Category Archives: Special Mission

Poland orders three Boeing Business Jets

The Polish Ministry of Defense and Boeing on Friday 31 March signed a contract for the delivery of three Boeing Business Jets, otherwise known as 737-800. The aircraft are to be used by the Polish Air Force for VIP transport. The contract is worth 523 million USD.

The first aircraft will be a used example and is scheduled for delivery in November 2017. It will be delivered in standard passenger configuration and upgraded later to BBJ standard at a later stage. The other aircraft will be completely new and be delivered in BBJ2 configuration. The first of these should arrive in Poland in 2020.

Poland formerly operated Tupolev Tu-154s for VIP-duties. One of these aircraft crashed near Smolensk on 10 April 2010, killing all 96 occupants, including Polish president Lech Kaczyński.

Poland since already ordered two G550 business jets, the first of which is about to be delivered.

© 2016 editor Elmer van Hest & contributor Paweł Bondaryk

New maritime patrol aircraft for Italy

The Italian Air Force on 13 December took delivery of the first two of a total four ATR 72MP maritime patriol aircraft to the Italian Air Force. Designated P-72A by the Italian Air Force, the aircraft will replace the Air Force’s obsolete Breguet Atlantic. The new aircraft were configured for their maritime role by Leonardo Aircraft.

The aircraft  is fitted for roles including maritime patrol for the search and identification of surface vessels, SAR (search and rescue) missions, the prevention of narcotics trafficking, piracy, smuggling, territorial water security and monitoring and intervention in the event of environmental catastrophes. The aircraft will be able to fly missions lasting six and a half hours.

The ATR 72MPs will be provided with the latest communication systems, able to transmit or receive information in real time to/from command and control centres either on the ground, in the air or at-sea, to ensure coordinated and effective operations. The aircraft will also be equipped with a self-protection system, fully integrated with the ATR 7MP’s mission system and avionics.

Hellenic CL-215 fire-fighters escape death

The crew of a Hellenic Air Force Bombardier (Canadair) CL-215 are probably the luckiest men on earth at the moment, escaping with only minor injuries from the aircraft an emergency landing went bad.

Looking at the images, published here among other location, one cannot think anything other that the pilot and co-pilot escaped death with narrow margins.

355 MTM Squadron

The CL-215 was engaged in combating a large fire near the village of Stefani in the Dervenochória, only 7 mls (11 km) north of Elefsis Airbase near Athens, home to the CL-215’s 355 MTM Squadron as well as seven other squadrons and a major part of the military airlift fleet of Greece.

Engine fire

According to Hellenic Air Force officials the left engine of the aircraft caught fire around 11:00 on the morning of 26 June. Attempting a safe landing the lack of trust threw the plane rather hard onto the ground where it struck objects while going astray.

Flight time

Local media report the pilot had 850 hours of flight time on the CL-215, and the co-pilot 250 hours.

Greek fire-fighting aircraft

It is the third time in two years that one of the HAF’s fire-fighting aircraft is written off. In May 2015 a CL-415 crashed, followed by a CL-215 in July last year. That leaves a remaining fleet of 39 aircraft to combat wildfires: 11 CL-215s, 7 newer CL-415GR/MPs and 21 PZL M18B Dromader planes from Poland.

© 2016 senior contributor Marcel Burger
Featured image: A Hellenic Air Force CL-215 (Image © HAF)

First US Coast Guard Spartan gets colourful

The US Coast Guard (USCG) this week accepted its first HC-27J Spartan medium range surveillance aircraft in full USCG colours. The Asset Project Office in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, accepted the aircraft on 30 March.

The C-27J is one of 14 aircraft formerly in service with the US Air Force. Budget cuts forced the aircraft to be retired after only a few years of service, but the USCG was quick to snatch them up. The US Special Operations Command also took seven Spartans.


After retirement from the USAF, the aircraft were stored at the US Air Force’s 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group  (AMARG) in Tucson, Arizona. The first Spartan destined for the USCG was re-delivered to the coast guard’s station in Elizabeth City in November 2014.


The repaint was completed by Leading Edge Aviation Services in Fort Worth, Texas. This particular Spartan will be transferred to Air Station Sacramento, California, this summer to continue the station’s transition from the HC-130H to the C-27J.

Five Spartan aircraft have been in operation in Elizabeth City since completing the regeneration process; the Coast Guard is conducting test flights on a sixth aircraft at AMARG, where the process to bring the Spartans out of long-term preservation is completed.

Meanhwile, C-27J Spartan manufacturer Finmeccanica continues efforts to make the Spartan also Canada’s fixed wing search and rescue platform over sea.

© 2016 editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): Smart looking Spartan (Image © USCG)

US Navy finally retires the Viking

The US Navy finally retired the Lockheed S-3 Viking earlier this week, performing a final flight from Naval Base Ventura County in  Point Mugu, California. It’s operational career ended in 2009 already, but three were retained for service with Air Test and Evaluation Squadron VX-30.

The S-3 Viking first flew on 21 January 1972 and started its operational career two years later, serving as an anti-submarine platform. It’s size, shape and hoover-like engine sound made it very recognizable aboard US aircraft carriers.


Later in it career it also flew as an electronic warfare platform and as an carrier onboard delivery (COD) aircraft. Most of the 188 Vikings built ended up in storage at the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) in Tucson, Arizona.

At least one aircraft escapes that fate, though. It will fly for NASA for some time to come.

© 2016 editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: Two Vikings overfly Naval Base Ventura County, California. (Image © US Navy)