RAF Marham Will Be Home to the UK’s F-35s

Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond has announced that the future Joint Strike Fighter, the F-35, will be stationed at the base.

The announcement confirms the future of the Norfolk base until at least 2040 and secures up to 5,000 more jobs for the area. RAF Marham will serve as a joint base for the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy aircraft and will be responsible for support and maintenance of both land-based and aircraft carrier F-35s.

“This is extremely good news for this station, extremely good news for this community and extremely good news for the RAF and Royal Navy,” Mr Hammond said. “I know you will share with me the excitement of having the world’s most advanced fighter aircraft based here and operating from here.”

MOD Concludes Flight Trials

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) and its industry partners have concluded a flight trial to test and demonstrate an integrated defensive aids system (DAS) “open architecture”.

This “open architecture” enables aircraft sensors and countermeasures to be fitted to aircraft more easily, allowing rapid enhancement to the protection of front-line aircraft, against future, more challenging threats, in a more agile and cost effective manner through-life.

The Common Defensive Aids System (CDAS) Technology Demonstrator Programme (TDP) is a £24 million, three year partnership between MOD and an industry team led by Selex ES, comprising Thales and QinetiQ, from the UK, and BAE Systems North America.

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), a trading fund of the MOD, has facilitated a series of tests using a ground-based advanced multi-axis motion platform and a Lynx helicopter from the Army Air Corps Development and Trials (D&T) Squadron.

Integrated defensive aids systems (DAS) consist of three parts; sensors, which identify the threat, effectors, which employ appropriate countermeasures to defeat that threat, for example flare or chaff deployment and a DAS controller (DASC) to provide the intelligent processing.

For the flight trial, carried out on the Salisbury Plain training area, the team was testing the architecture which has integrated infra-red, laser, ultraviolet sensors and a compact directed infra-red countermeasure (CDIRCM) effector. The equipment and data analysis capability was provided by industrial partners Thales, BAE Systems, QinetiQ and Selex ES.

The aim is to establish how the different components can be better integrated, providing a coherent approach across different aircraft types. Historically, the sensors and effectors used different, proprietary interfaces to communicate. The TDP has developed a common interface through which they can all communicate, providing greater flexibility.

Rather unusually, the film industry has also helped with these trials. Scientists and engineers wanted to capture flight data to show the response of sensors and effectors while an aircraft was moving. However, due to the difficulty and cost of using real flight trials to obtain the necessary data, the team developed a novel approach to testing by using an advanced multi-axis platform developed for the film industry by visual effects company, VFX.

The London-based company developed a six-motion axis table, which was used in the Golden Compass film to replicate the movement of a polar bear. By reprogramming the table, VFX was able to mimic the movement of an aircraft while Dstl scientists stimulated sensors at representative ranges. This resulted in numerous hours of test data being produced which has been used to develop the system and de-risk the latest round of flight trials. A standardised test-bed for Integrated DAS has also been developed with potential application to other defence projects.

Barry Knight, of Dstl’s Sensors and Countermeasures Department, says the axis table provided Dstl with a unique opportunity: “The motion table provided a middle-ground between lab-based trials and real aircraft trials. As a result, we were able to identify motion based issues prior to flight trials, hence saving time and money.”

Industry has played a key part in these trials, with Selex ES leading the Industry team as Prime partner. Pete Forrest, Vice President EW Marketing and Sales at Selex ES’s Airborne and Space Systems Division pointed to the team focus that has been demonstrated throughout the three year TDP. “The CDAS TDP has provided Selex ES and its industry partners with a unique opportunity to contribute towards the enhancement of DAS integration and intelligence for UK MOD platforms. Government and Industry team members have combined to support one another in pursuit of TDP aims, further motivated by the knowledge that their efforts will improve the survivability of vital air assets.”

The project team is now analysing the flight data, and Dstl is also considering how these systems can be used for other defence benefits, such as land and maritime projects.

Dambusters formation celebrated

To mark 70 years since the formation of the RAF’s 617 Squadron, known as the Dambusters, TV historian and presenter Dan Snow formally unveiled commemorative tail art on an RAF Tornado GR4 at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire on March 21.

Speaking about the anniversary, Dan said “In early 1943 you had no chance of hitting anything precisely – as a result the bombers concentrated on hitting large areas of cities. What 617 Squadron did is prove that precise bombing was possible – dams, ships, canals, that sort of thing. They were very ahead of their time, and that’s the job they’re still doing today – precision bombing.”

When asked about the true impact of the raid on May 16/17 1943, Dan said “Some people blame the raid for not ending the war in a night! But it had a massive impact, disrupting industry in Germany and stopping the production of tanks and planes. The heroism and sheer bravery of the crews was exemplified by Wg Cdr Guy Gibson, who realised how heavy the defences were and rather than circle safely above flew alongside other aircraft attacking the dams to draw fire away from them. Quite unbelievable bravery.

“Although I’m a generalist in history I love preparing for events such as this. The Dambusters is something you could spend a whole lifetime researching – the richness, the variety of the accounts – being involved is just a huge privilege. It’s a great story from the past. I’ve already met one of the three survivors, Johnny Johnson, and am hoping to meet the other two in May. Meeting veterans is always very special, be it from the war or Helmand today.”

Dan will be presenting a BBC programme on the night of the 70th anniversary in May, and as part of the pre-show preparation took a flight in the specially marked Tornado. “It’s not my first fast jet ride,” he said – “I have flown in a Typhoon – but it’s my first low-level flight.” After the 90-minute trip, Dan exclaimed: “It was absolutely thrilling – we went low level and it was brilliant to experience such excellent RAF flying skills. It was a great day for it, beautiful weather and there was some amazing scenery! We flew at low level over the Derwent Dam, and I was able to appreciate how difficult a task and how accomplished the airmen of that era were. Their modern day counterparts are equally as impressive, being able to get to exactly the right point in space, at the right speed and height.”

Dan’s pilot for the day, Squadron Leader Mark Jackson, said “It is an immense privilege to be on 617 Squadron. I’m proud to be here today, on such an important occasion and to be able to demonstrate the modern day capabilities of the squadron, following in the footsteps of our RAF forefathers.” Another presentation of the aircraft was made the following day at the squadron’s home base of RAF Lossiemouth in Moray.

For a full feature on 617 Squadron today look out for the June issue of AirForces Monthly, on sale May 16.

Last Flight of Final Royal Air Force VC10 K4

Arriving at Bruntingthorpe Airfield, Leiceistershire, today from RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, one day later than originally planned, was BAC VC10 K4 ZD241 ‘N’, the last remaining example of this variant in Royal Air Force service.

The aircraft will now be dismantled and scrapped. Only five K4 variants were delivered to the RAF, all being converted from former British Airways aircraft that were purchased by the RAF. The other four K4s have already been scrapped.

This was the second RAF VC10 to arrive at Bruntingthorpe for scrapping this week, following the arrival of K3 ZA149 ‘H’ on Monday, March 18, as previously reported. Although the VC10′s replacement, the Voyager, has yet to become fully operational with the RAF, these two retirements now leave the RAF’s 101 Squadron with just four VC10 tankers remaining in service.

These comprise C1K XR808 ‘R’, plus K3s ZA147 ‘F’, ZA148 ‘G’ and ZA150 ‘J’. Of these, ZA150 has recently been deployed to Mount Pleasant in the Falkland Islands to operate with 1312 Flight, replacing ZD241, which returned home just before being flown to Bruntingthorpe today.

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Delays in the Voyager programme have led to the service life of the VC10 being extended beyond its previously planned retirement date, which had been due to be by the end of this month. However, its stay of execution will only be brief, as the revised out of service date is still only six months away, in September 2013, by which time all four of the remaining aircraft are to be retired.

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Keeping it in the family

Rod Dean. Pilot, parent, passenger. AFM witnessed a historic event of 50 years of flying.

ON MARCH 19, 1963, an 18 year old Rod Dean took to the sky for the first time in a Jet Provost. Fifty years later to the day, and at the same base, RAF Leeming, Rod was taken up by his son Flight Lieutenant Duncan Dean in a Hawk T.1.

The route took them low level above Wensleydale, a training sortie for new pilots to the squadron, then over to the Lake District and back to the Leeming overhead for general handling. Flt Lt Dean said he had been given permission to let his father take over for a short while. “The beauty of the hawk is that it’s designed as a training aircraft. They have dual controls, so Dad can fly the aircraft and I can take back the controls at any time.”

Rod, now 68, joined the RAF in 1962 as an 18 year old. The following year, he flew his first jet flight in a Jet Provost from RAF Leeming. “When I first started here, the pan was full of Jet Provosts and the place was humming. I did one trip in the morning with my instructor, to make sure I was safe to go off on my own, and then I went up and did fifteen minutes in the circuit. Great fun.”

[img src=5259 align=left]Throughout his flying career, Rod was a weapons and flying instructor on Hunters, Hawks and Jaguars. “My favourite jet to fly was definitely the Hunter. Such a beautiful aircraft to fly and to look at.” He served in Aden, Bahrain, Germany and Oman. He is now the Flying Display Director at the Shoreham Airshow and regularly flies light aircraft.

Duncan has recently completed a three year tour with the Royal Danish Air Force. Whilst on the tour he flew the F-16, which coincidentally is Rod’s dream jet to fly. Duncan said: “The F-16 is not as capable as typhoon, but it sure is a good looking jet.” Flt Lt Dean has also flown the Tornado F.3 and completed tours of the Falklands and Libya. His dream aircraft to fly would be the aircraft his Dad has spent a lot of his post RAF time flying, a Spitfire.

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Rod took Duncan for his first flight in a Cessna when he was just six years old. “When I was ten, Dad and I took a Messerschmitt bf 108 to Sweden for a week. I was basically the baggage handler, washed the plane and cranked the wheels up and down. It was great fun.” Flt Lt Dean, 37, explained that flying was the only career for him. “There was no other job I wanted to do. If I didn’t get into the RAF, then I had no idea what to do. I grew up around aviation and knew that’s what I had to do.”

The RAF and station commander at RAF Leeming realised the historical importance of the day and agreed to allow Rod to fly with his son to celebrate the event. Duncan said: “I’m very proud and it’s an excellent way for me to pay him back for all of the flying he’s given me over the years.” It was the first time Duncan had flown his Dad in a jet as he was usually the passenger. “Flying with my son today is one of the highlights of my flying career.” Rod said proudly.

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Another RAF VC10 Flies into Retirement

An additional Royal Air Force/101 Squadron VC10 K3 made its final flight today, when ZA149 ‘H’ departed from RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, for the final time.

After a flyover at Birmingham International Airport, ZA149 arrived over Bruntingthorpe Airfield, Leicestershire, at 1335 and made two passes before performing a go-around. The VC10 K3 finally landing ten minutes after she had first arrived at the airfield. The aircraft was flown to Bruntingthorpe for scrapping.

A second VC10, the sole remaining airworthy K4, ZD241 ‘N’, is scheduled to follow it to Bruntingthorpe on Wednesday, March 20, to meet the same fate.

This will leave just four of the type still operational with 101 Squadron at Brize, comprising C1K XR808 ‘R’, plus K3s ZA147 ‘F’, ZA148 ‘G’ and ZA150 ‘J’. All are scheduled to be retired by September 2013, the revised official out-of-service date for the type.

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Avalon airshow 2013

Norman Long attended the Australian International Airshow at Avalon Airport in Victoria to capture the action for AirForces Monthly and Key.aero.

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Typhoon joins Danish Fighter Competition

The Danish Air Force has re-opened a competition to select a fighter to replace its fleet of F-16’s.

Eurofighter will be one of four aerospace companies who will be competing for the contract to replace the Danish F-16’s. Other candidates include Lockheed Martin with the JSF, Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet and the Saab’s Gripen.

The competition that was cancelled in 2010 due to financial pressures.

The evaluation process and final recommendation will reportedly be ready at the end of 2015. Denmark originally sought to acquire 48 fighters, although the number has been reduced to approximately 30 aircraft.

MQ-8Cs for U.S. Navy

The U.S. Navy has awarded Northrop Grumman a contract to produce six additional Fire Scout unmanned helicopters.

The deal is valued at more than $71 million.

The Fire Scout endurance upgrade, designated the MQ-8C is based on Bell 407 and will provide ship commanders with increased range, endurance and payload capacity over the current MQ-8B variant.

The Navy plans to purchase a total of 30 aircraft under a rapid development effort. Northrop Grumman is currently under contract to produce 14 Fire Scouts that are scheduled to begin deploying in 2014.

Manufacturing and assembly operations of the new Fire Scout variant are well under way across the country, with airframe modifications being made at Bell’s facility in Ozark, Alabama. Final assembly being completed at Northrop Grumman’s Unmanned Systems Center in Moss Point, Mississippi.

First Ever AirForces Monthly Issue

AirForces Monthly Issue 001 is now available for you to download electronically.

The first issue of AirForces Monthly came out in April 1988 and April 2013 marks 25 years of the magazine.

AFM has changed dramatically since Issue 1. The magazine now contains 100 pages, whereas the first issue only had 64. All photos are now in colour and news is up-to-date from all corners of the globe.

We have scanned the magazine from cover-to-cover and is now available for download. The file is almost 16Mb, so it might take non-broadband users a while to download.

If you have any issues downloading the PDF, please do let us know.

Thank you