Airbus A400M tests airfield seizure

Ground forces roll out from an Airbus A400M just landed at Boscombe Down on July 17th, 2013 (Image © Airbus Military)
Ground forces roll out from an Airbus A400M just landed at Boscombe Down on July 17th, 2013 (Image © Airbus Military)

In a series of tests at RAF Boscombe Down in the United Kingdom, Airbus Military tested the new A400M tactical transport aircraft to deploy vehicles and troops rapidly to seize an enemy airfield. The photo published on July 17th shows a Scimitar armoured reconnaissance vehicle, and weapons-mounted support vehicle with trailer exiting an A400M with its engines running to enable it to depart immediately. The technique is typically used to enable special forces to secure a bridgehead airfield so that large quantities of reinforcements and supplies can subsequently be delivered in safety. Although not tested this time, up to 60 troops could be deployed simultaneously with the vehicles.

Source: Airbus Military

Nine Australian C-130s to Indonesia

UPDATE 22 NOVEMBER 2013: The Indonesian government cancelled all military co-operation (temporarily) with Australia on 1 January 2014, out of anger of Australian espionage of highly placed officials including the Indonesian president. The Indonesian move will very likely cause cancellation or delay of at least the latter five C-130s.

Nine former Royal Australian Air Force C-130H Hercules will soldier on with the Indonesian Defence Forces, according to a press release by the Australian government on July 26th, 2013.

On that day five C-130s were offered at at discount rate and the two countries signed an pre-sale document. Four other Herculeses are already in the process of being transferred as part of an earlier agreement.

,,The sale of a further five C-130H transport aircraft will further enhance Indonesia’s capacity to respond to natural disasters and humanitarian crisis”, writes an Australian government press spokesperson.

Source: Australian Government

A RAAF C-130H Hercules in Iraq in 2008 (Image © Australian DoD/DMO)
A RAAF C-130H Hercules in Iraq in 2008 (Image © Australian DoD/DMO)

Upgraded Orion speeds to US Customs

The MLU P-3 Orion of US Customs and Border Protection lands at the agencies airfield of Greenville, South Caroline, July 2013. (Image © Lockheed Martin)
The MLU P-3 Orion of US Customs and Border Protection lands at the agencies airfield of Greenville, South Caroline, July 2013. (Image © Lockheed Martin)

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) received its eight of 14 upgraded Lockheed P-3 Orion on July 18th, 78 days ahead of delivery schedule, from Lockheed Martin.

During the so-called Mid-Life Update (MLU) the manufacturer replaces all fatigue life-limiting structures with enhanced-design components; and incorporates a new metal alloy that is five times more corrosion resistant than the original material. This way the operating costs of the P-3 are reduced. The MLU solution removes current aircraft flight restrictions and extends the structural service life of the P-3 up to 15,000 hours, adding more than 20 years of operational use.

Worldwide the Lockheed P-3 Orion is extensively used for maritime patrol and reconnaissance, homeland security, hurricane reconnaissance, anti-piracy operations, humanitarian relief, search and rescue, intelligence gathering, and antisubmarine warfare.

During fiscal year 2012, the CBP P-3 fleet seized or disrupted more than 117,765 pounds of cocaine valued at more than $8.8 billion, totaling 21.1 pounds seized for every flight hour, valued at $1.5 million for every hour flown.

Source: Lockheed Martin

Time for Twentynine

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.

Was at 5 years ago already? That scorching hot airshow at Berlin-Schönefeld. This Polish MiG29 was a show stealer.
Take off during a scorching hot airshow at Berlin-Schönefeld back in 2008. This Polish MiG-29 stole the show. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
We had to dust off our trusty scanner to get this shot somewhat presentable for you. It's another Polish MiG29, in the colours of its former owner, the Czech Republic. Photo taken at Dijon, France, 1997. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
We had to dust off our trusty scanner to get this shot somewhat presentable for you. It’s another Polish MiG-29, in the colours of its former owner, the Czech Republic. Photo taken at Dijon, France, 1997. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Hungary is great too! Both its capital Budapest and its MiG-29s. Good combo again!

Definitely not the time for a screwed up landing. Photo taken during the 2007 Kecskemét airshow. Kecskemét; we keep screwing up that name, so we checked the spelling especially for you, dear reader.
Definitely not the time to screw up a landing. Photo taken during the 2007 Kecskemét airshow. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

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.

Want to pimp your ride? Call the Germans! They know about proper paintjobs on airplanes. This Fulcrum was seen at Florennes, Belgium in 2001. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Want to pimp your ride? Call the Germans! They know about proper paintjobs on airplanes. This Fulcrum was seen at Florennes, Belgium in 2001. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

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.

What's not to like about those lines?
What’s not to like? (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Setting it down nicely on one of Batajnica's two runways.
Putting it down nicely on one of Batajnica’s two runways. The 2012 airshow saw high temperatures, a huge crowd and the treat of nine Fulcrums, of which four were from the host nation. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Next up is a Slovakian MiG-29. We like the Slovaks – simply because they are still flying these things.

Back in the days, when Fulcrums were regulars at European airshows. This one shows its stuff at Fairford 1995.
Back in the days, when Fulcrums were regulars at European airshows. This one shows its stuff at Fairford 1995.

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.

Are we taking it with us all the way to parking? Yep, we are.
“Are we dragging that thing with us all the way to the parking lot? Yep, we are.” (Image © Elmer van Hest)

MiG-29s come in flocks too! One such flock is called Team Strizhi in Russian, or Team Swallows for non-Russian speakers.

Team Stryyi were stars of the 2005 airshow in Brno. Key for succesfull photography at this airshow was to stay outside the airfield.
Team Stryyi was the star of the 2005 airshow at Brno. Key for succesfull photography at this airshow was to stay outside the airfield. A spot to the south of the runway provided excellent views. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Always finish with a rarity is our motto. We anticipate this is rare enough for a grande finale:

A Cuban MiG29UB in the Museo del Aire in Havana. Yeah, that's rare, because it is on of only two Cuban MiG29UB's that ever excisted. This picture was taken in december 2006 and the museum has since completely vanished. Not a trace left. It made this MiG29 even rarer.
A Cuban MiG-29UB in the Museo del Aire in Havana. Yeah, that’s rare, because it is one of only two Cuban MiG-29UBs that ever existed. This pic was taken in december 2006 and the museum has since completely vanished. Not a trace left. Our guess is this MiG now resides at San Antonio de los Banos airbase near Havana, away from public eyes. It makes this Fulcrum even more rare. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

© 2013 AIRheads editor Elmer van Hest

First UK’s new Merlins delivered

Royal Navy's new AgustaWestland AW101 Merlin Mk2 helicopter (Image © AgustaWestland)
Royal Navy’s AW101 Merlin Mk2 (Image © AgustaWestland)

The first five of the UK’s fleet of next generation anti-submarine & maritime patrol Agusta Westland AW101 Merlin Mk2 helicopters have been handed over to the Royal Navy in the third week of July 2013.

The Royal Navy’s 824 Naval Air Squadron based at RNAS Culdrose in Southwest England received the upgraded machines from the manufacturer.

Fitted with a glass cockpit and improved aircrew mission console and avionics, the Merlin HM Mk 2 has advanced touch screen displays, and an improved ability to detect and track targets and share data with other aircraft and ships while airborne. These and equipment improvements will also enable the helicopters to carry out counter piracy and casualty evacuation roles.

Thirty Merlin Mk1 helicopters are being converted to Mk2s by AgustaWestland at its Yeovil facility. Following the completion of trials the first helicopters are expected to be ready to deploy on operations by summer 2014. Delivery of all 30 Merlin HM Mk2s will be completed in 2015.

Source: UK MOD / AugustaWestland

Cockpit of the Royal Navy's new AgustaWestland AW101 Merlin Mk2 helicopter (Image © AgustaWestland)
Cockpit of the Royal Navy’s new AgustaWestland AW101 Merlin Mk2 helicopter (Image © AgustaWestland)

Check out the Fleet Air Arm Orbat at Scramble.nl