Operation Ignition Ends

A Task Force of 160 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) personnel from across Canada, with six CF-18 Hornets from 3 Wing Bagotville, Quebec and supported by a CC-150 Polaris tanker from 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario have completed their mission to Keflavik, Iceland.

This deployment to patrol Iceland’s airspace was the second under a CAF periodic initiative named Operation Ignition.

The operation supports the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) mission – Airborne Surveillance and Interception Capabilities to Meet Iceland’s Peacetime Preparedness. The first deployment of NATO aircraft in support of NATO’s Iceland mission took place in May 2008.

Over the course of the deployment, Task Force Iceland successfully completed 112 sorties in and around Icelandic airspace.

Some aircraft and personnel returned to Canada over the weekend while the remainder will fly home over the coming days.

RAF takes delivery of BAE 146 C.MK 3

BAE Systems Regional Aircraft has delivered two BAe 146-200QC (Quick Change) aircraft that have been converted from commercial to military configuration for use by the Royal Air Force.

After a period of familiarisation and operational trials, both aircraft have now been declared as Released To Service (RTS) by the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence.

The two aircraft have been converted under a £15.5 million contract awarded to BAE Systems Regional Aircraft at Prestwick under an Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR) to augment tactical aircraft numbers during the upcoming extraction phase of Operation Herrick, the current Afghanistan campaign.

BAE Systems has been responsible for the design and integration of the equipment to be fitted to the aircraft, the sourcing of the equipment and management of the supply chain and overall management of the conversion programme. The actual conversion was carried out at the Hawker Beechcraft Services, Chester facility under sub-contract to BAE Systems.

Among the military equipments fitted are a Defensive Aids System to enable these UOR aircraft to be protected to appropriate levels, at least equivalent to other UK aircraft operating in Afghanistan. Also installed is a Successor Identification Friend or Foe (SIFF) system.

A number of other upgrades have also been installed including HF and UHF radio communications systems and a SATCOM satellite communications system. An armoured flight deck has been incorporated along with fuel tank inertion, air conditioning upgrades and a fire protection D-C system in the baggage bay.

The BAe 146 C Mk.3 is equipped with a large 131 inch wide and 76 inch high (3.33m x1.93m) rear upward-opening freight door giving a large aperture for the easy loading of pallets, containers and awkwardly-shaped cargo. The large cabin volume of the aircraft will allow up to 23,500 lbs (10.6 tonnes) of freight to be carried.

The cabin floor of the aircraft has a freight loading system which allows either palletised freight or passenger seating fixed to pallets to be rapidly installed. The passenger layout of 94 seats is to full commercial aircraft standards with interior trim, carpeting, toilet and galleys available front and rear and overhead passenger service units for each seat row and overhead luggage bins. There are also two large underfloor baggage holds.

When installed on the aircraft this gives an alternative layout of 54 seats and a significant amount of carry-on baggage allowance in storage containers that can carry Bergens and other bags. The containers and their associated pallet are fork-liftable, even when loaded to their maximum weight, thus aiding rapid turnaround.

BAE Systems has also cleared a palletised freight layout for use on these aircraft, rather than the usual BAe 146QC freight igloos, to allow easier transhipment of loads between differing aircraft types in the RAF transport fleet.

Both aircraft are assigned to the RAF’s 32 (The Royal) Squadron which already operates two BAe 146 CC Mk 2 aircraft, primarily in the VIP transport role from RAF Northolt in north-west London.

1st Flight of Newest UK Chinook

Boeing recently completed the first flight of the CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopter for the Royal Air Force.

The March 15 flight, at the Boeing helicopter facility near Philadelphia, happened ahead of schedule and confirmed initial airworthiness for the Mk6 Chinook.

“This is a truly impressive achievement for both Boeing and the project team,” said Capt. David Childs, Chinook Team Leader, UK Defence Equipment & Support. “To see the first aircraft fly less than 20 months after contract signature is a source of great pride for all those involved in this key project.”

The Mk6 Chinook features UK-specific avionics, a forward-looking infrared system, and interoperable communication and navigation equipment. It is undergoing comprehensive testing in Mesa, Ariz., before delivery to the UK later this year.

South Korea to Buy New Attack Helicopters

South Korea has announced it plans to purchase AH-64E attack helicopters worth 1.8 billion.

The AH-64E Apache was selected over the Bell AH-1Z and Turkish Aerospace Industries’ T-129 in the deal to provide attach helicopters for the South Korean military.

The Defence Acquisition Programme Administration (DAPA) said deal is for 36 AH-64E Apache Guardian helicopters that will be delivered over a three-year period from 2016.

C295 Missile Release Trial

Airbus Military and MBDA have successfully tested the release of an instrumented Marte MK2/S anti-ship inert missile.

This flight was the last of a series of trials performed in a joint Airbus Military – MBDA collaboration to validate the aerodynamic integration of Marte on C295, its handling qualities and performance tests.

The installation of weapons under the wings provides new operational capabilities to the C295 allowing the aircraft to perform new missions demanding by the customers. In the anti-submarine warfare (ASW) role, the C295 is already in-service carrying the MK46 torpedo.

The Marte Mk2/S is already integrated on the AW-101 and the NFH (Naval NH90) helicopters in service with the Italian Navy and integration activities for the Marte ER on the Eurofighter Typhoon are currently underway.

AgustaWestland Unveils the AW169 AAS

The latest generation AW169 AAS military helicopter was officially unveiled at the Army Aviation Association of America Annual Professional Forum and Exposition in Fort Worth, Texas.

The helicopter is designed to perform a wide range of US Army’s present and future Armed Reconnaissance missions including aerial escort, command and control, security operations, deep operations, target acquisition and targeting, fire support coordination.

It is fitted with two PW210A engines for operating in ‘hot & high’ conditions and the engine and blades are designed to reduce heat and noise signature.

A fully integrated aircraft and mission management system is based on latest avionics comprising a low workload/high situational awareness single pilot IFR and NVG compatible glass cockpit with an integrated control and display system that features three large multifunctional displays and touch screen technology.

The AW169 is fitted with a damage and ballistic tolerant fail safe airframe and rotorcraft system and features multiple redundancies of all critical systems, excellent one engine inoperative (O.E.I.) capability, a 30 minutes ‘run-dry’ capable transmission, self-sealing crashworthy fuel system, crashworthy airframe and seating, heavy duty landing gear and armor protection for crew, fuel system and vital components as well as an advanced integrated self-defence suite.

Avionics also includes an integrated 4-axis digital AFCS, advanced communications and data management system, a comprehensive sensors suite, synthetic vision and Helmet Mounted Display (HMD) / Head-up Display (HUD).

The weapon systems consists of machine guns, rocket launchers and air-to-ground missiles. All four prototypes already exceeding a total of more than 200 flight hours in nine months for development testing.

The AW169 program is on time to enter the market in 2014.

One helo of a day

Naval Air Facility El Centro is famed for its large detachments of fixed wing jet aircraft and busy flight line, but when Alan Kenny visited, he found it to be very different to the norm.

NAF El Centro (NAFEC) is located to the east of San Diego and over the Santa Rosa Mountains in Southern California. The climate is hot and dry with frequent high winds. The local terrain is mountainous and very flat, so this makes it an ideal environment for training of aircrews and aircraft in preparation for deployment to Afghanistan.

During my visit to the base, there happened to be one of the largest training detachments of helicopters for quite some time. The United States Marine Corps (USMC), British Army (AAC) and Royal Air Force (RAF) were calling NAFEC home. The USMC had the CH-47 ‘Sea Knight’ and AH-1W ‘Super Cobra’ on detachment there. The AAC had their AH9A Lynx along with AH1 Apaches while the RAF brought their heavy HC2 Chinook.

The CH-47 ‘Sea Knights’ were from Marine Medium Helicopter Training Squadron 164 (HMMT-164) “Knightriders” and are based at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California. They fall under the command Marine Aircraft Group 39 (MAG-39) and the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (3rd MAW).

The AH-1W ‘Super Cobras’ were from Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 467 (HMLA-467) “Sabers” and are based at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina. They fall under the command of Marine Aircraft Group 29 (MAG-29) and the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (2nd MAW).

The two HC4 Chinooks were from 7 Squadron and based at RAF Odiham in Hampshire.

The three AAC AH9A Lynx were from 652 Squadron and are based at RAF Guttersloh in Germany. 652 Squadron fall under the command of 1 Regiment.

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Good luck to all of the aircrews and thank you to Public Affairs Kris Haugh for organising the visit.

Super Tucanos For Senegal’s Air Force

The Senegalese Air Force signed a contract, for the acquisition of three A-29 Super Tucanos

The order includes logistical support for the operation and the installation of a training system for pilots and mechanics.

The aircraft will be deployed on border surveillance and internal security missions.

Senegal is the fourth Super Tucano customer on the African continent. Financing will be handled by Brazil’s National Economic and Social Development Bank (Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social -BNDES).

C-130J for Tunisian Air Force

The first C-130J Super Hercules has been delivered to the Republic of Tunisia marking the first delivery of this variant to an African country.

Lockheed Martin signed a contract in 2010 with Tunisia for two C-130Js in addition to providing training and an initial three years of logistics support.

Tunisia’s two Super Hercules are a “stretched” variant of the aircraft. The Tunisian Air Force currently operates a fleet of C-130Hs and C-130B’s, first purchased in the mid-1980’s. The new C-130J’s will support Tunisian operations across the mission spectrum, including relief efforts around the world, firefighting and traditional airlift sorties.

In addition to Tunisia, other nations that are operating or have ordered the C-130J include Australia, Canada, Denmark, India, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Kuwait, Norway, Oman, Republic of Korea, Qatar, the United Kingdom and the United States.

First F-35As Arrive at Nellis AFB

The delivery of the first operational-coded 5th Generation F-35A CTOL fighters to Nellis AFB marks the beginning of operational testing and evaluation at the base.

The first F-35B Short Takeoff/Vertical Landing (STOVL) aircraft, BF-3, has successfully completed an in-flight test with an AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile earlier this week.

The jets are assigned to the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron that executes Operational Test & Evaluation for the F-35.

To date, 24 CTOL aircraft have been delivered to the Air Force and 58 aircraft to the Department of Defense. By 2019, a total of 12 F-35As will be assigned to the base for testing and evaluation.