Manston’s Marvelous Moments

Bob Franklin reports attended the first Air Show at Manston International Airport for many years. All photos by the author.

The South East Airshow returned to Kent’s Manston Airport on June 22 after an absence of twenty years. Over 20,000 people attended the event, although reports from the BBC News website suggested many more couldn’t get in due to traffic congestion outside the airport. The show was organised and run by Angie Sutton of AS Enterprises who was the driving force for bringing back an air display to this historic airfield. Many of the aircraft that displayed brought back memories of the airshows from years gone by.

The first aircraft to get the event under way was flown by Peter Teichman in his P-40 Kittyhawk, who returned later in the P-51 Mustang. The RAF Tucano was flown by Flt Lt Andrew Fyvie-Rae who performed flew the display well against strong, blustery winds. Many of the other aircraft which were due to arrive and participate had to cancel because of the unfavourable weather.

[img src=6726 align=left]Conditions improved slightly for the remainder of the display to continue. First up was the pair of Red Star Rebels in the L-29 Delfin, followed by the brightly coloured Hawker Hunter ‘Miss Demeanour’, with Partick Tuit making his debut in the cockpit. Next up was the famous Avro Vulcan, which performed a spirited display with flashes of vapour streaming off the wings. The Netherlands based B-25 Mitchell PH-XXV wowed crowds as the WWII bomber showed how agile it was for a larger aircraft and often flew at 90 degree angles. The next displays were from the Army Air Corps Apache, B-17 Flying Fortress ‘Sally B’ and last to finish the show was the Kent Spitfire based at Biggin Hill.

A Tornado GR4 from RAF Marham and Hawk T1 from RAF Valley were on static display.

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MV-22 squadron arrives at MCAS Iwakuni

Marines with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 262 off-loaded 12 MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft at the port facility at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, July 30.

The aircraft arrived by commercial cargo ship before being flown to Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa, Japan, as part of HMM-262. The 12 aircraft will be inspected, and prepared for flight operations to Okinawa at the beginning of August completing the one-to-one CH-46E replacement on Okinawa.

The aircraft combines the vertical capability of a helicopter with the speed and range of a fixed-wing aircraft that can fly twice as fast, carry three times as much, and fly four times the distance of the older CH-46E. Its capabilities will significantly benefit the U.S.-Japan alliance, and strengthen our ability to provide for the defense of Japan and to perform humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions.

Lockheed Martin Completes Long-Range Surveillance Radar Demonstration

The Three-Dimensional Expeditionary Long-Range Radar (3DELRR) will serve as the principal Air Force long-range, ground-based sensor for detecting, identifying, and reporting aerial targets.

The next-generation system will replace the Air Force’s AN/TPS-75 air search radar.

During the event, the 3DELRR full-scale prototype showed its maturity, flexibility, scalability, and the benefits of its open technology design. More than 70 U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps and Office of Secretary of Defense personnel attended the demonstration either locally or via webcast. The radar detected required targets of opportunity launched from the Syracuse airport and surrounding areas. The company hired additional test aircraft for the event, putting the prototype through more advanced performance detection and tracking scenarios expected of long-range radars.

Originally unveiled in December 2010, Lockheed Martin’s 3DELRR solution met all the requirements for this demonstration two and half years earlier, and used this opportunity to highlight the radar’s evolving design to the customer. The radar’s design addresses 100 percent of 3DELRR requirements, including critical extended air surveillance reach for early warning from aerial threats.

The Air Force is expected to release its request for proposals for the next phase of the program in the August or September 2013 timeframe. With that competition, the customer will select one contractor for the engineering and manufacturing development phase, which will be awarded in 2014.

In June 2009, Lockheed Martin was awarded a $25 million contract from the Air Force to begin developing a prototype for the 3DELRR radar. The team successfully completed a capabilities demonstration in January and December 2010. In August 2012, Lockheed Martin was awarded a contract for the 15-month pre-engineering manufacturing development (pre-EMD) phase of the contract.

U.S. Navy Takes Delivery of First Upgraded MQ-8C Fire Scout

Northrop Grumman delivered the first MQ-8C aircraft to the Navy in early July in preparation for ground and flight testing.

The upcoming tests will be used to validate the upgraded MQ-8 system for operational use. Initial ground testing will ensure that the systems work properly and communicate with the ground control station prior to conducting first flight. The MQ-8 system with the upgraded MQ-8C aircraft will share proven software, avionics, payloads and ship ancillary equipment with the MQ-8B aircraft.

The upgraded Fire Scout responds to an urgent need to provide the Navy with increased endurance, range and payload. Using a modified commercially available airframe, the upgraded MQ-8 system can provide commanders with three times the payload and double the endurance at extended ranges compared to the current MQ-8B variant.

The MQ-8B aircraft currently operates on Navy frigates and in Afghanistan, where it provides intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to maritime and ground commanders.

The first deployment of the upgraded MQ-8 system with the MQ-8C Fire Scout aircraft will be in 2014.

P-8A declared ready for fleet introduction

One of NAVAIR’s P-8A Poseidon’s has successfully launched a Harpoon AGM-84D Block IC missile during a live fire exercise in California at the Point Mugu Sea Test Range.

The missile scored a direct hit on a modular target on the first hot run.

The U.S. Navy announced on July 1 in an Initial Operational Test and Evaluation report that the P-8A Poseidon was ready for fleet introduction.”

Last month, the Harpoon was fired from the P-8A, resulting in a successful target strike.

With the program passing IOT&E, the P-8A program is on track for an initial operational deployment this winter when the first P-8A squadron will deploy with P-3 and EP-3 squadrons.

To date, nine low rate production aircraft have been delivered to the fleet and six test aircraft have been delivered to NAVAIR. According to the program of records, the Navy plans to purchase 117 P-8A’s that will replace the P-3C Orion as a long-range anti-submarine warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft.

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Typhoons Complete Training Mission

The Royal Air Force has completed the biggest training mission ever undertaken by its Typhoon Force.

Exercise Android Preference concluded at RAF Coningsby last week. The exercise forms part of the qualified weapons instructor (QWI) course and is regarded as the pinnacle of qualifications for RAF aircrew.

During the first week of the exercise the single largest training mission the Typhoon has ever undertaken as one complete force was executed. A total of 22 aircraft from five squadrons took part in a combat search and rescue scenario that also included Tornado GR4’s, United States Air Force F-15 Eagles and Danish F-16’s, as well as support and attack helicopters.

Tactical air control and command was provided by an E-3D Sentry from RAF Waddington and No 1 Air Control Centre, which deployed to RAF Coningsby from their home station at RAF Scampton.


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Night Hunter Helicopters to be Exported to Iraq

Russia will supply over 10 fully equipped Mi-28NE Night Hunter attack helicopters to Iraq under a deal valued at $4.3.

This is the first time the number of helicopters has been disclosed under the contract that will also covered pilot and technical personnel training and the delivery of weapons systems.

According to the Russian government, the deal is one of the biggest arms sales Moscow has made in several years. It also involves 42 Pantsir S-1 short-to-medium range surface-to-air missile systems worth $2.3 billion.