First Turkish C-130 with Upgraded Avionics Delivered

The first Turk Hava Kuvvetleri (THK – Turkish Air Force) Hercules to be modernised with new avionics under the Erciyes programme, C-130E 13188, seen during its hand-over ceremony at TAI’s facilities in Ankara on August 8.

TURKISH AEROSPACE Industries (TAI) has delivered the first Türk Hava Kuvvetleri (THK – Turkish Air Force) C-130 Hercules to be modernised under the Erciyes programme. The aircraft, C-130E 13188, was officially handed over to the THK during a ceremony at TAI’s facilities in Ankara on August 8.

The modernisation programme covers all 19 Hercules in the Turkish fleet, comprising six C-130Bs and 13 C-130Es. A contract for the upgrade was originally signed between Turkey’s Savunma Sanayii Müsteşarlığı (SSM – Undersecretariat for Defence Industries) and TAI in December 2006. This only covered the six C-130Bs and seven C-130Es that were in service at the time, but following the acquisition of a further six C-130Es from the Royal Saudi Air Force in 2010, these were also added to the modernisation programme.

The work primarily involves an avionics upgrade in order to comply with GATM, RVSM and CAT-II ILS requirements. The new avionic display and lighting system is also fully night-vision compatible. It includes a glass cockpit with four multi-function displays, two control display units and two multi-mission computers.

Within the scope of the Erciyes avionics modernisation programme, TAI has been responsible for design, integration test and check-out of the system on two prototypes and will deliver kits for the remaining 17 aircraft. Installation on the latter will be undertaken by the THK’s 2nd Air Supply and Maintenance Centre Command at Kayseri. TAI will also be responsible for post-delivery support of the whole system. AFD-Dave Allport

Saudi Arabian National Guard Orders 12 UH-60Ms

A FURTHER 12 Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawks have been ordered for the Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG). US Army Contracting Command awarded a $30,351,927 Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contract to Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation yesterday, August 19, for procurement of these helicopters.

The deal is a modification to the $2.8 billion multi-year contract awarded to the manufacturer on July 11, 2012, for up to 916 UH-60/MH-60 helicopters for the US Army, US Navy and FMS customers. Estimated completion date for the new contract is August 31, 2017.

The SANG is seeking a total of 72 UH-60Ms, according to a US Defense Security Co-operation Agency notification to Congress on October 20, 2010. These form part of a $25.6 billion package of helicopter acquisitions in order to establish an air arm for the SANG. A Letter of Offer and Acceptance for the first 24 UH-60Ms was signed on November 30, 2011. In addition, a contract was awarded to Sikorsky on December 20, 2013, to modify eight UH-60Ms (presumably from this initial batch) to a ‘General Service Configuration’ for the SANG.

USAF Grounds 82 F-16Ds Due to Structural Cracks

OVER HALF of the US Air Force’s 157 F-16D Fighting Falcons were grounded recently due to the discovery of canopy sill longeron cracks found between the front and rear pilot seats. Their removal from flight status was announced yesterday, August 19, by US Air Force officials.

The cracks were discovered following an immediate action time compliance technical order (TCTO) to inspect all F-16Ds due to initial structural cracks that were discovered during post-mission flight inspections. Following the TCTO, individual F-16 units conducted inspections on the USAF’s 157 F-16Ds to ensure the structural integrity of the aircraft and pilot safety.

As of August 18, inspections on all 157 aircraft had been completed. This resulted in the discovery of cracks in 82 aircraft, while the remaining 75 F-16Ds have been returned to flight status. The other F-16 variants were not affected.

The USAF F-16 Systems Program Office and Lockheed Martin engineers are analysing the F-16 structure and developing repair procedures to allow aircraft with cracks to resume operations for a limited number of flight hours while analysis continues to find a permanent fix.

“As aircraft accumulate flight hours, cracks develop due to fatigue from sustained operations,” said Lt Col Steve Grotjohn, the deputy chief of the Weapon System Division. “Fortunately, we have a robust maintenance, inspection and structural integrity programme to discover and repair deficiencies as they occur.”

The USAF is working with its F-16D operational units to mitigate the impact on operations, training and readiness. Programmed flying training and F-16 pilot graduation impacts will depend on the number and timing of aircraft returned to service. Subject matter experts are considering multiple courses of action to mitigate these delays.

The USAF F-16D fleet, the two-seat variant of the F-16 primarily used for training, is on average 24 years old, with more than 5,500 hours of flight time. There are a total of 969 F-16s of all variants currently in the USAF inventory. AFD-Dave Allport

US airstrikes in Iraq

President Obama approves military strikes

US Navy fighter aircraft and remotely piloted aircraft have started airstrikes against Islamic State (IS) militants threatening Iraq​​i Yazidis stranded on a mountain in northern Iraq. Aircraft commenced air strikes on August 9, initially on armored personnel carriers firing on Yezidi civilians near Sinjar. President Barack Obama authorized airstrikes on militants who threaten US personnel and facilities in Iraq. Humanitarian airdrops have also begun to the Iraqi Yazidis.

Pease AFB named as first ANG KC-46 base

Air National Guard plans for new tanker

Pease Air National Guard Base in New Hampshire has been announced as the first ANG main operating base for the new Boeing KC-46A Pegasus tanker. Pease has a strong Active Duty association, which is expected to lead to a lower Active Duty manpower requirement, plus it is located in a region of high tanker demand. It should start receiving aircraft in 2018.

The formal training for the KC-46 at Altus AFB and the first Active Duty main operating base at McConnell AFB will begin receiving aircraft in 2016 according to current plans.

F-35B COMPLETES WET RUNWAY AND CROSSWIND TESTING

Latest testing completed for STOVL Lightning II

[img src=10916 align=full]In an important program milestone enabling U.S. Marines Corps Initial Operational Capability (IOC) certification, the Lockheed Martin F-35B recently completed required wet runway and crosswind testing at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

“This testing is absolutely critical to 2B flight software fleet release and the Marine Corps’ IOC,” said J.D. McFarlan, Lockheed Martin’s vice president for F-35 Test & Verification. “Collectively, the results support clearing the 20 knot crosswind envelope for Conventional Take Off & Landings (CTOL), Short Take Offs (STO) and Short Landings (SL), with ideal handling quality ratings and meaningful improvement over legacy 4th generational fighter aircraft.”

The testing, completed in 37 missions during a 41-day period, achieved 114 test points, including 48 of 48 wet runway test points, four of four performance STOs, 12 of 18 unique flight test conditions for STO, 19 of 23 unique flight test conditions for SLs and all directional control and anti-skid wet runway testing. All testing was performed with BF-4, based at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland.