Category Archives: Fighters

Phantom Pharewell Afterparty

,,Can’t be!” one of the authors  of AIRheads↑FLY thought after seeing F-4F Phantoms touchdown for the last time at Wittmundhafen airbase in northern Germany. It should be Phantoms Phorever. So let’s throw a little afterparty, right here and now.

Starting off with some chilling, easy Phantom vibes, here are some Germans doing what they do best: looking phabolous.

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Luftwaffe F-4F blasting off from Laage airbase in 2006. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
German F-4F Phantom about to slam it down on RWY24 of Leeuwarden AB.
German F-4F Phantom about to slam it down on RWY24 of Leeuwarden AB. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Hellenic Air Force
Turning up the heat with a taste of Southern Europe. The Greeks modified their Phantoms to F-4E AUP standard, including the AN/APG-65GY radar suited for AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles. Advanced radar warning receivers were added, and the Greeks also took the opportunity to integrate the Rafael Litening II pod and AGM-142 Popeye missile. Plus their Phantoms can use state-of-the-art JDAM ammunition. The modified Phantoms are recognized by the four IFF transponders on the nose. But we actually don’t really care about all that … as long as the results look this good.

Back in the days when the Tactical Leadership Program (TLP) was still at Florennes in Belgium. This Greek Phantom is taking off ahead of the pack for a refuel at Leeuwarden. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Back in the days when the Tactical Leadership Program (TLP) was still at Florennes in Belgium. This Greek Phantom is taking off ahead of the pack for a refuel at Leeuwarden. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Still at Florennes, a different Phantom. There's a runway there, somewhere ... (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Still at Florennes, a different Phantom. There’s a runway there, somewhere … (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Turkish Air Force
Slightly further south Turkey still uses Phantoms everyday. In 2011 the Türk Hava Kuvvetleri showed a modified RF-4E during the Izmir airshow, celebrating a 100 years of military aviation in Turkey. That’s two tasty Phantoms!

Oven-like hot day in Izmir, cool camouflage. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Oven-like hot day in Izmir, cool camouflage. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Not hot enough for you? Warm your hands on what these J-79s put out at Lechfeld in Germany. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Not hot enough for you? Warm your hands on what these J-79s put out at Lechfeld in Germany. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

South Korean Air Force
Okay, getting into serious Phantom territory now, with rarer-than-rare South Korean rhinos. The Koreans used the ancient F-4D up till a few years ago. Crazy stuff.

Heart-attack moment at Seosan when - in the middle of a flock of F-16s - came two F-4D dinosaurs. We're talking October 2000 here. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Heart-attack moment at Seosan when – in the middle of a flock of F-16s – came two F-4D dinosaurs. We’re talking October 2004 here. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

The South Korean RF-4Cs are nearing the end of their lives, but they still haul some serious equipment around. Feel free to guess what the center-line pod on this Phantom is … because we just don’t know.

What's that under the fuselage? No prizes for the right answer (or any answer). Just look at that RF-4C Phantom. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
What’s that under the fuselage? No prizes for the right answer (or any answer). Just look at that RF-4C Phantom. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

The F-4E is still in use in South Korea. No problem, keep it going! Phantoms Phorever!

Approaching Cheongju airbase in central South Korea. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Approaching Cheongju airbase in central South Korea. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

As we are still digging through our archives, we found Japanese, Spanish and US Phantoms caught a long time ago. They are screaming to be seen again. So, we’ll be back soon with more of the mighty Phantom.

© 2013 AIRheads’ editor Elmer van Hest

More F-35s to Luke

F-35A Lightning IIs perform an aerial refueling mission with a KC-135 Stratotanker on May 13, 2013, off the coast of northwest Florida. (Image © USAF / Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen)
F-35A Lightning IIs perform an aerial refueling mission with a KC-135 Stratotanker on May 13, 2013, off the coast of northwest Florida. (Image © USAF / Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen)

Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, will get 72 additional F-35A Lightning II fighter aircraft, bringing the eventual total number of the fifth-generation fighters expected there at 144.

The Air Force’s initial decision to establish an F-35 pilot training center here was announced in August 2012, following a three-year process that included an extensive environmental impact analysis.

The Lockheed Martin F-35A, also known as Joint Strike Fighter, intended to be the Air Force’s premier strike aircraft through the first half of the 21st century. It is a multirole fighter that is expected to eventually phase out the F-16 Fighting Falcon and A-10 Thuderbolt II.

Aircraft are expected to begin arriving at Luke AFB in spring 2014, although exact timing will depend on production schedules. Construction on base to prepare for the aircraft is currently underway, with about US$10 million of US$57 million in projects already completed.

The 2012 Record of Decision cited several reasons why Luke AFB was the service’s top choice for F-35A basing, including facility and ramp capacity, range access, weather and capacity for future growth. The base has been training fighter pilots for more than 70 years.

Source: USAF

Norway ‘not amused’ by F-16 pilot cut

RNoAF F-16AM no. 292 over Langvatnet, North West of Snøhetta (Image © Morten Hanche / Forsvaret)
RNoAF F-16AM no. 292 over Langvatnet, North West of Snøhetta (Image © Morten Hanche / Forsvaret)

UPDATE SEPTEMBER 5: In the year 2014 Norway can still count on six F-16 pilot training positions in the USA (Forsvaret). But how it looks in 2015 is still uncertain.

The Norwegian Armed Forces (Forsvaret) and political parties are ‘not amused’ by a recent American move to cut the number of Norwegian F-16 pilot training positions in the USA from six to only two, reports Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten on July 17th, 2013.

The US action could be both for financial reasons and to free training spots for Iraqi and Japanese pilots, say sources to the newspaper.

Norway has committed itself to the F-16 and more or less to its successor the F-35 Lightning II (Joint Strike Fighter). The biggest Norwegian opposition party (conservative Høyre) now wants the government to postpone signing the F-35 main contract or cancel it all together.

Currently six pilots are doing their lead-in fighter training in the USA on the T-38 Talon. For four of them it is now highly uncertain if they can continue as previously planned on the F-16 Fighting Falcon in Tuscon (Arizona) later this year. It also confronts the Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) with the possible lack of qualified pilots for the defence of the country.

© 2013 AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger

See also our Overview: Royal Norwegian Air Force

Touchdown for UK’s Lightning II No. 3

The third new Lightning II fighter for the UK touches down at Eglin AFB (Image © Lockheed Martin)
The third new Lightning II fighter for the UK touches down at Eglin AFB (Image © Lockheed Martin)
The UK’s third new Lightning II fighter jet (F-35B) arrived at Eglin AFB in Florida in June to start pilot and maintainer training, reports the press department of manufacturer Lockheed Martin.

USMC Lt. Col. Roger Hardy piloted the aircraft known as BK-3 (ZM137) on its 90-minute ferry flight from the F-35 production plant at NAS Fort Worth JRB.

The F-35 Lightning II is a 5th Generation fighter, combining stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information and network-enabled operations.

Once delivered in several years from now the Lightning II will be deployed aboard the Royal Navy aircraft carriers. Therefore the B-version of the F-35 has special Short Take-off and Vertical Landing abilities. The US Marine Corps aims to have their F-35Bs at Initial Operational Capability in 2015.

The UK’s Lightnings are produced by Lockheed Martin in co-operation with Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, GE Aviation, Martin-Baker, SELEX, Cobham, Ultra Electronics, UTC Actuation Systems and Rolls-Royce.

Source: Lockheed Martin

Check out the Royal Air Force Orbat at Scramble.nl

Dutch F-16s snap 3 million images of Afghanistan

RecceLite pod on a RNLAF F-16 (Image © NL Ministry of Defence)
RecceLite pod on a RNLAF F-16 (Image © NL Ministry of Defence)

A Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16 fighter made the 3 millionth Dutch image of Afghanistan with the photo reconnaissance system RecceLite in mid-June.

The Koninlijke Luchtmacht (KLu) detachment has been using the recce pod in Afghanistan since 2009, making tens of thousands of photos every day. They help to detect so-called improvised explosive devices (‘home-made bombs’) that pose a threat to soldiers and civilians on the ground.

According to the Dutch Ministry of Defence F-16s of the Royal Netherlands Air Force are the only assets in northern Afghanistan to use advanced photo recon technology.

KLu F-16 also provide close air support when requested by NATO/ISAF command and have been doing that ever since the multi-role fighters were first deployed in the Asian country in 2002.

Source: Press release NL MoD

Check out the Royal Netherlands Air Force Orbat at Scramble.nl