Last Operational CH-46E Squadron Becomes MV-22B Unit

Four US Marine Corps CH-46E Sea Knights perform a final air show appearance during a Marine Air-Ground Task Force demonstration on October 5 at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California. The helicopters are from Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 364 (HMM-364) ‘Purple Foxes’, which was re-designated four days later as Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 364 (VMM-364) as part of its transition to the MV-22B Osprey. The lead CH-46E in this photograph, 153369 ‘PF-19’, wears a retro colour scheme, while the two at the rear still carry the markings of their previous unit, HMMT-164. US Marine Corps/Lance Cpl Trever Statz

A REDESIGNATION ceremony for the final operational US Marine Corps CH-46E Sea Knight unit has been held to mark its transition to the MV-22B Osprey. Held at Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, California, the event on October 9 saw Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 364 (HMM-364) ‘Purple Foxes’ become Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 364 (VMM-364) and also included a change of command ceremony. Lt Col John Field, outgoing commanding officer of HMM-364, relinquished command to Col Paul B Kopacz, who will lead VMM-364.

As previously reported on AFD, HMM-364 had been winding down CH-46E operations for some months as it prepares for introduction of the MV-22B and flew a final mass formation sorties on March 31 with eleven Sea Knights. The unit had been operating the type for 47 years.

Known disposals of HMM-364 CH-46Es this year have included five deliveries to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, for storage at the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) facility. Two, 155309 ‘PF-02’ and 156472 ‘PF-01’, arrived at AMARG on April 22, followed by 156426 on May 22 and then 156438 and 157706 both on July 22.

US Navy Plans to Order G550 CAEW for Range Support Mission

The US Navy will become the fourth customer to order the Gulfstream G550 CAEW, which is already in service with the Israeli Air Force and Republic of Singapore Air Force, while it has also been ordered by the Italian Air Force. Seen here is Republic of Singapore Air Force G550 CAEW 016 from 111 ‘Jaeger’ Squadron making the type’s overseas debut in Exercise Cope Tiger at Korat Air Base, Thailand, on March 20, 2011.

A NEW Gulfstream G550 outfitted with a Conformal Airborne Early Warning (CAEW) system is to be purchased by the US Navy. US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) announced its intention to procure the aircraft on October 3.

It is being procured on a non-competitive basis, as no other known type will meet the specific requirements of the Naval Air Warfare Center-Weapons Division Sea Range Support mission. NAVAIR says that the G550 CAEW can meet requirements without significant engineering, development, modification, test and certification efforts.

It already has both an FAA Type Certification and the necessary Supplemental Type Certificates to meet Government airworthiness requirements. Entry into service of the G550 with the CAEW structural modifications is required before the end of 2017.

The original Request for Information (RFI) for this requirement had been posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website on March 5, 2013. The RFI sought to identify an alternative commercial derivative aircraft to provide airborne test range telemetry and range surveillance and range clearance support at the Point Mugu Sea Test Range in California. The aircraft will replace the current range support aircraft (RSA) assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 30 (VX-30) ‘Bloodhounds’ at Naval Air Station Point Mugu. The current RSA aircraft, NP-3D Orions, have been increasingly subject to service life and sustainment challenges, leading to the decision to replace them. Following the RFI, it was determined that the G550 CAEW was the only aircraft suitable for the missions required.

Peruvian Navy Acquiring All Five RNZAF SH-2G(NZ) Seasprites

Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Kaman SH-2G(NZ) Super Seasprite NZ3601 ‘01’ participating in a force protection exercise in Jervis Bay, New South Wales, Australia, during Exercise Ocean Protector on February 7, 2006. All five of the RNZAF’s SH-2G(NZ)s have now been sold to the Peruvian Navy. Commonwealth of Australia

ALL FIVE of the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Kaman SH-2G(NZ) Super Seasprite helicopters are being sold to Peru’s Aviación Naval via Canada. A government-to-government contract for purchase of the helicopters was signed between Peru and Canada on October 9. The Seasprites, which are still currently in RNZAF service, will first be delivered to Canada, where General Dynamics will refurbish and adapt them to Peruvian requirements before delivery.

Equipped with new sensors and weapons, the helicopters will be operated from Peruvian Navy Lupo-class frigates on anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare missions. Currently, AB212ASWs and Sea Kings are being flown from these vessels. The acquisition of the Seasprites forms part of the continuing efforts to rebuild and modernise the Peruvian Navy.

The RNZAF’s 6 Squadron currently flies the SH-2G(NZ)s on behalf of the Navy, but is replacing them with eight ex-Royal Australian Navy SH-2G(I) Super Seasprites. The first of these reflew after refurbishment by the manufacturer on April 10, 2014, and the first three are due for delivery by the year-end, with all eight expected to be in service by mid-2015.

A timescale for delivery of the ex-RNZAF SH-2G(NZ)s to Peru has not been announced, but presumably they will initially continue to remain in RNZAF service until their replacements are fully operational. This would suggest that it is unlikely that work on their conversion to Peruvian requirements will begin until at least next year.

RAF Voyager

Feature on the new Royal Air Force Voyager tanker transports in the forthcoming December issue of CAM.

With the RAF having completely retired the VC10 and Tristar, it has now taken delivery of nine of its planned 14 A330 Voyagers. In service with Nos 10 and 101 Squadrons at RAF Brize Norton, the aircraft achieved air-to-air refueling (AAR) in service milestones earlier this year, having also received a Release To Service (RTS) to refuel the two RAF fast jet types: the Tornado GR4 in May 2013 and similarly in August 2013. Full story in the December issue.

First Australian F-35 flies

F-35A AU-1 makes maiden flight in USA

Australia’s first Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, made its inaugural flight on Sept 29. Lockheed Martin F-35 Chief Test Pilot Alan Norman, piloted the aircraft through a series of functional checks for the sortie that lasted two hours.

The aircraft, known as AU-1, is scheduled for delivery to the Royal Australian Air Force later this year and will be assigned to Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. Australia and partner countries will use the jet for F-35A pilot training.

RAF makes first strikes of Iraq mission

Tornado GR4s use Paveway IV and Dual Mode Seeker Brimstone

On 30 September Royal Air Force Tornado GR4s saw their first combat strikes as part of the international coalition’s operations to support the democratic Iraqi Government in the fight against ISIL. 

In the course of an armed reconnaissance mission from RAF Akrotiri, two Tornados were tasked to assist Kurdish troops in north-west Iraq who were under attack from ISIL terrorists. 

On arriving overhead, the RAF patrol, using their Litening III targeting pod, identified an ISIL heavy weapon position which was engaging Kurdish ground forces. One Paveway IV guided bomb was used to attack the ISIL position. Following this engagement, the patrol identified an ISIL armed pick-up truck in the same area and conducted an attack on the vehicle using a Brimstone missile. An initial assessment indicates that both precision strikes were successful.

Source: MoD