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Spanish Army’s First Two NH90s Officially Handed-Over

SPAIN’S FUERZAS Aeromóviles del Ejército de Tierra (FAMET – Spanish Army Aviation) took delivery of its first two HT-29 Caimán (NH90TTH) helicopters at the FAMET headquarters at Colmenar Viejo, Madrid, on September 13. 

Both had arrived at the base on September 7, but were not officially handed-over until today’s ceremony, in the presence of the FAMET Commander and other senior officials.

The two helicopters, HT29-03 ‘ET-803’ and HT29-04 ‘ET-804’, will join HT29-02 ‘ET-802’, which has already been delivered directly to Batallón Helicópteros Maniobra III (BHELMA III – Helicopter Manouevre Battalion III) at Logroño-Agoncillo for training.  The two additional helicopters will also henceforth be based with BHELMA III at Agoncillo.

Two additional helicopters for FAMET are scheduled to be handed-over by Airbus Helicopters before the end of this year, while the remainder of the 22 purchased (16 for the FAMET and six for the Ejercito del Aire – Spanish Air Force) will be delivered by 2021.  Roberto Yáñez

Ready, steady, scramble for the Spitfire 10K

Date: 4 September 2016

Time: Race starts at 10am

Cost: Standard entry £22.50 per person (15 years & over)

With just under two months to go until Shropshire’s first ever Spitfire 10K, it’s time to start stepping up the training! Taking place at the Royal Air Force Museum Cosford on Sunday 4 September, participants will have the unique opportunity to race across the airfield and down the runway at RAF Cosford, whilst raising funds for charity.

At just over six miles, a 10K run is a serious challenge for those just starting out in the sport, but it’s also a great event for experienced runners chasing personal bests or using it a stepping stone to longer distances.  With just under eight weeks to go until race day, it’s time to get your running shoes on and start building up your endurance levels. Whether it’s running with a friend, joining a club or downloading an app to track your progress, participants are being encouraged to do what it takes to boost their motivation levels and get geared up about the race.

With over 450 runners already signed up to the Spitfire 10K and with spaces limited to just 700, there’s no time to waste in getting yourself registered and kick-starting the training.

Taking-off from the museum’s Hangar 1, visitors will head outside and onto the airfield at RAF Cosford.  Participants will run alongside the wartime hangars and past the air traffic control tower and of course, the race wouldn’t be complete without a sprint down the runway!  The scenic route around the military airfield will take runners past several historic landmarks along the way, before passing the rifle range and then back onto the museum for a loop of the site on the final stretch towards the finish line.  Upon completion, runners will be rewarded with a bespoke 2016 Spitfire 10K medal and goodie bag, a perfect and well-earned memento of their day.

Bespoke 2016 Spitfire 10K technical running t-shirts are available to purchase when you register online at a discounted rate and will be ready for collection on race day.  Made from breathable fabrics, they make the perfect attire for race day and for running adventures beyond.  Runners are advised to arrive from 9am in order to collect their race number, pick up their pre-ordered t-shirt and of course to warm up properly.  Then it will be chocks away at 10.00am as the race begins.

RAF Museum Cosford Events Manager, Abi Betteridge said:

“Our number one tip for getting yourself prepared is to put in the training! If you’re prepared, you will certainly enjoy the day more.  Make sure you’ve tried out your footwear in advance to avoid any blistered feet and remember not to set off too fast and stick to a steady pace throughout.  Finally, after the race it’s important to take time to cool down, doing this properly will mean less achy legs the following day.  But, it will certainly be worth it for the chance to run across the airfield and down the runway and we’re sure participants will love the amazing medal we’ve had specially commissioned.”

The Spitfire 10K is a gently undulating road course with small sections along a track and is suitable for keen runners and novices alike, so if you’re aged 15 and over why not give it a go?  Whether you’ve been running for years, or you’re just getting into the sport for the first time, the race at Cosford is guaranteed to be a fun and memorable one.

To register for the event visit the museum’s website www.rafmuseum.org/cosford.  Entry costs £22.50 per person with proceeds going towards the RAF Museum (registered charity number 244708), to support work conserving and sharing the story of the RAF for current and future generations.  Armed Forces Personnel and running clubs are eligible for the discounted entry fee of £20.50 per person.  For further details about the event, visit the museum’s website or call 01902 376200. The Spitfire 10K was first launched at the museum’s London site in 2015.

Final RAF Voyager Delivered to Brize Norton

AIRBUS DEFENCE and Space has delivered the last of 14 A330-200 Voyagers to the Royal Air Force.  The final aircraft, Voyager KC2 (ZZ343)/EC-331 (c/n 1610), callsign ‘AED329’, landed at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, at 1606hrs yesterday, July 13, after a ferry flight from Getafe, Spain.

This completes the fleet of nine core and five surge fleet aircraft in the Voyager Force, which are flown by 10 and 101 Squadrons at Brize Norton, in collaboration with AirTanker.

Group Captain Simon Edwards, Station Commander RAF Brize Norton, said, “It is wonderful to see the last Voyager aircraft arrive at RAF Brize Norton. Voyager has been delivering operationally for well over two years now, and is already admired as a troop carrier and air-to-air refuelling tanker. With Voyager’s important contribution to the security of the UK skies and to operations worldwide, everyone involved should be proud of what has already been accomplished as we look to an exciting future.”

Phill Blundell, CEO AirTanker Ltd said, “The company has come a long way since the delivery of our first aircraft and the Voyager Force has grown and developed significantly to meet the requirements of the MOD. Thanks to our fantastic workforce, we now have 14 magnificent aircraft in the fleet to continue to meet the demands of our military and civilian customers.”  AFM

FARNBOROUGH 2016: UK MOD Confirms Order for Nine Poseidons

A deal for the purchase of nine Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) for the Royal Air Force has been confirmed by the UK Ministry of Defence.

The contract was announced at Farnborough today, July 11, by Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon. The new aircraft will be based in Scotland at RAF Lossiemouth, Moray, where an additional 400 personnel will be based as a result of this decision.

Michael Fallon said: “Our new MPA aircraft will provide significant protection of the UK’s nuclear deterrent and our £6 billion aircraft carriers. They are part of our plan for stronger and better defence, backed by a budget that will rise each year of this decade. That means more ships, more aircraft, more troops available at readiness, better equipment for special forces, more being spent on cyber – to deal with the increased threats to our country.”

The P-8As are being purchased from the US Government via a Foreign Military Sale. The cost of developing and delivering the UK’s MPA capability, including paying for the people, their training, the infrastructure and necessary support at RAF Lossiemouth, will be around £3 billion over the next decade, says the MOD.

Tony Douglas, Chief Executive Officer of the MOD’s Defence Equipment and Support organisation, said: “Already in service with other nations, the P-8A aircraft was the best solution to fill our Maritime Patrol Aircraft capability gap; it is tried, tested and can be delivered in the timeline we need. The fact that we have been able to commit the main investment decision on this key procurement less than nine months after the Government announced its intention to buy these aircraft is a great testament to the agility, professionalism, and drive of DE&S, working closely with colleagues across MOD and the US Navy.

The announcement of this deal marks the point at which responsibility for leadership of the MPA Programme transfers from Joint Forces Command to the RAF. With the first aircraft due to arrive in the UK in 2019/2020, the RAF has been committed to maintaining the skills needed to operate these MPAs through the ‘seed-corn’ programme, which has embedded former RAF MPA operators within the MPA squadrons of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA.

Air Vice-Marshal Gerry Mayhew, who is responsible for the RAF’s fast jets and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance assets, said: “The seed-corn initiative has been vital in ensuring that our future MPA aircrew are prepared to regenerate the UK’s MPA capability. By retaining those essential skills, our aircrew are already on the front foot when it comes to operating these new aircraft.”

FARNBOROUGH 2016: UK Agreement to Purchase 50 AH-64Es

UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced this morning, July 11, on the opening day of the Farnborough International Air Show, that Boeing will deliver 50 AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopters to the Army Air Corps. (AAC).

A $2.3bn Foreign Military Sales agreement, signed between the UK and US governments to acquire these helicopters ‘off-the-shelf’, also includes an initial maintenance support contract, plus spares and a simulator.

In order to gain maximum value for money, some systems from the AAC’s existing fleet will be incorporated into the new helicopters where possible. This will include the Modernised Target Acquisition and Designation System, along with the Longbow fire control radar.

David Pitchforth, vice president and managing director of Boeing Defence UK Limited, said: “This is not only a major boost to the British Army but it will also mean long-term, sustained jobs in the UK, as the vast majority of the training, maintenance, repair and overhaul will be done here over the service life of the aircraft. We are working closely with our extensive UK supply chain, including Leonardo Finmeccanica Helicopters (formerly AgustaWestland), to support initial operating capability of the aircraft in 2022”.

Boeing has a long-standing relationship with Leonardo on the existing Apache programme. Boeing says it will increase spending with UK suppliers and is in advanced discussions with Leonardo on the AH-64E contract and other opportunities. The new UK AH-64Es will replace the AAC’s current fleet of 67 older model WAH-64D Apache AH1s, which are due to be withdrawn from service in 2023/4. The first AAC AH-64Es are due to come off the production line in 2020, with initial operating capability anticipated in 2022.

To date, Boeing has delivered 149 AH-64Es to the US Army, logging over 60,000 flight hours, and 17,000 combat flying hours.

F-35B Lightning IIs Fly Over Rosyth and RAF Marham

FOLLOWING THE arrival of three F-35B Lightning IIs in the UK, two of these aircraft flew over their future homes.

The two F-35Bs RAF/Royal Navy example ZM137 and 168727 ‘VM-19’ from the US Marine Corps’ VMFAT-501, performed flypasts over the aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth (R 08) and HMS Prince of Wales (R 09), which are under construction in Rosyth Dockyard. Following this, they flew on to their planned shore base at RAF Marham, Norfolk, where another flypast was performed, this time accompanied by one of the base’s resident Tornado GR4s. A demonstration of the type’s STOVL capabilities was also performed with the USMC aircraft.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: “The F-35Bs are the most advanced fast jets in the world. Whether operating from land or from one of our two new aircraft carriers, they will ensure we have a formidable fighting force. They are part of our plan for a stronger and better defence: more ships, more aircraft, more troops available at readiness, better equipment for special forces, more being spent on cyber – to deal with the increased threats to our country.”

The F-35B will be operated initially by 617 ‘Dambusters’ Squadron, Royal Air Force, and subsequently by 809 Naval Air Squadron ‘The Immortals’.

The head of the Fleet Air Arm, Rear Admiral Keith Blount OBE, said: “Today marks a significant milestone in the nation’s return to aircraft carrier aviation and carrier strike. Both ships have been designed from the keel up to operate with the F-35B and the RAF and Royal Navy are working ever closer to see fixed-wing aircraft once more operating from Royal Navy Aircraft Carriers. I feel very proud to be part of it.”

The carriers will provide over four-acres of sovereign territory which can be deployed around the world, travelling at upwards of 500nm (925km) a day. Both ships are capable of carrying up to 36 F-35Bs.

Air Vice Marshall Gerry Mayhew, Air Officer Commanding 1 Group, said: “It was a proud and exciting moment to have the F-35B Lightning II fly overhead RAF Marham for the first time today. Alongside Typhoon, the Lightning II will offer the RAF and Royal Navy a cutting edge front line strike capability and also offer the most powerful and comprehensive integrated sensor package of any fighter aircraft in history. I have no doubt the Lightning II will act as an inspiration for the current and future members of both services.”

Marham becomes the F-35B’s home base in 2018. The Station has already started to prepare for the aircraft’s arrival with work to provide the necessary infrastructure and support facilities.

The three jets arrived in the UK for the first time earlier this week after a nine hour transatlantic crossing. They will take centre stage in a number of air shows around this country this summer, principally the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire from July 8-10 and the Farnborough International Airshow from July 11-17.

Belgian F-16s Deployed Again for Anti-ISIL Operations

Six Belgian F-16AMs at Azraq-Muwaffaq Salti Air Base, Jordan, during their previous deployment to support coalition operations against ISIL in Iraq.

Another six departed from Belgium for Jordan yesterday and during their new deployment they will also undertake air strikes in Syria. Belgian Defence

SIX BELGIAN Defence-Air Component F-16 Fighting Falcons departed from Kliene-Brogel Air Base for Jordan yesterday, June 27, to join the Operation Inherent Resolve coalition fighting against ISIL.  The detachment, known as Operation Desert Falcon, will operate from Azraq-Muwaffaq Salti Air Base, taking over today from Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16s currently deployed there.

As previously reported on AFD, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel and Defence Minister Steven Vandeput had announced on May 13 that Belgian F-16s were to rejoin the coalition air campaign against ISIL.   They also said that air strikes would be carried out in Syria as well as Iraq.

Although this will be Belgium’s second rotation of F-16s for the anti-ISIL campaign, it will be the first time their operations have extended into Syria.  Previously, the aircraft had deployed in October 2014 and returned home to Florennes on July 2, 2015, but only carried out air strikes in Iraq.  Their operations had ended because Belgium did not have sufficient funds in the defence budget at that time to continue missions beyond the end of June 2015. 

MQ-4C Triton UAS demonstrates new capabilities with a P-8A Poseidon

NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – The Navy recently demonstrated two key capabilities for the Triton Unmanned Air System (UAS) program that will enhance future fleet operations.

During a flight test June 2, an MQ-4C Triton and P-8A Poseidon successfully exchanged full motion video for the first time inflight via a Common Data Link (CDL), marking another interoperability step for the program.

The test demonstrated Triton’s ability to track a target with its electro-optical/infrared camera to build situational awareness for a distant P-8 aircrew.

“In an operational environment, this would enable the P-8 aircrew to become familiar with a contact of interest and surrounding vessels well in advance of the aircraft’s arrival in station” said Cmdr Daniel Papp, Triton integrated program team lead.

The MQ-4C Triton’s ability to perform persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance within a range of 2,000 nautical miles will allow the P-8A aircraft to focus on their core missions.

Last week also marked the completion of Triton’s first heavy weight flight that will expand Triton’s estimated time on station significantly. Triton operated in the 20,000ft altitude band in the heavy weight configuration for the first time and completed all test objectives. A second heavy weight flight on June 14 had Triton operating in the 30,000ft altitude band.

“The heavy weight envelope expansion work will enable Triton to realize its long dwell capability and become the unblinking eye for the fleet,” Papp added.

Triton is designed to fly missions of up to 24 hours at altitudes over 10 miles high, allowing the system to monitor two million square miles of ocean and littoral areas at a time. Since its first flight in 2013, Triton has flown more than 455 flight hours. The Navy will continue testing Triton at Patuxent River to prepare for its first planned deployment in 2018.

Israeli Air Force’s First F-35I Adir Unveiled at Fort Worth

A CEREMONY was held today, June 22, at Lockheed Martin’s Plant 4 facility in Fort Worth, Texas, to roll out the first Israeli Air Force F-35A Lightning II, which is locally designated the F-35I and named the Adir, Hebrew for Mighty One. 

The aircraft, AS-1, will be delivered to the IAF in December this year.  The first F-35I unit will be 140 ‘Golden Eagle’ Squadron at Nevatim Air Base in the Negev Desert.

As previously reported on AFD, final assembly of this aircraft had begun on January 7.  Israel has to date contracted for 33 F-35A Adir aircraft through the US government’s Foreign Military Sales programme and has options on a further 17. Deliveries of the firm order aircraft are due to be completed by 2021.

Israel’s contribution to the F-35 programme includes Israel Aerospace Industries F-35A wing production; Elbit Systems Ltd. work on the Generation III helmet-mounted display system, which all F-35 pilots fleet-wide will wear; and Elbit Systems-Cyclone F-35 centre fuselage composite components production. Dave Allport