All posts by AIRheads/DS

MB-339: tool of the training trade

Airheadsfly.com recently paid a very fruitful visit to Italy, judging by this report on F-35 Lightning II production in Cameri and this impression of flying an Italian Air Force M-346 at Lecce Galatina airbase in the Puglia area of southern Italy. The latter is a flying school like no other, run by the Italian Air Force’s 61st wing. Here, novice pilots learn how to become fighter pilots the hard way. The most numerous tool of that particular trade is the MB-339, a trainer jet that in the future makes way for the M-345 High Efficiency Trainer (HET) and the M-346. A photo report from Lecce, home to many nationalities.

Grabbing the early morning sun, this MB-339CD is almost ready for starting up for another training mission. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Grabbing the early morning sun, this MB-339CD is almost ready for starting up for another training mission. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Before moving to the aircraft, pilots first get the flight and weather information. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Before moving to the aircraft, pilots first get the flight and weather information. Pilots from Italy, Kuwait, Austria, the Netherlands, Poland, Greece and Singapore are a regular sight at Lecce. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
This picture clearly shows the aircraft at Galatina airbase are being kept in very good condition by the dedicated technicians. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
This picture clearly shows the aircraft at Lecce Galatina airbase are being kept in very good condition by the dedicated technicians. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
These MB-339s just left the hangarettes for the runway. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Heading for the runway. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Busy times on the runway, as 3 MB-339CD aircraft prepare to line up for take off. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Busy times on the runway, as three MB-339CD aircraft prepare to line up for take off. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
And lift off for another early morning mission. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
And lift off for another early morning mission. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
A regular sight at Galatina airbase, where aircraft take off and land almost continuously. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
A regular sight at Lecce Galatina airbase, where aircraft take off and land almost continuously. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
This MB-339A is ready for another go-around. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
This MB-339A is ready for another go-around. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
This image clearly shows that the fuselage of the MB-339 is close to the ground, compared to the T-346. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
This image clearly shows that the fuselage of the MB-339 is close to the ground, compared to the T-346. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Waiting at the flightline for things to come. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Waiting at the flightline for things to come. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Highly skilled maintenance crew work hard to keep the MB-339 aircraft in good shape. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Highly skilled maintenance crew work hard to keep the MB-339 aircraft in good shape. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
There's not much aircraft left when you separate the backside of the fuselage, as well as removing the tires. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
There’s not much aircraft left when you separate the backside of the fuselage. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
After each mission the aircraft are being serviced. Recently, a part of the MB-339 flightlines got hangarettes, which eases work at Galatina a little, as it can be quite hot over there. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
After each mission the aircraft are being serviced. Recently, a part of the MB-339 flightlines got hangarettes, which eases work at Lecce Galatina a little, as it can be quite hot over there. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Flight gear of students at Galatina. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Flight gear of students at Galatina. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
The pilot always inspects the aircraft himself, before getting into the cockpit. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
The pilot always inspects the aircraft himself, before getting into the cockpit. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
It seems these guys are having fun flying the new T-346A. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
It seems these guys are having fun flying the M-346, which is called T-346A in Italian Air Force service.. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
This T-346A is about to come out of its hangarette to play (Image © Dennis Spronk)
This Master is about to taxi out. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Rolling out of the hangarette, this Master carries AHF editor Elmer van Hest in the backseat for an interesting flight. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Rolling out of its shelter, this T-346A carries AHF editor Elmer van Hest in the backseat for a familiarization and photography flight. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
In the background a MB-339 is about to follow this T-346A towards the runway at Galatina airbase. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
In the background a MB-339 is about to follow this T-346A towards the runway at Lecce Galatina airbase. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
In a few moments, this T-346A will line up and disappear into the blue sky (Image © Dennis Spronk)
In a few moments, this T-346A will line up and disappear into the blue sky (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Two Masters are about to roll down the runway. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Two Masters are about to roll down the runway. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
After a rainy night, this Master almost lifts off from the wet runway. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
After a rainy night, this Master almost lifts off from the wet runway. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Facing the sun clearly shows the smooth lines of the T-346A. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Facing the sun clearly shows the smooth lines of the T-346A. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
The three squadrons resident a Galatina Airbase, each representing a different phase in pilot training. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
The three squadrons resident a Lecce Galatina Airbase, each representing a different phase in pilot training. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

© 2017 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: The refuelling probe is one of the most externally visible differences between the MB-339A and the newer MB-339CD model. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

‘Cool stuff I’ve seen’

In social circles, I find that my profession is an unusual one about which I get asked some pretty standard questions: “how fast have you been? How high have you been? Do you ever get scared?” Luckily, pilots love to talk about themselves and flying in general. The chats I like are those which ask questions I haven’t even thought about. Some of these were “what’s the coolest thing you’ve seen?” and “what are your most memorable flights?”

Nick Graham is a former Royal Air Force Tornado and Typhoon pilot who also flew F-16s with the Royal Danish Air Force. He’s is currently an instructor pilot, training future jet pilots in the United Arab Emirates. This is his second blog on Airheadsfly.com. Interested in reading Nick's first? Find it here.
Nick Graham is a former Royal Air Force Tornado and Typhoon pilot who also flew F-16s with the Royal Danish Air Force. He’s is currently an instructor pilot, training future jet pilots in the United Arab Emirates.

So, the coolest thing I’ve seen? I can’t choose one thing, but I can probably make a shortlist.

1.    Watching the Northern Lights on NVGs while I was flying from Scotland.
2.    Watching my wingman trail a shockwave behind him with the sun setting behind him at low level over the North Sea
3.    Watching mount Etna erupt with massive thunderstorms all around me while I flew on NVGs on my way to Libya
4.    Landing on a compacted snow runway at Bodo in Norway
5.    Looking in my mirrors as I left contrails behind me flying a barrel roll at 38,000’ in a Typhoon for the first time
6.    Looking at the curvature of the earth from 50,000 over the Falkland Islands flying at Mach 2
7.    The view on top of the clouds on a rainy day
8.    Scotland

RAF Voyager aircraft support Quick Reaction Alert duties 24/7. (Image © AirTanker)
RAF Voyager aircraft support Quick Reaction Alert duties 24/7. (Image © AirTanker)

My most memorable flights?

1.    First solo in every aeroplane I’ve flown
2.    First flight in every aeroplane I’ve flown
3.    My “wings trip” when I passed my advanced flight course on the hawk
4.    Passenger flights when I took ground crew flying as passengers
5.    The first time I went air to air refuelling
6.    My first war time flight
7.    The first time I dropped a bomb in anger
8.    My third trip on the Typhoon OCU where students are introduced the high performance capability of the jet

As for the standard questions?

Twice the speed of sound, 55,000’ and yes. We can chat in more detail about some of these flights another time, unless you can think of a different question you would ask?

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com contributor Nick Graham
Featured image: Nick at work in the Typhoon’s cockpit. (Image © Nick Graham.

 

Russian Helicopters on the move with Mi-17

Some interesting news about the Russian Helicopters Mi-17 helicopters in recent days. The first is the delivery of a second batch of Mi-171 helicopters to the Angolan Air Force. Besides that, as announced on Tuesday 29 March, it seems that Russian Helicopters is close to reach agreement for the long-term service contract with India for the Mi-17 types in service.

“We have conducted negotiations with our Indian partners and we plan to sign a contract that will lay the foundation for collaboration between Russian Helicopters and India in an entirely new way. The company is shifting from offering separate services to providing comprehensive after-sales support.  The possibility of such collaboration is now being discussed with the Air Force, Navy and border patrol troops of India,” said Igor Chechikov, Russian Helicopter’s deputy CEO at Defexpo India 2016. 

“For us, it will be the first long-term service contract with India.  Set prices and delivery dates for supplying equipment needed to repair our helicopters are among the advantages of this type of contract.  It will boost Russian-made helicopters’ after-sales system to a new level.”

Mi-17 helicopters in India

According to the preliminary agreement, Russian Helicopters will provide repairs to Mi-17 type helicopters and will supply spare parts for them throughout the entire life cycle of the rotorcraft.  Repairs of helicopters operated in India will be performed by enterprises belonging to Russian Helicopters holding company.

The contract life cycle is expected to be 3 – 5  years.  Its further extension, as well as an expansion of helicopter models covered by the after-sales support system, are also being considered.

(Image © Russian Helicopters)
(Image © Russian Helicopters)

Second batch of Mi-171s to Angola

Recently, a batch of 4 Mi-171Sh helicopters has been delivered to Angola. The helicopters produced by JSC Ulan-Ude aviation plant (operating as part of Russian Helicopters) were supplied in addition to another four delivered to the customer in 2015. The rotorcraft supply contract was concluded by JSC Rosoboronexport.

The helicopters delivered to Angola are fitted with modern flight and navigation equipment optimizing the flight profile and increasing flight safety.

The Peruvian Army also received a second batch of 4 Mi-171Sh-P helicopters in December 2014.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Dennis Spronk
Featured image: An Indian Air Force Mil Mi-17V-5 (Image © Russian Helicopters)

Royal Air Force P-8A Poseidons one step closer

As a follow-up on the statement in the UK startegic defense review, announced by UK prime minister David Cameron in November last year, the UK government has now requested notification for the possible procurement of up to nine (9) P-8A Patrol Aircraft, associated major defense equipment, associated training, and support. The estimated cost is $3.2 billion.

This was announced by the US State Department on 25 March 2016. The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the United Kingdom for P-8A Aircraft and associated equipment, training, and support. The estimated cost is $3.2 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on 24 March 2016.

The proposed sale will allow the UK to reestablish its Maritime Surveillance Aircraft (MSA) capability that it divested when it cancelled the Nimrod MRA4 Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) program. The United Kingdom has retained core skills in maritime patrol and reconnaissance following the retirement of the Nimrod aircraft through Personnel Exchange Programs (PEPs). The MSA has remained the United Kingdom’s highest priority unfunded requirement. The P-8A aircraft would fulfill this requirement. The UK will have no difficulty absorbing these aircraft into its armed forces.

Implementation of the proposed sale will require approximately sixty-four (64) personnel hired by Boeing to support the program in the United Kingdom.

The US Navy is the main user of the P-8A Poseidon, but also the Indian Navy and Royal Australian Air Force (both 8 examples, maybe even 12) also bought this machine.

© 2016 DSCA, with additional information by Airheadsfly.com editor Dennis Spronk
Featured image: The 6th Boeing P-8I for the Indian Navy (Image © Boeing)

First flight for Norwegian AW101

The first of 16 AgustaWestland AW101 helicopters for the Norwegian Ministry of Justice and Public Security (MoJ) successfully performed its maiden flight at the AgustaWestland Helicopter Division’s Yeovil factory in the UK on 21 March 2016.  This was announced by Finmeccanica on 23 March 2016.

The successful on-schedule maiden flight marks a major milestone and the start of the flight test programme that will lead to initial aircraft deliveries to the MoJ, for operation by the Royal Norwegian Air Force, in 2017. Aircraft deliveries will continue through to 2020.

“I am very pleased that Finmeccanica has reached this important milestone in the SAR helicopter project and thereby making good progress for the replacement of the aging Sea King helicopter with the new state-of-the-art AW101 by 2020,” says the Minister of Justice and Public Security, Mr. Anders Anundsen.

The first Norwegian AW101 during its maiden flight on 21 March from Yeovil airfield (Image © Finmeccanica)
The first Norwegian AW101 during its maiden flight on 21 March from Yeovil airfield (Image © Finmeccanica)

As we reported earlier, the Norwegian Ministry of Justice and Public Security signed a contract for 16 AW101 helicopters plus support and training, back in december 2013, to meet the Norwegian All Weather SAR Helicopter (NAWSARH) requirement based on a new generation aircraft. Each aircraft is provided with an advanced SAR equipment package including a multi-panel AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) surveillance radar system, that provides 360° coverage. The large cabin doors and rear ramp provide easy access for personnel, survivors and equipment into the 27 m3 cabin which has stand-up head room throughout.

Finmeccanica’s Helicopter Division will provide initial support and training services, including spares at each of the aircraft operating bases and aircrew training. It will then provide performance based logistic support to deliver approximately 90,000 flying hours across the fleet of 16 helicopters over the initial 15 year period of operation. In support of pilot training, a full flight simulator will be available in Norway in advance of the delivery of the first aircraft.

The AW101 is in service with several air forces. For example, the Danish Air Force already send their AW101 (EH101) for operations in Afghanistan. In 2015, Japan got its first anti-mine AW101 (MCH-101) delivered, produced by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, while the Italian Air Force recently introduced its first CSAR AW101 (HH-101A) into service.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Dennis Spronk
Featured image: The first Norwegian AW101 during its maiden flight on 21 March from Yeovil airfield (Image © Finmeccanica)