The Royal Netherlands Air Force kicked of its joint army and air force air mobile training operations at Fort Hood (Texas) on August 15, 2013.
To illustrate the start seven RNLAF Boeing AH-64A Apache and three RNLAF Boeing CH-47F Chinook helicopters took off for a formation fly-by of the US Army base (download via official site defensie.nl). The Joint Netherlands Training Detachment (JNTD) at Fort Hood has a permanent strength of 8 Apaches and 3 Chinooks to train the RNLAF aviators. Fort Hood has a vast training area unequaled to any of the possibilities in the Netherlands, for almost everything from number of flying hours, flying during daytime or night and the availability of space. Having aircraft of one’s own makes the use of all training possibilities even better, writes the Dutch Ministry of Defence in a press release.
The JNTD gets maintenance support, so-called opposing forces to train against and life-fire shooting ranges. Training in America also means reducing the noise in the skies over the fairly crowded Netherlands.
The first week after the kick-off the JNTD will make several training sorties, followed by the first big Air Assault on Monday August 19th. ,,This is the most intensive and complex co-operation of air and ground forces”, writes a press spokesperson. ,,From the beginning till the end the action of the various units has to be fine-tuned. Because of the speed, the element of surprise and the low impact of the terrain on the operations an air assault offers forces to operate unpredictably. This has proven its value during Dutch operations in the Uruzgan province of Afghanistan in the past.”
After the training the Apaches will be transferred to manufacturer Boeing for upgrading to the so-called Block 2 standard.
The first of the newest Cessna business jet model, the Citation M2, exited the company’s production line in Independence, Kansas at the end of July 2013. Deliveries are already expected before the end of the year.
The Citation M2 is an addition to the Cessna line-up. It can accommodate up to six passengers on a 1,300-nautical-mile flight. The flight deck features Garmin G3000 avionics, involving a high-resolution multifunction display with split-screen capability and touchscreen interactivity.
Two Williams FJ44 engines bring the jet up to a cruising speed of max 400 knots (460 mph). It can fly non-stop from Houston to New York, from Buenos Aires to Rio de Janerio, or from Amsterdam to Moscow. The M2 can climb to a flight level of 41,000 feet in 24 minutes, is single-pilot certified and has a useful load of 3,809 lbs.
Nearly 500 full-time Cessna employees work at the 500,000-square-foot facility in Kansas. The facility handles assembly, paint and interiors for the Citation M2, as well as for the Citation Mustang and the company’s single-engine piston products. The Independence facility has manufactured over 10,000 aircraft since opening in 1995.
It sounds like a big contradiction: stealth bombers with nuclear weapons not to attack the enemy, but to defend the territory of the United States. But that is what they more or less have become since the first and only Air National Guard (ANG) wing flying with the B-2 Spirit is now certified to conduct nuclear missions.
The 131st Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, concluded a six year transition from an F-15 Eagle fighter unit to a B-2 strategic bomber outfit with a nuclear consent in the first week of August 2013. It marked the first time in history of the Guard that a bomb wing has been certified in the delivery of nuclear weapons. That goes all the way back to 1636 when regional home militias of the young United States were organised in what is officially since 1903 the National Guard, with the ANG being the air component of the United States’ homeland defences.
In 2008, the wing had fewer than 60 members stationed at Whiteman AFB, when they conducted the first all-Guard B-2 sortie, which included both the launch and operation of the aircraft. Today, nearly all 800 members are based at Whiteman AFB, with completely integrated maintenance crews and almost three times the number of qualified pilots. The 131st Bomb Wing is associated with the active US Air Force 509th Bomb Wing, thereby sharing expensive resources such as the B-2 bombers themselves.
The first so-called ‘combat total force integration mission’ the wings conducted came in March 2011, when three B-2s flew over Libya, dropping 45 joint direct attack munitions to destroy hardened aircraft shelters and thereby according to a press release “crippling Muammar Gaddafi’s air forces and helping enforce the United Nations’ no-fly zone”. The six aircrew members who flew that mission included both active duty and Guard pilots, demonstrating the first real-world combat mission the B-2 conducted since Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.
The first production unit of the new Cessna Citation X took its maiden flight at the end of July, marking another step to full certification and delivery of the mid-size business jet to its first customer.
“The Citation X was flawless today,” said Gary Drummond, Cessna senior production test pilot and the flight’s pilot in command. “We took the X to an altitude of 49,000 feet on a flight pattern over western Kansas. The aircraft attained a top speed of Mach 0.935, or 617 miles per hour. We conducted a 3.1-hour flight with an average cruise speed of Mach 0.915, or 604 miles per hour, at 41,000 feet. The Garmin G5000 avionics performed brilliantly and the auto-throttle system is going to be a welcome feature for Citation X operators. Approach into high congestion areas are simplified with auto-throttles. Speed and command changes were seamless today. The auto throttles on the X delivers flight performance advantages with greater situational awareness and reduced crew workload.”
The new Cessna flagship will have an operational range of 3,242 nm, meaning it can easily fly non-stop from London to New York, Tokyo to Singapore or right across the European continent. The aircraft has two Rolls-Royce AE 3007C2 turbofan engines, each delivering 7,034 pounds of thrust. The Citation X is one of the few business jets permitted to operate at an altitude of 51,000 feet. This capability allows the aircraft to fly above most weather and avoid lower-altitude commercial traffic, translating into shorter flights.
The Citation X offers a longer cabin and greater range compared to the earlier aircraft with the same name. That X made its first flight in 1993, with about 330 built since then. The new X has a upgraded cockpit as well, featuring three 14 inch primary displays and four touchscreen controllers for data entry and systems control. First flight of the new Citation X was on January 17, 2012. Deliveries are expected to begin early next year.
So you’ve seen the Armée de Terre helos at the Le Luc airshow and you think “I would like some more of those”. Valence airbase near Lyon gave AIRheads↑FLY exactly that; more French helos waiting to be photographed and digitally transferred to your computerscreen. Great colours on these French choppers. What a way to spend a vacation.