Category Archives: Fighters

F-35 dragchute tests start at Edwards

At Edwards Air Force Base in California, tests of the F-35A dragchute system have started, according to the Norwegian Ministry of Defense. Both Norway and the Netherlands have ordered the system, which helps slowing down on runways in bad weather, icy conditions or emergencies,  to be installed on their F-35s.

Norwegian F-35 pilot: ‘We are on track.’ (Image © Forsvaret)

The tests are performed with F-35 test aircraft AF-02, which is specially instrumented for this purpose. The tests at Edwards are designed to see how the jet behaves in the air with a fitted parachute fairing. The fairing is made of composite and metal materials and is mounted on the F-35’s aft fuselage. It houses the dragchute, which is deployed after landing if needed.

At Edwards, the actual chute will be tested on a  dry and wet runway. A second test phase is planned in 2018 at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska, where tests will be conducted in winter conditions similar to Norway. Tests have already been performed in simulators.

Brake monitor

Norwegian jets will also feature a brake monitor in the cockpit, which will provide pilots with information on braking action on the runway. In November 2017, the first Norwegian F-35s will arrive in-country, and they are to be fitted with this integrated brake monitor. The testing of the brake monitor will however continue until spring 2018.

Norway eyes 52 F-35s, while the Netherlands is looking for 37 jets. According to Norwegian MoD, the dragchute system and brake monitor are also avaliable to other countries.

© 2017 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: An impression of the drag chute pod on top of the F-35 fuselage. (Image © Lockheed Martin)

US Air Force F-35s head to Europe

UPDATED 15 April | The US Department of Defense on Friday announced it is sending a small number of US Air Force F-35s to Europe ‘as part of a long-planned training deployment’. The jets are to arrive this weekend and will most likely head to Lakenheath airbase in the UK, with Spangdahlem airbase in Germany as a secondary option.

Update 15 april | Six F-35s arrived at Lakenheath in the UK
at 1:45 pm local time, supported by two KC-135 tankers. Video of their arrival is below.

The F-35s – indications are eight jets are involved – will be part of the US Air Force’s 388th Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. In August 2016, the wing was the first to reach Initial Operational Capability (IOC) on the new jet. A deployment to Europe was mentioned on several occasions before, but the Pentagon never said when this would actually happen.

Lakenheath in the UK seems a likely destination, since the F-35 is to be based here also in the future.

US Air Forces in Europe and US European Command have said they will release additional information once the 5th generation fighter jets arrive in Europe,

The deployment marks the second time this year the US is sending its latest generation fighter jet abroad. United States Marine Corps (USMC) F-35Bs deployed to Iwakuni in Japan earlier this year.

© 2017 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: One of the F-35s is caught here while arriving at Lakenheath airbase on 15 April. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Eric Burks)

Service life of US F-16s extended to 12,000 hours

The US Air Force has authorized extending the service life of the Lockheed Martin F-16’s designed service life to 12,000 Equivalent Flight Hours — far beyond the aircraft’s original design service life of 8,000 hours.

Following F-16 Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) structural modifications, the US Air Force potentially could safely operate Block 40-52 aircraft to 2048 and beyond. The Air Force and Lockheed Martin also reduced projected service life costs for the Block 40-52 fleet, paving the way for safe, cost-effective F-16 flight operations for the next decades.

“This accomplishment is the result of more than seven years of test, development, design and analysis,” said Susan Ouzts, vice president of Lockheed Martin’s F-16 program. “Combined with F-16 avionics modernization programs like the F-16V, SLEP modifications demonstrate that the Fighting Falcon remains a highly capable and affordable 4th Generation option for the US Air Force and international F-16 customers.”

Validation of the extended flight hour limit directly supports the SLEP goal of extending the service life of up to 300 F-16C/D Block 40-52 aircraft. SLEP and related avionics upgrades to the US F-16C/D fleet can safely and effectively augment the current fighter force structure as US and allied combat air fleets recapitalize with F-35 Lightning IIs.

A second phase, or Part II, of the F-16 SLEP airworthiness process continues with the request for Military Type Certificate (MTC), which will be submitted to the Air Force’s Technical Airworthiness Authority in the coming months. Part II seeks to validate further extending the F-16’s operational life based on final service life analysis from extended durability testing.

500th Eurofighter Typhoon delivered

Fourteen years after the delivery of the very first Eurofighter Typhoon, the 500th aircraft was delivered on Tuesday 11 April. At Leonardo’s Turin facility, the Italian Air Force took delivery of the Typhoon in question.

The ceremony was witnessed by several authorities, with officials from Kuwait also among those present. Kuwait in 2016 ordered 28 Typhoons in a bilateral contract with Italy. The ceremony in Turin saw the presentation of very first part for the very first jet for Kuwait. The country will soon join the UK, Germany, Spain, Italy, Austria and Saudi Arabia as a Typhoon operator.

In Turin, Chief Executive Officer of Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH Volker Paltzo said: “The 500 strong Eurofighter Typhoon fleet represents one of the largest and most capable fighter fleets in the western hemisphere, and will be the backbone of European airpower for decades to come. Today’s handover is a great testament to the programme’s success, and I firmly expect to see the fleet grow further as our partner companies continue to pursue opportunities for more orders internationally.”

Filippo Bagnato, Leonardo Aircraft Division Managing Director, said: “We are very proud to deliver the 500th Eurofighter Typhoon produced to the Italian Air Force. The Eurofighter Typhoon is the largest collaborative industrial program in Europe, it is a successful and significant contributor to the nation’s economic wellbeing, employing high-skilled workers and generating thousands of high-value manufacturing and engineering jobs. We are now fully committed to completing deliveries to the Italian Air Force, to develop the capabilities of the aircraft, and to the activities envisaged by Kuwait’s contract, while continuing to pursue a number of significant market opportunities around the world.”

The first Eurofighter was delivered to the UK at the end of 2003. The 100th Eurofighter was delivered to the UK Royal Air Force in September 2006. The 200th aircraft was handed over to the German Air Force in November 2009. The 300th aircraft was delivered to the Spanish Air Force in October 2011, and the 400th to the German Air Force in December 2013.

The Typhoon has since been deployed on multiple occasions on air policing duties with the Spanish, German, Italian and UK air forces and has seen combat during operations in Libya, Iraq and Syria.

Swedish aviation icon SAAB turns 80 years, going strong

The Swedish aviation icon SAAB is celebrating its birthday on 2 April. In 1937 the company was founded after a decision by the Swedish parliament to have the country produce its own aircraft. Eighty years later the military aircraft made in Linköping are more popular then ever.

The newest combat aircraft made in Sweden is in service with five nations: Sweden, Hungary, the Czech Republic, South Africa and Thailand. Two more nations will be flying the JAS 39 Gripen soon: Brazil and Slovakia; with Brazilian Embraer will even to produce the new and larger E-version supported by Saab engineers and technology. While the plant in Linköping will manufacture 60 of the Gripen E for its own Flygvapnet.

We at Airheadsfly.com say “Stort grattis på födelsedagen” (Happy birthday) Saab with a photo essay.

© 2017 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): Frontal view of the legendary Saab Draken
(Image © Marcel Burger)

Royal Danish Air Force (Flyvevåbnet) Saab T-17 (MFI-17 Supporter) training aircraft at Fliegerhorst Wittmundhafen (Wittmund AB), Niedersachsen, Germany (Deutschland). The aircraft with serial T-428 serves with the Flight School (Flyveskolen) at Karup. (Image © Marcel Burger)
Royal Danish Air Force (Flyvevåbnet) Saab T-17 (MFI-17 Supporter) training aircraft at Fliegerhorst Wittmundhafen (Wittmund AB), Niedersachsen, Germany (Deutschland). The aircraft with serial T-428 serves with the Flight School (Flyveskolen) at Karup. (Image © Marcel Burger)
We’re on top of a lot of Saab Gripen news lately, but at AIRheads↑FLY we’re sure not to forget the original Saab – at least in our eyes: the Draken. It needs no words. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Saab S 100B Argus AEW&C aircraft of the Flygvapnet (Swedish Air Force), reg. no. 100002, with the Erieye radar (Image © Marcel Burger)
Saab S 100B Argus AEW&C aircraft of the Flygvapnet (Swedish Air Force), reg. no. 100002, with the Erieye radar (Image © Marcel Burger)
A Saab Gripen on patrol. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A Saab Gripen on patrol. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Saab Gripens at Lion Effort 2015 (Image © Martin Král)
Saab Gripens at Lion Effort 2015 (Image © Martin Král)
An Austrian Saab 105 training aircraft in cool tiger livery (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The "office" of a Gripen C pilot (Image © Saab AB)
The “office” of a Gripen C pilot (Image © Saab AB)
A Czech Gripen on alert on Iceland (Image © Tomáš Maruščák)
A Swedish Air Force SAAB SK 60 after landing (Image © Marcel Burger)
A Swedish Air Force SAAB SK 60 after landing (Image © Marcel Burger)
The end is near for the Saab 2000 in Braathens service. Seen here landing at Stockholm-Arlanda in March 2015 (Image © Marcel Burger)
The end is near for the Saab 2000 in Braathens service. Seen here landing at Stockholm-Arlanda in March 2015 (Image © Marcel Burger)
Saab 91D Safir in the historic livery of the Rijksluchtvaartschool Holland. (Image © Marcel Burger)
Saab 91D Safir in the historic livery of the Rijksluchtvaartschool Holland. (Image © Marcel Burger)
Sweden is famous for its candy. Here's some eye candy in the shape of a Saab Sk37E Viggen. Nothing sweet about that, however. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Sweden is famous for its candy. Here’s some eye candy in the shape of a Saab Sk37E Viggen. Nothing sweet about that, however. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A restored Viggen flying from Linköping (Image © Elmer van Hest)
20140220_CASLAV_JAS39C_9238_FRONT-1024x682
Saab Gripen: a work of art and a Czech prize fighter. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Roll-out of the new, more capable Gripen E in May 2016 (Image © Saab)
Roll-out of the new, more capable Gripen E in May 2016 (Image © Saab)
Saab coops with Boeing on the possible future T-X advanced trainer for the US Air Force. It may even replace the SAAB SK60 of the Swedish Air Force (Image © Boeing)
Saab coops with Boeing on the possible future T-X advanced trainer for the US Air Force. It may even replace the SAAB SK60 of the Swedish Air Force (Image © Boeing)
Take-off! (Image © Louise Levin / Försvarsmakten)
Take-off! (Image © Louise Levin / Försvarsmakten)
One of the two US Air Force B-52s in formation with Swedish Air Force SAAB JAS 39 Gripen jets passing by the USS San Antonio off the coast of Southern Sweden on 13 June 2015 (Image © US Navy)
One of the two US Air Force B-52s in formation with Swedish Air Force SAAB JAS 39 Gripen jets passing by the USS San Antonio off the coast of Southern Sweden on 13 June 2015 (Image © US Navy)
For a long time Saab's first jet aircraft was the only Swedish made combat jet ever to have been deployed during war, when it was supporting the UN forces in Congo in the 1960s. The current Gripen has seen action over Libya. (Image © Marcel Burger)
For a long time Saab’s first jet aircraft was the only Swedish made combat jet ever to have been deployed during war, when it was supporting the UN forces in Congo in the 1960s. The current Gripen has seen action over Libya. (Image © Marcel Burger)
A SAAB J32B Lansen taking off from Linköping Malmen. (Image © Marcel Burger)
A SAAB J32B Lansen taking off from Linköping Malmen. (Image © Marcel Burger)
A very cool frontal view of a Saab 2000 Erieye AEW&C showing off its missile defense suite (Image © Peter Liander / Saab AB)
A very cool frontal view of a Saab 2000 Erieye AEW&C showing off its missile defense suite (Image © Peter Liander / Saab AB)