Category Archives: Aviation Headlines

KLM adds six more Embraer 190s to fleet

A KLM Embraer 190 (Image © KLM)
A KLM Embraer 190 (Image © KLM)

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines will add an additional six Embraer 190 passenger jets to its Cityhopper short-haul fleet, announced the Dutch airline on July 24th, 2013.

The new aircraft will be leased from BOC Aviation which purchased the aircraft from the Brazilian manufacturer. The six Embraer 190s will replace seven Fokker 70s between November 2013 and April 2014.

KLM Cityhopper is a full daughter company of KLM, which is since 2004 part of Air France-KLM. The soon to be 28 Embraer 190 and 19 Fokker 70 Cityhopper aircraft make about 100,000 flights per year, operating from Amsterdam Schiphol airport to serve 49 European destinations. Compared to the Fokker 70 the Embraer 190 uses less fuel, has less CO2 exhaust, offers passengers more space and flies faster. The Embraer 190 accommodates up to a 100 passengers, against 80 aboard the Fokker 70. Eventuallly KLM will retire all Fokkers.

Source: KLM

Dambusters will be UK’s first F-35 squadron

The first flight for the UK’s first F-35, known as BK-1. (Image © Lockheed Martin)
The first flight for the UK’s first F-35, known as BK-1. (Image © Lockheed Martin)

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.

Source: RAF

Check out the Royal Air Force Orbat at Scramble.nl

Saab started building first Gripen-E

The Saab JAS 39 Gripen E/F demo aircraft at the Swedish military airshow in 2010 at Linköping-Malmen. (Image © Marcel Burger)
The Saab JAS 39 Gripen E/F demo aircraft at the Swedish military airshow in 2010 at Linköping-Malmen. (Image © Marcel Burger)

Saab Defence started the construction of the first Gripen-E multi-role fighter at its plant at Linköping-Saab airfield, Sweden, reports the company.

First to be constructed is the front fuselage of the first pre-production test aircraft 39-8. Following a short period of design using the latest tools and methods, through so called Model Based Design, the construction of the Gripen E begins with the manufacturing and assembly of all parts of the fuselage. That is thee largest and most time consuming part of the airframe. These parts will then be joined together and assembled into a complete airframe. This is followed by an intensive construction period to install cables, mount systems, the outer shell and other equipment.

Based on the design of previous versions of the Gripen fighter aircraft, the Gripen-E offers a next generation sensor suite, new communication links, a new avionics architecture, more thrust, increased flight time, more weapon stations and load capability, a fully digital cockpit and a brand new electronic warfare system.

The test aircraft 39-8 will be the first complete pre-production version of the Gripen-E and will be used to demonstrate new features and capabilites. The technological leaps in the Gripen-E have been proven in the Gripen demonstrator programme with the Gripen E/F demo aircraft that has flown over 250 hours in countries such as Sweden, the UK, India and Switzerland since 2008.

On February 15, Saab signed an agreement with the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) regarding development and modification of 60 Gripen-E for Sweden during the period 2013-2026 as well as a possible order for new production of Gripen E for Switzerland. More than 1,000 people at Saab are now working solely with the development and production of the Gripen-E.

Source: Saab Group

Check out the Swedish Defence Forces Orbat at Scramble.nl

Right now: Hot Blade 2013 in Portugal

FAP Agusta Westland EH-101 Merlin 15904 (Image © Força Aérea Portuguesa)
FAP Agusta Westland EH-101 Merlin 15904 (Image © Força Aérea Portuguesa)

If you like choppers, Portugal is the place to be these days as the Portuguese Air Force (Força Aérea Portuguesa; FAP) hosts the multinational helicopter exercise Hote Blade 13 at Ovar Airbase near the city of Porto.

Hot Blade 13 will see the involvement of 38 aircraft, including two Agusta Westland EH-101 Merlin helicopters from the FAP itself and possibly even a few of the FAP’s F-16 fighter aircraft.

The Royal Netherlands Air Force contributes an Eurocopter AS 532U2 Mk II Cougar and as much as up to five Boeing CH-47D/F Chinooks.

The Austrian Air Force sent three Agusta Bell AB 212s and three Bell OH-58 Kiowas. Four Belgian Air Component Agusta A109BAs has joined the exercise, as well as up to eight German Army UH-1D ‘Hueys’.

Hot Blade 13 started on July 17th and will last till July 31st.

Source: Força Aérea Portuguesa, NL Ministerie van Defensie

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.

germanF4F_1
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