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OPERATION OKRA – RAAF STRIKES THE DAESH

FEBRUARY 2016
ISSUE #335

Officially the World's NUMBER ONE Authority on Military Aviation | www.airforcesmonthly.com

THE USAF’S
COMBAT
EXERCISE
REPORT
Crimson
Eagle

EDGE
UK Apaches in
the USA

FORCE REPORT
Royal Jordanian MORE WITH LESS
Air Force Fighting Fit

View from Above


Russia's Air Campaign in Syria

Defence of the Realm


Keeping the UK’s Enemies at Bay

Cherry Point
AV-8Bs deploy
to the desert
UK £4.80
www.airforcesmonthly.com

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CONTENTS February

Leading the
Field 72
Cover: Raptors serve with six frontline
operational squadrons and have
32 Securing the Skies light on the Russian military 84 FORCE REPORT
Incursions by Russian military leadership attitudes to the Royal Jordanian Air Force
proved themselves to be potent attack
platforms in the fight against the aircraft into UK-controlled air campaign in Syria. Royal Jordanian Air Force
Daesh in Syria. AirTeamImages.com/ airspace over the North Atlantic commander Major General
Jason Taperell are once again a regular 64 EXERCISE REPORT Mansour S Aljobour discusses
occurrence. The RAF responds Crimson Eagle 2015 with Marco Dijkshoorn and Patrick
News by launching Typhoon fighter Joe Copalman reports on Roegies his latest acquisitions
All the world’s military to intercept them. Tim Ripley Army Air Corps conversion- and the ongoing fight against
aviation news, by region. explains how it all works. to-type training in the desert Daesh in Iraq and Syria.
4-5 Headlines of Arizona and California.
6-7 United Kingdom 38 Operation Okra 90 Attrition
8-11 Continental Europe The Royal Australian Air Force has 72 Leading the Field AFM’s Dave Allport reports on the
12-15 North America been engaged in Operation Okra, Jon Lake examines how Saudi world’s latest military accidents.
16-18 Latin America its contribution to the fight against Arabia has rapidly advanced
19 Africa Daesh in Iraq, since October with the operational capabilities 94 Debrief
20-23 Middle East 2014, as Nigel Pittaway reports. of its Eurofighter Typhoons. Reviews of recently published
26 Russia books on military aviation.
27-30 Asia Pacific 44 USAF Tactical Aviation 80 Discreetly Direct
31 Australasia/Contracts Tom Kaminski examines the US The French Air Force's ET60 96 Base Watch
Air Force tactical airpower, which moves senior government A snapshot of recent military
today relies on precision-guided officials and high-ranking military
Subscribe & Save munitions employed by a reduced officers around the world.
visitors to air bases around
the UK and abroad.
A subscription to AirForces fleet of fast jet and RPA platforms. Its Dassualt Falcons also
Monthly offers great savings fly medevac and special 98 Editorial
on cover price. See pages 60 The View from Above support missions, as Jean- AFM’s view on current
24 and 25 for details. Alexander Mladenov sheds Marc Tanguy reports. military aviation matters. .

USAF Tactical
Aviation 44

www.airforcesdaily.com #335 FEBRUARY 2016 3

03 Contents Feb.indd 3 12/01/2016 10:14


NEWS

HEADLINES

USAF B-52 SHOW OF FORCE


AMID NORTH KOREA TENSIONS
A US Air Force B-52H North Korea. North Korean two similar nuclear detonations of the American homeland. North
Stratofortress was deployed leader Kim Jong Un claimed between 2006 and 2013. Korea’s nuclear test is a blatant
on a low-level flight over South the test was a self-defensive Admiral Harry B Harris violation of its international
Korea on January 10 as a show of move to maintain peace on the Jr, commander US Pacific obligations. US joint military
force in response to provocative Korean Peninsula and protect Command, said: "This was a forces in the Indo-Asia-Pacific will
action by North Korea. The move the country from the threat of demonstration of the ironclad US continue to work with all of our
followed testing on January 6 a nuclear war with the US. This commitment to our allies in South regional allies and partners to
of a thermonuclear bomb by was the third such test, following Korea, in Japan and to the defence maintain stability and security.”

Nigeria Funds New Zambian Air Force SF260TWs


Three JF-17s ALENIA AERMACCHI has flight
tested the last of a batch of six
AF543 (CSX55176), AF544
(CSX55177), AF545 (CSX55178)
during the Air Force
Headquarters Annual Ball on
NIGERIA'S GOVERNMENT has SF-260TW trainers destined and AF546 (CSX55179). December 26, 2014. They will
allocated N5 billion ($25.12 for the Zambian Air Force (ZAF) Brigadier General Jabes join six examples delivered
million) in funding in its 2016 from the factory in Venegono, Zulu, the ZAF commander, in 2012 and operated by the
budget for purchase of three CAC- Italy. The complete batch first revealed that additional ZAF’s Training Squadron,
PAC JF-17 Thunder multi-role comprises AF541 (test serial SF260TWs were due to be which is believed to be
combat aircraft. Budget details CSX55174), AF542 (CSX55175), delivered in an announcement based at Mumbwa. 
were not made public when it
was presented by President
Muhammadu Buhari to a joint
session of the National Assembly
on December 22. However, a
copy of the document was leaked
to local media on January 5.
Total funding for the Nigerian
Air Force in 2016 amounts to
N85.61 billion ($430 million),
which includes not only the
JF-17s, but also financing to buy
two Mi-35M attack helicopters
at a cost of N11.6 billion ($58.28
million) and ten AMF PAC MFI-17
Super Mushshak trainers for
N2.05 billion ($10.35 million).
Nigeria was known to have been
looking at purchasing the JF-17,
with suggestions back in 2014
that up to two squadrons of
the type may be acquired.  Above: New Zambian Air Force SF260TW AF546/CS.X.55179 taxies in at Venegono, Italy, after a pre-delivery test flight
on November 27, 2015. It is the last of six ordered by the ZAF. FabrizioCapenti

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KF-X Full Scale Development Contract First Israeli F-35A


FULL-SCALE development of
South Korea’s KF-X fighter has
Douglas F-4E Phantom IIs.
Indonesia is funding 20% of the
Adir in Assembly
been launched with signature development programme and LOCKHEED MARTIN has
of a contract between the plans to buy 80 for operation begun final assembly of the
Defense Acquisition Program by the Indonesian Air Force. first F-35A Lightning II for Israel,
Administration (DAPA) and prime A provisional partnership deal which has given the type the
contractor Korea Aerospace between KAI and Indonesia Hebrew name ‘Adir’ (Mighty
Industries (KAI). The agreement was signed last year, on One). The manufacturing
was finalised on December 28. November 22. The agreement milestone was marked with a
The development programme, includes delivery of one of the ceremony at the factory in Fort
expected to be worth around $7.4 six development aircraft to the Worth, Texas, on January 7.
billion, including production of six latter. This was formalised when The aircraft, designated as
prototypes, will span a decade, a final agreement was signed F-35A aircraft AS-1, officially
through to June 2026, leading on January 7 between KAI and began its mate process, where
to first deliveries to the Republic Indonesia’s PTDI at the Indonesian the four major components of
of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) Defence Ministry in Jakatra. the aircraft are joined together
in September of that year. DAPA announced on March 30, in the Electronic Mate and
The ROKAF will acquire 120 of 2015, that KAI was the preferred Assembly Station to form
the type. It is planned to build bidder for the project – see the aircraft’s main structure.
an initial 40 of the twin-engined KAI Selected for KF-X Fighter, AS-1 is expected to roll out
US Air Force B-52H Stratofortress of the factory in June and
fighters for the ROKAF by 2028, May 2015, p29. KAI is teamed
60-0055 ‘MT’ makes a low pass be delivered to the Israeli Air
over Osan Air Base, South Korea, at after which a further 80 examples with Lockheed Martin as its
are intended to be delivered to the foreign technical assistance Force (IAF) later this year.
lunchtime on January 10, escorted
by USAF/36th Fighter Squadron service between 2029 and 2032. partner for KF-X. Korean Air, Israel has contracted for 33
F-16C 90-0775 ‘OS’/‘36 FS’ and The KF-X will replace Korea’s partnered with Airbus Defence F-35A Adir aircraft through
Republic of Korea Air Force F-15K ageing fleets of Northrop and Space, was the sole other the US Government’s Foreign
Slam Eagle 08-042. F-5E/F Tiger IIs and McDonnell bidder for the requirement.  Military Sales programme.
USAF/Senior Airman Kristin High Israel’s contribution to the F-35
The B-52H, 60-0055 ‘MT’ News Brief programme includes Israel
Aerospace Industries F-35A wing
from the 5th Bomb Wing’s 69th production; Elbit Systems work
Bomb Squadron ‘Knighthawks’ MD HELICOPTERS has gained an order for a further 12 MD530F Cayuse
on the Generation III helmet-
at Minot Air Force Base, North Warrior scout attack helicopters for the Afghan Air Force (AAF), which
mounted display system, which
Dakota, flew from Andersen AFB, already operates 12 of the type. The manufacturer announced the
all F-35 pilots fleet-wide will
Guam, where it is on temporary contract on January 11, saying that they will be fitted with enhanced
wear; and Elbit Systems-Cyclone
detachment as part of the mission equipment. The helicopters will be delivered in time for the
F-35 centre fuselage composite
Continuous Bomber Presence.  2016 fighting season. Five MD530Fs, previously used by the AAF purely
components production. 
for training, have also now been upgraded to Cayuse Warriors. .

Australian Government
Orders Gulfstream RAF 208 Squadron 100th
G550s for ISR Role Anniversary Hawk
AUSTRALIA’S GOVERNMENT is
acquiring two new Gulfstream
G550s through US company
L-3 Communications Mission
Integration of Greenville, Texas.
A $93.6 million Foreign Military
Sales contract was awarded to
L-3 on December 28 by the US
Air Force’s 645th Aeronautical
Systems Group at Wright-
Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio,
for procurement of the aircraft
and associated maintenance.
They will be prepared by L-3
in its Greenville facility, with Above: Royal Air Force/208 (Reserve) Squadron Hawk T1A XX188, in new markings to celebrate its centenary, during a
completion anticipated by sortie from its home base on January 7. MOD Crown Copyright/RAF Valley
November 30, 2017. There has ROYAL AIR Force Valley, Anglesey- personnel and was created by on October 25, 1916, as No 8
been no official announcement based 208 (Reserve) Squadron the Serco paintshop team at (Naval) Squadron, Royal Naval Air
by the Australian Government has unveiled Hawk T1A XX188 Valley. The colours reflect the Service. When the Royal Air Force
regarding this acquisition. in a new livery to commemorate unit’s long association with the was formed on April 1, 1918, it was
However, Australian Government the unit’s 100th anniversary. Middle East, blue representing renumbered 208 Squadron RAF.
officials have confirmed they will Photographs of the aircraft were the sky and yellow the sands of Today, it flies the Hawk from Valley
be used in electronic warfare released on January 8, showing the desert. The sphinx at Giza, in the advanced flying training and
and airborne intelligence, the tail painted with a design Egypt, which is depicted on the tactical weapons role, converting
surveillance and reconnaissance incorporating the Squadron’s Squadron crest, is incorporated RAF and Royal Navy fast jet pilots
roles. Further details will be distinctive yellow and blue colours. in the design, along with the 208 to front line operational conversion
released with the Defence The scheme draws on a Squadron motto, ‘Vigilant’. unit input standard. It also
White Paper later this year.  number of ideas from Squadron No 208 Squadron was formed trains international students. 

www.airforcesdaily.com #335 FEBRUARY 2016 5

04-05 Headline Feb.DJ.indd 5 12/01/2016 12:47


NEWS

UNITED KINGDOM
A formation of 771 Squadron Sea King HU5s flying past St operations at the same time.
Michael’s Mount in Cornwall on May 21 last year to mark the Bristow is using two Sikorsky
unit’s 76th anniversary. They comprise, from front to rear, ZA166 S-92s to replace the Sea Kings
‘16’, XV705 ‘29’, XZ920 ‘24’, XV661 ‘26’ and one unidentified
example. After taking off from RNAS Culdrose, they flew over
at Prestwick, while a similar
Penzance, Land’s End, St Ives, Newquay, Truro, Falmouth, Lizard number of S-92s have replaced
Point and Helston before returning to base. On December 31, the the Culdrose Sea Kings,
Squadron ended its SAR role, which has been taken over by Bristow operating from a new base at
Helicopters. MOD Crown Copyright/PO Phot Paul A Barrow Newquay Airport (the former
RAF St Mawgan) in Cornwall.
Although military SAR operations
in the UK have ended, the two
Royal Air Force/1563 Flight Sea
King HAR3s at Mount Pleasant
in the Falkland Islands are still
undertaking the SAR role – see
Long-Range Falklands Sea King
Rescue, January, p7. However,
as from April 2016, AAR Airlift
will take over Falklands SAR
operations using two AW189s,
thus ending helicopter SAR
operations by the UK military.
The two AW189s that will
be used in the Falklands are
G-SAAR (c/n 89003) and
G-FSAR (c/n 89004). They are
registered to British International
Helicopter Services, which
will undertake the role under
sub-contract to AAR Airlift. 

Royal Navy Ends UK Military


Search and Rescue Operations
UK MILITARY search and rescue throughout the UK until 2026.
helicopter operations finally This meant the end of SAR
ended on December 31, 2015, missions by 771 Naval Air
when the Royal Navy relinquished Squadron Sea King HU5s at
its SAR role. On the following Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose,
morning, January 1, 2016, the Cornwall, which had been
mission was taken over by providing SAR operations for
Bristow Helicopters, which has over 40 years. The Squadron’s
Bristow Helicopters S-92 G-MCGY arriving at the new HM Coast Guard base at
been awarded the contract by HMS Gannet SAR detachment at Newquay Airport on October 19. The two S-92s now resident there officially
the Maritime and Coast Guard Glasgow-Prestwick International took over SAR operations from the Royal Navy’s 771 Squadron on January 1.
Agency to undertake the mission Airport, Scotland, also ceased Bristow Helicopters

Six-Year RAF C-130J Support Contract


A NEW £369 million deal has Rolls-Royce in Bristol and at
been agreed by the UK Ministry of Brize Norton in the UK, as well as
Defence for continued in-service in Indianapolis, USA. Lockheed
support for the Royal Air Force Martin will manage the HIOS
C-130J Hercules fleet. The supply chain with a UK team
contract, announced by the MOD based in Havant, Hampshire,
on December 30, will see three providing subcontract support
companies – Lockheed Martin, for IT, supply and field technical
Marshall Aerospace and Defence support services. Lockheed
Group and Rolls-Royce – provide Martin subsidiaries in
Hercules Integrated Operational Cheltenham and Stansted will
Support (HIOS) for the RAF also be involved in the contract.
C-130J fleet until 2022. The MOD says that negotiations
The three have been with Marshall have resulted
co-operating on the HIOS in $64 million in savings for
programme since 2006. The
majority of the work will be
the six-year contract. It is
being delivered over a series
RAF Chinooks Assist Flood Relief
RAF Chinook HC4 ZA684 prepares to lift one tonne sandbags for dropping
carried out by Marshall at its of instalments. Work has been into a breach in the banks of the River Douglas near Croston, Lancashire, on
Cambridge, UK site. Additional focused solely on the 24 RAF December 31. Chinooks spent several days lifting up to six bags on each
flight from an Environmental Agency depot near Croston, just over 1km away
work will be undertaken on C-130Js, following retirement of from the river breach and then dropping them in to plug the gap. The mission
the type’s AE2100 engines by the C-130K variant in 2013.  formed part of Operation Shaku, the British Army response to widespread
flooding across the country. MOD Crown Copyright/Cpl Jamie Dudding

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at milnews@keypublishing.com

Final RAF Chinook HC6 Arrives in UK News Brief


GENERAL ATOMICS
Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI)
The 14th and final Royal Air Force THE FINAL RAF Chinook ceremony at the company’s has been awarded a US Air Force
Chinook HC6, ZK563, being re- HC6 delivery to the UK has facility in Ridley Park,
assembled on the dockside at the Foreign Military Sales contract
now been completed. The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to provide contractor logistics
Royal Seaforth Container Terminal
helicopter, ZK563 (c/n M7714, on November 23 – see Final support for the UK Royal Air
in Liverpool on December 12.
Royal Seaforth Container Terminal/Tim
ex N714UK), was re-assembled RAF Chinook HC6 Handed Over, Force MQ-9A Reaper fleet. Work
Ashman on the dockside at the Royal January, p6. It is expected to be on the $57.4 million deal is to be
Seaforth Container Terminal, fully operational by April 2016. complete by March 31, 2017. 
Liverpool, Merseyside, over the The helicopter is the last of 14
weekend of December 12-13, new HC6 variants ordered by the
having arrived there by ship on
December 11. It was then flown
UK and brings the RAF Chinook
fleet to 60. Its delivery coincided
RAF Typhoon's
to its new home at RAF Odiham,
Hampshire, on December 16.
with the 35th anniversary of
Chinook operations by the
May Exercise
The helicopter had been
formally handed over in a
UK, which introduced the
type into service in 1980. 
in Japan
CONSIDERATION IS being
given to deploying Royal Air
Force Typhoons to Japan
during 2016 for a joint exercise.
The possibility was revealed
in an announcement by the
UK Ministry of Defence on
January 8, when Defence
Secretary Michael Fallon
stated that the UK is looking
at significantly deepening
defence relations with Japan.
Fallon said that, in addition to
joint exercises, reciprocal access
to military bases, personnel
exchanges and co-operation on
equipment, including a new air-to
air missile, are being planned.
Last October, an RAF A400M
visited to Miho Air Base, Japan. 

Four 41 Sqn Tornado GR4s on High Rider Det


Above left: RAF Tornado GR4 ZG775
‘EB-Z’ from 41 (Reserve) Squadron,
the RAF’s Test and Evaluation Squad-
ron, flies at low level through Death
Valley, California, on December
8. The aircraft is one of four from
the unit, based at RAF Coningsby,
Lincolnshire, that have been operat-
ing out of Naval Air Weapons Station
China Lake, California, as part of the
High Rider weapons detachment.
Over the Christmas holiday period
they were temporarily hangered at
Edwards AFB, California, but were
due to return to China Lake in mid-

RAF Typhoons Continue Operations Against Daesh


January for a few more weeks of
flight activity before heading home.
Kevin Whitehead
Below left: Royal Air Force Typhoon
FGR4 ZK338 ‘FF’, devoid of squadron
markings, refuels from a US Air
Force KC-135 Stratotanker assigned
to the 340th Expeditionary Air
Refueling Squadron, based at Al
Udeid, Qatar, during a sortie on
December 22. The aircraft was
over Iraq during an Operation
Shader mission, the UK element of
the Operation Inherent Resolve air
strikes against Daesh in Iraq and
Syria. Six RAF Typhoons have been
deployed to RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus, for
the mission since December 3 – see
First UK Air Strikes in Syria-RAF
Typhoons Join Tornados on the Front
Line, January, p4. USAF/Staff Sgt
Corey Hook

www.airforcesdaily.com #335 FEBRUARY 2016 7

6-7 UK News.DJ.indd 7 11/01/2016 17:10


NEWS

CONTINENTAL EUROPE

Bundeswehr Takes Maiden Flight of First NATO AGS Global Hawk


Delivery of First NATO’S FIRST Alliance Ground
Surveillance (AGS) aircraft
persistent wide-area terrestrial
and maritime surveillance in
imagery of selected objects.
NATO AGS will be based in
Two H145Ms completed its first flight on
December 19. The unmanned
near real-time. It will provide
intelligence, surveillance and
Sigonella, Italy, where US Air
Force Global Hawks are already
AIRBUS HELICOPTERS has
aircraft, based on the Northrop reconnaissance capabilities to stationed. Northrop Grumman
delivered the first two H145M
Grumman RQ-4B Global Hawk, support a range of NATO missions will begin ferrying the first NATO
helicopters to the Bundeswehr
took off from Palmdale, California, such as protection of ground AGS aircraft to Italy this year. The
(German Armed Forces), launch
successfully completing a troops and civilian populations, system is being procured by 15
customer for the type. It has
comprehensive range of test border control, maritime safety NATO nations: Bulgaria, Czech
ordered 15 under a contract
points before landing at Edwards and humanitarian assistance. Republic, Denmark, Estonia,
signed on July 11, 2013. The
Air Force Base, California. The aircraft is equipped with Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania,
helicopters, previously designated
This first example was rolled out leading-edge technology, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland,
the EC645T2, were handed over
at Palmdale on June 4 – see First including the Multi-Platform Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and
on December 8 at the company’s
NATO AGS Aircraft Unveiled, July Radar Technology Insertion the United States. The ground
facility in Donauwörth, Germany.
2015, p11. The NATO-owned and Program (MP-RTIP) sensor. stations will provide data link
They will be used by the
operated programme comprises The latter provides critical connectivity, data processing
Kommando Spezialkräfte
five air vehicles and European- data to commanders during and exploitation capabilities
(KSK), the German Army’s
sourced fixed, mobile and operations, in any weather, day to multiple deployed and non-
Special Forces, in Laupheim.
transportable ground stations. or night. Utilising the MP-RTIP deployed operational users.
The H145M is the military
The AGS has the ability to fly for sensor, the NATO AGS system Following acquisition, NATO AGS
version of the civil H145. The
up to 30 hours at a time. The will be able to fuse sensor data, will become a fully-owned and
Bundeswehr H145M (LUH
high-altitude, long-endurance continuously detect and track operated NATO capability. 
SOF) is equipped with a fast
system will perform all-weather, moving objects and provide
roping system for troops,
cargo hooks, hoists, a pintle-
mounted door gun, ballistic
protection and an electronic
countermeasures system,
which offers new capabilities
for KSK special operations.
Earlier this year, the
Bundeswehr awarded Airbus
Helicopters a seven-year
comprehensive co-operative
support and services
agreement for the type. This
includes the management and
implementation of maintenance
and repair activities, material The first NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance system Global Hawk, CS XAV-SA-0014, landing at Edwards AFB, California,
supply and airworthiness.  at the end of its maiden flight from Palmdale, California, on December 19. USAF/Chris Okula

Sweden Takes Delivery of Its First Full ASW NH90 USAF F-15s
AIRBUS HELICOPTERS has
delivered the first Swedish NH90
Return from Incirlik
in full anti-submarine warfare
(ASW) configuration to the Swedish
Deployment
US AIR FORCE F-15 Eagles
Försvarets Materielverk (FMV –
began returning to their UK
Defence Materiel Administration).
base at RAF Lakenheath,
The fully-qualified helicopter,
Suffolk on December 16 from
handed over at the company’s
Incirlik Air Base, Turkey.
facility in Donauwörth, Germany,
Six F-15C Eagles from the 493rd
on December 17, has an entirely
Fighter Squadron ‘Grim Reapers’
customised mission system
of the 48th Fighter Wing had
including underwater sonar,
deployed on November 6. They
tactical radar and high cabin
were followed by six F-15E
for improved interior space.
Strike Eagles from the 492nd
In total, Sweden has ordered 18
Fighter Squadron ‘Mad Hatters’
NH90s (local designation Hkp14),
on November 12 – see USAF
13 equipped for search-and- Above: Swedish NH90 ASW 142056 (c/n 1197/BSWN02) ’56’ with its dipping
F-15s Deployed to Turkey for
rescue missions (SAR) and five in sonar deployed during a pre-delivery test flight on November 19. Airbus Helicopters
Inherent Resolve, January, p11.
ASW configuration. FMV and the and over water at Marignane, Specially tailored for its maritime
The F-15Cs were only used
manufacturer NHIndustries also France. Wolfgang Schoder, missions and the operative
for the protection of Turkish
signed a contract on December 17 Head of Light and Governmental environment in the Baltic Sea,
sovereign airspace, while the
to modify four already delivered Programmes at Airbus this helicopter is best-suited for
F-15Es conducted air strike
NH90s from SAR to ASW, bringing Helicopters, said: “In terms of the customer’s requirements.”
operations against Daesh. US
the total Swedish NH90 fleet to versatility and customisability, NHIndustries has delivered
Air Force A-10C Thunderbolt IIs,
nine ASW and nine SAR aircraft. the Swedish NH90 ASW 260 NH90s to date to 13
UAVs and other coalition aircraft
Prior to delivery, the aircraft demonstrates the benefits of different nations and these
remain at Incirlik conducting
has been tested by the Swedish an integrated, highly powerful, have completed nearly 100,000
counter-Daesh missions. 
acceptance team in Donauwörth fly-by-wire helicopter platform. flying hours in service. 

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Norwegian F-35 Last Four Dutch Alouette IIIs Retired


Training Sortie
ANOTHER MILESTONE has
been reached at Luke Air Force
Base, Arizona, with the first
training flight by a Norwegian
pilot in a Royal Norwegian Air
Force (RNoAF) F-35 Lightning II.
RNoAF Major Morten Hanche,
an F-35 student pilot with the
US Air Force’s 62nd Fighter
Squadron ‘Spikes’ at Luke, made
the sortie on December 14 in the
second RNoAF F-35A, 5088.
The first two RNoAF F-35As,
5087 and 5088, had been
delivered to Luke AFB on
November 10, when they Above: Royal Netherlands Air Force Alouette III A-301 during its final flight from Gilze-Rijen Air Base on December 15
were flown in from the factory before retirement of the type from RNLAF service. Dutch Ministry of Defence
in Fort Worth, Texas – see A RETIREMENT ceremony was Squadron performed a final operated a total of 72.
Norway’s First Two F-35As held on December 15 at Gilze- flypast before landing and taxiing Although most were
Delivered to Luke AFB, January, Rijen Air Base to mark the final in to a traditional water cannon progressively withdrawn, four
p11. Norway is the second withdrawal of the Alouette III by salute. The type formally ended were upgraded to SA316Bs in
international partner to have the Royal Netherlands Air Force RNLAF service on December 31. 2004-5 by RUAG in Switzerland
delivered F-35s to Luke for (RNLAF) after 51 years of service. The Dutch first put the and remained in service. These
training, after Australia.  Two of the final four helicopters SE3160 Alouette III into final four comprised A-247,
remaining operational with 300 service in 1964 and eventually A275, A-292 and A-301. 

Slovenia Sells Its Original Two PC-9s Former-RAF Hercules


TWO FORMER Slovenian Air Iceland. It left Reykjavik on 2015 and bids were due in Delivered to Austria
Force Pilatus PC-9s have been December 17 and went via by September 22. Built in ANOTHER FORMER Royal Air
sold on the US civil market Narsarsuaq, Greenland, to CFB September 1990, at the time of Force C-130K Hercules has left
and passed through the UK Goose Bay, Canada, before sale L9-51 had total flying hours storage at MOD St Athan, Wales.
on delivery to new owners. continuing on December 21 to of 2,198 with 3,946 landings, Hercules C1 8X-CZ (c/n 4261,
They arrived on December 11 Quebec/Jean Lesage International while L9-53 had 1,885 flying ex XV295), left on December 10
at Peterborough (Conington) Airport, where it was still hours with 3,856 landings. for Linz, Austria, using callsign
Business Airport, Cambridgeshire, present on January 8. Its sister The third Slovenian PC-9 was ‘Austrian Air Force 99’. The
and comprised N69LW (c/n 180, aircraft, N69XC, encountered a also a former US Army aircraft, aircraft, stored at St Athan since
ex L9-51, S5-DSC, HB-HQM, transponder problem and has L9-52 (c/n 181, ex S5-DPT, October 22, 2013, has been
91-0071/US Army, HB-HQM) remained at Conington pending HB-HQN, US Army/91-0072, sold as a spares source for the
and N69XC (c/n 182, ex L9-53, a flight to Cambridge for repairs, HB-HQN), but was written-off on three operational Austrian Air
S5-DPL, HB-HQO, 91-0073/ although on January 8 it was March 3, 2004 killing the pilot. Force Hercules C1s, which are
US Army, HB-HQO). Of the still parked at Conington. All three PC-9s were originally also former RAF aircraft. This
two, N69LW was registered on The aircraft are the two survivors operated by the US Army, which was the third of the type to leave
November 2 to Legacy Warbirds of three former US Army PC-9s bought them new from Pilatus. storage at St Athan recently.
of Raleigh, North Carolina, acquired second-hand by They were delivered in November Two Hercules C3As were sold to
while N69XC was registered on Slovenia in 1995. They were 1992 to replace ex-US Navy T-34C IMP Group for the Mexican Air
October 29 to Xray Charlie LLC joined in 1999 by nine new- Turbo Mentors with the US Army Force – see Two RAF Hercules
of San Anselmo, California. build PC-9Ms, all of which still Airborne and Special Operations Head for New Life, January, p6. 
N69LW left Conington on remain in Slovenian service. Test Board at Simmons AAF,
December 14, flying to Wick, The two PC-9s were offered Fort Bragg, North Carolina.  Tornado ECRs
Scotland, then on to Reykjavik, for sale by tender on July 30,
Support Anti-Daesh
Operations
TWO GERMAN Air Force
Tornado ECRs of Taktisches
Luftwaffengeschwader 51
‘Immelmann’ at Schleswig-Jagel
deployed on December 10 to
Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, to join the
military campaign against Daesh.
The aircraft will be used purely
for reconnaissance and will not
participate in coalition air strikes.
A further two Tornado ECRs, one
from Buchel and one from Jagel,
Former Slovenian Air Force Pilatus PC-9 L9-51/N69LW, still wearing its military markings and serial but with the new flew to Incirlik on January 5 and
US registration taped on, landing at Peterborough (Conington) Business Airport, Cambridgeshire, in murky conditions operations began from there on
on December 11, during its delivery flight to the USA. As of January 8, it was still present, awaiting rectification of a January 8. An A310 MRTT also
transponder fault, which will probably be repaired by Marshall at Cambridge. Flying Club Conington
deployed on December 10. 

www.airforcesdaily.com #335 FEBRUARY 2016 9

08-09 EuropeNews Feb.DJ.indd 9 08/01/2016 15:06


NEWS

CONTINENTAL EUROPE

Seven More
Tiger HADs
Last Production MQ-1s Delivered to Italy
Ordered for ALAT
FRANCE’S DIRECTION générale
de l’armement (DGA – Directorate
General of Armaments) has
ordered seven more Tigre
Hélicoptère Appui-Destruction
(HAD – fire support/destruction)
variants. The order, announced
by the DGA on December 22, was
placed with Airbus Helicopters
through the Organisation
Conjointe de Co-opération en
matière d’ARmement (OCCAR –
Organisation for Joint Armament Above: One of the final two Italian Air Force MQ-1 Predators on a pre-delivery test flight from the company’s Gray Butte
Field Airport, California, on November 11. At that time, it was devoid of Italian markings and serial number. GA-ASI
Co-operation) on December 17.
The acquisition will give the GENERAL ATOMICS Aeronautical to keep warfighters safe by The AMI is a leader in the
Aviation Légère de l’Armée de Systems (GA-ASI) has delivered equipping them with unparalleled utilisation of Predators and
Terre (ALAT – French Army Air the final two RQ-1 Predator situational awareness for Reapers to support a wide range
Corps) a fleet of 67 Tigres. The remotely piloted aircraft systems many years to come.” of intelligence, surveillance, and
order, in accordance with the to the Italian Air Force (AMI). The last AMI Predator was reconnaissance (ISR) missions
French military programme Acceptance was announced manufactured on the Predator in Italy, over the Mediterranean
for 2014-2019, will boost ALAT by GA-ASI on December 22. XP production line. The XP is an and in support of current
capabilities, particularly for It marked the end of GA-ASI’s improved derivative, designed NATO operations. Italy is the
operations in Sahel-Saharan production of the Predator A for the export market. GA-ASI first country in Europe to have
Africa. A total of 55 Tigres have variant, after more than two has delivered 15 RQ-1s and achieved an RPA airworthiness
been delivered to the ALAT to decades of manufacture. MQ-9s to the AMI. Although the certification. GA-ASI has been
date, of which 40 are of the Frank W. Pace, president, Aircraft number of each type has not supplying AMI with these
Hélicoptère Appui-Protection Systems, GA-ASI, said: “Amassing been disclosed, contracts have critical assets for more than a
(HAP – fire support/protection) over 2.1 million cumulative flight been announced for the purchase decade. The two types are flown
version. Most will progressively hours and featuring the highest of six Reapers for the AMI, all of Amendola-Foggia Air Base by
be converted to the HAD variant. mission capable rate of any which have been delivered. This 32° Stormo’s 28° Gruppo, which
The seven new examples will aircraft in the [US] Air Force’s implies the remainder should also provides detachments for
be delivered in 2017-2018.  inventory, Predators will continue comprise nine Predators. its overseas operations. 

Spain’s First A400M Progressing Well Three More Reaper


UAVs Ordered for
France
FRANCE’S DIRECTION générale
de l’armement (DGA – General
Directorate of Armaments)
has ordered a third General
Atomics MQ-9A Reaper system.
The UAVs are being acquired
through the US Air Force
Foreign Military Sales system.
Each Reaper system
comprises three air vehicles and
delivery of the additional system
will bring the total number
of Reapers in French service
to nine. The first system was
delivered in December 2013 and
has seen extensive service in
the Sahel-Saharan strip as part
of the ongoing mission there
Above: The forward fuselage for the first Spanish Air Force A400M, T.23-01 (c/n 0044), being unloaded from the open under Operation Barkhane,
nose of a Beluga into the Final Assembly Line at Seville through a set of doors shaped around the contours of the Beluga.
operating out of Niamey, Niger.
Airbus Defence and Space
The second system is
PRODUCTION OF the first Ejército arrived in Seville on October 14. came under pressure. Finally, on
scheduled for delivery in
del Aire (EdA – Spanish Air Force) The aircraft will now begin the May 23, 2013, Spanish Congress
2016, followed by the newly
A400M, T.23-01 (c/n 0044), is final assembly process, leading was told by the country’s
ordered third system in
progressing well, with arrival on to its delivery to the EdA in the Secretary of State for Defence
2019. Under the 2014-2019
December 21 of the nose section second quarter of 2016. Spain the requirement would be
military programming act, it
for the aircraft at Seville-San had planned to purchase 27 reduced to 14 aircraft. Spain is
is planned for the French Air
Pablo Airport, Spain, where it A400Ms, but as the delivery seeking buyers for the remaining
Force to have four complete
has been incorporated on the schedule continued to slip, the 13 aircraft to avoid penalty
systems by 2019. 
Final Assembly Line. Its wings country’s defence budget also charges for cancellation. 

10 FEBRUARY 2016 #335 www.airforcesmonthly.com

10-11 EuropeNews Feb.DJ.indd 10 08/01/2016 14:58


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France Orders Upgraded Spanish Navy AB212 Delivered


Eight Additional
A330MRTTs
FRANCE HAS placed a firm order
for a further eight Airbus Defence
and Space A330 Multi-Role
Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft.
The contract from the French
defence procurement agency,
the DGA, was announced by the The first upgraded
manufacturer on December 15. Spanish Naval Air
This constitutes the second Arm AB212,
HA.18-12 ‘01-316’,
tranche of the multi-year
during the delivery
contract for 12 A330 MRTTs ceremony. The type
signed by the French Ministry is flown by Escuadrilla
of Defence and announced 003 at Rota and all
on November 20, 2014 – see seven in service will
France to Order 12 A330 go through the mod-
MRTTs, January 2015, p15. A ernisation programme.
firm order for the first of these Sener
was placed in June last year SPANISH ENGINEERING and while INAER has managed the the-art mission systems such
and the latest announcement technology group Sener has installation and certification. as EFIS, EO/IR radar, Automatic
brings the total firm order for redelivered the first upgraded Head of the joint venture, Sener Identification System (AIS), GPS
the French Air Force to nine. Agusta Bell 212 to the Directorate- engineer Fernando Quintana, said: navigation system, TAWS and
Confirmation of the final three General of Armament and Material “The modernisation of the AB212 Tactical Mission Controller (TMC).
is scheduled for 2018, enabling (DGAM) of the Spanish Ministry is an ambitious programme, the The extensive work also includes
deliveries of all 12 aircraft to of Defence after completing the first of its kind in the Spanish a cargo hoist, modifications to
be completed before 2025. initial phase of its modernisation. aeronautical industry, which the auxiliary fuel tanks, a missile
The first French A330 MRTT The work, carried out through will significantly improve the approach warning system
will be delivered in 2018, a joint venture with INAER, the performance of these helicopters (MAWS), a ballistic protection
followed by the second in 2019. main helicopter operator in by incorporating new capacities system in the cockpit and
The remainder will follow at a Spain, will extend the operational such as radar, a night vision system passenger cabin, armoured and
rate of one or two per year. In life of all seven of the Arma and self-defence systems, etc.” anti-crash seats for the crew,
French service the type will be Aérea de la Armada (Spanish Quintana said the initiative and defensive weapon systems.
known as the Phénix (Phoenix) Naval Air Arm) AB212s by would cost the Spanish Navy less It also involves the addition of
and be powered by Rolls-Royce at least another 15 years. than replacing them with new plug-in technology that will allow
Trent 700 engines. It will be The programme involves models with similar capabilities. the helicopters to be quickly
equipped with a combination installation of more advanced The electrical system and the reconfigured for new missions.
of the Airbus Refuelling Boom equipment and avionics. analogue cockpit are replaced Hand-over of the first helicopter
System and underwing hose- Sener has led the design, with a completely digital one. was announced by the
and-drogue refuelling pods.  engineering and integration, Also incorporated are state-of- company on December 21. 

Italian AF Orders Three Tecnam P2006Ts for Training Eighth French


TECNAM IS to supply three
twin-engine Tecnam P2006T
together with maintenance
and assistance for three years
further 16 countries to date. It
is available in a wide range of
AF A400M Atlas
aircraft to the Italian Air Force and 3,600 hours in total. models including the P2006T SMP Handed Over
(AMI) as part of an integrated The three P2006Ts will fly in (Special Mission Platform) variant, FRANCE’S DIRECTION
training system (ITS), which Italian military markings, once which is intended to provide a générale de l’armement
also includes a flight simulator. the validation from EASA CS-23 low-cost surveillance platform with (DGA – Directorate General
The contract, announced by to AER/AMI certification has been multiple sensor capability. NASA of Armaments) took delivery
the Italian manufacturer on achieved. The Tecnam P2006T recently selected the Tecnam on December 22 of the eighth
December 21, also comprises was certified under EASA CS-23, P2006T for use in its ‘distributed Armée de l’Air (French Air Force)
training for pilots and technicians, IFR category, in 2009 and in a power technology’ programme.  A400M Atlas, 0031/F-RBAH,
Below: An impression of the P2006T in Italian Air Force markings. The illustration suggests the type will use at the Final Assembly Line at
the T-2006A designation in AMI service and the code ‘70-01’ indicates it will be flown by 70° Stormo, the Seville-San Pablo Airport, Spain.
Italian Air Force flying training school at Latina. Tecnam As with the previous delivery,
0019/F-RBAG, it is one of the
first to be cleared for dropping
paratroopers from the rear ramp
and also from the side doors.
This latest aircraft is the first
French A400M equipped
with the infra-red Enhanced
Visualisation System. It was
delivered to Base Aérienne 123
Orléans-Bricy to join Escadron
de Transport 1/61 ‘Touraine’. 

www.airforcesdaily.com #335 FEBRUARY 2016 11

10-11 EuropeNews Feb.DJ.indd 11 08/01/2016 14:58


NEWS

NORTH AMERICA

More C-130Js
for USAF, USMC
Lockheed Martin Delivers
and Coast Guard 2,500th Hercules
TWO CONTRACTS worth
over $1.22 billion have been
awarded to Lockheed Martin
for 43 C-130J Super Hercules
of various variants for delivery
to the USAF, US Marine Corps
and US Coast Guard. Both deals
were awarded on December
30 by the US Air Force Life
Cycle Management Center at
Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.
The first, valued at
Above: USAF HC-130J Combat King II 13-5782 ‘FT’, the 2,500th Hercules to be delivered, departing from Marietta,
$1,060,940,036, covers 32 Georgia, on December 11 for Moody AFB. Lockheed Martin/Damien Guarnieri
multi-year production aircraft.
These comprise 13 C-130J-30s, THE 2,500TH C-130 Hercules Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. 68 nations and the global fleet
five HC-130Js, 11 MC-130Js, left Lockheed Martin's facility in The USAF had the distinction has collectively logged more
two KC-130Js (for the US Marietta, Georgia, on December 11. of accepting the first delivery than 22 million flight hours. The
Marine Corps) and one US The landmark Hercules is HC-130J of a Hercules nearly sixty years current production model is the
Coast Guard HC-130J. Work Combat King II personnel recovery ago, on December 9, 1956. It C-130J Super Hercules, which
is expected to be complete by aircraft 13-5782 ‘FT’ (c/n 5782) is the world’s largest Hercules has been selected by 16 nations
April 30, 2020. Fiscal year 2014 assigned to the USAF’s 71st Rescue operator, which includes both and is flown by 19 different
USAF and US Navy aircraft Squadron, part of the 347th Rescue legacy C-130 and C-130J operators. The Super Hercules
procurement funds totalling Group. A US Air Force crew ferried Super Hercules variants. worldwide fleet has more than 1.3
$256,444,432; and FY15 USAF, the HC-130J to its new home at C-130s are today operated from million flight hours to its credit.
US Navy and Coast Guard

Lightning Production Goals Reached in 2015


aircraft procurement funds of
$804,495,604 were released
at the time of the award.
The second deal, valued at 45 F-35 deliveries comprise:
$61,866,434, is for 11 C-130J 26 F-35As to USAF.
FY13 and 14 congressional- The first two F-35As to the
added production aircraft. Royal Norwegian Air Force.
These comprise: one The first F-35A for the
C-130J-30, three HC-130Js, Italian Air Force.
two MC-130Js, three KC-130Js Eight F-35Bs to the USMC.
(for the USMC) and two US Eight F-35Cs to the USN/USMC.
Coast Guard HC-130Js. Work The 45 F-35s are
on this contract is due to assigned as follows:
be complete by January 31, 17 to Luke AFB, Arizona –
2018. Financing is taken from including all international jets.
FY13 and 14 US Coast Guard Eight to Marine Corps Air Station,
aircraft procurement funds. Beaufort, South Carolina.
The orders are part of the Eight to Eglin AFB, Florida.
newly agree $5.3 billion C-130J Five to Hill AFB, Utah.
Above: Lockheed Martin workers spell out ‘45’ in front of USAF F-35A Seven to Nellis AFB, Nevada.
Multiyear II contract, which
Lightning II 13-5078 (AF-84), the 45th F-35 to be delivered in 2015, at the
covers 78 aircraft. The total Following the USMC’s
factory in Fort Worth, Texas, on December 21. F-35 JPO
will comprise 30 MC-130Js, 13 combat-ready Initial Operational
HC-130Js and 29 C-130J-30s THE 45TH Lightning II for 2015 announced by the F-35 Joint Capability (IOC) declaration in
for the USAF, plus six KC-130Js has been delivered by Lockheed Program Office on December 21. July of last year, the USAF and
for the USMC and an option Martin, meeting the programme Including this aircraft, since US Navy intend to attain service
on five HC-130Js for the US production goal for the year. the programme’s inception the IOC with their aircraft in 2016
Coast Guard. Aircraft deliveries Acceptance of the aircraft, USAF manufacturer has delivered 154 and 2018, respectively. The
will begin this year and F-35A 13-5078 (AF-84), by the operational F-35s to date to the fleet has accumulated more
continue through to 2020. US Department of Defense was US DoD and partner nations. The than 45,000 flight hours.

USAF Receives 32nd C-5M Super Galaxy


LOCKHEED MARTIN delivered the than a week ahead of the contract Ohio, ferried the aircraft from the will be the 14th Super Galaxy based
32nd modernized C-5M Super commitment delivery date. company facility in Marietta, Georgia, at Travis with the 60th Air Mobility
Galaxy on December 9 to the An active duty USAF aircrew to Stewart Air National Guard Base, Wing’s 22nd Airlift Squadron ‘Mulies’.
USAF. This aircraft, 86-0016 (c/n led by Major General Warren D New York, where it will undergo This aircraft was originally delivered
0102), was the ninth and final C-5M Berry, the Vice Commander of internal paint restoration. Once that to the USAF in December 1987 and
scheduled for delivery in 2015. Air Force Materiel Command at work is completed, the aircraft will be had recorded approximately 21,510
The aircraft was delivered more Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, assigned to Travis AFB, California. It flight hours prior to the ferry flight.

12 FEBRUARY 2016 #335 www.airforcesmonthly.com

12 USNews Feb.DJ.indd 12 08/01/2016 15:03


SMI F_P.indd 1 18/12/2015 10:04
NEWS

NORTH AMERICA

Rafales, Raptors and Typhoons in Trilateral Exercise


RAF TYPHOONS, French our maintenance crews, our been kept secret, but they would deal with the ‘difficult players’.
Air Force Rafales and USAF intelligence support teams typically start with a group of If Typhoons flew in the first
F-22A Raptors were involved in preparation for a future RAF Typhoons or French Rafales encounter they would then
in a major exercise in the USA operating environment that pushing ahead into ‘enemy switch places with the Rafales
during December. This, the first may be more difficult than what territory’, supported a significant which were waiting behind. The
trilateral anti-access/area denial we’ve been fighting in is really distance behind by half their Raptors would also swap with
exercise, took place between an important step to refocusing number in USAF Raptors. Out another set and the whole group
December 2-18 at Joint Base on that full-spectrum fight we at sea the formation would would move onto their next
Langley-Eustis, Virginia, where have not been involved with encounter Red Air enemy fighters encounter with the ‘enemy’.
it was hosted by the USAF’s in recent years, but is always played by USAF F-15 Eagles One of the most significant
1st Fighter Wing. It follows a potential in the future.” and T-38 Talons, outnumbering benefits is the sheer scale of
the re-signing of the Trilateral More than 500 Service them three or four to one. training sorties. In the UK, the
Strategic Initiative by each of the members, consisting of The F-15s mimic the RAF will normally train against
three countries in July 2015. approximately 225 personnel performance and tactics of far fewer Red Air opponents
The exercise focused on from the USAF, 175 from the traditional threats and have a simultaneously. One Typhoon
procedures in a highly-contested RAF and 150 from the FrAF, top speed almost three times pilot explained the value of
operational environment through gained an understanding of the that of the RAF’s Hawk, one of being vastly outnumbered. He
a variety of simulated adversary logistics, support requirements, the Typhoon’s usual training said: “There’s so much going
scenarios. RAF Chief of the capabilities, tactics, techniques adversaries back in the UK. on at once it’s hard to keep tabs
Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir and procedures associated The fourth-generation aircraft on all the aircraft, and process
Andrew Pulford, said: “This with the integrated operation would ‘take out’ the leading everything that’s happening.”
is a fantastic opportunity for of coalition front-line fighters. edge of the Red Air, leaving More on the Rafale participation
the European air forces to get One RAF pilot on the exercise the fifth-generation Raptor to will appear next month.
alongside the United States Air described modern air warfare
Force to start delivering true as an information war. He said: A French Air Force pilot climbs out of Rafale C 130 ‘30-GI’ after
interoperability across Europe “Whoever can gather, process arriving at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, on December 1 prior
and across NATO.” According to and exploit the most information to participating in Exercise Trilateral. The aircraft is from Escadron
Chief of Staff of the USAF, General in the quickest time will win the de Chasse 2/30 ‘Normandie-Niemen’ at Base Aérienne 118
Mark A Welsh III, the exercise also information war and ultimately Mont-de-Marsan. USAF/
Senior Airman Aubrey White
allowed for the forces to train with the fight. With fifth generation
the same type of interoperability, aircraft being able to instantly
de-confliction and co-ordination share data with their fourth
process as they would normally generation cousins, the Typhoon
use in the Middle East to can become an even more
prevent miscommunication, effective and capable jet fighter.”
mistakes or bad decisions. While the initial stage of the
Welsh said: “The big benefit exercise pitted the aircraft
of this exercise is these three against each other, the vast
air forces have capability that majority of training sorties saw
many air forces don’t. So being the jets fly collaboratively. Exact
able to operate our aircrews, details of exercise sorties have
One of the resident USAF/1st Fighter Wing
F-22A Raptors takes off from Joint Base
Langley-Eustis behind RAF/11 Squadron
Typhoon FGR4 ZJ935 ‘DJ’ on December 11
during the trilateral exercise.
MOD Crown Copyright/ SAC Mark Parkinson

14 FEBRUARY 2016 #335 www.airforcesmonthly.com

14-15 US News.DJ.indd 14 08/01/2016 15:16


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US Navy Orders KAI Unveils Contender for USAF T-X Requirement


29 Additional
MH-60Rs
SIKORSKY HAS received
a contract for a further 29
MH-60Rs for the US Navy. The
$354,156,879 deal, awarded
on December 7 by US Army
Contracting Command, funds
the Navy’s fifth programme
year for these helicopters.
Associated programme and
logistics support are also
included in the contract, which
has been financed with Fiscal
Year 2016 ‘other procurement’
funding. It is estimated
that work will be completed
by December 31, 2017.
The award is a modification to
the $8.5 billion contract signed Above: The prototype of the T-50-based proposal from KAI/Lockheed Martin for the US Air Force T-X Trainer
on July 10, 2012, covering US requirement, which was unveiled on December 17. KAI
Army and US Navy purchase A PROTOTYPE of a development maiden flight during 2016, with requirements and probably an
of a baseline quantity of 653 of the T-50 Golden Eagle that will trials in the USA following in 2017. aerial refuelling capability.
UH-60M Black Hawk and be offered for the US Air Force’s The most noticeable feature The USAF plans to purchase
MH-60R/S Seahawk helicopters T-X next-generation trainer externally on the new variant is up to 350 aircraft to meet the
through to December 2017. competition was unveiled by Korea a distinctive dorsal hump. No T-X requirement, replacing the
The deal also included options Aerospace Industries (KAI) on specific details of the changes current Northrop T-38 Talon fleet.
on a further 263 of these December 17 at its Sacheon plant. in configuration to the aircraft Other contenders include Alenia
helicopters. Since then, actual The aircraft will be proposed for have been revealed, although Aermacchi with its M346-based
production quantities have been the requirement in a joint bid earlier this year Lockheed T-100, Boeing with a clean-sheet
determined on a year-by-year with Lockheed Martin, which Martin officials said it would design being developed in
basis, depending on funding provided technology transfer include an upgraded cockpit, collaboration with Saab and
allocations and Pentagon for the original T-50 design. The new embedded systems to Northrop Grumman, which will
acquisition priorities.  aircraft is expected to make its support fifth-generation training also propose a new type. 

Airborne Imaging DC-3 Testing New MH-60 FLIR Sensor Three Test
AIRBORNE IMAGING DC-3
N737H visited San Diego-
forward-looking infrared (FLIR)
sensor developed by Raytheon
T-33 and various civilian types,
which have been used for P-8As to be
Brown Field Municipal Airport,
California, on December
for the Sikorsky MH-60 fleet
and installed in a ball turret on
missions in Central America.
The company has also tested
Brought to
5. The aircraft is being used
as a test platform for a new
the nose. Airborne Imaging’s
fleet includes three Dakotas, a
a wide array of sensors for
UAVs. Kevin Whitehead 
Production
Standard
BOEING IS to modify three
P-8A Poseidon development
airframes to production
standard under a $15.54 million
contract awarded by US Naval
Air Systems Command on
November 30. The aircraft are
the fourth, fifth and sixth flight
test airframes, comprising
167952/T-4 (c/n 40594) ‘JA-
952’, 167955/T-5 (c/n 40595)
Lockheed Martin Awarded $1.25 Billion F-35 Contract ‘JA-955’ and 167956/T-6 (c/n
40596) ‘JA-956’, respectively.
A US NAVAL Air Systems four for Turkey; eight for the US Navy ($256,433,369;
All are currently operated
Command (NAVAIR) advanced Netherlands; eight for Australia; 21.9%); US Marine Corps
by Air Test and Evaluation
acquisition contract valued ten for the Israel; six for Japan ($106,500,000; 9.1%); non-US
Squadron 1 (VX-1) ‘Pioneers’
at $1.17 billion was awarded and ten for South Korea); seven DoD partners ($207,069,044;
at Naval Air Station Patuxent
on December 21 to Lockheed F-35Bs (six for the USMC; 17.7%) and foreign military
River, Maryland, on trials
Martin to procure long lead time and one for the UK); and four sales ($199,694,560; 17%).
work. They will be brought
materials, parts, components and F-35Cs for the US Navy. A second contract on the same
up to low-rate 4-2 production
effort to maintain the planned Also included is production day, valued at $84,434,012,
representative configuration.
production schedule for F-35 of two F-35As for the USAF covered procurement of
The majority of the work (77%)
low rate initial production Lot and F-35Cs for the US Navy. production non-recurring items
will be carried out at Pax
11, comprising 91 aircraft. This contract combines for Lot 9 F-35 aircraft. These
River and is expected to be
Lot 11 includes 80 F-35As (28 purchase for the USAF include special tooling and
completed in January 2017. 
for the USAF; six for Norway; ($401,509,516; 34.3%); special test equipment items. 

www.airforcesdaily.com #335 FEBRUARY 2016 15

14-15 US News.DJ.indd 15 08/01/2016 15:16


NEWS

LATIN AMERICA

New Mexican Honduran Air Force Acquires Two Cessna 172s


AF 737-800
A NEW Boeing 737-800
has entered service with the
Mexican Air Force. The aircraft,
737-8MC(W) FAM-3526
(c/n 44437, ex EI-RUS), was
delivered on November 20. Built
for Russian carrier Transaero,
it made its first flight on
September 17, 2015. Following
the demise of Transaero, it
was re-allocated for Mexico. Newly acquired Honduran Air Force Cessna 172 FAH-246
at La Ceiba-Goloson on December 16. Mario Theresin
It is one of two that are being
acquired for operation by TWO CESSNA 172 Skyhawks have International Airport, Honduras. Coronol José Enrique Soto Cano,
Air Transport Squadron 502 recently entered Fuerza Aérea Ten of the type's military Palmerola. The new Cessna
at BAM1 Santa Lucia, which Hondureña (FAH – Honduran equivalent, the Cessna T-41D 172s also appear to be operated
currently flies three Boeing Air Force) service. The aircraft, Mescalero, were previously flown by the AMA, as both wear the
727s. The Airbus A320-200 and FAH-245 and FAH-246, were by the FAH's Academia Militar academy’s badge on the cabin
737-900ER were also contenders first noted on December 16, de Aviación (AMA – Military doors. It is not yet clear whether
for the requirement.  visiting La Ceiba-Goloson Aviation Academy) at Base Aérea further examples are on order. 

Peruvian AF
Takes Delivery
of Three
Cessna 172s
THREE NEW Cessna 172
Mexican Air Force Bell Skyhawk SP aircraft have been
407GX 1312/N537QB delivered to the Fuerza Aérea
departing from Arlington del Perú (FAP – Peruvian Air
Municipal Airport, Texas, Force) for use in the training
on November 10 on its role. The aircraft, serial numbers
delivery flight to Mexico.
Michael Keaveney 469, 477 and 478, are the first
of seven being acquired. They

Mexican Bell 407GX Deliveries Completed


were welcomed with an arrival
ceremony on November 24
at Base Aérea Las Palmas,
DELIVERIES OF 15 Bell 407GX Texas. They comprised 1311/ days earlier with the spraying Santiago de Surco, Lima.
helicopters to the Fuerza Aérea N537CB (c/n 54599), 1312/ equipment already installed. They had departed from
Mexicana (FAM – Mexican Air N537QB (c/n 54600) and 1313/ It is believed that these the factory in Independence,
Force) are now complete. Three N537PB (c/n 54606). All were were the 12th, 13th and 14th Kansas, on a nine-day flight,
of the most recent examples fitted with spraying equipment helicopters, leaving just one involving 40 flying hours,
departed on November 10 under the fuselage for counter- more to be delivered at that routing via the USA, Mexico, El
from Bell’s XworX facility at narcotics missions. They had time. The US registration of Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama,
Arlington Municipal Airport, flown into Arlington a few the latter, 1314 (c/n 54607, ex Colombia and Ecuador
N537EB), was cancelled on before arriving in Peru.
Mexican Air Force Bell 407GXs December 17, 2015, presumably The remaining four were
Serial Con No Previous Identity US regn cancellation date after being delivered. scheduled for delivery during
1300 54566 N534LB April 15, 2015 The manufacturer had December, but their arrival
announced the order for them has yet to be confirmed.
1301 54571 N534PB May 28, 2015
on March 2, 2015 – see Mexican The aircraft will be used
1302 54573 N534NB June 4, 2015
Air Force Orders 15 Bell 407GXs, for primary training by the
1303 54574 N534RA September 3, 2015 April 2015, p19. Deliveries FAP’s Escuaela de Aviación
1304 54579 N536AZ July 9, 2015 began soon afterwards, the Civil (EDACI) at Las Palmas,
1305 54580 N536BQ July 9, 2015 first arriving on April 13 at Base which teaches both FAP
1306 54586 N536EZ September 3, 2015 Aérea Militar 5 Capitán Emilio and civilian pilots.
1307 54588 N536HS September 3, 2015 Carranza Rodríguez in Zapopán, After training with EDACI,
1308 54589 N536FS October 14, 2015 Jalisco, to join Escuadrón Aéreo FAP trainees will move on
1309 54595 N536WB October 14, 2015 111 – see Mexican Air Force’s to basic/advanced training
1310 54596 N536UB October 14, 2015 First Bell 407GX, June 2015, on the KT-1P. Currently, the
p18. The unit will operate all 15 EDACI uses the Cessna T-41D
1311 54599 N537CB November 25, 2015
helicopters, which in addition Mescalero and the new Cessna
1312 54600 N537QB November 25, 2015
to their counter-narcotics 172s will upgrade the standard
1313 54606 N537PB November 25, 2015 missions, are being used for a of training by providing a
1314 54607 N537EB December 17, 2015 variety of parapublic roles.  modern, digital cockpit. 

16 FEBRUARY 2016 #335 www.airforcesmonthly.com

16 LATAM.DJ.indd 16 11/01/2016 09:37


NEWS

LATIN AMERICA

Four More Mi-171SH-Ps Delivered to Peruvian Army


A FIFTH batch of four Mil
Mi-171Sh-P helicopters have
been delivered to join the
Aviación del Ejército Peruano
(Peruvian Army Aviation) fleet.
They arrived on November 30 on
board an An-124, along with a
number of spare VK-2500
engines, at Callao-Jorge Chavez
International Airport.
After unloading, the helicopters
were transported to the Ejército’s
Centro de Mantenimiento
Aeronáutico (CEMAE) for
re-assembly and flight testing.
They are part of a batch of 24
ordered for the Peruvian Armed
Forces in December 2013. An
initial four arrived on board an
An-124 on November 27, 2014
(see Deliveries of Mi-171Sh to Peru
Begin, January 2015, p24),
followed by four more on
December 4 of that year. They
were inducted into Ejército
service on December 12, 2014. One of the new Peruvian Army Mi-171Sh-P helicopters is unloaded from an An-124 on November 20. Ejército
An additional three arrived early
last June. that this would contravene US that the sanctions did not apply nine more to be delivered, which
Delivery of the remaining 13 had sanctions on Russian export to this deal, enabling payment to were expected to follow in three
been delayed due to Peru’s agency Rosoboronexport, which be made and deliveries to resume batches of three over a short
National Bank holding up is supplying the helicopters. In once more. period, with the final examples
payments, because it believed September, it was determined The four most recent arrivals left due in January of this year. 

Peruvian AF’s Third C-27J


Spartan Delivered
PERU’S THIRD C-27J Spartan, Lima-Callao/Jorge Chávez
FAP-330/C.S.X62299, departed International Airport to join
from Turin-Caselle Airport, Italy, Grupo Aéreo 8/Escuadrón de
on December 10 at the start of its Transporte 844 on December 13.
delivery flight. The aircraft had The FAP has ordered four
been handed over to the Fuerza C-27Js, the first of which,
Aérea del Perú (FAP – Peruvian FAP-328/C.S.X62295, had
Air Force) the previous day. left the factory in Turin, Italy,

Colombian Arava Inaugurates


It routed via Gatineau Airport, on its delivery flight on March
Canada, where it was shown off 12, 2015. It arrived in Peru

New Planadas Runway to local media on December 11


as part of Alenia Aermacchi’s
on March 15 (see Peruvian Air
Force C-27J Delivery, May 2015,
Colombian Air Force IAI Arava FAC 1952 landing on December 29 to formally efforts to interest Canada in p19) and a formal ceremony to
inaugurate the newly refurbished runway at Planadas Airport, which was rebuilt the type to meet its fixed-wing induct the aircraft into service
by military engineers. MinDef Colombia search and rescue requirement. was held on March 27 at Base
It was scheduled to arrive at Aérea Las Palmas, Santiago

News Briefs de Surco, Lima. The second,


FAP-329/C.S.X62297, was
delivered to Lima on June 19. 
BRAZIL'S HELIBRAS announced on January 7 that it had
delivered the tenth upgraded Brazilian Army Fennec during
December. It was handed over at Helibras' Itajubá facility.

A SECOND former Royal Air Force C-130K Hercules C3A


destined for the Mexican Air Force, C-FNUM (c/n 4241, ex
XV214), departed from storage at MOD St Athan, Wales, on
December 9. Using callsign ‘UM214’, it flew initially to St John’s,
Newfoundland and Labrador. The aircraft is one of two ex-RAF
examples acquired by Canada’s IMP Group, which will refurbish
them before delivery to Mexico. The first, C-FNUL (c/n 4271, ex
XV303), left St Athan a few weeks earlier, on November 22 – see The third Peruvian Air Force C-27J Spartan, FAP-330/C.S.X62299, at Turin, Italy,
Two ex-RAF Hercules Head for New Life, January, p6.  preparing to depart for a pre-delivery acceptance flight on December 3. FAP

18 FEBRUARY 2016 #335 www.airforcesmonthly.com

18 LATAM.DJ.indd 18 08/01/2016 17:11


NEWS

AFRICA
Visit www.airforcesdaily.com for daily
news stories. E-mail the news team
at milnews@keypublishing.com

Russian Zambian AF Crews Complete L-15 Training


Helicopters THE FIRST Zambian Air Force Although the ZAF was known ZAF officer commanding,

to Support
(ZAF) pilots and maintenance to have signed a contract for Brigadier General Jabes Zulu,
personnel have completed acquisition of the L-15, details had confirmed that the type

Egyptian Mi-8T/
conversion to the Hongdu L-15 were never clear. It is now known had been ordered at the Air
Falcon advanced jet trainer at the order is for six aircraft, Force Headquarters Annual

Mi-17-Vs
Nanchang, AVIC announced with a further six options. Ball on December 26, 2014.
on December 28. The training Unlike the first six, the second He also confirmed additional
RUSSIAN HELICOPTERS took place on the first ZAF six will have a new afterburning SF260TW trainers, C-27J
has signed an agreement to L-15s, which are expected engine currently transports and Mi-17 helicopters
provide after-sales service and to begin delivery in June. in development. would also be delivered. 
maintenance for the Egyptian
Air Force’s (EAF’s) fleet of
Russian-made helicopters.
Under the contract, announced
on December 8 by the company,
the repair base at Heluane,
Egypt, will be re-tooled to
support the EAF’s fleet of 41 Mil
Mi-8Ts and three Mi-17-1Vs.
All of these helicopters will
undergo comprehensive repair
work at the facility. Russian
Helicopters will authorise the
Heluane plant as an official
aircraft repair plant for the type.
To support comprehensive
work to the airframes,
components, gearboxes and
rotor systems in helicopters
Cameroon and Kenya Order ScanEagle UAVs Egypt Acquiring
operated by the EAF, Russian INSITU WAS awarded two million, also covers one ScanEagle
Helicopters will deliver
specialised equipment
separate Foreign Military Sales
contracts by the US Naval Air
system. Half of the work will be
carried out at the main air force
Additional E-2C
to the facility, carry out Warfare Center Aircraft Division base in Douala, Cameroon. A US Naval Air Systems
commissioning work and on September 29 to supply its The systems for both countries Command (NAVAIR) pre-
transfer all the necessary ScanEagle unmanned aircraft will include analogue medium- solicitation reveals the Egyptian
documentation to Egypt. system to Cameroon and Kenya. wave infrared ScanEagle UAVs, Air Force (EAF) is acquiring an
Egyptian specialists will be The $9.86 million deal for the launch and recovery equipment, additional E-2C Hawkeye from
trained to work on Mi-8Ts, Kenyan Government covers one ground control stations, Insitu surplus US Navy stocks. The
Mi-17-1Vs and Mi-17V-5s at ScanEagle system. Work will be video exploitation systems and October 15, 2015 document
Russian Helicopters’ Novosibirsk divided equally between Insitu’s ground support equipment. is a notification of the intention
Aircraft Repair Plant. The facility in Bingen, Washington Kenya will also procure a Mk4 to award Northrop Grumman
company will provide design and Laikipia/Nanyuki, the launcher, two full mission a contract for supplies and
and technical support for Kenyan Air Force’s main base. training devices and spares services required to deliver
these repairs for two years.  The deal with the Cameroon kits. Both contracts are due for E-2C 162615 (c/n A-97) and
Government, valued at $9.39 completion in September 2016.  associated parts to Cairo under
the EAF E-2C Tactical Program.

Belgian A109BAs in Gabon


The Hawkeye had been
in storage with the 309th
Aerospace Maintenance
and Regeneration Group at
BELGIAN AIR Component/15 08-80193. Visible in front of taking part in Exercise Tropical Davis-Monthan Air Force Base,
Wing C-130Hs CH-11 and CH-03 are three cocooned Storm, a Belgian exercise Arizona, since March 10, 2005.
CH-03 were at Libreville, Belgian A109BAs. It is believed held in Gabon and the DRC The deal will include packaging
Gabon, on December 13, along that they were awaiting between November 21 and plus shipment of the aircraft
with USAF/62nd AW C-17A shipment back home after December 11. Denetworks  and 3,200 parts to a freight
forwarder for onward delivery
to Cairo, which was due to be
completed within around three
months of contract award.
The heading of the solicitation
also refers to recovery and
upgrade of another ex-US Navy
E-2C, 163026 (c/n A-119),
delivered to the EAF in December
2010. This element of the deal is
not mentioned in the paperwork,
but it is presumed the aircraft
had been returned to the US
for overhaul and upgrade. 

www.airforcesdaily.com #335 FEBRUARY 2016 19

19 Africa News.DJ.indd 19 08/01/2016 17:19


NEWS

HEADLINES
MIDDLE EAST

An Israeli
Veteran Retires
In December Israel withdrew the veteran
Skyhawk from service. Latterly used
as a trainer, the type also saw extensive
combat during a career spanning
almost 50 years. Amit Agronov
was there to see this old
warhorse retire.

20 FEBRUARY 2016 #335 www.airforcesmonthly.com

20-21 Middle East Feb.aw copy.indd 20 11/01/2016 15:04


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news stories. E-mail the news team
at milnews@keypublishing.com

Right: A series of formation flypasts were flown during the ceremony by two
M-346s and two TA-4s – representing the past and the future of pilot training
within the ISAF.
Below: Three TA-4 Skyhawks taxi out to the main runway at Hatzerim Air
Base during the retirement ceremony. Among pilots involved in the flying
on December 13 were three active major generals: ISAF commander Amir
Eshel, commander of personnel Hagai Toplonski, and head of the planning
directorate Amikam Norkin. All images by author

A FTER THOUSANDS of
sorties and a part in almost
all of Israel’s wars since the first
ten TA-4H two-seaters (1969-70),
117 A-4Ns (1973-76), 96 A-4Es
(delivered in 1971 and during the
examples were unloaded from 1973 Yom Kippur War), 16 A-4Fs
a ship at Haifa 48 years ago, and four TA-4Fs (1972), and 21
the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk has TA-4Js (1973-74). A total of 140
been withdrawn from Israeli Air Ayits have been lost in combat, 53
and Space Force (IASF) service. of them during the Yom Kippur
Known as the Ayit (Eagle), the War, and to training accidents.
last of them were replaced by Although the Ayit served
the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 primarily as an attack aircraft,
Master (Lavi – Lion), which first on May 12, 1970, Colonel Ezra
entered service in July 2014. Dotan ‘Beban’, also known as
An official ceremony at Hatzerim ‘Mr Skyhawk’, used an A-4H
air base marked the Ayit’s to down two Syrian MiG-17s.
retirement on December 13, He destroyed one with 30mm
2015. The rainy morning failed cannon fire and the other
to keep a crowd from assembling with air-to-ground rockets.
around 102 Squadron’s flight line During the early 1990s, 102
as the jets took off to perform ‘Flying Tiger’ Squadron, operating
a flypast. Among the pilots the Skyhawk as a trainer, was
involved were three active major attached to the IDF flying school at
generals: IASF commander Hatzerim.
Amir Eshel, commander of The Ayit has trained many
personnel Hagai Toplonski generations of IAF combat pilots.
and head of the planning “Ayit pilots witnessed great
directorate Amikam Norkin. events in the history of aerial
A total of 354 Ayits served with combat,” Eshel said. “Many
the IASF, the very first examples of the air force’s achievements
being purchased directly from the resulted from the combination
US. They comprised 90 A-4H jets of these small aircraft and the
received between 1967 and 1970, greatness of their pilots.” 

Entering service in July 2014, the M-346 Master, (called Lavi, Hebrew for lion, by the ISAF)
has replaced the TA-4 in the advanced training role. However, it was clear to everyone at the
ceremony that the Lavi will never gain a combat record equal to that of the TA-4 Skyhawks.

www.airforcesdaily.com #335 FEBRUARY 2016 21

20-21 Middle East Feb.aw copy.indd 21 11/01/2016 15:04


NEWS

MIDDLE EAST

Jordan Acquires ex-UAE Hawks and UK Fireflies Two More Iraqi


PREVIOUSLY UNREPORTED June and have since replaced the registrations being G-BWXG,
Mi-28NEs
acquisitions by the Royal
Jordanian Air Force (RJAF)
RJAF’s F-5E/Fs in the LIFT role.
Also recently acquired by
G-BWXR, G-BWXY, G-BWXZ,
G-BWXX, G-BWXK, G-BWXH
Delivered
include 13 former United Arab the RJAF are eight Slingsby and G-BWXN respectively. TWO MORE Mil Mi-28NE Night
Emirates Air Force and Air T67M-260 Fireflies previously The additional Fireflies are Hunter attack helicopters
Defence Hawk Mk63s surplus operated by the UK’s Defence flown by the Instructor Pilot have been delivered to the
to UAE requirements following Elementary Flying Training School at the King Hussein Air Iraqi Army Aviation Corps. An
delivery of Pilatus PC-21s. Given School. All had been up for sale College, Mafraq – supplementing official Iraqi Ministry of Defence
serials 1720 to 1732 inclusive, and were cancelled from the UK 16 delivered earlier – and are spokesman, Naseeri Nouri
they are in service with 17 register on August 13, 2015 when thought to be a stopgap pending Mohammed, announced on
Squadron at H5/Prince Hassan they were officially transferred acquisition of a new basic December 10 that they had been
Air Base in the lead-in fighter to Jordanian ownership. They trainer. For more details on the air-freighted into the country
trainer (LIFT) role. They reached are allocated serials 437 to 444 Royal Jordanian Air Force, see that morning and were expected
full operational capability last inclusive, their previous UK Fit for the Fight, p84-89. . to enter service very shortly.
An initial batch of three
Recently acquired Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF) Hawk Mk Mi-28NEs was delivered to Iraq
63 1722 is one of 13 formerly operated by the UAEAF&AD. at the end of August 2014 – see
Marco Dijkshoorn Iraqi Army’s First Mi-28NEs Arrive
in Country, October 2014, p25.
A second batch, which arrived
on February 1, 2015, is now
reported to have comprised
only two helicopters (it was
previously reported to have
been four). Another four were
delivered in August followed
by two more in September.
The latest arrivals bring the
total number delivered to date
to 13. It remains unconfirmed
exactly how many of the type
have been ordered in total. 

Qatar Rafale
Order Comes
into Force
A DASSAULT AVIATION contract
with Qatar for 24 Rafales came
into force on December 17 when
the first down payment was
received. The initial contract
was signed on May 4 in Doha in
the company of His Highness
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al
Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar, Newly acquired UAE Air Force and Air Defence P-750
and French President François XSTOL, serial number 4000, with under-fuselage
Hollande – see Qatar Orders 24 freight pannier, hangared at Al Bateen recently.
Rafales, June 2015, p22. The
deal represents a new stage
in the strategic partnership
between Qatar and France. UAE Air Force Operating P-750 XSTOL
The 24 jets for the Qatar AN UNUSUAL addition to the skydiving aircraft, but is also on June 30. It flew on to Bali
Emiri Air Force comprise 18 United Arab Emirates Air Force used by commercial operators International/Ngurah Rai on
single-seat and six twin-seat and Air Defence inventory is in crop spraying, passenger, July 1 and then to the UAE.
Rafales, with an option on a single Pacific Aerospace survey and utility roles. Cancelled from the New
either 12 or 24 more. The deal P-750 XSTOL. The aircraft is The aircraft was originally Zealand register, the aircraft was
also includes MBDA missiles painted in an overall gloss white registered to the manufacturer allocated US registration N506VS
and training for 36 Qatari colour scheme and devoid of in New Zealand as ZK-KCP on July 31 for Vertol Systems
pilots, 100 technicians and a markings, apart from serial (c/n 191) on June 16, 2014 of Hillsboro, Oregon, which
number of Qatari intelligence 4000 on the rear fuselage. as a P-750XL, although the provides specialised aircraft and
officers by the French military. It entered service last July and company markets the type as helicopter solutions. The US
Weapons included are appears to be operated by the the P-750 XSTOL. It was ferried registration was in turn cancelled
SCALP/Storm Shadow, GHQ SAR Wing at Al Bateen Air from Kerikeri in Northland New on September 23 on transfer
Meteor and Exocet missiles. Base, Abu Dhabi. Its role with Zealand via Norfolk Island to to UAEAF&AD ownership. As
The total package is the UAEAF&AD is unknown. The Brisbane, Australia, on June 28, far as AFM is aware, it is the
valued at €6.3 billion.  type was originally designed 2015, and continued to Cairns only example of the type in
specifically as a parachuting/ the next day and on to Darwin military service worldwide. 

22 FEBRUARY 2016 #335 www.airforcesmonthly.com

22-23 ME News.DJ.indd 22 08/01/2016 16:50


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at milnews@keypublishing.com

MoU Signed
US Navy F/A-18C Hornet 165202 ‘AG-301’ from Strike Fighter Squadron 83 (VFA-83) ‘Rampagers’ launches from the
USS Harry S Truman (CVN 75) on December 31 for an Operation Inherent Resolve mission against Daesh. Note that
the unit badge on the fin has been suitably modified for Christmas, complete with Santa hat! US Navy/
for 30 Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class J R Pacheco

An-178s for
Royal Saudi
Air Force
ANTONOV AND Saudi Arabia’s
Taqnia Aeronautics Company
signed a memorandum of
understanding (MoU) on
December 17 for the delivery of
30 An-178 multi-purpose aircraft
to the Royal Saudi Air Force
(RSAF). The deal is an extension
of co-operation between the two
companies – Antonov announced
on May 13 it was developing
the new An-132 multi-purpose
transport aircraft in association
with Taqnia, which will build
USS Harry S Truman Begins Operations Against Daesh
the type in Saudi Arabia. STRIKE AIRCRAFT from the French allow us to maximise the next day. The carriers can
Under the new agreement, aircraft carrier USS Harry S our firepower and provide a then swap, which allows us to put
the two companies will also Truman (CVN 75) flew their unique opportunity to further more sorties in-country while
jointly market the An-178 to first missions in support of progress against Daesh we partner in this operation.”
other Middle Eastern countries Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) (Islamic State). It validates The Truman left its home port in
and promote special-purpose on December 29. The Truman our abilities to successfully Norfolk, Virginia, on November
variants of the An-148. and embarked Carrier Air Wing operate as an international 16. Its arrival in the region marks
Major General (retired) Ali 7 (CVW-7) have joined French coalition while conducting the return of a US carrier to
Mohammed Al-Ghamdi, carrier FS Charles de Gaulle very dynamic operations.” anti-Daesh operations. Since the
President of Taqnia Aeronautics, (R 91) in combined combat Captain Fredrick Luchtman, departure of the USS Theodore
said the An-178 had been operations against Daesh in Iraq CVW 7’s commander, added: Roosevelt (CVN 71), which ended
selected due to its advantageous and Syria from the Arabian Gulf. “We complement each other in air strike operations against
characteristics, price and low Rear Admiral Bret Batchelder, that while one carrier is able to fly Daesh and left the Fifth Fleet
operating costs compared commander of Carrier Strike sorties in-country to support OIR, area of responsibility on October
to other types in its class.  Group 8 (CSG-8), said: “Dual the other carrier can conduct 13, there had not been any US
carrier operations with the maintenance and prepare for carrier presence in the region. 

France Launches SCALP Saudi Navy Orders Ten MH-60Rs


on Operation Chammal LOCKHEED MARTIN and Sikorsky of the MH-60R Mission Avionics
have won contracts to provide ten
MH-60R Seahawk helicopters
Systems and Common Cockpits
configuration for the helicopters.
DURING AN air strike against buildings – some of which for the Royal Saudi Naval Forces The work is expected to be
a Daesh position in Iraq on were hardened – serving as a (RSNF). Sikorsky’s share of completed in June 2019.
December 15, French military headquarters and training centre, the deal is a Foreign Military Plans for the purchase had first
aircraft employed SCALP as well as a logistics store. Sales (FMS) contract valued at been revealed by the US Defense
air-launched cruise missiles The French Ministry of Defence $145m – awarded on December Security Co-operation Agency
for the first time in Operation said that a total of ten aircraft 17 by US Army Contracting (DSCA) on May 20 last year after
Chammal. The target was in were involved in the mission Command – for the procurement the US State Department approved
the Al Qaim region, close to the – a mix of Mirage 2000s and of the ten ‘green’ MH-60Rs. the sale – see Saudi Arabia Seeks
border between Iraq and Syria. Rafales operating from Jordan Estimated completion date for the Ten MH-60Rs, July 2015, p26.
The site comprised and the Persian Gulf.  contract is October 31, 2018. The DSCA said the total value
Lockheed Martin Mission Systems of the acquisition was estimated
Armée de l’Air Rafale B 338 ‘104-IO’ from Escadron de Chasse 3.30 ‘Lorraine’
at Base Aérienne 104 Al Dhafra, UAE, preparing to depart on December 15 and Training was awarded two FMS at around $1.9 billion, indicating
armed with SCALP cruise missiles for the first Operation Chammal air strike contracts by US Naval Air Systems that further contracts are likely
using the weapon, which targeted Daesh positions in the Al Qaim region of Command on December 23. The to be awarded to make up this
Iraq. État-major des armées first, valued at $117m, covers total. These are expected to
the manufacture and delivery cover role- and country-specific
of ten MH-60R Mission Avionics equipment plus weapons,
Systems and Common Cockpits spares, support and training.
for the helicopters. Estimated The MH-60R will be used by the
completion date is April 2019. RSNF to guard against maritime
The second award, worth security threats and for secondary
$110m, was for non-recurring missions including vertical
engineering support – covering replenishment, search and rescue
development, test and qualification (SAR) and communications relay. 

www.airforcesdaily.com #335 FEBRUARY 2016 23

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24-25 SubsAd Feb.indd 25 12/01/2016 15:17


NEWS

RUSSIA & CIS

Two More Russia Flies Prototype of New Jet Trainer


Su-34s
A NEW Russian light jet trainer initial and basic military trainer single AI-25TLSh turbojet.
prototype made its maiden flight or sports aerobatic aircraft. This is the first news of the

Delivered to
on December 25. The aircraft, It features a tandem, two-seat project since details were first
designated the SR-10, has configuration with zero-zero revealed at the MAKS Air Show

Russian AF been developed by the CB-SAT


Modern Aviation Technologies
K-93 ejection seats and,
unusually, a forward-swept
at Zhukovsky in August 2009,
when a full-scale mock-up
SUKHOI HAS fulfilled the State design bureau as either an wing. Its powerplant is a was also unveiled. 
Defense Order 2015 for delivery
of Su-34s to the Russian Air
and Space Forces. The final
two aircraft of that order
departed on December 22
from Novosibirsk on delivery.
Although this completed last
year’s order, Sukhoi handed
over a further two Su-34s at
the same time, exceeding
the required deliveries for
the year. These aircraft were
also flown to their operational
airfield a few days later. The
manufacturer reported that
in 2014 the aircraft plant also
exceeded the yearly production
plan for Su-34 deliveries. 
Above: The new Russian SR-10 jet trainer prototype taking off on its maiden flight on December 25. CB-SAT

Second An-178 and First An-132 Progressing New Mil


High-Speed
Helicopter
Demonstrator
Flown
RUSSIA’S NEW high-speed
helicopter technology
demonstrator made its maiden
flight at the Mil Helicopter Plant’s
flight test facility in Tomilino,
Moscow Region on December 23.
The prototype is based on
the airframe of the Mi-24K.
Installation of a new rotor
system incorporating the
Above: The nose section of the prototype An-132D and fuselage of the second prototype An-178 at the official roll out latest Russian developments
ceremony on December 28 at the Antonov factory in Kiev, Ukraine. Antonov in aerodynamics, strength and
ANTONOV HAS completed the at the Paris and Dubai air shows transport fleet – see p22-23. manufacturing technology is
fuselage of the second prototype –see An-178 Roll-Out and First The An-132 is a joint project with the primary design change.
An-178 medium transport and Flight, June 2015, p27, and An-178 Saudi Arabia’s KACST and an MoU The most obvious external
fuselage components of the first Makes Public Debut, August 2015, for six special mission variants for feature, however, is new new
An-132 light transport aircraft p14. Antonov says it has received the RSAF was signed at the Dubai forward fuselage configuration,
demonstrator. The company 40 orders to date for the type, Air Show in November - see News which has been streamlined
held a roll-out ceremony on although specific details were not Briefs, January, p28. At the Paris to improve aerodynamics
December 28 in its assembly announced. On December 17, Air Show last June, Antonov said during high-speed flight. In
shops to mark the milestone. Antonov had, however, signed a the prototype An-132 should be addition, various aerodynamic
The first prototype An-178 had Memorandum of Understanding completed within 18 months – see modifications to the stub wings
made its maiden flight on May 7, for supply of 30 An-178s to join Antonov Reveals More Details on have also been carried out.
2015, following which it appeared the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) An-132, August 2015, p17.  Details of the project were
first revealed at the MAKS 2015
Type Certification for Mi-38 International Aviation and Space
Salon in Zhukovsky last August,
RUSSIAN HELICOPTERS has to hand over the certification assembled by Kazan Helicopters. when a full-scale mock-up of the
gained type certification for its documents. Certification for the Two prototypes (the third and helicopter was also unveiled –
new medium, multi-role Mi-38 type’s Klimov TV7-117V engines fourth) carried out certification see New High-Speed Helicopter
transport helicopter. A ceremony had been achieved earlier last year. flight testing. The fourth is close Demonstrator, October 2015,
was held on December 30 at the The Mi-38 is due to enter series to the series production standard, p24. It is planned to reach
Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant, production in 2016 and the incorporating all production speeds of up to 280mph
where the type was designed, first fuselage has already been systems and components.  (450km/h) eventually. 

26 FEBRUARY 2016 #335 www.airforcesmonthly.com

26 RussiaNews Feb.DJ.indd 26 11/01/2016 09:33


NEWS

ASIA PACIFIC
Visit www.airforcesdaily.com for daily
news stories. E-mail the news team
at milnews@keypublishing.com

Final Philippine Air Force C295M Delivered Two More


DELIVERY OF the third and Base on December 11 after a 220th Airlift Wing/222nd Airlift Su-30MK2Vs
final Philippine Air Force (PAF)
C295M has been completed.
ferry flight from the factory at
Seville-San Pablo Airport, Spain.
Squadron, which accepted
its first C295M in late March Arrive in
The aircraft, 142/EC-001 (c/n
S-142), arrived at Clark Air
It had left Seville on December
5. The aircraft will join the PAF’s
2015. The second aircraft
followed in September.  Vietnam
A FURTHER two Sukhoi
Su-30MK2V multi-role fighters
have been delivered to the
Vietnam People’s Air Force
(VPAF) from the KnAAPO factory
in Komsomolsk-on-Amur. The
aircraft, serial numbers 8589
The third and final and 8590, arrived in Vietnam on
Philippine Air Force board a Volga-Dnepr An-124-
(PAF) C295M, 142/ 100M on December 29.
EC-001 (c/n S-142)
A US$600 million contract for
arriving at Clark Air
Base after its ferry 12 additional Su-30MK2Vs for the
flight from Spain. PAF VPAF was signed in August 2013.
The first two were then delivered
to Dan Nang Air Base (AB),

Russia and India Second Royal Malaysian Air Vietnam in October 2014. Two
more followed on December 6,

Sign Deal for Force A400M Delivered 2014. The most recent deliveries,
the fifth and sixth aircraft, arrived

200 Ka-226Ts DELIVERY OF the second Tentera


Udara DiRaja Malaysia (TUDM –
29, when it was escorted into
Subang by two TUDM MiG-29s.
in Vietnam on August 6, 2015
– see Vietnamese Su-30MK2V
RUSSIA AND India have signed Royal Malaysian Air Force) A400M The TUDM has four A400Ms on Deliveries, September, p29.
an agreement to co-operate in military airlifter, M54-02 (c/n order, the first of which, M54-01 Previously, the VPAF has
the production of 200 Kamov 0032, ex EC-400), took place on (c/n 0022), was handed over in taken delivery of at least 26
Ka-226Ts to replace Indian December 23. It was handed over Seville on March 9, 2015 – see Su-30MK2Vs,. The type equips
Air Force and Army Cheetah at San Pablo Airport, Seville, Spain, Malaysia’s First A400M Delivered, the 923rd Fighter-Bomber
and Chetak helicopters. The where it had made its maiden flight May 2015, p29. It then departed Regiment at Bai Thuong AB,
deal, which was announced on November 19 – see Second on its delivery flight on March 12. 929th Fighter Regiment/2nd
on December 28 by Russian Malaysian A400M Flown, January, The third TUDM aircraft, M54-03 Squadron at Dan Nang AB
State Corporation Rostec, p30. Its ferry flight to Malaysia (c/n 036), is completed at Seville, and the 935th Fighter-Bomber
was signed between the two was completed on December but has yet to be delivered.  Regiment at Bien Hoa AB. 
countries on December 24.

India Delivers Donated Mi-25s to Afghanistan


Under the terms of the
agreement, a Russian-Indian
joint venture will be created
INDIA HAS delivered three three of four ex-IAF Mi-25s withdrawn from use in recent
involving Rostec-JSC
Mi-25 Hind-D attack helicopters being donated to Afghanistan. years. Latterly, the AAF has
Rosoboronexport, Russian
to Afghanistan to support its The fourth was expected to had just one Mi-35 remaining
Helicopters and India’s
continuing offensive against arrive shortly afterwards. The in service and this was due for
Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd
Taliban militants. On December transfer has been approved by retirement in January 2016.
(HAL). The deal, which will see
24 the Afghan Government said Russia, which originally supplied Afghanistan is also seeking to
HAL producing the Ka-226T
they had arrived in the country the helicopters to India. purchase three Mi-35s direct
in India, also provides for
earlier in the month. They were The Afghan Air Force (AAF) has from Russia. Afghan President
repair of the helicopters, along
flown in on board Indian Air Force previously operated Mi-24P/V Ashraf Ghani asked for the
with technical support.
(IAF) C-17A Globemaster IIIs. and Mi-35 variants of the Hind, helicopters last October as part
The first 60 Ka-226Ts will be
The helicopters are the first but these have been progressively of a request for military aid. 
built at Russian Helicopters’
Kumertau Aviation Production Afghan National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar and Indian
Enterprise factory, while Ambassador to Afghanistan Amar Sinha inspect one of the
the remaining 140 will be donated Indian Air Force (IAF) Mi-25 attack helicopters
on board an IAF C-17A Globemaster III after its delivery in
assembled in India by HAL. December. Afghan National Security Adviser’s Office
Approval for acquisition of
these helicopters had been
given by India’s Defence
Acquisition Council at a
meeting on May 13, 2015 – see
India Approves Major Defence
Acquisitions, May 2015,
p33. It has not officially been
announced where the locally
assembled Ka-226Ts will be
produced, however, HAL is to set
up a new manufacturing facility
at Tumakuru, about 60 miles
(100km) from Bangalore. 

www.airforcesdaily.com #335 FEBRUARY 2016 27

27 ASIAPAC News.DJ.indd 27 08/01/2016 16:58


NEWS

ASIA PACIFIC

Last TH-135 Delivered to Third Batch of UH-60Ms


Japan MSDF Delivered to Taiwan

Above: The 15th and final Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force TH-135 training
Above: Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk 911, one of the third batch for Taiwan, on
helicopter, 8815, being waved off from the Airbus Helicopters Japan facility
the dockside at Kaohsiung after being unloaded.
on November 25. Airbus Helicopters/Koichi Nakagawa
TAIWAN HAS taken delivery of (serials 901 to 904) arrived on
AIRBUS HELICOPTERS has for the first two was signed on a third batch of four Sikorsky December 3, 2014. The second
completed delivery of 15 February 26, 2009. The first UH-60M Black Hawks. The batch of four (905 to 908) then
H135s (formerly known as the of these was handed over on helicopters arrived by sea at followed on May 24, 2015. One
EC135T2i) to the Japan Maritime December 2, 2009. The type Kaohsiung and were unloaded of the third batch has been
Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), began replacing the OH-6D/ on December 17. The number confirmed as 911, suggesting that
which designates the type the DAs used in the rotary-wing involved has not yet been serials for the latest deliveries
TH-135 and uses it in the training training role by the 211th Kyoiku confirmed, but the previous are likely to be 909 to 912.
role. The company announced Kokutai (Air Training Squadron) two batches have each been of A total of 60 UH-60Ms are
hand-over of the 14th and 15th at Kanoya from 2011. four aircraft and it is believed being acquired for the RoCA,
JMSDF H135 on December 15. In Japan, there are currently 80 the same number were for which a contract valued
Japan had announced selection H135s operating for emergency involved in the latest arrivals. at $1.705 billion was signed
of the EC135T2i for the JMSDF’s medical services, police work, The first four Republic of China on November 22, 2012.
TX training requirement on electronic news gathering, VIP Army Aviation and Special Final deliveries are
January 16, 2009. A contract transport and business aviation.  Forces Command UH-60Ms scheduled for 2019. 

Report to Congress Details Afghan Air Force Status


A REPORT submitted to US because they are only used for personnel transport, casualty deliveries in June 2015, the
Congress has updated the current training. Further scheduled evacuation and human remains AAF has ten armed MD530Fs
status of the Afghan Air Force (AAF) acquisitions still to be delivered recovery roles. The type is also operating from Kabul, each with
fleet. Entitled Enhancing Security comprise two more Cessna being employed in a basic ISR a fixed forward firing capability,
and Stability in Afghanistan, the 208Bs, 20 A-29B Super Tucanos, role, but this is only in the early comprising FN Herstal M3P
report, released on December 15, seven Mi-17s and 18 MD530Fs. stages of development. The 0.50 calibre machine guns,
covers developments between To date, 12 of the AAF A-29s have US Train, Advise and Assist installed in the company’s Heavy
June 1 and November 30, 2015. been delivered to Moody AFB for Command-Air (TAAC-Air) is Machine Gun Pod. Six more
Currently, the AAF has 161 training pilots and maintenance working to expand the aircraft’s weaponised MD530Fs are due
fully trained pilots, not including personnel. With the first pilots employment envelope to develop for delivery in early 2016 and the
those who are in training to now qualified on the type, the a soft field landing capability. US has approved a requirement
transition to another aircraft first four aircraft are scheduled This will enable it to take over for a further 12, which will
type. The latter includes the first to be delivered to Afghanistan some Mi-17 operations, freeing be delivered later in 2016.
class of nine pilots converting in January 2016, replacing the up the latter for other missions. The Special Mission Wing (SMW)
to the A-29 Super Tucano at Mi-35 in the light air support The Mi-17 is the workhorse of is separate from the Air Force
Moody AFB, Georgia. Shortly role. The sole remaining Mi-35 the AAF, but is unable to meet all and its aircraft are not included
after the report was published, is then expected to be retired. of the ground forces demands, in the totals above. Its assets
eight of those pilots graduated The remaining A-29s from the primarily because of lack of comprise 29 of 30 authorised
at Moody on December 18, order for 20 will be delivered to availability due to maintenance Mi-17-V5s and 17 of 18 authorised
bringing the overall total to 169. Moody by May 2016, before being down time and challenges in Pilatus PC-12/47Es. The
As of November 30, the report delivered to Afghanistan when training maintenance personnel. Wing is dedicated to providing
quotes the AAF as having 91 further pilots and maintenance Currently, 14 of the type are expeditionary reach for the
aircraft. These comprise a fixed- personnel graduate. Eight configured with a fixed forward- Afghan Special Security Forces
wing complement of four C-130H A-29s are expected in country firing capability and seven of (ASSF) for its counter-terrorism
Hercules and 24 Cessna 208B by the 2016 fighting season, those can also fire rockets. To and counter-narcotics missions.
Grand Caravans, while rotary-wing increasing to 12 by the 2017 alleviate the strain on the fleet, The SMW supports ASSF
assets are 49 Mi-17s, one Mi-35, fighting season. Full operational in September 2015 coalition helicopter assault force raids and
ten MD530F Cayuse Warriors capability with 20 airframes, advisors awarded a contract for provides overwatch, ISR, resupply
and three Cheetals. Additionally, 30 pilots and 90 maintenance rotary-wing airlift to provide cargo, and casualty evacuation for ASSF
the AAF uses six Cessna T182T personnel is expected to be personnel and human remains operations. It currently has three
Turbo Skylanes, although these achieved by the end of 2018. movement for the Afghan National fully operational units: 1 and 2
are not listed as part of the The Cessna 208Bs are largely Defence and Security Forces. Squadrons are based at Kabul,
inventory in the report, perhaps used in the light cargo and Following a second round of while 3 Squadron is at Kandahar. 

28 FEBRUARY 2016 #335 www.airforcesmonthly.com

28,30 AsiaNews Feb.DJ.indd 28 11/01/2016 09:16


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ASIA PACIFIC

Bangladesh Inducts AW139s and Yak-130s


PRIME MINISTER Sheikh Hasina Base on board a Volga-Dnepr Haque. They are used in the dual digital automatic flight control
Wazed was guest of honour An-124-100 on September 20. maritime search and rescue system with hover and SAR modes.
during an induction ceremony at After re-assembly, they joined 21 role and for utility missions. The During the ceremony, the Prime
Bangabandhu Air Base/Dhaka- Squadron ‘The Avengers’ at the helicopters were ordered under Minister revealed that the BAF
Kurmitola on December 6 for the base. They are the first of 16 on a contract announced by the will take delivery of 16 Chinese
Bangladesh Air Force’s (BAF’s) order under a contract signed manufacturer at the Farnborough Nanchang CJ-6/PT-6s, which
newly delivered AgustaWestland in late 2013. It had originally Air Show on July 14, 2014. would be based at Chittagong-
AW139 helicopters and Yakovlev been planned to purchase 24 of Their arrival marked the Zahurul Haque Air Base. The BAF
Yak-130 combat trainer aircraft. the type, but budget constraints establishment of the country’s first already has the type in service, the
The event marked the formal reduced the total to 16. dedicated maritime SAR capability. survivors of 40 that were delivered
entry into service of the BAF’s first The two AW139s arrived in the Equipment fit includes a search/ from 1977 onwards being flown
six Yak-130s and two AW139s. country in early October and are weather radar, FLIR, searchlight, by 11 Squadron of the Air Force
The six Yak-130s had arrived at being operated by 1 Squadron, rescue hoist, emergency flotation Academy’s Flying Training Wing at
Chittagong-Zahurul Haque Air also based at Chittagong-Zahurul gear and a state-of-the-art four-axis Jessore/Matiur Rahman Air Base. 

Bangladesh Air Force


Yak-130 Deliveries
Serial Con No First Flight
15101 130.12.02- Apr 29, 2015
0101
15102 130.12.02- Unknown
0102
15103 130.12.02- May 28, 2015
0103
15104 130.12.02- Jun 2, 2015
0104
15105 130.12.02- Jun 19, 2015
0105
15106 130.12.02- Unknown
0106

Bangladesh AF AW139s
Serial Con No Test Reg
613 31613 I-EASS
Above: The first Bangladesh Air Force AW139, 613/I-EASS (c/n 31613), during a pre-delivery test flight on June 24. It
616 31616 I-PTFR was formally inducted into service on December 6, along with the first example of the type. Marco Bianchi

Last Bangladeshi Mi-171Sh Delivered First Japan-


Assembled
F-35A Being
Put Together
MATING OF the major
components (fuselage, wings
and tail) of the first Lockheed
Martin F-35 Lightning II to be
put together at the Mitsubishi
Heavy Industries (MHI) Final
Assembly and Check-Out (FACO)
facility in Nagoya, Japan, began
on December 15. The aircraft,
F-35A AX-5, will be rolled out
New Bangladesh Air Force Mi-171Sh
of the fsctory for delivery to
869 during a pre-delivery test flight
at the Ulan Ude Aviation Plant on the Japan Air Self-Defense
March 19, 2015. Russian Helicopters Force (JASDF) in 2017.
The first four JASDF F-35As, AX-1
DELIVERY OF the last of five activities in regions that are facing increase range and endurance, to AX-4, are being produced
Mi-171Sh Hip-H transport complex crime problems. as well as an external sling for in the US and are currently in
helicopters to the Bangladesh Bangladesh ordered the outsize cargo transportation. various stages of assembly in Fort
Air Force (BAF) has now been Mi-171Sh helicopters under They are fitted with powerful Worth, Texas. The first, AX-1, is
completed. Russian Helicopters a contract signed with spotlights and winches that can scheduled for delivery later this
confirmed their arrival in a Rosoboronexport in late 2013 lift 330lb (150kg), while also year. The remaining 38 JASDF
December 11 announcement. and they were built at the Ulan having the option of installing F-35As, AX-5 to AX-42, will be
In addition to routine cargo Ude Aviation Plant. The first medevac equipment enabling assembled and delivered from
transport and border security two were delivered on April 8 evacuation of up to 12 injured Nagoya. The Nagoya FACO was
operations, the new Mi-171Sh on board an Antonov An-124. people. Additionally, they are also selected in 2014 as the
will be used in UN humanitarian The helicopters are equipped equipped with armour and regional F-35 overhaul facility. 
missions and supporting with additional fuel tanks to self-protection systems. 

30 FEBRUARY 2016 #335 www.airforcesmonthly.com

28,30 AsiaNews Feb.DJ.indd 30 11/01/2016 09:16


NEWS

AUSTRALASIA
Visit www.airforcesdaily.com for daily
news stories. E-mail the news team
at milnews@keypublishing.com

RAAF KC-30A in US Tanking Trials Australia


Seeking Three
More CH-47Fs
AUSTRALIA IS seeking three
more CH-47F Chinooks. The US
Defense Security Co-operation
Agency (DSCA) announced
on December 21 that US
State Department approval
had been granted for their
acquisition. It notified Congress
of the possible Foreign Military
Sale on December 18.
The total estimated value is
$180 million. They will join
seven already delivered to the
Australian Army Aviation Corps.
The last of the initial seven was
delivered on August 10, 2015 –
see Boeing Delivers Last Australian
CH-47F, December, p35. 

Australia Signs
PC-21 Deal
LOCKHEED MARTIN Australia
Above: USAF F-35A Lightning II AF-03, on its 386th flight on October 27, alongside an RAAF KC-30A during trials from has been contracted by the
Edwards AFB, California, to certify the Australian tanker for F-35 refuelling operations. Lockheed Martin/Tom Reynolds Government to provide the new
Royal Australian Air Force personnel from 33 Squadron. December 3, when the KC-30A AIR 5428 Australian Defence
KC-30As have recently been A flight test team from the refuelled the F-16 for the first time. Force Pilot Training System.
involved in trials in the USA. RAAF's Aircraft Research and In total, 444 contacts were made Signature of the acquisition
From September 23 through Development Unit, supported and 25 tonnes of fuel offloaded. and services contracts took
until October 26, an RAAF by flight test insttrumentation On December 18 the tests were place on December 4.
KC-30A operating from Edwards engineers from the Aerospace paused for the Christmas holiday Under the AUS$1.2 billion
AFB, California, performed Systems Engineering Squadron, break. They are to resume deal, Lockheed Martin Australia
12 sorties with US Air Force was integrated within the early in the new year, when the will deliver 49 Pilatus PC-21s to
F-35A Lightning II AF-3. During USAF Test Centre to work tanker returns to Edwards and the Royal Australian Air Force
these flights, 479 dry and on the test programme. this initial phase was expected (RAAF), along with seven flight
24 wet contacts were made A further KC-30A deployment to be completed in February. simulators and support for
with the refuelling receptacle to Edwards took place from The trials are part of the an initial seven-year term.
on the F-35A. More than 95 November 30, during which Coalition Tanker Aerial Refuelling Performance-based options
tonnes of fuel were transferred similar tests were carried out Certification Effort, which could extend the contract for up to
during the wet contacts. with 416th Flight Test Squadron was signed on June 19, 2015. 25 years. The Lockheed Martin-
Throughout the trials, the F-16D 86-0047 ‘ED’. The first Further tankers and receivers led Team 21 includes Pilatus,
KC-30A was flown by RAAF flight in the series of tests was on will be tested in 2016.  which will provide the PC-21s
and through-life engineering and
CONTRACTS airworthiness support. Hawker
Pacific will supply maintenance
Air Force Company No and Type Date Delivery Date & Notes and fleet support. Lockheed
Royal Australian Air Force Lockheed Martin 49 x Pilatus PC-21 Dec 4 From 2019 Martin will provide overall project
management and deliver a
Royal Australian Air Force L-3 Communications 2 x Gulfstream G550 Dec 28 By Nov 30, 2017
family of integrated ground-
French Air Force General Atomics 3 x MQ-9A Reaper Dec 7 2019 based training technologies.
French Air Force Airbus Defence and Space 8 x A330 MRTT Dec 15 2016 to 2025 The contracts will see Basic
Flying Training at RAAF Base
French Army Airbus Helicopters 7 x Tigre HAD Dec 17 2017-2018 East Sale, Victoria, with 22 of the
Italian Air Force Tecnam 3 x P2006T Dec 21 Not announced PC-21s, while Advanced Flying
Training will continue from RAAF
Qatar Emiri Air Force Dassault 24 x Rafale Dec 17 Not announced
Base Pearce, Western Australia.
Royal Saudi Air Force Antonov 30 x An-178 Dec 17 Not announced The contract will also provide
Royal Saudi Naval Forces Sikorsky 10 x MH-60R Dec 17 By Oct 31, 2018 three PC-21s as replacement
aircraft for 4 Squadron at RAAF
US Air Force Lockheed Martin 14 x C-130J-30 Dec 30 By Apr 30, 2020
Base Williamtown, New South
US Air Force Lockheed Martin 8 x HC-130J Dec 30 By Apr 30, 2020 Wales, for forward air control and
US Air Force Lockheed Martin 13 x MC-130J Dec 30 By Apr 30, 2020
four for the Aircraft Research and
Development Unit (ARDU) at RAAF
US Coast Guard Lockheed Martin 3 x HC-130J Dec 30 By Apr 30, 2020 Base Edinburgh, South Australia. .
US Marine Corps Lockheed Martin 5 x KC-130J Dec 30 By Apr 30, 2020 Selection of the PC-21 for
the role had been announced
US Navy Sikorsky 29 x MH-60R Dece 7 By Dec 31, 2017
on September 6 last year. 

www.airforcesdaily.com #335 FEBRUARY 2016 31

31 AustraliaNews Feb DJ.indd 31 11/01/2016 11:42


UK AIR DEFENCE

P ROTECTING THE UK’s airspace is a core


mission for the Royal Air Force and a
significant proportion of its personnel and aircraft
Air Traffic Services (NATS) centres, at Swanwick
in Hampshire and Prestwick in South Ayrshire.
The RAF has duty personnel at Swanwick,
the underground control and reporting centre
at RAF Boulmer in Northumberland. The
teams there manage intercepts using civil
strength is devoted to it. The role of the quick where they work alongside their NATS colleagues and military radars to track suspicious
reaction alert (QRA) Typhoons in intercepting every day. This enables the rapid handover of aircraft and direct RAF jets to them.
rogue Russian aircraft, and airliners suspected incidents to the RAF team at the London Air Another Boulmer controller calls up the
of being under the control of terrorists, is well Traffic Control Centre (Military) (LATCC(Mil)). duty QRA at either RAF Lossiemouth in
known and receives regular media coverage. The joint military and civilian team at Moray, which covers the northern UK, or
But placing fighters into the air in time to Swanwick monitors the thousands of daily RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, which covers
intercept involves the work of a network of radars, aircraft movements that occur over the UK, the south, to request a QRA launch.
communications and experienced airspace bat- the North Sea and a huge swathe of the North The QRA pilots swing into action to get their
tle managers, all of which have a far lower profile. Atlantic, watching out for aircraft following jets into the air, their engineers having begun
Some 75 years ago, the RAF’s famous Dowd- unusual tracks and any that have not filed valid the procedure to start engines even before
ing system linked fighter aircraft, anti-aircraft flight plans or may have lost communications. the pilots leave their crew room. The aim is
gun batteries, long-range surveillance radars If contact cannot be established with a to be airborne in 15 minutes. There is no
and Observer Corps spotting posts into the suspect aircraft, the civilian controllers request time for an extensive pre-mission briefing, the
network that won the Battle of Britain. In the RAF launch Typhoons to investigate. pilots taking off with only a simple outline of
the 21st century, the air defence of the UK is The LATCC(Mil) team then phones a senior the type of incident and its general location.
organised along similar lines, but employs RAF air battlespace Once aircraft are launched, time is of
dramatically more advanced technology. manager – known the essence. While
as fighter Boulmer issues
Intercept controllers during a stream of
The RAF stands ready to launch fighter aircraft the Cold War – in radio mes-
to secure UK airspace round the clock. In many sages to direct
cases the alarm is raised by civilian air the Typhoons to
traffic controllers in the incident,
one of two National LATCC(Mil)
person-

Right: A 1(F) Sqn Typhoon FGR4 shows off its air


defence configuration – four long-range AIM-120
AMRAAMs under the belly and four medium-range
AIM-132 ASRAAMs mounted under the wings.
The Typhoon is the sharp end of the RAF’s Quick
Reaction Alert (QRA), based at RAF Coningsby,
Lossiemouth and Mount Pleasant (Falklands), where
they will sit armed ready for action when called
upon. John Dibbs
Below: The NATS (National Air Traffic Services) pro-
vides air traffic control from centres at Swanwick,
Hampshire and Prestwick, Ayrshire. NATS

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SECURING
UK AIR DEFENCE

UK SKIES
Incursions by Russian military aircraft into UK-controlled airspace
over the North Atlantic are once again a regular occurrence.
The RAF launches Typhoon fighters to intercept them, the jets
representing the sharp end of a complex air defence system, as
Tim Ripley explains.

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UK AIR DEFENCE

nel work with NATS controllers to clear


other civilian aircraft out of the way.
The whole operation is monitored from the UK
National Air Defence Operations Centre (NADOC)
in a bunker at RAF High Wycombe in Bucking-
hamshire. From there, personnel provide live
updates to the government, should the incident
escalate into a serious situation and a Cabinet
Office Briefing Room A (COBR(A), usually
pronounced ‘Cobra’) crisis meeting be required.
In most cases air traffic controllers manage
to resolve incidents before an intercept
occurs. What happens when a Typhoon does
The NATS centres
fly up alongside the suspect aircraft, however,
are manned by a
depends on what the pilot finds: in some mix of civilian and
cases its radios might not be working and military personnel.
the Typhoons will escort it to a safe airfield, NATS
ensuring no other aircraft are at risk.
If the nightmare scenario of terrorists seizing sian military aircraft operate with their forward bases around Murmansk.
the aircraft becomes a reality, or is suspected, transponders switched off and do not file After the Tu-95s are airborne, they swing
the Typhoon pilots would attempt to direct it flight plans, they could disrupt civil air around Norway’s North Cape and head out
to land at a UK airfield, where the police would traffic or cause a tragic air accident. into the Atlantic. Norway’s air defence radar
take charge. If those in control refuse to land, These fears are shared by other NATO network picks them up very quickly and a
the Typhoons would escort it through UK nations and procedures have been pair of F-16AM Fighting Falcons is usually
airspace and provide regular updates to senior put in place to co-operate in the co- scrambled from Bodø to intercept.
government ministers in the briefing room. ordination and conduct of intercepts. As this is happening, senior officers in the
What might happen if the suspect aircraft The primary launch pad for Russian air Norwegian Joint Headquarters at Bodø talk to
attempts to emulate the events of 9/11 and activity over the North Atlantic is the Kola their RAF counterparts in the NADOC. A similar
fly into a populated area is of greatest concern Peninsula in northern Russia. Tupolev Tu-95 conversation takes place with duty officers at
to government ministers. With thousands Bears and, occasionally, Tu-160 Blackjacks NATO Combined Air Operations Centre 2 at
of lives at risk on the ground, the decision take off from Engels, deep in Russia, or Uedem, Germany, to set in train preparations
might eventually have to be made to shoot
it down – but, with potentially hundreds of
people onboard the suspect airliner, giving
the order would be an extremely difficult
decision, one that only the Prime Minister
or his designated deputy can make.

The Russians Are Coming


In the past decade QRA aircraft were
launched between 11 and 24 times a
year. In 2014 there were 21 launches, of
which eight involved Russian aircraft.
The procedures for intercepting Russian
aircraft are very different to those for dealing
with civilian craft and involve extensive co-
operation with allied air forces. While there is
considerable political tension between Britain
and Moscow, it is very unlikely that Russian
warplanes would actually open fire on British
aircraft or launch missiles at UK territory.
The real fear is that, because Rus-
Above: The Rapier GBAD system plays a major part in protecting the UK’s skies and was also deployed to
several sites during the 2012 London Olympic Games. All photos, Crown Copyright unless stated
Below: A Russian Tu-95 Bear H is intercepted by a Typhoon FGR4 on QRA. Aerospace Battle Managers at
RAF Control and Reporting Centre (CRC) Boulmer alerted and scrambled two Typhoons from RAF Lossie-
mouth to intercept the Russian military aircraft flying in international airspace.

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UK AIR DEFENCE

An E-3D Sentry AEW1 can fill gaps in any radar coverage that are caused by high terrain – it’s particularly useful when Russian aircraft are flying around the UK’s
western coast heading south.

for a NATO-wide response, if needed. air-to-air refuelling support to the fighters. into radar ‘black spots’ outside the coverage
In the NADOC, RAF officers usually have a Having made visual contact with the Russian of UK land-based radar. In this case, the RAF
couple of hours to prepare their response aircraft, one of the RAF jets moves into position might launch an alert E-3D Sentry airborne
to the imminent arrival of the relatively slow alongside. The Typhoon pilots attempt to estab- warning and control system (AWACS) from RAF
flying Tu-95 in UK-controlled airspace. If lish radio contact and then pull back to monitor it. Waddington, Lincolnshire, to fill the gaps in
it does not turn for home and looks set to Since these intercepts take place in radar coverage and co-ordinate further air-to-air
head south into the UK sector, the NADOC international airspace, the RAF is obliged refuelling contacts over the North Atlantic
asks controllers at RAF Boulmer to order to leave the Russians to proceed on their Meanwhile the NADOC alerts its French
a QRA launch from RAF Lossiemouth to way, while the Typhoons relay course and counterpart to launch fighters to continue
establish visual contact with the Bear. position information back to Boulmer. the shadowing operation. Alternatively, if the
Given the distances involved in these Russian aircraft have on occasion flown all Russian aircraft swings down into the North Sea
operations, a Voyager tanker is launched from the way around the UK, down past Ireland and and heads into the Baltic, the RAF organises a
RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, providing out into the Bay of Biscay, sometimes flying handover with its Dutch or Danish counterparts.

Above: The Puma with snipers on board was used during the Olympic 2012 Air Security Plan to maintain a
presence to deter any low-flying threats such as small aircraft or UAVs.
Right: Snipers are trained to shoot low-flying threats out of the sky. They were used during the 2012 Lon-
don Olympics but did not need to be called into action.
Below: The UK has purchased the Saab Giraffe AMB to protect the Falkland Islands from any possible threat.
Saab

Future QRA
There has been uncertainty over the Typhoon’s
long-term future as the QRA platform, based on
its 2030 out of service date (OSD), leading to
speculation that the F-35 Lightning II might take
over the role. The Strategic Defence and Security
Review extended the Typhoon’s OSD for at least
a decade. At the same time, the threat to UK
airspace is likely to continue to evolve. The fast-
est growing threat comes from UAVs, or drones.
Cheap and cheerful drones can be bought online
and potentially converted to deliver explosives
or other hazardous materials into urban areas.
Typhoon is a less than ideal solution to intercept-
ing drones that might be little bigger than a
remotely controlled model aircraft. A helicopter –
or, perhaps in future, another drone – is the most
effective defence against such a target. The RAF
used helicopters as interceptors during the 2012
London Olympics, teaming Puma HC1s with
RAF Regiment snipers to counter potential ‘slow
movers’ – general aviation types, helicopters and,
potentially, drones over the capital. 

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UK AIR DEFENCE

QRA Duty

On Friday July 24, 2015, while policing Baltic airspace, RAF Typhoons intercepted ten Russian aircraft during
a single Baltic Air Patrol, Quick Reaction Alert mission. The Typhoon FGR4s, from 6 (Fighter) Squadron inter-
cepted these four MiG-31 Foxhounds (No 1) from the 790th IAP at Khotilova, north of Moscow.

The Battle of Britain established the ‘scramble’ in three new Lockheed Martin AN/TPS-77 radars. Pleasant – outside the capital, Port Stanley –
popular British consciousness through images of During the Cold War the radar sites were heavily since 2007. The pilots of 1435 Flight stand QRA
plucky RAF pilots sitting on garden chairs reading defended and manned by fighter control person- in much the same way as their counterparts in
newspapers while waiting for a bell to ring and nel. Over the past 25 years the network has been the UK. A Voyager tanker is also based there to
set them running to the cockpits of their Spitfires progressively automated and the sites are now extend the Typhoons’ range and endurance.
and Hurricanes. unmanned and linked by real-time data link to the The major difference in air defence operations on
Fast-forward to 2015, and today’s Typhoon pi- main reporting and control centre at RAF Boulmer. the Falklands compared to the UK mainland is the
lots share similar experiences. But, unlike 1940, The backbone of the network is the Lockheed presence of a British Army Rapier Field Standard C
when every RAF fighter pilot waited 50 yards from Martin Type 92 radar, with units in the remotely missile battery at RAF Mount Pleasant.
his aircraft, today only a fraction of the Typhoon operated radar heads at Benbecula and Buchan, Early in 2015 the British Ministry of Defence
Force is dedicated to QRA at any one time. Aberdeenshire. The Type 92s are being replaced announced it had begun a project to upgrade the
Two pairs of Typhoons are held at readiness for by the AN/TPS-77s at Brizlee Wood in Northum- air defence network in the Falklands by the end of
immediate launch at RAF Lossiemouth and RAF bria, Staxton Wold in North Yorkshire, and the decade. The fixed radar sites are to have new
Coningsby. At each, these are the ‘primary pair’, Trimingham in Norfolk, with the first site Saab Giraffe radars, while the MBDA Future Local
with a second pair in reserve should the prima- scheduled to come on line in 2016. Area Air Defence System (Land) (FLAADS(L)) – a
ries scramble. If an event were so serious that all Further bolstering radar coverage, a BAE Sys- land-based variant of the Sea Ceptor missile to be
eight QRA aircraft were in the air, more Typhoons tems Type 101 is in use at Portreath, Cornwall, installed on Royal Navy frigates – will replace Rapier.
would be brought to higher readiness and pilots and No 1 Air Control Centre at RAF Scamp-
called in from other duty. ton, Lincolnshire, holds mobile radar units at Baltic Air Policing
For pilots, QRA duty involves spending 24 hours readiness for overseas deployment or to ‘gap-fill’ The Crimea crisis in March 2014 prompted the
in a crew room 100 yards from the hardened around the UK. British Government to join NATO efforts to bolster
shelters where the Typhoons are kept ready for the defences of the alliance’s members in Eastern
action. While the number of aircraft involved in Falklands QRA Europe, under the long-running Baltic Air Policing
immediate QRA duty is small, it soaks up a large The RAF also has responsibility for the air defence (BAP) mission – the Typhoon Force joining the NATO
percentage of the RAF’s 120 or so Typhoon pilots. of the Falkland Islands, and since the 1982 con- air policing effort to protect Latvia, Estonia and Lithu-
Every week, 56 pilots stand QRA duty, equivalent flict has maintained fighter aircraft and radars, ania on two occasions over the past 18 months.
to more than three squadrons’ worth of person- along with Rapier surface-to-air missiles, to deter Early in 2015 the government announced that
nel, even without taking into account sickness, the possibility of Argentine aggression. RAF Typhoons would return to BAP duty in 2016.
leave and routine training courses. Air defence of the Falklands is co-ordinated from The most recent deployment, to Amari in Estonia
the operations room of the Headquarters British over the summer, lasted four months. It saw No
Radar Net Forces South Atlantic Islands at RAF Mount Pleas- 6 Squadron’s four Typhoons scrambled on 17 oc-
The military radar element of the UK Air Surveil- ant. Early warning is provided by radars on Mount casions to intercept a total of 40 Russian aircraft.
lance and Control System (UKASACS) is based Alice, Byron Heights and Mount Kent, the highest On one occasion the RAF jets intercepted a
at six sites stretching from Benbecula in the peaks on West and East Falkland. The sites are formation of ten Russian machines, the largest
Outer Hebrides to the toe of Cornwall. The radar connected to Mount Pleasant by data link. encountered by NATO since the beginning of the
network is in the process of being renewed with Four Typhoons have been based at Mount current crisis. 

A Typhoon FGR4 still wearing the markings of 1435 Flight at RAF Mount Pleasant touches down at RAF Coningsby after a QRA mission. Note the full missile fit.
All four of the Typhoons that had manned the Falklands QRA since 2007 were replaced by four more modern examples in September 2015. Chris Lofting

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1224/15
OPERATION OKRA

“The Super Hornet to my mind was probably the best


tactical platform in-theatre at the job it was doing, and the
two-seat concept was absolutely validated”

38 FEBRUARY 2016 #335 www.airforcesmonthly.com

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OPERATION OKRA

OPERATION
OKRA AUSTRALIA’S
WAR ON DAESH
The Royal Australian Air Force has been engaged
in Operation Okra, its contribution to the fight
against Daesh in Iraq, since October 2014, as
Nigel Pittaway reports.

A S PART of Operation Okra, the Royal Australian


Air Force (RAAF) formed an Air Task Group
(ATG) at short notice in mid-September 2014
ment by then-Prime Minister Tony Abbott
that Australia would contribute air assets
to the coalition of forces opposing Daesh in
before deploying to Al Minhad Air Base in the Iraq. Operations were initially conducted
United Arab Emirates, arriving on September 24. It from Al Minhad, before moving to the current
began operations just six days later, on October 1. base at Al Dhafra in mid-November 2014.
Air Task Group 630 (ATG 630) initially The deployment of six Super Hornets, the
comprised six Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornets, Wedgetail and KC-30A from Australia to the
a single Boeing E-7A Wedgetail airborne UAE, a distance of 6,500nm (12,000km),
early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft was supported by organic RAAF airlift assets.
and an Airbus Defence and Space KC-30A The initial commander of ATG 630 was Air
Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT), along with Commodore Steve Roberton, who paid
between 300 and 400 support personnel. tribute to the rapid formation and deploy-
In April 2015 the Super Hornets were replaced ment of the force, something that had never
by a similar number of McDonnell Douglas F/A- before been achieved by the RAAF alone.
18A Hornets. Australian Government approval “We went a hell of a long way and we did
to widen air operations to include Daesh targets it in 19 days, which was well inside the
in Syria was granted in early September. Australian Defence Force [ADF] preparedness
An RAAF Super Hornet displays the com- The first strike inside Syria was undertaken on directives,” he said, following his return to
mon weapons load-out during the first
the night of September 11 and RAAF Hornets Australia early last year. That’s not a bad
phase of Operation Okra: two GBU-12
‘Paveway II’ LGBs and two GBU-38 JDAMs had completed 18 sorties within Syrian air- effort for a small nation like ours. From an
on the underwing pylons, two AIM-9X space, albeit with the release of just two weap- Australian perspective we have never sent
Sidewinders on the wingtip rails and an ons, by the end of the month. Although ATG away an air contingent for operations that
AIM-120C AMRAAM on the right shoulder 630 remains ready to carry out further attacks was better prepared, better trained or better
station. The ATFLIR targeting pod occupies on Daesh targets in Syria, no more air strikes equipped, and in that light it was quite a
the left shoulder station. All images via RAAF had taken place by the end of November 2015. watershed for the Royal Australian Air Force.”
By November 21, ATG 630 had flown Given the extremely complex rules of engage-
998 air strikes against Daesh in Iraq and ment in the operational area it was felt that the
Syria, releasing 633 precision-guided second crewmember in the F/A-18F would be
munitions (PGMs) in the process. an initial advantage over the single-seat F/A-
18A. “Having a pilot and WSO [weapon systems
ATG Formation & Deployment operator] that were able to work through the
Air Task Group 630 deployed from Australia rules of engagement and the targeting directive
on September 21, 2014 and was ready for matrix gave a capability that was really second
operations just 19 days after the announce- to none,” Roberton recalled. “The Super Hornet

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OPERATION OKRA

“Our mantra is that this


is the most precise air
campaign in history, every
weapon we have employed
has either been laser-
guided or GPS-guided”
to my mind was probably the best tactical
platform in-theatre at the job it was doing, and
the two-seat concept was absolutely validated.”
The first change of command occurred in
January when Air Cmdre Glen Braz replaced
Roberton. Braz oversaw the transition to the
single-seat F/A-18A ‘Classic’ Hornet in April, by
which time operational experience had placed
the rules of engagement into perspective.
The ATG’s current commander, Air Cmdre
Stuart Bellingham told AFM that the move
from Super Hornet to ‘Classic’ had been a Above: An E-7A Wedgetail AEW&C prepares to leave for another sortie over Iraq and Syria. The single E-7A
deployed has demonstrated a mission success rate of around 95% in the first year of operations, and in
smooth one and tasking remained identical. November set a record for the longest mission, with a sortie lasting 17.1 hours.
“The single-seat guys in the ‘Classic’ Hornet
haven’t seen any change to how they’re
executing the task they’re given,” he said. “As
Super Hornet
we’ve grown to understand the environment
and apply the lessons learned from previous
rotations, we’re better able to prepare sub-
sequent rotations. It’s translating into very
successful missions and a highly effective
employment of weapons in the kinetic space.”
Strike weapons initially deployed with
the first rotation were the 500lb GBU-12
Paveway II laser-guided bomb (LGB) and
500lb GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munition
Six Super Hornets led the first deployment of Operation Okra in September 2014 and remained in-
(JDAM), although Bellingham declined
theatre until relieved by a similar number of F/A-18A ‘Classic’ Hornets in April.
to discuss specific weapons types in use
today for operationally sensitive reasons. Six Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornets from 1 Squad- (JHMCS) and Link 16 Tactical Data Link.
“Our mantra is that this is the most precise ron at Amberley ferried to the Middle East on The first strike against an Daesh target, on
air campaign in history, every weapon we September 14, 2014 marking the first operational October 8, marked the beginning of ATG offensive
deployment of the type in RAAF service. Aus- operations and the first RAAF attack operation
have employed has either been laser-guided
tralia’s Super Hornets are Block II jets, fitted with since 2003, when F/A-18A Hornets were used
or GPS-guided, and we’re achieving really
Raytheon’s APG-79 active electronically scanned against the forces of Saddam Hussein.
good effects with those weapons,” he said.
array (AESA) radar and are almost identical to By January 1, 2015 the Super Hornets had flown

Current operations their US Navy counterparts, thereby conferring the


highest level of commonality and interoperability.
223 missions, of an average 7.8-hour duration
(the longest mission being 10.4 hours) and had
Mission success rates for the RAAF platforms The RAAF employs the standard array of US employed 103 GBU-38 JDAMs, 34 GBU-12 Pave-
deployed on Operation Okra have been above Navy weapons, including GBU-12 and GBU-38 way IIs and 154 rounds of 20mm ammunition.
95%, which is remarkable, given that there PGMs and the Raytheon AIM-120 AMRAAM Some operations were flown alongside the ‘Clas-
is only one KC-30A and one Wedgetail at Al and AIM-9X Sidewinder for self-defence. Like sic’ Hornets in March, during the transition period
Dhafra at any given time, the ‘Classic’ Hornets the US Navy jets, Australian Super Hornets use to the single-seat jet, but the Super Hornet force
are now 30 years old and all three types are Raytheon’s ASQ-228 Advanced Targeting Forward- had returned home by early May. In the six-month
more than 6,000 miles (9,660km) from the Looking Infra Red (ATFLIR) pod, in conjunction deployment, the six aircraft flew 418 sorties for
nearest Australian main operating base. with the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System 3,361 hours and had expended 278 munitions. 
Based at Tindal in the Northern

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OPERATION OKRA

Territory, 75 Squadron led the first F/A-18A


Wedgetail deployment in April, but crews, and maintenance
and support personnel effectively came from all
the ‘Classic’ Hornet squadrons within Air Combat
Group. Aircraft are rotated home according to
maintenance requirements and replaced by
fresh jets to maintain the number of strike aircraft
available at six. Personnel are rotated wherever
possible in ‘blocks’, but the standard length of
deployment is between three and six months.
Bellingham said the ‘Classic’ Hornet is
currently achieving a mission success rate
of 98%, which is comparable to the much
newer F/A-18F. “It’s an ageing aeroplane
but it’s doing a fantastic job. The F/A-18A
has had a number of avionics upgrades over
the years, which make it an extremely effec-
tive aircraft and in terms of any differences
between the Super and the ‘Classic’, there
Based on the commercial Boeing 737-700 fuselage, the Wedgetail has provision for up to ten operators, are none in terms of the effect that we’re
seated at identical and reconfigurable workstations. Average mission length on Operation Okra sorties delivering in combating Daesh,” he added.
is around 13 hours.
“It is challenging, but we’re learning lots
When the first Boeing E-7A Wedgetail, from 2 form is highly sought after by the US-led C2 system. of lessons as we go and the logistics and
Squadron at Williamtown, deployed to the Gulf it One modification as a result of operational engineering support has been sensational.
was still a developing capability. The project did experience in the MEO has been the inclusion of It’s another highlight of what we’ve learned
not achieve final operational capability (FOC) until an interim internet protocol (IP) chat capability, and how we are applying that expeditionary
the end of May 2015 – by which time the single which enables text communication (in addition to Air Task Group model in the Middle East.”
aircraft had clocked up more than 100 operational voice connectivity) with the in-theatre combined air
The KC-30A is one of only five currently in the
sorties and 1,200 flying hours in-theatre. operations centre (CAOC).
RAAF inventory (another two are on order) and
It has rapidly gained a reputation as the AEW&C The E-7A has recently been cleared for air-to-air
given that one aircraft has spent an extended peri-
platform of choice, owing to the capabilities of its refuelling with the KC-30A and has already taken
od in the US in recent months supporting F-35A
primary sensor, the Northrop Grumman Multi-role fuel on operations. A typical mission lasts ap-
Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) radar and proximately 13 hours, but on November 11, 2015
refuelling trials, and the fleet is undergoing a boom
inherent serviceability. the deployed aircraft set a record 17.1 hours on an
upgrade programme, it is performing very well.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that it requires three operation over Iraq and Syria. In the 12 months of Operation Okra the
USAF E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning And Control To November 21, the Wedgetail element of the single aircraft has offloaded more than 37
System (AWACS) platforms to provide the same ATG had contributed 160 sorties and 1,946 hours million pounds of fuel to tactical aircraft
rate of effort as the single Wedgetail and the plat- to the Coalition air campaign.  in-theatre, including RAAF Hornets and
Super Hornets, but it also regularly supports
aircraft from the US Navy and Marines,
the UK, Canada and France, using its hose
and drogue equipment under Clearance
with Limited Evidence (CLE) methodology.
Mission success rate is in the order of 97%.
Most recently, the KC-30A’s Aerial Refuelling
Boom System (ARBS) has been cleared for use
with the Wedgetail and air-to-air refuelling oper-
ations have already been undertaken in-theatre.
“The KC-30A is doing an outstanding job, it’s
quite an amazing capability and it fits really well
into the Coalition and really is a force multiplier,”
Bellingham enthused. “I’m proud of the tanker
crews and the value they have brought to not just
the Task Group, but to Coalition airpower. It’s a
great aircraft that’s providing excellent support.”
Above: A ‘Classic’ F/A-18A is prepared for another
mission. One of the major challenges faced by
the RAAF Air Task Group based in the United Arab
Emirates is maintaining operations in summer-
time temperatures which regularly exceed 50oC.
Below: Australia has six Boeing E-7A Wedgetails,
home-based at RAAF Williamtown with 2 Squad-
ron. One aircraft has been deployed in the
Middle East, supporting coalition strike
packages as part of Operation
Okra since September 2014.

Above: Pictured during a period of aircraft rotation between Australia and the Middle East Area of Opera-
tions, two E-7As occupy the ramp at the same time. The serviceability rate and capability of the newer
Wedgetail platform has attracted the attention of other AEW&C operators in-theatre, including the USAF.

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OPERATION OKRA

The lone Wedgetail is proving to be a capable


command and control platform. With a mission Hornet
success rate of around 95% it had flown almost
2,000 hours in support of Operation Okra by
late November 2015. “The airspace has been
very complex from day one, even without the
addition of the Russians coming into Syria,”
Bellingham said. “With that added complexity,
it is extremely valuable to have airborne C2, and
the E-7A is contributing really well in that space.”

Russian Intervention
The introduction of Russian combat aircraft
into Syrian airspace has not only made
Coalition operations more complicated, but
the downing of a Su-24 Fencer by the Turkish
Air Force has increased tension.
However, Bellingham said: “We haven’t changed
anything we’re doing for the moment and it won’t Despite being in service for 30 years, the six F/A-18A ‘Classic’ Hornets deployed on Operation Okra
change anything for the current operations,” have demonstrated a mission success rate of 98% during more than six months of operations, which is
although there had been no RAAF air strikes inside comparable with that of the much newer Super Hornet. Here an F/A-18A loaded with four GBU-38 JDAM
Syria in the immediate aftermath of the shoot- weapons prepares to take fuel from a USAF KC-135R.
down. Obviously we’re concerned about the inci- Australia’s F/A-18A/B ‘Classic’ Hornet force is the wing pylons and the Elta EL-L/8222 electronic
dent and we’re very keen for the relevant parties, now three decades old, but in that time it has countermeasures (ECM) pod. The ‘Classic’ Hornet
Turkey and Russia, to exercise restraint,” he said. undergone an extensive and incremental series uses Northrop Grumman’s AAQ-28 Litening AT
“Russia coming into Syria has made Syrian of updates under the Hornet Upgrade (HUG) (Advanced Targeting) pod and although it employs
airspace a little bit more complex, but our programme, modernising the jets’ avionics, sen- the same strike weapons in the Operation Okra
rules of engagement in relation to how sors and weapons. Among these upgrades was context, the single-seat Hornet uses the MBDA AS-
we’re operating haven’t changed. We are replacement of the original APG-65 radar with the RAAM as its within-visual-range air-to-air weapon.
Raytheon APG-73 which, although mechanically The first rotation of ‘Classic’ Hornets arrived in the-
deconflicting our operations with those of
scanned, is regarded as a very capable system. atre in March 2015, led by 75 Squadron. The two
the Russians. The MoU [memorandum of
The HUG also included several flight control Williamtown-based squadrons, Nos 3 and 77, are
understanding] that’s in place between the
software upgrades, the addition of colour cockpit following it in turn. Operations against Daesh began
US and the Russians has been very effective
displays, Link 16 Multifunctional Information Dis- that same month, initially in mixed formations with
and has supported good co-ordination, or tribution System (MIDS), a new countermeasures Super Hornets. By November 21 the six available
deconfliction if you like, of the US-led Coalition dispensing system (CMDS), tactical aircraft moving aircraft had flown 998 sorties for 7,652 hours, and
air efforts and the Russian air efforts, so our map capability (TAMMAC) display and JHMCS. expended 633 munitions. Of this total, 18 sorties,
rules of engagement remain constant and we Self-defence systems include the Raytheon ALR- for 143 hours, were flown against Daesh targets in
will continue to conduct air operations against 67 radar warning receiver, SAAB BOL CMDS on Syria, with the employment of two PGMs. 
Daesh across Syria and Iraq unchanged.”
Below: An RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornet refuels from a KC-30A over Baghdad in an early night-time mission
against Islamic State targets in late 2014.

“I’m really proud of the


tanker crews and the value
they have brought to not
just the Task Group, but to
Coalition airpower”

42 FEBRUARY 2016 #335 www.airforcesmonthly.com

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OPERATION OKRA

The KC-30A is cleared to refuel all the coalition strike aircraft that use the hose and drogue method of refuel-
ling under operational contingency clearances (Clearances with Limited Evidence), including RAF Tornados.
Challenges
Conducting sustained air combat operations at a
long distance from any major Australian air base
and in the harsh climatic conditions found in the
Middle East has been ATG 630’s major challenge.
“To deliver the effect that we need to deliver
day in, day out and to achieve the rates of
success that we aim for, and are fulfilling,
the logistics and engineering that underpin
what we do are probably among the great-
est challenges, but also one of the real
success stories,” Bellingham described.
“And we’ve worked in environmentally
extreme conditions as well – the summer here
was brutal, with temperatures in excess of
50°C on the tarmac. I’m really proud of
how we’ve done our business, how we’ve
Above: A KC-30A crew conducts air-to-air refuelling operations over Iraq. RAAF KC-30As have two Air
sustained a high degree of success and Refuelling Operator (ARO) stations on the flight deck to provide a level of mission redundancy and to
how we continue to support Coalition air accommodate training.
operations in the Middle East region.”

Future developments KC-30A


With no end in sight for the air campaign Another platform under development when first capability, but is also a reflection on RAAF tanker
against Daesh, ATG 630 will continue to rotate deployed to the Middle East was the KC-30A MRTT, crews, who have been proactive in their use of the
aircraft and personnel to the Middle East a single example of which is contributed by 33 aircraft, rather than maintaining a traditional tanker
Area of Operations (MEO) for the foreseeable Squadron at Amberley. The KC-30A had been in racetrack pattern. Contingency clearances for the
future. At some point, the ‘Classic’ Hornet will the midst of a remediation programme for its fly- full range of coalition tactical hose-and-drogue
be replaced by a second deployment of Super by-wire ARBS system when it was sent to the MEO receivers has now been obtained and the KC-30A
and had only been cleared for hose and drogue regularly supports US Hornets, Super Hornets,
Hornets, but it is the management of personnel
operations with RAAF Hornets and Super Hornets. EA-6B Prowlers and AV-8 Harriers, as well as
that will need continuing and careful planning
It was also on the Australian Government’s Projects RAF Tornados, French Mirage 2000s and Rafales,
to ensure the sustainability of operations.
of Concern list until March 2015. and Canadian Hornets. Early in the operation the
“Future rotations are all going to be
The aircraft has matured rapidly on operations single aircraft set a record for offloading 220,000lb
determined by the campaign. We have over Syria and Iraq, to the point where it is report- (100,000kg) of fuel in a single day, in the course
set up our operation to ensure we have a edly the tanker of choice for Coalition fighters of two sorties. By November 21 the deployed
sustainable and enduring model but, looking using the hose-and-drogue method of refuelling. KC-30A had flown 459 sorties for 3,635 hours, and
down the track, I’m not aware of where that This is due to its reliability, endurance and offload offloaded 37,142,111lb (16,847,000kg) of fuel. 
line in the sand is drawn or what the future
rotation model will be,” Bellingham said.
“It’s a team effort here; from the support
base back home, Joint Operations Command,
the wider Air Force and Air Command, and
then the whole Australian Defence Force
(ADF) team deployed across the Middle
East region that is providing support to
all aspects of what we’re doing over here.
The whole ADF team is outstanding and
it’s been a pleasure to be a part of it.”
In conclusion, Bellingham said: “I don’t have
a crystal ball, so I can’t foresee where the cam-
paign is heading. But what I do know is that we
are making a difference in the effects that we’re The KC-30A has become the coalition tanker of choice according to senior RAAF officers, not only due
delivering. We’re putting significant pres- to the reliability of the platform and large fuel offload capacity, but also for the innovation of Australian
afm crews, who are operating the aircraft in a different manner to the standard tanker ‘racetrack’ pattern.
sure on Daesh and it is having an effect.”

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Combat E
US AIR FORCE TACTICAL AIRPOWER

USAF TACAIR

M ORE THAN 25 years have passed since the


Cold War ended, and in that time the US has
greatly reduced the size of its military forces. Cuts
specified a requirement for 971 fighters assigned
to 26 active duty and 22 reserve component
fighter squadrons. The plan called for retiring
have whittled down the number of US Air Force the entire A-10 fleet by 2019, with the majority
(USAF) fighter squadrons by more than 70%. of the stand-downs occurring in Fiscal Year
Most of inactivations occurred shortly after 2015 and FY16, when 164 aircraft would be
Operation Desert Storm in 1991, although divested, along with 51 F-15s. The remaining
between 2001 and 2012 the USAF’s fleet of A-10s would be retired over a three-year period.
fighter-class aircraft – comprising the A-10, As part of its justification for the A-10
F-15, F-16 and F-22 – was reduced by almost withdrawal, the USAF claimed other aircraft,
20% from some 2,500 to around 2,000; it including B-1Bs, equipped with precision-
currently includes fewer than 1,150 combat- guided munitions (PGMs), would offset the loss
coded (primary fighter mission) aircraft. of the type’s close air support (CAS) capability.
The loss of this capability has been partially However, the A-10 retirement was temporarily
offset by the addition of new capabilities, includ- halted when elected officials refused to approve
ing GPS- and other precision-guided weapons, the plan, although the National Defense Authori-
and targeting pods. However, continued zation Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2015 did per-
deployments and combat operations have mit the service to place 36 A-10Cs into Backup
put a strain on the fleet and its personnel. Aircraft Inventory (BAI) status. Ultimately only
As a result, the USAF now relies heavily on Air
Force Reserve Command (AFRC) and the Air

National Guard (ANG) to meet its commitments. 18 aircraft, comprising nine at Davis-Monthan
Limited procurement funding has also forced AFB, Arizona, six at Moody AFB, Georgia, and
it to retain legacy aircraft longer than planned three at Nellis AFB, Nevada, were affected.
and to modify them to extend their service lives. At the end of FY14, which finished on Septem-
In response to the US Government’s 2012 ber 30, 2014, the total inventory included 1,962
Defense Strategic Guidance (DSG), which fighter and attack aircraft and the average age
imposed a reduction of $487 billion in defence of the fleet had reached 21.6 years. Split across
spending over ten years, the Air Force rebal- all commands, the fleet included 1,273 fighters
anced its force structure across its core func- assigned to active component squadrons,
tions, resulting in the current Primary Mission 585 to the ANG and 104 to the AFRC.
Aircraft Inventory (PMAI) requirement of 1,100
and Total Active Inventory (TAI) of 1,900 fighters. USAF Fighters – 30 Sept 2014
Considered a blueprint for the joint force of
Inventory
2020, the DSG also emphasised a shift in geo-
Type Average Active ANG AFRC Total
graphical priorities towards the Asia and Pacific
Age (years)
region, while retaining focus on the Middle East.
A-10C 32.5 159 91 47 297
In February 2012, Secretary of the Air Force
Michael B Donley announced that 102 A-10s F-15C 29.6 101 112 0 213
and 21 F-16s would be retired. Between April F-15D 29.5 13 23 0 36
2013 and May 2014, 49 additional A-10Cs F-15E 24.2 220 0 0 220
F-15Es are the USAF’s primary air-to-ground fighter/
were placed in storage. Subsequent fiscal F-16C 23.8 465 294 55 814 bomber. There are three front-line wings flying
constraints led the service to propose the dives- F-16D 23.7 110 45 2 157 the ‘Mud Hens’ as they are known in the USAF – at
titure of 334 additional fighter-class aircraft Seymour Johnson AFB, Mountain Home AFB in the
F-22A 7.7 167 20 0 187
as part of its Fiscal 2015 budget proposal. States and RAF Lakenheath in the UK. They have
F-35A 1.8 38 0 0 38
The suggested reduction aligned with the all been very active on combat ops in recent years.
2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), which Total 1,273 585 104 1,962 Rick Llinares

44 FEBRUARY 2016 #335 www.airforcesmonthly.com

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Edge
US AIR FORCE TACTICAL AIRPOWER

Tom Kaminski examines


US Air Force tactical
airpower, which today
relies on precision-guided
munitions employed by a
reduced fleet of fast
jet and RPA
platforms.

www.airforcesdaily.com #335 FEBRUARY 2016 45

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US AIR FORCE TACTICAL AIRPOWER

Air Combat Command (ACC) – Joint Base Langley-Eustis, VA


Wing/Group Sqn Location Aircraft Code 95th FS Tyndall AFB, FL F-22A
USAF Warfare Center (USAFW/OGC) – Nellis AFB, NV Air National Guard (ANG) Units – JB Andrews-NAF Washington, MD
53rd WG Eglin AFB, FL 104th FW/OG 131st FS Westfield Barnes AP/ F-15C/D MA
53rd TEG Nellis AFB, NV ANGB, MA (*2)
31st TES (*1) Edwards AFB, CA F-22A, F-35A ED/ 113th WG/ 121st FS JB Andrews-NAF F-16C/D (Blk 30) DC
OT OG Washington, MD (*2)

85th TES Eglin AFB, FL F-15C/E, OT 122rd FW/OG 163d FS Fort Wayne IAP, IN A-10C IN
F-16C/D (Blk 127th WG/ 107th FS Selfridge ANGB, A-10C MI
40/50) OG Mount Clemens, MI
422d TES Nellis AFB, NV A-10C, F-16C/D OT 169th FW/OG 157th FS McEntire JNGS,
(Blk 42/52) Eastover, SC (*2)
57th WG Nellis AFB, NV F-15C/D/E, 175th WG/ 104th FS Martin SA/Warfield A-10C MD
F-22A, F-35A OG ANGB, Baltimore, MD
USAF ADS Nellis AFB, NV F-16C/D (Blk 52) 180th FW/OG 112th FS Toledo Express AP, F-16C/D (Blk 42)
57th ATG 64th AGRS Nellis AFB, NV F-16C/D (Blk WA Swanton, OH (*2)
25/32/42) 187th FW/OG 100th FS Montgomery RA - F-16C/D (Blk 30) AL
USAFWS Nellis AFB, NV Dannelly Field, AL

16th WPS Nellis AFB, NV F-16C (Blk WA 192nd FW/OG 149th FS (*4) JB Langley-Eustis, VA F-22A
42/52), F-16D Twelfth Air Force/Air Forces Southern (12AF/AFSOUTH) – Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ
(Blk 52), F-35A 355th FW/OG 354th FS Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ A-10C DM
17th WPS Nellis AFB, NV F-15E WA 357th FS Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ A-10C
66th WPS Nellis AFB, NV A-10C WA (FTU)
433d WPS (*1) Nellis AFB, NV F-15C/D, F-22A WA 366th FW/OG 389th FS Mountain Home F-15E MO
AFB, ID
AATC Tucson IAP, AZ F-16C/D (Blk 32) AT
391st FS Mountain Home F-15E
Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ A-10C DP
AFB, ID
First Air Force/Air Forces Northern (1AF/AFNORTH) (ANG) – Tyndall AFB, FL
428th FS Mountain Home F-15SG
Air National Guard (ANG) Units - JB Andrews-NAF Washington, MD AFB, ID
125th FW/OG 159th FS Jacksonville IAP, FL F-15C/D 388th FW/OG 4th FS Hill AFB, UT F-16C/D (Blk 40) HL
Det. 1 Homestead ARB, FL (*2) F-15C (*6)
142nd FW/ 123d FS Portland IAP/ANGB, F-15C/D 34th FS Hill AFB, UT F-35A
OG OR (*2) 421st FS Hill AFB, UT F-16C/D (Blk 40)
144th FW/OG 194th FS Fresno-Yosemite F-15C/D Air National Guard (ANG) Units – JB Andrews-NAF Washington, MD
IAP/ANGB, CA
114th FW/OG 175th FS Sioux Falls RA - Joe F-16C/D (Blk 40)
148th FW/OG 179th FS Duluth IAP /ANGB, F-16C (Blk 50) Foss Field, SD
MN (*2)
Det. 1 March ARB, CA (*2) F-16C
158th FW/OG 134th FS Burlington IAP, VT F-16C (Blk 30)
115th FW/OG 176th FS Dane County F-16C (Blk 30) WI
177th FW/OG 119th FS Atlantic City IAP/ F-16C (Blk 30) RA -Truax Field,
ANGB, NJ (*2) Madison, WI (*2)
Ninth Air Force (9AF) – Shaw AFB, SC 124th FW/OG 190th FS Boise Airport- A-10C ID
1st FW/OG 27th FS JB Langley-Eustis, VA F-22A FF Gowen Field, ID
94th FS JB Langley-Eustis, VA F-22A 138th FW/OG 125th FS Tulsa IAP, OK F-16C/D (Blk 42) OK
4th FW/OG 333d FS Seymour Johnson F-15E SJ Det. 1 Ellington Field JRB, F-16C/D (Blk 42)
(FTU) AFB, NC TX (*2)
334th FS Seymour Johnson F-15E 140th WG/ 120th FS Buckley AFB, Aurora, F-16C (Blk 30) CO
(FTU) AFB, NC OG CO (*2)
335th FS Seymour Johnson F-15E 159th FW/OG 122d FS NAS JRB New F-15C/D JZ
AFB, NC Orleans, LA (*2)
336th FS Seymour Johnson F-15E Tenth Air Force (10AF) – NAS JRB Fort Worth/Carswell Field, TX
AFB, NC Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) Units – Robins AFB, GA (*7)
20th FW/OG 55th FS Shaw AFB, SC F-16C/D (Blk 50) SW 301st FW/OG 457th FS NAS JRB Fort Worth/ F-16C/D (Blk 30) TX
77th FS Shaw AFB, SC F-16C/D (Blk 50) Carswell Field, TX
79th FS Shaw AFB, SC F-16C/D (Blk 50) 44th FG 301st FS (*8) Tyndall AFB, FL F-22A TY
495th FG (*3) Shaw AFB, SC 419th FW/OG 466th FS (*9) Hill AFB, UT F-16C/D (Blk 40) HL
Det. 100 Dannelly Field, AL F-16C (Blk 30) 442nd FW/OG 303rd FS Whiteman AFB, MO A-10C KC
Det. 134 Burlington IAP, VT F-16C (Blk 30) 476th FG 76th FS (*10) Moody AFB, GA A-10C FT
Det. 157 McEntire JNGS , SC F-16C (Blk 52) 482nd FW/OG 93rd FS Homestead ARB, FL F-16C/D (Blk 30) FM

Det. 303 Whiteman AFB, MO A-10C 926th OG 706th FS Nellis AFB, NV A-10C, F-16C/D, WA
(*11) F-15C/D/E, F-22A
Det. 457 NAS JRB Fort Worth, TX F-16C (Blk 30)
84th TES Eglin AFB, FL F-15C/E, F-16C/D OT
367th FS Homestead ARB, FL F-16C (Blk 30) (*12) (Blk 40/50)
378th FS Dane County RA, WI F-16C (Blk 30) 944th FW/OG (*13) Luke AFB, AZ LF
23rd WG/FG 74th FS Moody AFB, GA A-10C FT 924th FG 47th FS (FTU) Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ A-10C DP
75th FS Moody AFB, GA A-10C 414th FG 307th FS Seymour Johnson F-15E SJ
325th FW/OG 43d FS (FTU) Tyndall AFB, FL F-22A TY (*14) AFB, NC

Notes: *1: Utilizes aircraft borrowed from host 412th TW/OG. *2: Aerospace Control Alert (ACA) site. *3: Active associate squadron. *4: Wing operates F-22A
as an associate to the 1st FW/OG. *5: Squadron supports Republic of Singapore training. *6: The 4th FS will transition to the F-35A in Fiscal 2016. *7: AFRC’s
301st FW/OG, 419th FW/OG and 442d FW/OG are gained by 12th AF. 482d FW/OG is gained by 9th AF and 926th Group is gained by 57th Wing/OG. *8:
44th Fighter Group is an associate unit and is integrated with the 325th FW/OG. *9: Wing operates F-16C (Blk 40) as an associate to the 388th FW/OG. *10:
Squadron operates as an associate to the 23d FG. *11: 706th FS is an associate unit and is integrated with the 57th Wing/OG. *12: 84th TES is an associate
unit and is integrated with the 53d Wing/OG. *13: 944th FW/OG is AETC gained. *14: Associate unit supports ACC training operations.

46 FEBRUARY 2016 #335 www.airforcesmonthly.com

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US AIR FORCE TACTICAL AIRPOWER

The USAF’s FY15 budget submission included


a plan to retire the entire A-10C fleet by 2019.
In support of the plan the budget removed
funding for proposed A-10 upgrades, but
continued to fund modifications required to
keep the aircraft viable until its retirement.
As part of its FY16 budget request the USAF
once again proposed retiring the A-10, citing
the need to free up maintainers for the F-35A
Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) – and cost savings of
$4.7 billion by 2019. This time the plan called
for withdrawing the aircraft over four years, with
164 ‘Warthogs’ removed from service in 2016.
Calling the Air Force’s attempt to retire the
aircraft “misguided”, lawmakers again rejected
the plan. This time a provision in the defence
spending bill required the new Secretary of the
Air Force, Deborah Lee James, to “maintain
a minimum of 171 A-10 aircraft in primary
mission aircraft inventory” and prohibited the
movement of “more than 18 A-10 aircraft in the Above: A pair of 56th FW F-16s from Luke AFB go through their final checks prior to a night mission. Having
active component to back-up flying status”. taken on the F-35 training mission, Luke is slowly swapping out F-16 units for F-35 squadrons. Joe Copalman
It also directed her to “commission an Below: The future of the A-10A is not looking good, and a decision on the aircraft will be made later this
independent entity outside the Department year. The Arkansas ANG lost its A-10As in early 2014, when the 188th Fighter Wing traded its jets for the
MQ-9 Reaper. USAF
of Defense to conduct an assessment of the
required capabilities and mission platform
to replace the A-10 aircraft”. Submission
of that report is due by September 30. The
NDAA also provided full funding for A-10
operations, maintenance and modifications.

Purchase plans
Ultimately the USAF aims to buy 1,763 F-35As
by 2038 – and the Lightning II will completely
replace the F-16C and A-10C. In accordance with
the Annual Aviation Inventory and Funding Plan
for Fiscal Years 2016-45, the USAF will procure
272 F-35As during the Future Year Defense
Programs (FYDPs) that run from 2016 to 2020.
Annual F-35A purchases continue to increase
and in FY16 the service will procure 44 aircraft. Inherent Resolve over Syria and Iraq. The need
Full-rate production is scheduled to begin in Total Fighter Inventory 2015 to support these missions has led to increased
2019 and plans call for the purchase of 60 Role Inventory reliance on the A-10C, and Air Combat Command
F-35As until 2021 and 80 annually from 2022. (ACC) commander General Herbert J ‘Hawk’ Carl-
Mission 1,141
Despite its shift towards the Pacific theatre, the isle recently admitted that demand for the aircraft
US has been forced to adjust its plans for Europe Training 436 means the Air Force may be forced to delay its
after recent Russian incursions in Crimea and Research, Development, Test & 116 controversial plans to retire it in two to three years.
eastern Ukraine. In response, it has increased its Evaluation (RDT&E) As recently as December 2, Deborah Lee
support to European security and its NATO allies Back-up (attrition reserve and other 272
James referred to the A-10 when she said:
as part of the European Reassurance Initiative and primary aircraft) “We’re using it, rotating it into the Middle
Operation Atlantic Resolve by deploying assets Eastern theatre. It’s doing a good job for us.
Total Aircraft 1,965
from its stateside units. These Theatre Security So that’s a reason to keep it a bit longer.”
Packages (TSPs) have seen A-10Cs, F-15Cs, Active Component 1,274 Facing a $17 billion reduction in funding in
F-16Cs and F-22As deployed to bases throughout Reserve Component 691 2017, the service will likely put the aircraft on
Europe. At the same time, the service has been the chopping block again as it tries to preserve
forced to expand its commitment to Operation 1,965 funding for other projects, including the F-35A.
Below: As the 56th FW’s first F-35 squadron, the
61st FS spent its first year training new instructors
to fill the squadron’s ranks, with the first class of
students converting to the F-35 in May 2015. Joe
Copalman

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US AIR FORCE TACTICAL AIRPOWER

Combat Forces
The largest of ten Major Commands (MAJCOMs)
that comprise the USAF, ACC is headquartered
at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. To support
global implementation of national security strate-
gy it operates fighter, intelligence, surveillance and
reconnaissance, battle management and elec-
tronic combat aircraft. It also provides command,
control, communications and intelligence sys-
tems and conducts global information operations.
Since its creation through the merger of Tacti-
cal Air Command and Strategic Air Command
on June 1, 1992, there have been numerous
changes to ACC’s organisation. Responsibility
for the B-52H and B-2A bombers, along with
the Eighth Air Force, was reassigned to Air
Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) in
February 2010. On October 1, 2015, ACC’s
B-1B bombers also passed to AFGSC.
Air Combat Command is the lead
agency for Combat Air Forces and serves as
the primary force provider for the Combatant A pair of 33rd FW F-35As fly alongside two F-16CM Block 40s of the Hill AFB’s 388th FW/421st ‘Black
Commands (CCMDs) and North American Widows’. The unit’s F-16s are now equipped with the HARM targeting system and the Sniper targeting pod.
Hill is now transitioning to the F-35A. USAF
Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).
According to its online mission state-
Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) - Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, HI ment, ACC “organises, trains, equips and
WG/Group Sqn Location Aircraft Code maintains combat-ready forces for rapid
15th WG/OG 19th FS (*15) JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam, HI F-22A HH deployment and employment while ensur-
ing strategic air defence forces are ready
Fifth Air Force (5AF) - Yokota AB, Japan
to meet the challenges of peacetime air
18th WG/OG 44th FS Kadena AB, Okinawa (Japan) F-15C/D ZZ sovereignty and wartime air defence”.
67th FS Kadena AB, Okinawa F-15C/D The command’s numbered air forces (NAF)
35th FW/OG 13th FS Misawa AB, Japan F-16C/D (Blk 50) WW provide the air components to US Northern
14th FS Misawa AB, Japan F-16C/D (Blk 50) Command (NORTHCOM), US Central
Seventh Air Force/Air Forces Korea (7AF/AFKOR) - Osan AB, Republic of Korea Command (CENTCOM) and US Southern
Command (SOUTHCOM), and augment
8th FW/OG 35th FS Kunsan AB, Republic of Korea F-16C/D (Blk 40)
the forces permanently assigned to US
80th FS Kunsan AB, Republic of Korea F-16C/D (Blk 40)
European, African and Pacific Commands.
51st FW/OG 25th FS Osan AB, Republic of Korea A-10C OS As well as combat-coded fighter and strike air-
36th FS Osan AB, Republic of Korea F-16C/D (Blk 50) craft, ACC is responsible for the Formal Training
Eleventh Air Force (11AF) - Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, AK Units (FTUs) that provide conversion/type train-
3rd WG/OG 90th FS JB Elmendorf-Richardson, AK (*2) F-22A AK ing for the F-15E, F-22A and A-10C. The FTUs
525th FS JB Elmendorf-Richardson, AK F-22A
for the F-15C, F-16C and F-35A are assigned to
Air Education and Training Command (AETC).
354th FW/OG 18th AGRS Eielson AFB, AK F-16C/D (Blk 30) AK
Air Combat Command’s forces are
Air National Guard (ANG) Units - JB Andrews-NAF Washington, MD organised under a direct reporting unit,
154th Wing/OG 199th FS JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii (*3) F-22A HH four NAFs and – when mobilised – an AFRC
Tenth Air Force (10AF) - NAS JRB Fort Worth/Carswell Field, TX numbered air force. Its NAFs control Active
Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) Units - Robins AFB, GA Component (AC) wings and gain Air Reserve
477th FG 302nd FS (*16) JB Elmendorf-Richardson, AK F-22A AK
Component (ARC) organisations compris-
ing ANG and AFRC wings and groups.
Note: *15: Active associate unit operates F-22A assigned to the Hawaii Air National Guard’s co-located Each of the USAF’s MAJCOMs reports to
199th FS. *16: Squadron operates F-22A as an associate to the co-located 3rd Wing. the Secretary of the Air Force via the Air Force
Below: The 57th Wing at Nellis AFB flew F-15C/Ds in Chief of Staff, and most provide operational
the aggressor role with the 65th AGRS until the unit forces to the nine Unified Combatant Com-
was inactivated on September 26, 2014, due mands (UCCs) or to Sub-Unified Commands.
to budget cuts. Ted Carlson Those MAJCOMs are known as Component

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US AIR FORCE TACTICAL AIRPOWER

Major Commands (C-MAJCOM) and their Above: Deployments still continue to Bagram AB in Afghanistan to support Afghan and other allied troops
forces can be assigned to NAFs or Component there. The 421st FS F-16s were in evidence during late 2015, this example is seen departing with an AGM-
Numbered or Named Air Forces (C-NAFs). 65 Maverick under its starboard wing. USAF
Whereas the NAF is generally focused Below: Air Combat Command saw its B-1Bs reassigned to the Air Force Global Strike Command on October
1, 2015. The Lancer is now equipped with the Sniper targeting pod, and will help to fill the gap left by the
on ensuring the readiness of assigned
A-10s if they are retired in the near future. USAF
forces and preparing them for deployment
and employment, the C-NAF is tasked with
performing an operational and war fighting
mission in support of a UCC. The C-NAF
plans, commands, controls and executes air,
space and information capabilities in support
of the full range of military operations.
In addition to ACC, tactical fighters are
assigned to the Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) and
US Air Forces Europe/Air Forces Africa (USAFE/
AFAFRICA). Serving as the USAF component
of US Pacific Command (PACOM), PACAF
is allocated three NAFs at bases in Alaska,
Japan and the Republic of Korea (RoK). Its
area of responsibility spans more than 100
million square miles extending from the US
west coast to the east coast of Africa and from
the Arctic to the Antarctic. Headquartered
at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii,
PACAF is responsible for fighter wings located
in Alaska, Hawaii, Japan and the RoK.
Serving as the USAF component of US
European Command (EUCOM) and US
Africa Command (AFRICOM), USAFE/
AFAFRICA’s area of responsibility includes
Iceland, Europe, the Mediterranean, the defence of the contiguous US (CONUS), the objectives for USCENTCOM’s 20-nation area
Middle East and the African continent. US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. As the of responsibility in Southwest Asia.
Headquartered at Ramstein Air Base (AB), Continental United States Region (CONR) Twelfth Air Force/Air Forces Southern
Germany, it directs air operations in a theatre for NORAD, it provides air defence through (12AF/AFSOUTH) is headquartered at
covering more than 19 million square miles airspace surveillance and airspace control. Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona. As a C-NAF it
and containing more than 100 independent The two defence sectors under CONR’s serves as the air component for SOUTHCOM
countries on three continents. Its USAFE responsibility are the Western Air Defense and is responsible for three AC fighter wings
component is the oldest of the USAF’s ten Sector (WADS), headquartered at Joint Base as well as the mission readiness of gained
MAJCOMs and is responsible for a single NAF. Lewis-McChord, Washington, and the Eastern wings and other units of the ANG and AFRC.
Air Defense Sector (EADS), at Rome, New The Air Force Intelligence Surveillance and
ACC breakdown York. The First Air Force is also designated as Reconnaissance Agency (AFISRA) was realigned
Reporting directly to ACC headquarters, the the C-NAF for NORTHCOM. Six ANG fighter and redesignated as the 25th Air Force under
USAF Warfare Center’s (USAFWC’s) wings and squadrons are currently aligned with 1AF. ACC on September 29, 2014. Headquar-
groups are tasked with test and evaluation, Headquartered at Shaw AFB, South Caro- tered at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland,
and tactics development. The USAF Weapons lina, Ninth Air Force (9AF) is responsible for Texas, as a NAF it assumed responsibility
School (USAFWS), which reports to the USAFWC managing six fighter wings and groups. It also for ACC’s ISR aircraft the same day.
via the 57th Wing, provides advanced training maintains oversight of operational readiness The Tenth Air Force is responsible for ten
in weapons and tactics employment to USAF and ensures the standardisation and evaluation AFRC units which, when mobilised, are gained
personnel assigned to several MAJCOMs. (staneval) of its aligned ANG and AFRC units. by ACC. Headquartered at Naval Air Station-
First Air Force (1AF) or Air Forces Northern Shaw is also headquarters to Air Forces Central Joint Reserve Base, Fort Worth, Texas, as a NAF it
(AFNORTH) is headquartered at Tyndall Air (AFCENT), the air component of USCENTCOM, ensures that in excess of 13,300 reservists and
Force Base (AFB), Florida, and is respon- responsible for air operations and developing 900 civilians maintain the highest combat capa-
sible for ensuring the air sovereignty and air contingency plans in support of national bility to augment active forces when required.

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US AIR FORCE TACTICAL AIRPOWER

Air Combat Command’s active compo-


nent squadrons operate more than 650
tactical fighter aircraft. Almost 600 fighter/
attack machines are assigned to the ANG,
and the AFRC accounts for around 100
additional jets. The ANG total includes
aircraft gained by ACC, AETC and PACAF.

Pacific Air Forces


A single ANG composite wing, reporting directly
to PACAF, is responsible for F-22As jointly oper-
ated by an active associate fighter squadron.
Headquartered at Yokota Air Base, Japan,
Fifth Air Force (5AF) is tasked as the C-NAF for
US Forces, Japan (USFJ). Its assets comprise
a single fighter wing and a large ‘composite’ The 3rd Wing at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson,
wing which includes two fighter squadrons. Alaska, flies two squadrons of F-22A Raptors to
The Seventh Air Force/Air Forces Korea (7AF/ protect the USA’s northern regions. It is the most
lethal air defence fighter in the world and its secret
AFKOREA), the C-NAF for US Forces Korea
technologies mean it is never likely to be exported.
(USFK), is headquartered at Osan AB, RoK. It USAF
provides support to United Nations Command
and RoK/US Combined Forces Command
(CFC) and is responsible for two fighter wings.
The largest of PACAF’s three NAFs, Eleventh Air
Force, is headquartered at Joint Base Elmendorf-
Richardson, Alaska, and is responsible for two
active component wings and a gained AFRC
associate fighter group which reports to the 10AF.
Tasked as the C-NAF for Alaskan Command
(ALCOM), its assets operate from numerous bases
and remote operating sites throughout the state
and often deploy across the northern Pacific.
Whereas PACAF’s active component
squadrons are currently responsible for
more than 260 fighters, the command is
supported by additional aircraft from ACC
units that deploy for specified periods
as Theater Support Packages (TSPs).
Above: A pilot taxies out his F-16C at Luke AFB during a night mission, equipped with a Litening targeting pod.
USAFE/AFAFRICA The 309th FS ‘Wild Ducks’ are one of only four F-16 training squadrons at the Arizona base. Joe Copalman
The structure of USAFE changed greatly from
2001 and further changes are in store as the United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) - Ramstein AB, Germany
US Forces in Europe are consolidated and WG/Group Sqn Location Aircraft Code
relocated. On April 20, 2012, USAFE’s mission
Third Air Force (3AF) - Ramstein AB, Germany
was expanded and it became USAFE/AFAFRICA.
Third Air Force (3AF) is the C-NAF for US 48th FW/OG 492d FS RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk, England F-15E LN
European Command (USEUCOM) and US 493d FS RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk, England F-15C/D
Africa Command (USAFRICOM). Headquar-
494th FS RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk, England F-15E
tered at Ramstein AB, it assumed responsibility
as the C-NAF for USAFRICOM when the 17th 52nd FW/OG 480th FS Spangdahlem AB, Germany F-16C/D (Blk 50) SP
Air Force was inactivated on April 20, 2012. 31st FW/OG 510th FS Aviano AB, Italy F-16C/D (Blk 40) AV
More than 150 combat-coded fighter aircraft
are permanently assigned to the command. 555th FS Aviano AB, Italy F-16C/D (Blk 40)

An 18th AGRS F-16C from Eielson AFB flies inverted past Denali, the highest peak in Alaska, formerly known as Mount McKinley. The unit plays a major part in the
Red Flag exercises held in Alaska at least twice a year. Ted Carlson

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US AIR FORCE TACTICAL AIRPOWER

A pair of fully laden A-10Cs spit out


flares – these come in very handy when
the aircraft are flying down low, where
SAMs may be a threat. Rick Llinares

Test and Evaluation A-X competition in 1967 and the first YA-10 modification came in the early 1990s,
Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) is tasked flew on May 10, 1972. The USAF took 713 when the Low-Altitude Safety and Targeting
to support the development, test, acquisition A-10As from Fairchild Republic between Enhancements (LASTE) were installed.
and support of the USAF’s weapon systems. 1975 and 1984, when the last was delivered. The work provided computer-aided
Headquartered at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, Although the fleet has been reduced by capabilities, including ground collision avoid-
the command’s five centres include the Air Force 60%, more than 280 remain in service ance, enhanced attitude control for aircraft
Test Center (AFTC) at Edwards AFB, California, with active duty, ANG and AFRC units. stabilisation during gunfire and a low-altitude
and the Air Force Life Cycle Management At the height of the Cold War, almost 150 of autopilot system – along with ballistic weapons
Center (AFLCMC) at Wright-Patterson. the ‘tank busters’ were based in Europe and control and target detection and tracking.
The AFTC is responsible for test wings more than 40 at bases in Alaska and Korea. By the mid-1990s, night-vision
at Edwards and Eglin AFB, Florida, that Today, A-10Cs are operated by seven active modifications had also been installed on
conduct aircraft and weapons develop- duty USAF, four ANG and four AFRC units, more than 370 aircraft and incorporation
ment test and evaluation (DT&E) to including ten combat-coded squadrons. Only of an embedded GPS inertial navigation
ensure they meet operational war fighting 24 A-10Cs are based outside the CONUS. system (EGI) capability began in 1999.
requirements. A fleet of around 60 fight- The type’s combat debut was over Kuwait Fielding of the A-10A+ began in 2007, when
ers currently supports test duties. and Iraq during Operation Desert Storm, the first of around 100 ANG and AFRC A-10As
Responsibility for three Air Logistics Com- when 142 A-10As and 15 OA-10As flew more were equipped with a single liquid-crystal
plexes (ALCs) is assigned to the Air Force Life than 8,000 CAS, air interdiction, suppression multi-function colour display (MFCD) which
Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) and the of enemy air defence (SEAD) and other replaced a smaller television monitor.
Air Force Sustainment Center (AFSC) at Tinker sorties, delivering almost 24,000 bombs. Additionally, the Situational Awareness
AFB, Oklahoma. Its assigned organisations The A/OA-10s destroyed almost 2,000 Data Link (SADL), which enabled data
include the Ogden Air Logistics Complex tanks, 500 armoured vehicles, 1,000 artillery transmission from and to other platforms,
(OO-ALC) at Hill AFB, Utah, which is tasked pieces and 2,000 vehicles during the 42-day was incorporated along with the AN/AAQ-28
with programmed depot maintenance (PDM) conflict. The aircraft subsequently saw action Litening Advanced Targeting (AT) pod. Pod
and modifications plus repairs to crashed or over Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, again in compatibility had initially been added in
battle-damaged F-16, F-22, F-35 and A-10 Iraq, and Libya. Most recently it has flown 2003. Flight testing of the first A-10A+ began
aircraft. The Warner-Robins ALC at Robins AFB, combat missions over Iraq and Syria. in November 2007 and in May 2008 the
Georgia, performs similar work on the F-15. Numerous upgrades had been proposed new variant was deployed to Afghanistan.
for the A-10A, but only minor changes dif- Today only the A-10C remains in service.
Training ferentiated the earliest aircraft from the later Unveiled at Eglin AFB, Florida, in January
Headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio- production machines. The jet’s first large-scale 2005, the first modified aircraft preceded
Randolph, Texas, AETC is the second-oldest
command in the USAF and traces its history The USAF hierarchy wants to withdraw the A-10,
but US politicians have blocked the move. With big
to 1942, when it formed as the Army Air
budget cuts being imposed the USAF command
Corps Flying Training Command. is willing to sacrifice the unique looking fighter
It is responsible for training aircrew, and its primed for close air support so other platforms can
five flying wings provide Euro-NATO Joint Jet stay in service. Rick Llinares
Pilot (ENJJPT), Joint Service Undergraduate
Pilot (JSUPT) and Combat Systems Officer
(CSO) training. Two active component wings
also serve as AETC FTUs, providing advanced
transition/type training for the F-16 and F-35.
Almost 140 fighter aircraft support
AETC’s training commitments. Expansion
of F-35 training at Luke AFB, Arizona, has
resulted in the activation of a new fighter
group at Holloman AFB, New Mexico, which
is taking on the F-16 FTU role.
Air Education and Training Command
also gains the ANG wings that serve as
FTUs for the F-15 and F-16, while the AFRC
supports F-16 and F-35 training at Luke.

Warthog
Universally known as the ‘Warthog’, the A-10A
was selected as the winner of the USAF’s

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US AIR FORCE TACTICAL AIRPOWER

Weapons
The use of so-called ‘smart’ ordnance has
greatly reduced the number of aircraft and
weapons required to prosecute and destroy a
target. The USAF’s smart weapon inventory
means its tactical aircraft can attack dispa-
rate target types across a broad spectrum,
from the 250lb GBU-39 and GBU-53 SDBs to
the 2,000lb AGM-158A Joint Air-to-Surface
Stand-off Missile (JASSM) and extended range
AGM-158B JASSM-ER.
These missiles offer maximum ranges of 200
and 500 miles (322 and 805km) respectively,
and provide a launch-and-leave stand-off ca-
pability. First used in combat during 2006, the
SDB has enabled commanders to conduct pre-
cision attacks in populated areas with minimal
collateral damage. Low-rate GBU-53 produc-
tion began in June 2015. The GBU-53/B SDB
II is equipped with a tri-mode seeker and can
be launched against moving targets in adverse
weather; it has a maximum range of 45 miles
The ‘JZ’ coded F-15Cs of the 159th FW/122nd
(72km). By comparison, the 5,000lb GBU-28, FS based at NAS JRB New Orleans are part of the
designed to destroy reinforced bunkers, is the network of Aerospace Control Alert (ACA) sites
largest PGM in the inventory.  located around the USA. Rick Llinares

large-scale deliveries of the variant, which Cockpit work included the addition of a pair of GBU-10 or six 500lb GBU-12 laser-guided
began in August 2006. It achieved initial MFCDs, a new armament/HUD control panel bombs (LGBs) or four 2,000lb GBU-31 or six
operational capability (IOC) with the Maryland and an upfront controller (a small, rugged 500lb GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions
ANG’s 104th Fighter Squadron (FS) in August keypad) along with a new control stick grip (JDAMs); or six CBU-103/104 Wind Corrected
2007. The A-10C began its first deployment, and right throttle in common with the F-16 Munitions Dispensers (WCMDs). The A-10C
to Al Asad AB, Iraq, in September 2007. and F-15E. A MIL-STD-1760 data bus and the employed a JDAM during its maiden deploy-
Development work had begun in February AN/AAQ-28 and AN/AAQ-33 Sniper target- ment to Al Asad, on September 19, 2007.
2001, when Lockheed Martin received a $74 ing pods were integrated with the aircraft’s Subsequent updates cleared the aircraft to
million engineering and manufacturing devel- digital stores management system (DSMS) deploy the 500lb GBU-54 Laser-Guided JDAM
opment (EMD) contract to develop the Precision and a central interface control unit (CICU). (LJDAM) in 2009, and work to facilitate the
Engagement (PE) upgrade programme. Merg- MIL-STD-1760 capabilities were also carriage of up to 98 Laser-Guided Advanced
ing several smaller projects, the PE included a incorporated into six of the A-10’s stores pylons, Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS)
redesigned main instrument panel, smart weap- enabling a new precision weapons capability rockets began in February 2013. The
ons capabilities and aircraft DC power upgrades. which initially included up to four 2,000lb system combines a 2.75in (70mm) Hydra
70 rocket with an M151 warhead.
Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) – Wright-Patterson AFB, OH Other, later A-10C modifications installed
WG/Group Sqn Location Aircraft Code AN/ARC-210 multi-band and multi-mode
Air Force Test Center (AFTC) – Edwards AFB, CA
beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) radios and the AN/
AAR-47 missile approach warning system.
412th TW/OG USAF TPS Edwards AFB, CA NF-16D ED
Further upgrading the A-10C’s combat
411th FLTS Edwards AFB, CA F-22A capabilities, a Helmet-Mounted Integrated
416th FLTS Edwards AFB, CA F-16C/D (Blk 30/40/42/50) Targeting (HMIT) solution, the Gentex Scorpion
461st FLTS Edwards AFB, CA F-35A Helmet-Mounted Cueing System (HMCS),
96th TW/OG 40th FLTS Eglin AFB, FL A-10C, F-15C/D/E, F-16C (Blk 25/40/42/50), ET was integrated from July 2010. First
F-16D (Blk 40/50) fielded by the 74th Fighter Squadron in

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Three 391 FS/366th FW F-15E Strike Eagles fly in


formation over an Idaho mountain range. Under
each jet’s right air intake is the AN/AAQ-13 naviga-
tion pod, while the AN/AAQ-14 targeting pod is
mounted under the left one. Mountain Home AFB
hosts two F-15E units and a single Republic of Sin-
gapore Air Force F-15SG squadron. Rick Llinares

2013, it provides day/night colour displays. RoK, also upgraded more than 40 aircraft request for information seeking other sources
The 576th Aerospace Maintenance and based in Germany and Korea respectively. for production of the TUSK wing assembly.
Regeneration Squadron’s ‘Desert Speed Line Originally designed for 6,000 flight hours, the In June 2009, the USAF jointly awarded
(DSL) Project’ at Davis-Monthan AFB has also service life of late production A-10s, built with a four-year $1.6 billion A-10 Thunderbolt
been responsible for several recent A-10C more durable wing assemblies, was extended Lifecycle Program Support (TLPS) contract to
projects. In March 2014, for example, the DSL to 8,000 hours, and then 16,000 hours, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grum-
began replacing the aircraft’s liquid oxygen through service life extension programmes man, under which individual modernisation
system with an onboard oxygen generating (SLEPs). The project to replace the wings and sustainment efforts are completed as
system (OBOGS) that improves the jet’s on earlier aircraft began in June 2007 when task/delivery orders among the three prime
ability to operate from remote locations. Boeing received a contract to construct up contractors – delivering the ‘best value’ solution.
The latest Mode 5 identification friend or to 242 sets of Enhanced Wing Assemblies If all of its options are exercised, the
foe (IFF) capability and Lightweight Airborne (EWAs) rated for 16,000 flight hours. programme could run until 2019.
Radio System (LARS) improvements were Installation of this Thick Updated Skin
fielded in 2015 as part of the Operational (TUSK) wing assembly extends the A-10C’s Eagles
Flight Program (OFP) software Suite 8. Plans service to around 2030. Budget cuts and The McDonnell Douglas F-15 was chosen as
for OFP Suite 9 were cancelled due to the Air planned retirements originally reduced winner of the USAF’s Fighter-Experimental
Force’s planned A-10C retirement date. the project to 233 sets, although Boeing competition in December 1969 and the
The final A-10C had been delivered at Hill AFB, has received orders for only 173. initial full-scale development (FSD) F-15A
Utah, after the OO-ALC’s 309th Maintenance Delivery of the first EWA to the OO-ALC came flew for the first time at Edwards AFB in July
Wing completed the 349th production in March 2011. The initial upgraded aircraft 1972. Production aircraft entered service at
upgrade in June 2011. The Société Anonyme flew again in November and was formally rolled Luke AFB, Arizona, in November 1974 and
Belge de Constructions Aeronautiques out at Hill AFB in February 2012. Completion in July 1975 the jet achieved IOC. The 1st
(SABCA) at Brussels South Charleroi Airport, of the TUSK effort is scheduled for Fiscal 2017. Tactical Fighter Wing (TFW) became the first
Belgium, and Korean Air’s Aerospace Division Although Boeing held options for an additional combat-coded Eagle operator in 1977.
at Gimhae International Airport in Busan, 69 wing sets, the AFLCMC recently issued a Beginning in 1979, production switched to

Above: Leaving a long trail of afterburner as it roars


down the runway, this 48th FW F-15E heads to Turkey
for an Operation Inherent Resolve deployment. USAF
Right: An F-15E Strike Eagle from RAF Lakenheath’s
48th FW and assigned to the 492nd Expeditionary
Fighter Squadron departs Bagram Airfield, Af-
ghanistan, on June 9, 2014. It is fitted with precision
guided munitions, which are the responsibility of the
weapons systems operator in the rear seat. USAF
Left: The 142 FS/Oregon ANG flies the oldest air-
worthy F-15Cs in the US. The unit is responsible for
training west coast F-15 pilots in air-to-air combat.
Its air defence alert capabilities have been partly
taken over by the deployment of F-15s from the
144th FW at Fresno IAP. Joe Copalman

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US AIR FORCE TACTICAL AIRPOWER

Air Education Training Command (AETC) – JB San Antonio - Randolph, TX the more capable F-15C and two-seat F-15D.
Wing/Group Sqn Location Aircraft Code Improvements included a 2,000lb (900kg)
increase in internal fuel, provision for conformal
Nineteenth Air Force (19AF) – JB San Antonio - Randolph, TX
fuel tanks and an increased maximum take-off
33rd FW/OG (*17) 58th FS Eglin AFB, FL F-35A EG
weight of up to 68,000lb (30,600kg).
56th FW/OG 21st FS (*18) Luke AFB, AZ F-16A/B (Blk 20) LF The US Eagle fleet has been actively engaged
61st FS Luke AFB, AZ F-35A in combat since Operation Desert Storm, when
62rd FS Luke AFB, AZ F-35A the deployed F-15s accounted for 36 of the
309th FS Luke AFB, AZ F-16C/D (Blk 25) 39 air-to-air victories claimed by the USAF.
310th FS Luke AFB, AZ F-16C/D (Blk 42) F-15Cs later shot down four Serbian MiG-29s
during Operation Allied Force in March 1999.
425th FS (*19) Luke AFB, AZ F-16C/D (Blk 52)
The USAF accepted 905 air superiority
56th OG Det. 1 (*20) Tucson IA AZ F-16C/D AZ
‘light-grey’ Eagles, including 408 F-15Cs and
56th OG Det. 2 (*20) Klamath Falls Airport - Kingsley F-15B/C/D 62 F-15Ds. Today F-15Cs are assigned to
Field, OR three active duty combat-coded squadrons,
54th FG 311th FS Holloman AFB, N.M. F-16C/D (Blk 42) the 18th Wing’s 44th and 67th FSs at
314th FS Holloman AFB, N.M. F-16C/D (Blk 42) Kadena AB and the 48th FW’s 493rd FS
Air National Guard (ANG) Units – JB Andrews-NAF Washington, Maryland at RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk, England.
149th FW/OG 182nd FS (FTU) JB San Antonio-Kelly Field, F-16C/D (Blk 30) SA The Eagles assigned to the latter had been
Lackland AFB, TX scheduled for retirement in 2015, but have
162nd FW/OG 148th FS (FTU) (*21) Tucson IAP, AZ F-16A/B (MLU) AZ since been extended until 2017. The squadron
152nd FS (FTU) Tucson IAP, AZ F-16C/D (Blk 42)
recently deployed six Eagles to Incirlik AB, Tur-
key, in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
195th FS (FTU) Tucson IAP, AZ F-16C/D (Blk 25/32)
Most of the Eagle fleet is operated by ANG
Det. 1 Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ (*2) F-16C/D (Blk 32) units in California, Florida, Louisiana, Massachu-
173rd FW/OG 114th FS Klamath Falls Airport - F-15B/C/D setts and Oregon, which will retain 17 F-15Cs
Kingsley Field, OR that had been planned for retirement in 2015.
Tenth Air Force (10AF) – NAS JRB Fort Worth/Carswell Field, TX In addition to a combat-coded squadron, the
Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) Units – Robins AFB, GA Oregon Air National Guard is responsible for a
944th FW/OG 69th FS (*22) Luke AFB, AZ F-16C/D (Blk 25/42) second squadron, which has been tasked as the
sole F-15 FTU since late 2010. It is supported
Notes: *17: 33d FW/OG is home to F-35 training center. *18: 21st FS trains Republic of China AF by a detachment of active duty personnel.
pilots. *19: 425th FS trains Singapore AF pilots. *20: Detachment is responsible for active duty Five other active duty (and one AFRC)
instructor pilots and maintenance personnel that support FTU. *21: 148th FS trains RNLAF pilots using
squadrons operate Eagles on test and
Dutch-owned aircraft. *22: AETC gained associate unit operates F-16C/D in support of 56th FW/OG.
evaluation, tactics development and
graduate-level training duties.
Today the USAF’s light-grey Eagle fleet
comprises 213 F-15C/Ds; the last F-15As
were retired in October 2009. Around
196 F-15s will remain in service until
at least 2040, upgraded with systems
enabling them to operate alongside the
fifth-generation F-22A and F-35A. Under
current plans the USAF will spend around
$1.7 billion on the Eagle across the FYDP.
The largest of these projects replaces the
mechanically scanned radar systems that equip
179 F-15Cs with Raytheon AN/APG-63(v)3
active electronically scanned array (AESA)
radars. Upgraded (v)3 radars were first fielded
by F-15Cs assigned to the Florida ANG’s 159th
FW at Jacksonville International Airport in
April 2010 and by the 18th FW at Kadena
Above: Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, is now home to just one F-16C/D Block 40 squadron, the 480th AB, Okinawa, that November.
FS. The 22nd and 23rd FS made up the 52nd FW until they were deactivated in August 2010, and the 81st The advantages of AESA
FS (with A-10Cs) followed suit in June 2013. Ted Carlson include improvements in
Below: The Seventh Air Force, headquartered at Osan AB in South Korea has three F-16 squadrons under its range and resolution and
responsibility. The jets regularly attend Red Flag exercises in Alaska, where this example, sporting special increased capability
marks of the 35th FS/8th FW based at Kunsan, was seen in April 2011. Robin Polderman
against advanced

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The New Jersey ANG operates a fleet of F-16C Block


30s, which stand on ACA. They are armed with AIM-
120 AMRAAM and AIM-9 Sidewinders. Rick Llinares

electronic attack (EA) systems – as well as sig- will be completed in 2016, will determine the Mud Hens
nificantly better reliability and maintainability. feasibility of an airframe service life extension. Although the F-15 was intended to serve as an air
Technologies incorporated in the earlier AN/ Boeing has proposed numerous improve- superiority fighter, its design included provision for
APG-63(v)2, first fielded in 2000, and the F/A- ments for the Eagle and most recently unveiled air-to-ground weapons. After studying the feasibil-
18E/F’s AN/APG-79 AESA radars were incor- its 2040C Eagle Upgrade. An evolution of the ity of adapting the basic F-15 for the air-to-ground
porated in the (v)3. Under current contracts Silent Eagle proposed to the RoK, it contains role, McDonnell Douglas began a series of dem-
Boeing will install the radar in 127 F-15Cs. some low-observable improvements, but onstrations using an early FSD F-15B two-seater.
Furthermore, the addition of an infrared would primarily double the aircraft’s missile The aircraft featured a modified AN/APG-63
search and track (IRST) sensor will give capacity to 16, via ‘quad pack’ munitions racks. radar, equipped with a synthetic aperture radar
the Eagle a capability considered vital to It will also feature the podded Talon HATE, (SAR) mode, and first flew in July 1980. After
operations in contested environments. which integrates the F-22’s Intra-Flight a fly-off with the General Dynamics F-16E, it
Coupled to the radar, it will create an Data Link (IFDL) with the Multifunctional was chosen as the basis of the USAF’s Dual
integrated fire control system that continues Information Distribution System-Joint Tacti- Role Fighter (DRF) and developed as the
to function under jamming conditions. cal Radio System (MIDS-J). F-15E; FSD was authorised in May 1984.
A new high-resolution colour display will Currently undergoing test, the quick- The F-15E flew for the first time in December
replace the Eagle’s current vertical situation reaction capability (QRC) programme is 1986 and the first production aircraft was
display (VSD) and computer processing designed to provide connectivity between delivered to the 405th Tactical Training Wing at
is being upgraded through the installation fourth- and fifth-generation fighters. Luke AFB, Arizona, in April 1988. Although the
of the Advanced Display Core Processor
(ADCP) II. Replacing the F-15C’s current
mission computer, the enhanced mission
processor will also enable future upgrades,
providing data fused connectivity with other
fighter aircraft, including the F-22A and F-35A
for example. A more robust and powerful
data link is also being incorporated.
The Eagle Passive/Active Warning Survivability
System (EPAWSS) will replace the fighter’s ALQ-
135 Tactical Electronic Warfare System (TEWS).
Developed by BAE Systems under a sub-
contract from Boeing, EPAWSS incorporates
a digital radar warning receiver (RWR), digital
radio frequency memory jammer and AN/ALE-
58 BOL advanced countermeasures dispenser.
The result is an integrated electronic attack
suite that will counter current and future
air-to-air and surface-to-air radars, and infrared
threats; fielding is scheduled to begin in 2018. Three F-16Cs of the 158th FW/Vermont
Structurally, the F-15C is certified to 9,000 ANG highlight the multi-role capabilities of
hours and Boeing is evaluating the airframe the ageing jets. The nearest two are carrying
for alternative service lives of 13,500 and JDAM bombs as well AIM-120 AMRAAMs and
AIM-9 Sidewinders for air defence. Ted Carlson
33,000 hours. A full-scale fatigue test, which

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US AIR FORCE TACTICAL AIRPOWER

service planned to acquire 392 F-15Es, only A November 2015 contract for 29 systems Above: By August 2020, 152 Raptors will have
236 ‘Mud Hens’, as the type is nicknamed, had brings AN/APG-82(v)1 orders to 47, enabling been upgraded with the latest capabilities to im-
been delivered when production ended in 2004. upgrade of the F-15Es with the 389th and prove the jet’s survivability. There are two F-22
The Strike Eagle first saw combat during 391st FSs at Mountain Home by 2017. As squadrons based at Joint Base Langley-Eustis,
the 27th FS and 94th FS. Rick Llinares
Operation Desert Storm and later in the well as the modified radar, the Strike Eagle will
Balkans, Afghanistan, Libya and, most recently, receive EPAWSS and ADCP II/VSD modifica-
in support of Operation Inherent Resolve
in Iraq and Syria. Six F-15Es operated by
tions in common with the F-15C. Fielding
is scheduled to begin in 2018. The USAF
Abbreviations
AAF-Army Air Field; AATC ANG/AFRC Test
the 48th FW’s 492nd FS arrived at Incirlik plans to spend some $2.2 billion on updating
Center; ACA-Aerospace Control Alert; ACC-Air
on November 12. They were deployed to the Strike Eagle fleet through the FYDP. Combat Command; ADS - Air Demonstration
the southern Turkish base to attack Islamic Besides the two squadrons assigned to the Squadron; AETC Air Education and Training Com-
State (IS) targets in Syria and Iraq. 366th FW at Mountain Home, F-15Es are mand; AFB Air Force Base; AFNORTH Air Forces
Lakenheath’s F-15Es have also flown direct operated by the 4th FW at Seymour Johnson North; AFMC Air Force Materiel Command; AFRC
strikes against targets in Libya. On November AFB, North Carolina, which is responsible for Air Force Reserve Command; AFTC Air Force Test
13, 2015, for example, Strike Eagles operating two combat-coded squadrons and two tasked Center; AGRS Aggressor Squadron; ANG Air
from the Suffolk base hit a compound near as Strike Eagle FTUs. An associate AFRC National Guard; ANGB Air National Guard Base;
Darna, killing the senior IS leader in Libya. squadron also operates 4th FW aircraft. ANGS Air National Guard Station; AP Airport;
Originally fielded with the AN/AAQ-13 Strike Eagles are based at RAF Lakenheath, ARB Air Reserve Base; ARS Air Reserve Station;
navigation and AN/AAQ-14 targeting pods where two squadrons are assigned to the AS Air Station; ATG Adversary Tactics Group;
of the Low-Altitude Navigation and Targeting 48th FW. Three active duty and two AFRC AWC Air Warfare Center; FG Fighter Group; FS
Infrared for Night (LANTIRN) system, the squadrons carry out test and evaluation, tactics Fighter Squadron; FW/OG Fighter Wing; FTU
Strike Eagle has since been made compatible development and graduate-level training duties. Formal Training Unit; MAP Municipal Airport;
with the Sniper and Litening AT pods. NAF Naval Air Facility; NAS Naval Air Station ;
It has had numerous further upgrades Viper OG Operations Group; RAP Regional Airport;
and 217 F-15Es will be equipped with Universally known as the ‘Viper’, the F-16 was TDY Temporary Duty; TEG Test & Evaluation
Raytheon AN/APG-82(v)1 AESA radars in developed as part of the Lightweight Fighter Group; TES Test & Evaluation Squadron; TPS
place of the original, mechanically steered AN/ (LWF) programme. The General Dynamics Test Pilot School; TW Test Wing; USAFE United
APG-70. The first F-15E with the new radar Model 401 first flew as the YF-16 in February States Air Forces Europe; USAFW/OGC USAF
Weapons Center; USAFW/OGS USAF Weapons
was assigned to the 366th FW’s 389th FS at 1974 and was selected as the basis for the
School; USCENTCOM U.S. Central Command;
Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, in June 2014. USAF’s Air Combat Fighter (ACF) campaign.
USEUCOM U.S. European Command; USPA-
Developed by Boeing and Raytheon under the The F-16A first flew in December 1976 and
COM U. S. Pacific Command; USSOUTHCOM
$238 million Radar Modernization Program deliveries to the 58th Tactical Training Wing at
US Southern Command; USSPACECOM U.S.
(RMP) contract, the new radar entered flight test Luke AFB, Arizona, began in August 1978. The Space Command; USSTRATCOM US Strategic
at Eglin AFB in January 2011. Approval for low- first operational F-16A was delivered to the Command; WEG Weapons Evaluation Group;
rate initial production (LRIP) was granted in Sep- 388th TFW at Hill AFB, Utah, in January 1979. WG Wing WPS Weapons Squadron
tember 2011 after a 110-sortie test programme. In 1983 production switched to the F-16C,

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AN/AAQ-28 Litening and AN/AAQ-33 Sniper the F-16s of the ANG and AFRC units.
targeting pods. The latter capability has also Seven active duty, one AFRC and four ANG
been ‘back-fitted’ to the Block 30/32s. squadrons are tasked as FTUs, while seven active
Between 2002 and 2011 an upgrade duty and two AFRC squadrons conduct test and
known as the Common Configuration evaluation, tactics development and graduate-
Implementation Program (CCIP) provided level training. The USAF Air Demonstration
enhanced mission capabilities and integrated Squadron, the Thunderbirds, also flies F-16C/Ds.
a common avionics configuration for more
than 200 Block 50/52 and 420 Block 40/42 Raptor
F-16C/Ds. It installed a new MMC, colour Stationed at Tyndall AFB, Florida, the 325th
displays, common missile warning systems, FW serves as the Raptor FTU. It received its
advanced data link IFF systems and the Joint first F-22A in September 2003 and the initial
Helmet-Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS). assignment to a combat-coded squadron
Lockheed purchased the General Dynamics occurred when deliveries to the 1st FW
Fort Worth division in 1993 and, as Lockheed at Langley AFB began in May 2005. The
Martin, delivered the last of 2,231 USAF Raptor achieved full operational capability, at
F-16s in 2005; more than 950 remain in Langley, in December 2007 and Lockheed
service. The inventory primarily comprises Martin delivered the final aircraft to Joint Base
Block 30/32, 40/42 and 50/52 aircraft, but Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, in May 2012.
a small number of Block 25s continue to The Raptor is operational with five combat-
support test and training missions. The coded active duty squadrons at Tyndall,
The sleek lines of a 3rd Wing F-22A Raptor are
clearly evident. All its missiles are housed in the air-
F-16C remains the USAF’s primary multi-role Langley and Elmendorf. Additionally, F-22As
craft’s internal weapons bay. This keeps the USAF’s fighter, representing 50% of its tactical fleet. are assigned to a single ANG unit at Joint
premier jet as stealthy as possible. Ted Carlson The USAF intends to invest $1 billion across Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.
the FYDP on upgrades and modernisation Associate squadrons at each of the facilities
featuring AN/APG-68 radar and modified plans, including an SLEP enabling the Viper include one active duty, one ANG and two AFRC
cockpit controls and displays. The first of to remain in service until at least 2025. The units. A single squadron at Tyndall serves as
the initial C-model, the Block 25, flew in June SLEP will extend the airframe structural the FTU and four active duty and one AFRC
1984 and was delivered the following month. service life of 300 aircraft from the current squadron conduct test and evaluation, tactics
The Block 25’s Pratt & Whitney F100-GE-200 8,000 to more than 10,000 hours, adding development and graduate-level training.
turbofan was later upgraded to the more eight to ten years’ service life. It is initially Air Combat Command’s plans originally
reliable F100-PW-220E configuration. planned for Block 40/42 and 50/52 aircraft called for the acquisition of 648 Raptors, but
Block 30/32 and subsequent F-16C/Ds and was originally included in the cancelled production was curtailed and only 195 were
are powered by either the General Electric Combat Avionics Programmed Extension Suite delivered. Whereas the baseline Increment
F110-GE-100 turbofan (Block x0) or F100- (CAPES), which also included AESA radar. 1 aircraft was designed as an air superiority
PW-220 (Block x2); the engines are not The F-16’s modular mission computer fighter, Increment 2 jets featured a Global Strike
interchangeable. The Block 40/42 aircraft were (MMC), programmable display generator Basic capability and all operational aircraft had
the first capable of carrying LANTIRN pods. (PDG) and MIDS will also be upgraded and been updated to that configuration by 2009.
Block 50/52 aircraft were respectively updates to the operational flight programme The update enabled employment of AIM-9M
powered by F110-GE-129 and F100-PW-229 (OFP) will enable new weapons, avionics and and AIM-120C air-to-air missiles and two
Improved Performance Engines. Block improved targeting pods to be integrated. 1,000lb GBU-31 JDAMs, upgraded the
50D/52D jets were equipped with the In response to an urgent operational need IFDL and enhanced connectivity with other
High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM) (UON) submitted by NORTHCOM, the USAF Raptors. Despite cutting back the number of
avionics/launcher interface computer (ALIC) is reconsidering options for integrating production aircraft, the Air Force committed to
and the AN/ASQ-213 HARM Targeting System AESA radar on Block 30 and later F-16Cs. an incremental upgrade plan for the Raptor.
(HTS), which provided full autonomous Active duty squadrons fly Block 40 and Increment 3.1 added advanced air-to-ground
employment of the AGM-88 missile. 50 F-16Cs, while 12 ANG and three AFRC capabilities, including a SAR ground-mapping
As well as AIM-9 and AIM-120 missiles, the squadrons fly Block 30, 40, 42 and 50 jets mode for the Raptor’s Northrop Grumman
Block 50/52 is compatible with a variety of operationally. Personnel assigned to active AN/APG-77 radar. Additionally, EA and
precision laser and GPS-guided weapons and duty fighter groups also operate and maintain threat geolocation capabilities enable it to

An F-22 Raptor lands at Spangdahlem Air Base,


Germany, on August 28, 2015, as part of the
inaugural F-22 training deployment to Europe. Four
F-22s from the 95th FS at Tyndall AFB were part of
the European Reassurance Initiative and will serve
to assure allies of the Air Force’s commitment
to European security and stability.
USAF/Staff Sgt Chad Warren

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US AIR FORCE TACTICAL AIRPOWER

A 61st FS F-35A prepares to touch down at Luke


AFB, fitted with two dummy GBU-12s. Joe Copalman

locate enemy radars. The fighter also gained coded Block 30/35s, 32 training Block 20s, Distributed Aperture System (DAS).
the capability to deliver up to eight 250lb 12 development test/operational test (DT/OT) The radar has 32 operating modes, including
GBU-39/B Small Diameter Bombs (SDBs). Block 20/30/35s and two pre-block test aircraft. air-to-air, air-to-ground, maritime, EW, naviga-
Increment 3.2 upgrades are separated into Raptors assigned to the 1st FW’s 27th FS flew tion and weather. The EOTS is an all-weather
a series of smaller packages and Increment the F-22A’s first combat missions, against IS tar- active targeting sensor supporting air-to-air
3.2A, which should be fielded by October 2017, gets under Operation Inherent Resolve, on Sep- and air-to-ground missions and the DAS is
is a software upgrade. It provides additional tember 22, 2014. The type’s initial strike mis- a passive infrared sensor that relies on six
enhanced electronic protection and improved sion delivered GPS-guided munitions against a high-resolution infrared cameras embedded
communications, including a Link 16 data command and control facility in Raqqa, Syria. in the airframe to provide a spherical day/
link receive mode and enhanced combat night vision capability that allows the pilot to
identification and targeting capabilities. Lightning II ‘see’ directly below and behind the aircraft.
Increment 3.2B production will begin in 2016 The multi-role F-35A JSF, or Lightning II, is As well as short-range IRST, DAS warns of
and its hardware and software updates are the centrepiece of the USAF’s future fighter approaching missiles, locates the point of origin
scheduled for fielding from 2018. By August precision attack capability and will form of a missile launch and delivers navigation
2020, 152 Raptors will have had the upgrades. the backbone of its force. Complementing imaging. Imagery is displayed on the aircraft’s
They will improve the IFDL and enhanced stores the F-22A’s air superiority capabilities, panoramic cockpit display (PCD) and the pilot’s
management system (ESMS), upgrade emitter it is designed to penetrate air defences Helmet-Mounted Display System (HMDS).
geolocation and electronic protection capabili- and deliver a wide range of PGMs. Developed from the F-22A’s BAE Systems
ties and integrate AIM-9X and AIM-120D. A single F-35 prototype was followed by AN/ALR-94, the F-35’s AN/ASQ-239 EW
The USAF is also moving forward with plans four production-representative ‘weight system performs several functions, including
to equip Raptor pilots with a Helmet-Mounted optimised’ F-35As built as part of the system radar warning, emitter location, direction
Display and Cueing System (HMDCS) by 2020. design and development (SDD) contract; finding and electronic countermeasures.
The early Block 10 Production Representative the first of them took its maiden flight in Sensor fusion provides the capability to
Test Vehicle and Block 10 and 20 aircraft November 2009. The first flight of the initial search, detect, track and identify targets of
from LRIP Lots 1, 2 and 3 were upgraded to LRIP F-35A followed in February 2011 and interest using individual or multiple sen-
a common Block 20 configuration under the deliveries to the Integrated Training Center sors that can be directed against a single
Common Configuration Program (CCP), which at Eglin AFB, Florida, began in July 2011. track. Three data links facilitate information
added computer memory, faster processors The F-35A is powered by the Pratt & Whitney sharing with other platforms and the
and new power supplies. Additionally, 39 F135-PW-100 turbofan and features the Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL)
Block 20 aircraft from Lots 3 and 4 will be Northrop Grumman AN/APG-81 AESA radar, shares sensor data with other Lightning IIs.
upgraded to Block 30/35 configuration. Lockheed Martin AN/AAQ-40 Electro Optical The jet has 11 weapons stations: three
Ultimately, when modifications are complete, Targeting System (EOTS) and Northrop under each wing, two in each of its two bays
the Raptor fleet will include 139 combat- Grumman AN/AAQ-37 electro-optical and one on the fuselage centreline. The
F-35A can carry 18,000lb (8,165kg) of
ordnance and is equipped with an internal
four-barrel 25mm GAU-22/A cannon.
The first fully capable Block 4 F-35As are
expected to enter service in 2021. Although
the configuration is still being developed,
Lockheed Martin has proposed the incorpora-
tion of an Advanced EOTS to deliver improved
targeting capabilities. The system includes
short-wave infrared and high-definition televi-
sion capabilities along with an infrared marker
and improved resolution, which will make for
increased recognition and detection ranges.
The Block 4 could also include a number
of additional weapons, among them the
Raytheon GBU-53/B SDB II, the Kongsberg/
Raytheon Joint Strike Missile (JSM) and the
B61-12 guided nuclear bomb, which is under
An F-35A from the 61st FS ‘Top Dogs’ taxies back to the squadron’s ramp at Luke AFB. Air Force F-35
development by Boeing, the USAF and the
pilots are currently sourced from the A-10, F-15C, F-15E, and F-16 communities. Joe Copalman
National Nuclear Security Administration.

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The USAF plans to achieve IOC between


August and December 2016. It will be
realised when the first operational squadron
is equipped with between 12 and 24 aircraft
and personnel capable of conducting basic
CAS, interdiction and limited suppression
and destruction of enemy air defence (SEAD/
DEAD) operations in a contested environment.
The jets will be equipped with Block 3I
software. Full combat capabilities, including
data link imagery, a complete weapons set and
embedded training, will be delivered with the
subsequent Block 3F release in late 2017.
The first eight LRIP lots include 110 F-35As,
and more than 80 aircraft have been delivered
to the USAF at five bases. Training is the
responsibility of the 33rd FW at Eglin and
the 56th FW at Luke AFB, which received its
first aircraft in March 2014. The last of 26
F-35As was delivered to Eglin in May 2014.
Three active duty squadrons provide training,
An MQ-9 Reaper modified for extended range, from the 62nd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron,
including two at Luke responsible for instructing sits on the ramp at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan on December 6, 2015. The ER modification enables an
pilots from partner nations. Four squadrons additional 20 to 40% of flying time dependent on the aircraft’s load out. USAF/Tech Sgt Robert Cloys
conduct test and evaluation, tactics develop-
ment and graduate-level training duties. Predator was delivered in March 2011. The but the former also features triple redundant
Testing continues at Edwards AFB and type has seen combat over Afghanistan, Bosnia, avionics and dual mechanical control systems.
Nellis AFB, where advanced training and Iraq, Libya, Serbia, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. Viewed as a hunter/killer, the MQ-9A is
tactics development is under way. The Predator is equipped with the AN/AAS-52 equipped with the AN/AAS-52 MTS-B and AN/
first two operational F-35As were fielded to Multi-Spectral Targeting System (MTS-A), APY-8 Lynx II radar, which includes SAR and
the 388th FW at Hill AFB on September 1, which integrates an infrared sensor; colour/ ground/dismount moving target indicator
2015. The USAF recently announced that monochrome daylight TV camera; image- (GMTI/DMTI) modes. Its four wing hardpoints
Eielson AFB and RAF Lakenheath had been intensified TV camera; and laser designator carry a 3,000lb (1,361kg) payload of laser-
selected as the first OCONUS (Outside the and illuminator. Full-motion video from guided Hellfires, 500lb GBU-12 Paveway II
Contiguous US) bases to support the F-35A. each of its imaging sensors can be viewed LGBs, GBU-38 JDAMs and GBU-54 LJDAMs.
Each will host 48 fighters with two squadrons; as separate video streams, or fused. The The USAF recently began fielding the Extended
Eielson’s first Lightning IIs are scheduled to aircraft can employ two laser-guided Range (ER) Reaper, capable of carrying external
arrive in 2019 and Lakenheath’s in 2020. AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-ground missiles. fuel tanks and equipped with heavyweight
Although more than 140 Predators landing gear, a four-bladed propeller and a
Predators and Reapers are currently operated by 13 active new fuel management system. Endurance is
The USAF operates a large number of duty, six ANG and three AFRC units, the increased from 27 to between 33 and 35 hours.
unmanned remotely piloted aircraft (RPAs) RPA will be phased out by 2018. General Atomics is producing a revised Block
capable of carrying out precision strike missions. General Atomics developed the Predator B in 5 MQ-9A for the USAF and the operational fleet
The systems are often forward-deployed 1999 and it first took to the air at the company’s is being updated to this latest configuration.
with their Mission Control Element (MCE) flight operations facility in El Mirage, California, The Block 5 incorporates improved main
located thousands of miles away from the in February 2001. After purchasing two Preda- landing gear for operations at heavier gross
Launch And Recovery Element (LRE) or the tor Bs in October 2001 to assess their advan- weights, an upgraded and more powerful
combat arena. Numerous MCEs are located tages over the baseline Predator, the USAF electrical system, an additional encrypted
throughout the CONUS, operated by active initially acquired four pre-production examples. data link, a redesigned avionics bay and
duty units and those of the ANG and AFRC. Assigned the designation MQ-9A Reaper in a digital electronic engine control system
First deployed to Bosnia in July 1995 as an ISR service, the new aircraft is larger than Predator along with new lightweight bomb racks
platform, the General Atomics RQ-1A Predator A and powered by a single Honeywell TPE331 and a high-definition video capability.
later gained a strike capability, resulting in turboprop, which enables operation at Operationally the MQ-9A was first fielded in
assignment of the revised MQ-1B designa- higher altitudes than Predator. The MQ-9A March 2007. It deployed to Afghanistan in
tion, first fielded in 2002 (the Department of therefore operates at greater stand-off ranges September that year and completed its first
Defense uses the ‘R’ role designator to indicate and provides coverage for longer periods. combat strike in late October. Almost 250
reconnaissance and the ‘M’ designator for Reaper and Predator share a common Reapers are in service with 13 active duty,
multi-role; ‘Q’ refers to unmanned). The final avionics system and ground control station, ten ANG and four AFRC squadrons.
afm

The MQ-9 Reaper is part of a remotely piloted aircraft system. This fully operational system consists
of several sensor/weapon-equipped aircraft, a ground control station, Predator primary satellite link,
and spare equipment along with operations and maintenance crews for deployed 24-hour missions.
USAF/432nd Wing

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RUSSIAN - SYRIAN MINDSET

“Now we can prepare forces


for military operations in
minimum time. All this pre-
determined the speed of our
deployment to Syria.”

The View
T HE RUSSIAN Air and Space Force (RuASF)
has being undertaking combat operations
from Above
Alexander Mladenov sheds
in Syria safely and effectively, according to its light on the Russian military
Commander-in-Chief (CinC), Colonel General leadership’s attitude to the air
Viktor Bondarev. In an interview with the campaign in Syria, where its
Russian daily Komsomolskaya Pravda, published
in early November, he revealed previously
aircraft have been carrying out
unreported details of the air campaign. strikes since September 30 at
The RuASF has struck various Islamic and the request of Syrian President
anti-Assad militant groups in the war-torn Bashar Assad.
country, bombing moderate nationalist and
Islamist armed opposition from the beginning.
Above: A Su-24M Fencer releases its load of OFAB-
250-270 bombs onto a target during a mission
Not on our borders over Syria. All images Russian MOD unless stated
Bondarev is a combat-hardened Su-25 pilot Left: Colonel General Viktor Bondarev, CinC of the
decorated with the highest state award, RuASF, stated that the air campaign in Syria is a
the Golden Star of the Hero of the Russian preventive measure, to stop the proliferation of
Federation, for his combat exploits during the Islamic terrorism into Russian territory.
first war in Chechnya in the mid-1990s. He Andery Zinchuk via author
Right: Armourers check an R-73 (AA-11 Archer)
considers the Russian military involvement in
air-to-air missile mounted on a Su-30SM multi-
Syria as timely: “I think this option [Russian role fighter at Hmeimim air base.
military intervention] is much better than Far right: All Russian strikes in Syria are recorded
waiting for this trouble to reach our borders. by UAVs or via the targeting systems on the Su-34 or
“We’ve taken all possible threats [that could Su-24M for post-mission battle damage assessment.

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RUSSIAN SYRIAN MINDSET

be encountered in Syria] into consideration telegram describing exactly through which


and deployed attack aircraft, bombers and sector of the state border it will launch an
interceptors and surface-to-air missile systems. invasion. These sudden combat readiness
“We may face a variety of force majeure inspections have shown the real operational
situations, such as an aircraft hijacked capabilities of our military units.
in a neighbouring country with the aim “Now we can prepare forces for military
of crashing onto our base. We have to operations in minimum time. All this pre-deter-
be ready to counter such threats.” mined the speed of our deployment to Syria.
“This is not because we are ‘hot heads’,
Catching the US unaware rushing into combat in an ad hoc manner. On
The CinC said the fixed-wing aircraft deployed the contrary, we examined the infrastructure
to Syria by ferry flight, while the helicopters Above: The KAB-500S is a new generation of satellite- and Daesh basing in detail. We’ve done
were delivered to Latakia airport by airlift, most guided bomb. Its combat debut came in early Octo- detailed reconnaissance and gathered a lot of
likely in An-124s. Bondarev boasts that the ber during the Russian air campaign over Syria. information. Our aircrews sat at their desks
RuASF’s air group deployed reasonably covertly, Top: The Su-24Ms operate from Hmeimim air base and studied the expected area of operations.
and carry a typical war load of four 250kg (550lb)
preventing its early detection by US intelligence “We’ve also done a detailed study of
OFAB-250-270 fragmentation/high-explosive bombs
services. He refused to provide further details, or four 500kg (1,100lb) FAB-500M62 high explosive structures considered sensitive to the
but said that, after landing at Hmeimim (as the free-fall bombs. civilian population, including mosques,
Russian Ministry of Defence refers to Latakia/ Below: Aircrew of a Su-30 Flanker conduct a final other holy places, hospitals and schools.”
Basell as-Assad airport), the air group was walk-around check of their aircraft before boarding for Bondarev also noted that the RuASF’s
declared combat-ready within three hours. another bomber-escort sortie from Hmeimim air base. 50-aircraft air group in Syria is adequate, with
He claimed that the surprise Russian no reinforcements deemed necessary. He
deployment to Syria has disrupted US plans revealed that the core aircrew dispatched to
in this strategically important region, adding Syria have combat experience (gathered mostly

e
that, during the preceding couple of years, in counter-insurgency missions on Russian
the Russian armed forces have changed territory, in the troubled North Caucasus
dramatically: “We’ve been taking 250 fixed-wing region) while the rest were selected from
aircraft and helicopters on strength annually, among those with the best results in training.
while the combat training system has also The training regime between January and
changed. Since 2012 we’ve introduced so- September saw each pilot and navigator/
called sudden combat readiness inspections, weapons system operator amass more than
which have taught us many new things. 100 flight hours, so they were well prepared
“We don’t expect an enemy will send us a for combat missions at short notice.

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RUSSIAN - SYRIAN MINDSET

Satellite intelligence
Speaking about the intelligence used for targeting
and planning combat sorties, Bondarev noted
that the main source is satellite data. This is
complemented by information gathered by
unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) and manned
intelligence-gathering aircraft. The Russian air
group also receives intelligence information
supplied by a network of agents on the ground.
“That’s why each and every target and mission
we have been tasked to carry out is the subject
of a detailed prior examination and preparation.
We co-ordinate the mission with the local Syrian
military authorities and with the Syrian gener-
als, and only after this do we decide whether Above: A Fullback releases a pair of 500kg KAB-
designated objects of interest will be targeted.” 500S satellite-guided bombs onto an undisclosed
target in Syria. The Russian Government has given
The CinC denied Western media reports that
its media unprecedented access to post-mission
RuASF aircraft had bombed Syrian civilians imagery throughout the campaign.
and claimed that battle damage assessment, Left: At least one Il-20M Coot electronic intelligence
using post-strike video footage of every gathering aircraft has been supporting Russia’s
target, ensures strict control is exercised. air operations over Syria, flying from Hmeimim air
Bondarev noted that the operational tempo base. The Coot provides satellite communication
was initially slow, with nine strikes reported and real-time data sharing for aircraft on strike
missions.
during the first day of the air campaign. Over
subsequent days the number gradually
increased to 80, while in early November the
figure hovered at between 50 and 60.

Daesh change tactics


The Colonel General also said the Daesh
groups have changed tactics, attempting to
establish themselves in close proximity to
civilian infrastructure, including towns, vil-
lages, mosques and hospitals. This has
compelled the Russian aviation group to Above: The Su-24Ms upgraded with the Gefesti T SVP-24 nav/attack system are the workhorses of the
mount its strikes with increasing accuracy. air campaign, involved in medium- and long-range strike missions. Fencers fly at altitudes of 5,000m
At the same time, he claimed, the new Daesh (16,400ft) to avoid MANPADS and small-calibre AAA.
tactics had brought welcome benefits: “The cross-check the mission data several times. mission when the aircraft flew parallel to the
terrorists have run away, abandoning their “In the air, approaching the assigned border between Syria and Turkey in dense cloud.
checkpoints. This is freeing the way for the target, if doubts arise that the hit will not be It was ‘painted’ by the targeting radar of an
Syrian Army advance. The terrorists hide precise, crews are instructed to abort the unidentified surface-to-air missile system and
near civilian facilities because they’ve realised attack run and make another. There are the pilot initiated defensive manoeuvres, during
we’ll destroy their stationary positions. many stages of protection set out in order which he strayed into Turkish airspace a little. “We
“They also avoid occupying small villages to ensure our aircrews avoid mistakes.” have honestly admitted this,” Bondarev added.
because the Syrian Army can fire its artillery Speaking about co-operation with US Careful behaviour when flying next to the
through them. That’s why the terrorists have forces attacking targets in Syria, Bondarev Turkish border, however, did not help prevent
been forced to gather in big cities. But this said: “The only act of co-operation with the the November 24 incident when Su-24M ‘83’,
works against them because it’s easier for the US is inking a memorandum of airspace bombing anti-Assad Turkmen insurgents,
Syrian Army to encircle cities one by one. use.” He also admitted that the air campaign was gunned down by a Turkish Air Force F-16
“The problem for us is that aircrew have to provided a welcome opportunity for testing next to the border line. The episode sparked a
work very precisely, avoiding collateral damage. new aircraft types and guided munitions. crisis in relations between Russia and Turkey
This accuracy is achieved firstly through gather- and prompted Russian President Vladimir
ing complete and reliable intelligence data. Straying into neighbour's Putin to call for a significant strengthen-
“Secondly, aircrew prepare each mission airspace ing of the Hmeimim air base defence by
in a very careful, detailed process. They Explaining the widely reported incursion of a deploying an S-400 long-range SAM system
study the target, fix its position [on the Russian aircraft into Turkish airspace on October (see Access Denied, January, p66-77).
map], upload the positional information 3, Col Gen Bondarev claimed that it was uninten- At the same time, all RuASF bombing mis-
into the aircraft’s nav/attack system and tional. The incident occurred during a combat sion in close proximity to the Turkish border
began to be carried out with a fighter escort,
provided by Hmeimim-based Su-30SMs,
while Su-34s flew self-escort missions armed
with R-73 and R-27 air-to-air missiles.
On November 29, Russian aircraft committed
an unintentional incursion, by about one mile
(1.6km), into Israeli airspace over the Golan
Heights. The Israeli air defence network
quickly established contact with the pilot,
warning him he was in the wrong place, and he
quickly adjusted his course, turning towards
Syrian airspace to continue his mission.
Israeli defence minister Moshe Yaalon told
media: “Israel and Russia have agreements
in place to avoid clashes over Syria, using a
hotline for sharing information. Russian aircraft
do not have any intention to attack and that’s
Above: The dozen Mi-24Ps attack helicopters deployed to Syria operate in a light configuration, carrying why we did not automatically react and afm
just a pair of 20-round rocket packs and four 9M114 anti-tank guided missiles. shoot them down when an error occurs.”

62 FEBRUARY 2016 #335 www.airforcesmonthly.com

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EXERCISE REPORT Crimson Eagle 2015

Right: Capt Rob


McCrea, a CTR
student, passes by
a control tower on
the BMGR, after
completing a basic
course of fire with
the Apache’s
30mm chain gun.
All photos, author
unless stated.

A s custodian of
the British mili-
tary’s helicopter gun-
month detachment com-
bining desert environmental
training at Naval Air Facility
fixed-wing,
elementary
rotary, and intro-
ship capability, the Army El Centro (NAFEC), California, ductory tactical
Air Corps (AAC) Attack Helicopter with live weapons training rotary-wing
Force (AHF) must be ready to sup- at Gila Bend Air Force training, before
port the British Army and Royal Auxiliary Field in Arizona. being assigned
Marines wherever they deploy. Based at Wattisham Airfield, to the Apache.
With the proven AgustaWestland Suffolk, 653 Operational They go to 673
Apache AH1 as its mount, AHF Training Squadron assumed the Squadron at
has seen extensive Apache conversion-to-role Middle Wallop,
combat in the deserts (CTR) mission during a Hampshire, for
of Iraq, Afghanistan reorganisation of the Apache conversion-
and Libya. AAC in 2014 and is to-type (CTT) training, which the front seat generally doing
Although the UK now responsible for lasts eight months and teaches all of the weapons and the rear
has been re-orien- running Crimson Eagle, new Apache crews the funda- seat generally doing the flying.”
tating its forces to which typically occurs mentals of operating the type. The CTR course at Wattisham
meet a wide array of twice a year. Crimson During CTT, all students learn consists of six months of advanced
contingencies, includ- Eagle 15B ran from the basics from the front and rear tactical training on the AH1,
ing emerging threats late September to mid- seats. Upon its completion, they including threat reaction, electronic
in Europe and Asia, the November 2015 and saw are tracked into either a front-seat warfare and, of course, employing
likelihood of desert deployments the participation of around 150 or rear-seat curriculum. Capt Rob the Apache as a weapons system,
supporting operations against personnel, flying or supporting McCrea, a recent 653 Sqn gradu- which happens in the US during
Daesh and other insurgencies a detachment of six aircraft. ate, explained: “We’re divided the final two months of training.
remains high. As such, AHF’s Crimson Eagle comes at the into front-seat/rear-seat based on
Apache crews train to meet the end of a long road for 653’s CTR certain attributes – including how Coming to America
challenges of desert operations. students, as the capstone event well you’ve done in the sim and The UK’s desert helicopter
For this it sends Apache crews to on nearly four years of training. what aspects they think you’re training in the US has been
the southwestern United States They arrive on the CTR course most suited for. So we come here institutionalised to the point that
for Exercise Crimson Eagle, a two- having already completed basic and we qualify on a seat, with Joint Helicopter Command (JHC)

64 FEBRUARY 2016 #335 www.airforcesmonthly.com

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Hunting
Joe Copalman
reports on Army Air
Corps conversion-to-
role training in the

Party
deserts of Arizona
and California.

“We’re divided
into front-seat/rear-
seat based on certain
attributes – including how well
you’ve done in the sim and what
aspects they think you’re most
suited for”
www.airforcesdaily.com #335 FEBRUARY 2016 65

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EXERCISE REPORT Crimson Eagle 2015

has a headquarters building at


NAFEC, but it still represents an
enormous undertaking to move
aircraft, equipment and person-
A CTR student taxies out while his
nel for each detachment. Capt
instructor in the front seat flashes
Nathan Torbett is 653 Squadron’s the thumbs-up.
operations officer, tasked with
ensuring that the unit gets to where
it needs to be, with what it needs
to operate for as long as needed.
Explaining what goes into
planning Crimson Eagle, Torbett
said: “Because it’s a major, fairly
expensive exercise, we have to
bid for it through our central
chain six months plus before
coming here. So pretty much
as soon as we get back, we start
planning for the next one. And
upon leaving here, normally,
we give an outline view of when
we’re looking at coming back.
“It’s already on NAFEC and Gila

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“We came here and had two days to get
used to the heat and try to get rid of the jet
lag, and then it was building the aircraft”

Above: An Apache groundcrewman photographs the leading edges of the Bend’s radar, so we then start time into South Carolina, and
main rotor blades on an Apache that had just returned from dust landing train- going through everything, like then it was freighted across.”
ing. The leading edges are sprayed with a frequently reapplied protective diplomatic clearances, import
coating to prevent any damage caused by stones and abrasive dirt.
Above right: A 357th FS ‘Dragons’ A-10C on initial approach for a gun run on
licences and just the co-ordination Getting Dirty
the BMGR. Crews from 662 and 663 Sqns, as well as instructors from 653 needed to get all the assets. Even One of the many advantages of
Sqn, worked with the 357th on the range. Paul Dunn though we’ve got six Apaches attack helicopters is that they
Below: Groundcrewmen shelter from the downwash of a departing Apache here, the engineering support, can move with the infantry while
at Gila Bend. life support, and all of the kit relying on forward arming and
and equipment is enormous.” refuelling points (FARPs), which
For this particular exercise, a pair keep them close to the battle by
of Antonov An-124s was hired avoiding lengthy return trips to a
to transport the aircraft from faraway airfield for replenishment.
Wattisham along with most of the With most FARPs established in
equipment to El Centro. Simply unimproved areas, the potential
breaking down the aircraft for for dust, grass, or even snow kicked
transport was good training for up by rotor downwash obscuring
the squadron’s Royal Electrical pilot vision is high, and Apache
and Mechanical Engineers (REME) crews train to operate safely in
aircraft technicians. Describing the degraded-visibility environments.
journey, REME aircraft technician Dust landings involve consider-
Cpl Tom Newey said: “It was 20ºC able teamwork, with the desert
maximum in the UK and we came landing sites west of NAFEC requir-
out to 40ºC. That’s one of the main ing preparation and manning
challenges. We came here and had during the landings themselves,
two days to get used to the heat as well as communications.
and try to get rid of the jet lag, and Capt Torbett explained the role
then it was building the aircraft.” of 653’s signallers and ground
Transportation of the ordnance crew: “We send out a signaller to
needed for the live-fire portion of speak with the aircraft, then two
Crimson Eagle was handled quite ground crew to churn up the dust
differently, and involved sea and landing areas and set out the
land transport. As Capt Torbett desert landing boxes [15m×30m
explained: “We get our ordnance areas surveyed as landing zones],
from IGMR [the International then they’re the immediate
Guns, Rockets, and Missiles Project response out there in case of any
Team] in Canada, so quite often accident or incident as well.”
it will just be shipped straight Airtrooper Conn Sweeney, a
here. But we have shipped 653 Sqn signaller, elaborated
ordnance from the UK as well. on his job during dust landings:
We actually transported it this “There’s a signaller out there and

Apache Ground Crew


Among aviation ground crew the correct state with appropriate
worldwide, the AAC’s personnel fuel and ordnance loads, Apache
are trained across what is likely groundcrew may find themselves
the broadest spectrum of ground performing the functions of fuel
support functions. handler, armourer, plane captain
Though primarily tasked with or marshaller, or setting up a
ensuring the aircraft take off in FARP. 

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EXERCISE REPORT Crimson Eagle 2015

An AH1 from 653 Squadron down low


in the mountains west of El Centro,
where the CTR students practice
hot-and-high flying and mountain
navigation.

he’s got a satellite phone and a in the Apache. Obviously you’ve


radio. The radio is for commu-
nicating with the aircraft and the
got the symbology with the
monocle in front of your right eye Location,
sat-phone is for calling back with that displays exactly which way location,
location
any messages they might have.” up you are, it tells you if you’re
Flight operations in brownout drifting forward, left, back, right,
conditions are never easy, but by how much, if you’re accelerat- Capt Rob McCrea, a CTR course
with the Apache being a two-crew ing forwards, backwards, etc.” student, explained the appeal
aircraft, the non-handling pilot All student Apache pilots are of training at El Centro and Gila
(usually the front-seater) carries given what’s called a ‘bag check’, Bend: “It’s three aspects. One is
some of the workload. Capt in which all the cockpit windows to operate in high temperatures
Torbett explained: “By day the guy are covered with thick rubber, and a dusty environment; second
up front goes into ‘meerkat’ mode, forcing them to rely entirely on the is getting experience in how a
kind of peeking over the nose. It’s forward-looking infrared (FLIR) and foreign nation would do this
very much a two-crew concept, so monocle to fly the aircraft. “And sort of aviation and third is the
the non-handling crew member that,” said Capt Torbett, “builds up real estate. The UK just doesn’t
will be monitoring drift, speed, confidence in the ability to rely on have the real estate size-wise to
height and so on, and calling out those systems, so that when you achieve what we need to do in
the ‘gates’, so that you’re hitting come out here, you can sit in the terms of the live-firing portion.”
the speed and height combina- hover in a dust cloud and be fairly “The UK just doesn’t
tions to make a safe landing.” confident that you’re not drifting, have the real estate size-
Capt Torbett also praised the which is one of the biggest dramas wise to achieve what we
Apache’s avionics and vision with dust landings, and that you’re need to do”
systems: “We’re pretty blessed going to conduct safe landings.”
Both locations used by 653
Sqn offer obvious benefits. El
Centro puts the det within a few
minutes’ flying time of desert
landing sites and mountains for
high-density-altitude training,
while Gila Bend brings the crews
to the doorstep of the BMGR,
which offers 1.05 million acres of
ground area for tactical training,
including designated areas for
high-explosive ordnance and the
opportunity to work with JTACs.
Summing up the benefits of the
training sites, Capt Nathan Torbett
said: “There’s a high degree of
freedom, and it’s a challenging
environment. On your doorstep
you’ve got the mountains, you’ve
got dust, you’ve got Gila Bend
where you can fire in any direction
on the ranges and really challenge
yourself. I think the degree of
Above: WO2 Steve Howard, an Apache instructor with 653 Sqn, clears a student autonomy and freedom that you
pilot ‘green’ as he repositions after a gun attack on the BMGR. Crimson Eagle can operate with from these bases
gives 653’s instructors opportunities to qualify as range control officers in addi-
just makes the exercise.” 
tion to their primary duties.

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‘The Apache was initially designed to
employ – nap-of-the-Earth flying and the use
of terrain masking for hit-and-run attacks’
Pilots are not the only ones tested US Customs and Border Protection
by dust landings. Cpl Newey to, as Capt Torbett put it, “…hunt
described the challenges for the the guys down with dogs and all
REME aircraft technicians: “The their kit, so it’s pretty realistic”.
dust literally gets everywhere, Along with the eight CTR students
which causes problems. Yesterday on the det, Crimson Eagle 15B
a stone was picked up and cracked also saw two experienced Apache
the front windscreen, so it came pilots completing training as
back, we changed it, and it will weapons instructors. Capt Torbett
be going out again today and explained: “They go through the
the same thing could happen.” methods of instruction phase
Cpl Newey also discussed how back in the UK, they go through
dust exacerbates gun failures. The a simulator package so they can
Apache’s M230 30mm cannon teach in the simulator, and then
has a feed mechanism that is they go through instructional
largely exposed to the elements, techniques in the air. Finally, they
including the dust whipped up do that with live ordnance and
by desert landings, which can an instructor acting as if they’re
foul the feed track. Such failures a student, so they can pick them
are mitigated through using up on faults etc with the range.
specific aircraft for dust land- Once they pass that test they
ings, and thorough cleaning and can then go out and do it with an
lubrication. Torbett noted: “We actual student on the range.”
clean the ‘cabs’ [helicopters] as
thoroughly as we can before leav- Weapons-Hot at
Above: Information displayed in the Apache’s monocle eyepiece greatly assists
during safe and effective dust landings.
ing here. We’ll get into Gila and Gila Bend
Below: The Apache’s M230 chain gun. Crimson Eagle offers CTR students their fire them as clean as possible.” Desert and mountain environ-
first opportunity to fire live rounds. Paul Dunn In addition to desert landings, mental training complete, the
CTR students fly low-level train- CTR students relocate 190 miles
ing in the mountains between (306km) east along Interstate
El Centro and San Diego. This 8 to Gila Bend, for two weeks of
is done in part to give them weapons training on the Barry M
exposure to flying in challenging Goldwater Range (BMGR). The
hot-and-high conditions, and to weapons det at BMGR is the first
introduce them to the tactics the chance the students have to shoot
Apache was initially designed the gun or fire rockets and missiles,
to employ – nap-of-the-Earth but they have already had exten-
flying and the use of terrain sive training on how to employ
masking for hit-and-run attacks. all of the Apache’s weapons.
This return to the Apache’s roots Like the dust landing training at
is the result of a renewed emphasis El Centro, the live-weapons det
on tactics outside the Afghan at Gila Bend benefits more than
environment, as Capt Torbett just the AH pilots. While the role
noted: “We were in Afghanistan of the REME technicians and
for a long time, and have to not signallers remains the same at
so much relearn, but remember both locations, the live-fire events
the skills that we had before. It’s add ordnance handling to the list
not a new set of techniques, it’s of groundcrew responsibilities.
something that we’ve always had Airtrooper Max Iusell elaborated
through the pilots’ course, but on the benefits of the training:
we’re just bringing it back to the “We come out here and actually
front of the stage again. We’re get to do our job for real in a real
integrating a lot more with land environment with live ammuni-
forces and a more low-level, higher- tion. It’s a lot different loading a
threat contingent environment, live rocket compared with a drill
rather than high-level, fairly low round, for the ‘fear factor’ and
threat like we had in Afghanistan.” just because it’s a live rocket.”
As with all the CTR training up
“While We’re Here…” to that point, the weapons events
Crimson Eagle also affords oppor- at Gila Bend are structured on
tunities for 653 to complete other a crawl-walk-run model. The
training that cannot be accom- facility has four identical ranges
plished in the UK. The squadron for basic weapons training. Each
is the lead AHF unit for ensuring has an assigned number and is
that Apache pilots are trained in always manned by a range control
survival, evasion, resistance, and officer (RCO), who ensures safe
escape (SERE), and Crimson Eagle training, and issues weapons
is used to give CTR students desert clearance and abort commands.
survival and evasion training that Crimson Eagle is an opportu-
the climate and terrain in the UK nity for 653 Sqn to have several
simply cannot support. For this, Apache instructor pilots qualified
653 brings SERE instructors from as RCOs, a collateral duty that
the UK and a tactical unit from the allows the AAC to train without

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EXERCISE REPORT Crimson Eagle 2015

An Apache obscured by a wall of dust. The rotor downwash is capable of throw-


ing stones into the air, which can and do crack windscreens.

relying on RCOs contracted by went into effect in mid-October


the Department of Defense. 2015 due to safety concerns.
Work on the numbered ranges As such, the CTR students at Gila
begins with a brief orientation, Bend completed training without
after which the instructors guide firing rockets. Apache instructor
students through a number of pre- pilot Warrant Officer Second Class
briefed serials, including firing the (WO2) Steve Howard lamented:
30mm cannon from hovers, dives “This is the first course in a long
and off-axis while on the move. time where we are sending pilots to
From there, the training progresses their units with incomplete training,”
and leads to a finale event in which but added that this training can
all skills learned in the CTR course easily be picked up in the UK by the
are applied in a live-fire scenario on units gaining the graduating pilots.
Above: Sgt Kevin Horne, a 653 Sqn signaller, communicates with a pilot inbound BMGR’s North Tactical (TAC) range. With training at Gila Bend
to a dust-landing site west of El Centro. In addition to running communications complete, 653 Sqn held a
in the squadron’s flight operations centre, signallers provide similar service at Working with JTACs graduation ceremony for the
FARPs and other remote landing sites. This stage of training also sees CTR students on the deck of USS
Below: A student and instructor go through final preparations for departure at the CTR students interacting with Midway, a retired US Navy aircraft
NAFEC. joint terminal attack controllers carrier that serves as a pier-side
(JTACs) from the US and the UK, museum in San Diego harbour.
who come to the BMGR to perform Over the two weeks that followed,
live-weapons controls in order to pilots from 662 and 663 Sqns
maintain currency. Capt Torbett (frontline sister units to 653 under
said the amount of ordnance 3 Regiment, AAC, at Wattisham)
typically expended by each came to Gila Bend to renew their
crew: “…is about 1,100 rounds annual firing currencies.
of 30-mil, just under 50 rockets, This training involved working
and one [AGM-114 Hellfire] mis- with JTACs on North TAC, as well
sile. They’ll fire [the missile] as as something new for Crimson
part of their constituted course Eagle – integration with A-10C
crew, so there’s no instructor in Warthogs from Davis-Monthan’s
the aircraft, it’s their final sortie 357th Fighter Squadron, which
before finishing the course.” provided Forward Air Controller
From a student’s perspective, (Airborne) services using white
these last few weeks of training phosphorous rockets and targeting
bring on feelings of being turned pods to designate for the Apaches.
loose to do what they have been With the exception of the
trained to do. As Capt McCrea cancelled live-fire rocket events,
elaborated, Crimson Eagle forces Crimson Eagle 15B met its
CTR students to “naturally build training objectives for the CTR
on the training we’ve already done. students, weapons instructor
Everything we’ve done up until now trainees and frontline AH pilots.
has been very sterile, saying, ‘to Upon returning to Wattisham,
do it, here’s the answer,’ whereas 653 Sqn began preparing to
here it’s more, ‘okay, go do it’.” take on another group of CTR
Crimson Eagle 15B ran into a prob- students, who will no doubt
lem when a worldwide prohibition travel to the US on another
afm
on the 2.75in (70mm) CRV-7 rocket Crimson Eagle det in 2016.

70 FEBRUARY 2016 #335 www.airforcesmonthly.com

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House Vulcan F_P.indd 1 07/01/2016 16:10
SAUDI TYPHOONS

Above: The Typhoon has supplanted the F-15C as the RSAF's primary fighter. Here a Taif-based RSAF Eagle breaks away from a Typhoon wearing the marks of 10 Sqn,
armed with IRIS-T missiles. All photos, Jamie Hunter unless stated

C ONTRARY TO many people’s expectations,


the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) has become
something of a pathfinder in operating the
following the country’s long and successful
use of other British aircraft types, from the
Strikemaster to the Hunter and from the
From an early stage, it became apparent
that the Salam programme would involve an
unprecedented degree of defence technology
Eurofighter Typhoon, pressing ahead and exploit- Lightning to the Hawk and Tornado. transfer to a Middle Eastern country. This
ing new capabilities and weapons even before the included the establishment of a Typhoon
aircraft’s original European air force customers. Project Salam assembly line in Saudi Arabia. However, to meet
With recent combat operations against When the Project Salam deal was signed in Saudi timescales, the first 24 RSAF Typhoons
the Daesh in Syria, and against Houthi August 2007, it covered the purchase of 72 (18 single-seaters and six trainers) would be
rebels in Yemen, the Saudi Typhoons have Eurofighter Typhoons, together with training, diverted from the Royal Air Force Tranche
probably now clocked up more combat support and technology transfer agreements. 2 order, already taking shape on the BAE
flying hours than any other operator – an The programme promised to stimulate new Systems’ Warton production line in Lancashire.
unexpected but significant achievement. industrial capabilities in the nation, including The next 48 aircraft were originally expected to
Saudi Arabia was always expected to be the development of a dedicated engineer- be assembled in-country, 24 from UK-supplied
an early export customer for Typhoon, ing and manufacturing infrastructure. sub-assemblies that were to have been shipped

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SAUDI TYPHOONS

SAUDI TYPHOONS
LEADING
THE FIELD Jon Lake examines how Saudi Arabia has rapidly advanced with the
operational capabilities of its Eurofighter Typhoons.

to Saudi Arabia on board leased Antonov aircraft instead went to 3 Squadron, which more pilots were trained in Spain (although one
An-124 freighters and the remainder from kits. acted as the RSAF Typhoon OCU (Operational was killed in an accident at Getafe) and a further
The first Typhoon for Saudi Arabia made Conversion Unit). The OCU’s first six two- two in the UK – these formed the cadre of instruc-
its maiden flight on October 20, 2008 and seaters were delivered between March and tor pilots who initially formed 3 Squadron at Taif.
was formally handed over to the RSAF October 2010, with four more single-seaters The rising cost of this instruction in the UK
on June 11, 2009. The first pair was following during the last quarter of that year. led to the cancellation of plans to train an
delivered to the RSAF on June 23, 2009. initial batch of 22 to 24 further RSAF pilots
The initial eight Typhoons delivered to Saudi Pilot training there. Instead, the RAF and Spanish-taught
Arabia (all single-seaters) were painted in An initial cadre of six RSAF pilots (Col Al Shahrani, instructors (augmented by a group of BAE
10 Squadron markings, leading many to Lt Colonel Al Ibrahim, Majors Al Amri, Al Hamad, Systems and RAF Typhoon pilots) locally trained
assume this unit had stood up as the RSAF and Al Qahtani, and Capt Al Tamimi), plus ground- batches of seven or eight Typhoon pilots, who
Typhoon OEU (Operational Evaluation Unit). crew, completed training with the RAF, the pilots graduated in late 2010 and early 2011.
In the event, RSAF plans changed and 10 undergoing conversion with No 29 (Reserve) After a hesitant start, with the Tranche 2
Squadron did not form at that time. Its Squadron at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire. Two aircraft’s initial Service Release Package (SRP)

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SAUDI TYPHOONS

‘The RSAF then started air-to-air gunnery training


(beating the RAF to this milestone) and, for good measure,
established an operational air-to-air refuelling clearance for
its Typhoons.’
Saudi Typhoon Production Tranche One 5.0 software proving disappointing, the adop-
tion of SRP 5.1 software enabled the RSAF to
Prodn No Serials Con No First Flight Delivery date
start using its Typhoons operationally. Though it
CS001 1001/ZK060 ex BS042/165 Oct 20, 2008 Jun 25, 2009
was formed as an operational conversion train-
CS002 1002/ZK061 ex BS043/168 Oct 29, 2008 Jun 25, 2009 ing unit, 3 Squadron also has an operational
CS003 1003/ZK062 ex BS044/172 Feb 18, 2009 Aug 25, 2009 role and began standing quick reaction alert
CS004 1004/ZK063 ex BS046/180 Mar 20, 2009 Aug 25, 2009 (QRA) in mid-2011, its aircraft armed with four
CS005 1005/ZK064 ex BS048/186 Apr 14, 2009 Oct 15, 2009 AIM-120C5 advanced medium-range air-to-air
CS006 1006/ZK065 ex BS049/189 May 14, 2009 Oct 15, 2009 missiles (AMRAAM) and a pair of short-range
infrared-homing IRIS-T air-to-air missiles.
CS007 1007/ZK066 ex BS050/193 May 12, 2009 Dec 5, 2009
Like Germany, Italy and Spain, the RSAF
CS008 1008/ZK068 ex BS051/197 Aug 14, 2009 Dec 5, 2009
selected the IRIS-T as its primary short-
CT001 301/ZK069 ex BT018/231 Dec 17, 2009 Mar 28, 2010 range weapon, rather than the AIM-132
CT002 302/ZK070 ex BT019/235 Dec 23, 2009 Mar 28, 2010 ASRAAM favoured by the UK. The RSAF then
CT003 303/ZK071 ex BT020/238 Feb 22, 2010 Jun 10, 2010 started air-to-air gunnery training (beating
CT004 304/ZK072 ex BT021/240 Mar 26, 2010 Jun 10, 2010 the RAF to this milestone) and, for good
CT005 305/ZK073 ex BT022/243 Apr 12, 2010 Oct 07, 2010 measure, established an operational air-to-air
refuelling clearance for its Typhoons.
CT006 306/ZK074 ex BT023/246 Jun 10, 2010 Oct 07, 2010
CS009 307/ZK075 ex BS061/252 July 01, 2010 Nov 25, 2010
Local assembly cancelled
CS010 308/ZK076 ex BS062/254 Jun 23, 2010 Nov 25, 2010 The last of the batch of 24 Warton-assembled
CS011 309/ZK077 ex BS065/264 Sep 30, 2010 Dec 09, 2010 Typhoons that had been diverted from RAF
CS012 310/ZK078 ex BS065/267 Oct 18, 2010 Dec 09, 2010 orders was delivered on September 22, 2011.
CS013 311/ZK079 ex BS068/277 Nov 16, 2010 Jun 09, 2011 Production was then supposed to have switched
CS014 312/ZK080 ex BS069/280 Dec 14, 2010 Jun 09, 2011 to a new facility built by BAE Systems at King
Abdulaziz Air Base at Dhahran. The delivery
CS015 313/ZK081 ex BS072/288 Feb 24, 2011 Jun 29, 2011
schedule of the remaining 48 aircraft was to have
CS016 314/ZK082 ex BS073/290 Jan 28, 2011 Jun 29, 2011
continued without interruption. Construction of
CS017 315/ZK083 ex BS076/300 Apr 08, 2011 Sep 22, 2011 the Typhoon technical zone at Dhahran began,
CS018 316/ZK084 ex BS077/303 May 04, 2011 Sep 22, 2011 with a foundation stone ceremonially laid by
Below: The RSAF holds the distinction of being the first Typhoon operator to start air-to-ground the then defence and aviation minister Crown
operations using Tranche 2 aircraft, in December 2011. A Typhoon taxies out armed with 1,000lb Paveway Prince Sultan in March 2008. However, the
II laser guided bombs. facility was not completed by August 2009 as
planned, nor by the second quarter of 2010,
when work on the first locally assembled Typhoon
was scheduled to have started. This aircraft
was originally due to be completed in 2011.
BAE Systems started training Saudis on
Typhoon aircraft assembly at Warton in
preparation for the establishment of the Saudi
assembly plant, but the in-country industrial
programme (IKIP) failed to materialise, amid
reports of “repeated hold-ups by Saudi
Arabia regarding the choice of a build site”.
Meanwhile, sub assemblies for the 25th and
subsequent Saudi Typhoons began to ‘back

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SAUDI TYPHOONS

Left: A five-ship formation of 3 Sqn Typhoons including one aircraft in 10 Sqn markings, high over the Saudi
desert. The aircraft are each armed with a pair of infra-red homing IRIS-T air-to-air missiles.
Below: A 3 Squadron two-seater trainer taxies out of a sun shelter at Taif Air Base for another local training
sortie. Student RSAF Typhoon pilots follow the traditional path of basic training on the Pilatus PC-21 before
progressing to the BAE Systems Hawk Mk65 (to be replaced by the Mk165), for the fast jet phase.

up’ at Warton and Samlesbury, waiting for a Airshow, in February 2012, the deputy tion pod (LDP) to the other Typhoon users,
decision on where they would be ‘put together’. commander of 3 Squadron, Col Hammad Al selecting the French-designed Thales Damocles
The failure to establish full local assembly Hammad, told this author that he had person- LDP over the Israeli-designed Litening 3 pod.
from the 25th Saudi Typhoon onwards was ally dropped several LGBs, though he declined To appease Saudi sensibilities, BAE offered a
“the cause of great frustration, disappointment to identify exactly what weapons were being UK-built version of Litening 3 with no Israeli con-
and even anger”, according to an Arabian used. He and Lt Col Khalid Almalki confirmed tent, which was known simply as the Ultra Pod.
Aerospace online news report at the time, but they had dropped ‘many’ laser guided weapons, The Damocles pod was already being
eventually it was realised that Riyadh’s aspira- with Damocles-equipped Tornados ‘spiking’. built under licence by Saudi Arabia’s AEC
tions for full local assembly were “unrealistic”. The RSAF Typhoon force always planned for use by RSAF Tornados – and the RSAF
It was decided that local participation in to move quickly to self-designation, using decided to integrate this LDP before the full
through-life support for the RSAF Typhoons an ‘early cut’ of the P1E software. This was release of P1E – a contract for the integra-
would confer greater benefits than those that integrated under a service engineering tion of Damocles on the Saudi Typhoons
might accrue from in-country final assembly modification (SEM), using a process similar to was reportedly placed in May 2012.
and a modification to the 72-aircraft project a UK urgent operational requirement (UOR) After a rapid development and integration
Salam contract was signed in early 2012. modification, even before the NATO Eurofighter programme, BAE Systems flew the Thales
The sub assemblies that had built up at and Tornado Management Agency (NETMA) Damocles pod on the UK’s Typhoon instru-
Warton, waiting shipment, were therefore had issued a full service clearance for P1EA. mented series production aircraft (ISPA), ZK303
fed into the BAE assembly line. Six (BT017), on November 29, 2012 at Warton.
two-seaters from the second batch were Damocles pod The ISPA is a test asset jointly owned
assembled first, with final assembly of the The RSAF chose to use a different laser designa- by BAE Systems and the RAF, and was
first of these beginning in January 2012.

First for air-to-ground ops


Air-to-ground operations by 3 Squadron began
in December 2011 as part of a phased work-up,
long before the Phase 1 Enhancement (P1E,
that brought air-to-ground capability to the
Tranche 2 aircraft) was released. Thus Saudi
Arabia became the first Typhoon operator to start
air-to-ground operations using Tranche 2 aircraft,
while other operators choosing to wait for P1EA.
Initially, the Saudis practised dropping
Paveway IIs on targets designated by
Damocles-equipped, Tornado Sustainment
Programme (TSP)-modified Tornados and
also by ground-based laser designators. The
weapon used by the RSAF Typhoons was the
legacy Paveway II laser-guided bomb (LGB),
based on the UK 1,000lb bomb body, that
was originally supplied for use by the RSAF’s
Tornados. This was the weapon used by the
RAF’s Tranche 1 Typhoons when they gained
a so-called ‘austere air-to-ground capability’ in
2008, but the UK Paveway II was not planned to
be integrated on Tranche 2 aircraft under P1E. Above: Bucking the trend of other operators which favour the Litening pods, the RSAF chose the French-
By the time of the Bahrain International designed Thales Damocles laser designator pod for its fleet.

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SAUDI TYPHOONS

exercise in September 2013 – 10 Squadron


used aircraft with 3 Squadron markings.
Though single RSAF Typhoons had previously
deployed outside the country (for example
for participation in the Bahrain International
Airshow) this was the first significant deploy-
ment of the Typhoon outside Saudi Arabia.
It also marked the first time that the RSAF’s
new A330 MRTT aircraft had been used to
‘trail’ aircraft operationally. In fact, it was
the first such A330 MRTT trail by any air
force, a source of great pride for the RSAF.
During the exercise, four RSAF Typhoons
and four Panavia Tornado IDS aircraft worked
Above: A Saudi Typhoon turns off Coningsby’s main runway after a sortie with RAF Typhoons during Exercise alongside RAF Typhoons and Tornados, flying
Green Flag in 2013. Alan Warnes mixed RSAF/RAF pairs. This helped the RSAF
at that time painted in No.17 (Reserve) its own complex of hardened shelters at Taif, to gain a useful insight into RAF Typhoon opera-
Squadron markings but based at Warton. although it shared aircraft with 3 Squadron. tions and tactics, and to understand how the
BAE undertook the Damocles integration, as Many aircrew transferred to the new unit from aircraft could best be used to its full potential.
well as Damocles/P1E training for two RSAF 3 Squadron, including the cadre of aircrew Around the end of the first quarter of 2014,
pilots, at Warton before testing and integration who had been developing air-to-ground tactics 10 Squadron became fully operational,
work transferred to Saudi Arabia, where a and doctrine for the Typhoon force. Others eventually receiving 18 single-seaters and
full, end-to-end self-designated drop of a converted to the Typhoon with 3 Squadron four trainers. As a training unit, 3 Squadron
Paveway II LGB, using Damocles, was made before being posted to 10 Squadron – some had received 12 of each variant.
at the end of 2013. Further bombing trials of them coming from the F-15C and others
were undertaken in early February 2014. The from advanced training on the BAE Hawk. New contract agreed
RSAF’s Tranche 2 Typhoons thereby gained an Eight early Typhoons had been delivered The change in final assembly arrange-
in-service LDP capability up to a year before with 10 Squadron markings in 2009 and ments for the last 48 aircraft involved
the RAF. Subsequent Damocles development further examples in the same markings considerable extra work and cost for BAE
continued at Warton, resulting in a progressively followed from December 2013. Except for Systems, and it was not until February
improved and refined Damocles integration the squadron’s first major operation – a 2014 for a revised price to be agreed.
over several successive software releases. four-ship deployment to RAF Coningsby It is understood that the new agreement
to take part in the Saudi-British Green Flag included arrangements for greater local partici-
Typhoons at RAF Coningsby
The first aircraft from the new batch of Typhoons
(the first of the 48 aircraft that had once been
intended to be assembled in Saudi Arabia)
made its maiden flight from the BAE Systems
Warton factory airfield on November 30,
2012. Deliveries to the RSAF recommenced in
June 2013. The arrival of new aircraft allowed
the stand up of 10 Squadron (the second
RSAF Typhoon unit and the first fully frontline
squadron) at Taif in the second half of 2013.
No 3 Squadron had been a training unit
with a secondary air defence role and a small
air-to-ground cadre, whereas 10 Squadron
was intended to be a multi-role squadron
from the beginning. The new unit occupied

Above right: A Typhoon crew prepares for a mission.


The pilot on the right is supervised by the senior
Typhoon pilot (left). The khaki-uniformed officer is
the aircraft’s engineering officer. Alan Warnes
Right: The first Saudi Typhoon of Tranche 1 on its
delivery flight from BAE Systems’ Warton facility.
The jet is still wearing its UK serial, ZK060, on the
rear fuselage but has already received full RSAF 3
Squadron markings.

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SAUDI TYPHOONS

Saudi Typhoon Production


Tranche Two
Prodn Serials Con First Delivery
No No Flight date
CT007 317/ZK085 272 Feb 12, Jun 27,
2013 2013
CT008 318/ZK086 279 Mar 14, Jun 27,
2013 2013
CT009 319/ZK087 298 May 14, Sep 05,
2013 2013
CT010 320/ZK088 310 Jun 19, Sep 05,
2013 2013
CT011 321/ZK089 320 Dec 13, April 25,
2012 2013
CT012 322/ZK090 330 Nov 30, April 25,
2012 2013
CS019 323/ZK091 344 Jul 26, Oct 17,
2013 2013
CS020 324/ZK092 353 Jul 26, Oct 17,
2013 2013
CS021 1009/ZK384 362 Sep 09, Dec 12,
2013 2013
CS022 1012/ZK385 384 Nov 07, Feb 27,
Saudi Arabia's Typhoons were the first Tranche 2 2013 2014
aircraft to gain an air-to-ground capability, and the CS023 1013/ZK386 387 Oct 10, May 14,
first to use Paveway IV in anger. 2014 2015
CT013 1010/ZK387 370 Oct 21, Feb 27,
pation in support and sustainment, and for the named Inherent Resolve from mid-October. 2013 2014
final batch of 24 of the 72 aircraft ordered to be Saudi Typhoons soon joined the operation CT014 1011/ZK388 377 Oct 18, Dec 12,
delivered to Tranche 3 standards, with structur- and flew an initial phase of missions against 2013 2013
al, electrical and cooling provision for airborne Daesh targets in Syria using the Paveway II LGB CS024 1014/ZK389 400 Dec 20, May 16,
electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar, operationally. No 10 Squadron then underwent 2013 2014
and with provision for conformal fuel tanks. a brief period of follow-up training, before rejoin- CS025 1015/ZK390 403 Jan 27, May 16,
Fortunately, work continued even before ing the air campaign using the new dual mode 2014 2014
this price adjustment was agreed, and Paveway IV. The RSAF became the first Typhoon CS026 1018/ZK391 431 Mar 04, Aug 07,
10 Squadron’s stand-up was allowed to operator to use the Tranche 2 aircraft in combat 2014 2014
continue uninterrupted. This was just as and the first to use the Paveway IV ‘in anger’. CS027 1019/ZK392 425 Jun 16, Sep 05,
well, as within a year, the unit would be Paveway IV gave the Saudi Typhoons a real 2014 2014
flying combat missions in its Typhoons, and capability against targets obscured by smoke, CS028 1022/ZK393 419 Nov 21, May 14,
2014 2015
on July 9, 2014 BAE Systems was able to dust or cloud – all of which can prevent the
announce that the RSAF’s Eurofighter Typhoon use of self- or buddy-designated LGBs, and CS029 1023/ZK394 435 Sep 26, Dec 08,
2014 2014
fleet had reached 10,000 flying hours. also offers much better scalability of effect.
CS030 1024/ZK395 440 Nov 16,
By carefully tailoring fusing, impact angles
Combat Ops and attack direction, collateral damage can
2015
CT015 1016/ZK396 427 April 29, Aug 07,
When the USA began mounting what it called be dramatically reduced and limited. 2014 2014
‘expanded air strikes’ against Daesh targets in CT016 1017/ZK397 418 April 09, Sep 05,
Syria on September 22, 2014 about one-third EW hang-ups 2014 2014
of the attacking aircraft were provided by its Mission data is of crucial importance in CT017 1020/ZK398 424 Jul 28, Dec 21,
Arab partner nations. The RSAF initially com- Typhoon, making a massive difference to the 2014 2014
mitted F-15S Eagles to the operation, which was defensive aids sub-system (DASS), radar and CT018 1021/ZK399 410 Sep 26, Dec 08,
other systems’ performance. The RAF has 2014 2014
made major efforts to ensure its own mission The first aircraft to be delivered with the ‘God Bless
data is updated and improved frequently. As a You’ titles that now adorn most RSAF aircraft was
consequence, many rate the combat effective- 1016. These markings were then also applied to
ness of RAF Typhoons as being significantly 1017-1021, and 1023 before delivery, as well as
the undelivered 1013. This effectively means that
higher than that of some other nations.
all aircraft from around August 2014 are painted
Good DASS performance (which can only be as such. The titles were on the 3 Squadron jet that
assured through first-class mission data) is appeared at the Bahrain Air Show in 2012, and on
of reputational importance to the Eurofighter those deployed to Coningsby in August 2013, but
programme, to the British Government not on any of the 3 Squadron aircraft when they
(the Saudi Typhoon deal having been on a were delivered. Since then, the RSAF has taken
government-to-government basis) and to BAE the time to apply them to all Typhoons in service,
unlike the 3 Squadron unit badge, which so far is
Systems as prime contractor. It was clear the
only on the aircraft delivered with that badge from
Saudis needed to have good mission data. Warton – these comprising aircraft 317 onwards.
However, this is an extremely sensitive
national asset and RAF mission data cannot
be exported. To compensate, BAE Systems is
setting up an Electronic Warfare Operational
Support facility to help the RSAF build its own.
In the interim, BAE set up a team of its
own in order to provide company-compiled
mission data, and it is believed this was
used by the RSAF during its operational
missions against Daesh targets in Syria.
A frontline NATO Typhoon pilot expressed the
view that the mission data delivered by BAE
under the new arrangements means the RSAF
Typhoons have “better mission data than the

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SAUDI TYPHOONS

Above: A pair of Tranche 3 RSAF Typhoons line up on the runway at Bologna Airport on October 22 whilst on delivery. Even though they have 80 Sqn serials, the unit
has not yet stood up and the jets are being flown by pilots from the other two units. Lucio Alfieri
Germans, for example,” and that Saudi mission straight into storage, the RSAF used theirs This would give the RSAF an unmatched beyond
data is good enough to support the most to form a new unit, 80 Squadron. visual range air combat capability in the region.
demanding operational use of the aircraft. The new unit formed at Taif, with a squadron Saudi Arabia also ordered the new Raytheon
commander and principal squadron executives Paveway IV dual mode bomb – the first
Tranche 3s already appointed, and with a number of pilots Paveway version to incorporate a GPS/INS
The RSAF started taking delivery of Tranche transferring from Taif’s other units, while new targeting capability, a programmable detona-
3 Typhoons in June 2015 and whereas pilots go through training with 3 Squadron. tion capability, and variable attack directions
some other customers (including the RAF) It was once expected that, after being formed, and angles. Raytheon announced it had
have placed their new Tranche 3 aircraft 80 Squadron would transfer to the new wing secured its first export order for Paveway IV
due to form at the ‘new’ base being constructed on March 25, 2015 though it did not confirm
Saudi Typhoons Tranche Three (or more accurately rebuilt and upgraded) that the customer for this £150 million order
Prodn Serials Con First Delivery at King Saud Air Base, Hafr al Batin, near the for 2,400 Paveway IVs was Saudi Arabia.
No No Flight date Kuwaiti border. The base is close to King Khalid From March 24, 2015 the RSAF (supported
CS031 8001/ZK600 445 Mar 13, June 05, Military City Air Base and has been used as the by a number of allied Arab air arms) began
2015 2015 Hafr al Batin domestic airport, though it now Operation Decisive Storm, attacking Houthi and
CS032 8002/ZK601 450 Feb 26, June 05, has heavily protected and hardened shelters Al Qaeda targets in neighbouring Yemen, at the
2015 2015 capable of housing several squadrons of fast request of Yemen’s beleaguered President, Abd
CS033 ZK602/8003 ? Apr 20, Jul 14, jets. This plan now seems to be in doubt – not Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. The operation ended
2015 2015 least because the Typhoons at Taif are heavily on April 21, 2015 though bombing continued
CS034 ZK603/8004 459 Apr 02, Jul 14, committed to the Yemeni air campaign. as part of the follow-on Operation Restoring
2015 2015 The Typhoons are expected to provide Hope. The RSAF Typhoons were heavily com-
CS035 ZK604/8005 464 May 19, Oct 22, both the primary air defence asset and mitted and reportedly settled into a routine.
2015 2015 the offensive backbone of the future RSAF, Armed with Paveway II LGBs and Paveway IV
CS036 ZK605/8006 470 Jul 28, Oct 22, augmented by new and refurbished F-15SAs. dual mode (IN/GPS and laser-guided) weapons,
2015 2015 Further frontline Typhoon units have been the Typhoons launched from Taif, flying a sortie
CS037 ZK606/8007 ? Aug 26, Nov 24, predicted, including 15 Squadron, but over Yemen before landing at Khamis Mushayt
2015 2015 these would require a further order. where the pilots lunched while their aircraft
CS038 ZK607/8008 ? Sep 18, Nov 24, were rearmed and refuelled. They would then
2015 2015 More weapons launch for another sortie over Yemen, recover-
CS039 ZK608/8009 ? Oct 12, Dec 17, In February 2014, according to French newspa- ing to Taif at the conclusion of this second sortie.
2015 2015 per La Tribune, Saudi Arabia reportedly signed With the heavy Saudi consumption
CS040 ZK609 ? Oct 29, Dec 17, the first export contract for the MBDA Meteor of the Paveway IV in operations, Britain
2015 2015 air-to-air missile, for an reported £650 million. reportedly transferred Paveway IV bombs

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SAUDI TYPHOONS

originally earmarked for the RAF to Saudi Typhoon programme as production starts reports that Saudi Arabia intends that its Armed
Arabia to enable the Gulf state to rebuild to wind down, with the expectation that a Forces should double in size over the course of
its stocks, swapping delivery positions Saudi order for another batch of Typhoon the next five years, including doubling the size of
on the production line at Raytheon UK to aircraft might keep the production lines the air force from its current strength of around
ensure that the RSAF has sufficient weapon open long enough for Eurofighter GmbH to 250 combat aircraft to 500 frontline fast jets.
stocks to continue its missions in Yemen. find further new customers for the aircraft. Even with 154 Boeing F-15SAs on order (84
It is expected that further new weapons will In an effort to make the aircraft more attractive new-build and 70 via conversion of remaining
be procured for and integrated on the Saudi to export customers, BAE Systems claims it F-15S airframes), the surviving fleets of F-15C/
Typhoon, probably including Storm Shadow, has reduced the cost of producing a Typhoon Ds (59 single-seaters and up to 20 F-15D
and Brimstone, and perhaps also including by an astonishing 20% over the past five years, trainers) and Tornados (about 81), the 72
the French AASM Hammer missile, already while simultaneously slowing the production Typhoons currently on order would not be
slated for integration on RSAF Tornados. rate. In addition, industry has adopted a more sufficient to provide the required mass.
An early priority for Saudi Arabia was the rapid and streamlined approach to the inser- In fact, neither the Tornado nor the F-15C/D
integration of the Storm Shadow cruise missile tion of future capabilities and the integration are expected to have a long-term future
on its Typhoons. The weapon was already in of new weapons. This should give potential within the RSAF, so it can be seen that the
service on Saudi Tornado IDS fighter-bombers export customers greater confidence that the RSAF will have a requirement for as many
and Saudi pressure (and probably Saudi capabilities required will be available within a as 280 new fighters, leading some to believe
funding) led to Storm Shadow integration reasonable and predictable timescale. All of this the Saudis could eventually purchase as
on Typhoon being brought forward. ought to be music to the RSAF’s ears, since the many as 216 Typhoons – or even more.
This is despite the fact that Storm Shadow’s Saudis are known to be eager to gain greater There have been reports that preliminary
range is such that it allegedly violates Britain’s air-to-ground capabilities on the Typhoon. talks with the UK Ministry of Defence on
voluntary commitments under the MTCR a further batch are already under way.
(Missile Technology Control Regime). In More, more, more? But such an optimistic picture has recently
2008 this was of such concern to the USA Many years ago, before Saudi Arabia had even started to seem slightly less credible, with
that then Secretary of State Condoleezza ordered the Typhoon, the then Crown Prince falling oil prices reducing even Saudi Arabia’s
Rice requested a “specific assurance” that Sultan reportedly declared his intention for the defence spending plans, and with the
the Executive branch “would consult with RSAF to have “200 plus” Typhoons in service by extraordinarily high availability demonstrated
our Committees before any approval of a 2015. More recently, there have been consistent by the Typhoon in RSAF service leading some
request to sell Saudi Arabia such sensitive reports that negotiations were under way for a to question how many aircraft will eventually
weapon systems as Storm Shadow cruise second batch of 48 to 72 Typhoons to add to the be needed. However, sources close to the
missiles…” Many had hoped that Saudi 72 already ordered, and of Saudi plans for a third programme suggest a further Saudi
afm
Arabia would come to the rescue of the batch of a further 72 aircraft. All this tallies with purchase remains ‘extremely likely’.

Top: The Typhoon’s long-term future within the RSAF is secure. The only debate at the moment is how many
will finally enter service with current estimates at some 216 aircraft.
Above: A two-seater Typhoon, serial 322 departs RAF Coningsby for a training sortie. It’s one of the few jets
that carried 3 Squadron markings at the time. Alan Warnes
Left: During Exercise Green Flag at RAF Coningsby, Saudi Typhoons always flew all of their air-to-air combat
sorties with three fuel tanks. Whether this was a disadvantage during the mock aerial combat engagements
is open to debate. Alan Warnes

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ARMÉE DE L’AIR ET60

Discreetly Dir
The Armée de l’Air’s (French
Air Force’s) ET60 moves French
Government officials and high-
ranking military officers around T HE BEST equipped military VIP squad-
ron in Europe, Escadron de Transport 60
the world. Its Dassault Falcons (ET60), operates a long-range Airbus A330-
also fly medevac and special 200, two Dassault Falcon 7X, two brand
new Falcon 2000DX and two older Falcon
support missions, as Jean-Marc 900B business jets, plus three Eurocopter
Tanguy reports. AS332 Super Puma helicopters.
This core fleet is supplemented by assets from
Right: As France escalates its war against Islamic the air force (Airbus Defence & Space CN235
State, senior French Air Force officers are finding – commonly known as the CASA CN235 –
they rely on ET60’s fleet as ‘flying offices’. Frequent and SOCATA TBM700), Navy (Falcon 10) and
destinations for the fleet are locations throughout the Army (TBM700). Its personnel include 150
Middle East. Jean-Marc Tanguy. highly experienced pilots and cabin crew.
Below: The A330-200 nicknamed ‘Sarko One’
The Escadre de Transport (transport wing) 60
has been extensively modified and includes a
private room with shower, crisis meeting rooms
was formally established in 1945, combining
and a fully equipped surgery. There is rear cabin the Groupe de Liaison Aériennes Ministérielles
accommodation for media representatives and (GLAM, Ministry Air Liaison Group) and
guests. AirTeamImages/Philippe Noret Groupe Aérien d’Entraînement et de Liaison
(GAEL, Training and Air Liaison Group).
There have been several changes in title
since, and in 1995 Escadron de Transport,
d’Entraînement et de Calibration 65 (ETEC,
Transport, Training and Calibration Squadron
65) became the current ET60.
The unit transports the French
President and Prime Minister
along with their security details
and aides. An ET60 team visits all
the airfields due to be used on offi-
cial visits weeks in advance, check-
ing their suitability for operations.
The Falcons also offer a mede-
vac capability and the Falcon 900
and Falcon 2000 fleet had flown 61
such missions by November 2015,
recovering injured French soldiers

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Direct and civilians. High levels of activity were sus-
tained during French participation in the war
in Afghanistan (2001–14), peaking between
2008 (two medevac flights a week) and 2013. Maintenance for the A330-200 is performed by Sabena Technics. The aircraft was purchased from
French carrier Air Antilles. AirTeamImages/Jonathan Zanninger
French medevac teams aim to return injured
service people home to hospital in less than The Falcons are also available in the wake of the centre of Paris. In an emergency the heli-
24 hours. One of ET60’s largest mede- national emergencies, providing rapid trans- copters can fly directly into the vicinity of gov-
vacs was in January 2015 after a Greek F-16 port for France’s two counter-terrorist units – ernment offices in the city, including Le Palais
crashed into parked French aircraft during a the police Recherche, Assistance, Intervention, de l’Elysée (the French President’s official resi-
NATO exercise in Albacete, Spain. Nine air- Dissuasion (RAID; Research, Assistance, dence). Provision is made for temporary heli-
men were killed and six severely burned. Intervention, Deterrence) organisation and copter operations from Invalides Corner or
In medevac configuration the Falcon 2000 the gendarmerie’s Groupe d’Intervention de the École Militaire, beside the Eiffel Tower.
embarks one casualty, a flight nurse and a la Gendarmerie Nationale (GIGN, National For security reasons the A330-200 flies
surgeon; the Falcon 900 carries two patients. Gendarmerie Intervention Group). from Evreux, 62 miles (100km) west of
The ’900s are priority-tasked for the role. To satisfy these disparate missions, ET60 Paris. When required it joins civilian traffic at
A dedicated medevac kit was developed for holds two aircraft on QRA, one for governmen- Paris-Orly airport, south of Paris, under the
the new Falcon 7X and 2000, but so far only tal support, the other for medevac. As soon watchful eye of special protection teams.
flies in the 2000DX. Two have been ordered as one takes off, another is placed on QRA. From 2012, new defence minister Jean-
to supplement a pair of older kits initial- The Falcons are based alongside the three Yves Le Drian used the Falcons regularly for
ly developed for the Falcon 50/900 series. Super Pumas at Villacoublay, 30 minutes from secret meetings with African officials, ini-

Self Protection
Although self-protection was seen as an issue
when the Falcon 7X, 2000DX and A330-200
purchases were under way, nothing has been
revealed about providing them with the ca-
pability. The RAF’s BAe 146 VIP aircraft have
directional infrared countermeasures and
an equivalent could have been fitted on the
French aircraft.
An alternative, less complex possibility is the
installation of chaff and flare dispensers, but
they have not been seen on any of the aircraft.
Instead, when they operate into potentially hos-
tile airspace they do so under fighter escort. 

Above: Aircraft such as this air force CN235 can be fitted with a VIP kit to supplement the ET60s fleet.
The French Defence Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian regularly travels between units in France on a CN235.
James Ronayne
Below: One Falcon 2000DX is equipped with an onboard medevac kit. The aircraft was used extensively
during the war in Afghanistan to bring home injured service personnel for additional medical treatment.
The squadron aims to bring home any wounded soldier within 24 hours. AirTeamImages/Rudi Boigelot

www.airforcesdaily.com #335 FEBRUARY 2016 81

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ARMÉE DE L’AIR ET60

tially to discuss French hostages. Flights to


Africa continued during Operation Serval in
Mali in 2013, but the aircraft also visit French
defence industry customers, or potential
customers, in the Middle and Far East.
The French general chief of staff, General
Pierre de Villiers, is another frequent Falcon
user for visits to troops in Africa and the
Middle East. The chief of the air staff is
another, less regular Falcon customer.
The Prime Minister’s cabinet divides ET60’s
flying hours between the country’s min-
istries, the defence ministry taking prior-
ity with the foreign affairs ministry second.

Fading Falcons
The last four Falcon 50s in ET60 service
were sent to Dassault Aviation for conver-
Above: With a fleet of of just three helicopters, ET60 ‘borrows’ aircraft such as this AS332 Super Puma from
sion as maritime patrol aircraft for the French the Air Force when its own fleet is undergoing maintenance. AirTeamImages/Paul Marais-Hayer
Navy’s Flottille (naval air squadron) 24F.
Three of them are now back in service. VIP Pumas of these specialised aircraft for operations
When the Falcon 50 replacement programme The VIP unit’s first rotary-wing assets, Sud led to a rule change. Now the locally based
began, France looked to buy four Falcon 2000s Alouette II helicopters, were taken on in 1961. Groupe Interarmées d’Hélicoptères (GIH, Joint
and sell the Falcon 900s. The latter would be Three AS332 Super Pumas have been in ser- Helicopter Group) supplies one of its Pumas.
retained until the new Falcon 2000 medevac vice since 1987, taking over from SA330 Replacement of the Super Pumas is not
kits were operational at the beginning of 2015. Pumas. In 1995, when ETEC65 disband- a priority; they are approaching 30 years
But budget cuts mean the Falcon 900B may ed, the Super Pumas were integrated into old, but fly little. The possibility of replacing
well remain in service for some time to come. Escadron d’Hélicoptères 3/67 Parisis, alongside them with a pair of ex-French Navy search
The two Falcon 7X jets replaced two Aérospatiale Fennecs used in the air-to-air secu- and rescue EC225 helicopters was investi-
Airbus A319CJ executive transports, rity role. In 2005 they were reassigned to ET60. gated but abandoned for budgetary reasons.
which were short on range for direct long- Aside from improved radios, little moderni-
haul flights and their luggage capacity sation of the AS332s has been carried out. Other assets
was limited for an aircraft of their size. They mainly fly in France, although one car- More aircraft are available when the core fleet
Acquired in 2002 to support the French EU ried President Mitterrand on a flying visit to is overloaded. The defence minister, Jean-
presidency, they were nicknamed ‘Chirac’ Sarajevo in 1992, signifying France’s decision Yves Le Drian, regularly travels between units
and ‘Jospin’ after the country’s right-wing to assist the Bosnian people – a C-160 Transall in France in a CN235 fitted with a VIP kit. He
President and its socialist Prime Minister. arrived soon after, carrying humanitarian aid. also uses Falcon 10s based at Landivisiau
One A319CJ was sold to a broker and the A Super Puma also flew President François (in Brittany, western France) where the air-
second went to an African customer. Hollande and German Chancellor Angela craft are primarily used to train fighter pilots.
The first Falcon 7X was unofficially chris- Merkel over the Alps after the Germanwings The four-seat TBM700 is available to general
tened ‘Carla One’ in reference to the first A320 crash on March 24, 2015. officers, providing two hours’ endurance, suf-
name of President Sarkozy’s wife, for- With a fleet of only three helicopters, ET60 ficient to reach any point in France; the air-
mer model Carla Bruni. The A330 is nick- ‘borrows’ an aircraft when one of its own is craft can be a little faster than the TGV railway.
named ‘Sarko One’, abbreviating the name down for scheduled maintenance. In the A primary aircraft – the Airbus or a Falcon –
of the President who ordered its pur- past, air force or army special operations is always available to fly the President and a
chase from French carrier Air Antilles. units loaned an EC725 Caracal, but the lack spare (a Falcon) follows, should the first suf-
fer unserviceability. From the 1990s the air
ET60 Fleet force’s three Airbus A310s and two A340s
also flew on government duties – and contin-
Type No. in fleet Aircrew & cabin crew Passengers Range Speed
ue to do so when the A330-200 is under
Falcon 7X 2 2+1 14 11,000km M0.9 afm
maintenance with Sabena Technics.
Falcon 2000DX 2 2+1 10 6,000km M0.86
Falcon 900B 2 2+1 13 6,000km M0.87
Super Puma 3 2+2 8 700km 280km/h
A330-200 1 2+8 60 12,000km M0.86

Below: Two Falcon 7Xs serve with ET60. The large cabin area and longer range of these corporate jets
were a significant improvement over the two A319CJs that suffered from a lack of range.

82 FEBRUARY 2016 #335 www.airforcesmonthly.com

80-82 VIP Feb.indd 82 11/01/2016 12:29


FEBRUARY ISSUE OUT NOW:
‘BLACKJACK’ ATTACK
The operations launched by Russia’s strategic
aviation arm over Syria on November 17,2015
saw the first ever combat use of the Tupolev
Tu-95MS long-range heavy bombers. We present
a timely review of the Tu-160, Russia’s most
lethal combat aircraft.

SUPER TUCANO
Santiago Rivas explores Embraer’s highly-
capable Super Tucano, one of the most
popular advanced trainers and light attack
aircraft in service today.

HUNGRY LIKE THE WOLVERINE


Though Embraer claims that its A-29 Super
Tucano is the most successful turboprop light
attack and advanced training aircraft on the
market, it has strong competition in the
shape of the Beechcraft AT-6 Wolverine. Jon
Lake reports.

RAFALE ON THE FRONT LINE


Henri-Pierre Grolleau details how the
Dassault Rafale has been at the forefront of
JUST
£4.50
French combat operations in Africa and the
Middle East.

AND MUCH MORE!

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004/16
FORCE REPORT Royal Jordanian Air Force

Major General O N DECEMBER 24, 2014 the


Royal Jordanian Air Force
Mansour S (RJAF) hit the headlines for all the When al-
Aljobour wrong reasons. A young pilot,
Captain Maaz al-Kassasbeh, was
Kassasbeh
was captured, I
shot down in his F-16 near Raqqah, went down to the base
Syria. He was participating in a [Azraq] and they were actually
bombing mission against Daesh begging to fly. They were ready on its opera-
(Islamic State) as part of Operation to fly anytime and take the fight tions over the country,
Inherent Resolve (OIR) which had to those guys [Daesh]; regard- the US has divided the airspace
officially started on October 15. less of experience or rank, all the into areas of operation (AOPs).
Jordan’s geographical position pilots wanted to continue with Air tasking orders (ATOs) come
– land-locked between Iraq to the the job. They pushed me on a from the combined air opera-
northeast, Saudi Arabia to the east, daily basis to go out and fly. tions centre (COAC) in Al Udeid,
Israel in the west and Syria to the “Our main focus is over Iraq and Qatar, where an RJAF liaison
north – places it under direct threat Syria, since we strongly believe officer relays information to the
from Daesh and other jihadi forces this is the centre of the threat to air operations centre in Jordan.
wreaking havoc in parts of Iraq us, the region and the interna- The RJAF operates mainly over
and Syria. For this reason, RJAF
is developing rapidly as it invests “Our main focus is over Iraq and Syria, since
in personnel and equipment.
A month after the shootdown we strongly believe this is the centre of the
Above: Major General Mansour
S Aljobour has been chief of the
of the young RJAF pilot, Daesh
posted a propaganda video
threat to us, the region and the international
RJAF since February 2013.
Major General Mansour S Aljo- online. It showed his brutal execu- community. Daesh will not be forgotten
bour took over command of the tion and drastically changed
the way Jordan was fighting
until it is defeated – we will fight them to our
Royal Jordanian Air Force on De-
cember 11, 2013. He has served the war against the terrorists. final drop of fuel and our last bullet.”
as commander at the Prince “We decided to revenge the bar-
Hassan Air Force Base, comman- baric execution of our pilot and tional community. Daesh will not Raqqah in central Syria and
dant of King Hussein Air College, flew 20 aircraft for three consecu- be forgotten until it is defeated Deir-ez-Zzor in the nation’s
Director of RJAF Training and tive days, beginning on February – we will fight them to our final east, both Daesh strongholds.
Director of RJAF Operations. 4, 2015,” says a clearly emo- drop of fuel and our last bullet.” “This is one of the most restrictive
Prior to assuming his current tional Major General Aljobour. By mid-December the RJAF had air campaigns ever,” says Aljobour,
position, Aljobour was Assistant “We were using general-purpose flown 1,100 hours against Daesh, “due to the long distances that
to the RJAF Commander for Op- and laser-guided bombs, and and was flying a two-ship mission have to be flown and the strict rules
erations and Air Defence. He is our battle damage assessment on a daily basis. Jordan is the of engagement. Imposed to avoid
a command pilot with more than showed we hit every single target. only Arab country permitted to fly collateral damage, they mean we
4,500 flying hours in a variety of “But the greatest success was bombing missions over Iraq, and have to loiter over the target for
aircraft.  boosting the morale of the pilots. although there are no restrictions long periods before attacking.”

84 FEBRUARY 2016 #335 www.airforcesmonthly.com

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FIT FOR THE

FIGHT
Royal Jordanian Air Force commander Major General Mansour
S Aljobour discusses with Marco Dijkshoorn and Patrick
Roegies his latest acquisitions and the fight against Daesh.

Frontline aircraft
There are 43 F-16AM/BM jets in the
RJAF inventory and 15 more will be
delivered from Royal Netherlands
Air Force (RNLAF) stocks, compris-
ing F-16AM J-057, J-145, J-193,
J-199, J-510, J-623, J-637, J-638,
J-868, J-870, J-872. J-873, J-876
and F-16BMs J-208 and J-884.
They are being upgraded to Mid-
Life Update (MLU) Operational
Flight Program (OFP) 6.5 stand-
ard, representing the latest soft-
ware available in Europe.
Under the initial contract, OFP 5.0
was ordered and approved by the
US Congress. But there have been
technical difficulties in adapting OFP
5.0 to the hardware in the Dutch jets,
and Congressional approval is now
Above: Six former UAE AT-802 Air Tractors are now operating with the RJAF. The Block 1 configuration employs GBU-58 being sought for the release of OFP
and GBU-12 Paveway II LGBs. 6.5. Delivery is scheduled for late
Top: The RJAF’s primary strike capability is delivered by the F-16AM and F-16BM, operated by three squadrons at 2016/early 2017 and, with the MLU
Shaheed Muwaffaq Al-Salti (al-Azraq) Air Base. This example is carrying a Sniper targeting pod. All photos, authors F-16s in service, the RJAF plans to

www.airforcesdaily.com #335 FEBRUARY 2016 85

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FORCE REPORT Royal Jordanian Air Force

sell some of its current inventory. Above: Bell AH-1 Cobras, flown by 10 and 12 Sqns, play a vital role in border protection. A permanent detachment at H4
Pakistan along with a European is supported by the ISR capabilities of the Cessna 208B Grand Caravan.
country and another potential Below: The RJAF has a single PZL M28 Skytruck. Its role is unclear, but it is probably used for the infiltration and exfiltra-
purchaser have shown inter- tion of special forces. Another example will be delivered shortly.
est in the surplus F-16s which,
if a deal goes ahead, are likely to
come from the ex-US Air National
Guard Peace Falcon II aircraft
delivered to Jordan from 2003.
Meanwhile, an upgrade to raise
the existing fleet of ex-Belgian
Air Component and RNLAF
F-16AM/BMs to MLU 6.5 stand-
ard is planned. “We also signed
a letter of acceptance for the
procurement of JDAMs, and
15 Sniper pods have been pur-
chased to enhance the F-16's
capability,” says Aljobour.

Air Tractor
To support Jordan’s fight against
Daesh, the United Arab Emirates
(UAE) supplied six IOMAX Air Tractor
AT-802 light-attack turboprops
under a US-backed plan executed

Special Forces
Although Special Operations Com- trained by the RJAF’s King Hussein
mand’s (SOCOM’s) Prince Hashem Air Academy. The brigade’s three
Bin Abdullah II Royal Aviation squadrons operate MD530F ‘Little
Brigade at King Abdullah II Air Base Bird’ and UH-60L Black Hawk
(KA2) is part of the Royal Jordanian helicopters, and AC-235 gunships,
Army, it has very close ties with the from an apron adjacent to the
RJAF. Its aircraft are maintained by control tower, which also overlooks
ex-Air Force personnel and its pilots the RJAF’s presence at KA2. 

Above: Eight MD530F Little Birds were delivered in late 2006. They serve
SOCOM’s 28 Sqn and, in common with the Black Hawks, some are in a sand
camouflage and others in a dark scheme.

86 FEBRUARY 2016 #335 www.airforcesmonthly.com

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in 2013. They fly with 25 Sqn from RJAF Air Order of Battle
Amman-Marka and KA2, but as
new facilities are built at KA2, the
December 2015
Air Tractors will relocate there. Unit Type (inventory)
“We have six Block 1 Air Tractors King Abdullah AB – Amman-Marka
and we’ll receive four more,” says 3 Sqn M28 (1), C-130H (4),
the Major General. “All will have C-130E (6), C295 (2)
the Block 3 upgrade, similar to 7 Sqn AS332M-1 (10)
the IOMAX Archangel [based on
8 Sqn UH-1H (aprox 4),
the Thrush S2R-660 airframe]. S-70A/UH-60A (16)
The four additional aircraft are
14 Sqn EC635T1 (aprox 8)
still in the US, but expected to
arrive in Jordan by June 2016.” 15 Sqn Cessna 208B-ISR (6,
They were initially earmarked will move to KA2)
Above: The King Hussein Air College at Mafraq operates the Slingsby Firefly in
for delivery to Yemen as a gift two roles. The white aircraft serve 4 Sqn as primary trainers, while the yellow 25 Sqn AT-802 (2, will move
from the UAE, but because of that machines are used for instructor training. to KA2)
country’s turbulent situation they Below: The Instructor Pilot School operates eight ex-British T-67M-260 Firefly Emergency AW139 (2)
are being delivered to Jordan aircraft that retain their former civilian registrations. Medical Sqn
instead. Two were recently noted Royal Sqn AW139 (1), S-70A-11
at Waco, Texas, with white Spraylat (aprox 5)
covering their Yemen Air Force Public EC635T2i (4)
fuselage roundels. After a year Security AW
in Jordanian service, they will go OJKA King Abdullah II (KA2) AB
through the Block 3 modification.
10 Sqn AH-1F (aprox 18)
The six AT-802s already in the
inventory boast intelligence, sur- 12 Sqn AH-1F (aprox 18)
veillance and reconnaissance Prince Hussein II ISR Wing
(ISR) and strike capability. An 9 Sqn Falco (4), S-100
upgrade, installing the MX15Di as a sensor and shooter. We’re and Skylark UAVs to Jordan Camcopter (10)
sensor, will enable the aircraft to interested in any UAV that has – which remains to be seen. 25 Sqn AT-802 (4 + 4 on
fire Hellfire missiles and drop GBU- both capabilities and we asked for order)
58 and GBU-12 Paveway II LGBs. the Predator, but I don’t believe Quick Reaction Force King Hussein Air College – Mafraq
the US is willing to export the The primary role of the RJAF’s
Unmanned Capabilities technology to Jordan. They’ve rotary wing component, based 4 Sqn T-67M-260 (16,
painted white)
The RJAF has ten Schiebel shown willingness to export the at Amman-Marka, is tactical and
Camcopter S-100 unmanned air Predator XP as a sensor platform, VIP personnel transport. In the 5 Sqn R44 (8)
vehicles (UAVs) on strength (two of but we want a dual-role system.” future a Quick Reaction Force 11 Sqn C101CC (aprox 10),
the 12 delivered have been lost) and Recently the RJAF ordered the (QRF) will also be established, PC-9M (9 on order)
four Finmeccanica Falco UAVs. The China Aerospace Science and based on up to 24 newly acquired Flight AS350B3 (6),
new Falco EVO armed UAV is being Technology Corporation (CASC) Black Hawk helicopters. The ini- Instructor T-67M-260 (8,
developed and evaluated in a bilat- Rainbow CH4B armed UAV, which tial 16 have been ordered and School painted yellow)
eral project with the Italian Air Force, is expected to enter service in first deliveries have taken place. Shaheed Muwaffaq Al-Salti AB –
with a view to an RJAF purchase. January. The vehicle features a “The Black Hawk is already in al-Azraq
Battle damage assessments after satellite link so that it can be oper- the inventory and we have good 1 Sqn F-16AM/BM (aprox 15)
RJAF strikes are currently provided ated from thousands of miles away. experience with it. It will also be 2 Sqn F-16BM (aprox
by coalition ISR platforms but, In August, Israeli media used for bor- 15, operational
Aljobour says, “Jordan is seeking reported that Israel is deliver- der patrol conversion unit)
an ISR capability of its own, both ing 12 advanced Heron TP and our 6 Sqn F-16AM/BM (aprox 15)
Prince Hassan AB – H5
17 Sqn Hawk Mk 63 (13)
Rweished AB – H4
10/12 Sqn AH-1F Cobra (aprox 6)
det
15 Sqn det Cessna 208B-ISR
(aprox 1)
King Feisal bin Abdul Aziz AB –
Al Jafr
This reserve base has no aircraft
permanently assigned, one
squadron of F-16s having moved
from here to Azraq for missions
against Daesh
SOCOM – Prince Hashim Bin
Abdullah II Royal Aviation Brigade
(part of the Army)
28 Sqn MD530F (8)
30 Sqn UH-60L (8)
31 Sqn An-32B (1 written off
and for sale)
32 Sqn AC235 (2), AC295 (2
Number 15 Sqn’s Cessna 208Bs, currently based at Amman Marka, have provided the RJAF with a good C3ISR capability. on order)

www.airforcesdaily.com #335 FEBRUARY 2016 87

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FORCE REPORT Royal Jordanian Air Force

protection capabilities in the


Middle East, a combination of six
Cessna 208B-ISR Grand Caravan
C3ISR platforms and other
types secure Jordan’s bounda-
ries. Together with the AT-802,
Cobra, two Airbus AC235 gun-
ships and two S-100 Camcopters,
the Caravans fly round-the-
clock border surveillance.
A Cessna and six AH-1Fs are
permanently detached to the air
base closest to Iraq, Rweished
(H4). “Our command and con-
trol capability used to be just
C2, but now we have C3I and
Above: Jordan replaced its F-5E/F fleet with ex-UAE Hawks. our situational awareness is
special operations forces are deal. At least eight AH-1Fs were guided missiles. We’re expect- very high,” says Aljobour.
involved in setting up the QRF,” transferred to Pakistan in 2013. ing the first two by June/July The C3ISR system is inte-
the Major General explains. “We have 36 aircraft on strength 2016. Six aircraft are currently grated with Hawk surface-to-
The recently delivered Black and a contract with Science in the US undergoing upgrade.” air missile batteries, while the
Hawks will likely receive the and Engineering Services at Cobras fire the BGM-71A TOW AC235 and F-16 have Link
sensor systems fitted to the Huntsville, Alabama, to upgrade missiles and unguided 70mm 16 data links, creating a fully
SOCOM UH-60L fleet at Amman- them,” explains Aljobour. “The rockets, while a 20mm M197 integrated defence system.
Marka. They will replace the few helicopters are being fitted with Gatling gun is also installed. Two C295s have been acquired
remaining UH-1H and EC635 a glass cockpit while the avi- and the King Abdullah II Design
helicopters with 8 and 14 onics will be updated to allow Command & control and Development Bureau hopes to
Squadrons, respectively, which them to fire Hellfire and other Among the most potent border modify them with a sub contractor
will be disbanded. The EC635 is to AC295 gunship configuration.
deemed to lack the performance LEBANON At least one AC235 is forward-
Golan
required by the RJAF and will be Heights SYRIA deployed in Saudi Arabia for close
sold if a buyer can be found. Mediterranean Sea of IRAQ air support operations over Yemen.
Sea Galilee
Rweished “It has been a very successful pro-
Attack helicopter Mafraq AB/H4 ject and we encourage other coun-
Jordan has received a large num- West tries to either join or follow us in it.”
Bank King Abduallah II Prince Hassan
ber of AH-1 Cobras over several AB/H5
The RJAF has also deployed
years. The first 24 were delivered Amman four F-16s for the effort but, says
Amman
as AH-1S Stage 3 (modernised) Gaza Dead Marka Aljobour, “this is a secondary
Strip Sea
aircraft, built for the US Army with target for the RJAF. The primary
Fiscal Year 1982 serials. This target remains [Daesh] in Syria.”
standard was later redesignated ISRAEL SAUDI ARABIA
AH-1F and the aircraft were trans- JORDAN Transport fleet
ferred to Jordan from 1985. In March 2016 the RJAF had expect-
Two further batches, each of ed to enter the bidding for the trans-
Al Jafr
nine aircraft, were delivered under fer of several ex-RAF C-130Js. The
the Military Assistance Program RAF is expected to retire ten within
from 2001, and 16 ex-Israeli the next few years, but an alterna-
EGYPT
Air Force AH-1E/F Cobras were tive option could be the upgrade
refurbished and handed over to of the RJAF’s C-130E/H fleet or the
Jordan in 2014 in a US-approved possibility of buying new C-130Js.

Below: Approximately ten of the 16 C-101CC trainers originally delivered remain


in service. Some have since crashed and others are used as a spares source to
keep the ageing fleet flying. The Pilatus PC-9M will replace them from 2017.

88 FEBRUARY 2016 #335 www.airforcesmonthly.com

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Red Flag
“There are skills you only get from
an exercise like Red Flag,” says Aljo-
bour. The RJAF took four F-16AMs
and one F-16BM to Red Flag 15-4.
On the way to Nellis AFB, Nevada,
the Jordanian F-16s refuelled from
an Israeli tanker supporting a num-
ber of the country’s F-15s.
“When our pilots came back, they
were extremely happy with the
experience they’d gained from Red
Flag. The skills they learned will
stay with them for a long time.”
The RJAF Red Flag participants
experienced scenarios replicating
the current threat to Jordan. “Red
Flag is high on our agenda and
the RJAF would like to participate
again in 2016. If that’s not pos-
Above: The majority of the retired F-5s are stored in pristine condition at H5, but most are expected to be sold to TacAir soon. sible, then definitely in 2017,” says
Aljobour enthusiastically.
It currently operates two 60-ton R44 Raven II.” Eight R44 IIs serve of aircraft was expected to have Jordan’s pilots constantly hone
capacity Ilyushin Il-76MF freight- 5 Sqn, the type having gained been sold to Tactical Air Support their skills and the RJAF has
ers in the strategic transport role. full operational capability (FOC) (‘TacAir’) in Reno, Nevada soon. permanent bilateral exchange
in April 2015 and taken over the “We keep two F-5s flying for her- programmes with close allies
Air University Hughes 500’s role in late 2014. itage purposes, but they are no including Pakistan, Turkey, the US
On December 1, 2015, the King The squadron also operated the longer operational,” says Aljobour. and the UK.
Hussein Air College (KHAC) at AS350B3 Squirrel, but since the The RJAF acquired 13 ex- Overall, the RJAF is a relatively
Mafraq was accredited as an R44’s arrival, the six AS350B3s UAEAF&AD BAe Hawk Mk 63A small, but very efficient, air force
‘Air University’ offering a degree have passed to the Instructor jets to replace the F-5, and would that demonstrates agility and perse-
education in subjects including Pilot School. The 500s are for like to buy more Hawks so that verance. With an excellent training
air traffic control, navigation and sale, in a hangar at Mafraq. more than one LIFT squadron facility in the Aviation University,
meteorology. The facility houses could prepare pilots for the recruits are trained to a high level,
three training squadrons and Hawk for F-5 F-16. Meanwhile an upgrade is creating a good basis for the future.
the Flight Instructor School. The Northrop F-5 was phased planned to equip the Hawk fleet In recent years the RJAF has
Asked how the next ten years out of the lead-in fighter trainer with a more suitable avion- shown its ability to introduce and
afm adapt to new aircraft, replacing
look for the RJAF, Aljobour says: “It (LIFT) role in 2014 and a batch ics suite for F-16 training.
all starts with human resources; poorly performing types, and the
our troops should be ready for public execution of one of its pilots
whatever the future brings. has served only to galvanise Major
General Aljobour’s colleagues
“The first thing that I changed
against the Daesh enemy.
is their training. We’re buying
As long as the fight with Daesh
nine Pilatus PC-9M turboprops;
continues, Jordan’s geography
the contract is signed and the
will keep it on the front line. Sup-
Swiss-built aircraft will replace ported by Arab and non-Arab
the CASA 101.” Since 1987, 11 nations in the region, it will remain
Sqn has flown the CASA C-101CC a potent coalition partner with
in the advanced training role. Above: The R44 replaced the Hughes 500D and 500E in the basic helicopter unique capabilities. 
Basic training relies on the training role.
Slingsby T-67M-260 Firefly, 16
of which were delivered from
2002. They were augmented in
2011 by eight ex-RAF/Defence
Elementary Flying Training School
examples formerly operated by
Babcock. They still wear British
civilian registrations and are
operated solely by the Instructor
Pilot School (IPS) – and appear
to be a stopgap solution until a
new basic trainer is introduced.
“We’re in the process of buy-
ing a newer aircraft for basic
training,” says Aljobour. The
Grob 109TP is among the types
being evaluated, but more con-
tenders will have the chance to
demonstrate their aircraft.
“We phased out the Hughes
500D/E training helicopters
because they were old. We Above: With delivery of the Robinson R44 Raven II, the AS350B3 helicopters were transferred from 5 Sqn to the Instructor
replaced them with the Robinson Pilot School. All basic and advanced helicopter pilot training is now performed on the Raven II.

www.airforcesdaily.com #335 FEBRUARY 2016 89

84-89 Jordan Feb.aw.indd 89 08/01/2016 16:17


DEC 2 2015 - JAN 7 2016

ATTRITION REPORT

Wyoming ANG C-130H Rebuilt


After Emergency Landing

ALMOST 14 months after being Above: US Air Force C-130H Hercules 92-1533 arrives back at Cheyenne C-130 to find suitable parts that
damaged in an emergency landing, Regional Airport, Wyoming, on October 13 last year for return to service with could be adapted. They also had
the Wyoming Air National Guard after completing its rebuild at Hill AFB, Utah.
a USAF/Wyoming Air National to locally manufacture some parts
USAF/Master Sgt Charles Delano
Guard C-130H Hercules has been Below: The C-130H after its emergency landing at Hill AFB on August 17, 2014. from original blueprint drawings.”
returned to service following a major USAF/Hill AFB Major Brett Goebel, the
rebuild. The aircraft, 92-1533 ‘3’, Wyoming Air National Guard
returned to Cheyenne Regional navigator who was on the accident
Airport, Wyoming, on October 13 flight, said: “That [$850,000]
last year to re-join the 153rd Airlift is fairly low when you consider
Wing/187th Airlift Squadron. it’s a $37 million aircraft.”
During an aerial firefighting mission Lt Col Todd Davis, the 153rd
over Utah on August 17, 2014, using Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
the Modular Airborne Fire-Fighting commander, said he was pleased
System (MAFFS), the aircraft was with the timeline and quality of
scheduled to land at Hill Air Force the repair: “Getting 1533 back to
Base to refuel and re-supply. The flying again required more than just
crew, comprised of Guard, Reserve the maintenance crews. Funding
and active duty personnel, found funnelled quickly from National
they were unable to lower the nose eventually led to a fleet-wide to the commander at Hill AFB, Guard Bureau to Hill and the team
undercarriage. However, they inspection, which resulted in several said that this was a one-of-a-kind did an amazing job. They reskinned
successfully landed the aircraft on a other defective rods being detected. rebuild. “A lot of creativity and everything on the bottom. It looks
foam-covered runway without injury Since that time, the C-130H ingenuity was needed, since many brand new, which is pretty good for
to the crew or damage to the runway has been at the 572nd Aircraft of the C-130H structural parts an aircraft that is that 23 years old.”
– see Attrition, November 2014, p93. Maintenance Squadron, at Hill AFB, that were needed are no longer Goebel said the crew knew
William Ferrell, a C-130 crew where the estimated $850,000 in made,” said Mehring. “The team something was wrong with the nose
chief at Hill AFB and a member damage that was caused by that here did a tremendous amount of gear as they were on approach to
of the Crash Damage, Disabled landing was repaired. Col Steve work to cross-reference parts from Hill. “After trouble-shooting for
and Recovery Team said: “The Mehring, Air National Guard advisor the current generation ‘J’ model two-and-a-half hours, it became
pilot made a smooth landing. apparent we were not going to get
The only damage was to the a fix for our problem,” said Goebel.
underside of the aircraft.” Along with Goebel, members of
After the incident, Ferrell and the crew that were able to safely
eight other personnel used a land the aircraft were Major Jack
crane to lift the front of the aircraft, Berquist, aircraft commander;
tow it to a maintenance area and his co-pilot, Major Derik George;
secure it after an emergency flight engineer Tech Sgt Damian
nose landing gear extension, a Hoffmann; and load masters,
process that took a little more Master Sgts Brandon York and
than four hours to complete. Christian Reese. All received the
Following a five-month-long Air Mobility Command Aircrew of
investigation, it was determined Distinction Award for their efforts
that a broken support rod for Above: The Hercules in Hangar No 1 at Hill AFB on May 5, 2015, while undergoing that day which resulted in no loss
the landing gear uplock actuator extensive repairs following its landing without the nose undercarriage extended. of life and minimal damage to a
caused the failure. This damage USAF/Hill AFB multi-million dollar airframe. 

90 FEBRUARY 2016 #335 www.airforcesmonthly.com

90-93 Attrition Feb.DJ.indd 90 11/01/2016 16:18


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news stories. E-mail the news team
at milnews@keypublishing.com

Accident Reports
D: Dec 2, 2007 D: Oct 13
N: Peruvian Army/BA811 N: Royal Canadian Air Force
T: PA-31T-620 Cheyenne II T: CH-124A(U) Sea King
S: EP-621 S: 12419
Damaged in an unspecified While in the UK detached to RAF
accident. Subsequently repaired but Odiham, Hampshire, the tyres
involved in another, more serious, on the main undercarriage were
accident on November 17, 2015 found to be low. A dual-pressure
– see Attrition, January 2016, p91. inflation kit was used to re-inflate
them. The low side was reported
D: Aug 25, 2015 to be set for 60psi, while the high
N: Royal Canadian Air Force/431 pressure side was reported to
Air Demo Sqn Snowbirds be around 500psi. Normal tyre
T: CT-114 Tutor pressure for the type is 105psi.
S: 114058 During inflation, the port inboard
This aircraft diverted due to an tyre ruptured. This resulted in
in-flight emergency and landed rim fragments causing damage
safely at Greater Moncton to both the port and starboard
International Airport, New undercarriage, as well as the
Brunswick. After being repaired, fuselage. Damage was classed
it carried out a successful test as Category C. An interim
flight and was refuelled for statement on the incident by
departure to re-join the Snowbird the Directorate of Flight Safety,
team. As the tyres were due for Above: Close-up of the starboard wheel of RCAF/Snowbirds CT-114 Tutor released on December 16, said
their seven-day inspection/refill, 114058 after the tyre was over-pressurised and exploded on August 25, 2015, investigation is focusing on
nitrogen tanks were borrowed at Greater Moncton International Airport. The resultant rupture in the starboard human factors procedures for
from a local facility to service the diesel tank is also clearly apparent. RCAF Directorate of Flight Safety the use of unfamiliar equipment.
aircraft. While topping up the D: Sep 29 D: Oct 4 The helicopter was one of two
starboard main tyre with nitrogen, N: Spanish Air Force/Patrulla Aguila N: Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force Sea Kings temporarily based
the tyre was over-pressurised and T: CASA 101EB T: C-130H Hercules at Odiham while their parent
exploded. This seriously damaged S: E.25-45 ’79-45’ S: 5-8527 ship, Iroquois-class destroyer
the starboard main undercarriage HMCS Athabaskan (DDG 282)
leg and wing rear spar, while the Following a routine training The port wing of this aircraft, was docked in Portsmouth for
split rim was propelled into and flight, the pilot found that he was which was parked on the ramp unexpected engine repairs.
crushed the starboard main diesel unable to lower the aircraft’s at Tehran-Mehrabad Airport,
tank. Primarily due to the damage undercarriage on return to land was struck by Zagros Airlines D: Oct 28
in the wing spar, the aircraft was at San Javier Air Base. After Airbus A320-231 EP-ZAI, which N: Czech Air Force/212 Taktiká Letka
classed as having sustained assessing the situation, he was being pushed back prior T: L-159A ALCA
Category B damage. A preliminary decided against ejecting and to departure. Damage to both While on a flight from Zaragoza
report released by the Directorate elected instead to carry out a belly aircraft was reported to be minor. Air Base, Spain, during Exercise
of Flight Safety on October 29 landing, which was completed Trident Juncture 2015, the aircraft
said the investigation found that successfully, although there was D: Oct 6 had a serious bird strike. A vulture
the technician misinterpreted some unspecified damage to the N: Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force impacted the starboard wing, just
the gauges on this unfamiliar underside of the aircraft. The T: L-1329 Jetstar II inboard of the wingtip drop tank,
equipment and attempted to fill pilot was uninjured. The aircraft After reportedly having hydraulics tearing a large hole in the leading
the tyre to 150 Bars instead of 150 was from the Patrulla Aguila failure at TFB14 Mashad, the edge. The pilot, 1st Lt Zbynek Abel,
PSI. This resulted in the wheel/ aerobatic display team, part of aircraft ran off the runway into declared a mayday and thought he
tyre assembly failing at around 794 Escuadrón at the Academia rough ground, causing the would have to eject, as the damage
120 Bars (over 1,700 PSI). General de Aire at San Javier. undercarriage to collapse. No was causing such severe buffeting
The team had been practicing its injuries were reported but that it appeared the wing might be
D: Sep 20 display in readiness for the Military the extent of damage to the torn off. However, after lowering
N: Royal Saudi Land Forces Parade in Madrid on October 12. aircraft is unconfirmed. airspeed, he found he could
T: AH-64 Apache maintain control of the aircraft,
Unconfirmed reports suggest but still needed to land as quickly
that this helicopter may have as possible. He then successfully
been shot down with a surface- performed an emergency landing
to-air missile by Yemeni armed back at Zaragoza. Damage was
forces in the al-Safer area, near such that the aircraft had to be
Ma’rib, Jizan province, Yemen. transported back to the Czech
No further details are known. Republic by road for repair. On
November 24, the pilot was
D: Sep 25? awarded the Medal of Merit by
N: US Air Force Czech Air Force Chief of Staff
T: MQ-1B Predator Joseph Becvar for his extraordinary
This UAV was destroyed when courage, determination and
it crashed on the coast just professional skill in assessing the
southeast of Derna, Libya. Daesh Above: Wreckage of the US Air Force MQ-1B Predator which crash near the situation quickly and thus saving
claimed to have shot it down. Libyan coast either early on September 25 or possibly the day before. the badly damaged aircraft.
Abbreviations: D: Date N/U: Nationality/Units T: Type S: Serials

www.airforcesdaily.com #335 FEBRUARY 2016 91

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DEC 2 2015 - JAN 7 2016

ATTRITION REPORT

Accident Reports
Left: The wings of IRIAF C-130H 5-8527 and Zagros Airlines A321-231 EP-ZAI
interlocked at Tehran-Mehrabad Airport on October 4 after the ground incident.
FARS News Agency
Below: A very distant and thus poor quality view of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Air Force Jetstar II following its accident on October 6 at TFB Mashad.

D: Dec 9 D: Dec 13 D: Dec 21 D: Dec 23


N: US Marine Corps/VMM-166 N: Pakistan Army Aviation Corps N: El Salvador Air Force/Escuadrón N: Mongolian People’s Air Force
T: MV-22B Osprey T: Bell 412EP de Caza y Bombardeo T: Mi-8
S: 168026 ‘YX-01’ This Bell 412EP crashed and T: A-37B Dragón During a night training mission,
This Osprey was involved in an rolled over in Awaran, Balochistan. S: FAS-424 the helicopter crashed, killing one
accident on board the USS New All six crew members escaped This A-37B was badly damaged person and injuring ten others.
Orleans (LPD 18) in the Pacific with only minor injuries. during an emergency landing The accident took place about 30
Ocean off Camp Pendleton, at Comalapa Airport after the miles (50km) east of Ulan Bator.
California. It was operating with the D: Dec 17 undercarriage failed and a fire
13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, N: Chinese PLANAF/4 Div/12 Rgt broke out during the emergency D: Dec 28
carrying four crew and 22 Marine T: J-10SH landing. No injuries were reported. N: Venezuelan National Guard
passengers when the incident S: 83147 T: Bell 206B JetRanger
occurred at around 1715hrs. No This two-seat J-10SH was written D: Dec 22 S: GNB-7429
injuries were reported. The aircraft off in a crash in Zhejiang Province. N: Indian Border Security Force This JetRanger crashed at 1036hrs
was returning to the ship after a Both crew members ejected safely. T: B200 King Air at La Raya, Paraguachón, La
training mission ashore when it S: VT-BSA Guajira, Colombia. The pilot and
experienced a landing mishap. D: Dec 20 Ten BSF personnel were killed co-pilot, were injured and were
While recovering, it landed short N: Indonesian Air Force/SkU 15 in the crash of this aircraft near rescued by villagers and then
of Spot 2 on the flight deck and T: T-50i Golden Eagle Delhi-Indira Gandhi International taken back over the border into
the main undercarriage struck S: TT-5007 Airport at around 0950hrs. It had Venezuela, where they were moved
the deck edge netting. The ship This T-50i was destroyed in a taken off from there at 0937hrs to the city of Maracaibo, 75 miles
arrived back in San Diego with crash which killed both crew for a flight to Ranchi Airport in (120km) east of the crash site,
the Osprey still in the position members. The accident happened Jharkhand state but shortly after to be treated in hospital. The
where it had landed, hanging off at 0940hrs local time during its getting airborne the crew said helicopter was carrying out a
the fantail of the vessel. It was aerobatic display at Adisucipto they had a technical problem and routine patrol along the Colombia-
resting on its belly and with its Air Base, Yogyakarta, where an wanted to return. The King Air Venezuela border in poor weather
rear wheels hanging over the airshow was being held to mark was on approach to Runway 10 when it crashed. It rolled over on
edge of the deck. The extent the 70th anniversary of the Air when it came down in a sewage impact, tearing off the main and
of damage to the airframe was Force Academy. The aircraft was treatment plant in Bagdola village tail rotors, before coming to rest
not immediately clear, but it has seen to spiral towards the ground after hitting the airport boundary around 30ft (10m) over the border
been categorised as a Class A and although it levelled out at low wall. It was flown by two crew and in Colombia. Although there was
accident, indicating damage level, the crew was unable to pull had been taking eight technicians no fire, the helicopter was reported
valued at more than $2 million. up before impacting the ground. to Ranchi to repair a helicopter. to have been extensively damaged.

Below: The extensive damage to the outer starboard wing of the Czech Air Force
L-159A is clearly visible here following its collision with a vulture near Zaragoza
Air Base, Spain, on October 28, 2015. Czech AF/21st TAB/Marek Maxim Svancara

Above: Royal Canadian Air Force CH-124A(U) Sea King 12419, with close-ups
showing the damage to the main undercarriage as a result of over-inflation of
one of the tyres while temporarily based at RAF Odiham, Hampshire, on
October 13, 2015. RCAF Directorate of Flight Safety

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

92 FEBRUARY 2016 #335 www.airforcesmonthly.com

90-93 Attrition Feb.DJ.indd 92 11/01/2016 16:18


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news stories. E-mail the news team
at milnews@keypublishing.com

Above left: US Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey 168026 ‘YX-01’ from Marine Medium Tilt Rotor Squadron 166 (VMM-166) (Reinforced) takes off from the amphibious
assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) on October 21 in the Pacific Ocean. This aircraft was involved in a Class A accident on board the USS New Orleans (LPD 18) on
December 9. US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Debra Daco Above right: The Pakistan Army Bell 412P following its crash on December 13.
D: Dec 30 D: Jan 4 D: Jan 5 D: Jan 7
N: Royal Bahrain Air Force N: Libyan Air Force N: US Air Force N: US Air Force
T: F-16C T: MiG-21bis T: HH-60G Pave Hawk T: MQ-1 Predator
The pilot of this F-16C ejected During a combat sortie, this This helicopter was damaged This Predator crashed in central
safely before it crashed in Saudi MiG-21was shot down over in Afghanistan during an Iraq at approximately 1250hrs
Arabia’s southern province of Benghazi. The pilot ejected safely. operational mission when it was local time. A US Air Force
Jizan. The aircraft was on a The aircraft received a direct hit required to provide assistance statement issued the following day
mission as part of the Saudi-led from anti-aircraft gunfire or a after a US service member said that the UAV had been flying
coalition fighting Shia Houthi portable surface-to-air missile. (Staff Sgt Matthew MClintock of a combat mission when positive
rebels in Yemen when it came A Company,1st Batallion, 19th control of the aircraft was lost. The
down as a result of a technical D: Jan 5 Special Forces Group) had been USAF also stated that the crash
failure. Until now there had N: Colombian Air Force/Esc 613 killed and another two injured after was not due to enemy fire. There
only been one loss, an F-16C T: Basler AC-47T Fantasma coming under fire during a train, were no reports of civilian injuries
on September 27, 2003. S: FAC-1658 advise and assist mission with or damage to civilian property
This gunship was badly damaged their Afghan Special Operations at the crash site. The USAF said
D: Jan 3, 2016 when it veered off the side of the counterparts. A number of Afghan that the Predator was destroyed
N: Afghan Air Force runway landing at the Comando forces personnel were also injured. and is not in enemy hands. An
T: Mi-17 Aéreo de Combate No 6 (CACOM Following the incident, which investigation board will convene
Three Afghan soldiers were 6) Base Aérea Tres Esquinas occurred near Marjah, Helmand to determine the specific cause of
killed and two others injured ‘Ernesto Esguerra Cubudes’, Province, two HH-60Gs, including the crash. Daesh claimed to have
when this helicopter crashed at Caquetá. It came to rest in a ditch, the accident aircraft, were sent shot the UAV down near Akashat,
around 1330hrs in eastern Logar but no injuries were reported to to provide help. However, one Anbar. Images and video released
province. A statement by Afghan the two crew members, Mayor was waived off after taking fire by Daesh showed them inspecting
Defence Ministry spokesman Forero and Capitán Puentes. It is but was able to return safely the wreckage of a Predator,
Dawlat Waziri said the accident assumed to have been operated to base. Although the second which they said was the one they
had been caused by technical by the resident Grupo de Combate Pave Hawk landed safely, its had shot down on this date. 
problems. The crash took place 61/Escuadrón de Combate Táctico rotor blades were then damaged
near the national army training 613. A team from the Inspección after it apparently struck a wall. Additional material from: Juan
centre in the Shakar Qala area, General de la Institución will As a result, it was disabled and Carlos Cicalesi and Scramble/
during a routine training flight. investigate the incident. forced to remain on the ground. Dutch Aviation Society.

Above: Venezuelan National Guard B206B JetRanger GNB-7429 following its


crash on December 28.
Left: The fin of PLAAF J-10SH 83147 following its crash on December 17.

www.airforcesdaily.com #335 FEBRUARY 2016 93

90-93 Attrition Feb.DJ.indd 93 11/01/2016 16:18


DEBRIEF Book reviews

Israeli Air Force although unfortunately not F-104 Starfighter


Yearbook 2015-
much is revealed about its
work with the Special Forces
World Military
2016 or Unit 669 – the IAF’s Aircraft Volume 1
specialised search and rescue
Wizard Publications Various Authors
unit. Intelligence gathering is
Ofer Zidon secretive by its very nature, £15.99
£16.99 but the author gained limited ISBN: n/a
access to Israel’s ‘Nachshon’
ISBN: squadron equipped with This A5 sized, spiral-bound book
9789657752005 heavily modified Gulfstream produced by World Military
G-550s. While operational Aircraft publishers is certainly for
This book covers the Israeli details are scarce within the hard-core aviation military
Air Force (IAF) with up-to-date this section, the history and enthusiast. It comprises lists
information on changes within background relating to the of serials and the fates of every
the force’s order of battle, formation of the squadron are F-104 Starfighter ever produced.
organisational structure and noteworthy for those with a Those built by Lockheed, and
operational activities both passion for ELINT squadrons. licence-built examples by
recently and for those that These IAF yearbooks Canadair, are covered, as are the
are planned for 2016. It is have become a must-have overseas air forces that received
beautifully illustrated with more for aviation enthusiasts F-104s as part of America’s
than 300 colour pictures taken for Viper. The sight of desert- specialising in Middle East Military Assistance Program
by the author, many of which are camouflaged AH-1s flying in air forces and Ofer Zidon has (MAP) during the Cold War.
published for the first time. But formation over Israel’s training met the challenge once again Where possible the authors
Ofer Zidon has not only focussed area in the Golan has been of producing an impressive have included photographs
on the modern arsenal of the impressively captured in print. overview of the activities of the
IAF, he reports on the retirement Special reports follow the IAF to date and what might be
of the AH-1 Tzefa – Hebrew CH-53 ‘Night Leaders’ squadron expected in 2016. Glenn Sands

development, something that aircraft flying left to right down


The Panavia has already been covered a a valley. While variations on a
Tornado multitude of times in other books. theme can prove challenging in
A Photographic As the author states: ‘this
book is not presented as the
such locations, more could have
been made of the shots from the
Tribute definitive history of the Tornado’, fence line at RAF Lossiemouth,
Pen & Sword Publica- it is more a visual legacy of a if only to break-up the repetition
long-serving combat-proven of some of the spreads.
tions aircraft that is nearing retirement. But as a Tornado fan I’m
Michael Leek There are plenty of images of certainly glad to have this title
£30 the Tornado in its element – flying on my shelf. Glenn Sands
fast and low amid the Welsh hills,
ISBN: 1781592977 and while many are stunning
there are a few that
Photographic tribute books would not have of a particular jet to tie-in with
tend to fall into two categories been my first the serials presented on that
in my opinion – those with large choice. However, page. Many of these images
colourful images accompanied by the reader has to have been sourced from private
mediocre captions while others take into account collections and are appearing
pull together unusual, rare and the conditions, and in print for the first time, with
dramatic images supported by surely, few would be my only disappointment being
detailed copy that adds further prepared to stand on that they could have been used
insight to a particular image. a Welsh hillside all day, at a bigger size on the page.
Michael Leek’s latest title on the waiting for an F3 or Each operator of the F-104
Tornado expertly falls into the GR4 to pass by within is given a brief introduction, a
latter category. It’s clear from the seconds. One only has listing as to when, where and how
extensively sourced images of the to look at the image of the Starfighters were acquired.
‘fin’, as the Tornado is nicknamed, GR4 ZD788, its wings The entry on Taiwanese Air
has been a labour of love. swept back at 67o, its Force is particularly impressive,
Leek launches straight into a anniversary scheme given that at one stage the
debate about which aircraft – the on show, to ‘feel the nation was the third largest
Tornado GR4 or the retired force’ of the Tornado. operator of the F-104, having
Harrier GR9 – would have been This is a great book acquired jets from the US,
the better combat aircraft for on the recent activities Japan, Germany and Belgium.
operations against Daesh. It is of RAF and overseas A remarkable little book and, I
an unconventional opening for Tornado squadrons, hope, the first of a series that will
a book on the Tornado, which but there are too many cover other types in due course.
often dwell on the aircraft’s similar images of Recommended. Glenn Sands

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

94 FEBRUARY 2016 #335 www.airforcesmonthly.com

94 Debrief.indd 94 08/01/2016 15:52


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BASE WATCH Nellis & McCarran Int Airport

DEC 12 2015 Left: A Draken International A-4K


Skyhawk N147EM/155069 returns
to Nellis AFB having fulfilled the
‘aggressor’ role against USAF fighter
units at the base. The company
provides tactical fighter aircraft for
training including military and con-
tract customers. Skyhawks stayed
at Nellis until December 20, after
which they returned to the company’s
headquarters at Lakeland, Florida.
All images by Barry Ambrose
Below: A desert camouflaged Mi-17
Hip – lacking any markings other
than serial number 15-5207 on its tail
boom – arrives at McCarran Interna-
tional Airport, Nevada on December
17 for a fuel stop. The CIA, along
with the US Special Forces, has oper-
ated a number of Russian-built heli-
copters for covert operations. These
helicopters are used throughout the
Middle East because they attract less
attention than US Army Black Hawks.
DEC 17 2015

Right: A CASA C-27J Spartan 2708 DEC 21 2015


(ex-09-27017) of the US Coast Guard
(USCG) departs McCarran Internation-
al Airport after an overnight stop. In
the background is one of the typically
gold-glazed Las Vegas hotels that
border the airport. The C-27J appears
well weathered because it was one
of 14 stored at Davis-Monthan AFB,
Tucson, Arizona, under the care of the
309th Aerospace Maintenance and
Regeneration Group, after the type
was withdrawn from the USAF due to
budget restraints.
DEC 20 2015

Above: An Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) C-146A Wolfhound 10-3026 of the 524th Special Operations Squadron based at Cannon AFB makes a
quick visit to McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada on the morning of December 20, to collect personnel for an onward flight. The AFSOC prefers
to use the more secure Nellis AFB facilities nearby for its operations to avoid public scrutiny.

96 FEBRUARY 2016 #335 www.airforcesmonthly.com

96-97 Base Feb.indd 96 08/01/2016 15:47


RAF Lossiemouth
Send us your Base Watch images,
please include time, date and location.
E-mail at basewatch@keypublishing.com

DEC 4 2015

DEC 11 2015 Above: Belgian Air Force (BAF)


Alpha Jet 1B+ E AT-02 lines up on
RAF Lossiemouth’s main runway on
December 4, prior to heading back
to its home base of Cazaux Air Base
(BA 120) in southwest Bordeaux,
France. It was one of three BAF Al-
pha Jets that arrived in Scotland on
the previous day as part of Belgium-
French Alpha Jet School’s (AJetS)
annual navigation training exercise
(NavEx) for student pilots. All images
by Niall Peterson
Left: United States Navy P-3C Orion
1616406/PD of VP-9 ‘Golden Eagles’
taxies to RAF Lossiemouth’s visiting
aircraft ramp on December 11. It
was one of three Orions conducting
sorties off the west coast of Scotland
DEC 11 2015 between December 15 and 20. For
the aircrew of VP-9 it was certainly a
change of scene, as their squadron
is based at MCBH Kaneohe Bay,
Hawaii.

Above: Hunter F.58 ZZ190 from


Hawker Hunter Aviation (HHA)
approaches RAF Lossiemouth on
December 11. Arriving from HHA’s
facility at RAF Scampton, the Hunter
conducted a radar approach,
followed by a couple of visual
circuits, before departing south back
to the Linconshire base. It was the
first time a Hunter in RAF colours
had flown in Lossiemouth’s landing
circuit for almost 20 years.
Right: Taxiing for departure on
December 16, United States Navy
C-40A Clipper 165829 heads back
to Naval Air Station (NAS) Sigo-
nella, Italy. The Clipper, which is on
detachment to NAS Sigonella, had
delivered spare parts and personnel
to two US Navy P-3C Orions operat-
ing from RAF Lossiemouth. DEC 16 2015

www.airforcesdaily.com #335 FEBRUARY 2016 97

96-97 Base Feb.indd 97 08/01/2016 15:47


EDITORIAL February 2016 E-mail at afmletters@keypublishing.com

Having the Combat Edge


E VERY AIR force has a combat edge – but
the USAF without doubt has the biggest
and most effective (see Pages 44-59). While
impact and ability to hit moving targets.
Amazingly, the RAF’s Tornado GR4 is the
only platform using the DMB, which is being
Without it, the Typhoon will never gain the air-to-
ground credibility the RAF so desperately wants.
So has the US ignored this stunning piece
the number of fighters may has declined since put to good effect in Operation Shader – the of European engineering and technology
the mid-1990s, it doesn’t mean the USAF is UK’s contribution to defeating Daesh in Iraq due to continuous defence cuts or does it
any less potent. Precision-guided munitions and Syria. It was also used in Afghanistan prefer to soldier on with domestic weapons
(PGMs) with the aid of cutting-edge targeting (between 2009-2014) and Libya in 2011. regardless of their lack of combat edge?
pods such as the Sniper and Litening has Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron even At one point, MBDA was looking to submit
seen to that. The days of dropping hundreds trumpeted the weapon’s capabilities while Brimstone 2
of munitions (often referred to as carpet- campaigning for the UK to start bombing
bombing) to hit one target are truly over. Daesh targets in Syria late last year.
PGMs working with these pods and good At an estimated cost of around £175,000
navigation systems are now the key to the ($255,000) per
air-to-ground war, as we are
seeing in the fight against
Daesh

Above: Having the combat as part of the US Army’s Joint Air-To-


edge doesn’t just mean amassing fight- Ground Missile (JAGM) programme.
ers, bombers or remote piloted air systems (RPAS). However it would have required
The role of the sophisticated weapon has seen to complex re-engineering of the missile
that. The Dual Mode Brimstone has turned the
(Islamic State). They might not beat Daesh, seeker to mate to the back end of the
Tornado into a lethal 21st century bomber, providing
but they are having an effect – particularly the RAF’s Combat Air with an edge in three wars to
Hellfire. This would have resulted in a new
when it comes to avoiding the all-important date in Afghanistan, Libya and now against Daesh in missile not suitable for tactical jets.
collateral damage. The killing of innocent Iraq and Syria. There is nothing else like the DMB. It It seems the US does not to want the
civilians is now unacceptable, unlike the days is accurate and has a small blast from its detonation, best foreign weapons on its aircraft,
when B-52s were seen dropping hundreds which means the chance of killing innocent civilians regardless of how good they are.
of bombs in Vietnam to hit targets. is substantially reduced. It illustrates how smart What are your thoughts? Write to Feedback at
It is strange, then, that with its smart- weapons working with sophisticated ways of hitting afmletters@keypublishing.com
the target are just as important as the aircraft.
thinking ways, the US has never acquired
the impressive fire-and-forget MBDA Dual weapon, the DMB should be used sparingly,
Mode Brimstone. It can be used in all but with rules of engagement stopping the
weathers both day and night, and a salvo of Tornado from flying low level due to a SAM
DMBs can be fired at the same time, each threat, the DMB is usually the only option.
going after separate designated targets. There are now plans to fit the DMB/Brimstone
However, its biggest advantages, having 2 weapon on to the RAF’s Typhoons, with an
been designed as an anti-tank weapon with a entry into service date of December 2018, when Alan Warnes - World Air
smaller warhead, is its low collateral damage the Tornado reaches its out of service date. Forces Correspondent

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98 FEBRUARY 2016 #335 www.airforcesmonthly.com

98 Editorial Feb.aw.indd 98 12/01/2016 10:10