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.
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.
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.
The French Air Force rotated their Mirage 2000D deployment in support of Opération Serval, the French anti-rebel military deployment in Mali.
Three Mirage 2000D of the fighter detachment (DETCHASSE) at Bamako, Mali flew home to the 133 Air Base Nancy-Ochey. Three Mirage 2000Ds from Nancy landed on June 22nd at Bamako, supported by a C-135 tanker from 125 Airbase Istres.
Since the beginning of the Operation Serval the Mirage 2000D DETCHASSE at Bamako conducted 435 missions, totaling nearly 2,200 flight hours.
About 3,200 French troops are currently on Malian soil with a mission to permanently weaken islamists rebels.
Sources: EMA / Ministère de la Défense de la France
June 2013 will be noticed in the world’s aviation records as the goodbye to the legendary McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II fighter from West-European skies as the German Air Force said farewell to the type after 40 years of operations. But not before Fighter Wing 71 (Jagdgeschwader 71) threw a little party at its homebase Wittmundhafen in the north of the country. Special paint jobs had turned the last of the Luftwaffe F-4s in tasty eye-candy, as witnessed by tens of thousands of enthousiasts, including AIRheads editors.