It is July 29th today – and let’s just call this day International MiG-29 Day from now on. Yeah! Inspired by our recent digging up of ol’ F-4 Phantom shots, we started looking for some Fulcrums as well since we feel Phantoms and Fulcrums are sort of ‘in the same category’: the category of King of Cool, that is. Here are some hot shots.
We like Poland and we like MiG-29s. Good combo right there.
Hungary is great too! Both its capital Budapest and its MiG-29s. Good combo again!
For more than a decade, Germany used a bunch of Fulcrums that were leftovers from the Nationale Volksarmee (NVA), otherwise known as the East German army. The German MiG-29s were eventually sold to Poland, although a few are preserved in Germany.
These guys are a bit rare, but have shown up in Dutch viewfinders before … Serbia operates a few Fulcrums and did so during the 2012 Batajnica airshow near Belgrade – a city we loved spending some time in while enjoying some Jelen beer.
Next up is a Slovakian MiG-29. We like the Slovaks – simply because they are still flying these things.
Bulgaria sent a MiG-29UB to the 2011 Izmir Airshow, and AIRheads↑FLY was there to capture it and enjoy some of that fine Turkish food and weather.
MiG-29s come in flocks too! One such flock is called Team Strizhi in Russian, or Team Swallows for non-Russian speakers.
Always finish with a rarity is our motto. We anticipate this is rare enough for a grande finale:
Seventeen squadrons, 50 aircraft from four air bases and a great location to fly. The best of the best of the Royal Air Force flocked to RAF Lossiemouth, Scotland, in July for the Combined Qualified Weapons Instructor (CQWI) exercise.
,,The CQWI exercise is looking to pass 27 students over 2 weeks to gain their qualification as a weapon’s instructor. For most of the individuals involved in CQWI it is their final exercise in a gruelling 12 month training programme. The exercise is held for pilots who are considered the brightest and best, allowing them to gain tactical appreciation of the aircraft and the significance of their role on operations”, writes a RAF press spokesperson.
The exercise brings extra life to the homebase of the Panavia Tornado GR4s of 12(B), 15(R) and 617 Squadron. Eurofighter Typhoons, British Aerospace Hawk T1As, Lockheed C-130Ks, Lockheed C-130J, a Sentinel R1 and Dassault DA20 Falcons were all involved. Some act as bogey, some provide intel and some merely focus on the training.
RAF Typhoons of 1(F) squadron will move permanently to Lossiemouth from September 2014.
The Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF / KLu) received its first next-generation fighter, the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II on July 25th, 2013. Although the Joint Strike Fighter is now officially Dutch, it will almost immediately after the planned ferry flight from Forth Worth, Texas, to Eglin AFB, Florida, be stored there. Reason: the Dutch parliament has not decided yet if it likes to continue with the purchase of up to 56 F-35s.
The Netherlands ordered two aircraft, the first in 2009, but budget crises and increasing JSF development and production costs scared off the Dutch people’s representatives a bit.
The second Dutch test JSF has been produced as well. According to the Dutch Ministry of Defence it undergoes a series of test and acceptance flights before it will join the first KLu F-35 stored at Eglin. The mothballing will continue until the Netherlands government makes a final decision on which aircraft will succeed the RNLAF F-16 fighters.
Belgian F-16AM/BM Fighting Falcons will take on the Baltic Air Policing duties of NATO from September to December 2013, reports the press service of the Belgian Air Component.
From Šiauliai Airbase in Lithuania four F-16 fighter aircraft supported by 50 personnel will provide air cover and air interception for NATO’s most eastern North European aerospace. It will be the third time for the Belgian Vipers, after earlier participation in 2004 and 2006.
Every Belgian fighter pilot will clock about 15 tot 20 flight hours per month, totaling 320 flight hours for the entire mission. NATO’s detachment of fighter jets in Lithuania regularly intercepts or shadows Russian military aircraft over the Baltic Sea. The former Soviet Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are since 2004 part of NATO. Since they lack proper air defence assets themselves, other NATO members jump in on the joint task to protect the airspace of its member nations. The same defence agreement also counts for the NATO countries of Luxemburg, Iceland and Slovenia who all lack fighter aircraft.
The Royal Air Force announced that 617 Squadron ‘Dambusters’ will be the first operational squadron using Lockheed Martin Lightning II aircraft, designated F-35B and also known as the Joint Strike Fighter.
Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton made the announcement at a Royal United Services Institute conference on Air Power. 617 Squadron is first to disband on April 1st, 2014, when its Tornado GR4 aircraft will be retired. The Dambusters will rise from the ashes in 2016 when the new Lightning II will be delivered.
The UK’s Lightning II is the Short Take Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, which will give the supersonic multi-role stealth aircraft the ability to operate from airbases at land or from aircraft carriers at sea. When it reforms in 2016, 617 Squadron will have both RAF and Royal Navy personnel. The second Lightning II squadron will a Royal Navy one but will be similarly manned by both RAF and RN personnel.