Typhoon’s anniversary markings

The RAF’s No 3 (Fighter) Squadron has painted a Typhoon in a commemorative anniversary scheme.

April 30: The RAF’s No 3 (Fighter) Squadron has released photographs of one of its Typhoon aircraft in a commemorative anniversary paint scheme.

The scheme has been applied to the aircraft to mark the 100th anniversary of the formation of the squadron at Larkhill on May 13, 1912. The aircraft will be in day-to-day use undertaking normal operations, but it is planned for it to also attend several air shows during the summer months to allow aviation enthusiasts to see and photograph the aircraft at close quarters.

Wing Commander Dicky Patounas, Officer Commanding 3 (Fighter) Squadron said, “On behalf of the Squadron I would like to record my appreciation to SERCO at RAF Leuchars who painted the aircraft for us. I’d also like to thank our colleagues on 6 Squadron and all the other people who have helped to bring this project to fruition. It is a stunning piece of work. I hope many people get to see the aircraft in the months ahead, I’m sure they will be as impressed as I am.”

The squadron will celebrate its anniversary on the weekend of May 12/13 with a programme of events, including the presentation of a new standard to the squadron.

Typhoon’s anniversary markings

The RAF’s No 3 (Fighter) Squadron has painted a Typhoon in a commemorative anniversary scheme.

April 30: The RAF’s No 3 (Fighter) Squadron has released photographs of one of its Typhoon aircraft in a commemorative anniversary paint scheme.

The scheme has been applied to the aircraft to mark the 100th anniversary of the formation of the squadron at Larkhill on May 13, 1912. The aircraft will be in day-to-day use undertaking normal operations, but it is planned for it to also attend several air shows during the summer months to allow aviation enthusiasts to see and photograph the aircraft at close quarters.

Wing Commander Dicky Patounas, Officer Commanding 3 (Fighter) Squadron said, “On behalf of the Squadron I would like to record my appreciation to SERCO at RAF Leuchars who painted the aircraft for us. I’d also like to thank our colleagues on 6 Squadron and all the other people who have helped to bring this project to fruition. It is a stunning piece of work. I hope many people get to see the aircraft in the months ahead, I’m sure they will be as impressed as I am.”

The squadron will celebrate its anniversary on the weekend of May 12/13 with a programme of events, including the presentation of a new standard to the squadron.

UPDATED: Video: F-35C’s first formation

Two Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning II carrier variant (CV) test aircraft have flown together for the first time.

April 23: On April 18 two Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning II carrier variant (CV) test aircraft flew together for the first time.

The pair launched together and conducted formation flying at over Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland. The test aircraft, CF-01 and CF-02, were piloted by Navy Cdr Eric Buus and Marine Corps Lt Col Matt Taylor, respectively. The mission tested flying qualities of the aircraft while taking off, landing and flying in formation for more than one hour.

F-35A tanks with weapons

An F-35A Lightning II has completed the first in-flight refuelling mission while configured with external weapons.

April 25: On Saturday, April 21, a Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) aircraft completed the programme’s first in-flight refuelling mission while configured with external weapons.

Flying from Edwards Air Force Base in California, US Air Force pilot Lt Col George Schwartz piloted the test aircraft, AF-04, with two external inert AIM-9X weapons and four external stores. Internally, the jet was carrying two Joint Direct Attack Munitions and two Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles.

The two-hour mission tested the flying qualities of the aircraft while manoeuvring with external weapons. This test paves the way for weapons separation testing later this year.

UPDATED: Video: UK’s first F-35 flies

The United Kingdom’s first Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II production aircraft has flown its inaugural flight

April 16: BK-01, the United Kingdom’s first Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II production aircraft, flew its inaugural flight on April 13.

Lockheed Martin test pilot Bill Gigliotti took the F-35B, serial ZM135, short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) jet through a series of functional flight checks during a sortie that lasted 45 minutes. The jet will complete a series of company and government checkout flights prior to its acceptance by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) and moving to Eglin Air Force Base in Florida later this year. Although the MoD changed to the F-35C naval carrier variant (CV) in October 2010, it was too late to change the early production aircraft ordered, but the decision to go with the F-35C may again be reversed.

“Not only is this a watershed moment for the Joint Strike Fighter programme, since BK-01 is the first international F-35 to fly, but it also brings us one step closer to delivery of this essential fifth Generation capability for the UK, ” said Group Captain Harv Smyth, the Joint Strike Fighter UK National Deputy.

Combat Aircraft flies with ‘Gunfighter Wing’

Combat Aircraft editor Jamie Hunter flew with the 366th FW at Mountain Home

Combat Aircraft editor Jamie Hunter flew with the 366th FW ‘Gunfighters’ at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, in February. Exclusive coverage from this assignment appears in the May issue of the magazine.

The shoot included the first ever air-to-air photo session with the new F-15SGs of the Republic of Singapore AF, which has a training unit at the base, the 428th FS Buccaneers’.

US Navy issues NGAD RFI

The US Navy has issued a request for information for its future Super Hornet replacement.

The US Navy has issued a Request for Information (RFI) for a new fighter to replace the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler in the 2030s.

The Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) and FA-XX projects have been discussed for some time, but this is the first formal step in the look ahead, although this is not the formal start of a programme.

The Navy is looking at options to replace the Super Hornet and Growler in the 2030s with a new carrier-based aircraft to provide air supremacy with a multi-role strike capability.

This news may also send a shiver through the F-35C programme, with the Navy being the only one of the three US services with a get-out clause on this programme. Buying more Super Hornets to plug the gap to FA-XX and ditching its F-35C plan.

Eglin’s first F-35 formation

Two F-35A Lightning IIs have flown in formation over Eglin Air Force Base.

April 14: Two F-35A Lightning IIs from the 33rd Fighter Wing flew in formation over Eglin Air Force Base’s range during the unit’s first joint strike fighter formation flight on April 10.

Lt Col Eric Smith, 58th Fighter Squadron director of operations, flew the lead aircraft while Marine Maj Joseph Bachmann, Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 aircraft maintenance officer, flew wingman.

The pilots, both first in their service qualified to fly the F-35, were validating pilot syllabus objectives in preparation for future training. The 33rd FW is responsible for F-35 A/B/C pilot and maintainer training for the Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and in the future, at least eight coalition partners.

AW139 to Egyptian Air Force

AgustaWestland North America has delivered two AW139 helicopters to the Egyptian Air Force.

April 12: AgustaWestland North America has delivered two AW139 helicopters to the Egyptian Air Force.

The aircraft are supplied via the US Army Aviation and Missile Command (AMCOM) Contracting Center for Foreign Military Sales. Produced in the United States at the company’s Philadelphia facility, AgustaWestland configured the AW139s for the Egyptian Air Force’s search and rescue missions.

“AgustaWestland is proud to have delivered these aircraft early and on budget,” said R Scott Rettig, chief executive officer of AgustaWestland North America.

Voyager achieves its first flight in RAF service

The first A330 Voyager aircraft has flown in service with the Royal Air Force.

April 10: The first A330 Voyager aircraft took to the skies for its maiden flight under the command of an AirTanker crew on April 8 to signal the commencement of the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) service to the Royal Air Force (RAF).

The aircraft, a version of the Airbus Military A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft, took off from RAF Brize Norton for a training sortie around the UK to allow the AirTanker crew to familiarise themselves with the aircraft and achieve the first part of the Voyager crew training schedule.

The Voyager aircraft was delivered by Airbus Military to AirTanker at the end of last year and will provide the RAF with an advanced air-to-air refuelling, passenger transport and aero medical capability.

AirTanker Services (ATrS), the service delivery company, is ready to support and operate the Voyager aircraft to Civil Aviation Authority standards. Based at RAF Brize Norton, ATrS has built a team including both civilian and military expertise.

AirTanker plans to deliver the full capability of 14 aircraft by 2016. The nine aircraft that form the RAF core fleet will be delivered by May 2014. The service will operate aircraft on both the military and civilian registers.

The next 12 months will see the Voyager team conduct planned procedural activities ensuring the aircraft continues through its intensive programme to be ready for future operational environments. During this time, the aircraft will be based at RAF Brize Norton to allow air and ground crews to complete Air Transport and Air to Air Refuelling familiarisation training and development on the aircraft type.