A-10s and U-2s to be cut!

US budget request for 2015 makes stark reading

As had been widely expected, the latest US Air Force budget requests have recommended the complete retirement of the A-10 Thunderbolt II attack and U-2S reconnaissance aircraft. Senior officials claim that retiring the A-10 fleet saves $3.5 billion over five years and accelerates the long-standing modernization plan. The service says it will also mothball nearly 30 airlift aircraft and 24 strategic airlifters will be reassigned to the backup inventory.

For more details see the May issue of Combat Aircraft, on sale soon.

Saving Lives and Seizing Drugs

The Coast Guard Air Station in Los Angeles covers a wide and very busy area in Southern California. Alan Kenny found out more.

Southern California is well known for its beaches, ocean and sailing. It is also known for sharks, rugged coastlines and drug smuggling. All of this equals a busy time for the Coast Guard in the Los Angeles area. The Air Station operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and covers almost 300 miles of coastline. The operating area runs from Morro Bay, 200 miles north west of Los Angeles to Dana Point, 60 miles south east. It also covers the eight Channel Islands of San Clemente, San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Anacapa, Santa Barbara, San Nicholas and Santa Catalina, which lie off the coast of Southern California.

The Air Station is located at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), to the west of the main passenger terminals. The Air Station in Los Angeles was established in August 1962 by a combined effort from Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Senator Thomas H. Kutchel, and U.S. Representative James Roosevelt to instate it. It started off as an air detachment from San Diego and consisted of a sole Sikorsky HO4S. The Air Station was officially commissioned on November 15, 1962 with two HO4S. The HO4S were retired the following May when three Sikorsky HH-62A ‘Sea Guard’ helicopters entered service. The Sea Guard fleet was temporarily increased for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games in July of that year. The HH-62A fleet was finally retired in November 1987 after 24 years in service. The Coast Guard is currently equipped with four Eurocopter MH-65C Dolphins, which they have operated since their introduction into service in November 1987. The Air Station started off with nine officers and 20 enlisted personnel and currently has 15 officers and 45 enlisted personnel.

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The Eurocopter MH-65C Dolphin has been at the Coast Guard Air Station Los Angeles for nearly 30 years. They have a crew of two pilots, a flight mechanic and a rescue swimmer. The HH-65 was the entry into service model and featured a much less capable radar and avionics suite than the upgraded MH-65C. One of the reasons the Coast Guard selected the Dolphin was for the computerisex flight management system, including autopilot capabilities. It is able to complete an unaided approach to sea level and bring the helicopter to a stable 50ft (15m) hover, whilst also automatically flying search patterns. Both of these benefits free the workload of the pilots to concentrate on other tasks. The helicopter is a light-weight design, under 10,000lbs and 75% of the aircraft – fuselage, rotor head and blades – are made from a corrosion-resistant composite which is ideal for salt water operations.

[img src=8005 align=left]The rescue swimmers job is very physical and demanding. They often have to swim in inclement weather and rough seas. The Coast Guard at Los Angeles use two sizes of rescue cage to hoist people in distress up into the helicopter. The smaller one has also been used to rescue animals. One such incident involved a dog on a yacht which capsized off the coast of Los Angeles.

Besides Search and Rescue (SAR), homeland security and environmental protection, the CG also deal with drug smuggling and trafficking. Back in August 2013, the Coast Guard seized 52 bales of marijuana near Zuma Beach, Malibu, just off the Los Angeles Coast. The Los Angeles County Lifeguards stationed at the beach noticed the boat circling beyond the waves which was communicating with a vehicle and trailer in the parking lot. This prompted them to alert the Coast Guard. The CG sent two boats and one of their MH-65Cs to arrest the criminals. Fog prevented an immediate capture as the boat was using it for cover. However, 30 minutes later and seven miles to the west, they were finally apprehended and arrested.

The Coast Guard Air Station is just over 20 miles away from the studios of Hollywood. So over the years the Coast Guard and their MH-65C Dolphins have starred in many Los Angeles based television shows, most notably Baywatch. The Dolphins are shown in at three scenes in the opening credits. The appearances are great exposure for the Coast Guard and the activities they carry out as well as being a great recruiting tool.

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Mud-Movers Migrate at Newark Air Museum

Two of the Cold War era ground-attack aircraft at Newark Air Museum, have migrated into new locations on the museum’s Southfield Site in eastern Nottinghamshire.

These aircraft, a former Soviet MiG-27 and British Jaguar T2A are representative airframes from both sides of the ‘Iron Curtain’.

The MiG-27 has been repositioned next to the MiG-23 airframe to create a focused mini-display area at the forthcoming Tribute to the V-Force event on 17th & 18th May, 2014. During this reunion gathering a group of Soviet era re-enactors will be camped alongside these aircraft to provide a glimpse of the enemy from the days of the V-Force.

The Jaguar T2A’s new display position is on the approach to Hangar 2, which will provide a focus to draw visitors across to the Southfield Site. This move has freed up a significant hard-standing area on the other museum site, which will accommodate larger exhibits at the forthcoming Cockpit-Fest event on 14th & 15th June, 2014.

Both moves went well and attracted a few gasps of surprise from the school children that were at the museum on an education visit.

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MacDill Fish Strike

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — Sharing the skies with different species of wildlife is a constant challenge for the Air Force. We stop at no end to ensure the safety of our aircrew, aircraft and all wildlife on and around the installation.

Typically, we associate “sharing the sky,” with birds and other wildlife that belong in the air. However, the men and women with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have a different perspective on what type of animals they need to look out for on takeoffs and landings.

September 10, 2013, will forever live in infamy for Lt. Cmdr. Nick Toth, NOAA pilot, and for everyone else involved in the first recorded “fish strike,” in the history of NOAA at MacDill that occurred that morning.

At roughly 10:50 a.m., Toth and the rest of the aircrew were cleared for takeoff and started their roll in their Gulfstream GIV.

“We were nearing the point in the takeoff where we needed to rotate, or raise the nose of the airplane off the ground, when an Osprey with something in its claws flew in front of our aircraft,” explained Toth. “We saw that the Osprey did not gain enough altitude, and that it passed underneath the centerline of the aircraft.”

The crew heard a thud, and assuming that they had hit the Osprey, aborted the takeoff. Following the aborted takeoff the aircraft was taxied back to Hangar 5 for inspection.

Airfield Management and Operations and Wildlife Management responded to what was still being referred to as a “bird strike.”

“We swept the runway, but we didn’t find any remains of the bird,” said Lindsey Garven, 6th Air Mobility Wing Bird Aircraft Strike Hazard contractor. “We continued our search and were surprised to find a 9-inch sheepshead lying near the end of the runway.”

Wildlife Management collected the specimen from the runway and DNA from the aircraft and sent the samples to the Smithsonian Feather Identification Laboratory in Washington, D.C., for comprehensive analysis.

Results concluded the Gulfstream GIV did in fact strike the sheepshead upon takeoff.

“At first, we didn’t believe the test results,” exclaimed Toth. “There was no way we hit a fish during takeoff. I mean, how does something like that even happen?”

Wildlife Management and NOAA’s aircrew suspect that the Osprey was perched on the runway eating its catch upon departure of the NOAA Gulfstream GIV. The bird must have taken off, because it saw the NOAA aircraft approaching. The bird barely got away and probably would have struck the aircraft, if not for dropping its catch.

“As comical as this event is, the underlying lesson is that vigilance with regards to wildlife on and around the runway is necessary to keep all aircrew and aircraft safe and to maintain our goal of mission readiness,” stated Garven.

by Airman 1st Class Ned T. Johnston

6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

F-15s Complete Flight Training in Greece

U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles and Hellenic air force F-16s flew a combined 270 missions during two weeks of NATO training at Souda Air Base, Greece.

The 494th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, known as the Mighty Black Panthers, departed Royal Air Force Lakenheath, , Feb. 13, to work alongside the pilots of the HAF’s 343rd Squadron at the 115th Combat Wing on the Greek island of Crete.

“This has been a unique opportunity for us to exercise and evaluate our aircraft and personnel in a NATO training environment,” said Lt. Col. Philip Principi, the 494th EFS commander. “We’ve been able to challenge ourselves daily during large-force exercises consisting of up to 30 aircraft — six different air frames from four different bases.”

“We’ve been able to share tactics, techniques and procedures in the planning, execution and debrief; which will continue to build the tactical partnership between our two countries,” Principi said. “With key training opportunities like this one, we gain the experience of flying together, and we’re better prepared to execute a successful, tactical game plan.”

This is the first time in more than 10 years that the HAF has hosted a flying training deployment of this size. For Greek and U.S. pilots, working together brought new philosophies to the table, despite the language barrier and difference in aircraft.

Bilateral training deployments like this one in Greece are planned in advance to strengthen military-to-military relationships and increase NATO interoperability.

“Training starts from the briefing,” Danias said. “The (F-16) Block 52+ is multirole, just like the F-15. We try to show how we (F-16s) protect, while the Eagles strike.”

While aircrew and aircraft were key to the overall mission, Airmen from the 48th Maintenance Group made up the majority of the 260 personnel on the U.S. side of training operations in Greece.

The 494th EFS’ headquarters, the 48th Fighter Wing, also recently sent aircraft to participate in allied training or support air policing operations in Norway, Iceland, Lithuania and Spain.

While aircrew and aircraft were key to the overall mission, Airmen from the 48th Maintenance Group made up the majority of the 260 personnel on the U.S. side of training operations in Greece.

F-15s Complete Flight Training in Greece

U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles and Hellenic air force F-16s flew a combined 270 missions during two weeks of NATO training at Souda Air Base, Greece.

The 494th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, known as the Mighty Black Panthers, departed Royal Air Force Lakenheath, , Feb. 13, to work alongside the pilots of the HAF’s 343rd Squadron at the 115th Combat Wing on the Greek island of Crete.

“This has been a unique opportunity for us to exercise and evaluate our aircraft and personnel in a NATO training environment,” said Lt. Col. Philip Principi, the 494th EFS commander. “We’ve been able to challenge ourselves daily during large-force exercises consisting of up to 30 aircraft — six different air frames from four different bases.”

“We’ve been able to share tactics, techniques and procedures in the planning, execution and debrief; which will continue to build the tactical partnership between our two countries,” Principi said. “With key training opportunities like this one, we gain the experience of flying together, and we’re better prepared to execute a successful, tactical game plan.”

This is the first time in more than 10 years that the HAF has hosted a flying training deployment of this size. For Greek and U.S. pilots, working together brought new philosophies to the table, despite the language barrier and difference in aircraft.

Bilateral training deployments like this one in Greece are planned in advance to strengthen military-to-military relationships and increase NATO interoperability.

“Training starts from the briefing,” Danias said. “The (F-16) Block 52+ is multirole, just like the F-15. We try to show how we (F-16s) protect, while the Eagles strike.”

While aircrew and aircraft were key to the overall mission, Airmen from the 48th Maintenance Group made up the majority of the 260 personnel on the U.S. side of training operations in Greece.

The 494th EFS’ headquarters, the 48th Fighter Wing, also recently sent aircraft to participate in allied training or support air policing operations in Norway, Iceland, Lithuania and Spain.

While aircrew and aircraft were key to the overall mission, Airmen from the 48th Maintenance Group made up the majority of the 260 personnel on the U.S. side of training operations in Greece.

Aermacchi signs Deal for M-346s

​Alenia Aermacchi, has signed a contract with the Polish Ministry of Defence for eight M-346 Master aircraft.

The deal that is valued at EUR 280 million includes logistic support and training programmes for pilots and engineers.

After Italy, Singapore and Israel, Poland is the fourth customer to order the M-346, that is specifically designed to train pilots to fly high-performance latest generation military aircraft. The Polish contract increases the number of M-346s on order to 56 aircraft.

First Italian Built Eurofighter Rolls Out

Eurofighter has announced that the first Tranche 3 Eurofighter Typhoon assembled in Italy has rolled out from the Alenia Aermacchi plant at Turin-Caselle.

The Tranche 3 Eurofighter Typhoon standard incorporates modifications such as performance enhancements and provisions for future upgrades, which Eurofighter expects will make the aircraft “more attractive to current and potential export customers”.

Alessandra Saroglia, Alenia Aermacchi Eurofighter programme manager, said: “The first Eurofighter Tranche 3 is a major stepping stone in our production programme. The aircraft embodies a number of changes with respect to previous production tranches making it even more operationally capable and also a series of provisions allowing it to take on additional capability in the future. For example, the Tranche 3 aircraft has been built with power, cooling and electronics to allow for the fitting of the new E-Scan radar.”

Under the Tranche 3A contract signed in 2009, a total of 112 aircraft have been ordered for the four European partner nations of Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK, with 21 aircraft bound for the Italian Air Force.