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AIR International - January 2018

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An-22
Antei
Made in
Texas!
Fort Worth?s Final F-16
int
Co
e
nn
ec A rCar
tin irw ibb
g t ay ea
he s n
Ca
rib
be
an
www.airint ernational. com
Loud and proud in the UK
PLUS:
A321neo: the
best yet?
Putin?s airlift
fleet
B-52: improving
with age
Cessna?s
SkyCourier 408
Russia?s
Tu-160 Blackjack
Military ? Commercial ? Business ? Unmanned ? Engines ? Systems & Technology swinging again
American Airpower
Prodigious, Precise,
Problematic
AIR International?s
16-page review
Britain?s National
Police Air Service
Boeing 757
Queen of the mid-market
A-37B Dragonfly
Road Ops in Uruguay
Working-up for
HMS Queen Elizabeth
Second Lives
Freighter Conversions
JANUARY 2018 Vol.94 No.1 UK �90
Air Policing
the UK
The
Royal
Navy?s
Carrier
Air Wing
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1261/17
INTRODUCTION
From the Editor
N
ovember and December proved to be months
laced with notable events in the F-35 Lightning
II programme. Following arrival of the first three
Royal Norwegian Air Force aircraft at Main Air
Station 豶land, the United States made the largest
ever deployment of the type to the Republic of Korea. Eighteen
F-35s, 12 US Marine Corps F-35Bs and six US Air Force
F-35As arrived at Kunsan Air Base to participate in Exercise
Vigilant Ace. The five-day joint Republic of Korea and United
States event started on December 4. Vigilant Ace involved
230 aircraft. Six F-22 Raptors were also deployed to Kunsan
making the event the largest fifth-generation fighter and F-35
deployments to date.
On November 28, the 412th Test Wing based at Edwards Air
Force Base led Exercise Orange Flag to evaluate further the
F-35?s interoperability with other combat aircraft types flown
by the US Marine Corps and US Navy. Twenty-eight aircraft
participated in the test event, named after the test colour ?
orange, operating ? in addition to Edwards, from Nellis Air
Force Base, Nevada, Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake and
Naval Air Station Point Mugu, both in California.
East of the eastern seaboard in the nation of Israel, the Israel
Air and Space Force announced an initial operational capability
declaration for its F-35I Adir following a yearlong work-up to the
official inspection.
In Russia, more military aircraft programmes made the news
with the roll-out of the latest Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bomber,
the maiden flight of the first Beriev A-100 AWACS aircraft and the
establishment of a second division in the Russian Air Force heavy
transport branch.
Airbus and Boeing dominated the order book announced at the
Dubai Air Show, along with news of the certification of the A3501000, plus announcements on the first A321neo, assembly of the
first A330-800neo and a first look at the Boeing 777X flight deck.
Elsewhere, Pilatus Aircraft announced it had received EASA and
FAA certification of the PC-24 business jet, and Textron Aviation
launched the Cessna 408 SkyCourier.
Details of all these commercial stories can be found in this issue.
That?s about it for this year, other than to wish all our readers a
peaceful Christmas and prosperous New Year.
Mark Ayton, Editor
Having difficulty finding a copy of the latest AIR International?
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Editor Mark Ayton
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Assistant Editor Mark Broadbent
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Advertisement Manager Ian Maxwell
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Design Dan Jarman
Managing Director & Publisher
Adrian Cox
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COVER: Main image: US Air Force Left: Dave Sturges/AirTeamImages Middle: Gerardo Tajes Right: Jehan Ghouse/AirTeamImages
www.airinternational.com | 3
CONTENTS
FEATURES
46 US COMBAT AIRPOWER TODAY
AND BEYOND
David C Isby provides an overview of US airpower, a big,
but demanding defence requirement.
62 NATIONAL POLICE AIR SERVICE
Ian Frain provides an overview of police aviation in the UK,
which today is based around Airbus helicopters.
66 EXERCISE BLUE FLAG
Riccardo Niccoli visited Ovda Air Base in southern Israel to
discover what the multinational exercise Blue Flag has to
offer its participants.
70 BOEING 757
The Boeing 757 is a workhorse for many airlines and is
set to remain so, but what might eventually replace it?
Mark Broadbent reports.
74 ROYAL NAVY CARRIER AIR WING
Ian Harding visited Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton to learn
about the carrier air wing work-up for the new carrier HMS
Queen Elizabeth.
78 FREIGHTER CONVERSIONS
Mark Broadbent profiles some of the latest developments in
the expanding area of passenger-to-freighter conversions.
MAIN PICTURE: A rare visitor to the UK early in December
was Antonov Airlines? An-22A Antei. Nik French
Contents
46
4 | www.airinternational.com
62
CONTENTS
SCENE
06 LEADING STORIES
82 A-37B DRAGONFLY
Ernesto Blanco Calcagno reports from a
roadside where the Uruguayan Air Force
deployed A-37B Dragonfly jets.
SUBSCRIBE
AND SAVE!
86INTERCARIBBEAN
AIRWAYS
A subscription to
AIR International
offers great savings
on cover price.
Chris Kjelgaard reports on
interCaribbean Airways? efforts to grow
a hub in the Turks and Caicos Islands
and on relief-flying and networkrebuilding activities in the wake of
hurricanes Irma and Maria.
See pages 34 and
35 for details.
Headline news from around the world,
including the latest Tu-160, E-Fan X, a
record Airbus order and the F-35I Adir.
08 DUBAI AIR SHOW 2017
A round-up of the big military news
stories from the recent Dubai Air Show.
12 LAST F-16 LEAVES TEXAS NEST
The last F-16 Fighting Falcon has
been built at Air Force Plant 4 run by
aerospace giant Lockheed Martin.
14 MILITARY NEWS
Sukhoi-killer, L-39CW, Il-276 and the
all-new Calidus B-250.
18 SPAIN?S LAST P-3A ORION
The Spanish Air Force has retired its last
P-3A Prion.
20 DUTCH NH90
Behind the scenes with the Dutch
Helicopter Command?s NH90 NFHs.
22 MILITARY HELICOPTERS
Refurbished Hinds, Nigerian Air Force
Bell 412, H145M firing trials and more.
24 COMMERCIAL NEWS
Beluga XL, Dream Chaser, Japan Airlines
and Boom Supersonic.
25 AN-22 ANTEI
The world?s largest turboprop visits
the UK.
28 UNMANNED AIR VEHICLES
30 INTEL, SURVEILLANCE
AND RECON
BACK PAGES
92COMMERCIAL HELICOPTERS
96 ENHANCING THE A321
Headlines from the commercial
rotary market.
94 BUSINESS AVIATION
Major stories in the business
aviation sector.
R-350, Kalashnikov?s UAVs and more.
Airbus Cabin Flex and the A321LR.
98 TEXTRON LAUNCHES
CESSNA 408 SKYCOURIER
Predator ASW capability, Operational
MQ-4C Triton, and the Beriev A-100?s
maiden flight.
32ENGINES
A new turboprop with both passenger
and freight variants for the utility role.
The FATE demonstrator engine.
NEWS COLUMNS
36FRANCE
82
Aircraft developments and operational
updates.
38RUSSIA
Military transport branch expands its
strength.
40 UNITED STATES AIR FORCE
B-52H Stratofortress improvements.
42 UNITED STATES NAVY
Telemetry, Triton, distraction and
qualification.
44 ASIA AND AUSTRALIA
F-35 arrives, Seahawk and Squirrel depart.
www.airinternational.com | 5
SCENE
E-Fan moves to next stage
The Airbus E-Fan X demonstrator will use a BAe 146 and is scheduled to fly in 2020. Airbus
Airbus is to collaborate with RollsRoyce and Siemens in the next phase
of its ongoing E-Fan programme to
explore hybrid-electric propulsion
for commercial aircraft. The E-Fan
X technology demonstrator will use
a BAe 146 with one of the aircraft?s
four engines replaced by a 2MW
electric motor and fan. Provisions
will be made to replace a second
gas turbine engine with an electric
motor once system maturity is
proven. Using a BAe 146 represents
a considerable step up in Airbus
hybrid-electric research, with the
E-Fan programme so far having
involved light aircraft, including the
e-Genius, E-Star and E-Fan 1.2 as
demonstrators.
The E-Fan X demonstrator will
research thermal effects, electric
thrust management, altitude and
dynamic effects on electric systems
and electromagnetic compatibility.
The objectives are to mature the
performance, safety and reliability of
hybrid electric technology, establish
the future certification requirements
for electrically powered aircraft and
train a new generation of designers
and engineers.
Airbus爓ill be responsible for overall
aircraft integration, and the control
architecture of the hybrid-electric
propulsion system and batteries
and its integration with the aircraft?s
flight controls. Siemens� will deliver
the electric motors and their power
electronic control unit, as well
as the inverter, DC/DC converter
and power distribution system.
Rolls-Royce� will be responsible for
the engine, generator and power
electronics. Airbus and Rolls-Royce
will also both work on the fan
adaptation to the existing nacelle
and the Siemens electric motor.
Mark Broadbent
Big orders in the Gulf
The recent Dubai Air Show saw a
flurry of orders activity in the singleaisle airliner market, albeit less intense
than previous years. Most notable was
Indigo Partners placing the largest ever
single order for Airbus aircraft with a
memorandum of understanding for
430 A320neo Family aircraft.
The deal, worth $49.5 billion at list
prices, makes Indigo Partners one
of Airbus? largest customers, as the
jets are in addition to the 427 A320
Family aircraft Indigo has already
ordered for its four ultra-low-cost
carriers, Frontier Airlines in the
United States, Wizz Air in Europe,
Volaris in Mexico and JetSMART
in Chile. The 430 A320neos will
be split as follows: 100 A320neos
and 34 A321neos for Frontier, 72
A320neos and 74 A321neos for Wizz,
56 A320neos and 14 A321neos for
JetSMART and 46 A320neos and 34
A321neos.
Boeing also announced large singleaisle purchases of its own during
Dubai. The low-cost carrier flyDubai
ordered 175 737 MAXes (plus 50
options) and the lessor Avolon firmed a
previously announced memorandum
of understanding for 55 737 MAX 8s
and 20 737 MAX 10s. Mark Broadbent
Adir makes IOC
The F-35I Adir was declared with initial operational capability (IOC) by the Israel Air and Space Force on December 6, 2017. Israel is the first nation outside of the
United States to declare the F-35 as IOC. Now equipped with nine F-35Is (six more will be delivered in the Spring of 2018), 140 ?Golden Eagle? Squadron based at
Nevatim Air Base spent 12-months working-up to an official inspection of all aspects required of a fighter squadron, everything from training to some elements of
operational employment. The work-up was undertaken with the first five aircraft delivered to Israel. Further testing and development of tactics, techniques and
procedures will continue. Photo Israel Defense Force
6 | www.airinternational.com
@
airnews@keypublishing.com
SCENE
Another Blackjack complete
On November 16, 2017, the latest
Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bomber
was rolled out of the Kazan Aircraft
Plant production hall, a subsidiary of
the Tupolev Company. The bomber,
8-04, the fourth aircraft of the
eighth production series of Tu-160,
and the 35th Blackjack, not counting
ground test prototypes, is supposed
to begin flight testing in February
2018.
Production of Tu-160 bombers at
Kazan lasted until 1994, after which
four unfinished airframes remained
there. One, 8-02, was the first to
be finished and handed over to the
Russian Air Force in 1999, followed
by 8-03 in 2007. Following the
roll-out of 8-04, only aircraft 8-05
remains in the factory.
For the time being, aircraft 8-04
will remain a standard Tu-160,
but will eventually receive new
equipment and be redesignated
as a Tu-160M or M2. The different
designations denote a midlife
upgrade configuration (M) or a newbuild aircraft (M2); in respect of the
systems and equipment installed,
both the M and M2 will have the
same configuration.
New systems and equipment for
both designations are supposed
to be ready in 2020. Trials of the
modernised variant are expected
to be completed in 2021, the year
that the first new-build Tu-160M2 is
expected to make its maiden flight.
The Russian Ministry of Defence
currently intends to manufacture 50
new Tu-160M2s.
The Tu-160M/M2 modernisation
programme includes replacing
the current Obzor-K radar with
the Novella NV1.70 made by the
Zaslon Company, and installation
of new navigation, communications
and self-defence suites. The UKBP
Company based in Ulyanovsk is
developing a new cockpit display
system, and the Raduga Company in
Dubna is developing the Kh-BD airlaunched cruise missile, which has a
longer range than the existing Kh101, specifically for the modernised
Tu-160. The Kh-101 missile has
a 4,000km range (2,160 nautical
miles), while the Kh-102 nuclear
version has a range of 5,000km
(2,700 nautical miles).
Samara-based company Kuznetsov
is preparing to launch production of
upgraded NK-32 series 02 turbofan
engines for the Tu-160.
The 121st Guards Aviation Regiment
based at Engels Air Base operates 16
Tu-160 Blackjack bombers, some of
which flew the type?s first combat
mission on November 17, 2015,
launching Kh-101 missiles against
targets in Syria.
Further
evidence
of
the
recapitalisation of Russia?s strategic
bomber fleet came with an
announcement in November of
a plan to modernise at least half
of its 60-plus-strong fleet of Tu22M3 Backfires to a new Tu-22M3M
standard. The first upgraded aircraft,
scheduled to fly in 2018, is expected
to be fitted with the same engines,
avionics and mission systems as the
Tu-160M2 and integration of the
Kh-32 advanced cruise missile. As
ever with Russian military projects,
it is not known how much funding,
if any, has been allocated to the
programmes. AIR International
Tu-160 Blackjack 8-04 outside the Kazan Aircraft Plant production hall on November 16, 2017. OAK
New engine flies on a Su-57
On December 5, 2017, Russia?s fifthgeneration Su-57 fighter carried
out the type?s first flight fitted with
a second-stage engine dubbed the
isdeliye (product) 30. Sukhoi?s chief
test pilot Sergey Bogdan flew the
test mission in aircraft T-50-2, the
second prototype, which lasted for
17 minutes.
The new engine was installed on the
left with a standard AL-41F1 (isdeliye
117) engine on the right.
United Aircraft Corporation quoted
Russia?s Minister of Industry and
Trade, Denis Manturov who said
the successful flight with the new
engine gave an additional impulse
to the fifth-generation fighter
programme.
The isdeliye 30 engine has been
developed by the Moscow-based
Lyulka Design Bureau headed by
Yevgeniy Marchukov in cooperation
with all of the Russian large engine
manufacturers.
For
example,
Salyut of Moscow developed
the high-pressure compressor,
afterburner chamber and thrustvectoring nozzle. Isdeliye 30
engines will be manufactured at
A close-up shot of the engine nozzles of a isdeliye 30 engine installed on the left
and a standard (slightly longer) AL-41F1 (isdeliye 117) engine on the right on the
second prototype Su-57 fighter T-50-2 during a 17-minute flight flown by Sukhoi?s chief test Sergey Bogdan on December 5, 2017. United Aircraft Corporation
the UMPO production plant at
Ufa (where the current AL-41F1
is also manufactured). According
to design details released, the
engine core has a compression
ratio of 6.7, air flow of 2,123kg/
sec (4,680lb/sec) and a turbine
entry temperature range of 1,950?
2,100K. The maximum thrust with
afterburner is expected to be rated
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in the 17 to 18-tonnes range, while
the AL-41F1 is rated at 15 tonnes.
A big incentive for developing the
isdeliye 30 is India?s requirement
for a new fighter engine for the
Fifth-Generation Fighter Aircraft,
the Russian-Indian derivative of
the Su-57. India does not want its
future FGFA powered by the current
AL-41F1.
Ukraine?s
new tactical
UAV
The Antonov AN-BK-1 Horlytsia
UAV has started flight testing,
it was reported in November.
Powered by a pusher propeller,
the
system
is
catapult
launched and lands on a fixed
undercarriage. The vehicle has
an endurance of seven hours,
1,000km (539 nautical miles)
range and a maximum take-off
weight of 200kg (440lb) and it
can carry a 50kg (110lb) payload
at a cruising speed of 97kts
(180km/h). It has an operational
radius of 80km (43 nautical
miles). Designed by Antonov
as an independent research
and development programme,
the AN-BK-1 is intended to be
capable
of
reconnaissance,
target acquisition and weapons
delivery missions. It will enter
service with Ukraine in 2018. David
C Isby
www.airinternational.com | 7
SCENE
HAVING STARTED in 1986 as a
small civil aviation air show known
as Arab Air and held at the Dubai
World Trade Centre, the Dubai Air
Show is now the third largest tradecentred air show in the world, after
Farnborough and Paris. The event
is now held at the economic zone
known as Dubai World Central
(DWC) which is being built around
Al Maktoum International Airport.
The eighth iteration ran between
Sunday November 12 and Thursday
November 16, 2017. More than 60
companies exhibited, and trade
visitor numbers were up 20% over
2015; some 79,380 individuals
entered the purpose-built hall at
DWC. Orders worth $113.8 billion
were signed over the five days of
the event. As well as a conventional
trade static display, this year
featuring more than 160 aircraft,
each day included a flying display
of military and civil machines. Firsttimers this year included China?s
People?s Liberation Army Air Force?s
aerobatic display team ?August the
1st? with its Chengdu J-10 fighters.
UAE and QinetiQ announce
target joint venture
On the first day of the Dubai Air
Show 2017 UK defence company
QinetiQ and UAE-based Middle East
General Enterprises announced a
joint venture to manufacture in the
UAE aerial and maritime targets
to be used for test and evaluation,
acceptance and training purposes.
The range of products produced will
include the Banshee aerial target
and the Hammerhead fast attack
craft maritime target. Spokespeople
for the venture said it presents
an opportunity to export within
the Middle East and international
markets.
Pakistan continues to
promote its defence industry
Pakistan continues to extoll the
virtues of its semi-indigenous
products at air shows. Two types
were on display at Dubai, the
Pakistan Aeronautical Complex
(PAC) showcased its Super
Mushshak and the JF-17 Thunder.
With its Super Mushshak (Proficient)
PAC seems to have exploited a
gap in the market with significant
success. The small machine is a
state-of-the-art basic trainer in the
old school with relatively simple,
easy to maintain systems built upon
a proven, rugged platform. Although
the basic Swedish design is half a
century old, the Super Mushshak,
which first flew in 1995, is fitted with
a glass cockpit. Air conditioning is
also standard, essential for operation
in hot climates, and it is countries
with lots of sunshine that have
bought the aircraft. Nigeria has
now received all eight machines it
ordered in 2016 and has requested
four more. Qatar has also ordered
eight. In a big order for the type,
Turkey ordered 52 in May 2017, with
Azerbaijan following up with an
order for 10 just before the Dubai
Air Show. The manufacturer sees
scope for further development of
the type with work ongoing into
the integration of air-to-ground
missiles and electro-optical/
infrared equipment. Because it is
certified to meet Federal Aviation
Regulation Part 23 standards in
the normal, utility and aerobatics
categories it has the potential to be
used worldwide in the civilian pilot
training role.
At the other end of the scale, PAC
Kamra division, which also produces
the Super Mushshak, displayed
three of its JF-17 Thunder fighters.
These jets were in the markings of
14 Squadron ?Tail Choppers?, the
Pakistan Air Force?s (PAF) newest
Thunder unit. The Tail Choppers
are the fifth operational Pakistani
unit to fly the JF-17, which will form
the backbone of the PAF in years to
come. Unlike its smaller stablemate,
the Thunder has not achieved the
sales success it has sought for so
long. However, the manufacturer
hopes that as the airframe matures,
particularly with the introduction
of the Block 3 version with its
active electronically scanned
array radar and the integration
of a targeting pod, the relatively
inexpensive JF-17 will attract more
customers. Myanmar has ordered
16 JF-17Ms, one of which has
Dubai Air Show 2017
Jerry Gunner rounds-up the big military news stories from the recent Dubai Air Show
8 | www.airinternational.com
@
airnews@keypublishing.com
SCENE
The Aermacchi M-346FA demonstrator landing back at Leonardo?s
complex at Venegono, Italy, after appearing at Dubai Air Show 2017.
It appears the back-seater has everybody?s luggage on his lap!
Simone Previdi
been photographed test flying
at the Chinese base of Chengdu
Aircraft Industry Corporation,
(CAC), manufacturer of the CAC
FC-1 from which the JF-17 derives.
It is not clear why it was in China,
because all JF-17s are finished in
Kamra which makes 58% of the jet,
and there are photos of Myanmar?s
aircraft on the production line there.
The JF-17M differs slightly from
Pakistan?s jets, externally at least, in
having a different UHF/VHF antenna
beneath the nose and LED landing
lights on the nose-gear. The only
other acknowledged sale of the type
is for three aircraft for Nigeria. It is
reasonable to assume that those
three are just the forerunners of a
larger fleet. Although not present
at the Dubai Air Show, a twin-seat
version, the JF-17B, flew earlier
this year and will make for easier
integration of the type into air forces
new to the jet.
Leonardo shows new
M-346FA
Leonardo continues to expand its
M-346-based product range with
a third distinct subtype displayed
for the first time at the Dubai Air
Show. Following the example set
by earlier trainers from the same
stable, such as the MB339, the
346, which started as an advanced
trainer, is evolving into a useful
ground attack fighter. The jet on
display, an Aeronautica Militare
Italiana T-346A serial M.T.55217,
carried the designation Aermacchi
M-346FA Fighter Attack prominently
on the fin. Another M-346 had a
similar scheme at the 2017 Paris Air
Show, but the manufacturer says
that the Dubai M-346FA is fitted with
Leonardo?s own Grifo multimode
fire control radar and that its seven
weapons pylons allow it to carry out
air-to-ground, air-to-air and tactical
reconnaissance missions. Weapons
already proposed include the IRIS-T
air-to-air missile to be used with
a helmet-mounted sight and the
example at Dubai was seen carrying
AIM-9 Sidewinders and MBDA?s
Brimstone advanced air-to-ground
missile. The announcement of the
new subtype at June?s Paris Air
Show came a year after the earlier
announcement at Farnborough of
the company?s M-346FT Fighter
Trainer version, but was the first
time an allegedly converted jet had
appeared in public. After the show,
the jet was demonstrated to several
Arab nations, including Qatar, visiting
Al Udeid Air Base on November 1718. The Qatar Emiri Air Force is in the
market to replace its small fleet of six
Alpha Jets, but given the Emirate?s
recent spate of buying that includes
24 Typhoons, 24 Rafales and 36 F-15
Eagles, any buy is likely to comprise
a significantly large number of
M-346s.
Pakistan Air Force JF-17 16-219 of 14 Squadron returns to the flight line following a display. Mr Alan
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www.airinternational.com | 9
SCENE
Roketsan?s Cirit laser-guided missile in the foreground and the same company?s Teber-82 laser bomb-guidance kit under
the wing of a C295. S Ramadier/Airbus
Falco EVO UAS delivered to
Middle East customers
Leonardo announced it
had delivered its Falco EVO
tactical unmanned aerial
system to unspecified
Middle Eastern customers in
September. The surveillance
and intelligence-gathering
platform has an endurance
of more than 20 hours while
carrying a payload of up to
100kg (220lb).
C295 ISR attack version
Airbus products, including the
A400M Atlas and two C295s,
featured prominently in the static
display. The company announced
a new C295 armed intelligence
surveillance and reconnaissance
(ISR) version and one of the C295s
was flanked by a variety of hightech weaponry selected to be
integrated into the new version.
Airbus says it has signed a series
of agreements with air-to-surface
weapon suppliers, paving the
way for flight trials to qualify their
products to equip the C295. As
well as a previously announced
memorandum of understanding
with Roketsan of Turkey signed at
last year?s Farnborough Air Show,
similar arrangements have now
been reached with Expal, Escribano
and Equipaer of Spain, as well as
Rheinmetall of Germany and US
suppliers Nobles Worldwide and
US Ordnance.
A spokesman revealed two
modified C295s fitted with a
palletised mission console,
multimode radar, two 12.7mm
light machine guns and mounts
supplied by Nobles Worldwide
and US Ordnance mounted at
the rear paratrooper doors, and
an electro-optical/IR turret were
recently delivered to an unidentified
customer. Rheinmetall?s Bk27
autocannon provides a heavier
door-mounted option, targeted by
Escribano?s Door Gun System. The
next weapon to undergo airborne
carriage trials is expected to be
Roketsan?s L-UMTAS anti-tank
missile. The same manufacturer?s
Cirit laser-guided missile and
Teber-82 laser bomb-guidance kits
for Mk82 bombs are also available
options.
Ground testing of the armed ISR
C295 is set to begin before summer
2018, with the first flight tests set to
start that October.
Demonstrating the 295s
continued sales success was the
announcement during the show of
the sale of five more of the type to
the United Arab Emirates Air Force
to replace smaller CN235s from the
same manufacturer. The deal takes
orders for the type up to 203.
UAE?s fighter fleet
The United Arab Emirates Air Force?s
Major General Staff Pilot Ishaq Al
Balushi said during the show his
government intends to sign a deal
with French firms Dassault Aviation
and Thales to modernise the nation?s
fleet of 42 surviving Mirage 2000-9s.
The two companies confirmed the
deal, but no details of the nature of
the upgrades, the timescale or the
value of any potential contracts were
revealed. French website La Tribune
suggested a price tag of $350 million.
For a long time, the UAE has
wanted to upgrade its fleet of
United Arab Emirates Air Force Block
60 F-16E 3081, one of 79 in service.
Mr Alan
10 | www.airinternational.com
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Lockheed Martin Block 60 F-16
Desert Falcons, already the most
advanced F-16s in the world with
other state-of-the-art equipment.
Back in early 2014, it announced
proposals to upgrade its 79 single
and two-seat aircraft to a so-called
Block 61 standard, but no contracts
were ever announced. The plans
seem to have been revived,
however, because at the Dubai
Air Show a $1.65 billion deal was
announced that would not only see
the existing jets upgraded, but also
the acquisition of further F-16s.
The UAE is known to be keen
to purchase Lockheed Martin?s
F-35 Lightning II; 24 seems to
be the number of choice. It has
requested a classified briefing on
the type from the United States,
but before a deal can be signed
the Emirates will have to convince
those already involved in the
programme, including Israel and
the White House, that it can be
trusted with all the classified
data such an acquisition would
provide it access to. One of the
USPs of the F-35 is its huge data
banks of highly classified tactical,
technical and other information
gathered and provided by users
for distribution to allies. The
aircraft?s Autonomic Logistics
Information System (ALIS)
hoovers up megabytes of data
from every flight and returns
it to the ALIS hub maintained
by Lockheed Martin at its Fort
Worth, Texas, facility. The pilot
of each individual F-35 has all
that information at his or her
fingertips. Sceptics maintain
that with each sale the risk of
those data falling into the wrong
The two guns suggested for the C295; the lighter 12.7mm is mounted in the doorway. S Ramadier/Airbus
hands increases exponentially.
A protocol has to be established
with any potential purchaser
that it understands the concerns
of other operators about
their sovereign data and the
means and extent to which it is
distributed. Individual nations
must agree what they will share
and with whom and those nations
in turn have to decide what they
are prepared to share with every
other operator of the type.
Lockheed Martin and its
shareholders would dearly love
to sell the Lightning II to allcomers, but the security concerns
make many sales problematical.
The UAE can plead it is a special
case, because it was heavily
involved in and contributed a lot
of money to the development of
its own Desert Falcon F-16s. The
information gained was beneficial
to Lockheed Martin. The timing
of the programme to update
those relatively new jets and the
Emirates? professed interest in
Sukhoi?s Su-35 are seen in some
quarters as manifestations of the
pressure being applied by the UAE
to ensure it joins the F-35 club.
Kawasaki pitches C-2
transport
After decades of self-imposed exile
from the international arms market,
Japan has decided to offer to sell
some of its indigenous military
aircraft overseas. Chief among those
on offer are the Kawasaki Heavy
Industries? P-1 maritime patrol
aircraft and C-2 cargo jet. The first
production C-2, serial 68-1203,
was at the Dubai Air Show. New
Zealand has expressed an interest
in purchasing both it and the P-1
and it is known that negotiations are
ongoing with the UAE for the type.
The C-2 can carry the same load as
the A400M over a longer distance,
but does not have a similar roughfield performance.
Scorpion for Saudi Arabia?
Textron has been trying
unsuccessfully to secure a launch
customer for its Scorpion light
attack/ISR jet for several years.
That might change after the
aircraft exhibited at the Dubai Air
Show visited the Kingdom of Saudi
Arabia in the days before the show.
Pilots from the Royal Saudi Air
Force put the Scorpion through
its paces in a series of flights from
October 29 to November 9. Saudi
pilots dropped inert munitions
and learned for themselves how
easy to fly and how capable the
aircraft is. Interestingly, the $110
billion weapons deal with the
Saudis announced by US President
Donald Trump in June included $2
billion for light air support aircraft,
a bill the Scorpion would seem to
fit nicely.
The Scorpion assembly line at Wichita, Kansas. Five of the type have been built
so far. Textron Aviation
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SCENE
The last F-16 to be built at Fort Worth, F-16-52-CF serial number 1636 (c/n RA-28), takes off on delivery to Iraq on
November 14, 2017. All further production will take place at a new facility at Greenville, South Carolina. Matt Ellis
Last F-16 leaves Texas n
THE LAST F-16 Fighting Falcon
to be built in Texas flew away
from Lockheed Martin?s facility
at Air Force Plant 4, Fort
Worth, on November 14. The
first F-16 took to the air, albeit
inadvertently, more than 43
years earlier on January 20,
1974. Former naval aviator Phil
Oestricher was working as a test
pilot for then F-16 manufacturer
General Dynamics at the
Air Force Flight Test Center
at Edwards Air Force Base,
California. He was performing
a high-speed ground run of a
prototype YF-16 in advance
of the scheduled first flight
on February 2, 1974, when
oscillations caused the aircraft
to rock from side to side. A
wing-tip-mounted missile and
a stabilator struck the ground,
so Oestricher decided to take
off; he safely landed the jet after
six minutes. Had the aircraft
12 | www.airinternational.com
crashed it is quite possible the
rival Northrop YF-17 would
have won the competition for
the US Air Force?s lightweight
fighter programme and the
F-16 may have ended up as an
insignificant footnote in aviation
history.
Since that uncertain start, the
F-16 has grown from the initial
concept of a lightweight fighter
to a jack-of-all-trades flown by
many air forces around the world
with around 4,600 built, so far.
Many of those jets were
manufactured overseas. SABCA
of Belgium produced airframes
for Belgium and Denmark,
while the Dutch company
Fokker assembled F-16s for the
Netherlands and Norway. Turkish
Aircraft Industries built several
hundred for Turkey and Egypt
and in South Korea, Korean
Aircraft Industries constructed
KF-16s for the Republic of Korea
Air Force, but even so, the Fort
Worth line has seen thousands of
Vipers, as the jet is known, built
and delivered to air forces world
wide. From now on, any further
F-16s will be built at a new facility
in South Carolina.
Continued growth
Lockheed Martin launched a
new variant, the F-16V, in 2015,
but has not stopped producing
legacy models and it was one of
those, an F-16C variant, that was
the last to leave the line in Texas.
Today?s F-16 has come a long
way from the original concept
of a relatively inexpensive
lightweight air combat fighter
for the US Air Force. The latest
version, the F-16V, first flew
in October 2015. Weighing
2.5 tonnes more than an early
F-16A, it is built around an
active electronically scanned
array (AESA) radar monitored
on a large-format 6 x 8-inch
(152 x 203mm), high-resolution
display with data processed via
a high-volume, high-speed data
bus. Operational capabilities are
enhanced through incorporation
of the Link 16 data link, AAQ-33
Sniper targeting pod, advanced
weapons, precision GPS
navigation and an auto ground
collision avoidance system fitted
as standard. The modern COTSbased avionics subsystem is
customisable.
Winding down
There is no doubt that by any
standards the F-16 has been
an outstanding success, but
it now faces several problems
that reduce the opportunities
for further sales. Perhaps
the most obvious is that for
wealthier nations and members
of NATO, the F-16 is no longer
the warplane of choice. That
@
airnews@keypublishing.com
SCENE
s nest
mantle has been assumed by
Lockheed Martin?s F-35 Lightning
II, which as production builds up
is becoming increasingly more
competitive in terms of price.
Another perhaps less obvious
obstacle to further sales is that
the White House has vetoed
the sale of F-16s to potential
customers, such as Pakistan, for
political reasons. Perversely, that
governmental mindset may end
up helping F-16 sales, because
the US government has vowed it
will not sell F-35s to Middle East
nations other than Israel, perhaps
paving the way for more Viper
sales in the region.
Lockheed Martin really pushed
the F-16V at last year?s Paris Air
Show, revealing the possibility of
a partnership with Indian megacorporation TATA if the Asian
nation selected the type for its
air force. In September 2017, the
US State Department approved
Jerry Gunner reviews the last F-16
Fighting Falcon built at Air Force Plant 4
run by aerospace giant Lockheed Martin
the sale of 19 F-16Vs to Bahrain.
Part of the deal included a further
announcement of an agreement
to upgrade Bahrain?s existing fleet
of 20 Block 40 F-16s to F-16V
standard at a cost of around $1
billion. Greece, a country that
can?t afford the F-35 and whose
nearest neighbour and rival
Turkey can, wants to upgrade its
123-strong fleet of Block 30 and
40 machines to F-16V standard,
too. It is this ability to update
existing fleets of older Vipers to
F-16V standard that could be
the saviour of F-16 production.
The workforce can be kept in
employment rebuilding legacy
fighters to the newer standard
while the production line is kept
going building the fewer number
of new jets. That is why the move
of the F-16 line to Lockheed
Martin?s plant at Donaldson
Center Airport, Greenville, South
Carolina is happening.
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New nest
At the moment, Air Force
Plant 4 at Fort Worth is
dominated by the enormous
F-35 manufacturing complex.
Alongside it is the much smaller
plant for assembling Fighting
Falcons, known as ?the Fighting
Falcon nest?. However, space
is at a premium and the F-16
facility is due to be swallowed
up by the ever-expanding
F-35 factory. Lockheed Martin
admitted the possibility of ending
F-16 production for good in
early 2016. While continuing to
order long-lead components
in anticipation of further
orders a company spokesman
had suggested that if those
contracts were not forthcoming
production would finish at the
end of 2017. Bahrain?s order
has prompted the move to
its facility at Greenville where
Lockheed Martin plans to build
the Lockheed/Korea Aerospace
Industries T-50A if that aircraft is
successful in the US Air Force?s
T-X trainer competition. South
Korea?s first home-grown
supersonic jet, the KAI T-50
Golden Eagle, owes a lot to the
F-16 and KAI?s work in building
the jet for the Republic. The
T-50A shares the same basic
shape, flight controls and wing.
Several hundred have already
been sold by KAI, predominately
in the Asia-Pacific region, and the
company has orders for more.
At Greenville, Lockheed has
prepared manufacturing facilities
and four T-50As have been built.
The F-16V sale to Bahrain and
the prospect of more orders in
the future, as well as agreements
to upgrade earlier fleets,
suggest that Lockheed Martin
could easily exceed its present
prediction of ending production
in 2022.
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SCENE
Sukhoi-killer
Seen at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada in early December was Strike Fighter Squadron 87 (VFA-87) ?Golden Warriors? F/A-18E Super Hornet BuNo 168912/AJ302.
This aircraft, piloted by Lt Cdr Tremel, shot down a Syrian Air Force Su-22 Fitter with an AIM-120 AMRAAM missile near to the city of al Tabqa on June 18, 2017. A
kill marking featuring a Syrian flag and a small black silhouette of a Su-22 are applied below the canopy, and 50 weapon symbols on the fuselage. Kevin Whitehead
Marineflieger P-3C: second phase of upgrade
The award of a contract for the
second phase of the upgrade
programme
for
Germany?s
Marineflieger?s eight P-3C Orion
maritime patrol aircraft was
announced by Lockheed Martin
on November 1. The $158.5
million Mission System Refresh
programme will fit the P-3Cs with
the company?s open-architecture
Airborne Tactical Mission System
and upgrade other systems. These
will include the acoustic processor
dubbed the Airborne Rack-mounted
Commercial Portable Processor
(ARCP2).
The Mission System Refresh
programme, which is being carried
out by Lockheed Martin and Airbus
Space and Defence, began in 2016
and will run through 2022. It extends
airframe service life by an additional
15,000 hours and integrates improved
avionics and flight systems. The
L-39CW completes flight testing
The latest version of Aero Vodochody?s veteran trainer, the Williams International FJ44-4M turbofan engine-powered L-39CW has completed flight testing and is being offered as an upgrade package to current L-39 operators.
Katsu Tokunaga/Aero Vodochody
The Czech Republic?s Aero
Vodochody has completed flight
testing of its L-39CW trainer and
light attack aircraft, it announced
on November 20. The re-engined
14 | www.airinternational.com
L-39 is powered by a Williams
International FJ44-4M turbofan
engine and is fitted with the
improved avionics, displays and
systems introduced on the new-
build L-39NG version first shown
publicly in 2014. The L-39CW
is being offered as an upgrade
package to current L-39 operators.
David C Isby
three-phase effort is intended to keep
the P-3Cs operational until 2035.
Germany?s P-3Cs were acquired
from the Netherlands in 2006 and are
flown by Marinefliegergeschwader 3
(Naval Air Squadron 3) ?Graf Zeppelin?
from Naval Nordholz in northern
Germany. David C Isby
Transports,
Tankers and
AWACS
Russia?s first new-build Ilyushin II-78M90A tanker aircraft was rolled out of
the factory at Ulyanovsk on November
30. Flight testing, originally scheduled
to begin in early 2017 has slipped to
2018. The new tanker is based on the
Il-76M-90A transport and uses the
same PS-90A-76 turbofan engines.
The maximum fuel load of 91 tonnes in
its internal fuel system can be increased
by a further 36 tonnes by the addition
of an auxiliary tank carried in the cargo
bay. It is equipped with two underwing
and one tail-mounted UPAZ-1M hoseand-drogue systems, each capable of
transferring 3,000 litres (792 US gallons)
of fuel per minute. The Russian Air
Force expects to procure 31 of the type.
The Beriev A100 airborne early warning
and control system aircraft, which also
uses the Il-76M-90A airframe, made its
first flight at Beriev?s Taganrog facility on
November 18. Intended to replace Russia?s
A-50 Mainstay, the A-100 retains the basic
rotodome-equipped configuration of
its predecessor. The A-100 is equipped
with a Vega Radio Electronic Corporation
Premier mission system including an
active electronically scanned array radar
in elevation, with a 600km (324 nautical
miles) range. David C Isby
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SCENE
Japanese E-2D takes to the air
Embraer
AEW&C aerial
refuelling
An Indian Air Force (IAF) Il-78 Midas
tanker successfully refuelled one of
the IAF?s three Embraer ERJ-145SM
airborne early warning and control
(AEW&C) aircraft on November 30.
Dr S Christopher, Director General,
Defence Research and Development
Organisation, who was credited with
leading India?s effort to manufacture
its own AEW&C suite for the
Embraer platform, announced that
his organisation had been tasked
with developing the air-to-air
system on the jet in June 2016. The
system relies on a probe fitted to
the fuselage above the cockpit. The
aircraft were built with the probe
already fitted.
Northrop Grumman announced it flew the first of two E-2D Advanced Hawkeye early warning and surveillance aircraft it
is building for Japan at the company?s Aircraft Integration Centre of Excellence in St Augustine, Florida, on November 13.
The new aircraft will join Japan?s existing fleet of 13 E-2Cs next year. Photo Northrop Grumman
UAE?s turboprop ambitions
The United Arab Emirates? (UAE) Calidus
B-250 Al Badr turboprop two-seat light
attack aircraft was publicly displayed for
the first time at the Dubai Air Show in
November. Designed in cooperation
with Brazil?s Novaer, the B-250 was
designed by Joseph Kov醕s, as was
the EMB-314/A-29A Super Tucano
that it strongly resembles. The aircraft
on display carried a Brazilian civil
registration, PR-ZNU, suggesting it may
have been built in Brazil.
The B-250 has a retractable ventral
turret
mounting
electro-optical
sensors, six underwing and one
centre-line hard point for weapons,
external fuel tanks and sensor pods.
It uses the Rockwell Collins Pro Line
Fusion avionics suite, including an
integral head-up display.
Powered by a 1,600shp Pratt &
Whitney Canada PT-6A turboprop
and making extensive use of carbon
fibre structural composite material,
the B-250 has a maximum payload
of 3,600kg (7,935lb), a service ceiling
of 30,000ft (9,144m) and a range of
2,430 nautical miles (4,500km). Little
information has been released about
the status of the B-250, which appears
to reflect the UAE?s current goal of
developing an indigenous aerospace
industry. David C Isby
Philippines
selects Super
Tucano
Embraer has revealed that the Philippines
has become the second Asia-Pacific
nation after Indonesia to order its A-29
Super Tucano. Six aircraft will be delivered
to the Philippines Air Force (PAF) in
2019, according to the November 30
announcement. The purchase is part of
the Flight Plan 2028 programme that
seeks to overhaul the PAF?s capabilities.
The PAF already flies 12 KAI FA-50PH
advanced
trainers-ground
attack
aircraft and the FP 2028 programme
calls for attack helicopters, too. Manilla
suffers from an Islamic State-supported
insurgency in the south of the country.
F-35s arrive in Norway
Luftforsvaret pilots St錶e Nymoen and Thomas Harlem walk from their aircraft, F-35As 5148 and 5150, to the reception ceremony after landing at 豶land Main Air Station
on November 10. Torbj鴕n Kjosvold/Forsvaret
The first three F-35As to arrive in
Norway for the Luftforsvaret (Royal
Norwegian Air Force), serial numbers
5148, 5149 and 5150, landed at 豶land
Main Air Station on November 3. They
were officially welcomed into service
on November 10. Seven more of a
planned total of 52 for the Nordic
nation are based at Luke Air Force
Base, Arizona, engaged in pilot training
for Norwegian and other operators.
The Lightning II is scheduled to
achieve initial operational capability
status with the Luftforsvaret during
2019 and is expected to be declared
fully operational in 2025.
Lockheed Martin announced on
November 6 it had delivered a fullmission simulator to 豶land, as well as
to fellow F-35 operators Japan, Italy
and Israel. Norway will receive its new
aircraft at the rate of six each year from
2018 up to and including 2024.
Shortly after the delivery, it was
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revealed that Norway has become the
first foreign country to receive the F-35
Block 3F mission data file from the US
Air Force?s 53rd Electronic Warfare
Group?s Partner Support Complex.
F-35 Partner Support Complex
director Robert Kraus said: ?Delivery
of this mission data file to Norway
marks a great landmark. Our software
provides the Norwegian F-35 an
unprecedented
precision
attack
capability ? a crucial element to
maintaining peace.?
The Block 3F mission data allows the
F-35 to perform its primary missions of
air interdiction, close air support and
suppression and destruction of enemy
air defences.
The Partner Support Complex is
tasked with programming the mission
data software for F-35 partner
nations: Australia, Denmark, Italy the
Netherlands, Norway, Turkey and the
UK.
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SCENE
Israel offers surplus F-16s to Croatia
Israel has offered to supply Croatia with surplus F-16A Netz like this 116 ?Defenders of the South? Squadron example to
replace its veteran MiG-21s. Andy Marden
In a surprise move, Israel has
offered F-16 Baraks upgraded
to ?Barak 2040? standard to
Croatia. The modernised jets
would be included in a deal
involving F-16A and F-16B
Netz fighters. Israel has already
retired its Netz fleet but Baraks
are becoming available as Israel
receives more F-35I Adirs from
Russian Naval Aviation deliveries
Russian Naval Aviation (RNA)
took on strength five new Su30SM multi-role fighters in 2017.
It also received eight upgraded
and life-extended Ka-27M antisubmarine warfare helicopters;
25 other refurbished machines of
various types were returned to the
fleet, according to Russian Navy
CinC Admiral Vladimir Korolev.
HMS Queen
Elizabeth
commissioned
HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08), the first
of two Queen Elizabeth-Class aircraft
carriers for the Royal Navy was
officially commissioned into service
on December 7 at her homeport of
Portsmouth Naval Base. The ship's
Commanding
Officer,
Captain
Jerry Kyd, read the commissioning
warrant and the iconic White
Ensign was raised, symbolising the
commissioning of the UK's flagship
into the Royal Navy's fleet. Following
final build activity and preparation
for helicopter trials in the New Year,
HMS Queen Elizabeth will sail to the
United States for initial flight trials
with the F-35B Lightning II off the
East Coast in autumn 2018. There
are currently 150 Royal Navy and
RAF personnel training with the US
Marine Corps at Marine Corps Air
Station Beaufort, South Carolina.
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The Su-30SMs were delivered to
the Baltic Fleet?s 72nd Air Base at
Chernyakhovsk in the Kaliningrad
exclave on the Baltic Sea coast. In
addition, the second batch of Su33 heavy shipborne fighters is being
upgraded with the SVP-24-33 addon navigation/attack system. Work
was scheduled to be completed in
early December. Alexander Mladenov
Lockheed Martin. Croatia has
a requirement for 12 aircraft to
replace a similar number of MiG21s. Saab has offered its Gripen
for the requirement.
Anti-ship
missiles
Russian Naval Aviation?s MiG-29KR
and MiG-29KUBR multi-role fighters
have had the KRTV Kh-31 (AS-17
Krypton) supersonic air-to-surface
missile added to their weapons fit.
Both of the existing versions of the
Mach 4 missile have been integrated,
with integration work completed this
autumn, according to Russian Navy
sources quoted by Isvestya. KRTV or
Korporatsia Takticheskoe Raketnove
Vooruzhenie is the Russian Tactical
Missile and Weapons Corporation.
The pilots of the 100th Otdelnoy
Korabel'noy Istrebitelnoy Aviatsionny
Polk (100th Independent Shipborne
Fighter Aviation Regiment), stationed
at Severmorsk-3 in the Murmansk
Oblast, are reported to have already
practised simulated launches of the
missile, using captive-carry rounds.
The Kh-31A is the anti-ship version
fitted with an active radar seeker,
while the Kh-31P has passive
guidance intended for use against
radars. Both versions can be
deployed by Russian Naval Aviation?s
other new fighter type, the Su-30SM
which is already in service with three
land-based. Alexander Mladenov
First KC-46A Pegasus tanker for
the US Air Force takes to the air
The first of 18 Boeing KC-46A Pegasus
tanker aircraft scheduled to enter service
with the US Air Force in 2018 took to
the air for the first time at Paine Field,
Washington on December 5, 2017. Boeing
has already flown three engineering and
manufacturing development and two
low-rate initial development aircraft, but
this is the first intended to go straight to
the user from the factory gate.
KC-46A serial number 16-46007 (c/n
41855) took off at 10:32hrs and flew
for 3 hours 29 minutes. During the
flight, Boeing test pilots took the tanker
to a maximum altitude of 39,000ft
(11,887m) and performed operational
checks on engines, flight controls
and environmental systems as part of
the Federal Aviation Administrationapproved flight profile.
More Be-200Chs
Flown for the first time on November 27, 2017, Be-200Chs (c/n 305), wearing the Russian state aircraft registration
RF-31140, is slated for delivery to the Ministry of Emergency Situations at the end of December 2017.
United Aircraft Corporation
Five new-build Beriev Be-200CHs
jet-powered, firefighting, amphibious
aircraft are set to join the fleet of
the Russian Ministry of Emergency
Situations between 2017 and 2019.
Six more of the type will follow
between 2020 and 2024. According
to Russian Minister of Emergency
Situations Vladimir Puchkov, the
delivery schedule at the TANTK
Beriev plant in Taganrog calls for the
first Be-200Chs to be handed over in
late December 2017. The contract for
these is fully funded and production
is being undertaken at Beriev?s
Taganrog-based TANTK plant.
The next batch of six Be-200Chs
slated for delivery 2020?2024 will
bring the total fleet of the Russian
Ministry of Emergency Situations to
18 aircraft. Alexander Mladenov
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SCENE
All-new: Il-276
Chief Executive Officer of the Ilyushin
Aviation Complex Aleksey Rogozin
posted an announcement on his
Facebook page that the company had
launched a new medium transport
aircraft programme designated the
Il-276.
Rogozin said the programme,
launched on June 1, 2017 would be
developed in the best tradition of the
Ilyushin Design Bureau and use the
latest technologies.
Although the Il-276 has much in
common with the Russian-Indian
Il-214 Multirole Transport Aircraft
(MTA project, Rogozin emphasised
it is a different aircraft with different
technical requirements.
The Il-276 specification released
is very similar to the last iteration
of the MTA. It is likely that some
requirements in the MTA project
were there at the request of India,
including the capability to operate
from airstrips located at altitudes of
11,500ft (3,500m) above sea level in
temperatures of 40癈, capabilities not
required by the Russian Air Force.
The MTA was launched in March 1999
with the signing of protocol of intent
to create a joint venture between
Ilyushin and Hindustan Aeronautics
Limited for the development and
production of the MTA based on
Ilyushin?s pilot Il-214 project.
On October 12, 2012, the parties
signed a preliminary design contract,
but work proceeded slowly. In
2015, India finally withdrew from
the project, reportedly dissatisfied
with the aircraft?s characteristics and
Russian demands for more funding.
In September 2015, the Russian
Ministry of Defence ordered Ilyushin
to adapt the MTA design to the
requirements of the Russian Sredniy
Voyenno-Transportnyi
Samolyot
(SVTS or Medium Military Transport
Aircraft)
programme.
Funding
previously planned for the MTA
ILYUSHIN IL-276 CHARACTERISTICS
Wingspan
35.5m (116ft 6in)
Length
37.7m (123ft 8in)
Height
12.95m (42ft 6in)
Take-off weight
over 60,000kg (132,277lb)
Maximum payload
20,000kg (44,092lb).
Cruise speed
432kts (800km/h)
Ceiling
12,100m (39,698ft)
Range
3,240 nautical miles (6,000km)*
*Early data for the MTA listed a 3,240 nautical miles (6,000km) range with a 4.5-tonne payload or 1,215 nautical miles
(2,250km) with maximum payload.
A model of the Ilyushin Il-276 transport aircraft.
programme was to be reassigned
to the SVTS project. According
to Igor Bevzyuk, Ilyushin?s Il-276
programme head, the Russian
Ministry of Defence was expected to
approve the final requirements for
the SVTS in December 2017, after
which a contract for the design and
manufacture of a prototype was to be
signed.
The Il-276 has a moderately swept
high-mounted wing, a T-shaped
tail, rear loading ramp and low
undercarriage carried in nacelles on
the fuselage sides. Payload options
include 20,000kg (44,092lb) of cargo
or 100 troops, or two personnel
carriers. Initially, the aircraft will be
powered by two Aviadvigatel PS90A76 turbofans, each rated at
Magic Carpet upgrade
The US Navy?s Maritime Augmented
Guidance with Integrated Controls
for Carrier Approach and Recovery
Precision Enabling Technologies
(MAGIC CARPET) aircraft landing
system is being upgraded with
improved software that will be
delivered in 2019. Presently limited
to F/A-18 Super Hornet and EA-18G
Growler, it is also intended for use on
the F-35C Lightning II.
MAGIC CARPET was a collaborative
development between Naval Air
Systems Command and the Office of
Naval Research and was initially tested
by Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23
(VX-23) aboard the USS George H.W.
Bush in 2015; testing was completed
by VX-23 aboard the USS George
Washington in June 2016. Raytheon
is offering the Department of Defense
its Joint Precision Approach and
Landing System (JPALS), a landbased version of the GPS-based
shipboard system currently used
with MAGIC CARPET on US Navy
carriers. The land-based version of
JPALS is potentially compatible with
a larger number of aircraft types,
including rotary-wing, enabling them
to fly a precision coupled approach
to touchdown. The shipboard version
of the JPALS system will also work
with the MQ-25A Stingray unmanned
aircraft system, though the UAV will
not use MAGIC CARPET. David C Isby
Rooks? latest CAG-bird
Detached to Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada in early December was EA-18G Growler BuNo 168266/AB500, the latest CAG-bird
operated by Electronic Attack Squadron 137 (VAQ-137) ?Rooks'. Based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington, VAQ-137 has
been assigned to Carrier Air Wing 1 (CVW-1) since 1989, transitioned from the EA-6B Prowler to the EA-18G in 2013 and made its
maiden Growler deployment aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) in March 2015. The aircraft is adorned with the squadron?s
black and white colours, CVW-1 titles on the inner faces of the vertical stabilisers and the unit?s emblem, a stylised Rook bird, on the
outer faces. Of note is the CATM-88 High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile captive training round loaded on the outer wing station.
156.9kN (35,274lb) of thrust, the same
engine used by the Il-76MD-90A.
New-generation Aviadvigatel PD14 turbofans, developed for MC-21
airliner will be integrated at a later
date.
Russia?s requirement for the Il-276 is
to replace An-12 medium transports,
around 60 of which remain in Russian
military service. On the international
market, the Il-276 will compete
with the Lockheed Martin C-130J,
Embraer KC-390 and Antonov?s Il178. According to Bevzyuk, the Il-276
prototype is expected to perform its
maiden flight in the first quarter of
2023, and deliveries will start in 2026.
Ilyushin is planning to produce the Il276 at Ulyanovsk, alongside the Il-76
and Il-78.
Raptor
strike in
Afghanistan
Reflecting a change in rules of
engagement that now allow US
forces to go after infrastructure
generating income for insurgents,
US Air Force F-22s struck targets
in Afghanistan for the first time.
Operating from Al Dhafra Air
Base in the United Arab Emirates,
the F-22s dropped 250lb (114kg)
GBU-39/B Small Diameter Bombs
on Taliban drug manufacturing
factories in Helmand province on
November 19 under Operation
Jagged Knife, a combined air
operation that also involved
Afghan A-29s and US B-52s. US
Air Forces Central Command said
the F-22 was used ?for a variety of
reasons, but primarily to mitigate
collateral damage and civilian
casualties by employing smalldiameter bombs carried by the
aircraft?.
The GBU-39/B is an autonomous
precision glide weapon with the
capability to strike fixed and relocatable targets from stand-off
range.
Kevin Whitehead
www.facebook.com/airinternationalmagazine
www.airinternational.com | 17
SCENE
Just after 15:00hrs on November 14,
2017, the last operational Ej閞cito del Aire
Lockheed P-3A landed for the last time at
its new home, Cuatro Vientos Air Base. This
aircraft was one of the oldest Orions in service anywhere in the world. Roberto Ya馿z
AFTER 52 years of valuable service,
the last Lockheed P-3A DELTIC
(Delayed Time Compression)
Orion in service with Grupo 22
of the Ej閞cito del Aire (Spanish
Air Force or EA) has retired from
service. It landed for the last time
at Madrid?s Cuatro Vientos Air
Base in mid-November 2017 after
a flight of about an hour from its
base at Mor髇 de la Frontera. The
aircraft, serial P.3A-01/22-21 ? also
affectionately known by all in the
unit as ?El Abuelo? (The Grandfather)
? began its long operational career
in 1965 when it was delivered to the
US Navy?s Patrol Squadron Eight
(VP-8) ?Fighting Tigers? as BuNo
152153. After eight years? service
with the Americans, the aircraft was
acquired by Spain and delivered to
the EA on August 1, 1973.
The purchase was part of a plan
to modernise Spain?s maritime
patrol aircraft fleet, equipped at that
time with Grumman?s Albatross.
Madrid was unable to afford brandnew machines, so a decision was
made to acquire three used but
modernised P-3A Orions from
US Navy stocks. As part of the
programme, between 1971 and
1972 the EA sent 45 personnel to
the US to be trained as Spain?s first
P-3 crews. On July 25, 1973, three
P-3A DELTIC Orions landed in
Spain where they joined the veteran
Grummans of Escuadr髇 221 based
at La Parra, Jerez, with Spanish
military serials P.3-1/221-20 to P.33/221-22. Four years later, on July
8, 1977, P.3-2 crashed on landing at
Jerez, killing the six crew members.
The accident left just two P-3s
Grandfather retires
Roberto Ya馿z and Alex Rodr韌uez report on the retirement of the
last Spanish Air Force P-3A Prion at Cuatro Vientos near Madrid
With the retirement of the only P-3A in EA service, the Grupo 22 roster is now reduced to just
three P-3Ms. Seen here is the aircraft performing
a final flypast over Cuatro Vientos Air Base prior
its very last landing. Roberto Ya馿z
18 | www.airinternational.com
@
airnews@keypublishing.com
SCENE
After its withdrawal from service P3A01/22-21 was placed in storage at the
Cuatro Vientos Maintenance Depot,
along with other aircraft destined for the
nearby Museo del Aire. Roberto Ya馿z
in service and for a few months
between mid-1978 and 1979, after
the retirement of the Grummans,
they made up the whole Ej閞cito
del Aire maritime patrol force.
In 1979, 221 Escuadr髇 received
four additional DELTIC Orions
leased from the US Navy and
registered as P.3-4/221-23 to P.37/221-26, bringing the force to six
examples.
During the 1980s, several studies
were undertaken to replace the
existing fleet with more modern
examples of the same type. The
option of buying factory-new
aircraft once again had to be
discarded and second-hand
Norwegian P-3Bs that were in
the process of being replaced
by newly built C-models were
obtained. This acquisition allowed
for the return of the aircraft leased
from the US Navy (except for P.37, which was sent to the air force
museum). The seven-strong fleet
now comprised five P-3Bs and the
two surviving P-3As. The P-3A?s
increasing obsolescence and the
difficulty of maintaining them
led to the type being relegated
to supporting the P-3Bs by flying
maritime surveillance missions or
crew training flights.
As a tribute to veterans and former members of the unit, some of
whom were present to say goodbye to an old comrade after its last
mission, the crew of radio call sign ?CISNE 31? dressed in orange flight
suits like the ones used by the EA in the 1970s.
Roberto Ya馿z
www.facebook.com/airinternationalmagazine
The P-3Bs entered an extensive
modernisation programme at the
beginning of the year 2000 and the
A-models were used as cover while
they were being upgraded. The
two Alphas were used intensively,
deploying outside Spain on maritime
traffic control and anti-piracy
missions off the Horn of Africa
P-3A P.3-3/22-22 was retired in
August of 2012, but P.3A-1/22-21
remained in service despite its age,
flying its last operational flight from
Djibouti as part of the anti-piracy
mission Operation Atalanta on
November 4, 2017. Upon its return
to Mor髇, it was prepared for its
last flight to Cuatro Vientos Air Base
on November 14 after completing
nearly 20,000 flight hours during
its career.
After preparation for display the
aircraft will be transferred by road
to the nearby Museo del Aire, where
it will probably be put on show to
the public. The museum already
has an Orion on display: P.3-7, one
of the four taken on charge back
in the late 1970s. It is in very poor
condition and is not as significant
as P.3A-1. However, as it is a former
US Navy machine, permission is
needed from the Pentagon before it
can be scrapped.
Despite impending retirement, Grupo 22?s maintenance personnel kept P3A-01
in tip-top operational condition. It provided 24-hour SAR coverage for the
Madrid and Barcelona Flight Information Regions during the summer, before
deploying to Djibouti to cover for one of the deployed Spanish P-3Ms while it
underwent periodic maintenance. Roberto Ya馿z
www.airinternational.com | 19
SCENE
SEVENTEEN YEARS after the
Netherlands Ministry of Defence
ordered 20 NH90 NFHs (NATO
Frigate Helicopters) from
NHIndustries, this major Dutch
Helicopter Command (DHC)
programme is finally delivering
results. The sense of optimism was
tangible when AIR International
met with senior personnel from 7
Squadron (Operational Test and
Evaluation) and 860 Squadron
during the latest three-week
training deployment to Royal
Naval Air Station Culdrose,
Cornwall, in November.
Tempo shift
Head of operations for 860
Squadron, Lieutenant Eric, a senior
tactical coordinator (TACCO)
said: ?There has been a real
shift in programme tempo after
completing all eight programme
stages during 2016, including our
final anti-submarine warfare [ASW]
tests using the HELRAS system. A
test crew successfully launched
the first torpedo [a Mk46] against
a submarine during our 2016
Culdrose deployment, followed
by the first successful launch by
an 860 Squadron crew during
summer 2017. Our training manuals
and SOPs [standard operating
procedures) are also complete.?
HELRAS refers to the Helicopter
Long-Range Active Sonar
manufactured by US company L3
Ocean Systems.
There have been many
operational programme successes
for DHC to reflect upon recently.
Most notable was the humanitarian
support provided in the Caribbean
following Hurricane Irma.
Lt Eric said: ?We were the
first country in position with a
helicopter to provide damage
assessment. Aircraft role changes
were quickly made enabling us
to undertake personnel rescue,
perform underslung load lifts,
winching, confined area landings;
Neptune
returns
we really made a difference.
We have also achieved major
success in our counterdrugs role
in the region. Importantly, we
are the first country in the world
to receive certification from the
United States Coast Guard to
perform night-time counterdrugs
operations on its behalf. We fly
with Coast Guard observers in
the back plus a Marine sniper and
an M3M machine gun. During
one operation with the Coast
Guard following the hurricane,
we picked up 600kg [1,322lb] of
cocaine. In terms of ASW, our
work has also been recognised by
HELRAS manufacturer L3, which
confirmed at a recent convention
in the United States attended by
all operators that we are tier one
regarding HELRAS ASW operations.
We have now completed brown
water ASW [shallow water], deep
water ASW and worked with live
submarines. I am very happy with
the progression made.?
Training
Aircraft and personnel from Maritime
Air Station De Kooy have deployed to
Culdrose for many years undertaking
operational training and evaluation
during Flag Officer Sea Training
(FOST) exercises.
This year?s deployment focused
on operational aircrew training,
development of ASW and antisurface warfare (ASuW) skills and
participation in dedicated combined
anti-submarine exercises (CASEX)
including the Thursday war. They also
participated in Exercise Kernow Flag
serials (see Carrier air wing work-up
p74-77).
Detachment commander and
head of tactical training operations
for 7 Squadron Lieutenant Johan, a
senior TACCO, said the original plan
was to train with the Dutch joint
support ship Karel Doorman (A833),
but plans changed when the ship
was required to provide support in
the Caribbean. He said: ?We need
to complete our ASW training here
Ian Harding visited Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose to
speak with his chums from the Royal Netherlands Navy
about its latest NH90 deployment to the UK
NH90 NFH serial number N110 prior to a midmorning mission. In the second shot (top right),
one of the two rear-crew SENSOs prepares for
a CASEX mission working with an 820 Naval Air
Squadron Merlin HM2 and a Royal Netherlands
Navy Walrus-class submarine. Ian Harding
20 | www.airinternational.com
@
airnews@keypublishing.com
SCENE
in deep water, which is not available
in the Netherlands. We also had
the opportunity to train with one of
our Netherland Navy Walrus-class
submarines during CASEX working
alongside Merlin crews from 820
Squadron.?
A key element of the aircraft?s
operational development concerned
the size of the crew complement
which has now been resolved.
Lt Johan said: ?We are here to train
two full crews to meet their future
operational requirements, which
includes supporting the NATO Rapid
Response Force 2018 programme,
which has a large ASW component.
The Netherlands Navy now deploys
with a STANEVAL [standards
and evaluation], maritime crew
complement, which comprises one
pilot, one observer or TACCO and two
SENSOs [sensor operators]. Our crew
complement for higher-level warfare
missions has therefore increased from
three to four persons, with an extra
SENSO in the back. Considering the
in-flight workload and the information
produced by the mission system,
we need this crew to achieve our
objectives. The workload will increase
further next year when we receive the
ESM [electronic support measures]
upgrade. We completed some ESM
testing during our third week at
Culdrose with specialists from our
Maritime Warfare Centre.?
Training will be further enhanced in
2018 when the DHC NH90 simulator
moves from Italy to the Netherlands.
ASW training is simulator heavy and
860 Squadron currently lose people
for one week to carry out this work
in Italy. The move will save time and
money in the long run following a
brief training gap. Normally, two pilots,
two TACCOs and three SENSOs are
trained each year, but the intention
is to increase these numbers and
designated training hours at De Kooy.
Lt Johan confirmed: ?We will continue
to come to Culdrose, because we
cannot complete ASW training just on
a simulator. FOST training boosts this,
so our philosophy is our instructors
train in ASW in the spring, and the
students train in ASuW, SAR and
navigation at Culdrose during the
spring time and then ASW during the
autumn/winter. We plan two visits to
Culdrose each year.?
Upgrade configuration
DHC has received all 20 aircraft,
but some are awaiting upgrade at
NHIndustries factory in Tessera,
Italy. In terms of final NH90 NFH
configuration, one outstanding
avionics mission system upgrade
will address the specific issues
identified, as Lt Eric explained: ?We are
currently working with three different
configurations, which is not ideal. This
will be resolved following the latest
upgrade that will be flown with one
final standard, which is Maintenance
Release 1 (MR1). The upgrade takes
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approximately one year to complete,
and the first aircraft should arrive at De
Kooy in January 2018. We currently
have two variants, which are FOC
[Fully Operational Capable] and FRC
[Final Radar Configuration]. Our final
MOC [Mission Operational Capable]
aircraft have been upgraded. Most
of our aircraft are now FRC, which is
fully operational. We brought three
FRC and one FOC aircraft to Culdrose.
We fly with two SENSOs operating
at two mission system consoles, a
fully operational sonics suite and
active sonar buoys, which is a gamechanger. Our operational position is
improving significantly, as we have
four aircraft here, one in the Caribbean
and two specifically for training at De
Kooy. Serviceability is improving, too.?
End game
FOC aircraft are only considered
MOC with HELRAS aboard, but
they have received the latest radar
upgrades, additional flight modes,
a digital map linked to its mission
planning automated system and
an aircraft data recorder that
automatically records all mission
details for four hours. A forwardlooking infrared system, voice
communication and tactical data
link can all be replayed on mission
screens second by second during
flight if required and during the
debrief process. This is necessary to
review operator actions, radar, sonar
picture and communications.
Many specialists within 7 and
860 Squadrons have worked hard
to make the NH90 NFH a success,
despite some outstanding issues
that are being addressed, especially
the shortage of aircrew. The NH90
fleet is scheduled to complete
1,250 operational hours in 2018 (up
from 900 in 2017) with 1,250 hours
set aside for crew training, which
represents marked increases.
www.airinternational.com | 21
SCENE
Refurbished Hinds
delivered to Senegal
Belgium to deploy
NH90s
to Mali
Belgium?s Council of Ministers
approved the deployment of two
NH90 transport helicopters to
the United Nations peacekeeping
mission in Mali (MINUSMA) along
with 50 personnel on November 23.
The aircraft will arrive in Mali during
February 2018 and start flying troop
transport and medical evacuation
missions in March, taking over from
German Heersflieger NH90s. The
deployment will be for an initial four
months, but could be extended for
another two, using aircraft from 18
Squadron, 1 Wing, at Beauvechain Air
Base. Guy Martin
Uzbekistan
Mi-35Ms
Senegalese Mil-24V-1 Hind-E attack helicopters 6W-HCB and 6W-HCC at the Wojskowe Zak?ady Lotnicze 1 facility at
?骴?-Lublinek airport, Poland. Wojskowe Zak?ady Lotnicze 1
The final two of three former Vzdu?n�
sily Ozbrojen齝h s韑 Slovenskej
republiky (Slovakian Air Force) Mil24V-1 Hind-E attack helicopters
were handed over to Senegal in a
ceremony on November 30. The
three helicopters were sold by
Slovakia some years ago to a private
company that subsequently sold
them to the central African nation.
They were completely overhauled
by the Wojskowe Zak?ady Lotnicze
1 (Military Aviation Works 1) facility at
?骴?-Lublinek airport, Poland. The
first machine, formerly Slovakian
Air Force serial number 0708 (c/n
H145M firing trials
HForce-configured H145M D-HADX at P醦a Air Base, Hungary during firing
trials that included a 0.50 calibre FN Herstal HMP400 podded machine gun (on
the right of the imge) and 2.75-inch unguided rockets from an FZ231 launcher
(on the left). Anthony Pecchi/Airbus Helicopters
Airbus Helicopters completed initial
live firing trials with its H145 fitted
with the HForce weapons system in
early November.
The trials were conducted at P醦a Air
Base, Hungary, using H145M D-HADX
and included the firing of 0.50 calibre
FN Herstal HMP400 podded machine
guns, 2.75-inch (70mm) unguided
rockets from an FZ231 launcher and
a 20mm Nexter NC621 cannon.
HForce is an Airbus Helicoptersled
plug-and-play
weapons
22 | www.airinternational.com
system offered as an option for
three baseline helicopters, the
H145M, H215 and H225. The
system interfaces with the H145M
crew either via a Thales Scorpion
Helmet Mounted Sight Display or
the helicopter?s Wescam MX-15
multisensor imaging system.
The next stage of trials, employing
Roketsan CiRiT 2.75-inch (70mm)
laser-guided
rockets
will
be
conducted in Sweden before the end
of the year. Nigel Pittaway
830708), was delivered to Dakar on
January 12, 2017. It was subsequently
registered 6W-HCA. The final two,
the former 0813 (c/n 730813)
wearing 6W-HCB and 0833 (c/n
730833) (6W-HCC), were delivered
on board an Antonov Airlines An124-100M heavy transport.
On
November
30,
2017,
Russian arms export agency
Rosoboronexport
and
the
Uzbekistani Ministry of Defence
signed a contract for delivery of
12 Mil Mi-35M attack helicopters.
According to Russian news
agency TASS, the deliveries will
begin in 2018. The contract was
finalised following protracted
negotiations during the visit to
Uzbekistan of the Russian Prime
Minister
Dmitry
Medvedev.
Alexander Mladenov
Last H215 for Ej閞cito del Aire
The final Ej閞cito del Aire H215 seen after landing at the Airbus Helicopters plant
at Albacete. Behind is the second H215 bought by the Ej閞cito del Aire (registered
HD.21-18/802-18) starting engines for a test flight, prior to its delivery to the
Gando, Canary Islands-based 82 Grupo in December. Roberto Y狁ez
On November 23, the third and
last Airbus Helicopters H215 for
the Ej閞cito del Aire (Spanish
Air Force) arrived at the Airbus
Helicopters facility at Albacete
following a 3.5-hour flight from
Marignane, France, the production
facility where H215s and H225s
are produced. The helicopter,
still in primer and displaying the
French registration F-WWOY, is to
be customised for Ej閞cito del Aire
SAR requirements and painted.
After completion of modifications
and test flying, it was expected to
be officially handed over to the
Ej閞cito del Aire as HD.21-17/80217 for 802 Escuadr髇 at Gando Air
Base at the end of 2017, although
it is understood that it will not be
delivered to the unit until February
2018. Roberto Y狁ez
@
airnews@keypublishing.com
SCENE
Nigerian Air
Force Bell 412s
Nigerian Air Force Chief of Air Staff,
Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, has
officially inducted into service the
first of two impounded Bell 412
helicopters, which will be used to
support anti-Boko Haram operations
in the northeast of the country. As
the helicopters had remained partially
disassembled in containers for
around two years, major systems and
cameras had to be sent to the United
States and Canada for overhaul and
repair. They were originally destined
for Rivers State to protect oil and
gas facilities and were equipped
with night vision equipment, armour
plating and cameras, but were
seized in November 2016 after the
importer could not produce end-user
certificates. They were handed over
to the Air Force on January 27, 2017.
Guy Martin
Lesotho Defence
Force H125
Lesotho?s Defence Force has
taken delivery of an H125
helicopter from Airbus Helicopters
Southern Africa, and may acquire
more rotorcraft in the future. The
aircraft (serial number LDF-15)
was commissioned into service by
Lesotho?s Deputy Prime Minister
Monyane Moleleki on October 14
and named Litsebe. Moleleki also
inaugurated the upgraded 4,265ft
(1,300m) runway at Mejametalana
Air Base, which can now
accommodate aircraft weighing
up to 16,500kg (36,375lb). The
improvements were carried out
between 2013 and 2017. Looking
to the future, Moleleki said the
LDF faces the challenge of rapidly
ageing medium utility aircraft
and it is imperative that more
helicopters be acquired. Guy Martin
Armada?s upgraded AB212
Seen lifting off from Albacete on its two-hour flight to Rota is Armada AB212 Plus HA.18-4/01-308, the fifth of seven
helicopters to be modernised under a programme dubbed Programa de Extensi髇 de Vida de los Helic髉teros. Roberto Ya馿z
The Armada (Spanish Navy) received
its fifth modernised Agusta-Bell
AB212 Plus on December 5,
leaving just two helicopters to
be delivered in 2018 to finalise its
Programa de Extensi髇 de Vida
de los Helic髉teros AB-212 (PEVH
AB212, or AB212 Life Extension
Programme). The helicopter flew
from Babcock MCS Espa馻 heliport
at Albacete to Rota after the official
ceremony, which was attended by
representatives from the companies
involved in the modernisation
programme (Babcock MCS Espa馻
and SENER).
Improvements in the upgrade
programme are a new radar, an
electronic flight information system,
an electro-optical/infrared imaging
system, an automatic identification
system, terrain awareness and
warning system, mission tactical
computer,
ballistic
protection,
full replacement of the electrical
systems and a digital cockpit.
All seven AB212 Plus helicopters
assigned to 3 Escuadrilla are
expected to remain in service for
another 15 years. Roberto Ya馿z
AH-64Es arrive in Europe
The US Army?s 1st Air Cavalry
Brigade (1 ACB) from the 1st Cavalry
Division based at Fort Hood, Texas,
has deployed the AH-64E Apache
Guardian to Europe, as part of
Operation Atlantic Resolve, the
United States? commitment to
Eastern Europe after Russia?s 2014
annexation of the Crimean Peninsula,
according to an announcement by
the Stars and Stripes on November 9.
The Brigade brought 86 helicopters
(24 AH-64Es, 12 CH-47F Chinooks, 38
UH-60 and 12 HH-60 Black Hawks),
together with 2,000 personnel to
Europe. The unit relieved the 10th
Combat Aviation Brigade (10 CAB),
which had been on the continent for
the previous nine months.
The 1 ACB helicopters crossed the
Atlantic by sea and were unloaded at
the Belgian port of Zeebrugge in late
October. Most will be based at the
US Army?s headquarters at Illesheim,
Germany, but smaller detachments
will go to Latvia, Poland and Romania.
Nigel Pittaway
Final weeks of the Lynx AH9
Norwegian
Merlin accident
The first Leonardo AW101 for the
Luftforsvaret
(Royal
Norwegian
Air Force) was delivered from the
manufacturer?s
final
assembly
plant at Yeovil, Somerset, UK, on
November 17, 2017. A week later, on
November 24, the aircraft, Norwegian
serial number 268 (c/n 50268), was
seriously damaged when it rolled on
to its side at Sola Air Station, its new
base. Before the accident, which
occurred immediately outside its
hangar, the aircraft had been taking
part in an extensive series of test and
evaluation exercises. The aircraft was
scheduled to be unveiled to the public
at a ceremony at Sola on December
20 and the type is due to enter service
in 2018. No injuries were reported as a
result of the incident. Jerry Gunner
Lynx AH9A ZG885 assigned to 657 Squadron on Salisbury plain training area in early December. Ian Harding
The Army Air Corps will bid farewell
to the Westland Lynx AH9A during
the first quarter of 2018. In service
with 657 Squadron based at RAF
Odiham, Hampshire, the last Lynx in
UK military service will be formally
decommissioned on March 31,
2018. Subject to weather conditions,
the squadron is planning a farewell
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flypast of all the important locations
around southern England on January
16, 2018.
The last of 22 upgraded Lynx
AH9As, modernised under two
urgent operational requirements
issued in 2008 and 2010, was
delivered to the Army Air Corps on
December 15, 2011. The upgrades
were required to improve the
helicopter?s performance in the hot
and high conditions of Afghanistan
and included installation of more
powerful
LHTEC
CTS800-4N
engines, a modified gearbox, new
engine controls and digital displays
and a strengthened rear fuselage.
Ian Harding
www.airinternational.com | 23
SCENE
Beluga XL assembly
The first of the five new Beluga XL transporters, derived from the A330-200F, on the Toulouse FAL. P Masclet/Airbus
The new Airbus Beluga XL is
progressing on the Toulouse final
assembly line (FAL) as the company
gears up to fly the type in the third
quarter of 2018.
Work attaching the aircraft?s main
cargo door to the fuselage began on
the FAL in November, following the
installation of the horizontal tailplane,
the tail cone and the vertical tailplane.
Airbus has also started the electrical
and mechanical systems installation
for the whole fuselage. Electrical
power-on was scheduled for the end
of the year and subsequent ground
tests early in 2018. Integration work
Dream Chaser?s
free flight
The Dream Chaser touches down at Edwards Air Force Base at the
end of its first free-flight test. Sierra Nevada Corporation
A Sierra Nevada Corporation
Dream Chaser recently completed
a successful free-flight test.
Lifted to 12,400ft (3,779m) by a
Colombia Helicopters Model 234UT Chinook, the Dream Chaser
was released and flew along a
pre-planned flight path before
landing at Edwards Air Force Base,
California to verify approach and
landing performance. The flight
24 | www.airinternational.com
was part of an ongoing series of
tests being carried out at the NASA
Armstrong Flight Research Centre.
The Dream Chaser is designed
to provide commercial transport
services to low-Earth orbit and a
reusable utility capability. It has
been selected by NASA to provide
cargo delivery and disposal
services to the International Space
Station. Mark Broadbent
will start soon on the second aircraft.
The Beluga XL?s maiden flight in 2018
will kick off a ten-month flight test
certification campaign before the
aircraft enters service with Airbus
Transport International in 2019.
The Beluga XL project started in
November 2014 to address Airbus?
future requirements for airlift capacity
as it begins to increase output.
Derived from the A330-200 freighter,
the aircraft will have 6,000kg
(13,227lb) more payload lifting
capacity than the current Beluga
aircraft which have been in service
since the mid-1990s. Mark Broadbent
Boom partners with
Japan Airlines
Boom Supersonic, the Colorado
start-up developing a newgeneration supersonic airliner, has
announced a strategic partnership
with Japan Airlines (JAL). The
Japanese carrier will collaborate
with Boom on aircraft design and
defining the passenger experience,
and it has signed an option to
purchase up to 20 aircraft through
a pre-order arrangement. Boom
said it had been working with JAL
for over a year ?behind the scenes?.
Boom intends to fly its XB-1 to
demonstrate technologies that
can be put into a future supersonic
airliner seating up to 55 passengers,
which will be 170ft (51m) long,
have a 60ft (18m) wingspan and a
Mach 2.2 long-range cruise speed
and offer 9,000 nautical miles
(16,668km) range. Earlier in 2017,
Boom said it has secured 76 orders
for its future supersonic airliner, with
Virgin Atlantic having signed for ten
aircraft. Mark Broadbent
A350-1000 certified
The Airbus A350-1000 has received
European Aviation Safety Agency and
US Federal Aviation Administration
type certification after completing
a year-long, 1,600-flying hour
certification testing campaign. The
milestone clears the way for Airbus
to deliver the initial customer A3501000, A7-ANA (msn 88), to launch
operator Qatar Airways. This aircraft
was pictured completing its first Rolls-
Royce Trent XWB-97 engine runs at
Toulouse on December 2; the jet was
scheduled to have been delivered to
Qatar by the end of December. Most
of the initial A350-1000 deliveries will
be to Qatar Airways, but two aircraft
for Cathay Pacific Airways (B-LXA and
B-LXB) are also in assembly. Airbus
has so far amassed 169 orders for the
A350-1000, the largest and longestrange A350 variant. Mark Broadbent
@
airnews@keypublishing.com
SCENE
A DISTINCTIVE aircraft engine
sound echoed through the wintry
skies above northern Britain
early in December. It was a deep,
rumbling sound that instantly
stood out, the sort of tone that
naturally captures the attention of
anyone interested in aviation.
The unique engine note belonged
to the Kuznetsov NK-12MA
turboprops of Antonov An-22A
Antei (Antheus) UR-09307 (c/n
043481244) operated by Antonov
Airlines, which was flying into
Manchester Airport.
It was the first visit to the UK
for more than a decade of the
largest turboprop aircraft ever built.
No wonder aircraft enthusiasts
travelled from across the country
to get a close look at an aircraft
that, with its bulbous fuselage, twin
tails, contra-rotating propellers
and that Kuznetsov engine note,
is as distinctive as it is rare. The
aircraft?s rarity value even generated
coverage in a couple of national
newspapers.
The An-22A arrived in Manchester
at 12:05hrs local time, landing
on Runway 05L, having departed
Helinski at 08:45hrs local time. The
purpose of the aircraft?s visit was to
pick up and transport a replacement
engine to Holguin, Cuba, for a
Thomas Cook Airbus A330 stranded
there after it suffered a rejected
take-off in November.
After the engine was loaded, the
An-22A was prepared for departure,
with one photographer on the
ground at Manchester reporting they
could hear the NK-12MAs poweringup even from the other side of the
airport. The aircraft left Manchester
at 15:04hrs, bound for Gander in
Canada, where it was refuelled
before flying on to Holguin.
The An-22A returned to
Manchester with the damaged
engine five days later before
departing for Leipzig early the
following morning.
Antei ancestry
The An-22 was developed in
response to a Soviet military
requirement for a strategic heavy
transport aircraft able to carry
heavy loads into rough, unprepared
airstrips. The type?s first flight was on
February 27, 1965, and four months
later it appeared in the west for
the first time at that year?s Paris Air
Show.
Two versions of the aircraft were
produced: the initial production
An-22 with an external start system
(of which 37 were built) and the
improved An-22A (28 built) featuring
an air-start capability, a modified
electrical system and updated
navigation and radio equipment.
Two An-22s were also converted
to An-22PZs to carry wing centre
sections or outer wings of the An124 or An-225.
Production for the Soviet Air Force
and Aeroflot by the Tashkent State
Aircraft Factory took place until
1974. In the Soviet era, the An-22
was used primarily to deliver military
equipment and humanitarian aid
around the Soviet Union, although
there were occasional appearances
at western trade shows: for example,
at the Farnborough Airshow in
1988, when an An-22 delivered a
replacement engine for the An-124.
Characteristics
The all-metal An-22 has a highmounted wing and an integral rear
loading ramp and doors. The aircraft
is equipped with winches to enable
cargo to be loaded and unloaded
Eight contra-rotating propellers are fitted to the An-22A?s Kuznetsov NK-12MA
turboprops.
from its unpressurised main cargo
hold, which according to Antonov
Airlines can carry 60,000kg
(132,277lb) of payload.
The An-22 is 57.9m (189ft)
long, 12.53m (41ft) high and has
a 64.40m (211ft 2in) wingspan,
with its wing area covering 345m2
(3,713ft2). Empty it weighs 114,000kg
(251,325lb) and its maximum takeoff weight is 250,000kg (551,155lb).
The four Kuznetsov NK-12MAs each
generate 15,000shp (11,186kW)
thrust. The aircraft?s maximum speed
is 399kts (740km/h) and it has 2,700
nautical miles (5,000km) range at
maximum payload or 5,905 nautical
miles (10,950km) with a 45,000kg
(99,200lb) payload.
Heavylifter
The An-22 was largely replaced
in military service after the Soviet
Union?s collapse, although five An22s reportedly still serve the Russian
Ministry of Defence. Antonov
Airlines? UR-09307 is the sole
example outside Russia.
Antonov Airlines, based at KievGostomel Airport in Ukraine, is a
subdivision of Antonov established in
1989 providing international air cargo
services. The carrier specialises in
charters for large and outsize cargo,
with the sole An-22 sitting alongside
seven An-124-100 Ruslans, the sole
An-225 Mriya and single examples of
the An-26, An-28, An-74T and An178 in its fleet.
The An-22 has appeared at
different European airports,
undertaking charters since the early
1990s. However, between 2009 and
2016 it remained on the ground at
Kiev-Gostomel. Only on June 30,
2016, did Antonov Airlines return the
aircraft to flight with a flight from
Kiev to Leipzig. Antonov Airlines
said the aircraft?s 60-tonne payload
presents a ?favourable addition? to
the carrier?s fleet, complementing
the An-124?s 150,000kg (330,693b)
and the An-225?s 250,000kg
(551,155lb) payload capabilities.
Giant from the east
A very rare recent visitor to the UK was the only Antonov
An-22A Antei in civil operation. Mark Broadbent reports
The An-22A is the largest turboprop
aircraft ever built, at 57.9m (189ft) in
length, 12.53m (41ft) in height and with
a 64.40m (211ft 4in) wingspan.
All images by Joe Campion
www.facebook.com/airinternationalmagazine
www.airinternational.com | 25
SCENE
LOT Polish receives 737 MAX
The first Boeing 737 MAX 8 for a central and eastern European airline was delivered to LOT Polish Airlines early in December. The aircraft, SP-LVA (c/n 64067),
leased from the Air Lease Corporation, is the first of six 737 MAX aircraft that will enter service with the Polish carrier by April 2020. Boeing has also recently delivered the initial 737 MAX 8 to a Latin American carrier, with the handover of the first aircraft to Aerolineas Argentinas early in December 2017. Paul Gordon/Boeing
Air Transat updates livery
The Canadian carrier Air Transat has introduced a revised livery, seen here on Airbus A330-243 C-GTSN (c/n 369) at Toronto Lester B Pearson International燗irport. The livery was unveiled in November 2017 to coincide with the airline?s 30th birthday. Andrew Cline
Malaysian A350-900
Malaysian Airlines has received its initial Airbus A350-900, 9M-MAB (msn 159), the first of six A350-900s that will serve the airline?s long-haul and regional routes.
Malaysian is the 17th A350-900 operator and it is the initial airline to put first class seats in an A350. There will be four such seats, along with 35 in business and 247
in economy. H Gouss�/Airbus
26 | www.airinternational.com
@
airnews@keypublishing.com
SCENE
INNUMBERS
BOEING
85
MORE C SERIES
The Bombardier C Series has recently secured its first
orders for nearly a year. An undisclosed European airline
has signed a letter of intent (LOI) for 31 C Series plus 30
options and EgyptAir has signed an LOI for 12 CS300s plus
12 options. The LOIs took to 158 the number of C Series
commitments, which are in addition to the 360 aircraft on
firm order. Mark Broadbent
40
1
Aircraft
Number
Date
ALAFCO
737 MAX 8
20 (finalises previous
commitment)
November 13
Alaska Airlines
737-800
4
November 7
(previously
unidentified)
Aviation Capital Group
737
4
November 7
(previously
unidentified
Avolon
737 MAX 8
55 plus 20 options
(finalises June 20,
2017 MOU)
November 19
737 MAX 10
20 (finalises June
20, 2017 MOU
November 19
Azerbaijan Airlines
747-8F
2, purchase
commitment
November 12
787-9
5
November 12
China Aviation Suppliers
Holding Company
737
260
November 8
777/787
40
November 8
737 MAX 8
42 (firms June 19,
2017 MOU)
November 7
737 MAX 10
6
November 7
787-9
8
November 7
Emirates
787-10
40, purchase
commitmen
November
12
Ethiopian Airlines
777F
4 (two of which
firm June 19, 2017
commitment)
November
14
FlyDubai
737 MAX
175 plus 50
options (purchase
agreement)
November
15
CDB Aviation
TURKISH 777 FREIGHTER
Turkish Airlines has received its first Boeing 777 Freighter,
the first of two it ordered in 2011. Boeing has now delivered
137 777Fs from its 165 orders, leaving a backlog of just 28
examples. No 777Fs have been ordered since 2014 according
to Boeing orders and delliveries data. Mark Broadbent
AIRBUS
Tighter noise regulations
Customer
LOST ORDERS FOR MRJ?
The Mitsubishi Regional Jet?s order book, some 447 airliners,
appears likely to be reduced by the 40 aircraft ordered in 2014
by Eastern Air Lines. This airline, acquired by Swift Air earlier in
2017, appears likely to buy additional Boeing 737s and cancel its
MRJ order, although it has not made an announcement. There
have been concerns that additional programme delays will lead
to further cancellations, possibly including US-based SkyWest?s
order for 200. David C Isby
INBRIEF
Customer
Aircraft
Number
Date
Japan Airlines
787
4
AirAsia
A320ceo
14
Booked October
31, announced
November 7
November 7
(previously
unidentified)
SCAT Airlines
737 MAX
8
November 16
737
5
November 7
Air Senegal
A330neo
2 MOU
November 15
WestJet
CDB Leasing
A320neo
30 (firms June
20, 2017 MOU)
November 15
Unidentified
A321neo
15 (firms June
20, 2017 MOU)
November 15
A320neo
273 MOU
November 15
Indigo Partners (for Frontier
Airlines, JetSMART, Volaris,
Wizz Air)
Private customer
Undisclosed
A321neo
157 MOU
November 15
ACJ320
1
Booked October
12, announced
November 7
A320neo
7
2
November 7
5
November 7
747-8
2
November 7
(previously
unidentified)
BOMBARDIER
SA Airlink and Safair merger
SA Airlink and Safair plan to merge and
consolidate under the Airlink banner.
The two companies at the end of
November applied to South Africa?s
Competition Commission for the deal to
be approved, with a decision due in Q1
2018. Under the proposed agreement,
the airlines will keep their respective
products, aircraft fleets, management
and leadership teams, as well as
employee numbers. Guy Martin
Leonardo systems in Africa
Leonardo is to supply air traffic control
systems to two African countries.
In Somalia, Leonardo and Kenyan
subsidiary Selex ES Technologies
Limited will provide a national area
control centre and tower control
centres for three major airports, a VHF
radio system and satellite network.
The systems will be operational by
mid-2018. In Sudan, Leonardo will
deliver a nationwide ADS-B network and
upgrade four secondary radar systems.
Commissioning of the systems and the
upgrade will start in mid-2018. Guy Martin
Customer
Aircraft
Number
Date
Fastjet starts in Mozambique
CemAir
2 (firms June
21, 2017 LOI)
November 29
Booked October
13, announced
November 7
Dash 8
Q400
EgyptAir
CS300
12 plus 12
options LOI
November 14
Nordic Aviation Capital
(for Jambojet)
Dash 8
Q400
2 (purchase
agreement)
November 15
Undisclosed European
airline
CS300
31 plus 30
options LOI
November 2
Fastjet Mozambique commenced
domestic operations with a first flight
using an ERJ145 leased from Solenta
Aviation Mozambique from Maputo to
Beira, Nampula and Tete. The first flight
followed the Mozambican government
opening the country?s air market to
foreign carriers,, a move that will see
Ethiopian Airlines, Malawian Airlines,
TTA and CFM Transportes Aereo also
begin flights in the country. Guy Martin
VivaAerobus
A320ceo
2
Booked October
23, announced
November 7
Wataniya Airways
A320neo
25 MOU
November 14
ATR
US Air Force PAR
Program
777
787
The US Federal Aviation Administration
is imposing more stringent noise
standards for US civil aircraft with a
maximum take-off weight (MTOW)
of over 121,250lb (55,000kg) with
effect from December 31, 2017. From
December 31, 2020, the standard will
be applicable to new designs with
a MTOW below 121,250lb. The new
standards, designated Stage 5, require
a noise reduction of 7dB from current
requirements for new designs. As sound
pressures decline by half for every 3dB
reduction, this will effectively reduce the
sound level produced by aircraft subject
to Stage 5 to one-fifth of that permitted
by aircraft operating under the current
Stage 4 standards. Aircraft with current
or pending certificates of airworthiness
will remain covered by existing
standards. The Stage 5 standards are
intended to bring the United States into
conformance with International Civil
Aircraft Organization standards adopted
in July 2014. David C Isby
Customer
Aircraft
Number
Date
FedEx Express
ATR 72-600
30 plus 20
options
November 8
TEXTRON
Aircraft
Number
Date
FedEx Express
Cessna SkyCourier
40
50 plus 50 options
November 28
Data covers orders November 2-December 4. Key: LOI ? Letter of Intent; MOU ? Memorandum of Understanding. Compiled by Mark Broadbent
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ATR 72-600 tours west Africa
Customer
From December 11 to 14, the ATR 72600 demonstrator visited Ghana, Mali
and Burkina Faso in its first tour of west
Africa to promote the type?s potential
in providing connectivity for the region.
Mark Broadbent
www.airinternational.com | 27
SCENE
UMS Skeldar?s enhanced R-350
The newly enhanced UMS Skeldar R-350 is designed to carry up to 80kg (176lb) of payload for over two hours. UMS Skeldar
Manufacturer UMS Skeldar has
launched a new version of its R-350
vertical take-off and landing UAV.
The platform, launched at the Dubai
Air Show, offers an ability to carry up
to 80kg (176lb) of payload for over
two hours and provides a爅et-turbine
engine propulsion system� that
uses燡et A1燼nd燡P8 heavy fuels.
The R-350 has a modular design
that, UMS Skeldar said,� ?can
easily be certified for aerospace
classifications and combines a
short turnaround time and builtin test functionality?. The platform
includes a� complete propulsion
unit that the manufacturer claims
can be replaced in less than 45
minutes, and a jet turbine that can
be changed in less than 15 minutes.
The R-350 being below 150kg
(330lb) maximum take-off weight
Kalashnikov moves
into UAVs
Russia?s Kalashnikov, part of
the Rostec State Corporation,
announced on November 28
that in addition to designing and
building UAVs it would operate
them in civil missions, including,
Kalashnikov Chief Executive Officer
Alexeiy Krivoruchko was quoted
as saying, ?aerial survey, mapping,
telecommunications,
cargo
delivery, virus disease monitoring,
forest and private object protection
and meteorology?. These missions
would be carried out by a range
of Kalashnikov designed and
produced UAVs currently being
tested. A heavy cargo UAV
is currently planned to enter
production in 2018.
The ZALA Aero Group, a subsidiary
of the Rostec?s Kalashnikov Group,
is currently marketing three vertical
take-off and landing UAVs. The
28 | www.airinternational.com
lightweight ZALA 421-21 is a
portable multicopter powered by
six electric engines and launched
by hand for monitoring missions.
The
larger
ZALA
421-22
multicopter powered by eight
electric engines has a maximum
take-off weight of 8kg (3.6lb), a
2kg (0.9lb) payload and can carry a
video camera or a thermal imager.
The ZALA 421-02X has a 90kg
(40lb) maximum take-off weight,
a 25kg (11.3lb) payload and is
powered by a combustion engine.
In June 2017, the ZALA Aero
Group used the Paris Air Show to
announce it had launched mass
production of its ZALA 421-16E2
small fixed-wing UAV. This system
has four-hour endurance, a range
of 27 nautical miles (50km) and is
equipped with a day camera. David
C Isby and Mark Broadbent
means the system requires only
national certification. It is designed
to deploy multiple payloads at the
same time in its two payload bays:
for example, an electro-optical/
infrared camera together with laser
imaging detection and ranging
or chemical sniffer equipment. A
number of commercial off-the-shelf
high-resolution sensors are available
for the system, UMS Skeldar says.
The R-350 measures 1.15m (3.7ft)
in height, is 0.99m (3.26ft) wide
and 3.2m (10.5ft) long, with a 3.5m
(11.5ft) rotor diameter. It can carry
12kg (26lb) of payload in the nose or
more than 30kg (110lb) in its main
bay. Ceiling is 8,200ft (2,500m),
maximum speed 65kts (120km/h)
its data link range 13.5 nautical miles
(25km) with a two-hour endurance.
Mark Broadbent
Resupply UAV
The US Marine Corps will evaluate
disposable
cargo-carrying
unpowered UAVs launched from
aircraft in flight. The US Marine Corps
Warfighting Laboratory at Quantico
Virginia will test glider versions of the
Yates Electrospace Corporation Silent
Arrow. Unmanned systems with 500?
1,000lb (225?450kg) gross weight
will be tested over a 12-month period
to demonstrate a capability of a UAV
to be launched from a transport
or rotary-wing aircraft at 10,00025,000ft (3,048-7,620m) altitude. The
UAVs will need to achieve a glide ratio
of between 8:1 and 15:1 with a load
of 700lb (217kg) and land within 150ft
(45m) of a target point. The test will
examine potential of UAVs to resupply
troops in contact. David C Isby
UAE orders Seekers
from South Africa
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has
ordered AED 48.1 million worth of
Seeker UAVs from South Africa,
and these will join its existing fleet.
The order was announced during
the Dubai Air Show by official
spokesperson Staff Pilot Air-Vice
Marshal Abdulla Al Sayed Al Hashemi.
He said on November 15 that the
$13.3 million deal with the UAE
was signed with Denel Dynamics
?to procure Seeker aircraft?, but
did not indicate whether this was
the Seeker 200 or Seeker 400. The
UAE received at least seven Seeker
II systems between 2002 and 2010,
and deployed them to Afghanistan
and Yemen. Guy Martin
@
airnews@keypublishing.com
SCENE
NOMAD
electronic
warfare
UAV
ScanEagle in Australia
wells, tanks, valves, floats, vents
and pipes, and the environment
surrounding the infrastructure,
such as fencing integrity, road
subsidence and flooding.
Insitu says assessment times
and the resolution of problems
with infrastructure have speeded
up, with the data collected by the
ScanEagle automatically processed
and analysed in near real time to
both the Brisbane headquarters
and field operators. Mark Broadbent
The US Navy has carried out shipboard
tests of the Netted Offboard Miniature
Active Decoy (NOMAD), an expendable
rotary-wing UAV aboard the littoral
combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4)
off the California coast. The shipboard
tests, which took place in August, were
part of a larger testing programme
that concluded in October. Previous
shipboard tests of the NOMAD had
been primarily focused on individual
UAV performance. The Coronado
tests successfully demonstrated multiUAV launch, operation and recovery.
Intended to be tube launched for
rapid deployment as a decoy platform
and recoverable by landing vertically
on shipboard, the NOMAD has been
used to develop swarm technology,
allowing multiple UAVs to deploy
themselves in an optimal pattern to
defend a ship. The Naval Research
Laboratory, which developed the
NOMAD design in conjunction
with the Office of Naval Research,
conducted the tests on board the
Coronado and is using it as a testbed
for the development of remote
controls, autonomous flight controls,
station keeping and coordinated
flight support. David C Isby
The live video feed from the UAVs
enabled Statoil engineers to instantly
assess the condition of the turbine
blades, thereby avoiding the downsides
of using a camera from the ground
and removing the requirement for
engineers to climb the turbines to carry
out checks. Senior Engineer Statoil
for Sheringham Shoal, Dale Symonds
said Statoil is talking to Martek about
how they can work together at other
windfarms. Martek has recently set
up a division specialising in providing
maritime UAV services. Mark Broadbent
Using unmanned systems to assess infrastructure can reduce ground travel by engineers working in the Surat Basinn of up
to 497,096 miles (800,000km) a year, according to Shell. Boeing Insitu
Boeing Insitu has been awarded
a contract to provide remotely
piloted aircraft services flying
beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS)
for Shell and its Queensland
(Australia) Gas Company business
in the Surat Basin in eastern
Australia.
The company is supplying the
ScanEagle system and analytics
services to provide broad acre
infrastructure
operations
and
maintenance, following a two-
year evaluation by Shell of the
ScanEagle and the aerial sensing,
data analysis and data distribution
systems provided by Insitu
Commercial.
The BVLOS flight operations
using the ScanEagle are conducted
in the Surat Basin over a broad area
of Civil Aviation Safety Authorityapproved airspace encompassing
over 700,000 hectares (1.7 million
acres). The systems are being used
to assess infrastructure, including
Blade inspections
Martek Marine provided systems for Statoil to undertake condition assessments on North Sea wind turbines. Martek Aviation
In another sign of the broad
commercial applications UAVs are
taking on, unmanned systems have
recently been used to inspect wind
turbine blades in the North Sea.
Martek Aviation used small UAVs
to inspect all 264 blades on the 88
wind turbines that make up Statoil?s
Sheringham Shoal windfarm off the
Norfolk coast. Two hundred flights
were undertaken to carry out the
inspections, with eight minutes spent
on each turbine gathering data about
the blades.
www.facebook.com/airinternationalmagazine
www.airinternational.com | 29
SCENE
Beriev A-100
maiden flight
Russia?s TASS news agency
reported that the Beriev A-100
Airborne Warning and Control
System (AWACS) aircraft performed
its maiden flight from the Taganrog
Aviation Scientific and Technical
Complex on November 18.
According to Russian sources,
the first prototype (converted Il76MD-90A 01-03, registered 78651
delivered to Beriev at Taganrog on
November 21, 2014) is referred to
as the A-100LL (Letayushchaya
Laboratoriya or flying test bed) and
will be used for testing the Premier
mission system; it will later be
joined by a second development
aircraft.
Quoting the Moscow-based Vega
Radio Engineering Corporation,
designer of the A-100?s Premier
mission system, the news agency
said the maiden flight tested the
aircraft?s aerodynamic handling
qualities, as well as initial testing of
avionics and mission systems.
TASS quoted: ?The flight tested
the aerodynamic characteristics,
the aircraft?s avionics and elements
of the radio-technical complex.?
The A-100 utilises the Ilyushin
Il-76MD-90A (Il-476), powered
Operational Triton
The first operational Northrop
Grumman MQ-4C Triton maritime
surveillance aircraft was delivered to the
Naval Base Ventura County Point Mugu
in California on November 9. A second
Triton is planned to be delivered before
the end of 2017 and both are expected
to be forward-deployed to Guam
during the course of 2018.
The Triton delivered in November
is the first aircraft for the US Navy?s
Unmanned Patrol Squadron 19
(VUP-19) ?Big Red?. The aircraft will
initially operate from Point Mugu,
which is also home to a maintenance
detachment, but will be controlled
from VUP-19?s home base at Naval Air
Station Jacksonville, Florida.
VUP-19 is the Navy?s only unmanned
ISR squadron to date and was stood
up at Jacksonville in October 2016.
The unit will develop the tactics,
techniques and procedures for
fleet support operations prior to the
declaration of an early operational
capability (EOC) and deployment of
the aircraft overseas.
Doug Shaffer, Northrop Grumman?s
Vice President for the Triton
programme, said: ?This aircraft is
the beginning of a new era for naval
30 | www.airinternational.com
aviation. Triton is a high-altitude,
long-endurance, unmanned system
that delivers a critical autonomous
capability to the Navy, expanding the
service?s maritime patrol mission.?
After a period of operations from
Point Mugu the two aircraft will be
forward-deployed to Guam to support
the US Navy?s 7th Fleet operations
in the Pacific Ocean. The Navy has
previously announced that it will
also deploy future Tritons to Naval
Air Station Mayport, Florida, Naval Air
Station Sigonella, Sicily, Italy and the
Middle East, in support of support
global operations.
After reaching EOC, a second
unmanned patrol squadron, VUP-11,
will be stood up at Naval Air Station
Whidbey Island, Washington.
Flight testing of the initial
three System Development and
Demonstration aircraft at Naval Air
Station Patuxent River, Maryland is
also continuing and, according to
Northrop Grumman, performance
so far ? including that of the Triton?s
ZPY-3 Multi-Function Active Sensor
X-band active electronically scanned
array radar ? is meeting or exceeding
Navy specifications.
US Navy
Shaffer said that Northrop Grumman
is under contract for MQ-4C low-rate
production Lots 1 and 2, made up of three
aircraft each, and is currently negotiating
for production Lot 3. The company is
working towards the introduction of the
multi-intelligence version of the Triton,
which will have enhancements over
the current baseline aircraft, including
a signals intelligence payload, and will
also replace the EP-3E ARIES II signals
intelligence reconnaissance aircraft
platform in US Navy service.
The multi-intelligence version is
also of interest to the Royal Australian
Air Force (RAAF), which is seeking
an unmanned high-altitude longendurance maritime ISR capability
to complement the Boeing P-8A
Poseidon multimission maritime
aircraft now entering service at RAAF
Edinburgh in South Australia.
The Australian government has
previously announced it intends to
purchase seven Triton systems as part
of its Air 7000 Phase 1B programme,
but is yet to place an order. Also
known as Integration Functional
Capability 4 (IFC-4) configuration,
the multi-intelligence Triton is due to
enter service with the US Navy in 2021
and therefore its timing is important
to the RAAF.
Shaffer said: ?The timing is perfect
for Australia to join the Triton
programme.? Nigel Pittaway
@
airnews@keypublishing.com
SCENE
United Aircraft Corporation
by Aviadvigatel PS-90-76 engines,
as the baseline airframe and will
replace the Russian Air Force?s
existing Beriev A-50 and A-50U
Mainstay
AWACS
platforms
assigned to the 144th Airborne
Early Warning Aviation Regiment
based at Ivanovo-Severnyy Air
Base, 250km (155 miles) north east
of Moscow.
The A-100 retains the general
configuration of the Beriev A-50 with
a rotating radar dome carried on two
streamlined struts above the fuselage.
The A-100 is equipped with
advanced signal and electronic
intelligence systems, an ECM
suite for self-defence, satellite
communication and an S-band (75
to 150mm wavelength) Premier
radar with active electronic
scanning
in
elevation
and
mechanical scanning in azimuth.
The Premier radar is reportedly
capably of tracking up to 300
targets on the ground and in the
air simultaneously and Russian
sources report that deliveries
of production A-100 aircraft to
operational Russian Air Force
units are set to begin in 2020.
Nigel Pittaway
Predator demonstrates
ASW capability
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Incorporated
A General Atomics Aeronautical
Systems Incorporated (GA-ASI)
MQ-9 Predator B remotely piloted
aircraft (RPA) has successfully
demonstrated maritime patrol
capabilities,
including
antisubmarine warfare (ASW), the
company announced in November.
The Predator participated in a US
Navy exercise over the Southern
California Offshore Range west
of San Clemente Island on
October 12, which included the
remote detection and tracking
of submerged objects. The RPA
performed as a communications
relay, receiving acoustic data from
sonobuoys launched from Navy
helicopters, before processing the
information and retransmitting
it to the MQ-9?s ground control
station (GCS) several hundred miles
distant.
A sonobuoy receiver and data
processing technology supplied
by Ultra Electronics and General
Missions Systems-Canada was
combined aboard the Predator
airframe, enabling a tracking
solution to be calculated and
transmitted to the GCS via satellite
communications.
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GA-ASI CEO Linden Blue said:
?This technology will provide longrange patrol and relay capabilities
to the MQ-9 to augment maritime
mission sets. This test demonstrated
the ability of our RPA to detect
submarines and provide persistent
tracking of submerged targets.?
GA-ASI said that the Predator
involved in the trials was also
equipped with the company?s Lynx
multimode radar, which features a
maritime wide-area search mode,
capable of detecting surface
targets over a significant area and
combining with inverse synthetic
aperture radar to classify the targets.
It also said the electro-optical/
infra-red camera on the Predator
was capable of recording highdefinition,
full-motion
video
images that, when correlated
with the maritime automatic
identification system, can verify
target identity.
The company said: ?Additionally,
the MQ-9 can be fitted with a
centreline pod that can house a
longer-range, 360-degree field
of regard surface search radar for
enhanced surveillance over water.?
Nigel Pittaway
www.airinternational.com | 31
SCENE
Sikorsky, and its partner Boeing, are proving the scalability and tailoring of Sikorsky?s X2 technology with the SB1 Defiant medium-class technology demonstrator. The SB1 is being developed for the US Army?s Joint Multi-Role Technology
Demonstration programme to help define the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) programme.
Technologies used on GE?s FATE engine will be available if a new centre-line engine
is required for FVL. Boeing
THE 5,000 to 10,000shp-class
turboshaft-engine
design
GE
Aviation is producing under a
$45 million Future Affordable
Turbine Engine (FATE) technologydemonstrator contract from the
US Army is slightly more advanced
than the 3,000shp T901 design it is
developing as a candidate for the
US Army?s Improved Turbine Engine
Programme (ITEP), according to GE.
High pressure ratio
Apart from any other technological
differences between FATE and ITEP,
during tests of the first FATE engine
in 2017 it demonstrated the highest
single-spool compressor pressure
ratio in GE Aviation?s history ? even
higher than the 27:1 ratio the highpressure compressor module in GE?s
huge new GE9X commercial-turbofan
engine has demonstrated in testing.
Mike Sousa Jr, director of advanced
turboshaft business development for
GE Aviation told AIR International:
?We were certainly aware of the
GE9X pressure ratio when we made
the statement that we were the
highest pressure-ratio compressor in
GE?s history?.
Sousa said the two programmes
differ in how they make use of
additive manufacturing. In the FATE
programme, ?We?re just making one
of a kind and we avoid tooling costs
and can get things made a lot faster?
by using additive manufacturing.
Whereas, with ITEP, we?re looking
at what is the right configuration for
production. So we might have used
a little more on additives during the
FATE programme, because that?s
a way to avoid having a tool-up
without thinking about what the best
long-term approach is to making
parts.?
While declining to detail exactly how
GE?s FATE and T901 development
engines
differ
technologically,
Sousa hinted at other technological
differences between FATE and
ITEP. He said: ?The FATE engine
is clearly an engine where we?ve
pushed the state of the art on all
the technologies within the engine.
We go to a higher pressure ratio
[and] we go to higher temperatures
and reduce the cooling [air] flow [to
the turbine blades]. We also have
advanced materials in there and use
those advanced materials in new
and different ways and have better
cooling configurations in order to
meet all of those requirements.?
Additionally, ?Within the FATE
programme ? we are using the
computerised control system to do
things that we wouldn?t have been
able to do any other way. It?s certainly
an integral part of our being able to
meet the programme goals and to
take advantage of the things that we
can do with that full-authority digital
control that we couldn?t do if we
didn?t have that system on board.?
Also, ?Part of our philosophy is that
we look at engines through the future
? to make sure that we?re taking
advantage of the ability to turn things
on and off when we need them and
when we don?t need them, especially
when you get to aircraft like FVL [the
US Army?s potential Future Vertical
Lift requirement],? said Sousa. ?The
ability to control things that you
didn?t have in previous aircraft, taking
advantage of that, understanding
what that control system looks like
and how that all works, is certainly a
technology that we?re working hard
FATE demonstrator engine
Chris Kjelgaard spoke with GE Aviation about demonstrator
engines and where the technologies might be used
According to Sikorsky, its X2 technology, at the heart of the S-97 Raider demonstrator, is the foundation for Lockheed Martin?s support to the US Army?s
Future Vertical Lift programme with its air vehicle and systems design. Sikorsky
32 | www.airinternational.com
@
airnews@keypublishing.com
SCENE
Prime contractor Bell Helicopter is leading a team of 12 aerospace companies to
develop its V-280 Valor tilt-rotor aircraft to meet the US Army?s needs for the Joint
Multi-Role Technology Demonstration programme to help define the Future Vertical Lift programme. Bell Helicopter
to make sure we take advantage of
for the future.?
Following competitive bidding,
the US Army awarded GE Aviation
the FATE contract in 2011 as a costsharing programme in which the
company would contribute equally
to the development costs of the
FATE demonstrator engine. GE
Aviation completed and tested the
first FATE turboshaft in 2017 and
after incorporating technological
lessons it learned from those tests
into the second FATE engine, it will
test the second one in 2018, after
which the FATE programme will end.
focused on getting ready for an
ITEP programme after the AATE
programme
was
completed,?
confirmed Sousa. As a result, ?With
FATE, we were a little bit freer to
go push some of the state of the
art technologies a little bit further,
so that we could ? push the limits
of those technologies and learn a
little bit more ? As some of those
results from the FATE programme
come along, we understand what
those technologies are and how far
we can push them as we introduce
them into our products for the
future.?
Different power
requirements
Doubt about production
As engines for rotary-wing aircraft
? in FATE?s case, potentially
also for tilt-rotor aircraft as a
turboprop ? FATE and ITEP are
aimed at demonstrating designs
and technologies for different
turboshaft power requirements. But
both stemmed from the Advanced
Affordable Turbine Engine (AATE)
science and technology (S&T)
programme the US Army launched
in 2006, according to Sousa.
However, the AATE S&T effort
was primarily designed to lead to
a subsequent programme which
would focus on developing a new
3,000shp-class engine to replace
the approximately 6,000 GE T700
turboshaft engines powering the US
Army?s vast fleets of UH-60 Black
Hawk and AH-64 Apache helicopters
? combined, nearly 3,000 rotorcraft.
?As we worked in the AATE
programme, we were kind of
That said, where GE Aviation?s
T901 ITEP development is aimed
specifically at winning the twohorse race for an eventual, massive
single-source contract from the US
Army for 3,000shp-class turboshaft
engines, GE Aviation doubts the
5,000-10,000shp-class
FATE
development effort will result in a
new production engine.
?Both AATE and FATE are science
and technology demonstration
programmes and they certainly are
intended to produce technologies
that end up in future products.
Certainly it?s our mission to make
sure that we develop technologies
? to be able to improve our existing
products,? said Sousa. But ?whether
there will be a new centre-line
engine exactly that follows our
FATE programme ? that looks
pretty doubtful. Those technologies
would be available if there is a new
centre-line engine required for FVL,
www.facebook.com/airinternationalmagazine
but if not, then we?d be looking
for opportunities to take those
technologies and apply them to
existing engines like the T408 or
T700, or a new engine like our ITEP
engine.?
Investments lining up
Ron Hutter, executive director of
GE Aviation?s T901 programme
said: ?The ITEP programme itself is
going to be a critical component
of FVL as well. We think that,
depending on which [aircraft and
power requirement] case that
you?re looking at, the high-testclass engines could be the solution
for those case sets, or some scaled
variance of ITEP will solve multiple
case sets ? Where [the US Army] has
identified these key areas of focus,
one of them being FVL, we really
think that all of their investments are
lining up towards its key priorities.
And ITEP is going to be just one
piece of that.?
GE Aviation is convinced that a
single-spool architecture like that in
its T901 engine is ?the simplest when
you look at scaling up or down from
a baseline ? having a single spool
makes that much easier to scale,?
said Hutter. ?When you start adding
multiple spools and multiple frames
and multiple bearings and multiple
compressors, that?s where we think
that the complexity complicates
the scalability,? both for any further
development of the ITEP and for
?anything that might come once
FVL gets better compliance from a
requirements perspective.?
The Sikorsky-Boeing team is developing assault and attack variants of the SB1 Defiant
medium-lift helicopter for the US Army?s Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstration
programme to help define the Future Vertical Lift programme. Technologies used
on GE?s FATE engine will be available if a new centre-line engine is required for FVL.
Sikorsky
www.airinternational.com | 33
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FRANCE
The next few months could
see Egypt and Qatar ordering
additional Rafale fighters.
All images by Jan Kraak
Aircraft developments
By Jan Kraak
THE FIRST of the two C-130J-30
that are on order from the French
Ministry of Defence (besides the
two KC-130Js) flew from Lockheed
Martin?s Marietta plant on November
22. This aircraft should be handed
over to the Arm閑 de l?Air at the
end of December and is planned
to fly to France at the beginning of
2018. The second C-130J-30 will
also be delivered in 2018 whereas
both KC-130Js will follow in 2019.
The Arm閑 de l?Air needs to increase
its transport fleet and is especially
keen on the arrival of the KC-130Js,
because the aircraft will finally
provide the much-needed organic
French aerial refuelling capability for
H225 Caracals.
All four J-models will be delivered
to the Escadre de Transport 61 at
BA123 Orl閍ns-Bricy. However, their
stay at the base just south of Paris
will not be permanent. On October
18, the French and German Armed
Forces signed an agreement in
36 | www.airinternational.com
principle on the creation of a mixed
French-German C-130J squadron
at BA105 Evreux. Germany will order
six C-130Js in 2019 and these will be
assigned to the same squadron as the
four French aircraft. The logic behind
the move is cost-effectiveness
from operating both micro fleets
together. France already has a fleet
of 14 C-130Hs, but these aircraft
are earlier generation Hercules and
cannot be compared to the C-130J.
The French-German squadron will
be completely mixed, which means
aircraft, aircrew and maintenance
personnel will be from both air arms.
The 12th A400M was delivered to
Escadron de Transport 1/61 ?Touraine?
at BA123 Orl閍ns on December 1;
the first French A400M outfitted with
two underwing aerial refuelling pods.
The first 11 A400Ms will be fitted
with aerial refuelling pods when
they next undergo retrofit. The new
refuelling system will be extensively
tested in the coming months to
qualify the A400M to refuel different
fighter aircraft in the Arm閑 de l?Air
inventory.
A mixed team from the Centre
d?Expertise A閞ienne Militaire and the
Direction G閚閞ale de l?Armement
will likely carry out the tests.
The main issue in terms of aerial
refuelling for the French A400M
remains the helicopter-domain. Due
to wake turbulence, the aircraft is
still not able to refuel helicopters.
This means the refuelling capability
for the A400M is focused on fighter
aircraft. Airbus has been effecting
potential solutions and is currently
working on a longer hose that would
allow the helicopter to be further
away from the turbulence. Until now
they have not been successful, which
is why the Arm閑 de l?Air decided to
buy two KC-130Js. French press has
speculated the A400M helicopterrefuelling fix will take at least another
four years. Meanwhile the first A330
Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT)
has been operating from BA125 Istres
to conduct a series of tests before
being delivered to the Arm閑 de l?Air.
French media has reported the MRTT
recently refuelled a Rafale and a
Mirage 2000N inflight.
Foreign sales
Speculation in the French press
suggests that both Egypt and Qatar
will soon use their options for 12
additional Rafale fighters. According
to French newspaper La Tribune,
Qatar has asked for an extension to
its option for another 12 aircraft after
Dassault CEO Eric Trappier recently
visited the country with a proposal
regarding the acquisition of an
additional batch. Although the value
for this potential follow-up order is
unknown, the previous firm order for
24 aircraft to Qatar was estimated
at ?6.3 billion. French President
Emmanuel Macron visited Qatar
on December 7 probably to seal a
deal, though no announcement had
been made when AIR International
closed for press. The French and
Egyptian governments have been
negotiating an extra batch of Rafales,
but in October the process seemed
to have come to a halt due to a
disagreement over the payment
method. However, after a recent visit
to Egypt by France?s Foreign Minister
Jean-Yves Le Drian, everything
@
airnews@keypublishing.com
FRANCE
The A400M is slowly coming of age, as aerial refuelling capabilities are going to
be tested in the coming year.
reportedly for 34 Squadron, part
of the Egyptian Air Force?s 203rd
Tactical Fighter Wing.
Although a Rafale sale to the
United Arab Emirates has been
speculated over for at least a decade
now, the news coming out of the
2017 Dubai Air Show was not about
the Rafale but the Mirage 2000. On
November 15, the UAE Minister of
Defence announced the Air Force
would like Dassault and Thales to
update its fleet of approximately 60
Mirage 2000-9s. No information was
given on timelines or the value of
such a contract.
Operational updates
seems to be back on track.
Le Drian was Defence Minister
in the previous administration
and knows the Egyptian President
Abdel Fattah al-Sissi very well.
There is currently no timeline
for the potential batch of extra
Rafales to Egypt. Meanwhile,
production of the previously
ordered Egyptian and Qatari
Rafales continues. The final three
Egyptian single-seat Rafale EMs
from the first order for eight
(serial numbers EM06, EM07 and
EM08) left the Dassault plant at
Bordeaux-M閞ignac on November
27. The aircraft transited through
BA125 Istres on their way to
Egypt, arriving at Gebel El Basur
Air Base the following day,
By the end of November, the third
operational deployment of four
A閞onavale Rafale Ms to Jordan
came to an end. All Rafale fighters
assigned to Op閞ation Chammal
are now Arm閑 de l?Air aircraft. The
international coalition continues
its efforts as ISIS loses even more
terrain in Syria and Iraq, and most
of its strongholds have now been
liberated. As a result, there is
somewhat of a shift in operations.
Instead of attacking strongholds,
which involved many deliberate
strikes, as well as close air support,
missions are now also aimed at
gathering intelligence on groups
of combatants dispersing over
wide areas such as the Hawijah
plateau and the areas around
Kirkuk. In the last two weeks
of November, the Chammal
contingent flew approximately
70 missions, which included at
least six airstrikes. During the
same two weeks, assets assigned
to Op閞ation Barkhane flew 89
missions: 28 fighter, 21 drone
and intelligence, surveillance and
reconnaissance (ISR), as well as 38
sorties transport missions. Besides
being permanently deployed to
Chammal, the Atlantique 2 is also
regularly deployed to Barkhane.
On November 10, the latest
Atlantique 2 deployment arrived
at Niamey in Niger to support the
different operations in the Sahel
region. The Atlantique 2, which is
capable of flying missions of up
to 14-hours, has a wide array of
ISR sensors that allow its crew to
intercept telephone and satellite
communications, detect radar
emissions or take high-resolution
infrared imagery. Furthermore, the
Atlantique, when outfitted with a
Wescam MX imaging sensor can
designate targets for its four GBU12 precision-guided munitions.
The Atlantique has
transformed from a ColdWar sub-hunter into an
indispensable platform in
current French military
operations.
www.facebook.com/airinternationalmagazine
www.airinternational.com | 37
RUSSIACOLUMN
Military transport branch
expands its strength
By Alexander Mladenov
THE RUSSIAN Air Force?s VoennoTransportnaya Aviatsia (VTA
or Military Transport Aviation
branch) increased its force
strength in 2017.
In November, the VTA
Command established its second
division, which controls three
heavy transport regiments in
addition to two independent
squadrons equipped with medium
and light types.
The newly established
18th Voenno-Transportnaya
Aviatsionnaya Divisya (VTAD
or division) is headquartered at
Orenburg in the southeastern
corner of the European part of
Russia, and its principal subordinate
units, both operating the Il-78MD,
are the 117th Voenno-Transportnoy
Aviatsionny Polk (VTAP or regiment),
also stationed at Orenburg and
the 708th VTAP in Taganrog. The
latest addition to the 18th VTAD?s
strength is the 235th VTAP, a military
transport regiment established on
December 1, 2017, at Ulyanovsk Air
Base. Its initial fleet comprises ten Il76MDs and in 2018 the regiment is
slated to become the first front-line
unit taking on strength new-build
Il-76MD-90A transports, produced
by the Aviastar-SP company, also
situated in Ulyanovsk. Co-location
of the regiment and the plant is
considered a big advantage during
the service entry period and the
warranty support for the new type,
which is still plagued by teething
troubles.
In addition, the newly formed
regiment at Ulyanovsk is slated
to take on strength overhauled
and upgraded An-124-100s, also
cycled through Aviastar-SP. The
first such aircraft (c/n 01-10)
named Oleg Antonov was rolled
out on December 1 (named after
the prominent Soviet aircraft
designer who founded the
Antonov Design Bureau in 1946,
initially based in Novosibirsk in
Russia and then moved to Kiev in
Ukraine in 1952. Following ground
and flight testing, this aircraft is set
to be handed over to the 235th
VTAP in early 2018.
The other division, the 12th
VTAD, is headquartered at TverMigalovo north of Moscow and
also controls three regiments,
equipped with heavy transports.
These are the 196th VTAP, also
stationed at Tver-Migalovo Air
Base and the 334th VTAP at Pskov,
both flying the Il-76MD, while the
556th VTAP at Seshta is equipped
with the An-124-100.
The 235th VTAP was established at Ulyanovsk on December 1, 2017, and operates an initial fleet of ten Il-76MDs transferred from the 119th VTAP. Aviastar-SP
Slow-going Il-96MD-90A
programme
The development, testing
and production effort for the
210-tonne Il-76MD-90A, the
VTA?s new workhorse, proved to
be an expensive and protracted
undertaking. This significantly
improved derivative of the
proven Il-76 workhorse (NATO
codename Candid) took to the air
for the first time on September
22, 2012, at Ulyanovsk-Vostochnii
airfield.
Two initial production-standard
aircraft have been taken on
strength by the VTA so far, the first
in December 2015 and the second
one following suit in January
2016. Both aircraft are currently
used for aircrew conversion
training at the Ivanovo-based
610th Combat Training and
Aircrew Conversion Centre. Then
a pause of about 30 months
followed before resumption of Il76MD-90A deliveries, as the VTA
had to wait for the completion
Roll-out at Aviastar-SP of the first ordered Il-78M-90A tanker took place on November 29, 2017. The aircraft has exactly the same equipment standard
as that of the Il-76MD-90A transport, including a multisensor payload in the nose and an integrated self-protection suite. Aviastar-SP
38 | www.airinternational.com
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RUSSIACOLUMN
The first Il-76MD-90A, named ?Viktor
Livanov? was delivered to the VTA?s
combat training centre in Ivanovo,
the 610th CTATC, in December 2015.
UAC
of the second phase of the state
testing and evaluation of the
type. This long-delayed second
phase finally began in February
2017 using the first production
Il-76MD-90A (c/n 01-02), its main
purpose being testing of the newly
added integrated self-protection
suite and the multisensor
observation payload in the nose.
The flight testing campaign is
expected to be completed in early
2018, thus enabling resumption
of the Il-76MD-90A?s deliveries
to the VTA by the middle of the
year at the earliest. According to
Aviastar-SP, the 2018 production
plan covers rolling out five
Il-76MD-90As for the VTA.
Currently, the production line
used for assembling Il-76MD-90A
transports and Il-78M-90A tankers
has a capacity of six aircraft a year,
but it is set for increase to 18 when
additional tooling and jigs will be
provided in order to accelerate the
production process and grant slots
for export and delivery to other
Russian government customers.
In addition to one aircraft
for use in the development
and testing effort and the two
Il-76MD-90As handed over to
the VTA, Aviastar-SP has also
produced two more machines
handed over to the TANTK
Beriev company in Taganrog for
subsequent conversion to the
A-100 airborne early warning and
control (AEW&C) version. The
first of these took to the air for
the first time following assembly
in Ulyanovsk in November 2014
and then made its maiden flight
in its new guise in Taganrog on
November 18, 2017.
The procurement contract
for delivering 39 newly built
Il-76MD-90A transports to the
VTA was signed in October 2012
between the Russian Ministry of
Defence and the United Aircraft
Corporation (UAC), the parent
company of Ilyushin and AviastarSP. It was priced at RUB 140 billion.
The original delivery schedule
covered the period between 2014
and 2020, but now it seems that
the delay in the development,
testing and launch into production
may postpone the completion of
deliveries until about 2022.
In June 2017, however, the
Russian authoritative newspaper
Komersant hinted that the Russian
Ministry of Defence and UAC are
set to undertake a comprehensive
review of the original procurement
contract. The chief reason for this
is a gross miscalculation of the Il76MD-90A?s production expenses
at Aviastar-SP, combined with the
sharp increase of the RUB-USD
exchange rate recorded in 2014
and 2015. As a result, the Il-76MD90A?s production turned out as
being a loss-incurring activity for
the Ulyanovsk-based company.
According to Komersant, the loss
from each aircraft at Aviastar-SP
accounted for RUB 1 billion. In an
effort to avoid further losses, UAC
has requested a unit price increase
from RUB 3.5 to 5 billion. At the
same time, as Komersant claimed,
the Russian Ministry of Defence
has rejected to increase the total
contract price and this means
that the number of aircraft set for
procurement would drop to about
28 for a budget of RUB 140 billion.
As of early December 2017,
there was no further news on
the unit price increase issue and
the possible reduction of the
number of aircraft intended to be
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procured by the Russian Ministry
of Defence.
New Russian tanker aircraft
set for its first flight
Meanwhile, the first Il-78M-90A
tanker built at Aviastar-SP, based
on the design of the Il-76MD90A transport, was rolled out on
November 29, 2017, and is set
to begin its flight testing effort
in early 2018. The aircraft retains
the full transport capability of
its predecessor, thanks to the
convertible cargo hold. The two
removable tanks in the cargo
hold house 50,000kg (110,000lb)
of aviation fuel and these can be
rapidly replaced by the VAP-2
fire attack kit. This will enable the
Il-78M-90A to be used as a water
bomber with the kit, including
two tanks for dropping a total of
42,000 litres (9,530 US gallons)
of water. Tanks can be installed in
the cargo hold or removed from
there within two to three hours.
The new-generation tanker also
comes equipped with three newly
developed Zvezda UPAZ-1M aerial
refuelling pods with an increased
fuel transfer rate of 3,000 litre/min.
The first Il-78M-90A also
suffered from protracted
development and production.
The aircraft entered production
at Aviastar-SP in February 2015
and the original contract called
for the first flight to be made
in early 2016. Russian military
needs are estimated at some 30
Il-78M-90A tankers, which are
set to complement the existing
fleet of Il-78s and Il-78Ms, but
no production contract has been
signed for the new aircraft. The
contract will probably be signed
upon successful completion of
the flight testing effort of the first
Il-78M-90A.
Named Oleg Antonov, the first An-124-100 is the first of the type for the 235th
VTAP. The giant airlifter was rolled out at Aviastar-SP on December 1, 2015, following overhaul and upgrade, and is set to be taken on strength by the unit upon
completion of its ground and flight testing effort in early 2018. UAC
www.airinternational.com | 39
UNITED STATES
By David C Isby
THE BOEING B-52H Stratofortress
is the oldest of the US Air Force?s
three bomber types. Though the
youngest of the 76 B-52s currently
operational was built in 1962,
the fleet will be a part of the US
nuclear deterrent for decades to
come while flying a wide range of
conventional missions. Speaking
in Washington on October 9,
Secretary of the Air Force, Heather
Wilson recounted an example of
what this requires from today?s
B-52 air and ground crews: ?I was
at Al Udeid Air Base. There were
B-52s there from Minot [Air Force
Base] North Dakota. They were
supporting the fight against ISIS,
everything from dropping leaflets
to precision close air support.
Danger-close air support from
a B-52, which is just amazing,
[shows] how the technology has
changed. We were standing out on
the wing, 120癋, on the flight line
at Al Udeid, talking to the crew.
The crew commander said, yeah,
when they rotate back to Minot,
ten days after they get back,
they will have a nuclear surety
inspection. That?s for their
other mission.?
B-52H in action
The rotational B-52H deployment at
Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar took over
missions that had been dominated
by the B-1B Lancer until 2014.
B-52Hs will continue to operate
from Qatar until spring 2018,
when they will be replaced by a
detachment of B-1Bs.
B-52Hs have been a vital part
of the coalition air campaign
against ISIS insurgents in Syria
and Iraq. This has been winding
down following the defeat of
ISIS; but even before this had
started, Qatar-based B-52Hs had
been flying combat missions over
Afghanistan. Starting on November
19, B-52Hs were used, along
with other coalition aircraft, to
strike Taliban drug labs and what
was described as commandand-control nodes in northern
Helmand Province. General Robin
Rand, Commander, Air Force
Global Strike Command said the
B-52Hs based in Qatar, refuelled
by tankers based at Kandahar,
are able to work with Operation
Resolute Support maybe once a
week: ?B-52s have done more than
that, depending on terrain, what
our forces are doing and whether
the B-52 is an appropriate platform
or F-16s can handle it.?
A B-52H over the Syrian desert. SSgt Marjorie Bowlden/US Air Force
Sustaining B-52Hs from Qatar is
a challenge. Their mission-capable
rate is 65%, as opposed to 74% fleet
wide. A shortage of spare parts led
to one of the Qatar-based B-52Hs
being used as a source for parts
before being restored to flight
status. Despite this, the current
detachment achieved some 834
consecutive sorties ? and counting
? without a maintenance abort.
Back in September, speaking
at the Air Force Association (AFA)
convention in National Harbor,
Maryland, Commander, US Air Forces
Central Command, Southwest Asia,
Lieutenant General Jeff Harrigan
said: ?The B-52 is an old airplane,
but, with its [Lockheed Martin AAQ33] Sniper targeting pod, and ability
to deliver precision-guided weapons,
it is an incredible platform and gives
me a great capability.?
Engines
Also speaking at the AFA convention
on September 19, Secretary Wilson
said: ?We know we are going to
have to re-engine if we are going to
keep the B-52 for the longer term.?
The Air Force held industry days at
Barksdale Air Force Base Louisiana
B-52H 2017: upgraded
and in action
B-52H Stratofortress
61-0018 takes off at Al
Udeid Air Base, Qatar.
TSgt Amy Lovgren/
US Air Force
40 | www.airinternational.com
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UNITED STATES
on December 12?13 to look at
options. Barksdale is home to the
2nd Bomb Wing, the largest B-52equipped wing in the US Air Force.
With a B-52H re-engine
programme potentially starting in
FY2020, the Air Force appears to
be interested in an off-the-shelf
design, with the Rolls-Royce BR725,
General Electric TF34-10 and Pratt
& Whitney PW800 emerging as
competitors, rather than upgrading
the current Pratt & Whitney
TF33-P-3/103 turbofan engines.
Speaking in Washington DC on
November 30, General Rand said the
Air Force had made a compelling
case for the B-52 to remain in service
for a long while and warrants being
re-engined for a lot of reasons.
Yet US Air Force policy, which
prefers investing in new-build
airframes, has over the years made
re-engining programmes rarely taken
options, limited to types fitted with
old engines which threatened the
ability of aircraft to accomplish their
missions such as the KC-135A tanker
and C-5 heavy lift transport. This
reflects that procurement, operations
and maintenance accounts are
separate lines of funding, each
computed separately and never
co-mingled. There is little incentive
for the Air Force to spend this
year?s procurement dollars to save
operations and maintenance dollars
in future years. A B-52H re-engining
programme is far from assured.
Armament
B-52Hs previously lacked MILSTD-1760 data bus connectivity
in their internal weapons bay and
aircraft guided missile and bomb
rotary launcher (AGMBRL), but this
is now being provided through an
upgrade programme of the weapons
bay and AGMBRL, imaginatively
called the 1760 Internal Weapons
Bay Upgrade. The AGMBRL, originally
designed to release conventional
and nuclear stores, is commonly
referred to as the conventional rotary
launcher or CRL.
Before 2017, MIL-STD-1760
connections, had been limited to
the B-52H?s external integrated
conventional stores management
system pylon that can carry up to
nine precision-guided munitions
such as Joint Direct Attack Munitions
(JDAM) and the AGM-158 Joint Airto-Surface Standoff Munition.
A newly installed and upgraded conventional rotary launcher loaded in a B-52H
bomb bay at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, on November 17, 2017. Upgraded CRLs
were used by B-52 for strikes on Taliban infrastructure in southern Afghanistan
during November. SSgt Patrick Evenson/US Air National Guard
With the upgrade, a B-52H will be
able to carry eight 500lb (227kg)
GBU-38 JDAMs on its rebuilt and
rewired CRL. Upgrades of B-52Hs in
Qatar took place during November
after upgraded launchers and
technicians were flown out from
Barksdale on a C-5M Super Galaxy.
Aircraft fitted with an upgraded
CRL were first used in action over
Afghanistan on November 19. Only
44 CRLs will be upgraded, swapped
out between deployed B-52Hs.
Other systems
Intakes of two TF33 engines on a Minot-based B-52H assigned to the 69th
Expeditionary Bomb Squadron on the flight line at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar on
November 6, 2017. The Air Force is looking at replacing these engines in the
near future. SSgt Patrick Evenson/US Air National Guard
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When General Rand appeared before
the Senate Armed Services Committee
on June 7, he said the B-52 is currently
the only Air Force combat aircraft
without Link 16. As a NATO standard
system, the data link is viewed as a
requisite capability for participation in
coalition air operations, and therefore
as a significant shortfall in the case of
the B-52H.
He reminded the senators ?
whose enthusiasm for building new
aircraft and hesitancy to upgrade
current ones is only slightly less than
that of the Air Force ? that B-52
modernisation has lagged. Only 21
B-52Hs had, by then, received the
Combat Network Communications
Technology (CONECT) upgrade.
In his words: ?[This] moves the
B-52 into the digital age for the
first time. CONECT is an onboard
LAN [local area network] that will
allow the crew to share a common
battlespace picture.?
The B-52H?s 1960s-era Northrop
Grumman (formerly Norden Systems)
APQ-166 radar system has proven
difficult to maintain ? its mean time
between failure is only some 46
flight hours ? but the B-52 System
Program Office managing the type?s
radar modernisation program, while
funded under the current Future Years
Defense Plan, has not yet decided on
a replacement.
A wheels and brake system
upgrade, designed after an aborted
take-off at Andersen Air Force Base,
Guam, in 2016, which led to a B-52H
overrunning the runway and ending
up a total loss, is scheduled to be
introduced in 2019. Until then, every
B-52H landing at Al Udeid will require
the use of drag parachute braking.
www.airinternational.com | 41
UNITED STATES
Telemetry, distraction
Perhaps indicative of toned-down CAG-bird colour schemes now emerging from paint
shops around the US Navy fleet, F/A-18E Super Hornet BuNo 168471/NG400 is the mount
of Strike Fighter Squadron 151 (VFA-151) ?Vigilantes?. The aircraft is seen on final approach to
Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada during a recent deployment there by Carrier Air Wing 9.
By Rick Burgess
RAYTHEON WILL deliver a new
range-support aircraft to the US
Navy in 2021, a company official
said on November 28, 2017. The
Gulfstream 550 business jet will
be modified by Raytheon with an
advanced telemetry system that
will enable telemetry data to be
collected during weapons tests,
especially missiles, aircraft, ships
and unmanned aerial vehicles,
but also will provide range safety
and surveillance, as well as
communications relay for test
platforms.
Raytheon was awarded a $79
million contract by Naval Air
Systems Command in the last week
of November to provide the mission
system for the G550. The advanced
telemetry system will be built using
existing Raytheon radar and other
technology. The G550 will replace
Navy NP-3C (formerly NP-3D)
Orion aircraft fitted with a large
billboard antenna array. The Navy
is retiring its P-3 aircraft and needs
to replace the NP-3C by 2021. The
range support NP-3Cs are assigned
to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron
30 (VX-30) ?Bloodhounds? based
at Naval Air Station Point Mugu,
California.
Susan Kelly, site manager of
Raytheon in Albuquerque, New
Mexico, said the main challenge of
the programme is its tight schedule,
with the system being developed
under a fixed-price contract: ?The
Navy needed it yesterday.?
The G550 will be delivered to
Raytheon as government-furnished
equipment with the airframe
configured to the Conformal
Airborne Early Warning (CAEW)
standard as used by Israel and
Singapore, which includes conformal
antenna arrays. The CAEW aircraft
is already certified by the Federal
Aviation Administration, and as such
will not have to be recertified with
the Raytheon suite installed.
A mission suite will be installed
on the G550 at Raytheon?s facility
in Tucson, Arizona, after which the
company will perform integration,
flight-testing and training before
delivering the aircraft to VX-30.
Kelly said there is interest from
foreign nations in the telemetry
suite, and that the Navy could
use more than just the one it has
ordered so far. The Department of
Defense has not yet announced a
military designation for the aircraft.
On the move
Three squadrons assigned to Carrier
Air Wing Five (CVW-5) moved from
Naval Air Station Fallon resident Fighter Composite Squadron 13 (VFC-13) ?Saints?
operates F-5N Tiger II BuNo 761536/AF02 in a three-colour broken snake camouflage
scheme, applied to replicate the colour schemes used by adversary aircraft in Asia.
42 | www.airinternational.com
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and qualification
Strike Fighter Squadron 204 (VFA-204) ?River Rattlers? based at Naval Air Station New Orleans became the first Reserve
strike fighter squadron to provide adversary support to the active-duty fleet in October 1993. The squadron currently
operates F/A-18A Hornet BuNo 162859/AF414, shown carrying a blue-coloured ALQ-167(V) electronic countermeasures jamming pod, painted in a three-tone ghost colour scheme. All images Dan Stijovich
Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, to
Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni
on November 28, 2017, continuing
a shift that began in February when
the wing?s new E-2D squadron,
Carrier Airborne Early Warning
Squadron 125 (VAW-125) ?Tigertails?
arrived at Iwakuni.
F/A-18E Super Hornet-equipped
Strike Fighter Squadrons 115
(VFA-115) ?Eagles? and VFA-195
?Dambusters?, and Electronic
Attack Squadron 141 (VAQ-141)
?Shadowhawks?, an EA-18G Growler
unit, made the move.
CVW-5?s other strike fighter
squadrons, F/A-18E-equipped
VFA-27 ?Royal Maces? and F/A-18Fequipped VFA-102 ?Diamondback?
are scheduled to move to Iwakuni
in the future, as is Fleet Logistics
Support Squadron 30 (VRC-30)
Detachment 5 operating the C-2A
Greyhound.
CVW-5?s helicopter squadrons,
Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron
12 (HSC-12) ?Golden Falcons? and
Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron
77 (HSM-77) ?Saberhawks?, will
remain at Atsugi.
the Advanced Offboard Electronic
Warfare (AOEW) system is designed
to be carried by the MH-60R or
MH-60S Seahawk helicopters.
The system will independently
detect and distract incoming cruise
missiles or act as an extension of
a ship?s SLQ-36(V)6/7 electronic
warfare system, and uses Link 16 to
connect with the shipboard system,
and receive threat updates.
On November 29, Lockheed
Martin?s electronic warfare
programme manager, Joe
Ottaviano said the AOEW system
would have open architecture and
modular subsystems and that the
company expects to build up to 18
systems under a future low-rate
initial production contract.
East Coast Fire Scout
Squadron Qualifies
Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron
22 (HSC-22) ?Sea Knights? based
at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia,
became the first on the East Coast
to qualify to operate the MQ-8 Fire
Scout Vertical Take-off and Landing
Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
from a Littoral Combat Ship (LCS).
Captain Jeff Dodge, programme
manager with the Navy and Marine
Corps? Multi-Mission Tactical
Unmanned Air System (PMA266) Program Office said HSC-22
qualified as safe for flight with the
MQ-8B for the LCS in November
2017. The squadron had previously
operated the MQ-8B from Perryclass frigates beginning in 2013.
Fire Scout has been deployed from
the West Coast to the South China
Sea on board the LCS USS Fort Worth
(LCS 3), teamed with an MH-60S
helicopter. All operational Fire Scouts
are maintained in a pool at Naval Air
Station Point Mugu, California, from
which squadrons draw airframes to
equip their detachments on Littoral
Combat Ships.
Elements of Carrier Air Wing 9, currently assigned to USS John C Stennis (CVN 74), deployed to Naval Air Station Fallon,
Nevada in November for a detachment. One of the CVW-9 aircraft operating from the base was Carrier Airborne Early
Warning Squadron 117?s CAG-bird E-2C Hawkeye BuNo 165814/NG600.
Heli-borne electronic
warfare pod
Lockheed Martin announced that its
heli-borne electronic warfare pod
under development for the US Navy
is expected to begin low-rate initial
production about 2020. Housed
in a pod and designated ALQ-248,
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www.airinternational.com | 43
ASIA & AUSTRALIA
Australia?s third F-35A Lightning II rolled off the assembly line at Lockheed Martin?s production facility in Fort Worth,
Texas, marking another major milestone in Australia?s F-35A project. Angel DeCueto/Lockheed Martin
F-35 arrives,
Seahawk and
Squirrel depart
By Nigel Pittaway
THE THIRD Lockheed Martin
F-35A Lightning II for the Royal
Australian Air Force (serial number
A35-003) was rolled out of the
factory at Fort Worth in November,
appropriately painted in the
markings of No.3 Squadron, the
first operational fighter squadron
to convert to the type.
44 | www.airinternational.com
On the other side of the ledger,
two veteran Royal Australian Navy
helicopter types in the shape of the
Aerospatiale AS350BA Squirrel and
Sikorsky S-70B-2 Seahawk, bowed
out of service on December 1.
F-35 delivery
The Royal Australian Air Force?s
(RAAF) third F-35A (c/n AU-03) is
one of eight (A35-003 to A35-010)
being procured in low-rate initial
production Lot 10, and all will be
delivered to the US Air Force?s 61st
Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force
Base, Arizona, during 2018, where
they will join the international F-35
training school.
The first two RAAF aircraft
delivered (A35-001 c/n AU-01 and
A35-002 c/n AU-02) are also at Luke
and are being used to train Australian
and American F-35A pilots and RAAF
maintenance personnel.
There are now six RAAF pilots
trained on the F-35A, including
the Commanding Officer of No.3
Squadron, Wing Commander
Darren Clare. In a ceremony at RAAF
Williamtown, New South Wales, on
December 8, Wing Commander
Clare formally took over command
of the Squadron, which has now
ceased operating the McDonnell
Douglas F/A-18A Hornet.
Williamtown will be one of two
main operating bases for the F-35A
in RAAF service (the other is RAAF
Tindal in the Northern Territory,
home to No.75 Squadron) and
preparations are underway for
delivery of the first two aircraft to
Australia in December 2018.
Following a period of verification
and validation activities in the unique
Australian operating environment,
including testing the IT interface with
the local environment, further aircraft
will be delivered to Australia in pairs
throughout 2019.
The first two units to convert to
the aircraft will be No.2 Operational
Conversion Unit and No.3 Squadron
at Williamtown and, according to
Air Vice Marshal Leigh Gordon,
head of Joint Strike Fighter for the
Defence Capability Acquisition and
Sustainment Group (CASG), the
Australian F-35A programme remains
on track to achieve initial operational
capability (IOC) on schedule by the
end of 2020.
Air Vice Marshal Gordon said:
?There is always risk, but at the
moment the programme is on
schedule and we?re forecasting to
deliver on schedule in accordance
with our plan to IOC. Everything is
on track for IOC in December 2020
and indeed on track to support the
first two aircraft arriving in Australia in
December 2018.?
After 2 OCU and No.3 Squadron
become operational on the F-35A (an
event defined by IOC), the remaining
two units ? No.77 Squadron at
Williamtown and No.75 Squadron
at Tindal ? will undergo their own
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conversion to the Lightning II, ahead
of final operational capability being
declared by the end of 2023.
Seahawk farewell
In a dual ceremony at HMAS
Albatross, near Nowra, south of
Sydney, on December 1, the Royal
Australian Navy?s Fleet Air Arm said
farewell to both the Seahawk and
Squirrel, after 29 and 33 years of
service respectively.
The S-70B-2 Seahawk, flown by
816 Squadron, has been replaced by
the Lockheed Martin/Sikorsky MH60R Seahawk, which is now the Fleet
Air Arm?s naval combat helicopter.
The final S-70B-2 Seahawk (or
Bravo) operational deployment to
the Persian Gulf had been completed
in July with the return of the Anzacclass frigate HMAS Arunta and three
of the 16 helicopters originally
delivered were maintained in an
operational condition to the very
end, albeit shore based at Nowra. In
29 years of operational service, no
Seahawks were lost.
The first aircraft (serial number
N24-001) first flew in December
1987 and the type entered service
in 1989 and was shortly deployed
afterwards to the Middle East during
the first Gulf War.
Speaking at the farewell
ceremony, Commander Fleet Air
Arm Commodore Chris Smallhorn
said: ?In 1989, the Bravo was without
doubt the most advanced maritime
helicopter of its age. It has proven to
be a magnificent combat helicopter
for anti-submarine and surface
operations and also served us
exceptionally in secondary utility type
missions.
?The Bravo has had an almost
continuous presence in the Middle
East since 1991 and was always on
station at home, having come to the
assistance of countless Australians.?
Shortly after the ceremony one
aircraft (serial number N24-003, side
number 872 and named Christine
after the 1983 American horror
movie, due to its temperamental
nature) was flown from Nowra
to Canberra on delivery to the
Australian War Memorial.
Squirrel bows out
The AS350BA Squirrel first entered
service with the Royal Australian
Navy (RAN) in 1984; by mid-2017,
just six remained on strength with
the Navy?s 723 Squadron at Nowra,
the last survivors of a helicopter type
that has served in all three services
of the Australian Defence Force in its
33-year operational history.
Six were initially acquired by the
Navy for utility and survey roles, but
the fleet was expanded with the
transfer of eight former Australian
Army (and before that Royal
Australian Air Force) aircraft in 2000,
when 723 Squadron assumed the
helicopter aircrew training role for
RAN pilots and observers.
The Squirrel was also deployed
to the Persian Gulf aboard RAN
warships earlier in its career.
Painted grey and armed with a
door-mounted machine gun, they
earned the nickname Battle Budgies.
Referring to both the Seahawk
and Squirrel, Commander Fleet Air
Arm Commodore Chris Smallhorn
said: ?These aircraft have proven
to be some of the most successful
airframes in naval aviation history.
Over 30 years, the majority of naval
aviators have trained in the Squirrel
and many, including myself, have
wonderfully fond memories of their
time learning to fly. The Squirrel has
been so versatile in peace and war
that it has created a truly impressive
chapter in the history of the Fleet Air
Arm.?
The Squirrel will be replaced in the
training role from January 2018 by
the Airbus Helicopters H135 (EC135
T2+) under the joint Army-Navy
Helicopter Aircrew Training System
programme. Like the Seahawk,
one aircraft has been delivered to
the Australian War Memorial. The
helicopter (serial number N22-017,
side number 864) was delivered by
road in August and was one of four
Squirrels deployed to the Middle East
during the first Gulf War.
MAIN PICTURE: On December 11, 2017, HMAS Albatross conducted ceremonial divisions.
The occasion marked the withdrawal from Royal Australian Navy service of the S-70B-2
Seahawk and the AS350BA Squirrel helicopters. An Australian Army OH-58A Kiowa leads a
Royal Australian Navy AS350BA Squirrel and its replacement a Eurocopter EC135
over the skies of Nowra, New South Wales. LSIS Jayson Tufrey/Royal Australian Navy
BOTTOM LEFT: The Royal Australian Navy marked the end of an era by handing over the last
of its S-70B-2 Seahawk ?Bravo? helicopters to the Australian War Memorial for preservation
in the national collection on December 4, 2017. POIS Phil Cullinan/Royal Australian Navy
www.facebook.com/airinternationalmagazine
www.airinternational.com | 45
MILITARY US AIRPOWER
US combat a
today and b
A
t the end of 2017, US combat
airpower remained, as it has been
since the end of the Cold War,
unquestionably the strongest and
most capable in the world. No
other country can come close to matching it
in terms of strength, numbers or capabilities,
but it?s also facing a broad range of challenges.
Some of these are the same problems shared
with many of its coalition partners, such as
resource constraints in an international security
environment changed by events following
the occupation of the Crimea and the rise of
ISIS. Others reflect US-specific issues, such
as repeated failures to pass the budgets that
include defence spending.
Lightning strikes behind
a B-52H Stratofortress
at Minot Air Force Base,
North Dakota. Senior Airman
Armstrong/US Air Force
46 | www.airinternational.com
All of US airpower has been challenged by
an ageing force structure. The average age of
a US Air Force aircraft is 27 years. The other
services have similar, if less severe, problems.
Older airplanes cost more money to operate
and require expensive upgrades to remain
operationally survivable, especially in the face of
rising near-peer adversaries.
Readiness overall has also declined since the
Cold War, reflecting funding limitations and the
priority given to the need to expend resources ?
in terms of money and flying hours ? on conflicts
and deployments worldwide. In a few areas,
such as the Air Force?s fighter pilot shortage and
the Navy?s availability of non-deployed combat
aircraft, it has the potential to be crippling.
Because of these issues, US airpower, which
has gone unchallenged for decades, could
prove to be transient. Decisions are being
made today, that will determine what US
airpower will look like in 2030 and decades
beyond.
Airpower in context
US airpower is as diverse as it is capable. The
Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Army each
maintains large fleets of aircraft. Each service
develops its own aircraft as set out under US
law, reflecting the different types required to
provide each service with the requirements
for its distinct set of missions and capabilities.
In addition, US Special Operations Command
US AIRPOWER MILITARY
t airpower
beyond
David C Isby
provides an
overview of United
States airpower, a
big, but demanding
defence requirement
is, operationally, in effect a standalone joint
air arm, with the Air Force, Army and Navy
contributing fixed-wing and rotary-wing
aircraft. Each service has its own reserve units,
equipped with the same types of aircraft and
its aircrew and technicians trained to the same
standards as the active-duty force. The Air
National Guard and Army National Guard are
both powerful forces.
US airpower is not limited to the
Department of Defense. The Coast Guard,
while not under the Department of Defense
in peace time, is an armed service. Also
contributing to US airpower are aircraft
operated by the CIA, the Customs and Border
Protection agency and many commercially
registered aircraft that are flown by civilians,
under contract or charter, in support of US
military forces and operations.
Impact of political dysfunction
All areas of US national security, including
airpower, have been undercut by political
dysfunction. The repeated inability of
Congress to pass the budget request into law,
instead relying on continuing resolutions,
has made effective planning difficult. Early
in 2017, Chief of Staff of the US Air Force,
General David Goldfein said: ?There is no
enemy on the planet that can do more
damage to the US Air Force than us not
getting a budget.?
The threat of sequestration under the Budget
Control Act has continued to affect readiness. In
2016, outgoing Secretary of Defense Dr Ashton
Carter said that unless sequestration is addressed,
there would be, ?$100 billion in cuts from 2018 to
2021, which would introduce unacceptable risks?.
A bitterly polarised and divided US electorate
increases the potential risk for airpower
becoming collateral damage in future political
battles. The desire to overturn everything,
whether from discontented majorities on the
right or the left, is a threat. US airpower needs
political stability. It relies on aircraft that take
decades to develop and are planned to remain in
service for up to a century. Changes of direction
at each election can ruin it.
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MILITARY US AIRPOWER
An A-10C Thunderbolt II departs from a KC-135
Stratotanker in a stylish manoeuvre during
a mission in support of Operation Inherent
Resolve. SSgt Trevor McBride/US Air Force
BOTTOM RIGHT: An AH-1Z Viper attack
helicopter takes off from the flight deck of
amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor
(LSD 52) during flight operations to enhance
interoperability between Navy ships and Marine
aircraft as part of a Composite Training Unit
Exercise. Cpl Cordoba/US Marine Corps
Impact of the international
security environment
US airpower has to deal with the return of
great power competition. After the Russian
occupation of the Crimea in 2014, the 2016
NATO summit in Warsaw unanimously
changed its policy from one of assurance to
one of deterrence. China continues to make
moves to secure its control of international
trade routes in East Asia and has publicly
declared its policies of increasing its power
and influence on a worldwide basis.
Previous challenges for US airpower have by
no means gone away. Other regional tensions,
such as that with North Korea (escalating
its testing of nuclear weapons and ballistic
missiles) and Iran have also put increasing
reliance on US airpower to deter and, if
necessary, retaliate. For US Forces Korea,
their guidance is: ?Be ready to fight tonight.?
Maintaining this readiness for even a part of
the force is tremendously costly and stressing
in terms of resources and personnel.
Conflicts against violent extremist
organisations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, subSaharan Africa and elsewhere continue to
require extensive efforts from US airpower. In
2016, then Chief of Staff of the US Air Force
General Mark Welch described the Air Force
as: ?heavily engaged around the world. The
average age of our aircraft is at an all-time
high and the size of our force and state of
our full-spectrum readiness are at or near
all-time lows.? Since the campaign against ISIS
extremists in Syria and Iraq started in 2014,
coalition air arms have delivered over 80,000
weapons in some 26,000 airstrikes. Over 70%
of those strikes have been conducted by the
US Air Force.
48 | www.airinternational.com
US Air Force
In 2017, the US Air Force marked the
70th anniversary of its organisation as an
independent service and the centennial of
its first operational setback, the unsuccessful
deployment of the 1st Aero Squadron to fight
guerrillas in Mexico in 1917. The Air Force
remains, by law, America?s primary provider
of airpower, with some 5,500 manned and
unmanned aircraft in its inventory. Other
services have large numbers of aircraft
that are used to support the legally defined
mission objectives for each service, on
the land or sea. The Air Force has primary
responsibility to control and use the air (and
space) to defeat threats to the United States?
use of them.
The Air Force buys and operates aircraft,
manned and unmanned, to enable it to carry
out its core missions: air and space superiority;
intelligence, surveillance, and reconnais�
sance (ISR); mobility and lift; global strike; and
command and control.
To do this, the Air Force still relies primarily
on manned aircraft, although its core ISR
mission is now predominantly being carried
out by unmanned air vehicles (UAVs), and
space missions require space vehicles,
boosters and satellites, as well as the terrestrial
infrastructure that launches and operates
them. The Air Force?s strategic bombers ? its
main combat strength in the opening decades
of the Cold War ? are now limited to 20 B-2
Spirits, 76 B-52H Stratofortresses, and 61
US AIRPOWER MILITARY
B-1B Lancers. Its main combat strength relies
on 1,700 fighters, about 1,100 of which are
combat-coded, meaning they are equipped
and intended for operations.
Since the end of the Cold War, the Air
Force has repeatedly cut force structure
to make resources available to maintain
readiness for operations and the quality of its
force, even when other services expanded
their combat forces after 2001. The Air Force
currently has 55 combat-coded fighter
squadrons, down from 134 in 1991. The
Congress has acted to prevent further force
structure cuts involving aircraft such as the
A-10 Thunderbolt II and U-2S Dragon Lady in
recent years.
The Air Force is currently facing an aircraft
procurement bow wave, having to bring
into service and pay for the production
of multiple types between now and the
mid-2020s. The highest priority Air Force
procurement programme is the Lockheed
Martin F-35A Lightning II. The first squadron
was declared operational in 2016, the
second is in transition, and production is
now starting to ramp up. The Air Force
currently plans to replace all its A-10s and
F-16 Fighting Falcons with the F-35A. The
Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider stealth
bomber, selected for production in 2015, will
be operational in the 2020s. Boeing?s KC46A Pegasus tanker will enter service soon,
probably in early 2018. It will eventually
replace a third of the current KC-135R and
KC-135T Stratotankers, many of which were
built in the 1950s.
US Army
Aviation is the US Army?s major investment
area, absorbing some 21% of its current
funding. For the US Army, it is used to support
its ground manoeuvre forces; its divisions and
brigades. Earlier this year, Chief of Staff of the
US Army, General Mark Milley said its highest
priority mission is: ?sustained ground combat
in a full spectrum environment against a highly
lethal threat or near-peer adversary?.
Army aviation makes a powerful
contribution to the ability of the United States
to fight throughout the spectrum of conflict.
Attack helicopters provide ground units with
responsive, accurate and lethal firepower.
Helicopters enable ground units? ability to
deploy, manoeuvre and be sustained, carrying
troops and supplies. UAVs, helicopters and
fixed-wing aircraft provide ISR for units at all
levels, from squad up to theatre.
As with the other services, the Army
is starting to re-orientate its tactical and
operational thinking towards defeating nearpeer opponents, which has meant looking
again at how it operated in the closing decade
of the Cold War. At the same time, the Army
must meet its extensive commitments to
today?s conflicts. It has had to disband units
to afford to keep the remainder deployed or
sustained. By the end of 2018, there will only
be 11 Combat Aviation Brigades in the active
force structure, a reduction of two from 2015.
ABOVE: A KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 100th Air Refueling Wing based at RAF Mildenhall, England, prepares to transfer fuel to a B-2 Spirit from Whiteman Air
Force Base, Missouri, off the coast of Spain. The B-2 was one of two deployed to RAF Fairford, England to participate in theatre bomber assurance and deterrence
operations. SSgt. Micaiah Anthony/US Air Force
BELOW: A B-1B Lancer at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam on August 17, 2016 prior to the first mission in history in which all three of Air Force Global Strike Command?s
strategic bomber aircraft (B-1B, B-2 and B-52H) conducted integrated operations in the US Pacific Command area of operations in support of the continuous bomber
presence mission. TSgt Richard Ebensberger/US Air Force
www.airinternational.com | 49
MILITARY US AIRPOWER
of its aircraft were considered flyable in 2016,
when 80% of Marine units did not have the
minimum number of aircraft for training and
basic operations, and flight hour averages
were below minimum standards. Grounded
aircraft were either awaiting repairs or had
been triaged to make sure other aircraft were
ready to go if required. While other services
use tiered readiness, the Marine Corps
prioritises deployed and pre-deployed units.
Consequently, in recent years, non-deployed
forces often lack resources for training and
maintaining readiness.
The Marine Corps has invested heavily in
a planned procurement of 260 F-35Bs and
80 F-35Cs to replace its aging fighter force
of F/A-18 Hornets and AV-8B Harrier IIs. The
F-35B is the short take-off and vertical landing
variant and the F-35C is the carrier variant.
The Marine Corps operates a large rotarywing force, and is currently completing its
modernisation with MV-22B Ospreys and AH-1Z
attack helicopters. A new heavy-lift helicopter,
the CH-53K King Stallion, is entering production.
US Coast Guard
All four system demonstration test article CH-53K King Stallions at Sikorsky Aircraft?s facility in West Palm
Beach, Florida. Lockheed Martin-Sikorksy
US Navy
The US Navy?s airpower supports sea power,
its primary maritime mission, ensuring that US
national security can make use of international
waters for any task required of it. Unlike the
Air Force?s bow wave problem, naval aviation
is generally procuring mature programmes
producing aircraft with few major issues. The
Navy?s aviation fleet is younger than the Air
Force?s (16 years on average compared to 27
years) but it has been facing inventory and
readiness problems. The Navy sees faster
procurement of new aircraft as the long-term
solution, but their high cost, especially for
F-35C Lightning IIs, makes this difficult.
The US Navy?s aircraft carriers have
unparalleled versatility and warfighting
capabilities. The fleet is, by law, required to
have 11 carriers, but has ten at the present
time, with only nine carrier air wings, one
having recently disbanded. The first ship of
a new class, the USS Gerald R Ford (CVN
78), the second is under construction,
has introduced new technologies such as
electromagnetic-powered aircraft catapults
and expanded bandwidth to accommodate
the high demand for real-time ISR data.
These advances are designed to increase
the carrier?s sortie generation capability by
a third, to 160 (sustained) or 270 (surge)
per day.
However, these are not the only ships that
enable US Navy airpower. Amphibious warfare
ships carry rotary-wing aircraft, including the
highly capable Bell-Boeing MV-22 Osprey
tiltrotor, and will operate F-35B Lightning IIs.
All surface warships are increasingly capable
of using UAVs for ISR missions. The Navy has
invested heavily in shore-based airpower
for ISR, such as the P-8A Poseidon maritime
surveillance aircraft and the MQ-4C Triton
maritime surveillance UAV.
In 2016, the Chief of Naval Operations,
50 | www.airinternational.com
Admiral John Richardson said: ?The challenges
are increasing and the funding is decreasing?.
As with the other services, the Navy is having
to reconfigure its airpower to be able to deal
with conflict with a great power while still
having to carry out its current high operating
tempo. In 2016, for example, the Navy had
two carriers in the Mediterranean concurrently
conducting combat missions over Syria. This
represented a return to carriers operating
in mutual support, once a feature of Cold
War operations, but one that had been
allowed to lapse as the Navy?s force structure
became stretched by resource and personnel
limitations in recent years.
US Marine Corps
The US Marine Corps is the Navy?s
expeditionary and contingency force, and
Marine Corps aviation?s primary mission is
supporting forces on the ground or afloat
as part of these operations. For this reason,
Marine Corps airpower aims to maintain a
high level of readiness, even though only 43%
The smallest of the US armed services, the
Coast Guard contributes to US airpower by
carrying out maritime security and safety as its
core missions. Its fixed-wing and rotary-wing
aircraft specialise in surveillance and search
and rescue. As with the Navy, UAVs offer the
Coast Guard the potential to embark an air
capability even on its smaller ships. The Coast
Guard?s close integration with civil authorities,
however, makes extensive UAV operations in
controlled US airspace problematic.
MANNED FIXED-WING
A-10C Thunderbolt II
The distinctive twin-engine A-10 is the only US
Air Force combat aircraft designed primarily
for close air support, using its internal 30mm
GAU-8 cannon, a wide range of precisionguided munitions (PGMs) and the tactical skills
of its mission-specialist pilots. The US Air Force
proposed retiring the A-10 for budget reasons.
After encountering congressional and popular
opposition, the Air Force is now extending
the life of the A-10 fleet through to at least
2022. This includes re-winging aircraft beyond
the initial 173 completed in 2016 and adding
new capabilities include Advanced Precision
Kill Weapon System 2.75-inch laser-guided
rockets. The A-10 will eventually be replaced
by the F-35A Lightning II.
An EA-18G Growler from Electronic Attack Squadron 132 (VAQ-132)
?Scorpions? air refuelling with a Royal Australian Air Force KC-30A tanker
during Exercise Talisman Saber 2017. Sgt Peter Borys/Royal Australian Air Force
US AIRPOWER MILITARY
F-35A Lightning IIs from
the 34th Fighter Squadron
based at Hill Air Force Base,
Utah, over the Utah Test
and Training Range. Nial
Bradshaw/US Air Force
B-52H Stratofortress
The eight-engine B-52H is the oldest US Air
Force bomber. Its production stopped in 1962,
but its global strike capabilities, delivering
PGMs, have been extensively used in combat
in recent years. Some 50 of the 76 B-52Hs
remain capable of carrying nuclear-armed
cruise missiles. No replacement is currently
planned. The US Air Force is interested in
procuring new engines for its B-52Hs, because
the remaining service life makes it possible for
the aircraft to continue in service until 2060.
Among the options being considered are
either a refurbished (the lowest cost option) or
an upgraded new-production version of the
current Pratt & Whitney TF33 or the RollsRoyce BR725, with the B-52H retaining its
current eight-engine configuration.
B-1B Lancer
The B-1B entered service in 1986 and
completed production in 1988. Originally
designed to carry nuclear weapons, it was
reconfigured for conventional weapons in the
early 1990s and modified to deliver PGMs.
After extensive combat over Afghanistan
and Iraq, where B-1Bs flew many close air
support missions using standoff weapons
and onboard sensors, the B-1B now deploys
to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam in support
of Pacific Command?s continuous bomber
presence operations, and remains able to
carry out conventional global strike missions.
The B-1B will remain in service until 2040. It is
likely to be replaced by the B-21 Raider.
intended to destroy hardened and/or deeply
buried targets. Its stealth characteristics allow
it to evade radar detection and safely penetrate
hostile airspace. Only 20 B-2s are currently
operational. Initially deployed in 1997, it is
expected to remain in service until 2058. No
replacement is currently planned.
B-2 Spirit
C-5M Super Galaxy
A stealth bomber with a unique flying-wing
design, the B-2 bomber provides the US
Air Force with its penetrating global strike
capabilities to deliver either nuclear or
conventional weapons. Among its missions
is to deliver large conventional weapons,
The C-5M, an upgraded and re-engined version
of the original 1960s design, is the US Air Force?s
largest airlifter. It moves outsized cargo as part of
the Air Force?s global mobility mission. According
to Lockheed Martin, each of the C-5M?s new
General Electric CF6-80C2 (F138-GE-100)
America?s silver bullet, the
F-22 Raptor, this example from
Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida.
Airman Cody Miller/US Air Force
turbofans produces more than 50,000lb of
thrust ? a 22% increase over the C-5?s original
TF39 engines ? and is Stage IV noise compliant.
The C-5M also has a 58% greater climb rate to
an initial cruise altitude that is 38% higher than
the original C-5. The C-5M upgrade included
improved avionics and structural reinforcement.
The last of 52 C-5Ms was completed in 2017. The
C-5M will remain in service to the 2030s and no
replacement is currently planned.
C-17A Globemaster III
Currently the workhorse of US global
mobility capability, C-17 production has
been completed (with no replacement
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MILITARY US AIRPOWER
F-35A test aircraft AF-01 loaded with four 2,000lb
GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munitions on a September
27, 2016 loads-flutter test flight from Edwards Air Force
Base, California. This was the first flight with externally
loaded GBU-31s. Darin Russell/Lockheed Martin
under development). While the aircraft was
designed to have a 30-year service life (which
older C-17s will reach starting in 2025),
high utilisation rates mean the 223-aircraft
fleet might have to be upgraded to meet
operational commitments. Fleet upgrades are
planned to sustain the C-17 in service through
to 2040. C-17 Block 20 retrofits include some
60 items to create a common fleet-wide
configuration that includes the Large Aircraft
Infrared Countermeasures system, cockpit
and structural upgrades. The C-17 Advanced
Technology Demonstration is testing highefficiency engines and drag-reduction devices.
C-130J Super Hercules
The latest version of the classic C-130
design provides the Air Force with upgraded
medium-lift global mobility capability and
is replacing earlier C-130E and C-130H
versions. C-130Js are being produced under
a multi-year procurement programme that
makes American C-130 series aircraft among
the youngest types in service. The Air Force
will retain a fleet of 300-320 C-130 aircraft
and continue procurement of a tanker for
refuelling rescue helicopters (HC-130J) that is
now completing a replacement programme
of earlier HC-130N and HC-130P aircraft.
Modified variants of the C-130J are used
by Special Operations Command (SOCOM)
and include the heavily armed AC-130J
gunship; deliveries of 37 AC-130Js are to be
completed by FY2025. SOCOM also flies the
MC-130J, a special operations aircraft capable
of safely penetrating hostile airspace; 42 will
be delivered by 2022. The US Marine Corps
is replacing its older C-130 tankers with 79
KC-130J tankers equipped with a roll-on/
roll-off set of sensors and weapons known as
the Harvest Hawk attack capability. The Coast
Guard flies an earlier version (also designated
HC-130J but distinct from those flown by
the Air Force) for surveillance and search and
rescue missions.
KC-135 Stratotanker
The KC-135 was initially deployed in 1956 and
completed production in 1965. It comprises
87% of the Air Force?s tanker fleet, with an
average aircraft age of some 55 years. The
KC-135 supports the Air Force?s mobility and
lift mission by providing the aerial refuelling
52 | www.airinternational.com
capability that has enabled every joint and
coalition air operation for decades. Helped
by further upgrades to keep the fleet viable
until replacements are procured, the KC-135
is expected to be in service until the 2060s.
Upgrades include a glass cockpit display and
the replacement of obsolescent systems.
The KC-135 force is to be replaced by aircraft
procured under three programmes: the first
third by the KC-46A Pegasus, the second and
third by yet-to-be determined types under
programmes dubbed KC-Y and KC-Z.
E-2D Advanced Hawkeye
The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye twin-turboprop,
the US Navy?s battle management and airborne
early warning aircraft, is in production at a rate
of five aircraft per year. Seventy-five E-2Ds
are included in the US Navy?s programme of
record that will replace the earlier E-2C. The
last of the US Navy?s ten Carrier Airborne Early
Warning Squadrons is due to re-equip with the
E-2D by 2025.
Identifiable by its large rotodome housing
the radar and signals intelligence antenna,
the E-2D features an improved APY-9 radar
and cooperative engagement capability using
the Naval Integrated Fire Control System
? Counter Air architecture fed by multiple
offboard datalinks. The E-2D can be refuelled
in flight.
E-3G Sentry
One of the US Air Force?s small, but highvalue force of large manned ISR aircraft, the
Boeing-developed E-3 Sentry fleet is currently
being upgraded to Block 40/45 standard, the
upgrade package at the heart of the changes
that transform E-3B and E-3C models to E-3G
standard.
Designed to increase capabilities and
reliability and reduce sustainment costs, the
upgrade package includes improvements
to communication systems, computerprocessing, electronic support measures,
threat tracking and the next-generation
identification friend-or-foe identification
system. The baseline Boeing 707-based
airframe and its Northrop Grumman APY-2
radar remain unchanged.
The US Air Force plans to keep E-3G Sentries
in service through 2035-2040, but is already
starting to consider an AWACS replacement.
E-8C JSTARS
The E-8C aircraft is the airborne component
of the Joint Standoff Target Attack Radar
System or JSTARS. The aircraft integrates
battle management capabilities with a ground
moving target indicator radar and a high
bandwidth datalink used to transfer data to
the system?s ground stations. Mission crews
comprise US Air Force and US Army personnel.
All E-8C aircraft were originally built as
Boeing 707 airliners, the age of which has
contributed to the requirement for lengthy
and costly overhauls to meet the demands
of combatant commanders and a high
operational tempo. Replacement is planned
for 2024?2030.
EA-18G Growler
The carrier-based EA-18G Growler electronic
attack aircraft replaced the US Navy?s legacy
EA-6B Prowlers.
Growlers have seen extensive combat
use, starting with the initial US-led Operation
Odyssey Dawn and NATO?s Operation Unified
Protector over Libya in 2011.
The EA-18G Growler is due to receive the
ALQ-249 Next-Generation Jammer MidBand (NGJ-MB) external jamming pod, which
is currently in development. The NGJ-MB
pod uses the latest digital, software-based
and active electronically scanned array
technologies to provide enhanced airborne
electronic attack capabilities to disrupt and
degrade enemy air defence and ground
communication systems.
NGJ-MB is part of the NGJ system, which
comprises three stand-alone systems: NGJ
Mid-Band, NGJ Low-Band and a future NGJ
High-Band. Each covers a different frequency
band and addresses a variety of adversary
systems.
NGJ will augment and eventually replace
the ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming System
currently integrated on the EA-18G Growler.
The NGJ will address advanced and
emerging threats and provide the Growler
with advanced jamming, electronic attack
capabilities (which will allow it to switch off
enemy air defence networks and disable radars
without kinetic action) and enhanced network
connectivity.
The current US Navy programme of record
is for 160 EA-18G Growler aircraft, which
US AIRPOWER MILITARY
is scheduled to be completed in the near
future; the number of aircraft may increase
to meet emerging threats. Many of the
upgrades planned for the Super Hornet Block
3 configuration will be integrated on the EA18G Growler.
F-35C test aircraft CF-02 fires an
AIM-9X while inverted in a test flight
from Naval Air Station Patuxent River,
Maryland on June 8, 2017. Dane
Wiedmann/Lockheed Martin
F-15C Eagle
The twin-engine F-15C Eagle (and the twoseat F-15D), along with the F-22 Raptor,
are the US Air Force?s primary offensive and
defensive counter air combat aircraft. F-15s
have been responsible for the vast majority
of US Air Force air-to-air victories in recent
decades.
There are about 250 active US Air Force
F-15 Eagles with, in the case of the F-15C, an
average age of 32 years. The active-duty Air
Force has just three combat-coded fighter
squadrons equipped with the F-15C: the 493rd
Fighter Squadron based at RAF Lakenheath,
England, and the 44th and 67th Fighter
Squadrons based at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa
Japan. The majority of the 250-aircraft fleet
is operated by the Air National Guard, which
specialises in homeland defence.
Recent F-15 upgrades include a new
active electronically scanned array radar and
self-defence systems. A decision on whether
the F-15 force will be upgraded and retained
through the 2030s or retired in the 2020s will
be made in 2024.
F-15E Strike Eagle
The US Air Force?s current first-line, allweather, air-to-ground fighter, the two-seat
F-15E, has seen extensive combat since
1991, including close air support in Iraq and
Afghanistan, delivering a range of PGMs. Most
weapons in the US inventory are integrated
on the F-15E, which is projected to remain in
service through 2040.
Ongoing upgrades include the new
APG-82(V)1 AESA radar, the Eagle Passive/
Active Warning Survivability System, a new
mission computer, improved cockpit display
and infrared search and track sensors. No
replacement for the F-15E has been decided
upon.
F-16C Fighting Falcon
The single-engine F-16C (and two-seat F-16D)
is the most numerous type of fighter in the
US Air Force inventory. Different F-16 units
specialise in a range of missions, including
suppression of enemy air defence or, for
some Air National Guard units, homeland air
defence.
F-16s are primarily used for air-to-ground
missions delivering precision-guided
munitions (that now includes the long-range
JASSM-ER missile), but retain a strong air-toair capability.
The F-16 force has an average age of 25
years. Under an ongoing service-life extension
programme, the US Air Force is extending the
aircraft?s current structural service life from
8,000 equivalent flight hours to 13,856 using
modification kits and repairing life-limiting
fractural-critical and safety-of-flight critical
structure.
On November 20, the US Air Force released a
request for proposal for the supply of structural
modification kits for F-16s valued at $403
million. The contract is part of the ongoing F-16
service life extension programme (SLEP) to keep
up to 300 Block 40/42 and Block 50/52 F-16s
flying beyond 2048 and includes an option
to increase the number of aircraft to 489; the
Air Force operates a fleet of over 1,000 Block
40/42 and Block 50/52 aircraft.
The first two active-duty US Air Force F-16
squadrons have transitioned to the F-35A
Lightning II, the type?s replacement.
Upgrade of 72 Air National Guard F-16s with
Northrop Grumman?s APG-83 Scalable Agile
Beam Radar active electronically scanned
array radars (capable of detecting small targets
amongst surface clutter) for cruise missile
defence is starting.
F/A-18 Hornet
Legacy F/A-18 Hornets (single-seat A and
C and two-seat B and D versions), some of
which have been in service since the 1980s,
are currently used in combat for air-to-ground
missions, especially by the US Marine Corps.
Legacy Hornets will remain in Marine Corps
service until replaced by F-35B and F-35C
Lightning IIs.
Many F/A-18C and F/A-18Ds have undergone
a SLEP from 6,000 to 10,000 flight hours.
F-35B Lightning II BuNo 169028/VM28 lands on the flight deck of
amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1). Mass Communication
Specialist 3rd Class Levingston Lewis/US Navy
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MILITARY US AIRPOWER
F-22 Raptor
The F-22 Raptor is the US Air Force?s primary
air-to-air fighter. Originally a 750-aircraft
programme, only 195 F-22s were built, 159 of
which are currently combat coded. The F-22
has suffered from low availability rates (recently,
just 62%), reflecting the high maintenance
requirements of its low observable stealth
technology. Raptors continue to fly combat
missions over Syria. With new software and
communications capabilities, the F-22 is being
upgraded to enable it to meet air-to-air threats
into the 2040s. It has a secondary air-to-surface
capability, delivering precision-guided munitions
from its internal weapons bays, especially the
250lb GBU-39/B Small Diameter Bomb.
A US Air Force programme dubbed
Penetrating Counter Air is considering a possible
F-22 replacement for the 2040 timeframe.
F-35 Lightning II
Hornets continue to suffer from the
ongoing high operational tempo caused by
combat deployments in the Middle East. In
recent years, low availability of Hornet aircraft
in non-deployed squadrons is reflected in
long queues for overhaul and insufficient
flight hours for training and proficiency flying.
The Marine Corps reduced the number of
Hornets in its squadrons to keep the remaining
aircraft available for flight operations, and
have brought 30 Hornets out of retirement,
overhauled them, and returned them to
service.
F/A-18 Super Hornet Block 1, 2
and 3
Single-seat F/A-18E and two-seat F/A-18F
Super Hornets currently equip most strike
fighter squadrons assigned to each US
Navy carrier air wing, and will continue to
do so until 2040. The US Navy is currently
studying potential sixth-generation designs
as a replacement for its Super Hornet fleet.
Meantime, Super Hornets will remain the
fleet?s primary air defence fighter even
after the F-35C Lightning II enters service.
Onboard sensors, network connectivity and
compatibility with a wide range of precisionguided munitions provide the Super Hornet
with a powerful anti-surface capability. The
Super Hornet has the potential to carry longer
range weapons and conduct over-the-horizon
air-to-surface or air-to-air engagements
54 | www.airinternational.com
using the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye?s
cooperative engagement capability and Naval
Integrated Fire Control System ? Counter Air
architecture. Currently operated in Block 1
and Block 2 configurations, the US Navy?s fleet
may migrate to an all Block 3 force through
upgrades and new production. Airframe life of
Super Hornet aircraft is being extended under
the Service Life Assessment Programme.
A likely shortfall of 138 strike fighter aircraft
by the 2020s led to further Super Hornet
production moving forward this year, with
a total of 80 new advanced Super Hornet
Block 3 aircraft planned up to 2022. US
Navy operational requirements may keep
production going for longer.
Current F/A-18 Super Hornet Block 2 (but
not Block 1s) will be upgraded to Block 3
configuration with unspecified enhancements
to improve the type?s radar signature. The
Block 3 is designed for networked combat
operations using the Naval Integrated Fire
Control Counter Air network, enabled by an
onboard Distributed Targeting ProcessorNetworked mission computer and a Tactical
Targeting Network Technology multichannel
datalink system. Other elements of the
upgrade include an advanced cockpit display
system and improved crew interface.
Conformal fuel tanks mounted atop the
fuselage at the wing roots will increase the
Block 3?s range from 630 to 750 nautical miles
(1,390km).
The F-35 Lightning II is the largest and
most expensive single defence programme
in history. While a US programme, F-35
international partners are integral to its
development, production and sustainment.
It was intended to be affordable ? high costs
have driven more combat aircraft from the
skies than enemy action ? through economies
of scale in production and sustainment by
having a single design replace many older
types. The F-35 remains controversial because
of its lengthy and expensive development
process, but is now in operational service and
demonstrating its capabilities, including ISR.
Its stealth technology has reduced
operational and maintenance costs from those
associated with previous generations of stealth
aircraft, primarily the F-22 Raptor. Additional
challenges remain, including operating its
global sustainment network and upgrading the
onboard systems and software.
The Conventional Take-off and Landing
version, the F-35A, first became operational in
2016 with the 388th Fighter Wing based at Hill
Air Force Base, Utah. The Short Take-Off and
Vertical Landing version, the F-35B, became
operational with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron
121 (VMFA-121) at MCAS Yuma, Arizona in 2015,
now based at MCAS Iwakuni, Japan.
The F-35C Carrier Variant is due to become
operational with Strike Fighter Squadron 147
(VFA-147) based at Naval Air Station Lemoore,
California in 2019.
US AIRPOWER MILITARY
ABOVE: F/A-18F Super Hornet BuNo 166969/SD123 assigned
to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23 (VX-23) flies over USS
Gerald R Ford (CVN 78) during ship integration testing. Erik
Hildebrandt/US Navy
TOP LEFT (OPPOSITE): An F/A-18C Hornet assigned to Marine
Fighter Attack Squadron 115 (VMFA-115) ?Silver Eagles? conducts
an arrested landing during an Integrated Training Exercise at
Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms,
California. SSgt Kowshon Ye/US Marine Corps
BOTTOM LEFT (OPPOSITE): Strike Fighter Squadron 213?s CAGbird, F/A-18F Super Hornet BuNo 166663/AJ200, launches
from the aircraft carrier USS George H W Bush (CVN 77). Mass
Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christopher Gaines/US Navy
The US Air Force requested 46 F-35As in its
budget sent to Congress in 2017. The service
had hoped to procure 60 F-35As per year,
but affordability and retrofit costs are keeping
annual production limited. The programme
of record is 1,763 F-35As for the US Air Force,
311 F-35Bs for the US Marine Corps and
280 F-35Cs for the US Navy and 80 for the
Marines. The F-35 is planned to remain in
service into the 2060s.
Delays in the F-35 System Development
and Demonstration phase are only now being
overcome as more aircraft are produced and
become operational. The F-35 Joint Program
Office?s priority is now shifting to upgrading
those F-35s built in Low Rate Initial Production
Lots 1 to 8, at the same time as developing
new capabilities incorporated in new-build
aircraft under the Joint Program Office?s
follow-on modernisation strategy, more
recently changed and dubbed Continuous
Capability Development and Delivery, the most
significant aspect of which is new software
to enable a range of designed-in capabilities.
Other upgrades will include improved infrared
search and track capability and integration of a
broad range of precision-guided munitions.
and Seventh Fleets? areas of responsibility.
Two Naval Reserve squadrons still operate
P-3C Orion. The P-8A features an open
architecture sensor and communications
suite built to facilitate the insertion of sensors
and network-ready technologies. Designed
as an ISR aircraft for maritime and joint
operations, the P-8A will acquire advanced antisubmarine warfare capabilities. Increment 3 is
expected to be fielded in 2023 with networkenabled connectivity, sensor and targeting
enhancements and improved communications.
RC-135 Rivet Joint
The RC-135 Rivet Joint is a highly modified
KC-135 airframe and a heavyweight of US
Air Force ISR for decades used primarily as
a national intelligence asset. This was the
prime Rivet Joint mission throughout the
Cold War, one that repeatedly took it to
the boundaries of hostile airspace escorted
by crowds of admiring MiGs. However, the
aircraft and its systems have also been used
to support joint and coalition air operations,
tasked by a combatant commander to fly
missions to detect, identify and geolocate
signals throughout the electromagnetic
spectrum. The Rivet Joint fleet is configured
to standards dubbed Baselines; the current
Baseline 11 upgrades include, enhanced
sensors, network connectivity, data fusion,
digital cockpit instruments and modernised
operator interfaces. Air Combat Command?s
Rivet Joint force assigned to the 55th
Sailors prepare to launch an F/A-18F Super
Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron
213 (VFA-213) ?Black Lions? from the aircraft
carrier USS George H W Bush (CVN 77).
Mass Communication Specialist
3rd Class Matt Matlage/US Navy
P-8A Poseidon
Using the airframe of the Boeing 737-800
twin-engine airliner, the P-8A Poseidon
maritime surveillance aircraft is replacing the
US Navy?s Lockheed P-3C Orions. The P-8A
is currently in production and operational
with both US Navy active-duty Patrol and
Reconnaissance Wings based at Naval Air
Station Whidbey Island, Washington (CPRW10) and Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida
(CPRW-11). P-8A Patrol Squadrons maintain
detachments from forward operating
bases in the US Navy?s Fourth, Fifth, Sixth
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MILITARY US AIRPOWER
Lockheed MartinSikorsky?s forthcoming
HH-60W Combat Rescue
Helicopter. Sikorsky
Reconnaissance Wing based at Offutt Air Force
Base, Nebraska has increased cooperation with
the Rivet Joint-equipped Royal Air Force No.51
Squadron in recent years, and RAF aircrew fly
on US Air Force Rivet Joints.
U-2S Dragon Lady
The Lockheed Martin U-2S Dragon Lady
ISR aircraft is the primary US high-altitude,
all-weather surveillance and reconnaissance
aircraft used to acquire critical imagery and
signals intelligence during peacetime, lowintensity conflict, and large-scale hostilities.
The Air Force had planned to replace its
U-2s with upgraded Block 40 RQ-4 Global
Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles, but has now
committed to retaining the U-2S in service for
the next five years. The type could potentially
remain in service until 2045 before reaching
the end of its current airframe life. Its eventual
replacement is uncertain and may be an
unmanned system or an optionally piloted
high-altitude type currently under development.
ROTARY-WING
AH-1Z Viper
Production of Bell AH-1Z Viper attack
helicopters for the US Marine Corps will end in
2019 completing a modernisation programme
that included the Bell UH-1Y light transport
and utility helicopter; the AH-1Z and the UH1Y replace the AH-1W and UH-1N that had
been in US Marine Corps service for decades.
Both types enhance speed, manoeuvrability
and payload, and share 85% commonality
featuring a common tail boom, engine, rotor
system, drive train, avionics architecture,
software, controls and displays.
Originally, the AH-1Z programme started out
with the objective of remanufacturing AH-1W
Cobras, but this was later changed to build
new airframes.
The AH-1Z design reflects the Marines?
approach to the attack helicopter mission.
While the AH-64 Apache is primarily an antitank weapon system, the AH-1Z is an escort
helicopter and infantry support platform.
AH-64E Apache
The AH-64E Apache is the latest version of
the US Army?s attack helicopter, currently
replacing older AH-64Ds in a remanufacture
programme that will run into the 2020s.
The AH-64E provides substantial upgrades
in avionics, communications and weapon
capabilities. Almost all of the US Army?s
objective Apache fleet of 690 AH-64Es will be
remanufactured from AH-64Ds.
In a subsequent programme, the Army
intends to re-engine the AH-64E with a yetto-be-selected engine developed under the
Improved Turbine Engine Program.
After proposing to disband all Army National
Guard Apache battalions, four will be retained,
each equipped with 18 aircraft.
V-22 Osprey
An MQ-9 Reaper configured with the two sensor turrets of the Gorgon Stare II wide area airborne surveillance
system at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. US Air Force
56 | www.airinternational.com
Despite a lengthy and troubled development,
the V-22 Osprey has become a valuable
asset to the US Marine Corps and Air Force
Special Operations Command, however it is
still a costly aircraft to maintain and operate.
Production of the MV-22B medium lift
transport version for the US Marine Corps
is approaching completion of the current
programme of record for 360 aircraft. The
Marine Corps may order an additional 20
MV-22Bs and is currently adding capabilities
including weapons, air-to-surface sensors,
electronic warfare and an aerial refuelling
capability, the latter to enable sustained F-35B
operations from amphibious assault ships. The
US AIRPOWER MILITARY
Marine Corps is carrying out a number of fleetwide upgrades to create a common baseline
MV-22C version from the three Blocks, 70
different hardware configurations and seven
different software configurations currently
operational in its Osprey fleet. The current
production schedule includes 48 CMV-22s
for the US Navy, the type selected to replace
the C-2A Greyhound in the carrier onboard
delivery mission and attrition replacements
for Air Force Special Operations Command to
maintain its fleet of CV-22s at 50 aircraft.
CH-47F and MH-47G Chinook
Currently moving towards the end of
production, the US Army?s fleet-wide CH47F upgrade programme includes both
new-build airframes and remanufactured
CH-47Ds. The CH-47F configuration includes
a new digital cockpit, airframe modifications
to reduce vibration and cargo handling and
survivability capabilities. As the Army moves
to an all CH-47F fleet, Block II upgrades will
start. This is intended to keep the helicopters
operationally viable until they are replaced by
a new type selected under the Future Vertical
Lift programme in the 2040-2060s timeframe.
The Block II upgrade will include a new-design
rotor blade and components to enable a future
up-engine programme to be integrated.
US Army Special Operations Command
has a fleet of 67 MH-47Gs, a helicopter with
a similar baseline configuration as a CH-47F,
but fitted with specialised systems that include
long-range fuel tanks and radar for lowaltitude penetration missions. The MH-47G
RENEW programme will replace the 67 MH47Gs by 2027.
UH-60M and HH-60M Black Hawk
The Black Hawk is the most numerous
helicopter in the US Army inventory. Digitalinstrumented UH-60M Black Hawks make
up over two-thirds of the Black Hawk fleet.
The remaining analogue UH-60Ls are being
upgraded to digital standard through the
UH-60V upgrade programme, fitting a new
all-digital cockpit incorporating multifunction
displays and advanced avionics. The UH-60V
will have a high level of standardisation and
commonality in terms of training, components
and capabilities with the UH-60M, and is
planned to remain in service beyond 2050.
The Improved Turbine Engine, with increased
power, fuel efficiency and reliability, will be
installed in UH-60s from 2026.
MH-60R and MH-60S Seahawk
MH-60R and MH-60S models of the Seahawk
are the US Navy?s standard shipboard
helicopters, sharing 85% commonality. The
MH-60S conducts anti-surface warfare, combat
search and rescue, mine countermeasures and
logistics support; the MH-60R is a specialist
anti-submarine warfare helicopter. Of the 275
MH-60S helicopters ordered by the US Navy, the
final aircraft was delivered in 2015 and the last of
280 new MH-60Rs will be delivered in 2018.
Retrofitting the Seahawk fleet with improved
mission computers with open architecture
is scheduled to start in 2019 as part of the
US Navy?s long-term preplanned product
improvement programme designed to keep
the MH-60R current throughout its life.
Both types are scheduled to have mid-life
upgrades in the mid-2020s to modernise
onboard systems and avionics. Before that
they will undergo a Service Life Extension
Program (SLEP) to address issues identified by
Service Life Assessment Programs now taking
place.
UNMANNED
MQ-1 Predator
The propeller-driven MQ-1 Predator mediumaltitude long-endurance unmanned air vehicle
(UAV) first entered service in the 1990s, flying
ISR missions over Bosnia. It later became the
first UAV to be armed ? with Lockheed Martin
AGM-114 Hellfire missiles ? for air-to-ground
missions on a regular basis. The Predator
revolutionised tactics by making streaming
video available to aircraft or ground and naval
units. It was the first true remotely piloted
aircraft with combat missions flown by pilots
not at the home base, but at remote locations,
initially at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada. Used
operationally by the Air Force and the CIA,
as well as international users, the Predator
is being replaced by the MQ-9 Reaper in Air
Force service.
MQ-1C Gray Eagle
The US Army?s Gray Eagle medium-altitude,
long-endurance UAV, the largest in use by
and a new capability for the Army, is used to
conduct ISR missions. The Gray Eagle, which
shares a common airframe and engine with the
Predator, is operated in a different way to the
Air Force NQ-1 in that its operators deploy with
the system.
Gray Eagle production will end in 2018 when
the last of 167 air vehicles called for by the
programme of record is delivered.
RQ-4 Global Hawk
Global Hawk is the standard high-altitude,
long-endurance UAV primarily used as a deep
look ISR system. The Block 30 RQ-4 uses
electro-optical/infrared, synthetic aperture
radar and signal intelligence sensor payloads.
The upgraded Block 40 version, capable of
using a greater selection of sensor payloads,
is in production. Its ground moving target
indication radar detects and tracks moving
vehicles and transmits this via datalink to a
distributed common ground system. The
developmental universal payload adapter
allows it to use the MS-177 electro-optical
sensor and optical bar camera.
Planned upgrades include: weatheravoidance radar, anti-icing systems, and
the Airborne Signals Intelligence Payload,
Northrop Grumman?s multi-intelligence
advanced collection sensor.
US Air Force Global Hawks are currently
flying ISR missions lasting 30 hours or more
to watch many of the world?s combat zones
from 65,000ft. Three Block 20 Global Hawks
are operated by the Air Force as EQ-4B
communication relays using the Battlefield
Airborne Communications Node.
MQ-4C Triton
Based on the Global Hawk airframe but designed
for the maritime surveillance mission, the US
Navy?s MQ-4C Triton has successfully completed
its developmental testing, and low-rate initial
production continues. Initial operational
test and evaluation will start in FY2021; it will
include systems for a multi-intelligence payload
within the forthcoming configuration dubbed
Integrated Functional Capability 4. The multiintelligence payload includes additional signal
intelligence capabilities and systems that will
be used by Triton to conduct the mission set
currently undertaken by the EP-3E signals
intelligence reconnaissance aircraft, known as
ARIES II (Airborne Reconnaissance Integrated
Electronic System II).
The first operational Triton detachment
outside the continental United States will be
to Andersen Air Base on Guam in 2018, where
the air vehicles will be co-located with Air
Force Global Hawks. The air vehicles deployed
to Guam will be in the baseline configuration
dubbed Early Operational Capability.
A US Army MH-47G Chinook with the 3rd
Battalion, 160th Special Operation Aviation
Regiment at the Gulfport Combat Readiness
Training Center, Mississippi, during a multiservice training exercise called Southern Strike.
Airman Sean Carnes/US Air Force
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MILITARY US AIRPOWER
Sailors assigned to USS Stethem (DDG 63)
conduct in-flight refuelling operations
with an MH-60R Seahawk helicopter,
assigned to Helicopter Maritime Strike
Squadron 77 (HSM-77) ?Saberhawks?. Mass
Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jeremy
Graham/US Navy
TOP RIGHT (OPPOSITE): An MQ-1C Gray
Eagle unmanned aerial system, belonging
to Company D, 10th Aviation Regiment,
armed with two AGM-114 Hellfire air-tosurface missiles at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq.
SSgt Isolda Reyes/US Army
RQ-7B Shadow
The AAI RQ-7B Shadow is equipped with
electro-optical/infrared sensors and laser
designator, plus a datalink to provide full
motion video to ground terminals. Used by
brigade-level Army units for ISR, the upgraded
RQ-7Bv2 version, like the Gray Eagle, has
become the focus of the Army?s mannedunmanned teaming tactics, working with
AH-64Es to replace the Army?s withdrawn
OH-58D Kiowa Warrior scout helicopters. The
US Marine Corps plans to replace its existing
RQ-7B Shadows with a UAV designed to its
service requirements.
MQ-8C Fire Scout
Based on the airframe of the Bell 407
helicopter and powered by the same RollsRoyce 250-C47B engine, the Fire Scout was
developed to meet an operational requirement
for a UAV that could operate from smaller
surface warships deployed in the Middle
East. While primarily a surveillance platform,
it is capable of being armed with 2.75-inch
rockets fitted with the Advanced Precision Kill
Weapon System guidance kit. Procurement
was completed in 2017 with 60 units ordered
(of a planned 177). Upgrades planned to
be completed by 2020, include a maritime
surveillance radar to provide cueing for turretmounted electro-optical/infrared sensors and
its rangefinder/target designation capabilities.
MQ-9 Reaper
The Reaper is a medium to high-altitude, longendurance UAV, developed from the MQ-1
Predator, optimised for weapons delivery
while retaining an ISR role utilising Raytheon?s
58 | www.airinternational.com
Multispectral Targeting System-B with electrooptical/infrared sensors. The Reaper is able
to provide fused full-motion video streams,
a laser designator/illuminator and synthetic
aperture radar. Introduced to combat in 2007,
current Reaper production is the long-range
extended-wing Block 5 version, offering
significantly extended endurance and payload.
Production is due to run through 2022.
Planned upgrades include an automatic takeoff and landing system and an enhanced radar.
Since 2014, US Air Force MQ-9 Reapers
have operated in US Central Command?s area
of responsibility equipped with the Gorgon
Stare II wide area persistent surveillance
system housing the Air Force?s only daynight persistent wide-area motion imagery
capability.
Gorgon Stare II features two sensor turrets
fitted with multiple multi-spectral sensors,
an electro-optical sensor derived from the
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency?s
ARGUS technology manufactured by BAE
Systems, and an infrared sensor integrating
the largest IR arrays manufactured by Exelis.
Gorgon Stare is used, amongst other things, to
detect improvised explosive devices.
The Reaper?s kinetic payload capability has
allowed it to employ the 500lb GBU-38 JDAM
in combat. Air Force Reapers are also operated
as part of Special Operations Command.
TYPES IN FLIGHT TEST
KC-46A Pegasus
Based on the Boeing 767 airliner, the current
programme of record for the 179-aircraft KC-
46A procurement is intended to replace a third
of the ageing KC-135 Stratotanker fleet by 2027.
The Air Force currently expects to take delivery
of its first KC-46As by early 2018 and to sustain
steady-state production of 15 KC-46s a year.
In addition to being capable of refuelling both
receptacle and probe-equipped receivers on
the same sortie, the KC-46 can also receive fuel
from other tankers in flight.
CH-53K King Stallion
The CH-53K King Stallion programme
is transitioning into production, with a
programme of record for 200 new-build
helicopters to replace the CH-53E Super
Stallion, the US Marine Corps? heavy-lift
helicopter. Heavy lift is a critical Marine Corps
capability for moving equipment inland
during amphibious operations. The CH-53K
will provide greater reliability and decreased
maintenance, as well as increased range,
survivability and payload.
FUTURE PROGRAMMES
Carrier Air Wing 2030
The US Navy?s Carrier Air Wing of 2030 will
comprise four Strike Fighter Squadrons (VFAs),
two equipped with ten F-35C Lightning IIs
each and two more with 12 F/A-18 Super
Hornets each. These will be supported by
squadrons operating EA-18G Growlers, MQ-25
Stingrays, E-2D Advanced Hawkeyes and MH60R/MH-60S Seahawks. With the increasing
emphasis on networked air operations, the
US Navy has taken the lead in developing a
number of emerging capabilities ? the near-
US AIRPOWER MILITARY
term example being the Naval Integrated Fire
Control-Counter Air (NIFC-CA) architecture
? to enable the future Carrier Air Wing to fight
both as an integral unit and as part of a joint
and coalition force.
JSTARS recapitalisation
Recapitalisation of the Air Force?s 16 E-8C
JSTARS (Joint Standoff Target Attack Radar
System) aircraft was previously identified as
one of the top five Air Force modernisation
priorities. This programme is currently in
the source selection process between three
competing teams: a version of the Boeing
Business Jet (a 737-700 derivative) from
Boeing; the Bombardier Global 6000 (the
same type currently in US Air Force service
as the E-11 communications relay aircraft)
offered by a team comprising Lockheed
Martin, Raytheon and Sierra Nevada; and the
Gulfstream Aerospace G550 from Northrop
Grumman and L3 Technologies.
However, the Air Force may replace its E-8Cs
with a network linking multiple manned and
unmanned sensor and battle management
nodes and platforms, rather than a new
aeroplane. The future of the programme might
be announced in early 2018.
HH-60W Combat
Rescue Helicopter
The $8 billion programme for the HH-60W
Combat Rescue Helicopter to replace the
Air Force?s HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters
started with contract award in 2014 and
includes the procurement of 112 new-build
HH-60Ws, training systems and operations
support. The HH-60W will have improved
hot-high performance, an enlarged cabin
and longer range. Nine HH-60Ws will begin
developmental testing in 2018, with first
deliveries in 2019. Replacement of the HH60G is planned to be complete by 2029.
High-altitude, high-speed ISR
The Northrop Grumman RQ-180 is a
previously classified high-altitude stealth UAV
that entered low-rate initial production in
2013. Developmental aircraft may have been
flying operational missions since 2012. The
Lockheed Martin SR-72 design, an optionally
manned hypersonic aircraft capable of both
ISR and strike missions with speed in the Mach
4-6 range, could fly as soon as 2023.
MQ-25 Unmanned Carrier
Aviation Air System
After Northrop Grumman?s X-47B
Unmanned Combat Air System
demonstrated the ability of an unmanned
air vehicle to operate from a US Navy
aircraft carrier, Naval Air Systems Command
launched a competition for the MQ-25A
Stingray unmanned tanker and the potential
to also serve as an ISR and communications
relay platform using podded sensors and
datalinks, and possibly even for weapons
delivery. Four companies were competing ?
Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Atomics
and Northrop Grumman ? but the latter
dropped out when the request for proposals
was issued in October. The winner will be
decided in 2018 and the air vehicle could
be in service as soon as 2020. Total MQ-25
development costs are budgeted at some
$5 billion.
Observation Attack ?
eXperimental (OA-X)
Four different commercially available aircraft
types participated in the US Air Force light
attack experiment at Holloman Air Force Base,
New Mexico last August (see ?Souped-up
trainers, a crop duster and an experimental jet?,
p64-71, AIR International, December 2017): the
L3-Air Tractor AT-802L Longsword turboprop,
Textron?s Scorpion jet and AT-6 Wolverine
turboprop; and the A-29 Super Tucano from
Embraer-Sierra Nevada Corporation.
The light attack experiment was the latest
phase of the overarching Observation Attack
? Experimental or OA-X programme. The next
phase will be a combat experiment dubbed
Combat Dragon III, possibly involving the
deployment of two AT-6s and two A-29s to
conduct combat missions in Iraq or Syria. The
OA-X is not a procurement programme and
has no programme of record.
Trainer ? eXperimental (T-X)
Previously identified as one of the top five
US Air Force modernisation priorities, the
T-X programme is currently the subject
of a major competition between teams
comprising Boeing and Saab offering the
brand-new T-X aircraft, Lockheed Martin
and Korean Aerospace Industries? T-50,
and Leonardo with its T-100, a modified
version of the M-346 Master. The winner
will be announced in spring 2018. Initial
operating capability for the US Air Force?s
new trainer is planned for FY2024, with a
total procurement of 350 aircraft through
the mid-2030s.
EMERGING PROGRAMMES
Airborne Battle
Management System
The Air Force will need to replace its
current fleet of E-3 AWACS aircraft by 2045
and is studying a range of alternatives,
from a new aircraft (Boeing has offered
a 737-based design similar to the Royal
Australian Air Force?s E-7 Wedgetail) to
a network of manned and unmanned
terrestrial and airborne sensor and battle
management capabilities.
BELOW: Air National Guardsmen watch an MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle during Combat Hammer at Duke Field, Florida. Combat Hammer is Air Combat
Command?s Weapon System Evaluation Program for air-to-ground weapons. The evaluation staged in February 2017 was the first air-to-ground weapons
evaluation of the Air National Guard?s MQ-9 Reaper mission set. SMSgt Robert Shepherd/Iowa Air National Guard
www.airinternational.com | 59
MILITARY US AIRPOWER
a large heavy lift helicopter and capability five
envisages what amounts to a C-130 Hercules
capable of vertical take-off and landing.
KC-Y and KC-Z tankers
The gap between the KC-46A (KC-X) and
the KC-Z will be filled by procurement of an
interim type, designated KC-Y, but is likely to
be an improved KC-46 design with survivability
enhancements. The US Air Force is considering
emphasising survivability in its next new cleansheet design tanker, the KC-Z, projected to
enter service around 2035. The KC-Z might
use a stealthy blended wing design and have
extensive electronic warfare capabilities to give
it greater range, survivability and penetrating
capabilities.
Marine UAV experimental
B-21 Raider
Selected in October 2015 to meet the Long
Range Strike-Bomber requirement, the
B-21 is being developed by the Air Force?s
Rapid Capabilities Office, rather than the
normal procurement organisations. The B-21
programme remains under a cloak of security
to limit threat responses to its next-generation
stealth technology. The design is based on
extensive classified development undertaken
in previous decades, likely including flying
technology demonstration aircraft.
Under current plans, at least 100 B-21s are
to be procured, with the per-aircraft cost held
to $550 million in then-year dollars. It will have
the capability to penetrate hostile airspace and
deliver conventional or nuclear gravity bombs
as well as stand-off weapons, including the
planned Long-Range Stand-Off missile.
EC-X
Air Combat Command?s EC-X requirement is a
replacement for its aging Lockheed EC-130H
Compass Call, a modified Hercules turboprop
transport airframe equipped with electronic
attack systems designed to disrupt enemy
command, control, and communications.
Headquartered at Langley Air Force Base,
Virginia, ACC selected the Gulfstream G550 as
the baseline airframe for the EC-X programme,
which will enable ACC to use development
that had already been carried out for G550s
modified for electronic warfare missions,
ordered by Italy and Israel.
On September 14, the US Air Force
announced that mission systems for the
highly-modified G550s, designated EC-37Bs in
60 | www.airinternational.com
US Air Force service, will be cross-decked from
EC-130Hs, with L3 Communications as the
prime contractor. The first EC-37B is expected
to be completed in FY2021.
F/A-XX sixth-generation fighter
The US Navy is looking at a range of options
and technologies to replace the Block 3
F/A-18 Super Hornet in the 2040 timeframe.
This includes the potential roles of stealth,
improved engine and weapons (including
directed energy) technology. The Navy is
thinking more in terms of a specific manned
aircraft than a network of manned and
unmanned capabilities.
Future Vertical Lift
The joint-service Future Vertical Lift (FVL)
programme is developing tiltrotor and rigidrotor helicopter technology ? two different
technology demonstrator aircraft will be
flying in 2018 ? that together can potentially
revolutionise rotary-wing flight. The US Army
has asked the companies working on the
technology demonstrators if, with access to
funding, they would accelerate the transition
of their designs to the FVL so that production
would start in the 2020s rather than 2030s as
currently planned.
The FVL programme is not being presented
as a family of rotorcraft ? helicopters or
tiltrotors ? but rather five capability sets of
vertical lift. Capability one is for scout and light
attack missions. Capability two is, in effect,
the eventual replacement for both the H-60
family and the AH-64 Apache. Capability three
replaces the CH-47 Chinook. Capability four is
The US Marine Corps is looking for a design,
available for production in the near-term, that
will offer medium altitude and long-endurance
UAV capabilities similar to the MQ-1 Predator,
but that is capable of operating either from
unprepared airstrips or amphibious warfare
ships. This effectively mandates a vertical,
short take-off and landing capable design.
MH-XX shipboard helicopter
The MH-XX is the replacement for the current
MH-60R/MH-60S Seahawk fleets. MH-XX is
scheduled to enter service in the 2030s, and
is expected to make use of designs developed
for the FVL programme.
Penetrating Counter Air
The US Air Force is studying this as a potential
F-22 Raptor replacement in the 2030s
timeframe, with consideration of a range
options from a sixth-generation manned
fighter design using emerging technologies to
use of a network of manned and unmanned
airborne technologies to create an integrated
solution to the mission of establishing air
superiority in hostile airspace.
Future combat airpower
Earlier in 2017, Secretary of the Air Force
Heather Wilson said it was unlikely that the
need for aerospace power would decrease
over the next decade.
Sustained investment in the future of US
airpower has been difficult in recent years,
reflecting budgetary uncertainty (imposed
by dysfunctional US politics) and high
operational and readiness costs (imposed
by ongoing conflicts and the real threat of
more intense ones). This put a premium
US AIRPOWER MILITARY
on deciding how best to invest in future
airpower. Chief of Staff of the US Air Force
General David Goldfein has said: ?The time is
now for the Air Force to make decisions on
force modernisation based on answering the
question, who do we need to be in 2030 and
what is standing in our way??
US airpower has to meet emerging nearpeer threats. Potential adversary aircraft are
being armed with lethal long-range air-toair missiles, and prototypes described as
fifth-generation stealth fighters are flying.
The United States has given less emphasise
to electronic warfare since the end of the
Cold War; this now appears a likely area of
threat advantage of potential near-peer foes.
Cyberwarfare threats are increasingly powerful
and seek to disable computerised logistics
systems. Cruise and ballistic missiles threaten
forward operating bases and aircraft carriers.
Long-range surface-to-air missiles might
make it impossible to operate large ISR and
tanker aircraft close to the threat zone and
may prevent transport aircraft from entering
combat zones.
Investment in US airpower could develop
improved technologies such as artificial
intelligence and autonomous operations, many
of them emerging from the private sector.
UAVs that can swarm, organise themselves and
attack a target offer a potential replacement for
some strike aircraft. Some combat aircraft can
be supplemented by loyal wingmen, UAVs that
can operate as part of a flight.
While unmanned systems have taken over
much of the ISR mission, the constraints
of bandwidth and likely electronic and
cyberwarfare attacks from near-peer
adversaries in a future conflict may limit
their tasking in other mission areas. Some
air-to-surface tasks, such as suppression of
enemy air defences, are likely to be the first
for unmanned systems to assume within
an expanded mission set. Some tanker
and combat support missions ? such as
communications relay or standoff jamming ?
are also likely candidate mission sets.
A huge task faces the leaders of America?s
armed services: combining emerging
technologies and conventional aircraft
using networked capabilities to link multiple
systems ? manned and unmanned, flying and
terrestrial ? to enable them to share data and
fight as an integrated force.
Discussing networked capabilities at an Air
Force Association meeting in July, General
Goldfein said: ?Focus on the highway before
we focus on the truck. Our first question in
any acquisition programme of the future is not
going to be what it can do. Our question will
be, how does it connect?? The other US armed
services are making similar decisions.
Transitioning from the type of conflicts US
airpower has had to fight since the end of
the Cold War to preparing for a possible fight
against a near-peer adversary is challenging.
US airpower has been used to setting the
tempo, not being surprised by challenges.
It has become dependent on detailed
standard operating procedures and, faced
with limited opposition, has gone beyond the
need to minimise risk and losses of aircraft
and personnel, to become, in many ways,
centralised in tactical thinking and risk averse
in decision-making. Serious threat systems
exist and require serious decisions to be made
that will make no one happy, mandating
actions that are going to be costly in political,
budgetary and resource terms.
In the future, the United States is unlikely
to fight wars completely on its own. The
future of airpower will be multinational and
networked. General Goldfein said: ?Our allies
are a source of exciting technologies with
military applications. We need to strengthen
our alliances. We have them; our adversaries
do not.?
Other changes are harder to predict.
Attitudes towards airpower, especially when
applied by the only current superpower,
are becoming critical. The use of unguided
munitions has become limited through fear of
collateral damage and the resultant political
and diplomatic impact. As any future conflict
with a near-peer adversary is likely to see
widespread jamming of the GPS guidance on
which most US precision-guided munitions
rely, and possibly direct attacks on US
satellites, this may prove problematic to future
war fighters.
A century ago, US airpower, fresh from its
failure in Mexico in 1917, was plunged into
combat in Europe. The US Army, US Navy and
US Marine Corps alike relied on their British,
French and Italian allies to provide aircraft,
weapons, tactics and training. By the end of
the war in 1918, US airpower was in position
to become world class. A century on from this
remarkable transformation a similar one must
be achieved; perhaps less dramatic, but no less
necessary. AI
TOP LEFT (OPPOSITE): MV-22B Osprey BuNo 168348/
YR14 assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron
161 (Reinforced) takes off from the flight deck of
amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6). Lance
Cpl Dusty Kilcrease/US Marine Corps
TOP RIGHT: Water plumes arch across an RC-12X
Guardrail aircraft marking the pilot?s final flight from
Bagram airfield, Afghanistan. Bob Harrison/US Forces
Afghanistan
MAIN PICTURE: A U-2S Dragon Lady at Al Dhafra Air
Base, United Arab Emirates following a mission in
support of Operation Inherent Resolve. TSgt Anthony
Nelson Jr/US Air Force
www.airinternational.com | 61
PARAPUBLIC NATIONAL POLICE AIR SERVICE
POLICE AVIATION
IN THE UK:
THE BEGINNINGS
In 1921, the R33 and R36 airships were used
to assist the police force with traffic control
around the Ascot and Epsom horse racing
events. An aerial balloon was used by the
police force in the 1924 Epsom Derby and
nine years later the Metropolitan Police first
used an autogyro to patrol that year?s Derby.
Subsequently the Cierva autogyro was
demonstrated to police forces.
It was in 1947 when a helicopter was
first used to support a police operation.
The Norfolk Constabulary was searching
for a fugitive and were helped by a civilian
Sikorsky S-51 Dragonfly flown by the
late Alan Bristow (who founded Bristow
Helicopters).
Later, in 1968, there were four
experiments in the country to evaluate
the use of helicopters in airborne law
enforcement. Scotland played host to one
of these trials that took place between
February and March that year. These
included using an Army Air Corps Westland
Scout AH1 helicopter flown by an army
pilot and a police observer of inspector and
sergeant rank to be based at RAF Kinloss.
During the 2012 Olympics, there
was a brief return to the use of military
aviation assisting the authorities when
elements of the armed forces, namely
the battlefield helicopters of the Joint
Helicopter Command and Royal Navy
helicopter squadrons, provided airborne
security to protect the event alongside the
Metropolitan Police Air Support Unit. More
recently, in response to the terror attack on
Westminster Bridge in May 2017 the Joint
Special Forces Aviation Wing deployed an
AS365N3 Dauphin.
Protecting th
Ian Frain provides a brief overview of police aviation in the UK,
which today is based around Airbus helicopters
A
irborne policing in the UK has come
a long way from the early days of
using an airship and autogyro in
the early part of the 20th Century.
Enforcement from the air as we
would recognise it began with experiments in
the 1960s and 1970s when the Army Air Corps
provided a Bell 47 Sioux or a Westland Scout
to the various police constabularies around
the country. The army would fly and operate
the helicopter, but there would be a police
observer present.
A decade later the then Colt Cars operated
a single Aerospatiale AS350A for the Devon
and Cornwall Police Constabulary, while in
62 | www.airinternational.com
London the Metropolitan Police Air Support
Unit (ASU) started to operate the twin-engine
Bell 222A. By the end of the 1980s and into
the 1990s, nearly all forces were covered by
an ASU, with the favoured helicopters being
the MBB Bo105 and Bk117 and the Eurocopter
AS355F/AS355N Twin Squirrel.
Newly developed technology has been
implemented in the pursuit of better law
enforcement since police helicopters entered
service, from the GEC Avionics Heli-Tele
system mounted on the Metropolitan Police
Bell 222As in the 1980s for closer monitoring
of the ground from the air, to experiments
in the 1990s with night vision goggles.
Other important technical developments for
airborne law enforcement include forwardlooking infrared systems, video downlink to
ground units and Spectrolab SX-16 Nightsun
searchlights.
The missions of the regular ASUs were
not limited to just airborne surveillance and
command and control for the police on
the ground; they also had a secondary air
ambulance role. The Sussex, Cambridge
and Wiltshire constabularies all operated
MD Helicopters MD900s or MD902s in the
helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS)
role. The latter unit worked together with the
Wiltshire Air Ambulance Trust (established
NATIONAL POLICE AIR SERVICE PARAPUBLIC
Airbus Helicopters H135s, comprising both EC135P2s like
G-SUFK (msn 0730) pictured here and upgraded EC135T2s,
make up most of the police helicopters operated in the UK.
Dave Sturges/AirTeamImages
he kingdom
in 1990) and the South West Ambulance
NHS who supplied the paramedics. The
Wiltshire Air Ambulance Trust, a charity,
used the money raised to fund a third of the
police MD902?s operating costs under the
agreement.
Police aviation develops
Unlike a lot of police ASUs around the
world, such as those in the United States,
the police pilot in the UK tends not to be
a sworn police officer but a commercial
contract pilot. Like the aircraft, the mission
equipment role fit and the maintenance
support, pilots come from a major helicopter
operator such as Bristow (which supplied the
pilots for the Metropolitan Police ASU Bell
222A operations), Bond Helicopters (which
supplied pilots to the likes of the Strathclyde
Police) and Specialist Aviation Services,
formerly Police Aviation Services, which
supplied the MD900/MD902 Explorer to
various forces.
Airbus Helicopters based at Oxford
Airport at Kidlington (formerly known as
Eurocopter UK) also designed and installed
a special mission pod for the police EC135
from around 2001 onwards, which was then
also used by some other police forces. This
included an under-fuselage surveillance pod
with night and day channels, forward-looking
infrared, a multi-sensor turret, a searchlight,
a loudspeaker address system and secure
communications with a microwave voice and
data downlink.
At one time, two smaller operators, the
Cambridge and Stapleford Tawney based
Aeromega and Norwich Sterling Aviation in
East Anglia, also provided pilots. Aeromega
supplied the pilots for the Cambridge, Essex
and Suffolk forces, while Sterling provided an
AS355 for the policing of Norfolk.
In the aftermath of 9/11 with the effects
of organised terrorism felt across the world,
the need to counter the new threat was
www.airinternational.com | 63
PARAPUBLIC NATIONAL POLICE AIR SERVICE
made a priority by the police forces around
the country. By mid-2003, the rotary-wing
assets of the UK were predominantly from
Eurocopter, namely the EC135, AS355F/
AS355N and MD900/MD902 Explorer. The
only exceptions were the Devon and Cornwall
Constabulary, which operated a sole MBB
Bk117C, and Dyfed Powys Police, which flew
one AgustaWestland AW109E (replacing a
previously damaged AW109E Power) supplied
by Sloane Helicopters of Northamptonshire.
The newest additions to the UK fleet
have been from Airbus Helicopters. The
Metropolitan Police ASU was the first
customer for the EC145, also known as the
H145, at the end of 2006, followed later by
the Devon and Cornwall force and the Police
Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).
Since the late 2000s, only the Airbus
Helicopters EC135T2/EC135P2 series, now
known as the Airbus H135, and the H145 are
used for police aviation in the UK.
Nationalisation and
rationalisation
During 2009, the Association of Chief Police
Officers looked back at the air operations
strategy, which had then been in existence
for 16 years since its inception in 1993.
Subsequently, it was decided the current
strategy and structure was fragmented and
thus not cost-effective.
The new National Police Air Service (NPAS)
was officially launched in October 2012,
with changes starting to take shape almost
immediately. The first of these was the
centralisation of control of all air assets from
the NPAS Operations Centre in Wakefield,
Yorkshire. Prior to this all mission tasking was
carried out by the police force in its own
county.
Several bases were closed, taking it to a
15-base model, and consequently there was a
reduction in aircraft numbers. Currently, these
remaining bases across England and Wales
operate two types of helicopters, the Airbus
H135 and H145, covering a vast area.
In October 2015 at the Helitech
International Helicopter Exhibition, the first
of seven upgraded H135s was handed over
to NPAS from Babcock MCS (Mission Critical
Services, formerly Bond Aviation Group ?
Bond Air Services).
With the MD900/MD902 removed from
the NPAS fleet, there is now no secondary
HEMS role, which is only carried out by the air
ambulance charities and, to a lesser extent, the
Maritime and Coastguard Agency helicopters.
One example of the change is illustrated by the
Wiltshire Police and Wiltshire Air Ambulance
Trust partnership, where, with the county losing
its MD902 under the NPAS reorganisation, the
Air Ambulance Trust has had to purchase a Bell
429 to continue HEMS provision.
Airbus all around
The Airbus H135 (EC135T2/EC135T2+ powered
by Turbomeca Arrius 2B2, or EC135P2+
powered by Pratt & Whitney PW206B), which
form the bulk of police aviation in the UK,
is widely used for airborne policing globally
and arguably is the benchmark for law
enforcement, especially in Europe.
It is single pilot instrument flight rulescertified. The avionics package includes
the Nouvelle centre panel display system
and flight control display system, and
the helicopter is equipped with the latest
surveillance technology such as forwardlooking infrared, a Nightsun 30 millioncandle power searchlight, the Skyforce aerial
mapping system (which has a complete
address database built in) and a public address
system. The crew complement is a pilot and
two observers, one in the left-hand seat and
one in the back, who is the main observer
responsible for mission management and for
tracking people or vehicles of interest.
The larger Airbus Helicopters H145 (formerly
EC145 and also referred to as Bk117C2, derived
from the Bk117C1) used by the Metropolitan
Police and PSNI is powered by Turbomeca
Arriel 1E2 turboshaft engines. The aircraft are
equipped with the Wescam MX-15 imaging
sensor, the Skyquest touchscreen video
management system and Gigawave digital
video link. The larger size of the H145?s cabin
means apart from the pilot and two observers,
there is the ability to carry up to another
three personnel and even with police dogs.
Avionics aboard the UK?s single pilot instrument flight rules-certified police helicopters includes the Nouvelle
centre panel display system and flight control display system.
64 | www.airinternational.com
The Metropolitan Police ASU, one of the
three H145 operators, is the only one in the
country to have a permit to fast-rope officers
in tactical situations, common practice with
ASUs in the United States and Europe.
The Metropolitan Police ASU, known as
NPAS London since 2015 and based at Lippets
Hill in Essex, was established in 1980 with a
trio of Bell 222As (the only unit in the country
to do so) and after 13 years flying the type the
ASU replaced it with the Eurocopter AS355N
Twin Squirrel, flown for another 13 or so years
until 2007. The unit was then the first operator
of the H145 in July 2007 and subsequently
the first to have the Skyquest management
system, a key part of which is the open
architecture adaptable system. Devon and
Cornwall became the second unit with this
new technology when it took delivery of the
H145 in 2010.
At the end of April 2016, a pair of the
NPAS London H145s had the distinction of
escorting elements of Marine Helicopter
Squadron 1 (HMX-1) including Marine One
NATIONAL POLICE AIR SERVICE PARAPUBLIC
EC135T2+, G-POLB (msn 283),
was the first of seven upgraded
EC135s handed over by Babcock
MCS (Mission Critical Service) to
the National Police Air Service.
All photos Ian Frain unless stated
Sikorsky VH-3D and MV-22B Ospreys, on an
orienteering rehearsal flight into London from
RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk. This was in support of
President Barack Obama?s last visit to the UK.
Unmanned and fixed-wing
There is a growing trend in the use of
unmanned aerial vehicles for corporate
and individual private use. The airborne law
enforcement community around the world
especially in the United States, is embracing
the technology to complement their air assets.
In the UK, Wiltshire Police (which lost
its ASU) launched an Unmanned Aviation
Support Group with a team of trained Special
Constabulary Officers and one regular
police officer holding Civil Aviation Authority
licences.
The forces of Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire
and Hertfordshire conducted a successful
nine-month trial of UAVs and subsequently
introduced them into service in June 2016.
In July 2017, the Devon and Cornwall and
the Dorset Police launched the UK?s first
operational drone unit after nearly two years
of trials that had started in November 2015.
The unit is equipped with six DJI Inspire
systems, which are equipped with a HD/4K
zoom camera and thermal imaging to allow
for 24-hour operations.
Only a few police forces in the UK
operated the fixed-wing Britten Norman
Defender high-wing twin-engine aircraft,
The Spectrolab SX-16 searchlight mounted on NPAS
H135s has 30 million candle power.
the most recent operator being Greater
Manchester Police, whose ASU operates an
H135 and is now known as NPAS Barton,
as the unit operates from City Airport
Manchester at Barton.
In 2014, the NPAS awarded a contract
to deliver four P68R twin-engine aircraft
produced by the Italian company Vulcanair
SPA to the Austrian company Airborne
Technologies. These four aircraft will
be equipped with the Wescam MX-10
imaging system and Churchill navigation
augmented reality system and will
complement the Airbus Helicopters fleet
operated by NPAS.
The role of the police aviation in the UK
has not changed in supporting the authorities
on the ground by way of surveillance,
assisting in emergencies, tracking fugitives
and investigating crimes or accidents. The
constantly evolving technology in airframes
and sensor technology over the decades is
also helping to preserve law and order for
now and the future. AI
www.airinternational.com | 65
MILITARY EXERCISE BLUE FLAG
Blue Flag
Riccardo Niccoli visited Ovda Air Base in southern Israel to discover what
the multinational exercise Blue Flag has to offer its participants
F-15C Baz 840, marked with three and a half Syrian Air Force roundels each
denoting an aerial victory (two MiG-23s, one MiG-21 and a shared MiG-23)
from the 1980s, on take-off from Ovda Air Base during Exercise Blue Flag
2017. The aircraft is carrying an IAI-Elta electronic countermeasures pod
on station 3. Riccardo Niccoli
One of six F-16I Sufa fighters
deployed to Ovda from 107 ?Knights
of the Orange Tail? Squadron? from
Hatzerim Air Base. Erik Bruijn
66 | www.airinternational.com
EXERCISE BLUE FLAG MILITARY
E
very other year since 2013, the
Zroa Ha?Avir VeHahalal (Israel Air
and Space Force or IASF) has run
Exercise Blue Flag from its Ovda
Air Base in the Negev Desert.
In designing Blue Flag, the IASF drew on
experience gained taking part in similar events
around the world, such as Red Flag in the
United States, Spring Flag and STAREX in Italy,
and Anatolian Eagle in Turkey.
The 2017 iteration was the largest international
exercise ever held in Israel, involving more
than 80 aircraft and in excess of 1,200 military
personnel from various Israeli units and seven
foreign air forces, from France, Germany, Greece,
India, Italy, Poland and the United States.
For two of these air forces, Germany?s
Luftwaffe and India?s Bharatiya Vayu Sena, Blue
Flag marked a first in Israel, while the French
Arm閑 de l?Air was back after an interval of some
61 years; the last time French aircraft operated
from Israeli soil was during the 1956 Suez crisis.
Given Israel?s closeness to Syria and other
trouble spots in the Middle East, with NATO,
Russian, Syrian and other nations engaged
in real-world operations nearby, the exercise
scenarios were written as generic North v
South engagements.
COMAO
The aim overall was to teach participants how
to work with other air forces in combined air
operations (COMAO).
Blue forces fought against Red in defensive
counter air operations (DCA), attack,
suppression and/or destruction of enemy
air defences, electronic warfare and special
forces (SF) operations. According to the Israelis,
unlike exercises such as Red Flag, Blue Flag
does not pit one nation or group of nations
against another; the Israeli exercise emphasises
cooperation over competition.
The exercise was planned, arranged and
coordinated by IASF headquarters, together
with the Advanced Training Center (ATC), at
Ovda Air Base. This facility in the southern part
of Israel, not far from Eilat, is used by the IASF
to carry out advanced combat training. The
ATC was activated in 2005, and is controlled
by 115 ?Flying Dragons? Squadron, also known
as the ?Red Squadron?. It is the IASF?s dedicated
Red Air resource and its pilots, flying F-16s,
specialise in replicating potential enemy?s tactics
and the flight profiles of enemy fighters. The
Red Squadron is also responsible for operating
enemy-style command and control (Ground
Control Unit or GCU) and anti-aircraft units.
The ATC?s operating area near the base over
the Negev includes live-fire ranges, airspace
dedicated to high-altitude supersonic flight
and low-flying areas. As well as ground targets,
the ranges incorporate surface-to-air missile
(SAM) threats. In spring 2017, 115 Squadron
transitioned from the F-16A Netz to the F-16C
Barak, receiving aircraft formerly operated by
the disbanded 110 Squadron at Ramat David.
Col Itamar, Ovda base commander said:
?The Blue Flag exercise is a central event in the
IASF, as part of which we operate and train a
vast aerial force for two consecutive weeks.
The ability to host seven air forces, train and
debrief together and to cooperate reflects our
international status and national resilience. In
the world we live in today, a state must have
the ability to create coalitions and we want
to learn from other air forces, strengthen our
deterrence capability and exhibit the IASF to
our participants.?
www.airinternational.com | 67
MILITARY EXERCISE BLUE FLAG
A Si?y Powietrzne Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej Block 52+ F-16C taxis by an Israeli Air and Space Force, 122 Squadron, G550 Nahshon-Eitam Conformal Airborne Early
Warning aircraft. This shot shows the conformal cheeks housing antenna of the Elta EL/W-2085 phased array airborne early warning radar. Israel Defence Force
BLUE FLAG 2017 ? PARTICIPANT AIRCRAFT
Zroa Ha?Avir VeHahalal
101 Squadron
6
F-16C Barak
103 Squadron
1
C-130J Shimshon*
106 Squadron
7
F-15C and F-15D Baz
107 Squadron
6
F-16I Sufa
115 Squadron
8
F-16C Barak**
122 Squadron
1
G550 CAEW
133 Squadron
7
F-15A and F-15B Baz
5
Mirage 2000D
6
EF.2000
Arm閑 de l?Air
EC.3
Luftwaffe
JG 73
Elliniki Polemiki Aeroporia
335 Mira
5
Block 52+ F-16C and F-16D
1
C-130J*
2
Tornado IDS
3
Tornado ECR
Bharatiya Vayu Sena
77 Squadron
Aeronautica Militaire
6� Stormo
Si?y Powietrzne Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej
6 ELT
6
Block 52+ F-16C
7
F-16C
United States Air Force
31st Fighter Wing
Notes
*Operating from Nevatim Air Base
**Operating as Red Air, including three Baraks on loan
from 109 and 117 Squadrons
Let the games begin
The whole exercise simulates a continuous
combat scenario. Different targets are
attacked every day, and every mission,
successful or not, affects the rest of the
exercise. Missions flown included border
protection, air-to-air battles, and two-sided
Blue v Blue sorties, in which the participating
aircraft are divided into attackers and
defenders and fight each other. About 100
sorties were flown each day, for a total of
about 1,000 flights during the fortnight.
68 | www.airinternational.com
The operational phase of the two-week
exercise began on November 2, 2017, with a
general briefing for all participants. Every flying
day foresaw two main waves of missions,
designed to increase in complexity as the
exercise progressed.
Crews began with a series of familiarisation
flights and then on November 7 and 8 DCA
missions were introduced. From November
9 to 12, the programme included Blue v Blue
missions, with participants judged on their
ability to plan and execute small-scale air
operations against a similar-sized force.
The period November 13 to 15 was
dedicated to night-time SF operations.
The SF part of the exercise included ground
and air missions, such as urban warfare,
navigation, and searching for and rescuing
downed pilots. They trained alone during the
first week, becoming fully integrated with the
rest of the exercise for the last.
Core participants were Indian Air Force Garud
commandos and SAR Unit 669 from Israel,
supported by Indian and Israeli C-130Js and
UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. The combat jet
aircraft acted as escort and defence assets.
Finally, the last day, November 16, saw a
large force engagement COMAO, the most
complex activity to which the earlier exercises
had been leading.
A G550 Nachshon-Shavit Special
Electronic Missions Aircraft, a type
also operated by 122 squadron based
at Nevatim Air Base, takes off from
Ovda. Erik Bruijn
What the participants said
According to Captain Tal, from SAR Unit 669:
?In the exercise, we were placing an emphasis
on teamwork and the ability to cooperate
with infantry forces on the ground, as well as
strengthening the cooperation between the
combatants and aircrew members in order to
minimise the helicopters? time on the ground.
One of the main challenges we faced while
planning the exercise was the attempt to adapt
its content to both forces. The Indian unit is
different from our SAR Unit 669, but there are
many similarities.?
Lt Col Nadav, Commander of 133 Squadron,
which led this year?s Blue Flag exercise, said:
?We began working on the exercise a year ago,
and in the past four months we focused on it
almost exclusively. It is a massive exercise of
an extent that has never occurred here before
and it requires the full attention of everyone
involved. As lead squadron, we are responsible
for what the participants rehearse, which
scenarios and missions they perform and what
their rules are.
?Border protection sorties are very similar to
air defence, a scenario we rehearse quite a lot
in the IASF. In Blue v Blue, two equally capable
Blue teams train against one another. This
scenario requires creativity, long-term thinking
and analytical capabilities. It is a battle of minds
EXERCISE BLUE FLAG MILITARY
in which each side needs to think how to beat
its equal opponent. The third scenario drilled in
the exercise is air-to-ground attacks in enemy
territory, while facing SAM and air-to-air threats.?
According to Lt Col Roi, commander of
the Ovda Operations Support Unit: ?The main
focuses of the exercise are mutual tactical
learning, to better know each other, to
enhance multinational cooperation and to take
advantage of high quality training, but above all
we want the exercise to be safe.?
Lt Col G from the Aeronautica Militare (Italian
Air Force), said: ?The difference between flying
in Israel and flying in Italy is the operational
environment. In Israel, we practise low-altitude
flight against a variety of threats and scenarios
that are very difficult to perform in Italy. The
fact this year?s Blue Flag has a large amount of
countries enables us to share more information,
learn more and improve our capabilities. The
Italian Air Force has already trained a number
of times in Israel, and the current exercise
continues to strengthen our relationships.?
According to Lt Col Guy, head of the IASF?s
training branch in the IASF Air Division: ?The
IASF has two main goals in the exercise: the first
is to improve the operational readiness of all
air forces involved via a quality mutual training
experience, while creating a fertile ground for
mutual learning; the second is to show the world
that the IASF is an advanced, strong and leading
force, improving Israel?s international status as a
result. We see each participant as an ambassador.
All the teams we wanted to participate are
participating. It?s pretty exciting to see all these
kinds of aircraft flying here. Blue Flag is unique
because it?s happening in Israel. Not a lot of
nations can host multilateral exercises like this at
such a level. Everyone is training pretty hard, and
it gets a bit harder each day.?
Where there?s a will?
Another aspect of the exercise, underlined by
the Israelis, was the full immersion of all the
participants in common activities. They not
only briefed, debriefed and flew together but
also messed and socialised as a group in a spirit
of mutual cooperation and respect for the
others? knowledge. One of the main problems
to arise was the relatively poor English of some
of the participants ? not everyone involved is
a pilot ? but even this hurdle was surmounted
with a determined attitude.
Elliniki Polemiki Aeroporia Block 52+ F-16C 001 inside one of the hardened aircraft shelter sites at Ovda Air
Base. Israel Defence Force
Very important for such a complex exercise
is the best use of the limited airspace in Israel.
All airspace over the country is under military
control to ensure deconfliction between
military and civilian traffic and also to identify
intruders more easily. Blue Flag 2017 had
access to the airspace south of a line Tel Aviv?
Jerusalem down to Eilat. The skies north of
that line, close to Lebanon and Syria, were out
of bounds. The northern part of the exercise
area was named Blue Country, the southern
Red Country. Over most of the training areas
there were no restrictions on height or speed;
low flying is a key part of Blue Flag.
Jordan cooperated with the Israeli
authorities by allowing flights inbound to
Eilat to be rerouted into its airspace for the
duration of Blue Flag. Limitations to civil air
traffic were applied for about three hours
each day while each 90-minute fast-jet flying
exercise was in the air. The GCU at Ovda was
responsible for traffic separation, as well as
controlling exercise traffic. It also provided
air traffic control for other local traffic and
ground control interception for the Red
forces. Red Air was provided by 115 Squadron,
sometimes augmented by other Israeli F-16s
or F-15s on loan from the Blue forces. Ground
threats included an Air Defence Command
(ADC) Patriot PAC-3 Yahalom battery and man
portable air defence systems. This was the first
time that ADC had participated in Blue Flag.
Red and Blue Forces? air-to-air and air-toground missions were controlled by separate
GCUs while airborne command and control
was provided by a Gulfstream G550 CAEW
from 122 Squadron.
The whole exercise was coordinated by the
Air Boss, a Colonel from IASF headquarters, but
the mission commanders were chosen from
pilots of the various participant contingents on
a rotating basis.
Mission accomplished
We?ll give the last word to Israel Air and
Space Force Chief of International Affairs
Lt Col Richard, who says apropos of Blue
Flag: ?People are seeing there is a lot to learn
from Israel. In our tiny airspace and in the
environment around us, things are so intense.
The Russians are here. Many of the world?s air
forces are passing through here on their way to
operations in Syria and elsewhere in the region,
so we provide a sort of battle lab in which
forces can hone a spectrum of skills needed to
combat growing threats.? AI
C-130J Super Hercules KC-3806 was the first Indian military aircraft to
participate in Israel?s Exercise Blue Flag. Israel Defence Force
www.airinternational.com | 69
COMMERCIAL BOEING 757
Icelandair operates 25 Boeing 757-200s and a single 757-300. Its 757s have all been updated
with new cabins and connectivity and the Scimitar Blended Winglets, visible here in this shot of
TF-FIS (c/n 26245) departing Birmingham Airport in October 2017. Dave Sturges/AirTeamImages
T
hirty-five years after the Boeing 757
entered service the type remains
very well used. According to data
from Airfleets, 689 remained in
service as of November 2017, which
is almost two-thirds of the 1,049 examples
(913 757-200s, 80 757-200PFs, 55 757-300s
and one 757-200M) built from 1983 to 2005.
Large network airlines in the United States
are the biggest operators. Delta Air Lines
currently has 124, United Airlines has 77
and American Airlines has 36. Major cargo
carriers have big fleets, too. FedEx Express
operates 109 757-200SFs, UPS Airlines has
75 and the various carriers worldwide flying
70 | www.airinternational.com
for DHL (including DHL Air UK at Nottingham
East Midlands Airport, EAT Leipzig, DHL Latin
America in Fort Lauderdale and Blue Dart in
Chennai) between them operate 35.
Other major operators are Icelandair (25
757-200s and one 757-300), the Thomas Cook
Group (ten 757-300s with Condor in Germany
and five with UK-based Thomas Cook Airlines)
and the TUI Group (14 757-200s).
Midsize capacity and range
So many 757s remain operational because
the aircraft has a useful combination of
capabilities. It has midsize capacity (200?280
seats, depending on configuration), extended
twin-engine operations clearance and 3,900
nautical miles (7,200km) range, rising to 4,100
nautical miles (7,600km) with winglets.
By having more seats than 737/A320-size
single-aisles but fewer than the smallest
twin-aisle widebodies such as A330s or
787s, airlines can use 757s to manage high
passenger flows on popular trunk routes. This
explains why the US majors operate 757s on
key transcontinental services; American, for
example, operates the aircraft between New
York and Los Angeles and San Francisco and
on routes from Dallas Fort Worth.
The 757?s range enables it to fly
intercontinental services, too. The European
BOEING 757 COMMERCIAL
Mid-market
The Boeing 757 is a workhorse for many airlines and is set to remain so,
but what might eventually replace it? Mark Broadbent reports
operators such as Thomas Cook and TUI have
long used 757s in this way, flying to Caribbean
and US East Coast destinations. More notably,
some carriers use 757s on thin routes across
the Atlantic, the links between large hubs and
secondary airports where demand means a
larger widebody would be uneconomical.
For example, Open Skies and La Compagnie
operate 757s from Paris to New York, and
American and United use the type on routes to
Europe from New York Newark.
In November 2017, American announced it
would introduce 757-200s on a new seasonal
route, starting in June 2018, from Dallas Fort
Worth to Reykjavik. The service will go head
to head with Icelandair?s Reykjavik?Dallas
Fort Worth flight, also operated with 757s.
The two carriers using the 757 on the same
route offers further proof of how the type
is right-sized for routes between long-haul
secondary destinations and how it lets airlines
access markets they couldn?t otherwise
feasibly serve.
The 757 becoming a mainstay of Icelandair?s
fleet ? the carrier has expanded the number
it operates by five times since 2008 ? is itself
another interesting case study of the type?s
capabilities. Icelandair, which now serves 46
destinations in North America and Europe,
has a strategy of making its Reykjavik base
an alternative transfer hub between the two
continents. The 757?s range enables the airline
to serve long-haul routes on both continents,
but to do so with an appropriate seat count. As
the airline?s Chief Executive Officer Birkir Holm
Gudnason Gunnarson told AIR International:
?They fit us perfectly.?
The 757?s size/range configuration also suits
cargo operators. According to UPS Airlines, the
freighter can haul 15 containers on its main
deck up to a maximum payload of 86,900lb
(39,417kg) over 1,950 miles (3,057km),
complementing the smaller freighters used
regionally and the larger widebody types used
on intercontinental routes.
www.airinternational.com | 71
COMMERCIAL BOEING 757
Upgrades
The 757?s versatility is a key reason why lots
remain in service, despite its advancing years.
Although United has rationalised its 757 fleet
in recent years (60 of the FedEx 757-200SF
fleet are converted ex-United aircraft) and
American in 2017 phased out 17 jets inherited
from the US Airways merger, these two
carriers and Delta each have no immediate
plans to phase out the type completely.
The cargo carriers are also set to use
the aircraft well into the future. FedEx only
introduced the 757F a decade ago to replace
the 727F and that process was only completed
in 2013. Icelandair says the 737 MAX 8s and 737
MAX 9s it will receive from 2018 to 2021 will
complement rather than replace the 757s, the
respective 162 to 178-seat and 178 to 193-seat
capacities of these aircraft slotting in beneath
their bigger stablemate.
Reflecting the commitment to the 757,
investments in the jet continue. American has
introduced a new cabin with lie-flat business
class seats and wi-fi connectivity for 757s
used on European and Latin American routes,
while Delta and United are installing new
slimline seats. Icelandair has modernised its
757 cabins with new seats, LED lighting and
Global Eagle Entertainment satcom systems
offering passengers gate-to-gate wi-fi
connectivity (the first European airliners so
equipped).
The 757?s engines (either Rolls-Royce
RB211-1535E4/RB211-1535E4Bs or Pratt &
Whitney PW2040s/PW2043s) are increasingly
inefficient, compared to the new generation
of powerplants now entering service.
Icelandair?s Q3 2017 earnings presentation
includes a telling graph that says its new 737
MAXs will burn 20% less fuel per seat and 35%
less fuel per hour than its 757s.
Comparisons such as these underpin the
efforts to trim the 757?s operational costs,
one of which is the introduction by Aviation
Partners Boeing (APB) of Scimitar Blended
Winglets (SBWs) as a retrofit option.
Blended Winglets were created by APB
in the late 1990s to optimise airflow around
a Boeing airliner?s wing by reducing the
induced drag caused by wingtips disrupting
the circulation of air between the tips and the
outboard airflow. The devices were certified
for the 757-300 in 2003 and for the 757200 in 2005, since when most 757s used for
passenger operations have been retrofitted
with them.
The SBW was introduced in 2013 to
optimise the winglet?s performance. It
replaces the Blended Winglet?s aluminium
cap with a sharply swept-back tip and adds
an aerodynamic trailing-edge wedge (which
also has a scimitar tip) to the lower part of the
winglet. APB claims the SBW on a 757-200
reduces fuel burn by an extra 1.1% over the
Blended Winglet, meaning an SBW-equipped
757?s fuel burn is now 6% more fuel-efficient
than a 757 without winglets.
Icelandair began retrofitting 757s with
SBWs early in 2017 and all its 26 aircraft were
due to have been modified by the end of the
year. United, which previously put SBWs on
its 737NGs, is also retrofitting its 757s with the
devices.
Upgrades are also available for the 757?s
flight deck. Rockwell Collins and Boeing
offer a flight deck retrofit that replaces six
cathode ray tube displays with three 15.1inch (383mm) LCD screens and analogue
instruments with new systems that boost
situational awareness including an engineindicating and crew-alerting system and a
head-up guidance system.
The Boeing 757 has seen continued investment including installing Blended
Winglets as seen here on 757-200F G-DHKB (c/n 29312), pictured in November
2017, which is operated by DHL Air. 4x6zk-moni shafir/AirTeamImages
72 | www.airinternational.com
What can replace it?
Despite the upgrades to keep the aircraft
fresh, the 757?s increasing age nevertheless
raises a question: what will replace it?
Boeing doesn?t have a natural successor to
the 757 in its portfolio. The closest in range
is the 3,515 nautical mile-capable (6,510km)
737 MAX 9 and the closest in seating is the
230-seat 737 MAX 10, launched at the Paris Air
Show 2017.
Airbus argues its A321 does the job.
Payload/range charts in Airbus? Aircraft
Characteristics for Airport Planning document
show an A321neo with a 93,500kg (206,132lb)
maximum take-off weight will be capable
of 3,900 nautical mile (7,222km) routes, a
comparable performance with a 757 flying
transcontinental services.
Tellingly, some key 757 users have
purchased A321s in large numbers: American
operates 98 A321ceos and has ordered 100
A321neos, while Delta has placed orders
totalling 122 A321ceos. Both are using the
type on the transcontinental routes, which
have been the 757?s bread and butter.
Airbus also has the new A321LR variant of
the A321neo that when a third fuel tank is
activated will be able to fly routes of 4,000
nautical miles (7,408km) with 206 passengers.
The company says the A321LR will therefore
be able to fly those niche thin intercontinental
services the 757 serves. Norwegian, Aer Lingus
and Air Transat will be among future A321LR
operators.
However, none of these options is an exact
like-for-like replacement. The 737 MAX 9
won?t be able to fly as far, the 737 MAX 10
has less capacity and the A321LR?s 206-seat
maximum capacity is slightly down on the
757?s 200 seats-plus capability, although it will
match the 757 for range.
BOEING 757 COMMERCIAL
All these factors, together with the 757?s age,
have led to the battle lines for a new midsize
airliner custom designed for the segment
becoming more sharply drawn recently.
At the ISTAT Americas conference 2017,
industry players said they had been shown a
concept for a new midsize Boeing dubbed
the 797 by some (although Boeing itself does
not refer to it as such), resulting from the
company?s ongoing New Mid-market Airplane
(NMA) studies.
A presentation on airliner programmes
during the subsequent Paris Air Show by
Mike Delaney, Vice-President, Airplane
Development, slightly lifted the veil on
Boeing?s thinking. A slide depicted an
undesignated twin-engine aircraft around the
250 seats mark, positioned between the 737
MAX 10 and the smallest Dreamliner, the 7878, exactly where the 757 sits.
Delaney?s presentation cited a 2025
service entry if an NMA were launched. The
timescales involved in developing a new
airliner, from design through parts fabrication,
assembly, testing and certification, suggest a
2018 or 2019 launch should an NMA get the
go-ahead.
Airbus seems conscious of the threat posed
by a possible new midsize Boeing. A May
2017 Reuters report citing unnamed sources
said the company was investigating further
A321 improvements to create what has been
termed an A321neo-plus. Reports online also
speculate about Airbus launching a fresh
midsize product, dubbed the A322 by some
observers.
Airbus? outgoing Chief Operating Officer
Customers John Leahy has said a new Airbus
midsize product isn?t a priority, telling the
company?s 2017 Annual Press Conference: ?I
don?t see any real need for an A322 at this
point. A small, stubby little light twin[-aisle]
will inherently be less efficient than a singleaisle aircraft, and we have a comfortable
single-aisle aircraft with good range.?
The caveat ?at this point? suggests a new
midsize product is not completely off the
agenda, however, and conceivably Airbus
could deliberately be adopting a wait-and-see
approach to observe Boeing?s mid-market
decisions before further developing the A321
or producing its own clean-sheet design.
The European company recently taking
the majority stake in the Bombardier C Series
could be significant in that it potentially
opens an opportunity for Airbus to use the
Canadian aircraft?s newer technologies and
big promises of savings on fuel burn and
operational costs in an all-new midsize
product.
Richard Aboulafia continued: ?Boeing has
two big challenges.燭he first is to create a
twin-aisle jet with near single-aisle operating
and manufacturing economics.燭he second
challenge is to convince airlines to pay a
premium, and they hope it?s a slight one, for a
more capable jet.營 expect Boeing has its hands
full right now trying to make all this work.
?Could Airbus do its own twin-aisle jet? There?s
a chance of that. They have a much clearer R&D
roadmap.燘oeing?s R&D spend is fully committed
through 2021, with 777X and others, while Airbus
has few obligations after this year.?
The companies? actions to develop a true
successor to the 757 are likely to be a key
part of the rivalry between Airbus and Boeing
in the years ahead. AI
The race is on
Teal Group Vice-President of Analysis Richard
Aboulafia thinks the mid-market segment
to succeed the 757, ?is going to be a very
interesting race?.
He told AIR International: ?The A321neo?s
economics will be tough to beat, and a rewinged A322 or just an improved A321neoplus would be even better in terms of
capabilities.燞owever, a Boeing 797
would have unbeatable capabilities,
and of course it would be a much
more modern airframe. So far,
the market has preferred
single-aisle jets for
routes in this size
class.
www.airinternational.com | 73
MILITARY ROYAL NAVY CARRIER AIR WING
Carrier air wi
Heard of the UK?s new carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth and the F-35B Lightning II fighter,
but what about a UK carrier air wing? Ian Harding has, and visited Royal Naval Air
Station Culdrose to see it in action
W
ith a new era of carrier
aviation on the horizon, Royal
Naval Air Station Culdrose in
Cornwall recently launched
its first exercise to ensure
the station is carrier ready. Held between
November 13 and 22, 2017, Exercise Kernow
Flag (Kernow is Cornish for Cornwall) was a
ten-day exercise aimed at preparing it further
for operations on board HMS Queen Elizabeth
(R08), the Royal Navy?s brand-new flagship
aircraft carrier. Kernow Flag was staged while
HMS Queen Elizabeth was underway during
two months of sea trials.
Home to carrier aviation
Employing over 3,000 personnel, Culdrose
has a crucial role to play training aircrew, flight
deck operators and other carrier support staff,
as well as providing aircraft to support future
carrier operations. Commanding Officer of
Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose Captain Dan
Stembridge, a naval aviator with extensive
experience of carrier operations on the Sea
Harrier FA2 and F/A-18E Super Hornets from
US Navy super carriers, explained: ?RNAS
Culdrose is essential to the delivery of the
UK?s carrier strike capability. For us to be
able to deliver our part in this, we need to
ensure our personnel have the right skills
and mindsets required for aircraft carrier
operations. Culdrose will provide the vast
majority of the aircrew for the carrier task
group that will protect the carrier alongside
Type 45 destroyers, Type 23 and Type 26
frigates, submarines and the new RFA class
tankers. During the ten-day exercise, we
flew over 600 hours around the clock, in five
different aircraft types operating with ships
and submarines in order to prove our carrier
abilities. Throughout Kernow Flag, the air
station operated as if it was on board HMS
Queen Elizabeth, and tested all aspects, from
engineering to the supply chain through to
the front end of flying.?
Carrier culture
Discussing Kernow Flag with AIR International,
Culdrose Operations Officer and Exercise
Control (EXCON) Battle Force Commander
Lieutenant Commander Craig WhitsonFay said the event took a year to plan and
represented a major undertaking involving
aircrew, engineers, flight deck operators, fire
crews, logistics, chefs, administration staff
and contractors: ?The exercise enabled us
to relearn some of the carrier lessons we
have lost. It brought us closer together as a
naval air station as we practised those skills
operating with fixed and rotary-wing aircraft.
With HMS Queen Elizabeth operating close
to Culdrose, our job as the carrier air wing
was to work up the aircrew, engineers and
all the support functions to ensure we can
launch and recover aircraft on time. This will
ensure the ship is fit for purpose and can
deliver whatever effect is required on time.
Kernow Flag was less about the operational
aspects of the aircraft and how specific tactics
are performed ? our squadrons understand
their specialist roles well ? and more
about changing operational cultures and
behaviours.?
Following the loss of the Harrier GR9s
and therefore a fixed-wing carrier capability
in 2010, Fleet Air Arm rotary-wing carrier
operations have been very different. There
are certain space limitations and operational
constraints that apply aboard a carrier when
fixed and rotary assets are combined that do
not apply when operating from a land base
or a single-spot ship. In these situations, the
rotary component has more operational
freedom and latitude.
Merlin HM2s prepare to touch down on HMS Seahawk?s flight deck attended by Royal Navy flight deck handlers. All photos Ian Harding unless stated
74 | www.airinternational.com
ROYAL NAVY CARRIER AIR WING MILITARY
wing work-up
An F-35 Ground Training Aid (GTA) is towed into position on deck by Royal Navy flight deck handlers. Built of fibre-glass, GTAs are dubbed faux fighters and enable
handlers to get used to the size and weight of a real F-35B; each GTA is fitted with water tanks to simulate fuel and weapons loads between 16 and 24 tonnes. Four
are assigned to the School of Flight Deck Operations.
www.airinternational.com | 75
MILITARY ROYAL NAVY CARRIER AIR WING
Lt Cdr Whitson-Fay explained: ?Operations
to and from the flight deck are constrained
and tightly controlled to the minute, so that
fixed and rotary-wing assets can operate in
the same space. We have a whole generation
of good naval aviators who are not used
to operating within such tight constraints.
Kernow Flag was about us relearning
the lessons of old, operating within tight
constraints, starting with the basic steps of
departing and arriving back on time, to the
minute.
?A key element of the exercise was to
create complexity and extra confusion that
the ship?s personnel will encounter as they
aim to meet the carrier and their squadron?s
flight programmes, plus the objectives of the
specific operation they are supporting. All
three elements must come together for the
ship to operate and function, but it?s not just
about aviation; maintenance and engineering
must also work effectively. Logistics, supplies
and administration must be tested and
personnel need to eat.
?Without these elements working together
there is no aviation capability. We therefore
set out our daily plan, worked out where the
conflicts of interest were and aligned them
so that aircraft could leave and arrive back on
time.?
New generation
Lt Nick Allen, a Merlin pilot assigned to 820
Naval Air Squadron (NAS) and one of the new
generation of aircrew to benefit from the
exercise, was one of the first pilots to land
a Merlin on HMS Queen Elizabeth during
recent sea and deck trials. He previously
flew from HMS Ocean (L12) and explained
the importance of Kernow Flag from an
operational perspective: ?The important part
of this exercise was testing and experiencing
the time-critical elements first hand. It all
starts with the daily flight programme. If
fixed-wing movements are scheduled [Hawk
T1As], rotary assets cannot move from the
deck at the same time. Our operating time
on deck is therefore limited, because of their
[fixed-wing] long take-off and departure
profile. In general, we would be able to
operate from the deck approximately ten
minutes either side of fixed-wing aircraft.
?We therefore apply the procedures
used during land-based or single-spot ship
operations. In terms of our [rotary-wing]
planning and briefing, for an average sortie
we brief 75 minutes prior to launch. With 30
minutes to go, we walk to the aircraft. For
a more complicated sortie the brief may be
done further in advance, and that brief can
itself take some hours to prepare.
?During Kernow Flag, we received a strict
time slot for departure, and if we couldn?t
meet that time for any reason, communication
guidelines were stringently applied to
maintain deck safety. For future carrier
operations, we would talk directly with the
flight coordinator in the operations room
who would then decide if we should stand
down or if our flight will be rescheduled. This
process was simulated at Culdrose using a
separate communications channel within our
own squadron. Our designated operations
personnel then called it in with exercise
control, who then took the decision whether
to depart or stand down.?
and 829 NAS flying the Merlin HM2, the Sea
King ASaC7-equipped 849 NAS, Hawk T1As
from 736 NAS and Avenger T1s from 750
NAS. Aircrew from all four Merlin squadrons
were pooled, as they will be during carrier
operations. Ships assigned to Flag Officer
Sea Training operating in training areas of the
south coast, a Walrus-class submarine from
the Royal Netherlands Navy, and Royal Navy
fast patrol boats were also involved. Some
anti-submarine warfare (ASW) serials involved
Dutch NH90 NFH helicopters that were
deployed to Culdrose to conduct deep-water
ASW training.
Aviation
Nerve centre for Kernow Flag was EXCON,
with the primary role of replicating planning
and decision-making functions undertaken
Every front-line squadron based at Culdrose
participated in Kernow Flag: 814, 820, 824
Objectives
A sense of realism was at the heart of the
three exercise objectives: achieve 350 flying
hours during the period; achieve 60% aircraft
serviceability across engineering; and only
operate using a similar deployed stores pack
used on current deployments. This tested both
engineering capability and the supply chain
to ensure they fit and function correctly, so
personnel could adjust and react to life aboard
a carrier and second-guess scenarios.
It was essential for a live exercise to take
place so the results and lessons learned could
be closely scrutinised to help determine the
correct number of Merlin helicopters required
given the number assigned to overseas
operations, developmental testing and in
planned maintenance. Nine Merlin HM2s were
assigned to Kernow Flag; the Fleet Air Arm has
a fleet of 30.
Command and control
?During the ten-day exercise, we flew over 600 hours around
the clock, in five different aircraft types operating with
ships and submarines in order to prove our carrier abilities.?
Commanding Officer of Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose, Captain Dan Stembridge
A typical flight deck scene of the future
with Merlin HM2s and an F-35, in this
case a Ground Training Aid.
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ROYAL NAVY CARRIER AIR WING MILITARY
Two F-35B Ground Training Aids, a Merlin HM2 and two Sea Harrier FA2s on the dummy deck, dubbed HMS
Seahawk, during Exercise Kernow Flag. Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose photo section/Royal Navy
by a Battle Watch team in conjunction with
its air operations centre. The Battle Watch
team had responsibility for delivering a daily
flying programme within the evolving exercise
scenario. EXCON also ensured key personnel
were able to continually assess and appraise
the Task Group?s position relative to the set
objectives, and to identify and learn lessons as
the exercise progressed.
Forward planning on a rolling 72-hour basis,
EXCON was also responsible for booking
aircraft, helicopters, airspace and ensuring
communications and frequencies were
maintained to enable the ship?s company to
complete its tasks.
Lt Cdr Whitson-Fay spoke about the
preparedness to deal with emergencies that
can arise aboard a ship: ?Aircraft become
unserviceable and a solution must be found.
The key is ensuring everyone gets the right
information at the right time to take action.
Whatever the situation, we task the most
appropriate assets to meet the threat, taking
account of the variables at the time. If it?s a
submarine threat, our Merlin?s will be tasked;
if there is an increased air threat, our Sea King
ASaC7s [Crowsnest-equipped Merlin HM2s
in the future] supported by our jets [F-35B
Lightning IIs in the future] will do that; if it?s a
surface threat, then tasking may comprise a
combination of types.?
EXCON?s planning for Kernow Flag included
a variety of potential mission eventualities
with interaction from air, surface and subsurface assets, so the future Task Group could
anticipate repelling an aggressive force to
stabilise a region.
While ASW and anti-surface warfare
missions involving Merlin and Sea Kings
featured prominently, other important types
of missions were practised. These were air
defence, humanitarian assistance, search
and rescue using patrol boats, vertical
replenishment, replenishment at sea,
underslung load (USL) lifts and manoeuvres to
deter jet ski attacks.
embarkation on to an aircraft carrier at sea;
six Merlin HM2s, two Sea King ASaC7s, four
Hawk T1As and one Avenger T1 performed a
formation fly past over the aircraft carrier HMS
Seahawk (RNAS Culdrose), before elements
of the rotary-wing contingent landed on a
dummy flight deck.
Awaiting them were Royal Navy flight
deck handlers, all initially trained at Culdrose
and presently training on board HMS Queen
Elizabeth. The dummy deck used for the
exercise is a permanent facility used by the
Royal Navy School of Flight Deck Operations
based at Culdrose. Each year, the school trains
over 2000 personnel in flight deck operations
in a realistic confined environment using both
ground training aircraft, which include F-35
replica aircraft, and live Sea Harrier FA2s.
Mission intensity grew as the simulated war
developed. Week one saw basic flying and deck
activity indicative of a carrier air wing making
preparations for combat. Programme and
tasking during the first week included basic
simulated deck operations, fast jet air defence
serials, winching, USL lifts and combined antisubmarine exercise (CASEX) serials. Operational
tempo further increased over the weekend
when Merlin and Sea King ASaC7s conducted
SAR and winching exercises with four P2000
patrol boats and large-scale inert CASEX
missions. Two Merlin HM2s operating in unison
as a dip-gang, a reference to the type?s primary
ASW role, hunting for an inert submarine using
a Lockheed Mk39 EMATT (Expendable Mobile
ASW Training Target). This is a programmable
unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) used to
simulate the acoustic and magnetic signatures
of a submarine for ASW training. An EMATT
UUV can be programmed on predetermined
nautical headings, to change route, speed up,
slow down and emit different sounds just as a
live submarine would to disguise its presence.
The latest version of the Mk39 has a maximum
speed of 8kts (14km/h) and can operate to
depths of 600ft (183m) with an endurance
of up to ten hours, depending on the speed
programmed.
Week two featured a SWARMEX, a swarm
exercise, involving multiple jet skis and small
fast boats attacking a ship underway in
Falmouth Bay countered by Merlin helicopters
armed with M3M machine guns to repel the
swarm, which in a real scenario could involve
jet skis and fast boats each packed with high
explosives.
Another large-scale CASEX involved
Dutch NH90s and Merlin HM2s working
cooperatively to hunt and strike the Dutch
Walrus-class submarine.
Acid test
Kernow Flag was a demanding exercise
designed to test man, machine and processes.
The ten-day event represented the next stage
of the ongoing process of carrier development
by Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose. Primarily
about developing operational culture and
behaviour, its acid test will be the lessons
learned by both the Fleet Air Arm and the
Royal Navy and a clearer view of the future.
AI
Action stations
On day one, multiple aircraft departed
Culdrose at 11:00hrs to simulate a mass
A Merlin HM2 assigned to 820 Naval Air Squadron with HMS Queen Elizabeth titles.
www.airinternational.com | 77
COMMERCIAL FREIGHTER CONVERSIONS
Second lives
Mark Broadbent profiles some of the latest developments in the
expanding area of passenger-to-freighter conversions
This Boeing 767-300BDSF, N331AZ (c/n 24875), pictured on approach to Cincinnati in October 2017, is an IAI Bedek-converted 767 freighter operated for
Amazon Prime Air. Growing e-commerce and a plentiful feedstock of aircraft are stimulating demand for conversions. Jehan Ghouse/AirTeamImages
A
lot is happening in the passengerto-freighter (P2F) conversions
market right now. December
saw the first completed A330P2F
conversion from the Airbus, ST
Aerospace and Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW)
collaboration delivered to a customer.
This milestone will be followed in 2018 by
the same partnership starting work on the
initial A321P2F conversion. The year is also
scheduled to see the first deliveries from the
Boeing 737-800 conversion programmes
run by Boeing and the conversions specialists
Aeronautical Engineers Inc (AEI).
All this activity and more is evidence of
a boom in the converted freighters market
segment and this is growth the industry
expects will be sustained for many years to
come.
A330P2F
In 2012, a co-operative venture was
announced between Airbus, ST Aerospace in
Singapore and Dresden-based EFW, covering
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conversions for legacy A330-200s and A330300s. The agreement involved ST Aerospace
leading engineering development and EFW
leading the industrial phase, with Airbus
providing OEM data and certification support.
The first two conversions are A330-300P2Fs
for DHL Express, which has ordered eight
examples (it has options on ten more). EgyptAir
Cargo is the launch customer for the A330200P2F. The first A330-300P2F for DHL was
converted by EFW in Dresden; it completed
test flights in October 2017 and entered
service in December following European
Aviation Safety Agency approval. This is later
than initially planned, as when the A330P2F
was launched the target was to deliver the first
aircraft in 2016.
Of the two models the A330-300P2F is
designed to be, Airbus says: ?suitable for
integrators and express carriers, thanks to its
high volumetric payload capability with lowerdensity cargo. Meanwhile, the A330-200P2F
will be optimised for higher-density freight and
longer-range performance.?
According to EFW, the A330-300P2F will
carry up to 61,000kg (134,500lb) with a 526m3
(18,581ft3) volume, providing capacity for 26 96
x 125-inch (2.4 x 3.1m) unit load devices (ULDs)
or 26 88 x 125-inch (2.2 x 3.1m) main deck
ULDs. On the lower deck, the aircraft will carry
32 LD3s or nine 96 x 125-inch ULDs and two
88 x 125-inch ULDs.
The A330-200P2F will carry up to 60,000kg
(132,300lb) and have 453m3 (16,016ft3) of
volume. Its main deck capacity will be 22 96 x
125-inch ULDs or 23 88 x 125-inch ULDs, with
26 lower deck LD3s (or eight 96 x 125-inch
ULDs and two LD3s).
EFW says the A330P2Fs will have up to
30% more volume while using up to 20%
less fuel per tonne of payload compared
to the A300-600P2F, which the A330P2F is
designed to replace.
The conversion work involves installing
a Class E cargo compartment and linings,
window plugs, a main-deck cargo door on
the left-hand side of the fuselage, a new
reinforced floor grid and panels, a cargo
FREIGHTER CONVERSIONS COMMERCIAL
loading system, a 9g barrier net, smoke
curtain, door surround structures and a
courier area. The conversion also deactivates
doors two, three and four, installs new smoke
detection and air distribution systems, and
upgrades water and waste systems, hydraulics
and lighting.
767 conversions
A direct competitor for the A330P2F in the
midsize market segment is the converted
Boeing 767-300/767-300ER. There are
currently two conversion options for this
aircraft: Boeing?s own 767-300BCF (Boeing
Converted Freighter) and the 767-300BDSF
(Bedek Special Freighter) conversion offered
under a supplemental type certificate (STC)
by IAI Bedek, the maintenance, repair and
overhaul and conversions arm of Israel
Aerospace Industries.
Boeing?s 767-300BCF has 24 positions for
88 x 125-inch ULDs on the main deck and
can lift approximately 114,500lb (51,930kg)
of payload. IAI Bedek?s 767-300BDSF also
offers 24 main-deck positions for 88 x 125inch ULDs. The Israeli company?s product
offers a total structural payload of 125,200lb
(56,699kg) for winglet-equipped aircraft
or 128,200lb (58,150kg) for those without
winglets. The 767-300BDSF complements IAI
Bedek?s other 767 P2F conversion, the 767200BDSF for 767-200s/767-200ERs, which
carries a typical load of 19 88 x 125-inch ULDs
and offers a maximum take-off weight of up
to 351,000lb (159,210kg).
The 767-300BDSF/767-200BDSF
conversions are carried out by Bedek in Tel
Aviv. The 767-300BCF work is undertaken
for Boeing by ST Aerospace in Singapore
and, from 2018, by Evergreen Aviation
Technologies Corporation in Taiwan, which
previously converted three 747-400Fs into
the 747-400LCFs used to transport 787
fuselage subassemblies to the Dreamliner
assembly lines.
George Alab�, Regional Director, Product
Marketing, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, told
AIR International that Boeing has received 33
orders and commitments for the 767-300BCF
since launching the conversion back in 2005.
All Nippon Airways was the first operator in
2008. The 767-300BCF commitments include
an order for nine jets placed in 2016 by Atlas
Air, one of three companies that fly 767
freighters for Amazon Prime Air, the others
being ABX Air and Air Transport International.
Other 767s operated for Prime Air include
Bedek-converted 767-300BDSFs.
A320/A321P2F
The current activity in the conversions market
does not just involve widebodies. Right now,
Airbus, ST Aerospace and EFW are in addition
to the A330P2F working on the A320/A321P2F
conversion programme launched at the 2015
Paris Air Show.
The A320P2F will have 11 main-deck ULD
positions and carry 21,000kg (46,297lb)
over 2,100 nautical miles (3,889km) and the
A321 P2F will have 14 main-deck positions,
a 27,000kg (59,524lb) payload and 1,900
nautical miles (3,158km) range.
www.airinternational.com | 79
COMMERCIAL FREIGHTER CONVERSIONS
Conversions of A320s and
A321s will be carried out by
an ST Aerospace, EFW and
Airbus partnership. Airbus
?We will be able to induct an A321 to our facility in the third quarter of 2018.?
ST Aerospace
This conversions for the aircraft will install
a cargo door on the forward fuselage, a
Class E main deck cargo compartment and
a 9g rigid cargo/smoke barrier, window
plugs and a reinforced floor grid and floor
panels. Doors 2R, 3L, 3R, 4L and 4R will be
deactivated and mechanically locked and, like
the A330P2F, there will be upgraded hydraulic,
fire protection, lighting, air distribution and
cockpit systems.
Airbus says advantages of the A320/
A321P2F will include a more useable volume
and compatibility with the A330P2F enabling
crews to move across fleets and airlines to
carry out mixed-fleet flying.
An ST Aerospace spokesperson told AIR
International: ?[The company is] confident we
will be able to induct an A321 to our facility in
the third quarter [of 2018]?, to start work on
the first conversion, ready for delivery in 2019.
Boeing 737-800
In 2018, Boeing will deliver its first 737-800BCF,
which since its February 2016 launch has
secured 30 firm orders and 25 commitments,
mainly from Chinese carriers, including
YTO Airlines and China Postal Airlines. The
conversions will take place at Boeing Shanghai
Aviation Services and STAECO in Jinan.
The 737-800BCF is designed to carry up
to 52,800lb (23,949kg) of cargo on 2,023
nautical mile (3,750km) routes. The aircraft
has 12 ULD positions, with 5,000ft3 (141.5m3)
of cargo space on the main deck. There is a
further 1,540ft3 (43.7m3) of capacity in two
80 | www.airinternational.com
lower-lobe compartments. Modifications
required to convert a 737-800 into a
freighter include installing a large main-deck
cargo door, a cargo-handling system and
accommodation for up to four non-flying
crew members or passengers.
Alab� told AIR International: ?[The 737800BCF] offers freighter operators newer
technology, lower fuel consumption and
better reliability.? Its higher payload capability
and longer range compared to a converted
737 Classic will, he said, improve cargo
operators? ability to open new markets.
Boeing?s 737-800BCF conversion provides
competition for two separate third-party
products from AEI and IAI Bedek, which both
hold STCs to convert 737-800s.
Miami-based AEI announced its 737-800SF
programme in 2015. The company?s product
sits alongside its other STCs for 737 Classics:
an 11-pallet conversion for the 737-400,
ten-pallet and nine-pallet conversions for
the 737-300 and an eight-pallet option for
the 737-200. AEI also offers eight-pallet and
12-pallet conversions for the Bombardier
CRJ200 and the MD-80 respectively.
The AEI 737-800SF conversion will install
an 86 x 140-inch (2.1 x 3.5m) cargo door on
the left side of the fuselage and modify the
main deck to a Class E cargo compartment
able to carry 11 88 x 125-inch ULD and up
to five supernumerary seats. Compared to
the 52,800lb payload capability of Boeing?s
in-house 737-800BCF, the AEI 737-800SF will
offer a 52,000lb (23,587kg) main deck payload.
The cargo door will be hydraulically operated
and actuated from the inside of the aircraft
by an independent system using hydraulic
pressure drawn from either an electrically
operated hydraulic pump or a manual hand
pump. There will be a reinforced floor, a single
vent door system, cabin windows replaced
with lightweight aluminium window plugs, a 9g
rigid cargo/smoke barrier with a sliding door, a
relocated digital flight data recorder enabling
an 84.5-inch (2.1m) ceiling height throughout
the cargo compartment and stretch-formed
fuselage skins.
The IAI Bedek 737-800 P2F conversion is
the 737-800BDSF, which offers three different
configuration options: 11 88 x 125-inch ULDs
and one 79 x 60.4-inch (2 x 1.5m) ULD; 11 88
x 108-inch ULDs and one 79 x 60.4-inch ULD;
or nine 88 x 125-inch ULDs and one smaller
ULD and a single pallet. The brochure for the
737-800BDSF quotes a 53,000lb (20,040kg)
payload.
The first 737-800SF is due to be delivered
by AEI to the conversion?s launch customer,
GECAS, in 2018. The lessor has ordered 20
conversions from AEI and it is also the launch
customer for Boeing?s 737-800BCF. The
initial 737-800SF, last operated by Corendon
Airlines in Turkey, was handed over by GECAS
to AEI in Miami in May 2016. Altogether, AEI
has secured 80 orders for the 12-pallet 737800SF. The first aircraft from an agreement
with an undisclosed customer, covering
15 aircraft plus 15 options, is due to start
conversion in 2018 for delivery in 2019.
FREIGHTER CONVERSIONS COMMERCIAL
Market trends
In short, there?s a lot of activity in the
conversions market. What explains it? A couple
of trends are coalescing. Despite the choppy
state of the air cargo market in recent years,
the continued expansion in e-commerce ?
reflected by Amazon launching Prime Air ? is
stimulating freighter demand.
This trend isn?t likely to change, Boeing?s
George Alab� told AIR International: ?Increased
demand is projected to continue in the
coming years, as express carriers bolster
regional networks to meet e-commerce and
other time-critical air cargo needs.?
A growing feedstock of aircraft reaching the
end of service as passenger airliners is another
trend driving the P2F market. A time has been
reached in the product life cycle of these
aircraft where their residual values have fallen
to a point where it is cost-effective for asset
owners to convert them to freighters.
These background factors seeem as though
they are set to keep the P2F conversions
market buoyant well into the future, according
to the manufacturers. Boeing?s latest Current
Market Outlook out to 2036 predicts demand
for 1,560 conversions (1,100 single-aisles and
460 widebodies) and Airbus? latest Global
Market Forecast envisages a requirement for
1,224 conversions over the next 20 years.
With this long-term potential it is
little wonder there are set to be further
developments in the market. In August
2017, Precision Aircraft Solutions and Air
Transport Services Group (ATSG) announced
the formation of 321 Precision Conversion
to offer a P2F option for A321-200s. The
new company aims to secure an STC
for its conversion in 2019, which would
obviously create competition for the Airbus/
ST Aerospace/EFW product. Precision and
A view of the interior of the first A330P2F for DHL, which has ordered eight aircraft and has options on ten
more. The A330-300P2F will carry up to 61,000kg (134,500lb) of cargo. Airbus
ATSG already have a decade-long relationship
working on Precision?s Boeing 757-200PCF
freighter and 757-200PCC passenger/
freighter combi conversions.
A further segment of the conversions
market to monitor is the one for larger twinaisle widebodies. Previously converted aircraft
in this size category, such as DC-10s, MD-11s
and Boeing 747s, are ageing, and older 777200 and 777-200ER-series aircraft exiting
passenger operations provide a new business
opportunity to replace those veteran types.
There is a 777-200ER BCF project at the
product development stage ? Boeing?s
marketing material for freighter products
lists a notional aircraft with a capability to
carry 165,346?176,369lb (75,000?80,000kg)
payloads over a 3,900?4,100-nautical mile
(7,200?7,600km) range ? and reports over the
last couple of years say IAI Bedek is looking at
obtaining an STC to convert legacy 777s in the
next few years.
Any Triple Seven conversions in the future
would only underline the vitality of the P2F
market in giving airliners second lives as
freighters. AI
Boeing launched its 737-800BCF conversion for the 737-800 in 2016, with the conversion
providing competition for AEI?s 737-800SF and IAI Bedek?s 737-800BDSF. Boeing
www.airinternational.com | 81
MILITARY CESSNA A-37B DRAGONFLY
A
s a geographically compact nation
with small armed forces, Uruguayan
military doctrine emphasises having
a well-trained, volunteer professional
workforce (no military service is
available) to maximise utilisation of its limited
equipment and material resources. Therefore, if
attacked by a more powerful foe, the country?s
services defensive plan is to strike back in small
packs, attempting to cause maximum attrition
to the enemy, while awaiting assistance from a
friendly nation. Therefore, as part of the Fuerza
A閞ea Uruguaya (FAU or Uruguayan Air Force)
Annual Activity Plan, deployments to operate
its Cessna A-37B Dragonfly attack jets from
remote, small countryside aerodromes and
highways ? far from their main base ? are of
paramount importance.
Strikers on the highway
The FAU?s A-37Bs are Uruguay?s main strike
asset and are assigned to the Escuadr髇
A閞eo No.2 (Caza) (Air Squadron No.2/
Fighters) based at the 2do. Mario Walter
Parallada Air Base, the home station of
Brigada A閞ea No.2 (Air Brigade No.2) near the
town of Durazno in central Uruguay, 190km
(120 miles) north of the capital Montevideo.
The latest highway deployment was carried
out between November 6 and 10, 2017, on
Ruta Nacional (National Road) No.9, running
parallel to the Atlantic Ocean in the eastern
province of Rocha, just 28km (17 miles) from
the Brazilian border.
At road marker 306, located 306km (190
miles) east of downtown Montevideo, is a
6,500ft (2,000m) stretch of highway marked
as 03-21. A wide circular hardstand at either
end of the runway is available for aircraft to
park. Aircraft involved were A-37Bs FAU 279
(c/n 43304, former US Air Force serial number
70-1289) and FAU 282 (c/n 43267, former US
Air Force serial number 69-6422).
The detachment, comprising 70
personnel that included ten pilots and 30
Highwaymen
Ernesto Blanco Calcagno reports from a roadside where the
Uruguayan Air Force deployed A-37B Dragonfly jets
82 | www.airinternational.com
CESSNA A-37B DRAGONFLY MILITARY
non-commissioned officers in charge of
maintenance, refuelling, communications,
logistics, firefighting and security, was led
by Major (Av) Richard Bruno, the squadron
commander. Av stands for Aviador (Aviator).
On the first and last day of the detachment,
air transportation of equipment and personnel
was provided by a CASA C212 Aviocar from
Escuadr髇 A閞eo No.3 (Transporte) (Air
Squadron No.3/Transport) based at Montevideo,
home station of Brigada A閞ea No.1 (Air
Brigade No.1). Liaison duties were carried
out by a Cessna C206H from Escuadrilla de
Enlace (Liaison Squadron) from Brigada A閞ea
No.3 based at Boiso Lanza Air Base, the FAU?s
headquarters north of Montevideo.
Highway closures
Three missions were flown each day with the
assistance of the Polic韆 Nacional de Tr醤sito
(National Transit Police) during ground operations.
Police officers closed the highway to passing cars
and observers for approximately 15 minutes.
ABOVE: After missions, the A-37Bs parked on a circular hardstand at the east end of the runway. All pilots flew
without squadron patches on their flight suits and carried their service issued 9mm pistols.
MAIN PICTURE: Dragonfly FAU 282 lifts off from Ruta 9. Adjacent to the road, in the background,
is the squadron?s communications hut. All Images by Gerardo Tajes
www.airinternational.com | 83
MILITARY CESSNA A-37B DRAGONFLY
A technician refuels one of the
A-37B?s wing tip 75 imperial
gallon tanks over the wing.
To ensure safe flight operations, personnel
conducted a road sweep by car, inspecting it
for debris before every take-off and landing.
Air traffic control service was carried out
from a hut positioned parallel to the road,
with VHF radio equipment supplied by the
FAU?s Servicio de Comunicaci髇 e Inform醫ica
(Communication and IT Service). During each
mission, the A-37s were under the control
of the FAU?s Centro de Operaciones A閞eas
(COA or Air Operations Centre) located at
Boiso Lanza Air Base. The COA uses data
received from two ARSR-3D(M) Lanza radar
units built by Indra Sistemas of Spain; a
mobile unit is positioned around the country
as required, and a fixed unit located at Santa
Clara de Olimar, northwest of Rocha. Lanza
is a state-of-the-art system, and part of the
FAU?s Sistema de Vigilancia y Control del
Espacio A閞eo (Air Control and Surveillance
System) that communicates and transmits
data (including meteorological information)
via HF/GPRS and fibre-optics, assisted by the
installation of eight communications relay
stations, across the country. The FAU?s old
and soon to be retired Dragonflies are not
equipped with a digital datalink.
Mission details
Sorties lasted for approximately one hour
each, starting with low-level navigation
(below 1,000ft) towards nearby designated
fixed ground targets. Simulated attacks and
close air support missions were conducted
with the Ej閞cito Nacional Uruguayo?s
(Uruguayan National Army) Batall髇 de
Infanter韆 Mecanizada No.12 (Mechanised
Infantry Battalion No.12) based at Rocha.
Battalion No.12 deployed to an area west of
the port town of La Paloma 97km (60 miles)
west of the highway strip at marker 306,
where the unit used MOWAG Grizzly generalpurpose armoured vehicles as targets for the
A-37s.
For these combined exercises, Escuadr髇 2
nominated a forward air controller, a combatqualified A-37 pilot, who in radio contact from
the ground ? and knowledgeable about the
aircraft performance and weapons delivery
envelope ? provided target information and
talk-on to the attacking aircraft.
The Army also provided its own zone
controller trained by the Escuadr髇 de Vuelo
Avanzado (EVA or Advanced Flying Squadron)
based in Durazno, who is the only officer
MIDDLE: An FAU UH-1H Huey approaches to land with a C212 Aviocar parked on
the circular section of the road also used by the Dragonflies to park overnight.
BELOW: A-37B FAU 279 flares prior to landing on Ruta Nacional No. 9.
84 | www.airinternational.com
who can guide the A-37s based on his or her
training on the jet?s full performance facts.
Interceptions and air combat manoeuvring
were undertaken between the two A-37s;
previously, the adversary was provided by an
IA-58A Pucar� twin turboprop.
SAR and combat SAR (CSAR) support for the
A-37 deployment was provided by the FAU?s
Escuadr髇 A閞eo No.5 (helic髉teros) (Air
Squadron No.5/Helicopters) with a Bell 212
Twin Huey and a Bell UH-1H Huey. Downed
pilot simulations were also conducted near
La Paloma, involving an A-37 pilot, who after
bailing out had to walk to a secure location
to be picked up by friendly forces from a safe
landing zone selected by the pilot.
Escuadr髇 5 has conducted overseas UN
missions in Ethiopia, Eritrea and presently the
Democratic Republic of Congo with ample
experience of SAR and CSAR tasking.
The operations were performed with a
minimum of two aircraft, the Bell 212 used to
collect the pilot and the Huey as a gunship
escort, armed with two 7.62mm or .50 guns
on either side.
CESSNA A-37B DRAGONFLY MILITARY
Overhead, the Dragonflies conducted
defensive air patrols, in a racetrack pattern;
however, the pattern and heading could
change if a ground threat towards the jets
was detected or to avoid disclosure of the
probable helicopters position to an enemy
ground observer. Once in contact with the
downed pilot, the para-jumpers on board
the Twin Huey used isolated personal
report (ISOPREP) protocol to verify the
pilot. The report, completed by all military
personnel before deployment to potential
hostile areas, contains full personal details
and four self-generated secret questions,
which have to be answered correctly
whilst being rescued. CSAR crew carry the
downed pilot?s ISOPREP details to ensure
they collect a friend and not a foe. Failure
to reply correctly requires the pilot to be
handcuffed and taken back to base for
interrogation.
In all, 30 hours were flown by the A-37s.
Major Bruno told AIR International he
was satisfied with the safe and successful
completion of the deployment.
A-37B FAU 279 seen on short finals to runway 03 on Ruta 9. Pilots new
to highway operations, were made aware of the possibility of turbulence
created because of the close proximity of a nearby forest.
have taken place between FAU personnel
and Martin-Baker Argentina to assess the
possibility of retrofitting the fleet with a new
ejection seat. The British firm is offering a
replacement seat based on the one utilised
on the Embraer Tucano fleet. The company
claims considerable weight savings and
conversion costs, easier maintenance and
improved performance when compared
to the old seat. Of note is the possibility
of through-the-canopy ejection at zero
altitude, within a speed range of 70 to
430kts, a far safer ejection envelope than the
Dragonfly possesses now, requiring speed
and height before bailing out.
Pilots from Escuadr髇 2 and 1 (the latter is
now stood down since the Pucar� fleet was
withdrawn from service and its pilots keep
current by flying PC-7Us) visited Nanchang
in China in August 2016, to assess and fly the
Hongdu L-15B lead-in fighter trainer jet. The
aircraft has a passive electronically scanned
array radar, IFF, ECM and radar warning
receivers. Uruguay?s main air threat comes
from illicit flights crossing the country to and
Pilots new to the Dragonfly flew initial
missions with instructors to familiarise
themselves with the highway, narrower than
a standard runway, and local conditions like
strong turbulence generated by the prevailing
Atlantic sea breeze striking a forest south
of the road. On later missions, the new
pilots operated as aircraft commander with
minimum supervision.
Escuadr髇 2 maintenance engineers
(Aerot閏nicos) perform wonders to keep
the Dragonfly fleet flying 41 years after the
arrival of the first batch of eight aircraft
in 1976. Of great concern is the soon to
be depleted stock of Weber ejection seat
cartridges. There is no supply chain; seat
production has long stopped, and the
current stock of cartridges is estimated to
run out in 2018.
from its neighbours Brazil and Argentina, so
Escuadr髇 2?s main role is aerial policing.
Without the Pucar� amongst its ranks ? a
type often tasked with intercepting lowperformance illicit aircraft ? and with
a handful of Swiss-built armed Pilatus
PC-7U turbo trainers in service, the ancient
Dragonfly fleet is stretched to its limits
for such tasking. FAU high command has
insisted that if new aircraft are purchased for
its fighter/attack squadrons they must have
a radar, seen by pilots as a substantial tool
during the final moments on air interception
whilst approaching a target, following the
initial guidance and vectors to the target
provided by the Lanza 3D radars of the AOC.
The FAU requires eight to 12 jets to replace
the Dragonfly, and possibly the Pucar�,
unifying Escuadr髇 2 and 1 into a single
fighter attack unit. Acquisition of a high-tech
aircraft will represent a major technological
step forward and be a perfect partner to the
Lanza 3D radars that are to be upgraded
during 2018, finally bringing the FAU into the
21st Century. AI
A-37B FAU 279 ready to go with green air inlet screens
for the GE J-85-17A turbojet engines爁itted to prevent the
possibility of debris ingestion on the unprepared runway.
What?s next?
The political establishment in Uruguay has
shown no indication or interest in procuring
replacement aircraft to modernise the FAU
fleet. In view of this attitude, recent meetings
www.airinternational.com | 85
COMMERCIAL INTERCARIBBEAN AIRWAYS
Connecting th
Chris Kjelgaard reports on
interCaribbean Airways?
efforts to grow a hub in the
Turks and Caicos Islands
providing convenient
connections between
many Caribbean countries
? and on interCaribbean?s
relief-flying and networkrebuilding activities in the
wake of hurricanes Irma
and Maria
I
t might seem unlikely that an air taxi
company operating a single Cessna
light aircraft for on-demand services
linking the three airports in the Turks and
Caicos Islands could grow to become a
vitally important regional carrier linking most
countries in the northern, western and eastern
parts of the Caribbean region. But in the space
of 25 years a carrier that began flight operations
on February 6, 1992 as InterIsland Airways and
has subsequently seen two name changes ?
first to Air Turks and Caicos in 2003 and then
in 2013 to interCaribbean Airways ? has done
just that.
Today the air taxi service founded in 1991 by
Lyndon Gardiner, who remains interCaribbean
Airways? owner and chairman, is not only the
EMB 120RT Brasilias on the hard stand ahead of the next flight.
All photos interCaribbean Airways
86 | www.airinternational.com
national carrier of the Turks and Caicos Islands,
the total population of which is about 35,000
people. In a month?s time the fast-growing
regional airline will be serving 22 destinations
in 12 countries in the western, northern and
eastern Caribbean with a fleet of 13 turboprop
regional aircraft and several regional jets.
The largest aircraft in the fleet ? and also
interCaribbean?s main workhorse ? is the
Embraer EMB 120 Brasilia, of which the carrier
operates seven in standard 30-seat airline
configuration and one in 18-seat corporate
charter configuration. It also operates two 19seat de Havilland Canada Twin Otter 300s, one
15-seat Beech 99, one 10-seat Britten-Norman
Islander and one seven-seat Beech 200 Super
King Air.
INTERCARIBBEAN AIRWAYS COMMERCIAL
the Caribbean
Even though interCaribbean Airways?
network now extends from Havana in the
west to Nassau to the north and Antigua to
the east, connecting most major Caribbean
nations and territories in between, the carrier
is about to get a lot bigger in terms of both
network reach and fleet size. At the Caribbean
Aviation Meetup conference in Sint Maarten
last June, interCaribbean?s CEO Trevor
Sadler ? who joined the airline in 2013 and
with Gardiner instituted its latest rebranding
and expanded regional focus ? revealed that
interCaribbean would soon announce five
new destinations in the Eastern Caribbean and
that, along with more Brasilias, it would begin
adding 50-seat Embraer ERJ-145 regional jets
to expand its fleet and network.
Sadler also revealed that interCaribbean
Airways was in talks with eight airports in
Florida and other states in the Southern
United States with the aim of adding some
or all of them as new destinations. While
he declined to name any of these airports,
Sadler later told AIR International, ?What
I can say is that we focus on cities that
do not have Caribbean services but may
support traffic to one or many Caribbean
points.?
Should interCaribbean add any airports
in Florida or other southern US states
to its network, these would become
the first destinations in the mainland
United States served by the fast-growing
regional carrier. (However, interCaribbean
does already serve San Juan in the US
dependency of Puerto Rico, the largest
international gateway airport in the
northern Caribbean.)
Irma and Maria disrupt
interCaribbean?s plans
At the Caribbean Aviation Meetup, Sadler
said interCaribbean?s short-term aim was to
connect more of the Western Caribbean with
the Eastern Caribbean. Although he didn?t
name interCaribbean?s five planned new
destinations at the event, Sadler subsequently
revealed to AIR International that they were
Dominica, Saint Lucia, Sint Maarten and the
two largest islands in the US Virgin Islands,
Saint Croix and Saint Thomas.
www.airinternational.com | 87
COMMERCIAL INTERCARIBBEAN AIRWAYS
INTERCARIBBEAN AIRWAYS?
PLANNED DESTINATIONS AS
OF FEBRUARY 2018
Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua: V.C. Bird International Airport
The Bahamas
Nassau: Lynden Pindling International Airport
British Virgin Islands
Tortola: Terrance B. Lettsome International
Airport
Cuba
Havana: Jos� Mart� International Airport
Santiago de Cuba: Antonio Maceo Airport
Dominica
Douglas?Charles Airport
Dominican Republic
Puerto Plata: Gregorio Luperon International
Airport
Santiago de los Caballeros: Cibao International
Airport
Santo Domingo: Las Americas International
Airport
Haiti
Cap-Ha飔ien: Cap-Ha飔ien International Airport
Port-au-Prince: Toussaint Louverture
International Airport
Jamaica
Kingston: Norman Manley International Airport
Montego Bay: Sangster International Airport
Puerto Rico
San Juan: Luis Mu駉z Mar韓 International
Airport
Saint Lucia
Hewanorra International Airport
Saint Martin (containing Saint-Martin and Sint
Maarten)
Sint Maarten: Princess Juliana International
Airport
Turks and Caicos Islands
Grand Turk Island: JAGS McCartney
International Airport
Providenciales: Providenciales International
Airport
South Caicos: South Caicos Airport
US Virgin Islands
Saint Croix: Henry E. Rohlsen Airport
Saint Thomas: Cyril E. King International Airport
88 | www.airinternational.com
However, interCaribbean?s plans to launch
service to the five destinations in the autumn
of 2017 were dramatically disrupted when in
September hurricanes Irma and Maria, two of
the most powerful and catastrophic Atlantic
hurricanes in history, whirled through much of
the northern Caribbean, devastating many of
the islands the carrier served ? including the
Turks and Caicos Islands, which is home to
interCaribbean Airways.
?The hurricanes impacted our business,
perhaps in a way like no other airline,?
Sadler told AIR International. ?Ten of the
22 destinations we were going to serve
from November 1 were impacted by the
back-to-back hurricanes. Perhaps it is
unprecedented for an airline to see that 50%
of its destinations could not be served. We
are trying to rebuild back.?
By late November, interCaribbean?s main
hub at Providenciales International Airport on
Providenciales (commonly known as ?Provo?
and the most-populated island in the Turks
and Caicos) was back in business, but ?there
is some softening of the demand that is, in
part, tied to the local point-to-point traffic?,
said Sadler. He explained that ?because of
the hurricanes, many travellers or workers
at resorts have been laid off for two to three
months. This impacts the in-and-out demand
in that slice of our business.? While ?this is
beginning to build back up for Provo, our
domestic services are softer as a result of
the decimation of personal homes and hotel
resorts on Grand Turk and South Caicos
islands.?
Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, a major
destination for interCaribbean, saw terrible
devastation and commercial air service to
and from Tortola was suspended for several
weeks. ?Tortola was hit very badly,? said
Sadler. ?The airport was closed for about three
weeks to commercial traffic, with the airport
perimeter fence down, the terminal damaged
and the tower damaged too. The impact
was felt further in the basics ? there was no
power and no internet and no phones were
working. The airport was rather off the grid.
In the early stages, our handling-company
team [Platinumport] could only communicate
with us from a phone in the town. With all
scheduled flights cancelled, once there was
communication we recognised there was a
need for relief flights.?
InterCaribbean?s post-hurricane
relief flying
What interCaribbean Airways then did to
organize and operate relief flights to and from
Tortola provides a dramatic tale of ingenuity,
resourcefulness and government-agency
cooperation in helping relief agencies get
to Tortola to provide assistance and aiding
tourists and newly homeless residents leave
the British Virgin Islands.
?Relief flying was both in and out of
Tortola,? said Sadler. ?We provided a series of
relief flights for various governments and relief
agencies who came to the rescue to help in
any they could. We recognised there was a
need for flights for people in Tortola and the
[British Virgin] islands wanting to leave, either
tourists who had stayed during the hurricanes,
or residents whose businesses or buildings
were wiped out. Although the need was clear,
there was no power, no internet and very little
in the way of a working phone, and so the
challenge was how to get the message out.?
However, ?Where booking online, or calling
on-island would not work and where visiting
an agency was a limited option as they too
had no power, we recognised that sometimes
folks on-island were in touch with family and
friends elsewhere. So the solution we put in
place was to put those seats into distribution
and our own system and use social media
to get the word out, so that one-on-one
communications with family or business
could create the bookings.?
That said, there was a big ?But?. ?Because
there was a need for permissions for landing,
we could not operate on the basis of showing
up and looking to fill up a flight,? noted
Sadler. ?We could not use our Tortola base to
overnight as the crew accommodations were
beyond use, so it was a matter of operating
INTERCARIBBEAN AIRWAYS COMMERCIAL
persons who otherwise could not enter the
United States to be able to do so to connect
directly on an international flight leaving there.
In the period until some power was restored,
there were numerous cases which required us
to check in with the US Customs and Border
Patrol to affirm on a case-by-case basis that
a passenger was approved before we could
board that person. We worked with the two
travel agencies and our own direct sales staff
in Tortola to manage existing bookings, and
work with those who just came to the airport
to buy tickets on available flights to leave.
Now, power is restored at the airport and
some internet is there.?
Network rebuilding and fleet
growth
As much of the Caribbean focuses on
rebuilding following the near-apocalyptic
devastation caused by hurricanes Irma and
Maria, interCaribbean Airways has put off its
plans to launch service to its five planned new
destinations until February 1. It has done so
?to give some time for the recovery efforts
remotely and in conjunction with the staff of
Platinumport. The airport and Platinumport
asked if we could bring food for people to eat:
There was a willingness to come to work, but
due to the situation, people were hungry. We
had to understand the basic human needs.
We sent supplies and food on these flights, so
operating a relief flight was not as simple as
flying in and picking up passengers.?
The challenge was additionally complicated
by the fact that ?we operate also to countries
that require APIS [Advance Passenger
Information System] such as the United States,
where APIS is not optional?, Sadler pointed
out. ?So we faced new challenges on how we
were going to get passport data when there
was no power, there were no phones working
and there was no WiFi.?
WhatsApp to the rescue
How interCaribbean Airways managed
to overcome these huge obstacles ?is a
testament to today?s technology ? and a big
thanks to WhatsApp,? said Sadler. ?One of the
Various shots of interCaribbean EMB 120RT
Brasilias VQ-TBC (msn 283) and VQ-TVG (msn
268). Interestingly, VQ-TBC was on the Embraer
production line when InterIsland Airways was
formed back in 1992.
staff members had a phone that worked while
others did not. That phone had WhatsApp.
So what we did was to gather all passport
data on paper, writing out all the details. Then
the staff member with the phone would
take photo images and a couple of people,
including myself, would then manually enter
the data into the [interCaribbean Airways]
departure control system to verify if it was OK
or not for a passenger to board.
?We used WhatsApp to pass messages
back and forth to account for each person,
their bags, their body weights for weight and
balance and we completed clearing the flights
this way. We operated numerous flights using
this process to ensure regulatory compliance.?
Even more remarkably, Sadler noted that,
?While we were supporting the British Virgin
Islands from a distance via WhatsApp, we were
doing so from our offices where we were
running on generators for over three weeks to
provide power and internet connectivity.?
Meanwhile, said Sadler, ?The US
government made some exceptions for some
and for on-island stakeholders to make public
what facilities they have available?, according
to Sadler.
From February 1, however, interCaribbean
will serve its five new Caribbean destinations
? plus any it decides to serve in the mainland
United States in the foreseeable future ?
with a considerably enlarged fleet that will
include additional Brasilias as well as ERJ-145
regional jets. Although serial production of
the Brasilia ended in 2001, many Brasilias are
still in commercial service and Sadler told AIR
International that ?we are currently adding
some [Brasilias] to sustain the additional
demand for service across the region and
expect the aircraft [type] to be part of our
operations for the next five to 10 years?.
The introduction of regional jets to
interCaribbean Airways? fleet ? perhaps
the biggest single step in the carrier?s 25year history ? was scheduled to occur in
December, the airline agreeing with an
unidentified leasing company to acquire two
ERJ-145s initially. ?It is a big step ? but one
we are ready for ? in expanding our footprint,
either by providing more capacity on existing
www.airinternational.com | 89
COMMERCIAL INTERCARIBBEAN AIRWAYS
Baggage loading is straightforward on the EMB 120.
services or contemplating the addition of
longer-haul services and new destinations,?
said Sadler, revealing that in the short term
interCaribbean expects to operate from four
to six ERJ-145s. ?The reality is that we will
very probably be able to increase that to 10
to 12 aircraft? over time, he added, noting
that the need for additional aircraft will arise
from ?a combination of new routes and their
sustainable demand, replacing [the Brasilia]
on some routes either full-time or [to meet]
seasonal demand, and some other factors it is
premature to announce?.
Pursuing passenger-service
excellence
Despite the big changes jet operations
are likely to bring interCaribbean Airways,
the airline?s recent history shows it is very
capable of coping with them successfully,
whether they be operational challenges or
political and regulatory hurdles which must
be surmounted. Rapid growth is nothing new
to interCaribbean. For instance, it launched
service to Tortola in the British Virgin Islands
in 2015 with three round-trips a week from
San Juan. However, by December 2016, after
?we applied our low cost carrier-type mindset
to bringing lower fares to that market?,
interCaribbean was operating 18 flights a
week to Tortola, according to Sadler. ?It?s a
great market to be in and we have plans to
grow in Tortola,? he added.
Similarly, having introduced Cuba to its
network in 2016, interCaribbean now serves
both Santiago de Cuba (near the island?s
eastern end) and Havana (near the 780-milelong island?s western end), the country?s two
largest cities. ?We love Cuba,? said Sadler. So
much does interCaribbean Airways love Cuba
that it agreed its first codeshare deal with
Cubana, the national carrier of the Republic
of Cuba.
Its Cubana codeshare agreement is typical
of the regional carrier?s determination to
provide its customers with convenient
booking, seamless travel for checked baggage
and easy connections to partner airlines,
viewing these capabilities as cornerstones of
its passenger-service philosophy. Not only are
interCaribbean?s services and fares contained
in all three of the major global distribution
systems, but the carrier is a participant
in the US Airlines Reporting Corporation
Embraer?s EMB 120 is powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada
PW118-series turboprops each rated at 1,800shp (1,340kW).
90 | www.airinternational.com
clearinghouse for settlement of multi-sector
airline ticket sales. It also participates in
bank settlement plans covering airline sales
in 180 countries throughout the world and
the Caribbean. In October interCaribbean
launched two new payment options and was
working on a third, to expand the different
ways by which customers can complete their
ticket purchases.
Additionally, interCaribbean has announced
British Airways as its first major interline
partner and Sadler said that as of last
summer the carrier had four other interline
agreements ?in the works?, at least one of
which has subsequently gone into effect. By
then, interCaribbean Airways was working on
interline deals with 11 carriers altogether, in
addition to British Airways.
?The US carriers are potentially the
most interesting? interline targets for
interCaribbean, ?but they seem to be the
most distant in terms of potentially wanting
to do so,? said Sadler. ?Cooperation with
them remains elusive, but the business and
customer reasons make good sense. With our
adding new routes and alternatives to what
is connectable today, we are hopeful that in
time these airlines will find the customerconvenience value in an interline and
through-check-in with our company.?
However, interCaribbean is having
no such problems in agreeing interline
deals with the Caribbean?s two largest
state-owned carriers, Caribbean Airlines
and LIAT. ?They?re government-owned:
we don?t want to compete with them,
said Sadler. ?We have just launched the
interline agreement with Caribbean
Airlines, giving connections to a bit more
of the Caribbean.? With LIAT, ?We?re at the
technical point of integration? of IT systems
to allow seamless interlining.
INTERCARIBBEAN AIRWAYS COMMERCIAL
Caribbean political arena
One area in which interCaribbean Airways has
been fearless in promoting its growth agenda,
both at home in the Turks and Caicos Islands
and internationally throughout the Caribbean
region, is in dealing actively with national
governments at the topmost level. It seems to
be doing so with a fair amount of success.
At home, interCaribbean Airways needed
to persuade the Turks and Caicos Islands
(TCI) Government to make arrangements
at Providenciales International Airport
to facilitate quick and easy transfers to
international connecting flights for transit
passengers who arrive at the airport on
flights from other nations and don?t have TCI
entry visas.
So, explained Sadler, ?interCaribbean met ?
with the TCI Government to share our vision
for expansion and how we could well be the
connecting hub of the western Caribbean.
The vision of government was to establish
the financial hub of the Caribbean. With all
that entails, having connectivity not just from
the north but also from the south was an
imperative. We had subscribed to the vision as
an airline, and in so doing had moved to build
a connective schedule that prior to the full
realization had also set a limited number of
services to neighbouring islands.?
Additionally, ?Building on the connective
schedule had also provided greater
opportunity for Latin America and the
Caribbean to come to the Turks and Caicos
any day of the week they choose, as we had
now been able to achieve daily schedules
to all of the major markets and in so doing
typically could offer 10 to 12 connection
points via Providenciales,? said Sadler.
?To support this we were successful
in having government recognize that a
nominal investment in carving out an intransit entrance with all requisite security
elements? at the airport was vital, he said.
The TCI Government recognised that
this made sense and quickly made the
required modifications, creating an easytransit facility. ?This meant the delays we
[had] experienced as a consequence [of
cumbersome transit arrangements] were
over, and now we could offer seriously quick
connections,? officially of 30 minutes but in
reality even less. ?Our on time performance
has since rocketed,? Sadler noted.
interCaribbean?s EMB 120RT Brasilia cabin configuration.
Internationally, interCaribbean has met with
the presidents and prime ministers of various
Caribbean national governments to discuss the
ever-vexing issue of taxation of airfares between
destinations within the region, which typically
adds taxes of around 100% of the cost of the
fare itself. In these meetings, interCaribbean
promotes an initiative put forth by IATA to
stimulate intra-Caribbean air traffic by reducing
airfare taxes on intra-Caribbean flights.
?Our view and that of IATA is if we can find
the support across the Caribbean to introduce
a dual tax regime that applies a kinder level
of taxation to the citizen or resident of the
Caribbean, by supporting a tax that maybe
is 50% of what is otherwise charged, those
revenues would find their way back into
government by way of increased travel [and]
increased spend at other destinations,? said
Sadler. ?We firmly believe that the reductions
in direct customer taxes will come back to
their treasuries in a different manner. Our goal
is to see the diminished taxation for all travel
that begins and ends in another Caribbean
country to be at no more than 50% of the ?
international taxes.?
Adds Sadler: ?Unfortunately the traveller
is paying such a high price that clearly the
opportunity to travel for business or leisure
is dampened significantly ? Some of the
region?s travel is 10 to 20 minutes of flying,
and yet the taxation of such a journey is no
different to [that for a] traveller coming from
the mainland United States or Europe. The
airlines of the region would be well placed
to increase [service] frequency if the taxation
levels were adjusted. Imagine flying from
Miami to Orlando and paying $150 in taxes, as
that distance is greater than most [Caribbean]
island-to-island travel. Unless we can come
together as one region and see ourselves as
a single market, the connectivity craved by
many will be unlikely to improve.?
But there does appear to be hope,
according to Sadler. More than a third of the
national governments with whose leaders
interCaribbean has discussed the issue have
expressed their support for reducing taxes on
intra-Caribbean airfares. Should a quorum of
Caribbean governments eventually vote for
such a measure, then interCaribbean Airways?
growth could really take off. AI
?interCaribbean has announced British Arways as its first major interline partner.?
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BACKPAGES
H175 arrives in Australia
BABCOCK AUSTRALIA has shipped
two Airbus Helicopters H175s to
Australia for offshore operations
from Dili in Timor Leste.
The helicopters arrived in Darwin
aboard a chartered Antonov An-124
freighter on November 2017 and are
the first of their type to operate in
Australia. The super medium H175s
will be operated from Dili by Babcock
Offshore Services Australasia on
contract.
Babcock Offshore Services
Australasia Managing Director John
Boag said: ?Babcock?s investment
in two brand-new H175s is a first
for Australia?s aviation industry and
is evidence of our commitment
to growing our mission critical
capabilities. Right across the globe,
Babcock is trusted to deliver highquality services that our clients
expect and we are delighted to
be expanding our footprint in the
region.?
The helicopters will be
reassembled in Darwin by
Babcock engineers before being
flown to Dili. The contract will
commence on January 1, 2018
and the two H175s will provide
personnel transportation, search
Airbus Helicopters/Babcock Australia
and rescue support and medical
evacuation services over the Timor
Sea, 500km (270 nautical miles)
northwest of Darwin.
The company says Airbus
Helicopters has trained 27 pilots
and engineers to operate the new
helicopters and it expects to employ
a further 19 Timorese, including four
local engineers. Boag continued:
?This contract represents a significant
capital investment in aircraft,
infrastructure and training by Babcock
and is the culmination of many
months of planning, preparation and
implementation. Babcock has worked
closely with Airbus to deliver training
to our people on the ground and in
the air that will ensure the safe and
reliable assembly and operation of the
new H175 helicopters for our client.?
Nigel Pittaway
AC312E completes altitude testing
CHINA?S XINHUA news
agency has reported that the
Harbin AC312E helicopter has
completed altitude testing on the
Tibetan Plateau, in the country?s
Yunnan Province.
The testing, concluded in
November, involved the helicopter
operating at altitudes up to
20,670ft (6,300m) and the AC312E
was based at Ninglang Luguhu
airport, itself 10,800ft (3,293m)
above sea level, for the testing
work.
Xinhua reported: ?In addition,
taking off from an airport with an
altitude of 14,763ft (4,500m) and
cruising at an altitude of 16,400ft
(5,000m), the aircraft has reached
a range of 500km (270 nautical
miles) with a 500kg (1,100 lb)
payload.?
Developed by Harbin Aircraft
Industry Group, a subsidiary of
the Aviation Industry Corporation
of China, the AC312E flew for the
first time in July 2016 and Xinhua
reports that it is expected to
receive type certification and begin
deliveries to customers in 2018.
The first customer will be the
China Aero Geophysical Survey
and Remote Sensing Centre,
which announced an order for
a single helicopter at the 11th
China International Aviation and
Aerospace Exhibition at Zhuhai
in November 2016. In September
2017, an order for a further four
aircraft was placed by the Tibet
Development and Investment
Group. Nigel Pittaway
Chinese internet
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Airbus Helicopters/Babcock Australia
Leonardo Airbus Helicopters
notch up sales in the UAE
LEONARDO HELICOPTERS
announced orders for both its
AW139 and AW169 helicopters
during the 2017 Dubai Air Show.
On November 12, the
manufacturer announced that it
will team up with leasing company
Milestone Aviation Group to supply
three AW169s to Falcon Aviation
of Abu Dhabi. The following day,
Leonardo announced it will provide
two additional AW139 helicopters to
Abu Dhabi Aviation (ADA).
The three AW169s destined for
Falcon Aviation will enter service in the
first quarter of 2018 and they represent
the first helicopter lease transaction
for the UAE-based company. Falcon
Aviation already operates two AW169s,
as well as two AW189 and four AW109
Grand and GrandNew helicopters.
Carlo Gualdaroni, Leonardo
Helicopters? Chief Business Officer,
said: ?Falcon Aviation was the global
launch customer for the offshore-
configured AW169 and subsequently
took delivery of a VIP configured
version. We are thrilled the unique
capabilities of this new generation
model have met Falcon?s diverse
operating goals and they have
chosen to increase their fleet to
include 11 Leonardo helicopters.?
The first AW169 delivered to
Falcon Aviation has recently become
the global fleet leader in terms of
flight hours among the 40 of the
type currently in service.
The company also announced
an order for three additional Airbus
Helicopters H160 helicopters at
the Dubai Air Show, expanding its
commitment from the original Letter
of Intent for a VIP version of the
helicopter signed in May 2016.
Captain Raman Oberoi, Chief
Operating Officer of Falcon Aviation,
said: ?We took the decision to
increase our request following a
flight demonstration where we got
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the opportunity to test the H160s
excellent passenger flight experience
first hand. The H160 definitely meets
our demanding standards for VIP
travelling, in terms of comfort.?
The H160 will enter service in the
oil and gas sector in 2019, followed
by the emergency medical services
version in 2021.
ADA signed a contract for the
purchase of three additional AW139
helicopters at the show, with
deliveries expected to occur before
the end of 2017. The helicopters will
be used in the offshore transport role
and will join 15 earlier AW139s in the
ADA fleet.
ADA chairman Nadar Ahmed
Al Hammadi said: ?The services
provided by ADA are driven by
customer?s needs. These helicopters
are widely used in the United
Arab Emirates, the GCC and the
Middle East. The company has
recently expanded its fleet to cover
Leonardo Helicopters
contractual obligations inside and
outside the UAE and to further its
investment in the aviation industry.?
Leonardo said the order is part of
an agreement with ADA announced
at the end of 2015, covering a total
of 15 AW139, AW169 and AW189
helicopters. Deliveries of the 15
helicopters will be undertaken
through to 2019.
The helicopter manufacturer
has sold more than 140 AW139s to
operators in the Middle East and no
fewer than 60 are in service in the
UAE. ADA is the largest commercial
helicopter operator in the Middle
East, operating 16 AW139s, four Bell
206s, 19 Bell 212s and 15 Bell 412s.
ADA also announced at Dubai
that it has been selected by Bell
Helicopter Textron as an authorised
Customer Service Facility for Bell
412s and 212s to support continued
customer growth in the Middle East.
Nigel Pittaway
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Pilatus achieves PC-24 type certification
Pilatus Aircraft Ltd
PILATUS ACHIEVED type
certification for its new PC-24
business jet from the European
Aviation Safety Agency and the US
Federal Aviation Administration
on December 7, clearing the way
ahead for deliveries to begin later in
the month.
Speaking in early December,
Pilatus Chairman Oscar Schwenk
said: ?The PC-24 is the first ever
Pilatus business jet. Naturally, the
requirements associated with
obtaining certification for this sort
of aircraft are extremely rigorous,
and I need hardly mention that
we faced some big challenges. In
2013, we announced that the PC-24
would be ready in 2017, and now,
shortly before the end of the year,
we have achieved exactly that, and
all performance data promised to
our first 84 customers have been
achieved or even exceeded. The
PC-24 delivers a maximum speed
of 440kts [815km/h] compared to
the contractually agreed 425kts
[787km/h], to cite just one example.?
Pilatus officially announced the
twin-engine PC-24 programme in
2013, but the company says that
it had been working on various
concepts for more than a decade
prior to the launch. The first aircraft
(HB-VXA, msn P01) made its maiden
flight from Buochs, adjacent to the
Pilatus facility in Stans, Switzerland,
on May 11, 2015. This event was
followed by the second aircraft (HBVXB, msn P02) in November 2015
and the third (HB-VSA, msn P03) in
March 2017.
Pilatus says that by the beginning
of December the three test aircraft
had accumulated over 2,205 flight
hours in various climatic conditions
from icing conditions to hot and
high testing.
The Swiss aircraft manufacturer
has invested over CHF 500 million in
the PC-24 development programme
and a further CHF 150 million on
facilities and equipment at Stans to
expand series production capability.
The fuselage and wings of the first
production PC-24, for US fractional
aircraft owner PlaneSense, were
joined at Stans in July. PlaneSense
already operates 34 single-engine
PC-12 turboprop aircraft and has six
PC-24s on order.
Another major operator for the
type will be Australia?s Royal Flying
Doctor Service (RFDS), which has
ordered three aircraft (plus one
option) for its operations in Western
Australia and one aircraft (plus one
option) for its operations in South
and Central Australia. The RFDS is
also a major operator of the PC-12.
By early December there were
eight PC-24s on the production
line at Stans and the company says
it is on track to deliver 23 aircraft
to customers around the world in
2018. The first production aircraft
was handed over to PlaneSense in
Switzerland in December, before
being flown to the United States
in January for the official delivery
ceremony.
Schwenk said: ?I?m extremely
proud of my workforce, and
would like to thank Pilatus owners,
the two aviation authorities and
our first 84 PC-24 customers
for their trust and confidence in
myself and my team. This project
involved considerable risk, but
we always believed 100% in our
PC-24 and were prepared to go all
the way to the limits of what we
can reasonably do to ensure its
success. Obtaining certification is
our reward for so many years of
untiring effort.? Nigel Pittaway
Cabin altitude for Legacy 450 and 500
AT THE 2017 Dubai Air Show in
November, Embraer announced
enhancements to its mid-size Legacy
450 and 500 business jets, including
a revised cabin attitude of 5,800ft
(1,768m). The Brazilian aircraft
manufacturer says that the new lower
cabin altitude will make them the best
in their respective classes in this regard.
Embraer says the current maximum
cabin altitude for the two aircraft is 6,000ft
(1,828m) at an aircraft cruising altitude
of 45,000ft (13,716m), representing a
cabin differential pressure of 9.3psi (0.64
bars). This differential pressure will be
increased to 9.73psi (0.67 bars), which
the company says will reduce the cabin
altitude to 5,800ft. It says the Legacy 450
and 500 environmental control systems
will maintain a cabin altitude equivalent to
sea level when the aircraft are flying below
27,050ft (8,245m).
Deliveries of new aircraft with the
increased cabin differential pressure will
begin in the first quarter on 2018 and an
upgrade will also be available for existing
aircraft in the global fleet. Nigel Pittaway
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Challenger milestones, Global 7000 ramp-up
BOMBARDIER ANNOUNCED
on December 6 that two of its
Challenger series of business jets
had notched up significant delivery
milestones in the past few months.
The Montreal-based manufacturer
said that deliveries for its super midsize Challenger 350 had surpassed
200 units and the larger Challenger
650 had achieved the 50th delivery
milestone. In addition, it said that
the Challenger 300 series has now
achieved deliveries in excess of 650,
while the 600 series aircraft is now
approaching the milestone of 1,100
deliveries.
Peter Likoray, Senior Vice
President, Sales and Marketing,
Bombardier Business Aircraft, said:
?Achieving these significant delivery
milestones is a testament to the
unrivalled capabilities of our newest
Challenger aircraft.?
Bombardier is also gearing up
for production of its Global 7000
ultra-long-range business jet, which
is due to enter service during 2018.
Four of the five flight test aircraft
are now flying and deliveries to the
first customers is set to begin in the
second half of the year.
Bombardier
The company inaugurated a
completion centre of excellence for
the new aircraft in November 2017
and is seeking up to 1,000 more
workers in the Montreal area over the
coming 18 months. The company
said that the new CAD 65 million
facility will combine state of the art
production methodology and tools
with a skilled workforce to produce
the Global 7000.
Alain Bellemare, Bombardier?s
President and CEO, said: ?We are so
proud that this meticulous work on
the most advanced business jet in the
world is being done in Montreal. We
have world class expertise right here,
and we want to reach out to that
skilled workforce to help us continue
shaping the future of business
aviation.? Nigel Pittaway
Bombardier
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Enhancing the A321
AIRBUS IS progressing with
final assembly work on the
first A321neo with a new build
standard that enables the type
to carry more passengers and
fly further.
The company has released
an image of the first A321neo
with the changes, D-AVZO (msn
7877), at its Hamburg factory.
Airbus said this aircraft is due
to fly ?in the coming months?
before being delivered to its asyet undisclosed customer in the
second quarter of 2018.
The key aspects of the new
build standard are Airbus Cabin
Flex (ACF) and an option for
additional fuel capacity. The
ACF introduces new door and
fuselage arrangements for the
aircraft, which constitute the
most visible changes to the
variant from previous A321s.
The cabin exit door just ahead
of the wing, known as Door
2, has been removed and four
new upwards-swinging double
emergency over-wing exit doors
have been added. The door just
aft of the wing, Door 3, has been
moved further aft by four fuselage
frames. One pair of the new overwing doors and the relocated Door
3 can be activated or deactivated.
Removing Door 2 and
moving Door 3, Airbus says,
?facilitates for the first time an
uninterrupted seating zone
spanning the entire forward half
of the aircraft, thus enabling
variable business-class sizes
without degrading layout
efficiency?.
Combined with a new higher
maximum take-off weight (MTOW)
of 97,000kg (214,000lb), the
changes mean an A321neo with the
ACF option will have a maximum
capacity of 240 passengers, which
Airbus says will suit operators such
as those in the Asia-Pacific region
flying intraregional services where
there is a high level of passenger
demand.
The ACF is an option for now.
Just before this edition of AIR
International closed for press,
it was announced 50 A321neos
ordered by Qatar Airways for
delivery from 2019 would be
configured with ACF. Airbus
has said ACF will become the
standard cabin configuration for
all A321neos produced from 2020
onwards.
Alongside the ACF option, the
latest A321neo build standard
also introduces an important
change to the underfloor cargo
area: an option to install a third
auxiliary centre tank (ACT) to
extend the aircraft?s range.
Previously, there was provision
in the A321 for up to two
2,992-litre (790 US gallon) ACTs.
Adding a third ACT,
combined with an increased
MTOW of 97,000kg (213,848lb),
will create a total fuel capacity of
32,943 litres (8,702 US gallons).
In this configuration the aircraft
will be known as the A321LR
and it will be the longestrange single-aisle airliner in
production, able to fly 4,000
nautical miles (7,408km) with
206 passengers.
This is the first A321 to have ACF, which removes Door 2 just ahead of the wing and adds new over-wing exit doors. Airbus
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This will be 400 nautical miles
(740km) further than the range of a
baseline (i.e. non-A321LR) A321neo.
For comparison, a baseline
A321neo with two ACTs has a fuel
capacity of 29,822 litres (7,848 US
gallon). Airbus said the three ACTs
on the A321LR are bigger than
the ACTs initially installed on the
A321ceo: the tanks on the A321LR
have 3,121 litres (824 US gallons) of
capacity compared with the 2,992
litres on the A321ceo.
Several airlines have already been
disclosed as A321LR customers.
The Spanish low-cost carrier
Primera Air will be an early operator,
leasing two examples from AerCap.
Its President and Chief Executive
Officer Andri Mar Ingolfsson
believes the A321LR ?will be a
game-changer in the industry?.
All 30 A321neos destined for
the low-cost carrier Norwegian
will be delivered as A321LRs.
Seven A321LRs will be leased
from Air Lease Corporation (ALC)
by the International Airlines
Group and put into service
with Aer Lingus. There are also
commitments for the variant
from Air Astana (which will
lease aircraft from ALC) and TAP
Portugal. The scheduled delivery
date for the first A321LR is the
fourth quarter of 2018.
The new build standard with
ACF and extra tanks marks
the latest step by Airbus in
an ongoing programme of
modifications made to the A320
family in recent years. Capacity
has been increased by six seats
to 189 in the baseline A320ceo
and 214 in the A321ceo, thanks
to the use of the Space-Flex
interior solution, designed to use
previously unoccupied space at
the rear of the cabin. Airbus has
also introduced upgraded fuel
pumps, landing gears and new inflight entertainment connectivity
to the aircraft. Airbus is promising
the A320neo variants will deliver a
20% fuel burn advantage by 2020.
Mark Broadbent
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Boeing presents 777X
flight deck
The resemblance to the 787 is evident from newly released images of the 777X
flight deck. Boeing
BOEING HAS shown CGIs of the flight
deck for the 777X, revealing in full for
the first time the newest Triple Seven
cockpit. The flight deck is dominated
by the five large 15.1-inch (383mm)
Rockwell Collins LCD screens, four of
which are on the main panel with the
fifth on the central stand.
There will be Class 2 electronic
flight bag compatibility and the
overhead control panel will have a
switch to control the wingtip folding
mechanism, which will extend the
wings by 7ft (2.1m) to the full 235ft
5in (71.7m) span for flight prior to
departure and then retract to ensure
ICAO Code E gate compatibility.
The image shows both a close
resemblance to the 787 Dreamliner?s
flight deck to maximise commonality
with the Dreamliner and therefore
make mixed fleet flying possible
for customers, and commonality
with current and legacy 777 flight
decks (for example, the layout of the
overhead panel). Mark Broadbent
A330-800neo progress
Assembly work on the initial Airbus A330-800neo is underway in Toulouse
ahead of its planned mid-2018 first flight. H Gouss�/Airbus
JUST A few weeks after the A330900neo?s first flight, final assembly
work on its sister aircraft, the
A330-800neo, started in Toulouse.
This aircraft, msn 1888, will be
used for the 300 hours of testing
required to certify the A330800neo in addition to the 1,100
hours of certification tests which
the A330-900neo will undertake.
Airbus says the A330-800neo is
?on track? for its planned mid2018 first flight. Certification
and service entry of the variant is
planned for 2019 after the A330900neo hits those milestones next
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year. By December, the A330800neo had only attracted one
order, for six jets from Hawaiian
Airlines, compared to 206 for
A330-900neo.
The A330-800neo is optimised to
carry 257 passengers in three classes
for routes of up to 7,500 nautical
miles (13,890km) with a baseline
242,000kg (533,518lb) maximum
take-off weight (MTOW). Airbus has
five weight variants for the model,
with a 251,000kg (553,360lb) MTOW
extending range capability to 8,150
nautical miles (15,094km).
Mark Broadbent
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Textron launches the SkyCourier
AN ALL-NEW commercial aircraft
will be in the skies later this decade,
the Cessna SkyCourier 408.
This twin-engine, high-wing,
large utility turboprop, launched
late in November 2017 by Textron
Aviation, will be produced in both
cargo and passenger variants.
Cargo carrier FedEx Express is the
launch customer, having signed an
agreement for 50 aircraft plus 50
options. Service entry is planned for
2020.
The SkyCourier 408 has been
designed to address the needs
of operators in high-frequency
markets. The cargo variant will
feature a large 87 x 69-inch
(2.2 x 1.7m) door and a flatfloor cabin with a built-in roller
system. It will be able to carry
three LD3 containers and have
a 6,000lb (2,722kg) maximum
payload capability. In passenger
configuration the SkyCourier 408
will have a maximum payload of
5,000lb (2,268kg) and carry up to
19 passengers. It will feature dual
crew doors and an aft passenger
door to enable efficient boarding
and exit, and large cabin windows to
maximise the amount of natural light
in the cabin. Both configurations will
offer single-point pressure refuelling
to enable fast turnarounds.
The SkyCourier 408 will be
54ft 10in (16m) long, 19ft 9in (6m)
in height and have a 72ft (21m)
wingspan. The aircraft will be
powered by a 1,100shp (820kW)
Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-65SC
with a McCauley Blackmac four-
blade aluminium, auto-feathering
propeller. Maximum cruise speed
will be 200kts (370km/h) and range
900 nautical miles (1,667km) or 400
nautical miles (741km) with a 5,000lb
(2,268kg) payload. Take-off field
length will be 3,300ft (1,006m) and
the service ceiling 25,000ft (7,620m).
The SkyCourier 408 will succeed
the Cessna Caravan as Textron
Aviation?s utility aircraft designed for
high-frequency cargo and passenger
operations. The company?s president
and Chief Executive Officer Scott
Ernest said: ?The aircraft will fill a
gap in this market segment with
its superior performance and low
operating costs in combination
with the cabin flexibility, payload
capability and efficiency only a
clean-sheet design can offer.?
Textron said the SkyCourier
408 had been designed in close
partnership with FedEx, with Ernest
commenting: ?With our depth of
expertise and proven success in
new product development, we were
eager to work directly with a world
class company like FedEx Express
to jointly develop the Cessna
SkyCourier.?
FedEx announcing the SkyCourier
408 purchase came just a few
weeks after it was announced as the
launch customer for the new ATR
72-600 Freighter (see AI December
2017, p6). The purchases are part
of an ongoing fleet modernisation
at FedEx, which with a presence
in more than 220 countries and
territories is the world?s largest
express transportation company.
FedEx Express has ordered up to 100 newly launched Cessna
SkyCourier 408s as it continues a fleet modernisation strategy.
Both the SkyCourier 408s and ATR
72-600Fs will be used in the feeder
role. Feeder aircraft are classed by
FedEx as those with a MTOW below
60,000lb (27,215kg), able to provide
a service to small and mediumsized markets. They complement
the company?s mainline jet fleet,
which comprises Boeing 777Fs,
767Fs, 757Fs, MD-11Fs, MD-10Fs and
Airbus A300Fs and A310Fs. Broadly
speaking, the concept is the main
hubs are fed by the large jets with
the feeders then transporting freight
along the regional spokes of the
network from the hub.
FedEx currently uses more than
300 aircraft in the feeder role, with
most owned by FedEx and leased
and operated by different third-party
companies and operated under their
operating certificates.
FedEx Express President and
Chief Executive Officer David
Cunningham said the SkyCourier
408s would, ?play a key role in
our feeder aircraft modernisation
strategy?, replacing the Caravans the
company has used in the role for
more than 30 years and slotting in
beside the ATR 72-600Fs.
Refleeting with the SkyCourier
408s will enable FedEx to carry
more along the spokes from its
hubs. With its 6,000lb payload, the
cargo variant offers a considerable
step-up in capacity from the
Caravan, which has a 3,070lb
(1,393kg) maximum payload,
according to Textron Aviation?s
specifications for the aircraft. The
SkyCourier 408 being able to carry
LD3s is another significant point,
as the Caravan does not have this
capability and it should mean these
containers can be brought off the
Airbus and Boeing freighters at
the hubs and put straight onto the
SkyCourier 408.
Caravans have been used by
FedEx for more than 30 years and
with the new aircraft the Cessna line
will continue with the company for
years to come. Mark Broadbent
In passenger configuration the
SkyCourier 408 will be able to
seat 19 passengers, with a separate passenger exit door designed
to allow fast turnarounds.
All photos Textron Aviation
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1.5m3)
of cargo space on the main deck. There is a
further 1,540ft3 (43.7m3) of capacity in two
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lower-lobe compartments. Modifications
required to convert a 737-800 into a
freighter include installing a large main-deck
cargo door, a cargo-handling system and
accommodation for up to four non-flying
crew members or passengers.
Alab� told AIR International: ?[The 737800BCF] offers freighter operators newer
technology, lower fuel consumption and
better reliability.? Its higher payload capability
and longer range compared to a converted
737 Classic will, he said, improve cargo
operators? ability to open new markets.
Boeing?s 737-800BCF conversion provides
competition for two separate third-party
products from AEI and IAI Bedek, which both
hold STCs to convert 737-800s.
Miami-based AEI announced its 737-800SF
programme in 2015. The company?s product
sits alongside its other STCs for 737 Classics:
an 11-pallet conversion for the 737-400,
ten-pallet and nine-pallet conversions for
the 737-300 and an eight-pallet option for
the 737-200. AEI also offers eight-pallet and
12-pallet conversions for the Bombardier
CRJ200 and the MD-80 respectively.
The AEI 737-800SF conversion will install
an 86 x 140-inch (2.1 x 3.5m) cargo door on
the left side of the fuselage and modify the
main deck to a Class E cargo compartment
able to carry 11 88 x 125-inch ULD and up
to five supernumerary seats. Compared to
the 52,800lb payload capability of Boeing?s
in-house 737-800BCF, the AEI 737-800SF will
offer a 52,000lb (23,587kg) main deck payload.
The cargo door will be hydraulically operated
and actuated from the inside of the aircraft
by an independent system using hydraulic
pressure drawn from either an electrically
operated hydraulic pump or a manual hand
pump. There will be a reinforced floor, a single
vent door system, cabin windows replaced
with lightweight aluminium window plugs, a 9g
rigid cargo/smoke barrier with a sliding door, a
relocated digital flight data recorder enabling
an 84.5-inch (2.1m) ceiling height throughout
the cargo compartment and stretch-formed
fuselage skins.
The IAI Bedek 737-800 P2F conversion is
the 737-800BDSF, which offers three different
configuration options: 11 88 x 125-inch ULDs
and one 79 x 60.4-inch (2 x 1.5m) ULD; 11 88
x 108-inch ULDs and one 79 x 60.4-inch ULD;
or nine 88 x 125-inch ULDs and one smaller
ULD and a single pallet. The brochure for the
737-800BDSF quotes a 53,000lb (20,040kg)
payload.
The first 737-800SF is due to be delivered
by AEI to the conversion?s launch customer,
GECAS, in 2018. The lessor has ordered 20
conversions from AEI and it is also the launch
customer for Boeing?s 737-800BCF. The
initial 737-800SF, last operated by Corendon
Airlines in Turkey, was handed over by GECAS
to AEI in Miami in May 2016. Altogether, AEI
has secured 80 orders for the 12-pallet 737800SF. The first aircraft from an agreement
with an undisclosed customer, covering
15 aircraft plus 15 options, is due to start
conversion in 2018 for delivery in 2019.
FREIGHTER CONVERSIONS COMMERCIAL
Market trends
In short, there?s a lot of activity in the
conversions market. What explains it? A couple
of trends are coalescing. Despite the choppy
state of the air cargo market in recent years,
the continued expansion in e-commerce ?
reflected by Amazon launching Prime Air ? is
stimulating freighter demand.
This trend isn?t likely to change, Boeing?s
George Alab� told AIR International: ?Increased
demand is projected to continue in the
coming years, as express carriers bolster
regional networks to meet e-commerce and
other time-critical air cargo needs.?
A growing feedstock of aircraft reaching the
end of service as passenger airliners is another
trend driving the P2F market. A time has been
reached in the product life cycle of these
aircraft where their residual values have fallen
to a point where it is cost-effective for asset
owners to convert them to freighters.
These background factors seeem as though
they are set to keep the P2F conversions
market buoyant well into the future, according
to the manufacturers. Boeing?s latest Current
Market Outlook out to 2036 predicts demand
for 1,560 conversions (1,100 single-aisles and
460 widebodies) and Airbus? latest Global
Market Forecast envisages a requirement for
1,224 conversions over the next 20 years.
With this long-term potential it is
little wonder there are set to be further
developments in the market. In August
2017, Precision Aircraft Solutions and Air
Transport Services Group (ATSG) announced
the formation of 321 Precision Conversion
to offer a P2F option for A321-200s. The
new company aims to secure an STC
for its conversion in 2019, which would
obviously create competition for the Airbus/
ST Aerospace/EFW product. Precision and
A view of the interior of the first A330P2F for DHL, which has ordered eight aircraft and has options on ten
more. The A330-300P2F will carry up to 61,000kg (134,500lb) of cargo. Airbus
ATSG already have a decade-long relationship
working on Precision?s Boeing 757-200PCF
freighter and 757-200PCC passenger/
freighter combi conversions.
A further segment of the conversions
market to monitor is the one for larger twinaisle widebodies. Previously converted aircraft
in this size category, such as DC-10s, MD-11s
and Boeing 747s, are ageing, and older 777200 and 777-200ER-series aircraft exiting
passenger operations provide a new business
opportunity to replace those veteran types.
There is a 777-200ER BCF project at the
product development stage ? Boeing?s
marketing material for freighter products
lists a notional aircraft with a capability to
carry 165,346?176,369lb (75,000?80,000kg)
payloads over a 3,900?4,100-nautical mile
(7,200?7,600km) range ? and reports over the
last couple of years say IAI Bedek is looking at
obtaining an STC to convert legacy 777s in the
next few years.
Any Triple Seven conversions in the future
would only underline the vitality of the P2F
market in giving airliners second lives as
freighters. AI
Boeing launched its 737-800BCF conversion for the 737-800 in 2016, with the conversion
providing competition for AEI?s 737-800SF and IAI Bedek?s 737-800BDSF. Boeing
www.airinternational.com | 81
MILITARY CESSNA A-37B DRAGONFLY
A
s a geographically compact nation
with small armed forces, Uruguayan
military doctrine emphasises having
a well-trained, volunteer professional
workforce (no military service is
available) to maximise utilisation of its limited
equipment and material resources. Therefore, if
attacked by a more powerful foe, the country?s
services defensive plan is to strike back in small
packs, attempting to cause maximum attrition
to the enemy, while awaiting assistance from a
friendly nation. Therefore, as part of the Fuerza
A閞ea Uruguaya (FAU or Uruguayan Air Force)
Annual Activity Plan, deployments to operate
its Cessna A-37B Dragonfly attack jets from
remote, small countryside aerodromes and
highways ? far from their main base ? are of
paramount importance.
Strikers on the highway
The FAU?s A-37Bs are Uruguay?s main strike
asset and are assigned to the Escuadr髇
A閞eo No.2 (Caza) (Air Squadron No.2/
Fighters) based at the 2do. Mario Walter
Parallada Air Base, the home station of
Brigada A閞ea No.2 (Air Brigade No.2) near the
town of Durazno in central Uruguay, 190km
(120 miles) north of the capital Montevideo.
The latest highway deployment was carried
out between November 6 and 10, 2017, on
Ruta Nacional (National Road) No.9, running
parallel to the Atlantic Ocean in the eastern
province of Rocha, just 28km (17 miles) from
the Brazilian border.
At road marker 306, located 306km (190
miles) east of downtown Montevideo, is a
6,500ft (2,000m) stretch of highway marked
as 03-21. A wide circular hardstand at either
end of the runway is available for aircraft to
park. Aircraft involved were A-37Bs FAU 279
(c/n 43304, former US Air Force serial number
70-1289) and FAU 282 (c/n 43267, former US
Air Force serial number 69-6422).
The detachment, comprising 70
personnel that included ten pilots and 30
Highwaymen
Ernesto Blanco Calcagno reports from a roadside where the
Uruguayan Air Force deployed A-37B Dragonfly jets
82 | www.airinternational.com
CESSNA A-37B DRAGONFLY MILITARY
non-commissioned officers in charge of
maintenance, refuelling, communications,
logistics, firefighting and security, was led
by Major (Av) Richard Bruno, the squadron
commander. Av stands for Aviador (Aviator).
On the first and last day of the detachment,
air transportation of equipment and personnel
was provided by a CASA C212 Aviocar from
Escuadr髇 A閞eo No.3 (Transporte) (Air
Squadron No.3/Transport) based at Montevideo,
home station of Brigada A閞ea No.1 (Air
Brigade No.1). Liaison duties were carried
out by a Cessna C206H from Escuadrilla de
Enlace (Liaison Squadron) from Brigada A閞ea
No.3 based at Boiso Lanza Air Base, the FAU?s
headquarters north of Montevideo.
Highway closures
Three missions were flown each day with the
assistance of the Polic韆 Nacional de Tr醤sito
(National Transit Police) during ground operations.
Police officers closed the highway to passing cars
and observers for approximately 15 minutes.
ABOVE: After missions, the A-37Bs parked on a circular hardstand at the east end of the runway. All pilots flew
without squadron patches on their flight suits and carried their service issued 9mm pistols.
MAIN PICTURE: Dragonfly FAU 282 lifts off from Ruta 9. Adjacent to the road, in the background,
is the squadron?s communications hut. All Images by Gerardo Tajes
www.airinternational.com | 83
MILITARY CESSNA A-37B DRAGONFLY
A technician refuels one of the
A-37B?s wing tip 75 imperial
gallon tanks over the wing.
To ensure safe flight operations, personnel
conducted a road sweep by car, inspecting it
for debris before every take-off and landing.
Air traffic control service was carried out
from a hut positioned parallel to the road,
with VHF radio equipment supplied by the
FAU?s Servicio de Comunicaci髇 e Inform醫ica
(Communication and IT Service). During each
mission, the A-37s were under the control
of the FAU?s Centro de Operaciones A閞eas
(COA or Air Operations Centre) located at
Boiso Lanza Air Base. The COA uses data
received from two ARSR-3D(M) Lanza radar
units built by Indra Sistemas of Spain; a
mobile unit is positioned around the country
as required, and a fixed unit located at Santa
Clara de Olimar, northwest of Rocha. Lanza
is a state-of-the-art system, and part of the
FAU?s Sistema de Vigilancia y Control del
Espacio A閞eo (Air Control and Surveillance
System) that communicates and transmits
data (including meteorological information)
via HF/GPRS and fibre-optics, assisted by the
installation of eight communications relay
stations, across the country. The FAU?s old
and soon to be retired Dragonflies are not
equipped with a digital datalink.
Mission details
Sorties lasted for approximately one hour
each, starting with low-level navigation
(below 1,000ft) towards nearby designated
fixed ground targets. Simulated attacks and
close air support missions were conducted
with the Ej閞cito Nacional Uruguayo?s
(Uruguayan National Army) Batall髇 de
Infanter韆 Mecanizada No.12 (Mechanised
Infantry Battalion No.12) based at Rocha.
Battalion No.12 deployed to an area west of
the port town of La Paloma 97km (60 miles)
west of the highway strip at marker 306,
where the unit used MOWAG Grizzly generalpurpose armoured vehicles as targets for the
A-37s.
For these combined exercises, Escuadr髇 2
nominated a forward air controller, a combatqualified A-37 pilot, who in radio contact from
the ground ? and knowledgeable about the
aircraft performance and weapons delivery
envelope ? provided target information and
talk-on to the attacking aircraft.
The Army also provided its own zone
controller trained by the Escuadr髇 de Vuelo
Avanzado (EVA or Advanced Flying Squadron)
based in Durazno, who is the only officer
MIDDLE: An FAU UH-1H Huey approaches to land with a C212 Aviocar parked on
the circular section of the road also used by the Dragonflies to park overnight.
BELOW: A-37B FAU 279 flares prior to landing on Ruta Nacional No. 9.
84 | www.airinternational.com
who can guide the A-37s based on his or her
training on the jet?s full performance facts.
Interceptions and air combat manoeuvring
were undertaken between the two A-37s;
previously, the adversary was provided by an
IA-58A Pucar� twin turboprop.
SAR and combat SAR (CSAR) support for the
A-37 deployment was provided by the FAU?s
Escuadr髇 A閞eo No.5 (helic髉teros) (Air
Squadron No.5/Helicopters) with a Bell 212
Twin Huey and a Bell UH-1H Huey. Downed
pilot simulations were also conducted near
La Paloma, involving an A-37 pilot, who after
bailing out had to walk to a secure location
to be picked up by friendly forces from a safe
landing zone selected by the pilot.
Escuadr髇 5 has conducted overseas UN
missions in Ethiopia, Eritrea and presently the
Democratic Republic of Congo with ample
experience of SAR and CSAR tasking.
The operations were performed with a
minimum of two aircraft, the Bell 212 used to
collect the pilot and the Huey as a gunship
escort, armed with two 7.62mm or .50 guns
on either side.
CESSNA A-37B DRAGONFLY MILITARY
Overhead, the Dragonflies conducted
defensive air patrols, in a racetrack pattern;
however, the pattern and heading could
change if a ground threat towards the jets
was detected or to avoid disclosure of the
probable helicopters position to an enemy
ground observer. Once in contact with the
downed pilot, the para-jumpers on board
the Twin Huey used isolated personal
report (ISOPREP) protocol to verify the
pilot. The report, completed by all military
personnel before deployment to potential
hostile areas, contains full personal details
and four self-generated secret questions,
which have to be answered correctly
whilst being rescued. CSAR crew carry the
downed pilot?s ISOPREP details to ensure
they collect a friend and not a foe. Failure
to reply correctly requires the pilot to be
handcuffed and taken back to base for
interrogation.
In all, 30 hours were flown by the A-37s.
Major Bruno told AIR International he
was satisfied with the safe and successful
completion of the deployment.
A-37B FAU 279 seen on short finals to runway 03 on Ruta 9. Pilots new
to highway operations, were made aware of the possibility of turbulence
created because of the close proximity of a nearby forest.
have taken place between FAU personnel
and Martin-Baker Argentina to assess the
possibility of retrofitting the fleet with a new
ejection seat. The British firm is offering a
replacement seat based on the one utilised
on the Embraer Tucano fleet. The company
claims considerable weight savings and
conversion costs, easier maintenance and
improved performance when compared
to the old seat. Of note is the possibility
of through-the-canopy ejection at zero
altitude, within a speed range of 70 to
430kts, a far safer ejection envelope than the
Dragonfly possesses now, requiring speed
and height before bailing out.
Pilots from Escuadr髇 2 and 1 (the latter is
now stood down since the Pucar� fleet was
withdrawn from service and its pilots keep
current by flying PC-7Us) visited Nanchang
in China in August 2016, to assess and fly the
Hongdu L-15B lead-in fighter trainer jet. The
aircraft has a passive electronically scanned
array radar, IFF, ECM and radar warning
receivers. Uruguay?s main air threat comes
from illicit flights crossing the country to and
Pilots new to the Dragonfly flew initial
missions with instructors to familiarise
themselves with the highway, narrower than
a standard runway, and local conditions like
strong turbulence generated by the prevailing
Atlantic sea breeze striking a forest south
of the road. On later missions, the new
pilots operated as aircraft commander with
minimum supervision.
Escuadr髇 2 maintenance engineers
(Aerot閏nicos) perform wonders to keep
the Dragonfly fleet flying 41 years after the
arrival of the first batch of eight aircraft
in 1976. Of great concern is the soon to
be depleted stock of Weber ejection seat
cartridges. There is no supply chain; seat
production has long stopped, and the
current stock of cartridges is estimated to
run out in 2018.
from its neighbours Brazil and Argentina, so
Escuadr髇 2?s main role is aerial policing.
Without the Pucar� amongst its ranks ? a
type often tasked with intercepting lowperformance illicit aircraft ? and with
a handful of Swiss-built armed Pilatus
PC-7U turbo trainers in service, the ancient
Dragonfly fleet is stretched to its limits
for such tasking. FAU high command has
insisted that if new aircraft are purchased for
its fighter/attack squadrons they must have
a radar, seen by pilots as a substantial tool
during the final moments on air interception
whilst approaching a target, following the
initial guidance and vectors to the target
provided by the Lanza 3D radars of the AOC.
The FAU requires eight to 12 jets to replace
the Dragonfly, and possibly the Pucar�,
unifying Escuadr髇 2 and 1 into a single
fighter attack unit. Acquisition of a high-tech
aircraft will represent a major technological
step forward and be a perfect partner to the
Lanza 3D radars that are to be upgraded
during 2018, finally bringing the FAU into the
21st Century. AI
A-37B FAU 279 ready to go with green air inlet screens
for the GE J-85-17A turbojet engines爁itted to prevent the
possibility of debris ingestion on the unprepared runway.
What?s next?
The political establishment in Uruguay has
shown no indication or interest in procuring
replacement aircraft to modernise the FAU
fleet. In view of this attitude, recent meetings
www.airinternational.com | 85
COMMERCIAL INTERCARIBBEAN AIRWAYS
Connecting th
Chris Kjelgaard reports on
interCaribbean Airways?
efforts to grow a hub in the
Turks and Caicos Islands
providing convenient
connections between
many Caribbean countries
? and on interCaribbean?s
relief-flying and networkrebuilding activities in the
wake of hurricanes Irma
and Maria
I
t might seem unlikely that an air taxi
company operating a single Cessna
light aircraft for on-demand services
linking the three airports in the Turks and
Caicos Islands could grow to become a
vitally important regional carrier linking most
countries in the northern, western and eastern
parts of the Caribbean region. But in the space
of 25 years a carrier that began flight operations
on February 6, 1992 as InterIsland Airways and
has subsequently seen two name changes ?
first to Air Turks and Caicos in 2003 and then
in 2013 to interCaribbean Airways ? has done
just that.
Today the air taxi service founded in 1991 by
Lyndon Gardiner, who remains interCaribbean
Airways? owner and chairman, is not only the
EMB 120RT Brasilias on the hard stand ahead of the next flight.
All photos interCaribbean Airways
86 | www.airinternational.com
national carrier of the Turks and Caicos Islands,
the total population of which is about 35,000
people. In a month?s time the fast-growing
regional airline will be serving 22 destinations
in 12 countries in the western, northern and
eastern Caribbean with a fleet of 13 turboprop
regional aircraft and several regional jets.
The largest aircraft in the fleet ? and also
interCaribbean?s main workhorse ? is the
Embraer EMB 120 Brasilia, of which the carrier
operates seven in standard 30-seat airline
configuration and one in 18-seat corporate
charter configuration. It also operates two 19seat de Havilland Canada Twin Otter 300s, one
15-seat Beech 99, one 10-seat Britten-Norman
Islander and one seven-seat Beech 200 Super
King Air.
INTERCARIBBEAN AIRWAYS COMMERCIAL
the Caribbean
Even though interCaribbean Airways?
network now extends from Havana in the
west to Nassau to the north and Antigua to
the east, connecting most major Caribbean
nations and territories in between, the carrier
is about to get a lot bigger in terms of both
network reach and fleet size. At the Caribbean
Aviation Meetup conference in Sint Maarten
last June, interCaribbean?s CEO Trevor
Sadler ? who joined the airline in 2013 and
with Gardiner instituted its latest rebranding
and expanded regional focus ? revealed that
interCaribbean would soon announce five
new destinations in the Eastern Caribbean and
that, along with more Brasilias, it would begin
adding 50-seat Embraer ERJ-145 regional jets
to expand its fleet and network.
Sadler also revealed that interCaribbean
Airways was in talks with eight airports in
Florida and other states in the Southern
United States with the aim of adding some
or all of them as new destinations. While
he declined to name any of these airports,
Sadler later told AIR International, ?What
I can say is that we focus on cities that
do not have Caribbean services but may
support traffic to one or many Caribbean
points.?
Should interCaribbean add any airports
in Florida or other southern US states
to its network, these would become
the first destinations in the mainland
United States served by the fast-growing
regional carrier. (However, interCaribbean
does already serve San Juan in the US
dependency of Puerto Rico, the largest
international gateway airport in the
northern Caribbean.)
Irma and Maria disrupt
interCaribbean?s plans
At the Caribbean Aviation Meetup, Sadler
said interCaribbean?s short-term aim was to
connect more of the Western Caribbean with
the Eastern Caribbean. Although he didn?t
name interCaribbean?s five planned new
destinations at the event, Sadler subsequently
revealed to AIR International that they were
Dominica, Saint Lucia, Sint Maarten and the
two largest islands in the US Virgin Islands,
Saint Croix and Saint Thomas.
www.airinternational.com | 87
COMMERCIAL INTERCARIBBEAN AIRWAYS
INTERCARIBBEAN AIRWAYS?
PLANNED DESTINATIONS AS
OF FEBRUARY 2018
Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua: V.C. Bird International Airport
The Bahamas
Nassau: Lynden Pindling International Airport
British Virgin Islands
Tortola: Terrance B. Lettsome International
Airport
Cuba
Havana: Jos� Mart� International Airport
Santiago de Cuba: Antonio Maceo Airport
Dominica
Douglas?Charles Airport
Dominican Republic
Puerto Plata: Gregorio Luperon International
Airport
Santiago de los Caballeros: Cibao International
Airport
Santo Domingo: Las Americas International
Airport
Haiti
Cap-Ha飔ien: Cap-Ha飔ien International Airport
Port-au-Prince: Toussaint Louverture
International Airport
Jamaica
Kingston: Norman Manley International Airport
Montego Bay: Sangster International Airport
Puerto Rico
San Juan: Luis Mu駉z Mar韓 International
Airport
Saint Lucia
Hewanorra International Airport
Saint Martin (containing Saint-Martin and Sint
Maarten)
Sint Maarten: Princess Juliana International
Airport
Turks and Caicos Islands
Grand Turk Island: JAGS McCartney
International Airport
Providenciales: Providenciales International
Airport
South Caicos: South Caicos Airport
US Virgin Islands
Saint Croix: Henry E. Rohlsen Airport
Saint Thomas: Cyril E. King International Airport
88 | www.airinternational.com
However, interCaribbean?s plans to launch
service to the five destinations in the autumn
of 2017 were dramatically disrupted when in
September hurricanes Irma and Maria, two of
the most powerful and catastrophic Atlantic
hurricanes in history, whirled through much of
the northern Caribbean, devastating many of
the islands the carrier served ? including the
Turks and Caicos Islands, which is home to
interCaribbean Airways.
?The hurricanes impacted our business,
perhaps in a way like no other airline,?
Sadler told AIR International. ?Ten of the
22 destinations we were going to serve
from November 1 were impacted by the
back-to-back hurricanes. Perhaps it is
unprecedented for an airline to see that 50%
of its destinations could not be served. We
are trying to rebuild back.?
By late November, interCaribbean?s main
hub at Providenciales International Airport on
Providenciales (commonly known as ?Provo?
and the most-populated island in the Turks
and Caicos) was back in business, but ?there
is some softening of the demand that is, in
part, tied to the local point-to-point traffic?,
said Sadler. He explained that ?because of
the hurricanes, many travellers or workers
at resorts have been laid off for two to three
months. This impacts the in-and-out demand
in that slice of our business.? While ?this is
beginning to build back up for Provo, our
domestic services are softer as a result of
the decimation of personal homes and hotel
resorts on Grand Turk and South Caicos
islands.?
Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, a major
destination for interCaribbean, saw terrible
devastation and commercial air service to
and from Tortola was suspended for several
weeks. ?Tortola was hit very badly,? said
Sadler. ?The airport was closed for about three
weeks to commercial traffic, with the airport
perimeter fence down, the terminal damaged
and the tower damaged too. The impact
was felt further in the basics ? there was no
power and no internet and no phones were
working. The airport was rather off the grid.
In the early stages, our handling-company
team [Platinumport] could only communicate
with us from a phone in the town. With all
scheduled flights cancelled, once there was
communication we recognised there was a
need for relief flights.?
InterCaribbean?s post-hurricane
relief flying
What interCaribbean Airways then did to
organize and operate relief flights to and from
Tortola provides a dramatic tale of ingenuity,
resourcefulness and government-agency
cooperation in helping relief agencies get
to Tortola to provide assistance and aiding
tourists and newly homeless residents leave
the British Virgin Islands.
?Relief flying was both in and out of
Tortola,? said Sadler. ?We provided a series of
relief flights for various governments and relief
agencies who came to the rescue to help in
any they could. We recognised there was a
need for flights for people in Tortola and the
[British Virgin] islands wanting to leave, either
tourists who had stayed during the hurricanes,
or residents whose businesses or buildings
were wiped out. Although the need was clear,
there was no power, no internet and very little
in the way of a working phone, and so the
challenge wa
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