taken delivery of its first in January 1994. The airline’s subsidiary Dragonair flies another 18 examples, and the Cathay Group has outstanding orders for ten. Other major A330 operators are Air China (with 37), Delta Air Lines and Qatar Airways (both with 32), China Eastern and Etihad Airways (both with 30) and THAI Airways International (27). Airbus has sold over 1,200 A330 variants since the programme was launched, with the first delivery being made to now-defunct French carrier Air Inter in January 1994. Mark Broadbent



787-8 Dreamliners which will replace 12 A340-300s and 16 A340-600s and, in the longer term, younger A330-300s. But the orders will only be placed when Iberia’s restructuring is complete and it begins posting a sustained profit. Iberia has made losses since it joined the IAG stable in 2011. IAG’s CEO, Willie Walsh, said the airline was



“turning the corner” after it made a €245 million pre-tax profit for the first half of 2013, compared to a €4 million loss for the same period in 2012. Mr Walsh said the turnround was due to the impact of cost-cutting at the airline, which resulted in the loss of 1,700 jobs – with another 1,300 to follow. Mark Broadbent


KLM Cityhopper is to add a further six Embraer 190s to its fleet. The regional subsidiary of the Dutch flag carrier is leasing the aircraft from BOC Aviation, taking the number of Brazilian regional jets it operates to 28. The first two will be delivered by the end of the year, and will enable KLM Cityhopper to accelerate the retirement of its Fokker 100s. The airline has not said whether it intends to acquire new aircraft in the long term, having previously announced it was looking at new-generation types (see KLM Cityhopper Assessing New Types, June, p16). Mark Broadbent


WIDEBODIES SOUGHT BY SAA South African Airways (SAA) has sent a tender to Airbus and Boeing to bid for 23 new widebody aircraft for delivery from 2017. The requirement was revealed by Chief Financial Officer Wolf Meyer in late July. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A350 will compete to replace SAA’s six A330-200s, eight A340-300s, nine A340-600s and one A340-200. The arrival of the new

aircraft is expected to generate significant fuel savings and help SAA return to profitability. Acquiring the 23 aircraft is expected to cost between $4 billion and $7bn. Guy Martin


AN-158S DELIVERED TO CUBA Antonov handed over the second production An-158 passenger jet (CUT1711, l/n 201-02) to Cubana of Cuba at Gostomel Airport in Kiev in the Ukraine on July 24. It arrived at José Martí International Airport in Havana the following day, having been ferried via Keflavik International Airport in Iceland and Halifax-Robert L Stanfield International Airport, Nova Scotia, in Canada. The first production An-158 (CU-T1710, l/n 201-01) was delivered to Cubana on April 21, and the airline is due to receive the third in August and three more in the third quarter of 2014. The An-158s are for domestic services in Cuba and international flight to Caribbean destinations. Cubana is leasing the airliners from the Ilyushin Finance Co, which ordered ten at the Paris Air Show in June 2011. The carrier agreed a lease for three (plus three options, since confirmed) at the Moscow Air Show at Zhukovsky in August 2011. David C Isby

A Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company (SCAC) Sukhoi Superjet 100-95B test aircraft suffered a wheelsup landing at Keflavik Airport in Iceland early on the morning of July 21. The SSJ-100 (97005, c/n 95005) touched down on runway 11 with its landing gear retracted, coming to rest around 328ft (100m) beyond the end of the runway. The crew of five evacuated the airliner safely, with only one person, an engineer, suffering a minor injury. The aircraft suffered structural damage to its lower fuselage and the two PowerJet SaM146-17 engines. It was subsequently lifted off the runway by a crane to a height that allowed the landing gear to be extended, before being towed to a hangar. Iceland’s Rannsóknarnefnd Flugslysa (RNF - air accidents investigation agency) said the SSJ-100’s pilots had contacted the tower for permission to undertake a touch-and-go while on final approach. The landing gear was deployed on approach and then retracted as if to climb away, but it failed to gain height after the simulated missed approach. The aircraft involved in the accident is part of SCAC’s test fleet for the short/medium-haul narrowbody and was conducting trials as part of ongoing work to certify the SSJ-100 for Category IIIa operations, which will permit it to make automatic landings in poor weather conditions, such as dense fog. The trial was being carried out at Keflavik to assess the system’s suitability in high crosswinds, for which the airport runway configuration is well suited. The airliner was flying close to its maximum operating weight. This is the second serious accident involving an SSJ-100, following a fatal crash on Mount Salak on May 9, 2012 (see Superjet Crash: Preliminary Report, September 2012, p33), which was attributed to human failure. However, difficulties with the landing gear have been recorded before by two in-service Aeroflot aircraft (on January 18 at Moscow-Sheremetyevo, and on January 22 at Kharkov), resulting in both displaying ‘gear fault’ and ‘[undercarriage] door not closed’ messages in the co*ckpit. The problem was later traced to a mechanical defect and corrected by Sukhoi. Mark Broadbent

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Condor’s Heart for Children

Boeing 767-330ER(WL) D-ABUE (c/n 26984, ex N1788B) carries both Condor and Thomas Cook Airlines titles and wears a special ‘Heart for Children’ colour scheme. The airliner is seen departing Frankfurt in Germany on July 18. The scheme is part of the airline’s efforts to support the German charity BILD hilft e.V - A Heart for Children, which helps to fund facilities and projects for them. The characters on the side of the 767 came from the books of Janosch, a prolific German author and illustrator of books for the young. Marcus Steidele

Sukhoi Civil Faces Financial Woes

SAA Receives First Two A320s South African Airways (SAA) received the first two of 20 new Airbus A320 airliners from Airbus at Toulouse, France, on July 23. Both aircraft (ZSSZA, msn 5637, and ZS-SZB, msn 5680) left for South Africa the same day. Another two were scheduled for handover in August, with deliveries to conclude by 2017. The new aircraft are powered by IAE V2500 engines and seat 24 passengers in business class and 114 in economy. “We’re delighted to receive our first two A320 aircraft,” said Monwabisi Kalawe, SAA’s CEO. “Operating a modern and hom*ogenous fleet plays a significant role in cost reduction and boosting revenue.”

SAA ordered 15 A320s, 11 A319s and 15 A340s in 2002. The A319s and A340s have been delivered, but in 2004 the airline tried to cancel the A320s order – which was subsequently renegotiated and changed to 20 aircraft. Lessor Pembroke Group has taken over the purchase of ten of the A320s and will lease them to SAA under a 12-year agreement. The sale and leaseback agreement is worth around $500 million. SAA is currently reviewing the financing of the remaining ten A320s. The new A320s will replace SAA’s 17 Boeing 737-800s and four 737-800s flown by its Mango subsidiary. Guy Martin

Russia’s Sukhoi Civil Aviation Company has set itself a target to increase revenues to $1.5 billion by 2015 and $2 billion in 2018 – despite its financial future being overshadowed by uncertain prospects for the Superjet 100 (SSJ-100) regional airliner, which has few orders and has generated increasing debts. Net losses increased 18% in 2012 to 4.6 billion rubles ($154 million). The company is 75%-owned by Sukhoi with 25% held by World Wings on behalf of Alenia of Italy. Low sales and slow deliveries have reportedly contributed to Sukhoi Civil’s current financial difficulties. Russian media sources claim the company seeking additional funds from state-owned banks in order to avoid defaulting on its commercial loans. The bulk of the money for the Superjet programme has come from outside Russia. The SSJ-100 has an order book for 179 aircraft; however, 30 of these are from Indonesia’s Kartika airline, which has its own financial problems and may not be in a position to take

Initial 737-800 for Iraqi Airways

The first Boeing 737-81Z(WL) (YI-ASE, c/n 40104) for Iraqi Airways was on the ramp at Boeing Field/King County International Airport, Washington, on July 29. It first flew on June 20 and wears the new scheme adopted by the carrier. The Government of Iraq ordered 30 737-800s (plus ten options) in May 2008 and the first will enter service with the airline later this year. Joe G Walker

Airliner Being Designed in Iran Iran is designing a new 150-seat twinengine passenger jet, according to the head of the country’s Civil Aviation Organization, Hamid Reza Pahlevani. In a July 9 announcement in Tehran,

he said the new aircraft would build on the experience gained in the IrAN-140 airliner (licence-built Antonov An-140) and military aircraft programmes. Design and fabrication

of the airliner would be carried out by Iranian Sharif, Amir Kabir, Elmo Sannat and Isfahan universities, the Organisation of Aerial Industries of Armed Forces and Iran’s Aircraft

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delivery. Production is scheduled to increase from 12 in 2012 to 26 in 2013 and 40 in 2014. United Aircraft Company, owner of Sukhoi, has continued to invest in production facilities for the Superjet. Sukhoi is set to invest 15 billion rubles by 2020 in its Komsomolsk-on-Amur plant in the Khabarovsk Krai, where the Superjet and military aircraft are built. This will enable Sovietera equipment to be replaced with modern tooling. Of the investment, 3 billion rubles is due to come from Sukhoi itself and the remainder from the state’s Federal’naya Tselevaya Progamma (Development of the Defence Industry Complex of the Russian Federation) programme. Meanwhile a 3.5 billion-ruble composite components fabrication plant opened in Kazan on July 8. It will produce parts for the aircraft as well as international airliner programmes. Negotiations have also been opened with Belarus to build parts for the Superjet at the state-owned Minsk Aircraft Maintenance Plant, which is to move to a larger site at Minsk airport. David C Isby

Manufacturing Organisation. The programme was first announced in February by former defence minister Brigadier General Ahmad ‘Vahid’ Shah Cheraghi. David C Isby




WindRose’s First A330

Airbus A330-223 UR-WRQ (msn 296, ex CS-TRJ) is the first of its type for WindRose Aviation of the Ukraine. It is seen after being rolled out of the Air Livery hangar at Manchester Airport on August 4, after repainting from basic Malaysian Airlines scheme. The airliner departed for Boryspil International Airport, Kiev in the Ukraine, the following day. WindRose is a charter airline based at Boryspil and operates eight A320 family airliners. Nik French

E175s and A319s Delivered to American American Airlines recently accepted two new aircraft types into service, the Embraer 175LR and Airbus A319. The first E175 arrived at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Illinois, on August 1, by which time three had been handed over to the airline. The trio (N401YX to N403YX, c/ns 17000363 to 17000365) were delivered to American on July 15, 18 and 23 respectively. They are the first of

Tongan MA60 Controversy Controversy has arisen in Tonga after the Chinese Government’s presentation of a new Xian MA60 twin turboprop to King Tupou VI at Tongatapu Domestic Airport on July 6. The aircraft (A3-RTL, c/n 0904, ex B-1072L) was paid for from a Chinese developmental aid grant. It is to be leased to a new airline, Real Tonga, which will fly between Nuku’alofa and Vava’u on outer islands that had been served by New Zealand’s Chatham Pacific until March. New Zealand suspended a NZ$10.5 million tourism development programme to Tonga in July until safety concerns over the MA60’s lack of internationally recognised certification have been resolved. Tonga responded with a statement that the MA60 would not be allowed to carry passengers until it fully complies with international standards. The Tonga Civil Aviation Authority said it had certified the MA60 on August 4, but New Zealand says Real Tonga still requires an Air Operator’s Certificate. A second MA60 is due to arrive in Tonga later this year. David C Isby



47 E175s ordered by the airline in January and will be operated under the American Eagle regional brand by Republic Airlines as part of a 12year capacity purchase agreement. The E175s are now flying routes from Chicago to Albuquerque, New Mexico; Kansas City; Minneapolis, Minnesota; New Orleans, Louisiana; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Toronto-Pearson, Ontario; and Washington-National,

RAK Plans Narrowbody Buy

United Arab Emirates carrier RAK Airways says it is talking to Airbus, Boeing and Bombardier about an order for ten singleaisle narrowbodies. The airline, based in the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, is looking at currentgeneration Airbus A320ceos and Boeing 737NGs, as well as the Bombardier CSeries, and says it will make a choice at the end of the year. RAK currently operates a pair of A320s and two 737-400s on flights from the emirate to destinations in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh. It began flying in 2007 and operated for two years as a scheduled airline before relaunching operations in 2010, blending low fares with some ‘frills’. The plan for new narrowbodies is part of a strategy to connect Ras Al Khaimah with up to 40 destinations by 2015. Mark Broadbent

DC, with further destinations due to be added in October. American took delivery of its first A319-112(WL) N8001U, (msn 5678, ex D-AVYQ) at the Airbus final assembly line at Hamburg, Germany, on July 24. Two others were handed over on July 27 (N9002U, msn 5698, ex D-AVYR) and August 1 (N93003, msn 5704, ex D-AVYS). A total of 65 will enter service with the airline. The initial aircraft was the first A319

to be delivered with fuel-saving Sharklet wingtip devices, and the 100th A320 family aircraft to be so equipped. American is also due to take delivery of 65 A321s, with the first due later this year, as well as 130 new A320neos. The E175 and A319 are only the second and third nonUS aircraft to have been operated by American, the Airbus A300 being the first (the last of which was retired in 2009). Mark Broadbent

Skylon Funding Boost The UK Government is to provide a further £60 million in funding to Reaction Engines to develop their SABRE (Synergistic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine) single-stage rocket propulsion system for the conceptual Skylon spaceplane – which the Oxfordshire-based company is designing for transcontinental travel

and as a satellite launch vehicle. The funding will enable the company to build on laboratory testing and create a full-scale prototype of the SABRE. The powerplant is two-stage, switching between a conventional air-breathing jet-engine and a rocket mode, using stored oxygen for travel above Earth’s atmosphere. Mark Broadbent

FedEx 767-300 Special Freighter Flown

On July 29 the first Boeing 767-32SF(ER) for FedEx Express completed its maiden flight from Boeing Field/King County International Airport, Washington. N101FE (c/n 42706) is the first of 50 due to be built for the freight carrier to replace McDonnell Douglas MD-10-30s. The initial delivery schedule covers the handover of three in 2014 and six each year between 2015 and 2018. Joe G Walker

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Black Energy Embraer

EADS to Rebrand as Airbus European aerospace and defence company EADS will be renamed the Airbus Group as part of a major re-organisation. The decision was taken after a strategic review and announced on the release of its half-year results on August 1. The company will in the future comprise three divisions; Airbus, which will continue to produce commercial aircraft; Airbus Defence & Space (to be based in Munich, combining Airbus Military, Astrium [space] and Cassidian [security]) and Airbus Helicopters, the new name for Eurocopter. The new corporate identity will come into effect on January 1, 2014. EADS Chief Executive (and former head of Airbus) Tom Enders said the Airbus name was chosen because it was globally recognised. He said uniting the different areas of the business under the Airbus brand would improve recognition for the company’s defence, space and security products beyond Europe and help the company “become more profitable”. Mr Enders admitted the restructuring would involve job losses, though no details about how many and where they might fall have been released. Mark Broadbent

Airbuses Lead Kuwait Airways Modernisation

Kuwait Airways has signed an agreement to purchase 25 aircraft from Airbus as it begins a fleet modernisation programme. The Kuwaiti flag carrier’s Chairman and Managing Director, Sami Abdullatif al Nesif, told the Muscat Daily the agreement covers the purchase of ten A350-900s and 15 A320neos, with options for five A350s (either more -900s or larger -1000s) and five A320/321neos. Deliveries will start in 2019. The widebodies are due to replace Kuwait Airways’ five Airbus A300-600Rs, three A310s and three A340s. Airbus has yet to confirm the agreement. The airline is due to lease ten A330200s as an interim measure until the new widebodies arrive. Its last brandnew widebody type, the Boeing 777200ER, joined the fleet in 1998. Kuwait Airways is currently being prepared for part-privatisation by the country’s government in order to make the lossmaking airline profitable. Plans include selling 35% of the carrier to companies listed on the state’s stock market, with employees owning 5%, Kuwaiti citizens 40% and the government retaining a 20% stake. Mark Broadbent

LOT Polish Airlines’ Embraer 175LR SP-LIN (c/n 17000313, ex PT-XUH) has been painted with an image of Mike Tyson on its tail. The boxer is promoting the Polish energy drink Black the logo of which appears on the rear fuselage. The aircraft has been flying with the special marking since at least June. Marcus Steidele

Shorter-Range A350 Variant Under Consideration Airbus is looking to launch a ‘regional’ version of its A350-900 later this year. The European company has been studying concepts for a version of the A350-900 featuring de-rated engines to serve shorter-range routes than the 15,000km (9,320 miles) of the baseline variant. Evidence that Airbus was looking at a regional derivative first emerged during the Paris Air Show at Le

Bourget in June, following comments made by Airbus Chief Operating Officer Customers John Leahy. The manufacturer has not confirmed when it will launch the derivative, but it could be before the end of the year according to reports from the aerospace industry. Discussions are understood to already have been undertaken with potential customers. Industry observers have linked

Precision Air Withdraws Jets

Aéro-Frêt Business Clank

Tanzania’s Precision Air has withdrawn its last of three Boeing 737s, a -300 model (5H-PKS, c/n 28573), following the cancellation of the Dar-es-Salaam to Lusaka via Lubumbashi route in late June. This leaves it with five ATR 42s and five ATR 72-500s, which are used on the carrier’s domestic routes. Precision Air is reported to have axed its 737 routes due to financial concerns. Guy Martin

Antonov An-30A-100 Clank TN-AHP of Aéro-Frêt Business was seen at Pointe Noire-Antonio Agostinho Neto International Airport in the Republic of the Congo on August 1. The scheduled and charter company undertakes regional and domestic freight flights using a number of Antonov turboprops. It began operations in 2003. Benoît Denet

Airport Expansions Planned in Myanmar Myanmar’s Department of Civil Aviation is planning to build a major international airport at Hanthawaddy in the country’s

the new A350-900 variant to the launch of the shorter-range Boeing 787-10, which the American company revealed at Le Bourget in June (see Dreamliner Dash Ten, August, p50). Initial indications point to the A350-900 regional being externally identical to the baseline version, but powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB84s de-rated from 84,000lb st (370kN) to 75,000lb st (336kN). Mark Broadbent

central Pegu Division. It also plans to modernise and expand the airports at Yangon and Mandalay. International contractors are

bidding for the programmes and contracts are expected to be awarded before the end of this year. David C Isby







35 (firms June 18 purchase commitment)

July 11


100 (firms June 18 purchase commitment)

July 11


3 (firms existing options)

July 30

Turkish Airlines

Boeing Customer




All Nippon Airways



July 30



July 30

Silk Way Airlines



July 9

Turkish Airlines


5 (firming of exiting options)

July 22


737 (unspecified version)


July 9

Embraer Customer






25 plus 25 options (firms June 17 LoI)

July 17


25 plus 25 options (firms June 17 LoI)

July 17

Key: MoU – Memorandum of Understanding, LoI – Letter of Intent. Compiled by Mark Broadbent

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Safety, Security & S by Nigel Pittaway On January 1, 2014 the world celebrates 100 years of commercial aviation and we can look back on a period of ever-more stringent safety standards despite increasing numbers of flights and passengers taking to the skies. But what of the next 100 years? What should be the main focus if air transport is to remain safe, secure and profitable? The International Air Transport Association (IATA) represents 240 airlines across the globe, which are responsible for 84% of commercial air traffic. Its Director General and Chief Executive Officer, Tony Tyler, spoke to Australia’s National Aviation Press Club in July about his views on the future, both in global and regional contexts. IATA estimates that 2013 will see 3.1 billion people and more than 52 million tonnes of cargo carried by airlines worldwide. The organisation says the industry generates around 57 million jobs, supports global business to the value of $2.2 trillion and facilitates $6.4 trillion in trade. “Despite being a major employer and driver of the economy, we sometimes forget just how much value aviation contributes to modern life,” Tyler told the Press Club. “For most of human history, travel was time consuming and perilous. Today, once you get to an airport, most parts of the globe are reachable in a matter of hours, in relative comfort and with safety levels so high that we take them for granted.” Tyler pointed to Australia as an example of the value commercial aviation can provide. “The aviation industry has had great consequence for Australia,” he said, noting Australia’s position in the global context. “It is a vast continent that aviation binds together and it is an island, many thousands



of kilometres from its trading partners. Aviation connectivity is the bridge that provides cultural and business links to the global community. “The industry contributes tremendously to Australia. Combined with tourism, the aviation industry supports over 6% of Australia’s GDP and 7.4% of the workforce. That’s $75 billion in business and 800,000 jobs.” However many of the world’s airlines struggle to achieve profitability and although the industry anticipates a profit of over $12.7 billion this year, that represents only a net margin of 1.8% on revenues totalling $711 billion. According to Tyler, IATA sees continuously improving safety standards and enhanced profit margins, along with government-imposed taxes and environmental concerns as the major challenges for the next 100 years. According to IATA’s figures for 2012 there was not a single western-manufactured hull loss (the industry standard measure), or complete aircraft loss, over its 240 member airlines or the more than 380 airlines on the registry of its Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) system. IOSA is an internationallyrecognised system to evaluate an airline’s operational management and control systems. It provides an audit programme under the stewardship of IATA and is continuously updated to meet

global regulatory standards. All IATA members must sign up to the IOSA programme. “Safety is, of course, a never-ending challenge,” Tyler said. “Despite the amazing achievement in 2012, accidents still happen. And constant improvement is our duty. For example, the impact of IOSA on safety is clearly evident. So we have taken the same approach of developing transparent audit standards to manage safety on the ground. The IATA Safety Audit for Ground Operations (ISAGO) has the potential to greatly reduce the billions of dollars in damage done on the ground.” ISAGO is an accredited audit system based on IOSA, but optimised for ground operations. It provides similar services as IOSA to ground handling companies at airports and is intended to reduce accidents and injuries to personnel during ground operations. The system is already in use at around 150 airports across the world but Tyler noted that only two Australian ground handling companies have undergone audit so far. One of his priorities during the visit was to hold talks with Australia’s aviation regulatory body, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), aimed at increasing the coverage of ISAGO in the country. Looking to the next 100 years of air transport, Tyler explained what IATA was doing with regard to further increasing safety standards. “We’re urging governments to consider building IOSA into their domestic oversight regimes. Many countries, like Brazil and Turkey, have already done this and the countries in the African union have decided that, from 2015, all airlines will be on the IOSA registry. If you look at the African safety figures in general, they are not good, [but] if you look at safety figures for African airlines on the IOSA registry they’re as good as any other group of airlines anywhere else in the world. So clearly IOSA is having a major impact there

and IATA will also continue to campaign for enhanced ramp safety through the increased usage of ISAGO.” Additionally IATA is compiling operational and safety data from airlines, manufacturers and regulatory bodies into what it claims is one of the most comprehensive airline safety databases in the world. “If you want to know where safety problems lurk, you need to look at complete data and that will tell you where you need to look to fix operational problems that can result in safety incidents

and accidents,” Tyler noted. “And we are constantly talking to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), who are frequently updating and redrafting their safety requirements.” IATA says that in 2012 airlines made around $2.50 for each passenger carried, which generated a net profit margin of 1.1% or a $7.6 billion return on revenues of around $680 billion. Tony Tyler said that even though this was a pitiful return, any profitability in times of weak global economy and consistently high oil prices is a real achievement. He noted

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& Success that in 2006, for example, airlines achieved the same margin but with oil prices half of those today and with a global economy growing at 4%. Today’s average load factor is around 80%, which is 10% higher than a decade ago. According to Tyler, this is proof that airlines are driving profitability in difficult times. Part of this, he says, is the result of working in global partnerships – such as the alliances – which are providing greater connectivity. Traffic figures for May 2013 showed an

This year we expect a 1.8% net profit margin. If we are right, the industry will earn on average $4 per passenger. That may be enough for a sandwich, but it is nowhere near the returns that our investors expect.” To match growing demand for connectivity, between $4 and $5 trillion of financing needs to be raised to support orders over the next 20 years and although IATA sees no easy answer to sustainable levels of productivity, it has identified four major areas critical to the future of aviation: infrastructure that can

IATA’s current environmental targets are to improve fuel efficiency by 1.5% each year to 2020. One way to make this happen is by the introduction of modern, fuel efficient aircraft such as the Airbus A350 and A380 and Boeing 787, and more efficient air traffic managements systems. Airbus

increase in the volume of travel by 5.6% over the previous year, with 40,000-plus city pairs now linked by air. Growth is being driven primarily on routes in emerging markets. Whereas air cargo has remained flat and shown no increase in the past 18 months. “The industry bottom line is, however, improving slightly,” Tyler said. “In 2012, the $2.50 per passenger that airlines earned was enough to buy a cup of coffee in most places.

support growth, taxation that does not compromise aviation’s ability to drive economic growth; a distribution system that meets customer needs and a global approach to managing aviation’s environmental impact. The debate over the construction of Sydney’s second airport, which has raged for 30 years, is one example of critical infrastructure required for future growth, according to Tony Tyler. Sydney is the biggest hub in the southern hemisphere, and

the current airport management has just released a master plan predicting traffic will double between now and 2033. Tyler said Australia has just two decades to select a site, build an airport and upgrade existing surface transport before the current airport reaches capacity. “I certainly don’t pretend to bring answers today that have not been uncovered in nearly a half-century of discussions,” he said. “But I would encourage you to keep a watchful eye on how your trading partners in Asia are developing infrastructure. We have seen major new infrastructure development almost universally across Asia over the last two decades – new terminals in Singapore and Taipei, new runways and terminals in Tokyo and Delhi; and whole new airports in Seoul, Osaka, Nagoya, Hong Kong, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, and the most massive airport construction programme ever seen across China. “Beijing is a great example. Its Capital Airport expanded to handle 80 million passengers in 2012. And plans are under way for construction of a second airport that could handle 100 million passengers annually with completion within this decade. Australia needs to do business with Asia, but if it does not have the capacity to connect with its trading partners, that is going to be difficult.” Passenger Movement Charges (PMC) impact directly on airline profitability, Tyler argued, noting that the charges add around 3.5% to the cost of travel from Australia. “If it were removed we would expect a 2.5% boost to traffic,” he argued. “That would add $1.7 billion to the Australian economy and generate some 17,000 jobs.” IATA has campaigned successfully against PMCs in Europe, including Britain and the Netherlands. “We had success with the British Air Passenger Duty which is the highest in the world and raises £4 billion annually,” Tyler said. “The Netherlands introduced a departure tax several years ago and we campaigned against it, pointing out that this was costing the government

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badly. We could see that traffic was leaking across Dutch borders into Belgium and Germany and people travelling out of there instead. And so they did actually cancel their departure tax.” The final point of Tony Tyler’s presentation was the critical challenge of managing carbon emissions. IATA estimates that fuel accounts for one third of the air transport cost structure and that the industry is responsible for 680 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually, or 2% of all man-made emissions. IATA’s current environmental targets are to improve fuel efficiency by 1.5% each year to 2020, cap net emissions beyond 2020 with carbon-neutral growth (CNG2020) and by 2050 to have cut emissions by 50% on 2005 levels. One way to make this happen is by increasing the use of sustainable biofuels, but supply is currently limited and expensive, and IATA is calling for government economic incentives to build production levels and drive costs down. Other solutions are in the introduction of modern, fuel efficient aircraft such as the Airbus A350 and A380 and Boeing 787, and more efficient air traffic managements systems. “Infrastructure, distribution and sustainability are only a sample of the many challenges facing aviation. Getting them right will help build a solid platform for the future growth of connectivity,” Tyler concluded. “IATA’s vision is to be the force for value creation and innovation driving a safe, secure and profitable air transport industry that sustainably connects and enriches our world. Success will require the support of strong partnerships with governments and across the business community. The first century of commercial aviation was marked by enormous transformational change in the way that we live and work together as a global community. I hope you will share and support my optimism for the development of the second hundred years of global connectivity.”



Rotary Wing

CH-47Fs Close Out FOB

US Army Boeing CH-47F Chinooks assisted in the withdrawal of the last coalition forward operating base (FOB) in Afghanistan’s Uruzgan province on June 23. FOB Hadrian, located 37 miles (60km) west of Tarin Kowt, was evacuated by the Chinooks from the 2nd battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment. The helicopters airlifted the two M777 155mm howitzers from the site. The evacuation is part of the ongoing drawdown of troops in Afghanistan. David C Isby

Spanish Tiger Flown

The first Eurocopter EC665 Tigre HAD-E (HA.28-07, c/n 10008) assembled by Eurocopter España at Albacete completed its maiden flight on July 29 (further to Spanish Tigre HAD-E Ready to Fly, August, p35). It will be handed over to the Spanish Army’s Batallón de Helicópteros de Ataque I (Attack Helicopter Battalion I) at the Agoncillo army base at the end of this year, the first of 18 examples of the Helicoptero de Apoyo Y Destrucción – España (HAD-E, Support and Attack Helicopter Spain) variant for the service. Roberto Yáñez

Helicopter Unit Transferred to Vietnamese Navy Vietnam has transferred a helicopter unit to the Vietnam People’s Navy, an indication of the increasing emphasis being placed by that country on its maritime security. The 954th Brigade

based at Da Nang, equipped with Kamov Ka-28 Helix-A anti-submarine and Ka-32T Helix-C utility transport helicopters, was transferred to the navy from the Vietnam People’s

Air Force on July 5. Seven Ka-28s and a single Ka-32T were originally delivered to the country. The service is also due to take delivery of three Viking Twin Otter Srs 400s

Sikorsky Prize Won at Last

The AeroVelo Atlas man-powered helicopter designed by the University of Toronto has won the Igor I Sikorsky Human Powered Helicopter Competition. Sikorsky

The American Helicopter Society (AHS) has declared the Toronto, Canada-based AeroVelo Atlas team winners of the Igor I Sikorsky Human Powered Helicopter Competition. The AHS first issued the challenge in 1980, with an initial prize of $10,000. In the intervening years, the purse rose to $250,000 in May 2009, and more than 20 teams have tried and failed to design a helicopter that could meet the prize’s requirement to lift off to a height of 3m (9.8ft) and hover over a 10m2 (107.6sq ft) ‘box’ for one minute using only human power. On June 13



Atlas flew for 64.11 seconds, reached a peak altitude of 3.3m (10.8ft), and drifted off-centre a maximum of 9.8m (32.2ft). The AeroVelo team (the name is derived from ‘aerodynamic’ and Vélo, French for bicycle) was led by pilot and chief engineer Dr Todd Reichert and co-chief engineer Cameron Robertson, and made up of students at the University of Toronto. Atlas was the only Canadian contender, and the largest to have flown, with each of its four rotors spanning nearly 21.3m (70ft). The airframe is

of very light carbon fibre tubes and polymer weighing only 52kg (115lb), with a highly modified bicycle frame pedalled by the pilot. “As flown, Atlas behaved very differently from the aircraft we first flew some nine months ago, a result of many incremental improvements and changes,” said Dr Reichert. “In 18 months this passionate team went from preliminary design to achieving what many considered impossible, taking down one of the most daunting aviation feats of the past century... We hope to inspire people to take on great challenges and accomplish the impossible, and we would like the public to understand that with innovative engineering and creative design we can find sustainable and environmentally conscious solutions to many of the technological challenges facing our generation.” Congratulating the team, Sikorsky’s Vice President, Research and Engineering, Mark Miller, said many doubted it could be done… “that is exactly why we raised the stakes – to encourage creative thinkers to prove that what is considered impossible is often proven to be possible. That has been the philosophy since the founding of our company by pioneer Igor Sikorsky 90 years ago.” Mike Jerram

and three Guardian 400s. It is also interested in longer-range patrol aircraft and has held negotiations with the US about acquiring Lockheed P-3 Orions. David C Isby

UN Helicopter Confirmed Shot Down A Russian investigation has concluded that a United Nations (UN) Mil Mi-8 helicopter that crashed in South Sudanese on December 21, 2012, was brought down by South Sudan anti-aircraft artillery. Russia’s Investigative Committee in late July said that all four crewmembers died when Mi-8AMT RA-27003 (c/n 59489602015) was shot down whilst taking off near the village of Likuangole in Jonglei state. The United Nations earlier said the helicopter had been shot down by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, which apparently mistook it for a Sudanese aircraft supplying rebels (see South Sudan Shoots Down UN Helicopter, March, p29). South Sudan at first denied shooting down the aircraft but later said it regretted the incident. The Mi-8 was owned by Nizhnevartovskavia and contracted to the UN. Russia’s Foreign Ministry urged South Sudan to fully investigate the matter, punish the guilty and ensure that such incidents do not happen again. Meanwhile, the Investigative Committee said that the work on the incident was ongoing and that a criminal case had been opened. Guy Martin

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Rotary Wing

Home Ministry Dhruv Buy on Hold Plans for India’s home ministry to procure 12 Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) built Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopters have been put on hold. The ministry wanted the helicopters for medical evacuations and to support internal security forces in counter-insurgency operations. India’s Border Security Force (BSF) is reportedly dissatisfied with the 12 Dhruv helicopters it had previously ordered. It says that HAL is deficient in providing support for the type, claiming that it took over a year to return helicopters that had been sent to the factory for maintenance. As a result, the home ministry wants to issue an international tender to fill its requirement. The home ministry and Indian paramilitary forces have been publicly critical of what they see as the Indian Air Force’s reluctance to commit its helicopters to support counterinsurgency operations. David C Isby

THK Gökçen Aviation EC135s Delivered

At the end of July Eurocopter España handed over two of the 17 Eurocopter EC135s ordered by the Turkish Aeronautical Association’s commercial arm, THK Gökçen Aviation. The helicopters will be used in the air ambulance role. THK Gökçen Aviation has a five-year air ambulance service contract from the Turkish ministry of health. EC135 TC-HFV (ex EC-034) is seen at the manufacturer’s facility at Albacete in Spain on July 19 prior to being ferried to Turkey in company with TC-HFU (ex EC-030). EC135 operations by THK Gökçen Aviation began in August. Roberto Yáñez

Belgian NH90 NFH Delivered

The first NHIndustries NH90 NFH for the Belgian Defence – Air Component was delivered on August 1. Eurocopter/Charles Abarr

On August 1 Eurocopter delivered the first NHIndustries NH90 NFH (NATO Frigate Helicopter) to the Composante Aérienne (Belgian Defence - Air Component). It was also the first built at Eurocopter’s Donauwörth, Germany facility. Belgium thus becomes the fifth country to put the NFH variant into service, joining France, Italy, the Netherlands and Norway. The Belgian helicopter is a Full Operational Capability (FOC) standard aircraft, ensuring its suitability for the full range of roles such as search and rescue (SAR) and seaborne military missions. Belgium ordered eight NH90s on June 18, 2007, including four NFH and four TTH (Tactical Transport Helicopter) variants, which will

replace the Westland Sea King Mk 48. Its first NH90 NFH flew on April 5, and training of flight and maintenance crews is due to begin in September. Operations with the first two NH90 NFHs will start in 2014, two years later than originally planned. NH90s currently in service have been used for rescue, transport and surveillance missions. The French Navy’s have rescued more than 50 people on SAR missions, while the Netherlands recently deployed its helicopters to the Horn of Africa in support of the European Union’s Atalanta anti-piracy operation. Eurocopter holds orders for 529 NH90s from 14 countries, including 111 NFH variants, of which 154 had been delivered by the beginning of August. Mike Jerram

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Half a Century for Canada’s Sea King On July 31 and August 1 Canada marked 50 years of Sikorsky CH-124 Sea King operations at CFB Shearwater, Nova Scotia. The first two were delivered to the base on August 1, 1963. The fleet was grounded for four days from July 16 after one was involved in a landing accident the previous day. CH-124A 12435 (c/n 61-345) had landed at CFB Shearwater after a training flight when the tail lifted, causing the main rotor to hit the ground destroying all five blades and separating the tail from the rest of

the airframe. None of the four crew members onboard were injured. The Sea King is due to be replaced by 28 Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclones. They were scheduled to enter service in 2008, but Canada has refused to accept them until they meet the specifications required. During August Sikorsky indicated that flight testing on four interim standard aircraft would begin at CFB Shearwater. The aircraft remain the property of the manufacturer and no date has been set for service entry. David C Isby and David Willis

KHR 26 to Disband

Two MBB Bo 105Ps have received special schemes to mark the end of operations by Kampfhubschrauberregiment 26 (KHR 26, Attack Helicopter Regiment 26) at Röth. Bo 105P1 86+49 (w/n 6049) carries the hornet emblem of the unit on its rear cabin, while Bo 105P1M 87+28 (w/n 6128) features saluting soldiers in front of Röth’s skyline. The regiment is due to be disbanded in October, with its Bo 105s passing to the last units that fly the type, at Celle and Fassberg. Rene Köhler



Rotary Wing

Merlin HM2 Enters Squadron Service Five AgustaWestland Merlin HM2s were officially accepted by 824 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) at RNAS Culdrose, Cornwall, on July 23, marking the start of the variant’s service career with the Royal Navy. No.824 NAS will act as the type conversion unit for the helicopter. Preparations to upgrade the Merlin HM1 started almost ten years ago, resulting in the Merlin Capability Sustainment Programme. In December 2005 Lockheed Martin UK Integrated Systems was awarded a £750 million contract to upgrade 30 aircraft by the end of 2014 at AgustaWestland’s manufacturing site at Yeovil, Somerset. Options on another eight were not taken up. The Merlin HM2 benefits from a ‘glass’ co*ckpit, improved aircrew console and avionics with larger touch-screen displays, enabling operators to detect and track more targets and share information with other air- and ship-borne users. Additional system upgrades will follow as the helicopter moves towards its full operational capability, scheduled for the end of 2014. In addition to anti-submarine warfare, the Mk2 can undertake vertical replenishment, search and rescue, force protection and casualty

Three Merlin HM2s of No.824 NAS on the ramp at RNAS Culdrose, Cornwall, on July 23. Ian Harding

evacuation, and can carry underslung cargo. Trials of the Merlin HM2 are advancing and the Royal Navy expects to be ready to deploy it next summer. The next Culdrose-based Merlin unit to receive the type will be No.820 NAS from September. Ground-based training of its aircrews started recently. Commander Ben Franklin RN, the CO of the Merlin Helicopter Force said: “The delivery of the first five aircraft to the Royal Navy’s Fleet

Air Arm is a real milestone of this successful programme which will provide vital support to the navy as it fulfils its role in protecting UK interests across the globe.” Representatives from Lockheed Martin, Royal Navy and the MoD confirmed at the delivery ceremony that the Merlin is also under consideration to replace the Westland Sea King ASaC7 in the airborne surveillance and control role from around 2020. The assessment phase of this programme, known

as Crowsnest, is under way and a number of options exist for the replacement of the Thales UK Searchwater 2000 airborne early warning system mounted on the Sea Kings. Lockheed Martin is overseeing this effort, and the evaluation phase is anticipated to take approximately two years. The Sea King ASaC7 is due to be retired in 2016, although that date may be pushed back to cover the gap in capability before its replacement enters service. Ian Harding

Rudra Squadron to be Inducted

Italian Police AW139s Delivered

The Indian Army is planning to induct its first squadron of missile-armed Rudras, the weaponised version of the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter, into service before the end of August. It is intended that the army will operate six ten-helicopter attack

helicopter squadrons, with around 150 Rudras to be acquired. The first three to be formed will be assigned to the aviation brigades being organised in the three strike corps. The per-unit cost for a Dhruv is 47 crore rupees ($7.76 million) as opposed to 71 ($11.72 million) for a Rudra. David C Isby



AgustaWestland AW139 CSX81814/‘PS-108’ (c/n 31483) was one of the first two delivered to the Italian State Police. AgustaWestland

The Italian Polizia di Stato (State Police) has taken delivery of its first two AgustaWestland AW139s. They are operating with the 1st Aviation Unit based at Pratica di Mare, near Rome. The configuration of the helicopters includes a high-definition forward-looking infrared sensor, satcom, searchlight, rescue hoist and cabin mission console. An order for the two, plus six options, was placed in July 2012. The options are understood to have been exercised. This brings the total of AW139s ordered by Italian government operators to 31, covering a wide range of public utility roles including law enforcement/ homeland security, patrol, special operations, search and rescue (SAR),



government/VIP transport, disaster relief and command and control. AW139s are already in service with the Dipartimento della Protezione Civile (Department of Civil Protection, one), Guardia Costiera (Coast Guard, four AW139GC ‘Nemos’), Guardia di Finanza (Customs and Border Protection, two in service), Provincia Autonoma di Trento (Autonomous Province of Trento, two) and Aeronautica Militare Italiana (Italian Air Force). The latter service operates two VIP-configured VH-139As and ten SAR-equipped HH-139As. The replacement of the police force’s old helicopters with AW139s is partially funded by the European Union Frontex programme (see Frontex AW139, July, p32). Mike Jerram

At least one AgustaWestland AW139 will be delivered to the Armed Forces of Malta. The helicopter will be acquired under the terms of a contract announced by the manufacturer on July 19 that covers one firm order and options for two additional aircraft, plus an integrated logistics support package and the training of ten pilots (including four ab-initio) and 20 support personnel. It will be delivered by June 2014 and used for maritime border patrol and search and rescue (SAR) missions, equipped with a rescue hoist, four-bag floatation system, naval transponder and four-axis autopilot with SAR mode. A forward-looking infrared sensor, search/weather radar, searchlight, cabin mission console and satellite communication will also be installed. Malta wants to have three of the aircraft in service by 2015. A previous tender handled by the US Coast Guard sought a single SAR helicopter for Malta (see One SAR Helicopter for Malta, July 2012, p21). It has not been confirmed if the order for the AW139 has replaced that requirement.


Z-9S FOR CAMBODIA Flight tests of two Harbin Z-9 Haitun helicopters recently delivered to the Royal Cambodian Air Force were conducted outside Phnom Penh on July 19. A further ten Z-9s were due to be shipped to Cambodia in August. The order for 12 comprises four equipped for combat fire support, six as utility transports and two as VIP transports. China agreed a loan in August 2011 to purchase the helicopters and the contract was signed in April this year.

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EC225s Return to Offshore Operations Eurocopter EC225s have returned to offshore support operations after an extensive investigation into the main gearbox shaft failures that resulted in two of the helicopters ditching in the North Sea in May and October last year. All of the 14 in EC225LP G-REDW (c/n 2734) of Bond Offshore Helicopters survived the ditching on May 10, as did the 19 in EC225LP G-CHCN (c/n 2679) of CHC Scotia on October 22. In late July SonAir of Angola flew three flights with two EC225s from the capital Luanda to two offshore platforms, the first company to put the helicopter back into service in the role. “The three flights were routine, confirming that the EC225’s service restart is backed by strong safety measures that give confidence to our clients,” said João Andrade, SonAir’s Chairman and CEO. SonAir operates 11 EC225s, nine of which fly offshore services. On July 9 EASA issued an emergency airworthiness directive that approved the Eurocopter modifications to the EC225’s main gearbox emergency lubrication system that ensures its full performance throughout the flight envelope. National authorities in the UK and Norway in turn approved the EASA directive, allowing grounded EC225s in those countries to return to service after modifications. CHC Helicopter began flight trials of its first EC225 with the upgrades on July 18 at Aberdeen in Scotland and the company will be the first operator to put the type back into service

Hot Blade 2013 – Hot, High and Dusty

over the North Sea. Around 80 of the 157 EC225s and military EC725s were grounded by the gearshaft failures. Certain EC225 operations were affected by the restrictions, particularly offshore oil and gas transportation missions, while others were able to continue flying with initial safety measures defined by Eurocopter. They have logged about 20,000 hours since October. After a long process to track down the problem, Eurocopter started issuing interim fix kits in mid-July, and the entire fleet will receive the upgrade (further to EC225 Airworthiness, May, p24). Aircraft on the production line will be retrofitted with the fix prior to delivery. Following last year’s incidents, the Step Change in Safety survey of more than 1,600 people commissioned by the industry association Oil and Gas UK, revealed that 86% of offshore workers have lost confidence in flying in EC225s. A dedicated website aimed at EC225 crews and passengers has been set up that contains details about the approved safety measures, background material on the investigation’s methodology, and frequently asked questions. Eurocopter’s President and Chief Executive Officer Guillaume Faury says that the company is coordinating its efforts with operators and the oil and gas industry “to help passengers feel informed and confident in the return to service”. Mike Jerram and

One of the three Austrian Bell OH-58B Kiowas that took part in Exercise Hot Blade 2013 at Ovar in Portugal. Pieter Bastiaans

This year’s European Defence Agency’s (EDA) exercise Hot Blade was held at Ovar air base in Portugal between July 17 and 31. Participants included three Boeing CH-47Ds and one CH-47F(NL) Chinook, and a single AS532U2 Cougar Mk 2 from the Dutch Defence Helicopter Command, while the Composante Aérienne (Belgian Defence - Air Component) deployed four Agusta A109BAs. The Östereichische Luftstreitkräfte (Austrian Air Force) sent three AgustaBell AB212s and three Bell OH-58B Kiowas. Germany attended with eight Bell UH-1Ds from the Heeresflieger’s (German Army Aviation) Transporthubschrauberregiment 30 (Tactical Helicopter Regiment 30) at Niederstetten. Host nation Portugal provided two AgustaWestland AW101s, four F-16 Fighting Falcons and a Lockheed P-3C Orion configured for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. The

Guy Martin

Irish Air Corps was also expected to attend with AgustaWestland AW139s, but cancelled shortly before the exercise started. Hot Blade 2013 (HB13) was conducted under the auspices of the EDA’s Helicopter Exercise Programme, itself part of the more comprehensive Helicopter Training Programme (HTP). HTP consists of a Helicopters Tactics Course and a European Helicopter Tactics Instructor Course, with the latter developed along the lines of the British Qualified Helicopter Tactics Instructor course. HB13 consisted of three daily multi-ship, multi-type combined air operations and also included a ground component formed by Portuguese troops and a Dutch air assault infantry company. Next year’s exercise will also be held at Ovar, while Hot Blade 2015 will take place in Italy, and the Netherlands will host a similar exercise in 2016. Pieter Bastiaans



All 18 of the South African Air Force’s (SAAF) AgustaWestland AW109 Light Utility Helicopters were grounded as of July 24 because of a lack of funding for flight hours. The helicopters are being kept in open storage but periodically run on the ground to enable them to return to flight operations in an emergency. The total funding for the AW109 force in the current fiscal year only allowed 71 flight hours. Other SAAF helicopter fleets are also being reduced because of a shortage of funds for maintenance. Denel Aviation ceased work on the Atlas TP-1 Oryx this year. Around 13 of the helicopters remain operational, compared with the 30 that were flying in 2010. The six MBB BK117A-3s, based at Port Elizabeth for maritime operations, were maintained by a contractor until October 2012, when funding ran out. Two are understood to remain operational. David C Isby

Russia is conducting negotiations to sell ten Mil Mi-8/Mi17 Hip transport helicopters to Bolivia and a further 24 to Peru. A sales agreement is due to be reached by the end of this year. In December 2012 Peruvian defence minister Pedro Cateriano Bellido said that his country was seeking 24 combat helicopters and considering proposals from France, the US and Russia. Bolivia has been interested in Mi-17s from Kazan Helicopters since early 2009. On July 7 that country’s defence minister, Rubén Saavedra Soto, announced the purchase of two Mi-17s to aid the fight against drug trafficking and for humanitarian relief operations. David C Isby



BELL 412 DONATED TO INDONESIAN MILITARY The East Kalimantan provincial administration of Indonesia has purchased a PT Dirgantara Indonesia-built Bell 412EP helicopter for Rp120 billion ($12 million) for transfer to the defence ministry. This donation was part of the province’s support for the defence ministry’s border security, search and rescue, and fire-fighting roles. The helicopter, which is to be equipped with a forward-looking infrared sensor, is the 14th of its type to be delivered to the ministry of defence by the state-run aircraft manufacturer. David C Isby




AW189S ORDERED BY BRISTOW AgustaWestland and the Bristow Group held a signing ceremony for 11 AW189s in London on July 18. The helicopters will be equipped to support the Group’s Bristow Helicopters Ltd’s search and rescue contract which the UK government announced on March 26 (see Bristow Wins UK SAR-H Contract, May, p4). The company will operate 11 AW189s and 11 Sikorsky S-92s from ten locations across the British Isles to replace the current military Westland Sea Kings as well as AgustaWestland AW139s contracted by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (see UK SAR Helicopter Transition, July, p32). The manufacturer will provide training and maintenance support to the fleet once it is in service. The AW189s will be delivered between 2015 and 2017.

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Low-cost Long-haul Can it work?

Andreas Spaeth

The highly efficient new Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 make long-haul routes more attractive to low-cost operators, but can they be profitable as well? Andreas Spaeth investigates



o operate profitably within Europe seems a distant hope for traditional network carriers. Lufthansa is currently rolling out a desperate attempt to lower its gigantic losses. That’s why it relaunched Germanwings as a low-cost carrier (LCC) on short-haul routes


not operated from its Frankfurt or Munich hubs. Other network carriers like British Airways, Air France and Iberia have long withdrawn their core brands from most domestic and short-haul routes within Europe and instead focused on more lucrative long-haul flights from their big hub fortresses.

“It should be called ‘Heathrow Airways’ rather than British Airways,” said Lufthansa Chief Executive Officer Christoph Franz. But his airline could face a similar fate, ending up as ‘Frankfurt Airlines’, should the Germanwings project fail to achieve the desired profits. But now the network carriers have to face a

COMMERCIAL NORWEGIAN LOW-COST, LONG-HAUL involved. “The costs per seat-kilometre for the A340 are way too high to compete and you just can’t use the Boeing 747 for lowcost operations,” says Björn Kjos, CEO of Norwegian. “We wouldn’t dream of entering the low-cost long-haul market with those types of aircraft. Long-haul passengers should be flying at half of today’s costs and half of the ticket prices our competitors charge.” The 67-year-old lawyer, novelist and former Royal Norwegian Air Force F-104 Starfighter pilot has become a kind of celebrity of the low-cost industry. But to limit the risk to his core business, Kjos has opted to operate intercontinental routes under a different air operator’s certificate, Norwegian Long Haul 1 AS, and the designator DU (instead of DY at Norwegian Air Shuttle). And to circumvent a chequered history and been short-lived – what he calls a “stupid role unique to Norway” booming initially before a sudden grounding. which prevents locally-registered aircraft For example, between 1977 and 1982, pioneer operating from Norway with a non-Norwegian Sir Freddie Laker ran his legendary ‘SkyTrain’ crew (the airline bases its crews in Bangkok from the UK. This was followed by People and will employ mostly Asian cabin crews), the Express from the US, which from 1983 to Boeing 787 fleet is registered in Ireland. He 1987 flew Boeing 747s filled to the brim with apparently couldn’t resist the irony in having an passengers across the pond to London and element of the Norwegian national code, LN, Brussels. Its customers even camped overnight appear in the registrations, so the first aircraft in front of the sales offices to buy a ticket for the flies as EI-LNA. then unbelievably cheap fare of $149 one way. More recent attempts at low-cost long-haul Game-changing Economics have been equally brief. Oasis Hong Kong, Thanks to the new generation of aircraft, LCCs which flew 747-400s from the former British hope to overcome underlying problems that colony to London and Vancouver, didn’t even previously stymied the concept of cheap longlast two years. Even Air Asia X, the long-haul haul flying. Kjos is convinced that the 787s are arm of the successful regional pan-Asian LCC a useful tool, enabling him for the first time to Air Asia, based in Malaysia, had to abandon its profitably offer cheap long-haul tickets. “The brief venture into London and Paris in January Dreamliner is really a game-changer because 2012. It flew four-engined A340s and cited it’s faster, consumes 20% less fuel and costs high taxes and fuel prices as well as a lack of 30% less in maintenance,” according to Kjos. demand as reasons for pulling out. And Tony Fernandes, CEO of Air Asia, has The most important underlying factor with promised: “We will come back to Europe when all these failed carriers was the aircraft types

totally different threat to their business models. After conquering much of the short-haul market in Europe, North America and Asia, LCCs are once again trying to tackle long-haul routes. The new generation of extremely efficient aircraft such as the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 are supposed to enable LCCs to finally make this market segment economically viable. Europe’s third largest LCC, Norwegian Air Shuttle, is the first European airline to try the low-cost long-haul model. It started long-haul flying in June with an interim lease of two Airbus A340s from Hi Fly. From August, the routes from its Oslo base and Stockholm to Bangkok and New York are to be served by the first two of eight Boeing 787-8s. The first was delivered from the factory in Everett, Washington, on June 29, and AIR International was on its ferry flight to Oslo.

Failures Low-cost operations on intercontinental routes – for example, transatlantic services – have had 2

3 4




1 EI-LNA (c/n 35304), Norwegian’s first Boeing 787, on final approach to Barcelona International airport on July 5. TT/AirTeamImages 2&5 Norwegian’s 787s feature an Android-based in-flight entertainment system which takes snack orders and boasts interactive maps. All images Andreas Spaeth unless noted 3 Reclining seats in Norwegian’s 787 premuim economy class offer a 48-inch pitch. 4 Norwegian squeezes 259 economy seats into its 787s.


6 6 CEO of Norwegian Björn Kjos watches on as a Boeing representative hands over the 787 keys to chief pilot Torstein Hoås at Everett on June 29. 7 Björn Kjos on the flight deck of Boeing 787 EI-LNA during its delivery flight from Seattle on June 29. 8 Since 2002 Norwegian has adorned the tails of its aircraft with deceased personalities. EI-LNA features Norwegian Olympic ice skating champion Sonja Henie.



snack orders and plays films and music for free but also boasts interactive maps with interactive functions at the passenger’s fingertips, much like on a smartphone or tablet computer.

Scepticism In general the industry is still a bit sceptical as to whether these new attempts at low-cost long-haul will work. “It’s the first time you’ll see a mid-size tube capable of flying long distances very efficiently,” says Henri Courpron, CEO of leasing market leader ILFC, from which Norwegian got their first 787. Four more will be leased, three bought. “It’s not a new business model; charter companies like Thomson have done it for years, but it’s not easy,” Courpron says. Ray Connor, CEO of Boeing’s Commercial Airplanes division, agrees: “The 787 is an enabler of this, but it’s a risky proposition and a lot of LCCs don’t want to change their business model.” According to a recent poll of big International Air Transport Association (IATA) airlines’ CEOs, 32% believe that low-cost longhaul can work and 26% think the opposite. The airline leaders are slightly more optimistic now compared to a year ago when 32% thought it couldn’t work out. Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary has, since 2007, been mulling over the idea of flying transatlantic with fares as low as €10 per leg without any extras. At the Paris airshow in June he said he would need 40 to 50 aircraft: “I would love to operate transatlantic flights with a company separate from Ryanair. But with the current backlog for long-haul aircraft I don’t see the opportunity for long haul.” The straight-talking Ryanair boss was surprisingly upbeat about Norwegian’s venture:

“I see every chance that it will work out for them out of Scandinavia, but I assume SAS will dump capacity on them on transatlantic routes.” But there might be a much bigger issue. Industry observers took note when, last spring, Lufthansa Chief Financial Officer Simone Menne floated the idea of the airline founding another lowcost arm, this time for long-haul routes to Asia to keep the competition from Gulf carriers at bay. In September a Lufthansa order is due for either Boeing 787s or A350s. Whichever type is chosen, Lufthansa is confident it will have the right aircraft to launch this demanding venture. Jorgen Syversen/AirTeamImages

we get the A350, starting in 2016.” Unlike short hops, it is impossible to offer high frequencies on intercontinental flights. But to be profitable, a long-haul jet must be kept in the air for almost 19 hours a day. “The 787 is actually the first aircraft you can operate like that, because it doesn’t have long maintenance periods,” says Kjos. “You need a pattern flying one long leg and one shorter leg. Typically we fly Bangkok-Oslo and then OsloNew York in slightly more than 24 hours.” Such operations were impossible with older aircraft, as Norwegian experienced itself when it had to rely on ageing A340s. “It cost us a fortune in fuel to fly the A340 compared to the 787,” Kjos says, “and the A340 needs a full 45 minutes longer to Bangkok than the Dreamliner.” Norwegian squeezes 291 seats into the 787, 32 of which are in premium economy class where reclining seats have up to 48 inches (1.21m) in pitch, compared to 31 or 32 inches (780mm/810mm) in economy class. The cheapest round trips from Oslo to Bangkok can be booked from €394 (£340/$523). If a passenger wants to reserve a seat, check in one bag and get two meals and drinks, they can book a package costing €65 per leg. But with that, the total price doesn’t differ all that much from the cheapest offerings of network carriers. And those who don’t buy the package have to buy cold snacks and drinks only, with a little bag of nuts costing $5, a sandwich $10 and a beer $7. The passengers who bought the package are served warm meals and drinks first, with the rest of the customers being catered for later. On the plus side, Norwegian’s 787s offer a brand-new Android-based in-flight entertainment system which not only takes the



MILITARY CARRIER AIR WING ELEVEN’S WORK-UP Cdr John DePree, XO (now CO) of Strike Fighter Squadron 154 (VFA-154) ‘Black Knights’ checks his position before entering the break. All images Scott Dworkin





In the second of a three part series on the work-up cycle of Carrier Air Wing 11 and the USS Nimitz, Scott Dworkin goes behind the scenes at Naval Air Station Fallon to witness some essential predeployment carrier training


aval Air Station Fallon is the US Navy’s premier air-to-air and airto-ground training facility. Located six miles (9km) south-east of the city of Fallon in western Nevada, about 70 miles (112km) east of Reno, it is currently the only US Navy facility where advanced integrated Carrier Air Wing (CVW) training can take place, combining realistic flight training in electronic warfare, air-to-ground, air-to-air weapons delivery, special weapons delivery and enemy evasion tactics. It is the only facility where





an entire CVW can conduct comprehensive training while integrating every element of the wing into realistic battle scenarios. NAS Fallon operates and maintains the complete set of facilities necessary to provide visiting CVWs with all they need, such as ordnance, fuel, air traffic control, accommodation and mess facilities. Each CVW brings about 1,500 personnel when it visits Fallon and, typically, five or six wings visit the base each year. They each train for a month at a time prior to their deployment aboard aircraft carriers. Each year an average of 40,000 military personnel pass through Fallon’s courses. There are two distinct training missions carried out – CVW training, encompassed within the Strike Fighter Advanced Readiness

Program (SFARP), and the Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor course, also known as ‘Top Gun’. The surrounding area contains 84,000 acres of bombing and electronic warfare ranges in Lahontan Valley and Dixie Valley, known collectively as the Fallon Range Training Complex (FRTC) – a military operating area encompassing 6.5 million-plus acres in western Nevada 50 miles (80km) east of NAS Fallon itself. The FRTC’s mission is to support US Navy and US Marine Corps tactical training by providing the most realistic strike and integrated air warfare training, maintenance and operating facilities available. It also provides services and equipment to support the US Pacific Fleet, US Atlantic Fleet, US Marine Corps Forces Pacific,

2 1 An ATAC F-21 Kfir departs Fallon for an air wing sortie. 2 F-5N BuNo 761568/’12’ of Fighter Composite Squadron 13 (VFC-13) ‘Saints’ touches down at Fallon after playing Red Air against squadrons assigned to CVW-11. 3 One half of the sprawling Fallon flight line, this is the visiting air wing ramp. 4 Naval Strike Air Warfare Center F-16B BuNo 920458/’04’, specially painted to mark the Centennial of Naval Aviation, taxies below the Fallon control tower.




US Marine Corps Forces Atlantic and allies of the United States.

Ranges Embedded within the FRTC MOA are four separate training ranges (Bravos 16, 17, 19 and 20); an integrated air defence system comprising 37 real or simulated radars located throughout the Dixie Valley;

and a supersonic flying area. In total the FRTC and the airspace reserved for its use includes nine restricted areas, ten air traffic control assigned areas and an air-refuelling route. Additionally there are 17 instrument flight rule (IFR) military training routes, three helicopter-specific routes and 14 low-level visual flight rule (VFR) routes. Fallon is the only facility in the US Navy where

of their combat skills and weapon utilisation. It also helps with crews’ mission readiness by increasing, maintaining and assessing their combat proficiency. The TCTS is made up of a monitoring sensor installed in pods mounted on participating aircraft and ground systems which provide live monitoring of tactical scenarios and debriefing. The sensor collects time, space, position and weapons employment information for the aircraft and downlinks the data to the ground system. 4 The FRTC also includes a vast array of electronic systems, the crews can conduct end-to-end heart of which is the Advanced weapons training with air-toDigital Display System (ADDS). ground ordnance under realistic This computer-supported realcombat scenarios using the latest time digital display monitors each weapons and dropping live Joint training event as it occurs on the Direct Attack Munitions. ranges and includes a recording The entire FRTC is instrumented capability for debriefing. with a tactical combat training Information is transmitted system (TCTS). This provides instantaneously from each aircraft pilots with real-time air and to large screen displays at the ground combat environments Naval Strike and Air Warfare which enable realistic evaluation Center (NSAWC, also located at




MILITARY CARRIER AIR WING ELEVEN’S WORK-UP Fallon) and recorded for playback to the aircrews for post-flight analysis of procedures and tactics. The system also allows controllers and aircrews to view each event from several different aspects in 3D. Together, the airspace and ground ranges available within and above the FRTC provide aircrews and ground-based

special forces with unmatched facilities to conduct the most realistic pre-deployment training available anywhere in the world. Integrated training isn’t just designed to sharpen combat tactics by getting crews to plan and execute realistic air-to-air and air-to-ground scenarios – it also helps with team-building before deployment. Fallon

training is therefore essential for combat readiness. Indeed, no Carrier Air Wing is permitted to embark on a carrier deployment without completing training at the FRTC. The training cannot be replicated anywhere else: the ability to flex and test every mission area, from weapons employment to every supporting function of an air wing, means

that when deployed on an aircraft carrier the air wing can project air power when and where it’s tasked.

CVW-11’s Work-Up Carrier Air Wing 11 (CVW-11) deployed to NAS Fallon twice as it prepared to join the USS Nimitz (CVN 68) for WESTPAC, a six-

BLACK KNIGHTS SQUADRON HISTORY The origins of the US Navy’s Strike Fighter Squadron 154 (VF-154) date back to a Naval Reserve unit being called to operational duty for the Korean War. The squadron was activated as VFB-718 on July 1, 1946. Initially based at NAS Floyd Bennett, New York, its first aircraft was the Grumman F-6F Hellcat, which was soon followed by the Chance Vought F-4U Corsair. As well as upgrading aircraft, it went through several designation changes, becoming first VF-68A then VF-837. During its time as the latter, the squadron moved from Floyd Bennett to NAS Moffett Field, California. VF-837 flew a combat cruise in the Korean War, operating off the USS Antietam (CV 36). By this point it had moved from the Corsair to the Grumman F9F-2 Panther. After its first cruise the unit started working up for a second: on its way back to Korea on February 4, 1953, while passing under San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge

VFA-154’s CAG-bird, F/A-18F Super Hornet BuNo 166873/’NH100’, over the California desert.



aboard the USS Princeton (CV 37), the squadron was officially redesignated Fighter Squadron 154 (VF-154). After the Panther, VF-154 received the North America F-3J Fury which was followed, in 1957, by the Vought F-8 Crusader. Having had a flaming panther as its motif, the new F-8s led VF-154 to change its insignia and name, becoming ‘The Grand Slammers’ and sporting a badge designed by Milton Caniff, creator of the Steve Canyon cartoon: the new insignia depicted a black knight, armed with a sword to strike down the enemies of peace and justice and a shield to protect those unable to protect themselves. The Black Knights’ first combat deployment of the Vietnam War was in 1965 aboard the USS Coral Sea (CV 43) as part of Carrier Air Wing 15 (CVW-15) – their first combat coming on February 7. Annual combat cruises followed. During the time between the first and subsequent cruises VF-

154 transitioned to the McDonnell Douglas F-4B Phantom II and moved from CVW-15 to become part of CVW-2, where it remained until 1980. After a second cruise aboard the USS Coral Sea the Black Knights moved to the USS Ranger (CV 61), completing five further cruises to South East Asia. After its 1970 cruise VF-154 upgraded to the F-4J version of the Phantom II, with which it undertook its final Vietnam tour and participated in some of the last strikes of the war – winning the Clifton Award for the best fighter squadron in the US Navy. The Black Knights gained the last navy version of the Phantom II, the F-4S, in 1979, but returned to the earlier F-4N. This was followed by more cruises aboard the USS Coral Sea (CV-43), as this carrier did not have strong enough decks to carry the larger, heavier F-14. So VF-154 (and sister squadron VF-21) were among the last to convert to the Grumman F-14A Tomcat, finally transitioning

AIR WING month deployment in the western Pacific Ocean. The air wing’s two Super Hornet-equipped Strike Fighter Squadrons VFA-147 ‘Argonauts’ and VFA-154 ‘Black Knights’ participated in a SFARP exercise in October 2012 and returned to Fallon with the rest of CVW-11 in February 2013 for the entire air wing’s month-long predeployment training.

SFARP is a squadron-level programme designed to help pilots fly and fight in their Super Hornets. It is administered by Strike Fighter Weapons School Pacific, which designs the syllabus and individual events to train squadrons in the latest tactics in both air-to-ground and air-to-air combat. SFARP missions for VFA-147 and VFA-154 began at

to the type in October 1983. Owing to its late transition to the Tomcat, the squadron received Tactical Airborne Reconnaissance Pod System (TARPS)-equipped F-14s from the start, whereas the units that had already re-equipped with the Tomcat earlier did not receive TARPS until later. The squadron’s first cruise with the F-14A was in 1985 aboard the USS Constellation (CV 64) as part of CVW-14. Several more aboard ‘Connie’ followed, with one in 1987 seeing VF-154 operating around the Persian Gulf, intercepting Iranian Lockheed P-3Fs and conducting movements in the Gulf of Oman. CVW-14 later moved to the USS Independence (CV 62), and it was as part of this team that VF-154 and VF-21 became the first F-14 squadrons to arrive in the Persian Gulf in August 1990 as part of Operation Desert Shield. They were deployed to the Gulf for several months that year and, because of this, VF-154 and Independence returned to

their home base of NAS Lemoore, California, for the first couple weeks of the course before moving to Fallon for the final phase, which is typically a twoweek detachment. CVW training brings together the wing’s squadrons for training in a dynamic, realistic and scenario-driven simulated wartime environment. The realism and

the United States before Operation Desert Storm began in February 1991. The Independence moved in August 1991 to Yokosuka, Japan, to replace the USS Midway (CV 41) – VF-154 staying with the carrier but transferring from CVW-14 to CVW-5 and from NAS Miramar to NAF Atsugi, becoming the first forward-deployed F-14 squadron. It also became the first F-14 squadron to deploy with an air-toground bombing capability. With the drawdown in F-14 squadrons during the mid-1990s, VF-21 was disbanded, leaving the Black Knights as the only Tomcat squadron in CVW-5. The unit left the USS Independence and moved to the USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) in the spring of 2000 by which time it was flying the oldest F-14s in the fleet from the oldest ship in the navy. In January 2003, VF-154 and CVW-5 were ordered back to the Kitty Hawk only a few weeks after completing a very successful training period. The

comprehensive nature of the training pays PART TWO dividends. SFARP training is valuable at unit level, but to tie everything together and be able to debrief each mission, as well as to tease out all the learning points, the big value comes from having the entire air wing deploy


Black Knights sailed west and into the Persian Gulf in preparation for Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). Due to the squadron’s excellent reputation, it was selected to deploy to Al Udeid AB in Qatar where they operated alongside US Air Force F-16Cs and F-15E Strike Eagles and Royal Air Force Tornado GR4s. VF-154 dropped more than 320 tons of ordnance and flew nearly 300 sorties during OIF. In September 2003 the Black Knights ended their 13-year stay in Japan and 20 years of operations with the Tomcat when they moved to NAS Lemoore, California, and began transitioning to the Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet. A month later VF154 was redesignated Strike Fighter Squadron 154 (VFA-154), reflecting the change in emphasis from being purely a fighter squadron to a multi-role unit operating the F/A-18. For the next seven months aircrew and maintainers learnt to fly and look after the new ‘Rhino’. Only two weeks after receiving its ‘safe for flight’



MILITARY CARRIER AIR WING ELEVEN’S WORK-UP 2 3 1 A two-ship of ATAC F-21 Kfirs depart for the Fallon range. 2 A sub-freezing morning at Fallon doesn’t stop Team Argo maintainers from keeping the jets ready at all times. 3 Lt Cdr Craig Salvesen and Lt Cdr Mike Patterson ‘sign out’ their Super Hornets from maintenance control prior to a mission. 4 A training missile ready for mounting on an F/A-18E Super Hornet. 5 Lt Miller shakes his plane captain’s hand after returning to Fallon in an F/A-18F Super Hornet. 6 A Team Argo maintainer makes sure every bolt is properly tightened prior to the day’s mission at Fallon. 7 Team Argo’s temporary office spaces at Fallon. 8 A VFA-147 maintainer examines the General Electric F414-GE-400 engines prior to a morning sortie. 1

4 5 6 7

to Fallon. Typical air wing missions during the month-long deployment involve flights over terrain very similar to that encountered in Afghanistan and employ weapons and tactics used in Afghanistan and the future conflicts. Specific tactical training included laserguided bomb and Joint Direct Attack Munition employment, both simulated and live fire, surface-to-air missile defences and day and night strafing with the 20mm cannon along with other weapons systems platforms. The squadrons of CVW-11 also worked with Joint Terminal Air Controllers (JTACs), practising close air support (CAS) techniques

– valuable training for both the pilots and JTACs who work so closely together on the front line. To assist with their training many of the pilots are concurrently taking NSAWC’s JTAC course in the use of ordnance in close proximity to friendly ground forces, which has become a vital part of the mission in both Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years. Lt Clayton Heyward, a pilot with VFA-154, told AIR International what the training at Fallon brings to the pilots, aircrew and, eventually, the fleet: “Not only is SFARP an event we look forward to, it is amongst the most fundamentally instructive phase of work-ups we go through as

individual aircrews. The course is designed, and we are taught, by the experts at the west coast weapons school – or east coast depending on your squadron’s home location – how to employ our systems in the Super Hornet to the maximum capabilities. “It’s a great learning experience and every time we take part in SFARP we all walk away learning something new. You can drive a car every day, but that doesn’t necessarily make you a race car driver, and sometimes it’s the same analogy flying jets. The weapons school instructors are the best out there, the Formula 1 drivers in our field, so you always take something

away from their course. During events at Fallon, NSAWC and Weapons School staff spend time concentrating on the individual aviator, from burgeoning combat wingmen to seasoned division leads, to help move them through important phases of their career in the aircraft.”

Evaluation During an air wing’s training at Fallon, its entire performance is evaluated by the NSAWC – a vital role in checking its readiness to deploy and ensure it is able to work together as one fighting unit. As the month at Fallon progresses the NSAWC

BLACK KNIGHTS Squadron History Continued certification, the squadron began an intensive work-up cycle in preparation for deployment back to the Persian Gulf. Throughout the rest of 2004 it participated in demanding work-up exercises to ensure aircrews and other personnel would be ready to fight using the new airframe. In January 2005 VFA-154 embarked on the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) under the flag of Carrier Strike Group Three (CSG 3). On their first cruise with the F/A-18F, the crews flew 1,000plus missions in support of OIF before arriving back with the carrier at Norfolk, Virginia, on July 31, 2005. They spent the rest of the year concentrating on unit-level training. The beginning of 2006 presented a second round of work-ups for VFA-154. Demanding schedules saw the squadron travelling from NAS Lemoore to NAS Fallon, Nevada, and back once again to



sea, this time aboard the USS John C Stennis (CVN 74). In January 2007 the unit departed on its second cruise, this time supporting not just OIF but also Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) over Afghanistan too. Exceeding the squadron’s previous operational success, this deployment demonstrated its F/A-18Fs’ increased combat effectiveness while employing more than 40,000lb (18,143kg) of ordnance supporting coalition ground forces. In October 2009 VFA-154 transitioned to the new F/A-18F Block II Super Hornet, equipped with the AN/APG-79 active electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar. The following June, it embarked aboard the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) with CVW-14 to take part in the multinational Rim of the Pacific exercise (RIMPAC). This included both air-to-air and air-to-surface live-fire exercises as

well as practice missions against vessels. Live ordnance employed by the squadron included 1 more than 85,000lbs (38,555kg) of general purpose and laser-guided bombs, thousands of rounds of 20mm ammunition, a high-speed anti-radiation missile (HARM), and four AIM-9 Sidewinder air-toair missiles. After RIMPAC, the Black Knights continued a challenging set of work-ups by moving to NAS Fallon for Air Wing Fallon (see this issue), and then back to the USS Ronald Reagan for a composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX). The unit flew more than 380 sorties and 650 flight hours in the exercise and delivered in excess of 50,000lbs (22,679kg) of ordnance. The squadron deployed aboard the USS Ronald Reagan in February 2011. Originally planning to participate in an exercise with the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF),



gradually hands over the entire mission planning and execution responsibilities to the air wing, culminating in the advanced phase exercise in the final week. This combines all the skills learned throughout the previous three weeks and simulates an entire campaign of mission types including air-to-air, air-toground, large-scale strike mission packages and close air support. The relationship between NSAWC’s training staff and the wing is very close. The tactics used in theatre and the lessons learned in combat are fed back into the training at Fallon extremely rapidly. If a threat requires new tactics, they can be

developed, tested and given to the fleet to meet the needs. This also ensures combat scenarios used for training can be kept upto-date so that crews are exposed to the latest combat situations before they deploy. Lt Heyward explained the level of mission planning and execution required to fight not just one training event but sometimes many throughout the day. “It can take several days to prepare for just one air wing detachment flight. As the four weeks progress the mission complexities increase and we take on more of the total responsibility. Each week of the detachment is a different phase, incorporating each element

the carrier was headed for the Sea of Japan when a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami devastated the eastern coast of the Japanese mainland. Reacting quickly, the ship moved to a position north-east of the city of Sendai and began humanitarian assistance and disaster relief work. The effort was dubbed Operation Tomodachi (friendship). VFA-154 launched multiple reconnaissance flights over the area affected by the catastrophe. Using their advanced sensors, Black Knight aircraft were able to accurately map the devastation and identify previously unlocated groups of survivors. All told, their reconnaissance flights turned up ten groups of survivors previously unknown to the US Navy and the Japanese authorities. The ship then continued west into the Arabian Sea to launch combat sorties in support of OEF and

from the previous week and then adding to it. While we all show up to Fallon ready to go, there’s a progression to the time spent training there. Typically air wing events will start out as small packages, with fewer assets and smaller goals, but by the last week there are entire strike packages launching, with up to 30-plus aircraft – basically full-scale air wing sorties utilising all of the assets flown by CVW-11: the E-2 Hawkeye, EA-6B Prowler, SH-60 Sea Hawks, F/A-18C Hornets, F/A18E and F/A-18F Super Hornets. “Keep in mind that at Fallon we fly a lot, and that doesn’t fluctuate between the sizes of the sortie or mission complexity. On many

Operation New Dawn, the new designation for US armed forces’ involvement in Iraq. In OEF the squadron often flew missions supporting US Marine Corps ground units in the Helmand Valley region. Black Knight aircraft also supported units near Mazar-e-Sharif as well as to the east all the way up to the Pakistan border. They dropped 6,800lbs (3,084kg) of ordnance, more than half the air wing’s total, and fired 1,500-plus rounds of 20mm ammunition in strafing attacks. In July 2012 the squadron departed Lemoore to participate in RIMPAC 2012. The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity and helps foster and sustain cooperative relationships critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2012 was the 23rd exercise in the series which began in 1971.

days it’s typical that, as soon as a flight is debriefed, aircrew will start to prepare for the next one. Some flights launch early in the morning, mere hours after the last event ended the previous evening, and then again in late afternoon or early evening. After each flight, the staff debriefs all members of that flight and reviews each aircraft’s tapes for communication, employment and tactics utilising the TCTS system. The cadre are also typically watching the events in real time at Fallon via the ADDS and taking notes, but most of the learning occurs during the tape debriefs when the staff point out new or better ways to execute certain items. We typically are

The Black Knights then detached to NAS Fallon, employing more than 73,000lbs (33,112kg) of ordnance and expending 5,500 rounds of the 20mm cannon. As work-ups continued, the squadron left again in early October to join the USS Nimitz (CVN 68). On completion of COMPTUEX, CVW-11’s commander, Captain Greg Harris, gave VFA154 the ‘Top Hook’ award for the preceding ten months. The recognition encompassed flight deck certification, RIMPAC, COMPTUEX and Joint Task Force Exercise training and resulted in more than 650 traps for the squadron. The award is presented to the unit with the highest landing grades and boarding rate based on their carrier landings. This was the first time in CVW11’s distinguished history that a two-seat Rhino squadron earned the Top Hook title.



MILITARY CARRIER AIR WING ELEVEN’S WORK-UP used to four weeks of late nights of debriefing in front of the TCTS screens, or very early morning wake-ups of flight planning and launches.”

Adversary Training While conducting missions the air wing pilot can expect to come up against some of the best adversaries in the world. These Red Air threats are provided by NSAWC pilots and aircrew flying the F-16 and all variants of the F/A-18, as well as Fighter Composite Squadron 13 (VFC-13) ‘Saints’, the reserve squadron based at Fallon, which flies the F-5N Tiger. It isn’t necessarily about what types of aircraft are acting as the adversary – it is that they are different from what strike fighter pilots fly against when not at Fallon. Regardless, the pilots who fly the adversary missions are intimately familiar with the Fallon area. As one VFC-13 pilot told the author, this is their backyard and they make sure the fleet pilots coming in are well aware of whose yard they are playing in. For a junior pilot who has never had the opportunity to ‘get jumped’ by one of the Red Air threats, the experience can be humbling and a real eyeopener as to how much there really is to learn about flying their aircraft under threat. Even for the experienced pilot, going up against those who fly the Red Air aircraft can be challenging and extremely frustrating. The Red Air pilots’ goal however is not to beat up or demean the air wing crews, but rather to teach and enhance, though real-world tactics, the ability of an air wing

strike package to accomplish its mission as safely and successfully as possible while exposing pilots to dissimilar adversary threats. Lt Heyward discussed his experiences in the air against the Red Air pilots and what they bring to the fight: “The US Navy provides some exceptional adversary simulation from numerous squadrons in Fallon. The aircraft are flown by US Navy and US Marine Corps pilots of several adversary squadrons or by NSAWC or Top Gun staff. We usually fight other F/A-18s when we are at our home base, Lemoore, but here we fight all kinds of other aircraft. NSAWC has some Super Hornets and legacy models as well, so it’s a treat to go up against one of their pilots flying aircraft of the same capability as ours and try to minimise their strengths and take advantage of their weaknesses. The F-5 the Saints [VFC-13] fly is a very small, fast and manoeuvrable aircraft. It can really mix it up with an F/A-18 and it’s very difficult to find in the air. Even though it’s a much older aircraft, with limited technology, compared to the F-model Super Hornet I fly, it is a worthy adversary. Saints pilots are able to utilise the F-5’s capabilities to the fullest of anyone who operates the type worldwide. “The F-16 is another aircraft to be reckoned with, and stresses the importance of employing the F/A-18 at the limit and the danger of committing even the most minor mistake in basic fighter manoeuvres and other aspects of air-to-air fighting. Because the F-16 is such a manoeuvrable aircraft, it teaches us how to maximise our strengths to be able




get a jump on the enemy. While these tactics are classified, it’s safe to say a good pilot in a Super Hornet can utilise their aircraft and its systems to bring the fight to the F-16 – and then go on to complete the mission. The Red Air pilots, whether from NSAWC, VFC-13 or any other adversary unit, don’t hold back and do their best to win, because they’d not be doing us any favours by letting us win every time. Their goal is to show us that our very survival rests on flying the best aircraft we can, which starts by keeping in the books and constantly learning.”

Black Knights

1 Close-up shot of a Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW-117) ‘Wallbangers’ E-2C Hawkeye on final approach to Fallon. 2 An F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 147 (VFA-147) ‘Argonauts’ launches a salvo of Zuni rockets at targets over the extensive Fallon range. 3 CVW- 11 Super Hornets hit a tank farm on the Fallon range with two 500lb bombs. 4&5 Multiple vehicle and building targets are scattered throughout the huge Fallon range area in northern Nevada. These shots show a direct hit with a 1,000lb bomb.

In part one of this three-part series in the August issue there was a focus on the single-seat F/A-18E Super Hornet flown by VFA-147 Argonauts describing what the aircraft brings to the overall air wing package. While at Fallon, the author had the opportunity to spend time with VFA-154 Black Knights which operates the two-seat F/A-18F model and note the differences between the two aircraft and the role the F-model plays in the air wing. The two-seat F/A-18F adds the weapons systems officer (WSO) position to the aircraft. The systems in both the front and rear co*ckpits are the same, although there are no flight controls in the rear co*ckpit. Although the pilot of a single-seat F/A-18E conducts many of the same tasks as performed in the F/A-18F, the latter performs additional roles that are better suited to a twocrew aircraft. One of the more important additions to the F/A-18F is the advanced crew station (ACS), 1 2 which allows the pilot and the WSO to operate independently Another mission unique to the within the aircraft, and configure two-seat Super Hornet community their respective multifunction is combat search and rescue displays to best suit the needs of a (CSAR), which can be broken mission. This enables the pilot to down as required into different focus on flying the aircraft and the elements and can take on various WSO to conduct ‘heads-down’ forms. One is rescue escort tasks, such as using the ATFLIR (a (RESCORT), where the WSO forward-looking infrared sensor) to co-ordinates all the CSAR assets conduct forward air control (FAC) from the rear co*ckpit to protect missions or designating, arming rescue vehicles from possible and dropping weapons. hostile action while en route to

4 5


and from the CSAR objective area and during the recovery phase. Another is rescue combat air patrol (RESCAP), during which cover is provided over a CSAR objective area to intercept hostile aircraft before they reach the area where the CSAR task force is to undertake its recovery operations.

Flying the F Lt Heyward described the experience of flying and operating the F/A-18F: “What I do in the two-seat model as far as mission and flying goes isn’t too much different from what a pilot who flies the single-seat model would do, and there are really no downsides to either platform which makes both Super Hornet models fantastic and extremely capable aircraft. Boeing did an exceptional job building one

single system in which a single pilot can handle the workload of simultaneous strike and air-to-air roles. The jet lessens workloads via hands-on-throttle-and-stick [HOTAS] as well as advances in ergonomics. “What the F-model does is take the ability to accomplish many time-demanding tasks at the same time a step further by adding a weapons systems officer. While the pilot maintains the same ability to control all aircraft systems, the addition of a dedicated sensor operator brings another aspect of lethality to the fight. Tactical crew co-ordination [TCC] is not something that occurs when two aviators climb into an aircraft for the first time. It’s a skill like any other that must be studied, honed and debriefed. The end goal is for a two-seat Super Hornet to find the target

faster and hit it more precisely on the desired time on target [ToT]. “The expectation of performance is higher with a two-seater, as it should be. With two crewmembers, the pilot will focus more on manoeuvring the aircraft and employing weapons while the WSO maintains positive identification [PID], ensures the most precise co-ordinates possible are being sent to a weapon and adds to overall situational awareness [SA]. Many of our squadrons’ WSOs are also well versed in the Airborne Forward Air Controller [FAC-A] mission and go through very specific training both in the jet and at ground schools with the JTACs to create another amazing capability the F-model can bring to the battlefield. Ultimately for me, flying the F/A-18 Super Hornet is an absolute thrill. I’m

extremely impressed with the product Boeing and the US Navy have developed. Improving on the then cutting edge technology of the F/A-18A/D Hornets, the Super Hornet went from production directly into combat where it performed admirably. “You hear from time to time, especially from some of the old-school crowd, that they still long for the F-14 Tomcat. It was big, fast and gorgeous, sort of [the fighter equivalent of the] 1970 Chevy Chevelle SS, a true muscle car, and it did its job very well in its time. The Super Hornet is the result of all of the combined technological advances built off the legacy Hornet family and the Tomcat, and a desire for easier upgrades in the field and a substantial improvement in maintainability. Comparing it to the Chevelle of old, it is more



MILITARY CARRIER AIR WING ELEVEN’S WORK-UP 1 A rare mixed echelon formation shot of VFA-147 and VFA-154 Super Hornets. 2 Former CO Cdr Jim Christie and XO (now CO) Cdr John Depree’s flight gear in the temporary VFA-154 locker room at Fallon. 1

the modern Corvette ZR1: svelte, nimble, modern and a world-class performer. “The Super Hornet is not a difficult aircraft to fly. Boeing has done an exceptional job making the pilot’s job easier so he or she can attend to the other multitude of tasks when executing any number of strike-fighter missions. I always equated being an F/A-18 pilot to playing football, executing a game plan that may have to be changed at any moment. Instead of moving down the field on your own feet, you’re simply executing in your jet. Getting into football pads isn’t too different from getting into the Super Hornet; you literally strap it on your back like a rocket. “My first flight in the Super Hornet was not too different from my last flight in the T-45C Goshawk [the US Navy’s fast-jet training aircraft]. Three hundred knots on climb-out is 300kts. The next take-off, however, I used



afterburner. Now that is a kick in the pants. I was accomplishing the same tasks as before, only far more concerned about the next altitude that was arriving at many tens of thousands of feet per second. While at cruise the jet again feels like the T-45, until you look in the rear-view mirror and see how the aircraft seems to just keep going. It’s a big jet and since there’s unlimited visibility ahead of you, you forget you’re at the front of a big fighter. During a carrier landing, you again forget how big the Rhino [the colloquial name for the Super Hornet] is and how much jet is behind you. It feels nimble on the ball [behind the ship] and while taxiing around the carrier flight deck. It’s only after you shut down and do the post-flight walk around that you realise how big it is and feel that sense of achievement for safely bringing back a 22-ton fighter!”

The Fallon

Experience How do pilots feel about the experience they receive during their training at Fallon? Lt Heyward summed it up: “What we do at NAS Fallon hones all of our skills, individually as pilots, WSOs, ground crews and the whole squadron. But working here in this environment takes it a step further and creates an entire air wing team, working together towards one common goal, which is to be ready to deploy on the carrier and bring our powerful air wing anywhere, any time it is needed. Detachments to Fallon are events we look forward to. The consistently workable weather and wide open ranges permit excellent training. It’s extremely fast-paced and challenging and the days we spend here are long and hard, but that doesn’t take away from what makes it truly an amazing, unique and vital place in naval aviation. When you bring

up the landing gear you are mere miles from the training area. The mountains, easily visible from base, are just gorgeous and a great reminder to enjoy every day you have in this fantastic profession and able to train in such a fantastic environment.” Not for nothing is NAS Fallon’s motto Train the way you fight; fight the way you train.

Reflections During the author’s time accompanying VFA-154 throughout 2012-2013, the command of the squadron fell to Cdr James Christie and Executive Officer Cdr John Depree. On July 4, 2013, while on cruise aboard the USS Nimitz, Cdr Christie handed over the reins to Cdr Depree. What are Cdr Christie’s reflections on his time commanding the squadron and what makes the Black


Knights special? “It’s a rare and humbling experience to serve as commanding officer of a navy strike fighter squadron,” he said. “I know ‘humble’ isn’t a word that most people associate with US Navy fighter pilots, but I assure you even the most arrogant of us cannot help but be in awe of the enormous teamwork, sacrifice and underlying patriotism that motivates our sailors who work tirelessly to enable a few lucky aviators to take flight and push the limits in training and combat. These sailors have made the F/A-18 co*ckpit my office for more than 15 years, and while I still stare in amazement at the magnificent panoramas from 50,000ft [15,240m], my most treasured memories are those of my plane captain’s exhausted face after working gruelling hours through inhospitable heat and humidity, only to smile with pride as I tell them how great their jet performed.”

Cdr Christie added: “All too often the photos and articles about our aircraft fall short in telling the true story about the absolute necessity of our mechanics, technicians and administrative personnel who make it all happen. Without the people these jets are incapable of flying. “For readers unfamiliar with the nature of US Navy work-ups and deployment, a key point to understand is that the process favours all squadrons to become closely knit organisations. But I truly believe the Black Knights have captured a unique sense of family that goes far beyond anything I’ve experienced in previous squadrons. We genuinely care about each other. “For my entire 30 months with VFA-154, the Black Knights have been there for each other and have always gone the extra mile to make sure that when someone is having a hard time, many of

us are there to help, listen and hopefully make them laugh. “This business is demanding, and it certainly isn’t for everybody. Many people would recoil at the working conditions and austerity of shipboard life, but those of us who can see through the superficial distractors recognise that our time in a navy strike

fighter squadron is, without a doubt, the most purposeful and rewarding experience of our lifetime. The Black Knights focus on keeping that experience special. I consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world to have commanded this extraordinary organisation and to have worked alongside the finest people I’ve ever met.”





SKAT SPECIFICATION Take off weight: 10,000kg (22,046lb) 1


here are dozens of types of small unmanned aerial systems (UAS) in Russia, as in many other countries. But now the country’s aviation industry is developing larger and heavier vehicles weighing one tonne or more. Back in the autumn of 2011, Russia’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) ordered its first large UAS – the Okhotnik unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) and two smaller reconnaissance and combat UASs, the one-tonne Inokhodets and five-tonne Altius-M. Russian Helicopters also received an order for two unmanned helicopters, the 1,543lb (700kg) Roller and three-tonne Albatross small rotary UASs. Work on all these systems is progressing intensively and it’s expected that some will begin trials in 2014-2015. In Russia’s National Armament Programme (GPV-2020), around 400 billion roubles is stipulated for the development of UASs by 2020, which includes launching series production of a significant number of unmanned systems. Of this funding, research and development costs will only amount to several billion roubles.

Okhotnik The Okhotnik (Hunter) UCAV is the leading UAS programme in Russia’s aviation industry with twenty billion roubles reportedly set to be spent on the programme. In one of the few known official documents where the Okhotnik is mentioned, it is classified as a “sixth-generation unmanned air vehicle”; and in various documents, two indexes appearing with the name Okhotnik can be found: -B and -U. The former is likely to mean Boyevoi (combat) and the latter, Udarnyi (strike). The contract signed by the defence ministry with the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) for the development of the Okhotnik covers scientific and research work (in



Engine thrust: 49.4kN (11,111lbf)

Russian, nauchno-issledowatyelskaya rabota, or NIR) and should end with preliminary designs – detailed designing and construction and trials of prototypes require further contracts in the future Contracts for subsequent stages of development – including technical design, prototypes and, finally, series production – will be signed at a later date. Mikhail Pogosyan, the President of UAC and Chairman of Sukhoi Holding, said “the amount of knowledge and experience we’ve gathered developing technologies for the fifth-generation aircraft” will be utilised in the Okhotnik programme. At a press conference in Moscow earlier this year, he explained: “On the current stage, a joint group of Sukhoi and MiG is working together, specifying requirements and shape of this aircraft.” Details of co-operation on the stages of technical design and production will be determined later. RSK MiG Chief Executive Officer Sergey Korotkov confirmed that MiG would take part in the Okhotnik programme: previously, Pogosyan mentioned the Tupolev Company as a potential participant. Little is currently known about the Okhotnik itself apart from unofficial information that it will be a heavy drone of “up to 20 tonnes”.

Maximum weapon load: 2,000kg (4,409lb) Maximum speed at low level: 800km/h (432kts) Maximum Mach number: 0.8 Service ceiling: 39,370ft (12,000m) Maximum range: 4,000km (2,160nm) Length: 10.25m (33ft 7½in) Wingspan: 11.5m (37ft 8¾in) Height: 2.7m (8ft 101/3in) 2

UAS Evolution Work on Okhotnik will feed off several previous UCAV research projects undertaken in Russia. The most developed of these was the RSK MiG Corporation Skat (Ray) vehicle, a full-scale mock-up of which was unveiled in August 2007. It is an all-wing aircraft with a 50º wing sweep and powered by a single Klimov RD-5000B turbofan engine rated at 11,111lb (49.4kN) of thrust, with a flat nozzle derived from the Klimov RD-93. The Skat weighs 10 tonnes, including a 2-tonne weapon load

1 The full-size mock-up of the MiG Skat unmanned strike jet aircraft shown in 2007. The Skat carries weapons in two bays inside the fuselage. RSK MiG 2 Two MiG UCAV projects. Top – the Skat presented in 2007. Below – its development according to the patent registered by MiG and TsAGI in 2010. The UCAV has a wider wing centre section and an inverted-V tail. Piotr Butowski


Piotr Butowski looks at the latest unmanned systems developments in Russia

3 The Sukhoi Zond-2 is an airborne early warning vehicle with a triangular 360º antenna over the fuselage. Piotr Butowski


carried in two bays in the fuselage. Maximum speed at low altitude exceeds 800km/h (497mph) and range is up to 4,000km (2,159nm). The Skat’s main task is breaking through heavy air defences to strike previously identified stationary ground targets, such as enemy air defence radars, with anti-radiation missiles. After a future upgrade of its mission systems the Skat would also engage mobile ground and maritime targets. RSK MiG has worked on a number of other similar projects. In the T-103 wind tunnel at the TsAGI institute it tested a model of a rhombus-shaped UAS which was displayed during MAKS 2011 in Moscow. In 2010 the company joined with TsAGI in submitting a patent for a stealthy UCAV evolved from the Skat and featuring a wider chord in the wing, a smaller negative angle of the trailing edge and an inverted-V empennage. According to the authors of the patent, the proper selection of the angle between the forward and aft edge of the wing (92 to 95º) and inverted-V empennage are optimal for the effective control of the aircraft. Additionally, the empennage’s spread by an angle greater than 90º means that its radar cross-section is only slightly larger than that of a UAS without an empennage.

Inokhodets The Okhotnik is a long-term programme. Before its development begins in earnest, the Inokhodets (Orion) will appear – the aircraft being seen as an equivalent of the General Atomics MQ-1 Predator medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAS. The Russian MoD tender for its design and prototypes was announced in early October 2011 and the contract is worth 961 million roubles. Unlike the Okhotnik, the Inokhodets is a research and development project (in Russian, opytno-konstruktorskaya rabota, or OKR) intended to result in a system ready for series production. In April 2012, Russian deputy defence minister Alexander Sukhorukov announced that the target of flying the Inokhodets in 2014 would not be met. As a result the start of series production of the type has been put back to 2018. The tender for the Inokhodets was won by Transas of St Petersburg, which beat both Tupolev and Vega. The company manufactures the small Dozor 50, 85 and 100 UASs for the civil market (their number designations referring to weight); it’s also built the 720kg (158lb) Dozor 600 but has yet to commence flight trials. The Inokhodets is classified as BAK SD

(Bespilotnyi Aviatsionnyi Kompleks Sredniei Dalnosti – medium-range unmanned aircraft complex) and will weigh between 800kg and 1,000kg (1,763 and 2,204lb). Its endurance is unknown but, with the Predator as the benchmark, it is likely to be 24 hours at an altitude of between 19,000ft and 26,000ft (5,791m-7,924m). The design features a long, tapering wing, V-tail and pushing propeller. The powerplant will reportedly be a turboprop manufactured by Ukrainian company Motor Sich. Pictures of the aircraft have yet to be published.

Altius-M At the same time as the Inokhodets contract was signed in October 2011, an

agreement worth 1.155 billion roubles was sealed for the development of another UAS, the Altius-M – which will weigh 4.5 to 5 tonnes, making it the equivalent of the MQ-9 Reaper. Like the Okhotnik, the Altius-M is a longer-term NIR scientific research programme. The tender was won by the Sokol design bureau of Kazan, whose main unmanned product to date is the Dan jet-powered target UAS – which weighs 350kg (771lb) and can fly at 750km/h (466mph). Sokol’s rival in the tender was RSK MiG Corporation, which protested the results of the tender in court. At first MiG’s protest was upheld, but ultimately overruled.




1 1 Model of the Altius-M shown to new Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu (second from left) during his visit to Kazan in February 2013. Kazan regional administration 2 The three vehicles of Yakovlev Proryv family: reconnaissance Proryv-R in the left, early warning Proryv-RLD on the right and the strike Proryv-U between them. Yakovlev 3 High-altitude long-endurance Oryol designed in the 1980s by the Yakovlev design bureau. Piotr Butowski 4 The final design of the Myasishchev M-62 Oryol is similar to Boeing’s Condor all-bonded composite UAV which was flown in a 141-hour flight-test programme between 1988 and 1989. Piotr Butowski 5 Two radio-transparent fuselages of the Sukhoi S-62 fit side-looking radar antennas. Piotr Butowski 2

Pictures of the Altius-M have appeared publicly twice. In 2012 a drawing of the aircraft (without descriptions) appeared on Sokol’s website. Then, in February 2013, photographs were published showing a visit of the newly-appointed Russian Minister of Defence, Sergei Shoigu, to Kazan. Among new technologies presented to the minister was a small model of the Altius-M, which has a long unswept wing, a V-tail and two wing-mounted engines with pulling propellers. The aircraft will use diesel powerplants designed by RED Aircraft – a German company founded by Russian immigrant Vladimir Raikhlin – and made in Russia. After winning the tenders for the Inokhodets and Altius-M, the Transas and OKB Sokol companies are working together on the two projects. Nikolai Dolzhenkov became the head of the Transas design facility; he is also a design consultant at OKB Sokol.

Korsar In 2012 the Russian MoD ordered another new UAS – a small tactical system called Korsar (Corsair). It will weigh 200kg to 250kg (440lb to 466lb) and be able to operate for between ten and 12 hours with a 100km (53nm) radius. The Korsar order was received by the KB Lutch design bureau of Rybinsk, which belongs to the Vega Corporation.

HALE Research The Russian defence ministry has yet to order a high-altitude long endurance (HALE)-class UAS, and is, reportedly, unable to decide how such a system would fit in the Russian armed forces’ structure. Nevertheless, Russian manufacturers have been working on HALE-class designs. As long ago as the 1970s Myasishchev was drawing designs of the Oryol (Eagle) UAS, inspired by the US Air Force’s Compass Cope programme. Feeding off the company’s experience with the construction of the manned M-17 and M-55 Mystic high-altitude aircraft, the Oryol programme continued until a lack of funding halted it in 1993. The M-62 Oryol had an unswept wing of 61m (200ft) span and two TPD-20 diesel engines rated at 450hp each. Take off weight was 12,000kg (26,455lb), fuel capacity 5,500kg (12,125lb) and endurance 33 hours (including 29.6 hours at operational altitude). Work on HALE-class UASs moved






RUSSIAN UNMANNED AERIAL SYSTEMS TECHNOLOGY Sukhoi’s official website, but the project has been dormant for a long time. In 2003, Dolzhenkov returned to Yakovlev. Three years later the company released a family of three UASs called Proryv (Breakthrough), using technology from the Yak130 jet trainer. The designs were the Proryv-R (Razvedchik, reconnaissance), Proryv-RLD (Radio-Lokatsionnogo Dozora, radar surveillance) and Proryv-U (UCAV). According to Yakovlev, the ‘U’ was designed to reach a speed of 6 1,100km/h (683mph), have six hours’ endurance 7 and carry up to three tonnes of weapons. In 2009, Dolzhenkov again left Yakovlev and currently leads the team at the Transas Company, designing mounted the Inokhodets and under the Altair. His departure led to Yakovlev fuselage. The withdrawing from work on UAS. Zond-3 was a small, However, with Sukhoi’s Zond family, two-tonne MALETransas’ Inokhodets and Altair and the class aircraft similar UAC companies’ work on the Okhotnik, it’s to the Predator. All clear that advances are being made in three Zonds are still on Russian unmanned systems.

6 The Inokhodets is a research and development project intended to result in an unmanned aerial system ready for series production. Transas 7 The Sukhoi Zond-1 HALE has a 35m (115ft) wing and two AI-222 turbofan engines. Piotr Butowski 8 Design of the five-tonne Altius-M reconnaissance vehicle currently under development by OKB Sokol in Kazan. OKB Sokol

to Sukhoi in 1997 when Altaf Karimov, who had worked on the M-62 Oryol, left Myasishchev. Under his supervision Sukhoi began designing the S-62, which was unveiled in 2001. It is a twin-fuselage canard powered by two RD-1700 turbofans each rated at 3,748lbf (16.7kN) and mounted in a common nacelle above the fuselage.


Zond In 2001 Sukhoi lured another UAS specialist, Nikolai Dolzhenkov, from Yakovlev. Under his guidance Sukhoi designed three Zond (Sonde) UASs, models which were first shown at the MAKS exhibition in 2003. Zond-1 and -2 are strategic drones using a common 12-tonne platform and differing between each other with mission equipment. The Zond-1 is an early warning and control air vehicle with a triangular active phased array radar mounted above the fuselage (which limits its speed to Mach 0.5 and endurance to 18 hours); the Zond-2 is a reconnaissance drone with ground observation radar

Russian HALE designs compared MyasishchevM-62 Oryol

Sukhoi S-62

Sukhoi Zond-1 / -2

Yakovlev Proryv-R / -RLD


2x TPD-20

2x RD-1700

2x AI-222

1x AI-222

Wing span:

61m (200ft)

50m (164ft)

35m (115ft)


19.1m (62ft 8in)

14.4m (47ft 3in)

13m (42ft 8in)


7.2m (23ft 7½in)

3.0m (9ft 10in)

5.5m (18ft ½in)/5.0m (16ft 4in)

Take off weight:

12,000kg (26,455lb)

8,500kg (18,739lb)

12,000kg (26,455lb)

9,800kg (21,605lb) /10,000kg (22,046lb)


1,000kg (2,205lb)

800 to 1,200kg (1,764 to 2,646lb)

1,500kg (3,307lb)

1,200kg (2,646lb)/ 1,000kg (2,205lb)

Maximum speed:




750km/h (405kts)

Operational altitude:

65,617ft (20,000m)

65,617ft (20,000m)

45,932-52,493ft (14,000-16,000m)

65,617ft (20,000m) /45,932ft (14,000m)


33 hours

24 hours

18 hours / 24 hours

20 hours / 16 hours



The Hub Airport Debate The Montreal Model In the concluding part of AIR International’s analysis of the UK’s future airport policy, Bruce Hales-Dutton looks at various options for the future of the United Kingdom’s hub airport




t’s a crisp early autumn morning in the Province of Quebec, Canada, and the world’s biggest airport is just hours from its official opening. Coach loads of VIPs are heading north-west from Montreal to watch the Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau welcome the first arrival at Mirabel International Airport. Among its more noteworthy features, the new airport boasts an area bigger than that of the city it serves as well as the potential to handle 20 million passengers a year. Inevitably, the farmers who had to sell their land to make way for it are disgruntled. Some of today’s guests are muttering about it being out in the “boondocks” [remote area]. After the ceremony guests are free to wander through the terminal and marvel at its size and spaciousness. For the British delegation it seems a far cry from crowded Heathrow and the protracted search for relief that’s become something of a national joke. Indeed, it’s now turned into virtually a mirror image of what’s happening here in Quebec today, October 4, 1975. Just over a year earlier Harold Wilson’s new Labour Government in the UK had cancelled the ambitious Maplin airport project. Plans for the new airport on reclaimed land off the Essex coast – which had so caught former Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath’s imagination – was rejected. In its place was a policy touted as more realistic as economic upheaval caused air traffic forecasts to be torn up. There are many echoes of the mid-1970s in the current debate about UK airports policy. With the focus now on the case for a new gateway in the Thames Estuary versus further expansion at Heathrow, observers with long memories are warning that Mirabel shows what can happen if you build an airport in the wrong place. For today, Mirabel has been superseded as Montreal’s gateway by Dorval – the facility it was supposed to replace. Colin Matthews, Heathrow’s Chief Executive, says: “Montreal’s attempts to operate two hubs saw one become an expensive white elephant.” Peter Morris, Chief Economist of consultancy Ascend, told a Royal Aeronautical Society conference that Mirabel was shunned by airlines and passengers because of its poor surface transport links.

Changed Landscape In 2003 the UK government’s Future of Aviation White Paper foreshadowed the construction of a second runway at Stansted and a third at Heathrow. But, as the Airports Commission dryly noted: “Neither of these developments has yet occurred”. The White Paper’s publication had been preceded by the last in-depth review of UK airports policy to be conducted. That may only have been a decade ago but, as the Commission points out in the document offering guidance to organisations submitting evidence to it, “it is remarkable how much has changed since the last review”. Indeed it has. For one thing traffic forecasts have been adjusted downwards, partly due to recession, but also due to higher oil prices and taxation. The 2003

White Paper predicted that UK air traffic would grow to 600 million passengers per annum (mppa) by 2030, although 500 mppa was considered more likely. The latest Department for Transport forecasts suggest the 500mppa figure is now unlikely to be reached by 2050. The 2030 figure is now predicted to be around 325 mppa. Concern about the impact of climate change has become more prominent since 2003. The Stern Review, the 2008 Climate Change Act and the 2009 report of the Committee on Climate Change have altered the policy context significantly. And there have been big changes in the industry itself. The rise of lowcost carriers has led to consolidation among legacy airlines with the prospect of more to come. Airline alliances have become influential in shaping schedules and passenger behaviour. Bigger, more fuel-efficient and longer-ranging aircraft are already refreshing airline fleets. And as airlines merge the bigger


the demand for a mega hub in London,” he says. Again, not surprisingly, Wingate sees London and the South East together as representing the UK’s aviation hub – “not one airport.” It had been widely assumed that as one of its recommendations for boosting runway capacity in the short-term the Airports Commission would call for mixed-mode operations to be permitted permanently at Heathrow rather than just at peak times. Allowing take offs and landings on the same runway had seemed an obvious way of increasing runway capacity without pouring more concrete. This has been an issue that successive governments have shied away from and now it seems less likely. Heathrow is no longer calling for mixed mode because, says Matthews, “of the impact on local communities.” Heathrow’s apparent acceptance of the realities of local politics leans heavily on improving the noise climate for airport neighbours rather than degrading it.

1 Martin Rolfe, NATS Managing Director for Operations, told the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the biggest air traffic bottleneck in the South East UK is runway capacity. Ismael Jorda/AirTeamImages 2 Heathrow’s terminal 5. British Airways

continental gateways have emerged as key long-haul hubs. Some have encouraged links with UK regional cities to by-pass London. The growing significance of hubs in the Gulf is giving travellers a wider range of options on long-haul routes, especially those to Asia. And that includes travellers from UK regions. The pattern of airport ownership in Britain has changed profoundly too, following the Competition Commission’s 2007 report. The British Airports Authority, although transformed by privatisation in the 1980s into BAA, retained its powerful voice in the debate about airport capacity. Now that’s gone. BAA saw Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted as a system of complementary gateways, but they are now in separate ownership and they compete with each other. The different owners profoundly disagree about some things. Colin Matthews, Chief Executive of Heathrow, talks about the need for a hub airport and insists there’s only one candidate: guess which he has in mind. Stewart Wingate, his counterpart at Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP)-owned Gatwick, takes the opposite view. “There simply isn’t

Northolt? Another option is for Northolt, the RAF station to the west of London, to be used for short-haul commercial flights. It is being suggested that even a straight replacement of the 7,000 business aircraft movements which currently use the airport every year and which could be moved to Farnborough, could make a significant difference. Veteran airports watcher and consultant Laurie Price argues: “Those 7,000 movements could translate into twice-daily services to UK domestic points that have lost their service to Heathrow such as Inverness, Newquay, Humberside, Carlisle, Liverpool and Teesside. That would give you re-access for connectivity.” Malcolm Ginsberg, who edits an on-line business travel newsletter, insists: “Northolt is the answer to satisfy the Davies interim assessment”. Over the longer term, the Northolt supporters argue, the runway could be re-aligned and the airport connected to Heathrow and central London by Underground or surface rail links. The pro-





Northolt lobby also points out that in the immediate post-war years the airport was used as London’s short-haul gateway and was therefore Europe’s busiest for a time. But Matthews is sceptical. He points out that the transfer time between Heathrow’s terminals 4 and 5 is already one hour. Passengers, he argues, “won’t go to Northolt because of the time delay”. Instead, Heathrow wants to increase the efficiency of the local airspace and is calling for some rethinking of the procedures for handling aircraft at the airport. It stresses it isn’t seeking to lift the present annual cap of 480,000 flights. Air traffic services provider NATS is advising the commission on these issues. Martin Rolfe, NATS Managing Director for Operations, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that NATS acknowledges the biggest air traffic bottleneck in the South East is runway capacity. A modernisation programme is being put into place, Rolfe says, but “obviously the difficulty with that is needing to know where the new capacity is going to be, coming out of the 1 The Davies commission might recommend 2 permanent mixed-mode operations at Heathrow, rather than just at peak times, to boost runway capacity. Lars Veling/AirTeamImages 2 The Air League says the Boeing 787’s noise footprint is 60% smaller than that of the aircraft it will replace, keeping the noise footprint well within Heathrow’s boundary. Bailey/AirTeamImages 3 Calling for more runway capacity at Heathrow, the Air League points out that changes in engine technology will continue to improve and minimise the environmental impacts. Steve Flint/ AirTeamImages 4 Will the arrival of more Airbus A380s at Heathrow reduce the number of aircraft movements? Steve Flint/AirTeamImages



Airports Commission report. There are things we can do [to mitigate noise disturbance]. We can move stacks up higher, we can do more precision approaches with modern-day equipment on the aircraft.” Calling for more runway capacity at Heathrow, the Air League points out that changes in engine and aircraft technology, improved operating procedures, greater and better use of satellite navigation systems, improved air traffic management, descent profiles and track-keeping will continue to improve and minimise the environmental impacts. It believes that assumptions about aircraft noise made as recently as 2010 are already out of date. It says the Boeing 787’s noise footprint is 60% smaller than that of the aircraft it will replace, keeping the noise footprint well within the airport boundary. In a further echo of 1974 it is also being suggested that the arrival of further Airbus A380s will reduce the number of aircraft movements at a time when the average load per movement at the airport is already topping

199. None of that carries much weight with those opposing Heathrow expansion. By mid-June the Commission was still a month away from its deadline for receiving long-term options. But it was clear that the majority of development schemes involved either new buildings at or near Heathrow or a clean-sheet approach focused on sites in the Thames Estuary or the Hoo Peninsula between the Thames and Medway rivers.

Estuary Hub “A new airport would be the most economically and environmentally efficient solution,” argues Daniel Moylan aviation advisor to the Mayor of London. He believes an estuary hub would cost around £30 billion and take 15 years to construct. But Robin Cooper, Director of Regeneration, Community and Culture for Medway Council says construction is more likely to take 25 years and cost as much as £100 billion. In mid-June the Commission’s chair Sir

UK FUTURE AIRPORT POLICY COMMERCIAL Howard Davies, visited Medway on a factfinding mission. Not surprisingly, he was giving little away, although he conceded that the challenges involved in building surface transport links to an estuary airport would be “immense”. The House of Commons Transport Select Committee seems to have come to a similar conclusion. In a recent report it concludes: “Building an entirely new airport east of London could not be done without huge public investment in new ground transport infrastructure. The viability of an estuary hub airport would also require the closure of Heathrow – a course of action that would have unacceptable consequences for individuals, businesses in the vicinity of the existing airport and the local economy.”

Enlarged Heathrow A third runway at Heathrow “is necessary” but the select committee also suggests that proposals for a four-runway airport west of the current site “may have merit, especially if expanding to locate two new runways westwards from the current site could curb

runways and a new terminal layout to an entirely new four-runway facility on sites west of London. The general aviation airfield at White Waltham, Berkshire and the Second World War airfield of Haddenham, Buckinghamshire, have been mentioned. Other groups have come up with other sites.

do so. Meanwhile, it has published a list of meetings and visits it made between September 2012 and April 2013 – two visits to Heathrow and one to Gatwick. Among individuals met were Prime Minister David Cameron, his deputy Nick Clegg, Boris Johnson (twice), senior ministers and officials, leader of the opposition Ed Milliband and Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond. Again there are echoes from the past. Like the Roskill Commission of the 1960s, the Davies Commission is setting about its task with gusto and thoroughness. It has published a number of discussion papers on relevant topics on which it is seeking comments. Like Roskill, it plans a series of public hearings both this year and next. But whether the hard work and reams of paperwork will lead to a better informed decision only time will tell.

Extended Runways But former British Airways Concorde pilot Capt Jock Lowe has a solution which, he claims, would increase Heathrow’s capacity without additional runways and exposing more people to aircraft noise. He claims that by extending one or both of the existing runways, “available slots could be doubled”. The first part of the extended runway would be used for landings and the second, divided from the first by a sterile safety area, could handle simultaneous take offs. As a first step, Lowe says Runway 27R could be extended westwards up to the M25. “This would provide the same capacity boost as the originally proposed short third runway,” he says. The next step would mean diverting the motorway to enable 27R

Interim Report Some indications of the commission’s thinking should be revealed at the end of this year when it publishes its interim report. It will share some of its thoughts on evidence received on what is needed to maintain the 3

the noise experienced by people under the flight path.” Although the committee believes that new runways at other airports won’t provide a long-term solution to the shortage of hub capacity, it feels Gatwick’s management should be “encouraged” to develop a robust business case for a second runway. London’s Mayor, Boris Johnson, the man most closely identified with an estuary airport, isn’t impressed by the select committee’s findings. He believes a “super colossal airport slightly to the west of Heathrow” would cost no less than an estuary airport. He told listeners to the BBC’s Today programme that rather than, “moving Heathrow slightly to the west it would probably be cheaper to move London slightly to the east!” Airport consultants Mott Macdonald have been working on a range of plans for Heathrow. Options range from reconfiguring the current airport with two

and 27L, “to be extended to well beyond 20,000ft-long (6,096m)”. Lowe says: “The cost of this additional capacity would be a fraction of those of any of the other current suggestions and would retain and use more efficiently the huge investment that has been made at Heathrow.” Better still, perhaps, is that only a small number of homes would be adversely affected. Whatever long-term development option is ultimately chosen, Laurie Price insists it has to be a single hub. “Anything else,” he says, “fails to recognise market reality. Airport capacity needs to be provided where airlines see the opportunity to serve passengers and shippers, not where airports, governments and developers want to locate it.” He too counsels: “Think Montreal Mirabel”. Clearly the Davies Commission is not short of advice. It has yet to publish a list of the submissions received but a spokesperson told AIR International that it expects to


UK’s global hub status and it will also publish recommendations for the action required to improve the use of runway capacity over the next five years. This is likely to focus on the scope for improving procedures in the air and on the ground, and ways of using the runways at all of London’s airports, not just Heathrow. So will there be a new gateway over the longer term? Simon Calder, respected travel editor of The Independent, thinks it’s more likely there will be incremental gains as further capacity is squeezed out of the system. Then, in the early 2020s, Gatwick will get a second runway before Heathrow gets its third, but not necessarily in the site previously earmarked for it. “That’s where my money’s going,” he says. In the absence of the Commission’s report his guess is as good as anybody’s. But it is more likely than not that the capacity will be provided. For as Calder says: “We’re addicted to air travel and we’re not going to stop flying.”






Continuous Bomber Presence The Boeing B-52H Stratofortress is still a formidable strategic tool for the US Air Force, as Robert F Dorr reports. Photography by Jim Haseltine


t the heart of US policy in the Western Pacific is Andersen AFB on Guam, the American island territory that has become a crucial outpost. Essential to bombing campaigns in World War Two and Vietnam, Andersen dropped out of the headlines until this century when leaders in Washington recognised the value of a sovereign base in a strategic location – consistent with the Obama administration’s ‘pivot’, or shift in priorities, towards the Pacific, Asia and China. Today, Andersen is the centrepiece of US power projection in the region. And to render that presence so

overwhelming that no-one in Pyongyang and Beijing will miss the point, the US Air Force’s (USAF’s) Boeing B-52 Stratofortress maintains a high profile at the base. Every six months, B-52 pilots, crewmembers and maintainers from squadrons at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana or Minot AFB, North Dakota, arrive at Guam and take up station at Andersen. Their mission is the Continuous Bomber Presence (CBP), a succession of rotations that keeps US heavy bombers poised in the neighbourhood of North Korea and China – not just sitting on the ramp, but flying realistic exercises. One of these, in March, 2013, was described as “unpardonable”

by the North Korean state news agency KCNA. Reacting to this North Korean rhetoric, Pentagon spokesman George Little pointed out that Guam has been used since 2004 for CBP bomber rotational deployments. “The B-52 Stratofortress can perform a variety of missions including carrying precisionguided conventional or nuclear ordnance,” Little told reporters. “We will continue to fly these training missions as part of our ongoing actions to enhance our strategic posture in the AsiaPacific region.” Andersen, which was established in 1944 as North Field, is home to the 36th Wing,






a non-flying unit that hosts deployed squadrons. The wing’s present commander, Brig Gen Steven Garland, is not a bomber general, having piloted the F-4G Advanced Wild Weasel, F-117 Nighthawk and F-15E Strike Eagle for about 3,000 flying hours. Together with Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, Andersen is one of America’s two bomber forward operating locations in the oceans that touch on Asia. Known to civil aviation authorities as UAM, it has two main runways – 6R/24L at 11,200ft (3,413m) and 6L/24R at 10,527ft (3,208m), both long enough to accommodate any aircraft in the inventory. The location is tropical – a ‘notice to airman’ warns of “frequent rain showers of short duration. Expect wet runway braking action.” The moisture comes from afternoon thunderstorms and rain torrents that come and go quickly, leaving 7



the place basking in brilliant sunlight most of the day.

Bombing in the BUFF Yes, they really do call the B-52 the BUFF, for Big Ugly Fat Fellow, although sometimes they use a different f-word. And, yes, it really has been in operational service for almost 60 years – the maiden flight was April 15, 1952 and the first delivery to an operational unit was in August 1955. Many of its characteristics are unchanged from the day the first example rolled out of the factory: the drooping, 185ft (56m) wing, the blunt nose and eight engines hanging beneath the wings in pairs in four pods. All 76 B-52s in service today (58 in active-duty units, 16 in the Air Force Reserve and two with Air Force Materiel Command) are B-52H models powered by eight 17,000lb (338kN) Pratt & Whitney


TF33-P-3/103 turbofan engines. Typically, each weighs 190,000lbs (845kN) when fully loaded. The crew numbers five: pilot, co-pilot, radar navigator (the bombardier), navigator, and electronic warfare officer (EWO), nicknamed the ‘e-dub’. The B-52 carried a tail gun and gunner but that practice is decades behind us. While the B-52’s exterior is little changed, beneath the skin today’s Stratofortress is something else. Describing the ‘new’ B-52, Lt Gen James Kowalski of Global Strike Command told reporters during a briefing about the aircraft on February 6, 2013: “A B-52 is really similar to your smart phone. It’s a bomber, but it’s also whatever you put into it. You want to do information ops you put canisters with leaflets on it; you want to do jamming you put the miniature air-launched decoy jammer on it. There have been a number of

studies to try to put pods on the B-52 to do electronic attack. You can put JASSM-ER and JASSM [the AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Stand-off Missile] on there. It really is about what you want to do with the airframe. It remains very capable, very flexible. You’ve got five crewmembers on board so you can task different things.”

CBP History While on Guam, the bombers fly long-duration sorties over the vast expanses of the Pacific Ocean. They have access to training ranges in places such as Australia and off Hawaii and work with sister services and allies. When CBP began nine years ago, the B-52, B-1B Lancer and B-2 Spirit squadrons shared the deployments. The B-1B, the only member of the trio not to have a nuclear mission, became heavily


4 5 6 1 Captain Jake Whitlock an electronic warfare officer from the 96th EBS performs a pre-flight inspection on an antenna. 2 Crew chiefs monitor engine startup on a B-52H. 3 Major Michael Hansen a 96th EBS radar navigator conducts a pre-flight check on a AAQ-28 Litening II targeting pod. 4 A maintenance crew works on the flare canister in the B-52’s tail section. 5 Major Michael Hansen a 96th EBS radar navigator looks into the AVQ-22 low–light television camera turret during pre-flight checks of the B-52’s electro-optical viewing system. 6 (Left to right) A1C Robert Knife, A1C Charles Ezeike and SSgt Billy Campbell load a parachute onto a B-52 during post sortie maintenance work at Andersen AFB, Guam. 7 A view down the Andersen AFB ramp shows several B-52Hs; closest is the 96th EBS flagship, aircraft 60-0059.

tasked in Iraq and Afghanistan and was taken out of the rotation. The small size of the B-2 fleet – and, perhaps, the February 23, 2008 crash on Guam of aircraft 89-0127, Spirit of Kansas, caused by a sensor failure – led to the type’s removal from the Guam deployments at least temporarily. Now, the B-52 handles the Guam CBP commitment by itself. The US Air Force inventory currently includes 66 B-1Bs and 20 B-2s, as well as the 76 B-52s. The CBP rotations now occur every six months and each of the two B-52 wings at Barksdale and Minot are responsible for them for one year at a time. This means each wing will dispatch two

Expeditionary Bomb Squadrons (EBS) over that period. The age of the B-52 is less of a problem than the geriatric condition of the other bombers. Ironically the B-2 was withdrawn from the CBP mission partly because it is considered to be getting too old. The first examples rolled out of the factory in the late 1980s with an on-board computer based on the IBM 286. “It’s very hard to convince people that the B-2 is not a new airplane,” Maj Gen William Chambers of the Air Staff said in a speech in November 2012. “The B-2 is packed with 1980s-era network gear and software and needs a new ‘digital backbone.’”

Except for a radar upgrade, the B-2 has received no significant improvements since it was built.

B-52’s Arsenal In contrast, the BUFF has benefitted from dozens of improvements that are either hidden beneath the skin or not immediately obvious, such as the AN/AAQ-28 Litening II advanced targeting pod (ATP) and the AN/AAQ-33 Sniper XR ATP. The B-52 has a Link 16 datalink that can connect it to other US warplanes and those of its allies. Other upgrades have included global positioning system (GPS) navigation (added in the

1990s), improved electronic countermeasures and heavier adopter beams to carry weighty ordnance. Ordnance that did not exist when the B-52 was designed can now fit inside the bomb bay or beneath the wings. The Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) is a bolt-on guidance kit that transforms a ‘dumb’ bomb into a satellite-guided precision weapon. Typical JDAMs are the GBU-31(V)1/B and the GBU31(V)3 with BLU-109 penetrator warhead – both variations on the 2,000lb (907kg) Mk84 bomb. They are now combat veterans and are routinely found in the B-52’s arsenal.










1 A B-52 flies through clouds on descent into Andersen AFB, Guam. 2 Captain Jake Whitlock an electronic warfare officer from the 96th EBS runs tests on some of the B-52’s on board computers as part of standard pre-flight preparations. 3 B-52H 61-0021 sits at the ready as the crew prepares to launch on a training mission from Andersen AFB, Guam. 4 Lt Kyle Fluker a 96th EBS pilot manoeuvres his B-52 during a training mission. 5 On short final to Andersen AFB, Guam. 6 Captain Robert Jeffrey a pilot with the 96th EBS works through the pre-flight checklist.

In the category of ‘big’ the B-52 can readily accommodate the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Burst (MOAB), also called the ‘mother of all bombs’ (MOAB), a colossal 22,600lb (10,251kg) munition that was once touted as the most powerful nonnuclear bomb ever built – until Russia came up with a larger one. The MOAB has been in development by the Air Force Research Laboratory since 2001 and about 15 are understood to be in the inventory. It is primarily intended for soft to medium surface targets and those in a contained environment, such as a deep canyon or within a cave system. It is not known if MOABs are available for use by deployed B-52s on Guam. In the category of ‘not so big’, the 250lb (113kg) GBU-39/B Small Diameter Bomb Increment I (SDB I) has not yet been integrated with the B-52 platform, but would give the B-52 a low-cost means of carrying many more ordnance items (at least 100) and engaging a larger number of targets per sortie. Under development for service in the near future, and a possible fit for the B-52, is the GBU-53/B Small Diameter Bomb Increment II (SDB II), a 250lb (113kg) device with extending glide wings. This all-weather stand-off weapon is designed to be more effective against mobile targets. The semi-stealthy AGM158 JASSM, to which Gen Kowalski referred, completed Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) flight testing in the spring, which will give the B-52 an autonomous stand-off capability with increased range and precision – if the gridlock over budget spending in Washington can be resolved. Stand-off weapons like JASSM make the



B-52 effective against modern air defence systems. The B-52 (like the B-2, but unlike the B-1B) has a nuclear mission and can carry just about every nuclear weapon in the US inventory, including the AGM-86 air-launched cruise missile, or ALCM and the B61 as well as other gravity bombs. (The more modern AGM-129 advanced cruise missile, or ACM, has been retired as a cost-cutting move.) The manned bomber portion of the strategic ‘triad’ – bombers, intercontinental and submarine-launched ballistic missiles – frequently draws barbs from Beijing and Pyongyang. Referring to the “unpardonable” quote, Pentagon spokesman Little alluded to nuclear capability when he said: “We are drawing attention to the fact we have extended deterrence capabilities that we believe are important to demonstrate in the wake of recent North Korean rhetoric.” The venerable bomber becomes even more effective against ‘triple digit SAMs’ (surfaceto-air missiles) – those that have a range three times greater than previous versions – and their associated radars with the addition of the ADM-160 Miniature Air-Launched Decoy (MALD), a small, turbojet-powered device designed to confuse and disrupt those defences. The US Air Force says it has taken delivery of an “operationally significant quantity” of MALDs but isn’t saying much else. A variant is the ADM-160C MALD-J, a radar jammer that will be able to operate in both decoy and jammer modes. A B-52 will be capable of launching MALD-J against a pre-planned target and to jam specific radars to degrade an adversary’s integrated air defence system.

In addition to dropping bombs and foiling air defences, the B-52 is extremely useful as a platform for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), employing electro-optical and infrared sensors. Pentagon officials say just two B-52s can monitor 140,000 square miles (360,000km2) of land or sea in a

cowlings and struts. Today, the Pratt & Whitney F117-PW-200 (PW2040) used on the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III is a more realistic choice. By 2004 the Pentagon’s Defense Science Board conducted what it called the fourth B-52 re-engining study and concluded that this would



mere two hours – the equivalent of surveying a region larger than the size of Great Britain and Newfoundland combined.

More Upgrades Older in years than any other bomber in service, the B-52 nevertheless has fewer problems relating to age than the B-1B or B-2. Still, as airmen interviewed by AIR International confirmed, the B-52 does need additional improvements. The idea of re-engining the B-52 is surfacing again in discussions in Washington. In 1996 Boeing presented an unsolicited proposal to modernise the B-52 by replacing the eight TF33 engines with four off-the-shelf RB-211s produced by Rolls-Royce and with commercially-available nacelles,

be “financially demanding” but would increase “range, reach and loiter”, reducing the use of air refuelling and allowing longer, more flexible missions. The Science Board recommended that the air force “proceed with B-52H re-engining without delay and place the programme on a fast acquisition track” – but it didn’t happen. The idea was raised again earlier in 2013, but it appears that funding for new engines is further away than ever. One expert told this magazine that the re-engining idea has “fallen asleep again”. Over many years, the US Air Force has replaced the B-52’s fuel bladders, hatches, windows and radomes. Now, it is making progress with the Combat Network Communications Technology (CONECT) upgrade,

B-52H STRATOFORTRESS MILITARY to give the BUFF a digital backbone and enhanced communications. CONECT will put improved processors at each crew member’s station, provide colour displays and eliminate a jerry-rigged tangle of wires and laptops that has been cluttering the B-52’s co*ckpit for years. Capt Christopher Weir, an EWO, described these changes to AIR International: “A lot of money 3 that’s gone into the B-52 has been focused on keeping us relevant. process of upgrading a co-pilot We’re about to field a new mod to qualify for the right seat. B-52 [CONECT] that will enable the pilot Capt Bandy Jeffrey told display to be seen by the pilot, this magazine: “The cross-check co-pilot and the EWO. The pilot from one seat to the other is and co-pilot today still have MFDs horrendous when you first transfer [multi-function displays] that are from the right seat to the left.” A not in colour. We’re going to be major overhaul of the flight deck glad to have everything cleaned to make both pilots’ positions up and integrated.” identical would save a lot of One curiosity about the pilot’s time and effort, but the cost is job remains unchanged. In what considered to be greater than the can only be called a mistake, gain and B-52 pilots have been possibly in the rush to revise living with this inconvenience for the original tandem-seating generations. arrangement in the BUFF, the Over the decades, several pilot and co-pilot’s positions were costly studies have demonstrated created in mirror image rather that the B-52 airframe is than made identical as in the B-1B structurally intact and can and B-2. This certainly hinders the continue flying almost indefinitely.

The B-52 was “overdesigned”, as one expert put it, and has none of the structural fatigue issues plaguing many of the aircraft in the US military inventory. With a little care and attention and with the superb maintainers for which the B-52 is renowned, the BUFF should be able to continue flying at least until 2040. When priorities for the B-52 are sorted out in military staff meetings, the CBP on Guam always rises to the top of the list. The budget paralysis gripping Washington is having an impact on just about everything the US military does – the US Air Force grounded 17 combat squadrons in the spring and reduced annual

flying hours by 203,000 – but the CBP is safe for now. Recently, the 23rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron from Minot replaced the 96th – whose personnel AIR International interviewed – on Guam. What happens after the fiscal year ends on September 30 remains uncertain.

Regional Springboard One observer called the CBP on Guam a modern-day form of “gunboat diplomacy” – often defined as a policy that is supported by intimidation, threat, or implied threat, of military force. Using Andersen as a springboard and with support






from tankers in the region, the B-52 can project power in a variety of ways to the benefit of US national interests. Sometimes this can be as simple as a flyover at the biennial Singapore airshow (the former Changi International airshow), held in even-numbered years. A B-52 carried out this duty in 2010 and 2012 and is scheduled to do so again in 2014. “This highlights military cooperation and spreads good will,” James Boyle, Singapore desk officer for the Department 1 of State, told AIR International. “They’re a rapidly modernising 2 and advancing nation but they don’t have anything like the B-52 so when they get a chance to see one, it arouses interest.” Equally capable of spreading good will – on the South Korean side – is the occasional appearance of a B-52 over the Korean peninsula. More importantly, a BUFF here is certain to be noticed and to draw reaction from a potential adversary. During the annual Exercise Foal Eagle in South Korea (March 1 to April 30 of this year), B-52s from Andersen and B-2s from stateside made flights over South Korea and showed 1 (Left to right) SSgt Alexander Wheeler, SrA Anthony Rodriguez, SrA Daniel Babis, A1C Zachary Christy prepare an AGM-158 JASSM missile for loading onto B-52H 61-0012. 2 (Left to right) SSgt Justin Phillips, SrA Casey Darnell, A1C Derek Cabrera and SrA Luis Sanchez prepare to install a laser seeker on an inert 500lb BDU-50 bomb unit to make a GBU-12 laser-guided training round. 3 A maintenance crew prepare to push a 96th EBS aircraft back to its parking spot at Andersen AFB, Guam. 4 B-52H 61-0019 departs Andersen AFB on a training sortie. 3




their stuff. Both US and North Korean media reported that the B-52s were flying simulated nuclear missions. While an atomic attack is the last-gasp option for any Korea scenario, both sides know that a B-52 could ‘stand off’ and nuke a target in North Korea without ever flying north of the demarcation line. Nuclear capability is very much on the mind of one of the most important nations in the region – Japan. Decades ago, the United States and Japan reached an understanding that is unwritten but rigidly enforced, ie that a newly modernised Japan would refrain from developing its own nuclear weapons. In exchange, the US would provide a so-called ‘nuclear umbrella’: if Japan was to come under nuclear attack, the US would retaliate against the attacker. This aspect of the US-Japanese partnership has become frayed of late, with many in Japan seeing a need to re-arm, so the appearance of B-52s as part of the CBP acts to deter potential Japanese adversaries as well as restrain Japan’s own trend towards militarism. The US alliance with Australia is vital to both countries. The

B-52H STRATOFORTRESS MILITARY ANZUS Treaty was written to ensure that US forces would play a part if Australia was attacked, with no one ever imagining that it would work in reverse. When the United States was attacked on 9-11, Australia invoked the treaty and offered assistance, including surface warships and maritime reconnaissance aircraft to help guard US coasts. The offer wasn’t needed but B-52 appearances in Australia are both a way of showing strength and of reassuring Aussie politicians and public. In 2010 a B-52 landed at Darwin, the Australian city closest to a potential threat from Asia. In August 2012 a B-52 that was part of the Guam CBP commitment participated in the Australian exercise known as Pitch Black. Then earlier this year Australian and Japanese warplanes teamed up with US aircraft including B-52s to participate in Exercise Cope North, staged out of Guam.

‘Near-Peer’ Exercise Cope North (February 4 to 15) with all flights mounted from Andersen brought together a rich diversity of aircraft from three allies in the region, with the B-52 out in front

much of the time. The exercise consisted of two segments. The first was an airpower response to a simulated humanitarian crisis in a hypothetical country rife with political turmoil. The second was a ‘near-peer’ war with a developing nation state that was fictitious but had a lot in common with North Korea. The US came to the party with F-16C Block 30 Fighting Falcon ‘aggressors’, F-15C Eagles, an E-3C Sentry, a C-130J Hercules and KC-135 Stratotankers – led, of course, by CBP B-52s. The Japanese showed up with F-15Js, Mitsubishi F-2 fighters, a C-130 Hercules, a KC-767 tanker and an E-2C Hawkeye. The Australians appeared with F/A-18A Hornets, an E-7A Wedgetail airborne control aircraft, a C-130J and a KC-30A tanker (Airbus A330-220). It was the first time all three Cope North participants had tankers in the exercise. More than any of the other assets, the B-52s turned heads. Capt Weir said: “I just can’t imagine holding a periodic exercise like this without the B-52 being the dominant partner in the multi-national effort.” And neither can anyone else.

5 6

5 Lt Kyle Fluker a 96th EBS pilot performs pre-flight checks on an engine nacelle. 6 A crew chief enters maintenance details into the aircraft’s logbook after the post-flight inspection. 7 High over the Pacific Ocean during a training mission out of Andersen AFB, Guam.




Feed Fast-growing

SA Express, South African Airways’ feeder airline, is experiencing major growth, as Sebastian Schmitz reveals


A Express is one of two airlines providing feeder services for South African Airways (SAA). The airline started flying in spring 1994 as South African Express. Today, known simply as SA Express, it operates a fleet of 22 aircraft and is one of Africa’s fastest-growing regional carriers. Exciting times are ahead as the airline plans to add Embraer regional jets to its fleet as well as a number of new international destinations to its network.



Early Days

SA Express can trace its history back to the early 1990s when the Canadian De Luce family, which had decades of experience in aviation, saw potential for a regional airline in South Africa. At the time, SAA was the dominant airline in the domestic market. However a number of routes were unserved, or underserved, as the Boeing 737s SAA used for domestic operations were simply too big for some airports.

From the beginning, South African Express was meant to be primarily a feeder carrier for SAA, offering services to the airline’s main hubs from smaller markets or additional frequencies on busy routes. When South African Express started operations the De Luce family became one of the major shareholders, with SAA also holding a 20% interest. A fleet of 12 factorynew DHC8-300 turboprops were delivered to the airline within just six months in what was a very important order for the Canadian manufacturer at the time.




CRJ200 ZS-NMD (c/n 7233) was delivered to SA Express in November 2006. The aircraft is seen landing at Johannesburg O.R. Tambo International. Stephan Rossouw/AirTeamImages

Bloemfontein was one of the first airports served by SA Express. Providing services to the city, South Africa’s tenth biggest, seat of the country’s supreme court and an important business destination, is a good example of how the airline improved access to smaller markets. Before it started operations, Bloemfontain had a daily SAA Boeing 737 flight from Johannesburg in the morning that would continue to Cape Town and return to Bloemfontein in the evening on its way back to Johannesburg – not very convenient for

business travellers. SA Express added more frequencies at Bloemfontein and there are currently eight daily flights from the city to Johannesburg on a work day and four to Cape Town. Similarly, SA Express began providing more frequencies to other regional cities as well as taking over some thinner routes from SAA. SA Express flights operated from the start using the SA code of South African Airways, although the airline holds its own XZ code. Half of the 12 DHC8-300s were traded in

later for the same number of Bombardier CRJ200 regional jets, allowing the airline to operate longer sectors such as international flights to Namibia, where flight times on a turboprop would have been excessive. SA Express continued operating the mixed fleet for some years, with only a single DHC8300 being added in 2001. It was not until 2006 and 2007 that a major fleet change took place when new, larger, Dash 8 Q400 turboprops and CRJ700s arrived. During the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, SA Express’




profile was raised when it was appointed the official domestic airline for the event and flew all teams to and from their matches.

Congo Express An interesting episode in the history of SA Express, although one that did not last very long, was a service to Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of the (DR) Congo as part of a joint venture called Congo Express. Lubumbashi is a mining centre and the country’s economic centre. As the vast DR Congo lacks a reliable road network between major cities and distances are long, flying is often the only option. However, because airlines have come and gone, and a number of accidents have taken place, foreign companies often ban employees from using domestic airlines and insist they fly via Johannesburg or elsewhere instead. SA Express tried to tap into this market by offering a reliable and safe domestic service to Lubumbashi, with flights beginning in 2004. A local partner (BizAfrika Congo) was found and a joint venture set up in which SA Express held a 49% stake. “The knowledge of a local partner seemed indispensable,” explained Dave Allanby, SA Express’ General Manager Flight Operations. “The way things work here are quite different from South Africa. When it comes to ticket purchasing, people would often show up at the airport and only buy their ticket once the inbound flight had landed as flights, in their experience, had a habit of being delayed

for hours or even days. Also cash is king here, which makes the handling often more difficult for an airline as well.” SA Express eventually received permission from the Congolese Government to add flights to the capital Kinshasa and MbujiMayi as an addition to the JohannesburgLubumbashi service. A single CRJ200 was based in Kinshasa and operated daily flights. Loads were good initially, but then other airlines started to fly the same routes. These operators’ fares undercut those of Congo Express, which were higher because of its greater operating costs. Additionally, Congo can be a challenging country for any company with its often basic infrastructure and a complex and unpredictable legal and regulatory framework. With these conditions, and only one aircraft in operation, the venture was deemed to be unsustainable and SA Express pulled the plug just a few months after the services started. Despite the failure, flights from Johannesburg to Lubumbashi are still part of the SA Express network and operate five times a week, using a CRJ700.

Today SA Express’ network today covers 10 destinations in South Africa. The airline’s main hub is the country’s busiest airport, Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International, where it operates 236 departures each week. Its two smaller hubs are in Cape Town and Durban. Destinations include the bigger cities along South Africa’s coastline such as George,

Port Elizabeth, East London and Richards Bay as well as Bloemfontein, the ‘Diamond City’ of Kimberley and Hoedspruit, the gateway airport for the Kruger National Park. Internationally, SA Express serves Botswana’s capital Gaborone, with up to eight Q400 flights from Johannesburg daily, Windhoek and Walvis Bay in Namibia, from both Johannesburg and Cape Town, Lubumbashi in DR Congo, from Johannesburg, and Maputo in Mozambique, from Cape Town. International flights launched recently from Cape Town have been well-received by passengers. All SA Express flights, domestic and international, offer a single-class cabin and the in-flight service consists of sandwiches, sweet snacks and a selection of hot and cold beverages, including local wines. Flights to neighbouring countries are either non-existent or infrequent from airports other than Johannesburg and, while demand remains insufficient for aircraft as big as a Boeing 737 or Airbus A320, smaller aircraft like SA Express’s Q400s and CRJs are the perfect size for profitable and therefore sustainable services.

Business Model SA Express’ business model is based on opening up a new market with limited, but business-friendly, frequencies (around threequarters of the airline’s passengers travel for business) with two flights on weekdays being the norm. If passenger demand grows,

1 SA Express operates a fleet of nine Q400s including ZS-NMO (c/n 4122) which was the first to enter service in April 2006. Bailey/AirTeamImages 2 CRJ700 ZS-NBG (c/n 10028) taxiing out at Bloemfontein airport for the return flight to Cape Town. Sebastian Schmitz 3 One of ten Bombardier CRJ200s operated by South African Express, ZS-NMN (c/n 7237), sporting a new colour scheme to celebrate the recent inauguration of the direct flight linking Durban to Harare, Zimbabwe. Clinton Barnard 4 Two different tails illustrating the colours of the defunct Congo Express (near camera) and the current SA Express scheme. Sebastian Schmit





SOUTH AFRICAN EXPRESS AIRWAYS COMMERCIAL frequencies are often increased. However, as most of the markets in which SA Express operates are fairly saturated, the airline has decided to add aircraft with more capacity to generate further growth. This is being made possible by replacing the remaining 50-seat DHC8-300s with the bigger 74-seat Q400s. The last DHC8-300 route is from Johannesburg to the small airport of Richards Bay. Due to operating restrictions, the Q400 is currently unable to land at the airport. However apron adjustments planned for the near future will mean it is able to receive the type, enabling the last two DH8-300s to be retired. The SA Express fleet will then consist of nine Q400s, nine CRJ200s and five CRJ700s. Fleet maintenance is carried out by the airline’s engineering staff in two hangars at Johannesburg, with line maintenance checks also carried out at Cape Town and Durban.


likely to take place at smaller airports, such as Cape Town and Durban, which are less congested than Johannesburg and with connections to neighbouring countries. While many southern Africa countries have experienced steady economic growth in recent years flight connections between these and South Africa, are often still limited to Johannesburg. For many provincial South African cities SA Express has improved accessibility significantly by adding new routes or more business-friendly frequencies. As mentioned previously, while demand may yet not be sufficient for aircraft as big as a Boeing

E-Jets As part of its plan to increase capacity SA Express, like many regional airlines, has decided to operate bigger aircraft in the future. Often only marginally more expensive to operate than small jets and turboprops, they also offer the added benefit of improved passenger comfort. SA Express has identified the Embraer E-Jet as its aircraft of choice, and the company plans to place an order soon for what is likely to be a mix of E-175s and E-190s. These will replace the CRJ200s and CRJ700s and operate alongside the Q400s, which will be kept for shorter or less busy routes. The E-Jets will enable SA Express to carry more passengers on the same number of flights thereby making better use of the increasingly precious slots at Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo Airport.

737 or Airbus A320, SA Express’ smaller aircraft offer a more suitable size. And the airline intends to continue pursuing this model by introducing a number of new international city pairs from Cape Town and Durban. SA Express has evolved from a small feeder carrier to an important airline in South Africa’s domestic and regional arenas. Carrying more than 1.5 million passengers a year, it not only plays an important role for SAA but in the near future will open up a whole new range of international services that would not be economically worthwhile for South African Airways alone.


SAA Ties SA Express and the other regional feeder airline for the SAA network, Airlink, operate independently of SAA. However, they are wholly owned by the Department of Public Enterprise, the same government agency that owns SAA and the flag carrier’s low-cost offshoot Mango. There is close cooperation with SAA. The 2009 re-brand from South African Express to SA Express, and the adoption of its own distinct corporate identity, may seem like a move away from the flag carrier. However, SA Express retains its primary function of providing passenger feed into SAA’s hubs as well as adding frequencies and capacity on the SAA network. Passengers can buy through tickets from, for example, Bloemfontein to London with the first sector being operated by SA Express and the second by SAA, in the same way many regional airlines around the world operate for their bigger partners.

Network Plans SA Express is, nevertheless, able to develop its own routes such as when it started daily flights between the newly-opened airports in Durban and Cape Town in 2010 and the 2011 service from Cape Town to Hoedspruit, mostly used by tourists combining a visit to the South African capital with the Kruger National Park. The development of future routes is most



Italian troops exit an Italian Army Aviation NH90 at Herat in Afghanistan. All images Aviazione dell’ Escertio via Riccardo Niccoli unless noted

Riccardo Niccoli looks at the work of the Italian Army’s NH90s in Afghanistan

to its capabilities last year from a new operational unit, Squadrone NH90 (NH90 Company). It brought into theatre the army’s newest helicopter, the NH90.


Deployment Decision

ask Force ‘Fenice’ – the helicopter component of the Esercito Italiano (Italian Army) in Afghanistan – received a boost



The decision to deploy the NH90 dated back to spring 2011, when it was necessary to deploy an effective replacement for the Italian Navy’s AW101 helicopters. The

AW101s were reaching the end of their deployment and various substitutes were able to fulfil the same missions, namely combat support, combat service support (CSS) and medical evacuation. The options were to return the old but reliable AB205 or deploy the new NH90, which was already working well in Italy, having logged more than 4,000 flying hours with no particular problems. The decision was

taken to deploy five NH90s and the preparation phase quickly began involving the crews, aircraft and the all-important logistical support. The army signed a new logistics support contract with NHIndustries, covering all the activity necessary in the theatre such as a larger supply of spare parts and the presence of a NHIndustry representative at Herat, the Task Force’s base in


Nemo in Afghanistan, who would assist military maintenance personnel. The decision to deploy the NH90 also accelerated the rate of the helicopter’s development. Systems originally planned for 2013 were introduced at the start of 2012. Modifications included a new mode called Criptos, for the radios, and a new software release (Configuration 3) for the night-vision system integrated in the helmet-mounted display

(HMD) helmets. The helicopters that received the deployment upgrades were designated ‘Additional IOC+’ and differ from the FOC (full operational capability) – the latter also having the SICRAL Italian satellite radios and the Link 16 datalink system.

Crews Most flying crews selected for deployment already had

experience in Afghanistan operations on other helicopters and were expert in the specific local environment and procedures. A typical NH90 crew was composed of two pilots and one or two flight engineers. However, the integration of two 7.62mm Oto Melara/Dillon M134D Gatling guns, with a rate of fire of 3,000 rounds per minute, fitted to a retractable pintle-mount at the side doors,

prompted the integration of a new crew member – the gunner. The additional personnel were drawn from soldier and sergeant ranks and were qualified for NH90 operations in dedicated firing sessions at the Capo Teulada range in Sardinia. The personnel were selected and divided into five flight teams before deployment in theatre for three months. The first two teams started




crew-level training in October 2011, before undertaking an exercise at company level the following month. A third training phase dedicated to mountain flying was held in December 2011 at Bolzano and Dobbiaco in the Italian Alps. The fourth phase, final validation, took place on the range at Monte Romano, north-west of Rome, in March 2012. The first team was originally due to leave Italy in May 2012, but electronic warfare system (EWS) additions to the NH90 were not ready and the certification to load and transport the NH90 inside the US Air Force C-17A was yet to be completed, Comando AVES (Italian Army Aviation Command), taking advantage of part of the work already carried out by the Australian Army on the same type, provided the US Air Force with all the data required to enable the certification that was received during the second quarter. Five C-17A flights were booked to transport the NH90 quintet to Afghanistan.

Task Unit Nemo The helicopters were prepared for the transport by the 2° Rgt di Sostegno ‘Orione’ (2nd Maintenance Rgt) at Bologna Borgo Panigale, and on August 1 The first Italian Army NH90 4 arrived at Herat on August 18,

2012 onboard a US air Force C-17A. 2&3 Italian Army Aviation air crews

concentrated their initial activity on area familiarisation, flying reconnaissance missions day and night, and performing take offs and landings in all conditions at the various bases of the Regional Command West. 4 NH90s usually

operate in pairs for CSS missions, but in some cases fly with other types like the A129 Mangusta according to the mission needs.



and the remaining two are subject to maintenance activities. The helicopters are rotated as necessary. At the start of the deployment Task Force Nemo agreed to provide some 60 hours per month to the RC-West, but since January 1, 2013, the hours have increased to 80 per month. Usually the NH90s operate in pairs in CSS missions, which is the transportation of personnel between the bases of the RCWest (combat support is the transportation of troops in the areas of operations). In some cases the NH90s fly in 1 pairs with other types such as the A129 Mangusta or the CH-47, 4, 2012, the first contingent of according to the mission needs. personnel left Italy. The first NH90 For security reasons, the precise arrived at Herat on August 18, details of the activity undertaken and in two days was reassembled in Afghanistan remain unknown, and ready to fly, marking the start but the NH90 has been involved of the initial operational capability in anti-insurgent operations period. Further helicopters undertaken by special forces, with were delivered on August 29, two NH90s operating in a package September 16, 19 and 22, and alongside two CH-47 (to transport Nemo’s full operational capability the troops) and four A129 (tasked was reached on September 25 when the fifth and last machine 2 carried out its first flight in theatre. During the IOC period, air crews concentrated their activity on area familiarisation, flying reconnaissance missions day and night, and performing take offs and landings in all conditions at the various bases of the Regional Command West (RC-West), to which they would be committed. The unit, numbering some 40 personnel, received the designation ‘Task Force Nemo’, restoring the tradition of the L-18 light aircraft unit of the 1960s. The unit was allocated the call sign ‘Mambo’, also formerly used 3 by an Italian Army Aviation unit.

In Theatre The typical employment of Task Force Nemo assets in theatre is based on two NH90s being ready to fly at any moment, 24 hours a day and seven days a week. A third machine is held as a reserve in case of problems on one of the others

with controlling and keeping safe the area of operations). The NH90s deployed in Afghanistan will remain in theatre until the end of the Italian involvement in International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) operations in the country. This is not just because the helicopter is well-suited to the operations, but because movement of them and their logistical support back and forth from Italy for short periods is too expensive. Just one machine, used more intensively than the others, will be sent back to Italy when it reaches 300 flying hours in theatre. There engineers will assess airframe stress and and liaise with maintenance teams and the manufacturer on possible future improvements.

Better SA What’s the verdict on the NH90’s performance in theatre so far? “The machine goes well and gave

NH90 MILITARY 5 Five C-17A flights were

required to transport the INH90 quintet to Afghanistan. 6 During the IOC period, NH90s were checked at an altitude of 7,500ft and temperatures of 26-30°C (equivalent to an altitude/ density of 11,000ft). The highest temperature of 45°C were recorded at Farah in western Afghanistan. 7 A 7.62mm Oto Melara/Dillon M134D Gatling gun fitted to a retractable

no surprises at all,” says Lt Col Massimo Bonesi, chief of the Task Force Team NH90 in the Italian Army, and one of the first NH90 pilots deployed to Afghanistan. “With the NH90, pilots enjoy an excellent situational awareness (SA). They have no problems because, thanks to the automatic pilot and the on-board systems and equipment, the helicopter is easy to control. The pilot always knows where he is and where he is going.” The two pilots spend less time controlling the helicopter and concentrate much more on the observation of the terrain and controlling the mission. The forward-looking infrared (FLIR), combined with the digital moving map system (the maps can be uploaded even before the mission, including the latest updates of the tactical situation) and the HMD, which shows the flying data on the pilots’ visors, 6 gives the pilots not just greater SA but more self-confidence. “With the NH90 the crew is more confident,” Lt Col Bonesi told AIR International. “The worst situation, ‘brown out’ (when sand and dust cloud around the helicopter, during landing) is no more a reason of concern. The NH90 is extremely stable, and flies with the autopilot until five meters [15ft] above the ground. At that point, the pilot, who is always aware of the situation, thanks to the helmet symbology, can leave the machine in automatic hovering and wait until the visibility

improves and then pass to the manual landing mode.” The EWS self-protection system has not yet been tested in combat in Afghanistan, but its capability appears to match expectations. The NHIndustriesdeveloped system is composed of a control processor and a radar warning receiver developed by Thales and Cassidian, while the missile warning and the laser warning systems are provided by Elettronica. It is the same equipment used by AgustaWestland for the SIAP system integrated into the Italian Army’s A129, AB412, AB205 and CH-47.

Beating Benchmarks In operational use, the NH90 pilots have been able to see that the parameters in the flight

manual have matched perfectly the performance in the field. It has been found that some 10-15% more loads can be carried in the helicopter than those published in the manual, which has given the pilots more confidence to load the machine to the allowed limits. During the IOC phase, the NH90s were checked at an altitude of 7,500ft (2,270m) and temperatures of 26-30°C (equivalent to an altitude/ density of 11,000ft/3,330m). The highest temperatures have been recorded at Farah in western Afghanistan, with 45°C (113°F), and in this case, the parameters also appeared to equal those published in the manuals. At the other end of the temperature scale, before Christmas 2012, the NH90 operated with ground temperatures of about -12°/-15°C

(10.4°/5°F) and about -20°C (-4°F) in flight with no problems, along with the electronic components and fly-by-wire controls. The NH90 is fitted with Have Quick radios, which enables them to be the sole Italian helicopter able to communicate directly with US forces aircraft. The first few months of the NH90’s operational use in Afghanistan appears to be positive overall. Credit should be given to the Italian Army Aviation Command for recognising the maturity of its NH90s in order to deploy it and gain precious experience in operating a fundamental component of its future rotary force. Such astuteness has allowed the Command to steal a lead on other NH90 operators who are late in reaching full operational capability with the helicopter.






A Giant

Spreads Its Wings

Delta, the world’s biggest airline, is reaping the benefits of its merger with Northwest and planning growth through new partnerships and products. Andreas Spaeth reports


ew York John F Kennedy Airport’s main terminal building, an architectural icon of civil aviation, illustrates the fast pace of commercial aviation like no other structure. The world-famous Terminal 3, with its roof resembling a big flying saucer, opened in May 1960 as ‘Worldport’ of Pan American at the former Idlewild Airport. This is where



the airline with the blue globe logo soared to world dominance – and where in the 1980s its gradual demise became most visible. In 1991 Delta Air Lines from Atlanta, then mainly a domestic airline, took over Pan Am’s transatlantic routes from Terminal 3 shortly before the latter declared bankruptcy in December that year. Two decades later, Terminal 3 was so obviously run down that

even Delta’s Chief Financial Officer, Paul Jacobson, admitted: “Customers compare that [terminal] to service levels in the third world, and I believe they’re right.”

New Era On May 23, 2013, the last passengers used Terminal 3. Melancholy over the closure was

The new hub means Delta will be able to process 5 million more passengers annually at JFK than it could in Terminal 3 – capacity it dearly needs to play a major role on the lucrative international markets to and from New York. Delta’s adverts claim it is New York’s biggest airline but it only dominates JFK, while United occupies the top spot at the former Continental hub in Newark.

“We have momentum at Delta,” said Perry Cantarutti, Senior Vice President Europe, Middle East and Africa at Delta, in an interview with AIR International in New York.

Turnaround On the financial side Delta has become a role model for the industry within a short


Simon Gregory/AirTeamImages

very limited. During the most recent hurricanes to hit New York, more and more rainwater seeped through the roof. The building simply wasn’t up to today’s standards. The day after Terminal 3’s closure a new era for Delta at JFK began when it moved into an extension of the nearby Terminal 4, a development which enlarged the structure by a third and created nine new international departure gates.




Airlines and US Airways will push it to number two. “The Delta of today is a totally different Delta from six or seven years ago,” says Cantarutti. “At that time we were a domestic airline that served some international markets.” In 2005, Delta had only 20% of its seat capacity deployed in international markets. By 2010, the figure had increased to 40% and has now grown further to 45%. Delta’s goal is to have 50% of its capacity deployed on international routes. This change goes back to the merger with Northwest, the first big tieup in the long-overdue consolidation of the US airline industry. United and Continental came next, followed later by Southwest and 2 AirTran and now American and US Airways. Northwest, which was based in time. As recently as the 2005-2006 financial Minneapolis, brought a very dense route year this famous airline with its proud network within Asia from the important heritage racked up a huge loss of $10 billion hub in Tokyo-Narita to the new Delta, within just 24 months. Today, it’s the most complementing the European routes profitable legacy carrier in the world. developed since its partner’s takeover of One major reason for the turnaround was Pan Am’s network. “Today, Delta is the the successful merger with Northwest Airlines number one in transatlantic traffic among in the autumn of 2008, which led to costall competitors, number two from the US cutting of $1 billion. “For the first time since over the Pacific and ranking third to Latin 2000 we had a profitable first quarter and America,” explained Perry Cantarutti. “This 2013 will become our most profitable year means we have now deployed our capacity ever,” said Cantarutti. much more evenly between domestic and With more than $1 billion in profit after international routes than before. During the taxes, 2012 was a banner year for Delta peak season, we have 150 departures a day following a healthy profit in 2011. It is alone to Europe, the Middle East and Africa.” currently the biggest airline worldwide, In the summer months, the network is although the imminent merger of American enhanced by a number of seasonal routes, 4 5




like non-stop flights from JFK to Málaga, Athens, Pisa and Venice. In the UK, Delta operates ten daily flights to five US gateways from London-Heathrow as well as daily services from Manchester to Atlanta. All these routes are operated by Boeing 767300ERs or -400ERs. In other parts of Europe, Delta also follows a strategy of direct routes from key US hubs to regional airports. In Germany it serves not just Frankfurt and Munich but also Düsseldorf and Stuttgart. The airline is currently pondering new destinations like Hamburg. “But not before 2015; that’s simply a question of capacity being available,” Cantarutti said. Capacity is a field where Delta acts cautiously. “This year we’ll have a flat capacity growth or a 6

DELTA AIR LINES COMMERCIAL 1 Seen a day before its closure, the former ‘Worldport’ at New York’s JFK airport. All images Andreas Spaeth unless noted 2 N177DN (c/n 25122), a Boeing 767-300ER, is one of 94 in operation with Delta. BaoLuo/AirTeamImages 3 Delta Air Lines currently operates a fleet of 117 MD-88s including N994DL (c/n 53546) which was delivered in January 1992. Ronald Stella/AirTeamImages 4 Delta’s new home

at JFK, T4, has been enlarged by a third, mostly on concourse B. 5 JFK’s T4 saw a full house on its opening day with seven renovated international gates and nine new ones added. 6 Members of the media and staff inspect the new gates on concourse B during the T4 opening day. 7 New York City’s mayor Michael Bloomberg giving a speech at the opening of Delta’s new T4 at JFK. 8 Two Richards: Richard Branson, Chairman of the Virgin Group (right) demonstrates his disapproval of ties on Richard Anderson, Delta’s CEO (left). 9 Playing his trick again, Sir Richard Branson confiscates Richard Anderson’s tie on stage, sparing Michael Bloomberg.

maximum of 1%, if at all,” he added. “Our biggest goal is to deploy larger aircraft and improve passenger loads and yields,” said Delta’s Chief Executive Officer Richard Anderson. He embodies the stereotypical Southerner with his slow drawl and laid-back style, unlike many of the alpha males in top posts in the airline industry. Formerly boss of a health company, he took over Delta at the worst of its times in late 2007 and focused on stability. “Delta leads the US industry revival – we aspire to be the leading and most punctual airline in the world. “Delta leads the way in consolidation with our quite successful merger with Northwest and we aim for long-term and sustainable returns for our shareholders.” The CEO 7 8

expects Delta will carry about 165 million passengers in 2013.

Oil Refinery But despite his demeanour, Anderson is perfectly willing and able to take bold steps if he sees an advantage for his company. For example he was the first airline boss to purchase his own oil refinery. The facility, in Pennsylvania, enables Delta to produce much of the kerosene it needs in-house, sell other by-products and most importantly save the refinery surcharge airlines normally have to pay on their fuel. Experts estimate an annual turnover of $300 million at Delta’s refinery. “Owning a refinery was an

important step for us to regain control over our own destiny,” Anderson explains. The annual output of the refinery, which is being built in a town called Trainer, will be 3 million gallons (about 11 million litres) of kerosene. In total, Delta currently spends around $12 billion annually on fuel. “Since we own the refinery we were able to push the cost for Jet A1 fuel below market prices,” Anderson enthuses. “That’s an enormous benefit.”

Virgin Atlantic Another important project is due to come on line in the autumn of this year after the European Union gave the green light in June to Delta’s takeover of 49% of the shares in 9




Virgin Atlantic Airways previously owned by Singapore Airlines. At the opening of the new Delta terminal in JFK, Richard Anderson and his Virgin Atlantic counterpart, Sir Richard Branson, appeared together, with the charismatic Branson making a show of cutting off Anderson’s tie. This might be a symbol of things to come in the partnership, with Branson’s airline infusing ‘coolness’ into the more staid Delta. For Delta, becoming a major shareholder in Virgin Atlantic is an essential way to increase its so-far meagre share in the



lucrative transatlantic market out of Heathrow. The two airlines’ deal to cooperate on flights to London’s major airport alone creates three times as much premium traffic as Paris-CDG. The route has 2.7 million passengers travelling every year. London-Los Angeles is the second-most important EU-US market with 1.4 million travellers every year. In early 2013 Delta had just 14% of the market between London and New York, but together with Virgin its share will rise to 36%, close to market leader British Airways’ 39%.

“In the future we’ll offer 23 daily round trips between us from Heathrow to the US, nine of which are to JFK and back,” Perry Cantarutti said. Teamed up with Virgin he expects a turnover of $3 billion annually. Delta’s share of the total UK-US market is set to rise from 8% to 25%. “This is the last piece of a puzzle for Delta in becoming the largest transatlantic carrier,” Richard Anderson said.

Transpacific Routes On transpacific routes Delta is already well

DELTA AIR LINES COMMERCIAL Sixteen Boeing 747-400s remain in service with Delta Air Lines including N671US (c/n 26477) seen on the stand at Tel Aviv-Ben Gurion International Airport. Moni Shafir/AirTeamImages

Delta Air Lines Facts and figures IATA code: DL ICAO code: DAL Ownership: listed (100%) Shareholdings: Comair and Delta Connection (100% each), Aeromexico (3.5%), GOL (3%) Founded: May 30, 1924 as Huff Daland Dusters Operations started: June 17, 1929 Employees: 80,646 Passengers carried: 2013 – 165m (estimated), 2012 – 160m, 2011 – 163.8m Fleet: 57 Airbus A319s, 69 Airbus A320s, 11 Airbus A330-200s, 21 Airbus A330-300s, 10 Boeing 737-700s, 73 Boeing 737-800s, 16 Boeing 747-400s, 143 Boeing 757-200s, 16 Boeing 757-300s, 73 Boeing 767-300ERs, 21 Boeing 767-400ERs, 8 Boeing 777-200ERs, 10 Boeing 777-200LRs, 17 McDonnell Douglas DC-9-50s, 117 McDonnell Douglas MD-88s, 61 McDonnell Douglas MD-90s. Aircraft orders: 100 Boeing 737-900ERs, 88 Boeing 717s, 18 Boeing 787-8s Hubs: Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, New York-JFK and La Guardia, Amsterdam, Paris-CDG, Tokyo-Narita. Route network: Delta (inclusive of Delta Connection) flies to more than 375 destinations on six continents, 231 of which are in the US. In the UK Delta flies to London-Heathrow and Manchester. Profit after taxes: 2012 – $1.01bn, 2011 –$854m, 2010 –$593m

positioned. Between the start of its merger with Northwest and the final integration of its services into Delta’s network in July 2013, capacity on these routes has grown by 22% while Delta’s US legacy competitors saw 14% growth. For the Asian routes, Delta follows a multi-hub strategy. There is just one Asian route each from JFK (to Beijing) and Atlanta (to Tokyo-Narita), attributed by Richard Anderson to the lack of range of most of the current long-haul aircraft. “Only the A350-1000 or the 787-10 could enable us to

do more non-stop flights from our biggest hubs,” said the CEO. However, Delta makes up for this with transpacific routes from its hubs at Seattle, Los Angeles and Detroit. The latest routes were launched in June from Seattle to TokyoHaneda and Shanghai. The importance of Tokyo-Narita as Delta’s main Far East hub can’t be overstated. It was there that Northwest started a dense network of intraAsian connections 60-plus years ago and Delta continues to offer a number of onward connections around Asia with its alliance

partners in SkyTeam. “We offer more flights from the US to Narita than any other US airline, with 14 non-stop connections daily. It’s our top-performing operational hub in the world and an important asset to Delta,” Anderson said. On routes to Latin America, Delta has, by contrast, a comparatively weak position and offers just nine destinations, mostly from Atlanta. Instead, Delta is a small shareholder in both Aeromexico (3.5%) and GOL in Brazil (3%) and covers many cities in those partners’ countries. “Aeromexico




1 Delta Air Lines’ Boeing 737-800, N3758Y (c/n 30814), was painted in the Sky Team special colour scheme in September 2012. Andy Martin/ AirTeamImages 2 Located on the T4 rooftop, ‘The Sky Deck’ is a world premier at JFK, Delta has just opened another similar facility at Atlanta

International Airport. 3 The new Delta Sky Club at JFK’s T4 is the biggest such facility in the carrier’s system with over 2,230 square metres of space. 4 The 185 square metre ‘Sky Deck’ includes an open-air roof terrace giving passengers brilliant views of ramp activities at JFK. 5 While the weather on its opening day wasn’t too inviting, the Sky Deck is a perfect place to spend time on sunny days. 6 A330-300, N819NW (msn 858), is one of 32 in service with Delta Air Lines. All of Delta’s A330s are former Northwest Airlines aircraft that were registered to Delta on October 29, 2008 the day the US Department of Justice approved the merger between the two carriers. JangSu Lee/AirTeamImages 1

is one of our most successful investments – Mexico’s aviation is growing at double the rate of the US and that creates a tremendous opportunity for Delta,” Anderson said. He also has high praise for GOL, despite its recent problems. “It’s a remarkable achievement for GOL to have become the biggest domestic airline in Brazil. They have good market dynamics and we’ll work with them for the long term and assist them in maturing their business model.”

Home Market Delta is and remains an important player in US domestic aviation too. “That’s at the heart of our business,” stressed Perry Cantarutti. With a network of 241 US cities served, the offering is a bit bigger than that of United (234 destinations), although American (175) and US Airways (154) together might overtake Delta. The airline has seven hubs in the US, also reflecting the

2 3

4 5



legacy of Northwest Airlines, whose former main hubs in Minneapolis and Detroit have been kept. That at Memphis has recently been abandoned because Delta ended cooperation with Mesaba Airlines, the operator of 50-seater Bombardier CRJ regional jets at the airport. Delta claims the deployment of bigger jets at Minneapolis won’t be economically viable. Atlanta is by far the most important network base with 940 daily departures,


followed by Detroit (502), Minneapolis (434) and, since recently, New York LaGuardia (271) where Delta is the biggest operator since taking over 132 slot pairs from US Airways. Other hubs are Salt Lake City with 260 daily departures, New York JFK (146) and Cincinnati (118).

Fleet Plans

cabin configurations,” Delta’s fleet manager Mike Kotas told AIR International. “Currently we’re retrofitting 50 aircraft in a period of four months to the new full-flat standard. In total, 175 jets will get the new business class.” This is a complex venture, as Delta’s long-haul fleet boasts no less than 32 cabin versions and four different types of business class seats alone. “But in the end it’s worth doing it commercially. The customer wants 6 to find the newest product onboard within a short period of time,” added Kotas. the airline a serious competitor to other So is Delta Air Lines today something like network carriers. The so-called full-flat seats the legitimate successor of Pan Am? “The in business class were retrofitted to long-haul world has changed so much since Pan Am. aircraft in less than 18 months, compared to They were not allowed to serve domestic Lufthansa, for example, taking about four routes,” commented Richard Anderson. years for the same major product upgrade. “We are a world carrier, not a US flag carrier. “By the end of 2014 our total fleet will have Delta wants to appeal to all passengers and increased to about 800 aircraft and it’s very we’re proud to have transformed it into complex to offer a consistent standard of an everyman’s airline.”

Simon Willson/AirTeamImages

Delta remains decidedly conservative in its fleet policy. In marked contrast to other big US carriers, it has yet to place a mega-order for next-generation jets, either for medium or long haul. “We wait for the new aircraft to prove themselves before ordering any ourselves,” Richard Anderson told AIR International. “We’d rather get towards the end of a production line because the airplane has probably been stretched, and stretched economics are always better than the original economics.” Currently Delta operates around 730 jets with an average age of nearly 17 years. “Our fleet is in good shape right now,” Anderson insists, pointing to the 100 ordered Boeing 737-900ERs, of which Delta will get one a month from this autumn. “We’re looking forward to an on-time, glitch-free delivery,” he stresses. The last 40 delivery slots for the 737-900ERs can be converted by Delta into orders for the new 737 MAX. Delta inherited an order for 18 Boeing 787-8s from Northwest. Three years ago it deferred their delivery date to 2020. Anderson hints at a possible change of Delta’s strategy in renewing the longhaul fleet: “And before that, we’ll have a competition between the 787 and the A350.” He has, however, definitely ruled out the A380: “It is just too big. Our passengers want frequency.” There are rumours that Delta is mulling additional widebody orders, either of the A330, of which Delta is the biggest operator in America with 33, or the Boeing 777, but there is no confirmation yet. The deal under which Delta will take over 88 Boeing 717s from AirTran in the autumn is notable – they are no longer needed by the low-cost carrier after its merger with Southwest Airlines. The aircraft, along with the CRJ900s of Delta’s regional partners, will replace the last 17 DC-9-50s. These veterans, currently flying out of Atlanta, are due to be retired by early 2014. Delta took them over from Northwest, the last big operator of the type in the US, the McDonnell Douglas-built aircraft now being more than 34 years old.

In-flight Delta’s current in-flight product, especially in premium classes on long-haul routes, makes




Flight Train B

AE Systems Flight Training has provided flying training services for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) for more than 20 years and will continue to do so under the terms of an interim basic flying training (IBFT) contract awarded to the company in 2011. The scheme, which began in January 2012, runs to 2017 when a new fixed-wing pilot training system, known as Project AIR 5428, will be introduced. But BAE Systems Flight Training does more than just train Australian pilots. From its impressive facility at Tamworth in rural New South Wales, the company also provides flight training to the Republic of Singapore Air Force, Royal




Nigel Pittaway profiles flight training provided by BAE Systems in Australia

Brunei Air Force and the Papua New Guinea Defence Force. It currently operates 30 New Zealand-built Pacific Aerospace CT-4B Airtrainers and a pair of Piper PA-34 Senecas and has recently leased two Bell 206B JetRangers for rotary-wing training.

Training Heritage There’s a long history of flying training at Tamworth. Back in the Second World War it was the base for the RAAF’s No 6 Elementary Flying Training School, part of the Empire Air Training Scheme. In the early 1990s BAE, then known as British Aerospace, selected Tamworth as the base for a new flying training services operation because of the airfield’s good weather, generally flat terrain and uncongested airspace. The facility was built in conjunction with Ansett Airlines for training its and other regional airlines’ pilots. Initially TB-10 Tobago and PA-34 Senecas

were used but the CT-4B was subsequently deemed to be the ideal type for the role and an order for 12 aircraft led Pacific Aerospace to reopen the type’s production line. Around the same time, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) decided to move to an ‘allthrough training’ regime using the Pilatus PC-9/A as the sole aircraft for pilot training. In 1992 it closed No 1 Flying Training Squadron at RAAF Base Point Cook and retired its fleet of CT-4A Airtrainers used for basic flying training (BFT), which had also been employed for ab initio training for Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and Australian Army pilots. Although the move to an allthrough regime didn’t affect the navy, the army was unhappy with the new arrangement and began a search for a civilian flying training service provider to meet its needs. It selected the BAe/ Ansett Flight Training College and army candidates began BFT at Tamworth in 1992.

The RAAF and RAN later followed suit but found the all-through PC-9/A regime not to be as effective as planned so the decision was taken to again undertake BFT on a different type. This eventually led to the Australian Defence Force Basic Flying Training School (ADF BFTS) being formed at Tamworth to administer military courses at the airfield. In the meantime a second, parallel runway was opened at Tamworth in 1993 to allow intensive flying training operations to be conducted without affecting the airport’s regular airline services, which are currently operated by Qantas Link and Brindabella Airlines.

Self-sufficient Tamworth is almost totally selfsufficient, with small but capable engineering and operations facilities and impressive student accommodation. All aircraft maintenance, from flight line operations to major overhauls,

BAE SYSTEMS FLIGHT TRAINING MILITARY is carried out in-house including the total rebuild of the CT-4Bs’ Teledyne Continental Motors IO360-HB9 engines. BAE Systems Flight Training holds a supplemental type certificate for certain elements of the CT-4B’s structure, enabling modification to the basic design to meet the ADF’s modern crashworthiness policy; and the replacement of wing spars. Students are housed in motelstyle accommodation adjacent to the main site and have access to a gym, sporting facilities and a dining facility. BAE Systems Flight Training also provides its own aviation rescue and fire fighting service (ARFFS) as part

of the contract, a service it also makes available to Tamworth Regional Airport. The facility is run by Pierre Steyn, a former South African Air Force pilot and helicopter instructor, who oversees 71 civilian employees, nine of whom are instructors dedicated to the IBFT contract. All but three have a military background and most hail from the UK or United States, although the latest recruit is a former Finnish Air Force F-18C pilot. BAE Systems Flight Training instructors work alongside their uniformed colleagues from the ADF BFTS, providing both flight screening and BFT services

aining 1



1 Students and instructors taxi their CT-4Bs out to Tamworth’s purpose-built parallel runways for a morning training flight. All images BAE Systems unless noted 2 A student from the Royal Brunei Air Force is pictured with his BAE Systems Australian instructor before a training flight. 3 Painted in the new simplified colour scheme, CT-4B VH-YCV undergoes maintenance at Tamworth. BAE Systems is almost completely self-sufficient with regard to maintenance. Nigel Pittaway 3 for the ADF and all training

for students from Brunei and Papua New Guinea. Singapore provides its own instructors, but BAE Systems Flight Training personnel conduct training to enable them to comply with Australian civil standards.

Aircraft The mainstay of the Tamworth fleet is the venerable CT-4B Airtrainer which, although now showing its age, is fully aerobatic up to 6 g and capable of meeting all current requirements. Twenty-seven CT-4Bs are on the line at Tamworth, BAE Systems Flight Training having purchased three ex-RAAF CT-4As in 2011 from civilian owners and converting them to CT-4B configuration. The first, VH-PGH (ex A19-059), is currently being modified in the hangar at Tamworth and the



MILITARY BAE SYSTEMS FLIGHT TRAINING experience level, between six and eight flights are conducted on the CT-4B with an instructor to determine their suitability. One flight is flown each day to avoid overloading the student during the selection process and during the course each candidate will fly with two instructors to ensure fair assessment. Each student flies between seven and ten hours, regardless of progress, after which a report is presented to the ADF’s Pilot Selection Agency, which also has a presence at Tamworth. Successful candidates will then be offered a commission in one of the three ADF services and a position on the BFT course.


other two sit on the flight line, awaiting their turn. Some of the CT-4B fleet are new aircraft built by Pacific Aerospace while others are former Royal New Zealand Air Force aircraft purchased from Airmotive Ltd in New Zealand. These aircraft were modified in the Tamworth workshop to the common configuration of the school’s aircraft, including the crashworthiness modifications – which comprised the installation of additional roll-over protection and crew headrests, developed and installed in-house. All the CT4Bs are currently having their wing main spars replaced, eight having so far undergone the process. Two twin-engine Senecas remain on the company’s books, a leftover from the airline

training days which ended when Ansett folded in 2001. They are used for training of other national customers, such as Brunei and Papua New Guinea, and occasionally by Australian Army students who stay on at Tamworth after the departure of their RAAF and RAN colleagues. There are also three Mudry CAP10Bs remaining at the airfield which, no longer in service, are stored in the hangar. They had been used to provide flight screening, work now taken over by the CT-4B. The most recent additions to the training fleet are the two JetRangers leased from Fleet Helicopters at Armidale to provide rotary-wing training to students from Brunei and Papua New Guinea.

Flight Screening BAE Systems Flight Training was awarded the AUS $88.6 million IBFT contract against stiff competition from Boeing Defence Australia and Thales Australia. It is made up of three components: Flight Screening, BFT and the Intermediate Pilots Course. Flight Screening, a combined activity between BAE Systems and the ADF, is designed to determine a candidate’s aptitude for pilot training. Around 300 candidates are screened each year and, although most are school-leavers, there are no barriers to age; the oldest student so far has been in their mid-40s. Depending on the candidates’


The BFT course is a standard syllabus for all three services which takes 24-and-a-half weeks and involves 63.8 hours of flying. Eight courses are run each year, training 152 candidates. Students begin flying with an instructor, either civilian or military, after five weeks’ ground school. The course is integrated, switching between flying and lectures, with students alternating between morning and afternoon flights. At some point in the training the candidate will undergo a General Flying Progress Test, which is when most unsuccessful trainees are ‘washed-out’ – although they can be removed at any point in the course. Those successfully completing the course receive a badge in a ‘pin ceremony’ but are not awarded their wings until 2 passing the next phase of training. RAAF and RAN students then go to No 2 FTS at Pearce in Western Australia for advanced training on the Pilatus PC-9/A. Army candidates remain at Tamworth for an Intermediate Pilot Training (IPT) course before converting to helicopters at the Army Aviation Training Centre at Oakey in Queensland. The ten-week army IPT has no ground school element but the rate of flying is increased to maintain pressure on the students. The training is an extension of what students have already learned and failure rates are correspondingly lower than in BFT.

Singapore BAE Systems Flight Training also offers training to countries other than Australia. The Republic of Singapore has contracted the





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AE Sy Traini flying for th Defen for more than 2 continue to do terms of an inte training (IBFT) c to the compan scheme, which 2012, runs to 2 fixed-wing pilo known as Proje be introduced. But BAE Syst Training does m train Australian impressive facil in rural New So company also p training to the Singapore Air F





BAE SYSTEMS FLIGHT TRAINING MILITARY is carried out in-house including the total rebuild of the CT-4Bs’ Teledyne Continental Motors IO360-HB9 engines. BAE Systems Flight Training holds a supplemental type certificate for certain elements of the CT-4B’s structure, enabling modification to the basic design to meet the ADF’s modern crashworthiness policy; and the replacement of wing spars. Students are housed in motelstyle accommodation adjacent to the main site and have access to a gym, sporting facilities and a dining facility. BAE Systems Flight Training also provides its own aviation rescue and fire fighting service (ARFFS) as part

Flight Training DOWN UNDER

The RAAF and RAN and later empty Force and the Papua wereTamworth used but the CT-4B was Nigel Pittaway 1 With the Brunei flat Air countryside of the training area below followed suit but found the New Guinea Defence Force. subsequently deemed to be the profiles flight all-through It currently operates 30 New instructor ideal type forflies the rolethe and anCT-4B skies above, a BAE Systems fromPC-9/A the regime rightnotseat. to be as effective as planned so Zealand-built Pacific Aerospace order for 12 aircraft led Pacific training provided 2 Pre-flightCT-4B briefing the Royal the Brunei Airtaken Force. decision was to again BAE Airtrainersfor and atwo pair of students Aerospacefrom to reopen the type’s by BAE Systems undertake BFT on a different Piper PA-34 Senecas and has production line. a two range of flight and Brunei. type. Thisfor eventually led to the3 The recently leased Bell 206B Around the instructor same time, the training in Australia Systems provides


Australian Defence Force Basic JetRangers for rotary-wing Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Pacific Aerospace CT-4B Airtrainer is not a new aircraft, but it is perfectly Flying Training School (ADF training. decided to move to an ‘allBFTS) formed at Tamworthhas training’ regime using suited to the flight training taskthrough and is fully aerobatic. 4being BAE Systems to administer military courses at the Pilatus PC-9/A as the sole Training heritage airfield. for pilot training. In 1992 acquired CT-4Bs from a numberaircraft of sources and has the brought them all up to There’s a long history of flying In the meantime a second, it closed No 1 Flying Training an identical, if somewhat co*ckpit configuration. Nigel training at Tamworth. Backbasic, in parallel runwayPittaway was opened Squadron at RAAF Base Point

AE Systems Flight Training has provided flying training services for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) for more than 20 years and will continue to do so under the terms of an interim basic flying training (IBFT) contract awarded to the company in 2011. The scheme, which began in January 2012, runs to 2017 when a new fixed-wing pilot training system, known as Project AIR 5428, will be introduced. But BAE Systems Flight Training does more than just train Australian pilots. From its impressive facility at Tamworth in rural New South Wales, the company also provides flight training to the Republic of Singapore Air Force, Royal



the Second World War it was the base for the RAAF’s No 6 Elementary Flying Training School, part of the Empire Air Training Scheme. In the early 1990s BAE, then known as British Aerospace, selected Tamworth as the base for a new flying training services operation because of the airfield’s good weather, generally flat terrain and uncongested airspace. The facility was built in conjunction with Ansett Airlines for training its and other regional airlines’ pilots. Initially TB-10 Tobago and PA-34 Senecas

Cook and retired its fleet of CT-4A Airtrainers used for basic flying training (BFT), which had also been employed for ab initio training for Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and Australian Army pilots. Although the move to an allthrough regime didn’t affect the navy, the army was unhappy with the new arrangement and began a search for a civilian flying training service provider to meet its needs. It selected the BAe/ Ansett Flight Training College and army candidates began BFT at Tamworth in 1992.

at Tamworth in 1993 to allow intensive flying training operations to be conducted without affecting the airport’s regular airline services, which are currently operated by Qantas Link and Brindabella Airlines.

Self-sufficient Tamworth is almost totally selfsufficient, with small but capable engineering and operations facilities and impressive student accommodation. All aircraft maintenance, from flight line operations to major overhauls,

of the contract, a service it also makes available to Tamworth Regional Airport. The facility is run by Pierre Steyn, a former South African Air Force pilot and helicopter instructor, who oversees 71 civilian employees, nine of whom are instructors dedicated to the IBFT contract. All but three have a military background and most hail from the UK or United States, although the latest recruit is a former Finnish Air Force F/A-18C pilot. BAE Systems Flight Training instructors work alongside their uniformed colleagues from the ADF BFTS, providing both flight screening and BFT services

for military training before coming back to Australia to undergo their basic wings course on the PC-21 at Pearce.


Brunei Courses for the Royal Brunei Air Force (RBAF) include BFT, multiengine flight training, rotary wing training and instructor training. After candidates complete the BFT phase, they return to Brunei for streaming recommendation. They then undergo operational conversion before being awarded their wings. At the time of AIR International’s visit in May, four RBAF candidates were undergoing BFT on the CT-4B and a further two were going through rotary-wing training. All six will eventually return to Brunei for conversion to the RBAF’s new fleet of Sikorsky S-70I Black Hawk helicopters. Two Bruneian instructors have already completed their training at Tamworth and are now back home conducting operational conversion for students. One is flying the Indonesian-built CN235 transport and the other is on the Pilatus PC-7 trainer.

1 ???????????? ??????????? ??????????? ???????????? ?????????? dhdzhh d hhtfthfth zht zthzdhdh zdrhdrh dxrh ?????????? ???? ???????????? ?????????? ??????????? ?????????? ???????? 2 ???????????? ??????????? ??????????? ???????????? ?????????? ?????????? ???? ???????????? ?????????? ??????????? ??????? dzrgzdrghzdrh gzdrgh zdrg zdrgzd rghzdrhgzd??? ???????? 3 ???????????? ??????????? ??????????? ???????????? ?????????? ?????????? ???? ???????????? ?????????? ??????????? ?????????? ????????

company to provide aircraft and facilities for their flight grading process, similar to the flight screening for the ADF. All instructors are Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) personnel and the course is broken into two phases: flight screening, which comprises seven flights after which the student is assessed; and the advanced phase, which is made up of a further eight flights. The initial Singaporean contract which runs for five-years and includes provision for a fiveyear extension, was awarded in 2009 and started the following year. BAE Systems Flight Training makes four aircraft available to the RSAF every day and instructors and students have their own dedicated work and accommodation areas at Tamworth. On completion of the flight grading course, 4 candidates return to Singapore







BAE SYSTEMS FLIGHT T is carried out in-house including the total rebuild of the CT-4Bs’ Teledyne Continental Motors IO360-HB9 engines. BAE Systems Flight Training holds a supplemental type certificate for certain elements of the CT-4B’s structure, enabling modification to the basic design to meet the ADF’s modern crashworthiness policy; and the replacement of wing spars. Students are housed in motelstyle accommodation adjacent to the main site and have access to a gym, sporting facilities and a dining facility. BAE Systems Flight Training also provides its own aviation rescue and fire fighting service (ARFFS) as part

1 Seen in the old house colours, VH-YCF was one of the original batch of aircraft purchased new by BAE Systems in 1991. 2 Classroom lessons are an essential part of the flight training course. A student from Brunei listens intently to a briefing on recovery from unusual attitudes. Nigel Pittaway


Flight Training Nigel Pittaway profiles flight training provided by BAE Systems in Australia


Papua New Guinea Along with Singapore and Brunei, BAE Systems Flight Training has a commercial contract with the Government of Papua New Guinea to train students from its defence force (PNGDF). The company had trained an initial cadre of personnel in the 1990s but the PNGDF Air Wing subsequently slipped into disrepair; however, the country’s government recently approached BAE Systems to restart its training stream. In response to a Papua New Guinea Government request for an expanded BFT course, BAE Systems provides 120 hours of training on the CT-4B and also offers multi-engine and rotary-wing training services. The PNGDF does not have any of its own instructors and no instructor training has been



requested, however, as part of its contract, BAE Systems will train a PNGDF Check and Training Captain this year.

Towards AIR 5428 Although the ADF’s interim basic flying training contract still has four years to run, and has options of six oneyear extensions, attention is already turning to the future. In 2017, Project AIR 5428 will revolutionise ADF flying training by replacing the civilian CT-4Bs and the PC-9/As which provide advanced training for RAAF and RAN pilots. Its aim is to specify a single turboprop trainer type for both basic and advanced flying training, using it to take candidates from ab initio level through BFT and to the entry point for an operational conversion course on a frontline type, as well as introducing more


Brunei Air Force and the Papua New Guinea Defence Force. It currently operates 30 New Zealand-built Pacific Aerospace CT-4B Airtrainers and a pair of Piper PA-34 Senecas and has recently leased two Bell 206B JetRangers for rotary-wing training.

were used but the CT-4B was subsequently deemed to be the ideal type for the role and an order for 12 aircraft led Pacific Aerospace to reopen the type’s production line. Around the same time, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) decided to move to an ‘allthrough training’ regime using the Pilatus PC-9/A as the sole aircraft for pilot training. In 1992 it closed No 1 Flying Training Squadron at RAAF Base Point Cook and retired its fleet of CT-4A Airtrainers used for basic flying training (BFT), which had also been employed for ab initio training for Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and Australian Army pilots. Although the move to an allthrough regime didn’t affect the navy, the army was unhappy with the new arrangement and began a search for a civilian flying training service provider to meet its needs. It selected the BAe/ Ansett Flight Training College and army candidates began BFT at Tamworth in 1992.

The RAAF and RAN later followed suit but found the all-through PC-9/A regime not to be as effective as planned so the decision was taken to again undertake BFT on a different type. This eventually led to the Australian Defence Force Basic Flying Training School (ADF BFTS) being formed at Tamworth to administer military courses at the airfield. In the meantime a second, parallel runway was opened at Tamworth in 1993 to allow intensive flying training operations to be conducted without affecting the airport’s regular airline services, which are currently operated by Qantas Link and Brindabella Airlines.

1 ???????????? ??????????? ??????????? ???????????? ?????????? dhdzhh d hhtfthfth zht zthzdhdh zdrhdrh dxrh ?????????? ???? ? ??????????? ?????????? ???????? 2 ???????????? ??????????? ??????????? ???????????? ?????????? ?????????? ???? ???????????? ? dzrgzdrghzdrh gzdrgh zdrg zdrgzd rghzdrhgzd??? ???????? 3 ???????????? ??????????? ??????????? ???????????? ?????????? ??? ?????????? ??????????? ?????????? ????????

its operation move to East Sale, synthetic training. some rethinking of operations at AIR 5428 is the ADF’s solution Tamworth will be required. to the problem of a widening gap heritage betweenTraining ageing training aircraft and frontline types such as the Future Needs Airbus KC-30A, Boeing F/A-18 BAE Systems Australia has said Super Hornet, Eurocopter Tiger Self-sufficient it wishes to keep the Tamworth armed reconnaissance helicopter facility, regardless of whether and, in the future, the Lockheed it wins or loses the AIR 5428 Martin F-35 Lightning II. Flight contract, and that it’s seeking to screening under AIR 5428 will be expand its portfolio there either carried out by synthetic means with other regional air forces or a and the candidates of the future move back to civil flight training. will not fly a real aircraft until they It sees its core expertise, begin BFT. however, in military flight training At the time of writing, industry and has held discussions with is awaiting the final request for other regional air arms including tender in the third quarter of the Royal Malaysian Air Force. 2013. A number of industry A challenge faced by BAE teams have been formed to bid Systems Flight Training is finding for the project, but the recent a suitable trainer to replace bankruptcy of Hawker Beechcraft the CT-4B on future customer has meant some changes and contracts. One reason for its the final bidders and platforms success over the years is its are yet to be announced. ruggedness and there are few BAE Systems Australia had primary trainers around today previously teamed up with that can match it for durability. Raytheon Australia and Hawker In an attempt to find a Beechcraft with a bid based replacement, the company on the T-6C Texan II, but is yet purchased a standard to announce its plans for the Falcomposite Furio from its upcoming RFT. Competing New Zealand manufacturer to platforms may also include the conduct tests to see whether an Pilatus PC-21, Embraer Super all-composite structure would Tucano and Grob 120TP. be suitable. But the trial was One of AIR 5428’s unsuccessful and the fuselage requirements is for each remains in a corner of the consortium to provide two bases company’s hangar at Tamworth. in their bid, although one has to In the meantime, with several be the RAAF Base at East Sale years of the IBFT contract to run, in Victoria, currently home to the the ongoing training needs of Central Flying School and School Brunei and Papa New Guinea of Air Warfare. Unsurprisingly and the prospect of a five-year BAE Systems Australia sees contract extension by Singapore, Tamworth as the ideal location the Tamworth circuit will echo but will relocate the ADF side of to the sound of CT-4Bs well its operation to East Sale. Should into the foreseeable future. the company win the tender and

AE Systems Flight Training has provided flying training services for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) for more than 20 years and will continue to do so under the terms of an interim basic flying training (IBFT) contract awarded to the company in 2011. The scheme, which began in January 2012, runs to 2017 when a new fixed-wing pilot training system, known as Project AIR 5428, will be introduced. But BAE Systems Flight Training does more than just train Australian pilots. From its impressive facility at Tamworth in rural New South Wales, the company also provides flight training to the Republic of Singapore Air Force, Royal




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There’s a long history of flying training at Tamworth. Back in the Second World War it was the base for the RAAF’s No 6 Elementary Flying Training School, part of the Empire Air Training Scheme. In the early 1990s BAE, then known as British Aerospace, selected Tamworth as the base for a new flying training services operation because of the airfield’s good weather, generally flat terrain and uncongested airspace. The facility was built in conjunction with Ansett Airlines for training its and other regional airlines’ pilots. Initially TB-10 Tobago and PA-34 Senecas

Tamworth is almost totally selfsufficient, with small but capable engineering and operations facilities and impressive student accommodation. All aircraft maintenance, from flight line operations to major overhauls,


e nc e i er s. xp on e i t a ue ov ni q n u n ty. i g i l n l i a a bi n nic ion co m h t , c s c s a t te um cl fun t es a d Brand new multip pose helicopter of medi l n ur he rt a it h t o w f d m orl , co the w r y e t v o e l l of Mi-8/17 typ na af e helicopters operatio ity, s l i b a reli vel of e l t s e h Mi-171A2 offers the hig

Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant, JSC 1, Khorinskaya str., Ulan-Ude, 670009, Russia Tel: +7 3012 253 386 • Fax: +7 3012 252 147

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