The first of 16 modernised Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29 Fulcrum fighter aircraft is back on duty with the Polish Air Force. The single-seater with number 89 landed at Minsk Mazowiecki Airbase at the end of July. A second modernised Fulcrum will soon follow, according to a press release by the Polish Air Force (Siły Powietrzne).
Wojskowe Zaklady Lotnicze No. 2 and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) together upgrade the Fulcrums, 13 single-seaters (MiG-29A) and 3 two-seaters (MiG-29UB). The modernisation mainly concerns the pilot’s office, since the aircraft themselves have already been refurbished to last another 4,000 flight hours each. The biggest eye-catcher is a new multi-function display, clearly visible on the image published at the Polish Air Force website.
The Turkish Navy received its first Alenia Aermacchi ATR-72-600 TMUA (Turkish Maritime Utility Aircraft) on July 24th, 2013, as part of an order of eight aircraft: two TMUAs and six TMPA’s (Turkish Maritime Patrol Aircraft).
Compared to the ATR72-600 basic platform the ATR-72 TMUA features new radios, an IFF (Identification Friend or Foe system) and a cabin area equipped with tactical tables and communications equipment for the crew. The aircraft can be easily reconfigured for the cargo-role. The first Turkish Navy (Türk Deniz Kuvvetleri) flying instructors just completed the training on the new aircraft at Alenia Aermacchi’s Training Centre in Caselle.
The second ATR-72-600 TMUA will be delivered within the first half of August. The following six ATR-72-600 TMPAs are being converted by TAI, Turkish Aerospace Industry in Ankara. Apart to some additional special mission equipment, TAI will integrate the Thales AMASCOS mission system, datalink Link 16, AIS (Automatic Identification System) and a weapons system. The first TMPA will be delivered to the Turkish Navy in February 2017 and deliveries will be completed by 2018.
Four French Air Force Mirage F1-CRs started their last month of patrolling the Baltic Sea. They have been operating from Šiauliai Airbase in Lithuania since April 30th, 2013, as part of NATO’s commitment to protect the airspace of its most northeastern member states Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
It are not always fancy Russian Bears or Blackjacks that ‘need’ an intercept, as is shown by a mission report of July 22nd released by the Armée de l’Air .
,,At 20:15 the sirens go off at Šiauliai airbase. Two Mirage F1-CRs take off for a mission to identify a ,,bogey” over the Baltic Sea. During this mission a light aircraft registered in Italy was intercepted, identified and escorted. It first was seen performing what could be interpreted as evasive maneuvers and it failed radio contact with air traffic control. Upon establishing radio contact with the Mirage F1-CR patrol, the French fighters escorted the intercepted airplane to its landing at Ventspils, Latvia.”
The US Navy awarded Boeing a $1.98 billion contract for 13 additional P-8A Poseidon aircraft, continuing the modernization of U.S. maritime patrol capabilities that will ultimately involve more than 100 P-8As. Boeing announced the deal on August 1, 2013.
The US Navy has now ordered 37 of the 117 P-8As it is expected to buy. To date, 10 have been delivered. Based on the Boeing Next-Generation 737-800 commercial airplane, the P-8 provides anti-submarine, anti-surface warfare as well as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. The P-8 is replacing the Navy’s P-3 aircraft.
Boeing assembles P-8As in the same facility where it builds all its 737s. The Poseidon team uses a first-in-industry in-line process that takes advantage of the efficiencies in the Next-Generation 737 production system. After initial assembly, the P-8A aircraft enter a separate mission system installation and checkout facility for final modifications and testing.
Initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) was completed in March; the US Navy announced July 1 that the P-8A program had passed IOT&E and the P-8A was ready for fleet introduction.
What do you do when you are responsible for the transport of the president of the United States, you just like this certain new flashy chopper, but crap what a nasty tender rules you have to respect? Then you just write the paperwork in a way that only your little bladed treasure will make it to within the fences of your beautiful mansion estate.
Now you have a garden party to look forward to. Write Meet my old new friend on your invitation card and whoops there it is: the old new Sikorsky presidential helicopter on the White House lawn.
The head-of-state of the world’s most powerful democracy and the unfortunate drowning man off the Irish Coast will in a few years share the same experience. Both will be ferried through the air by the VH-92 Superhawk helicopter.
As far as we know the Irish Republic had a proper competitive shopping run first, but it’s a whole different story on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. The always freshly washed, shiny green-and-white presidential ride will not change brand nor colour. All due to clever clerks, some admirable lobby work by Sikorsky fans and quite likely a great deal of ol’ boys network politics by the Pentagon. The S-team outsmarted not only the house keepers at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, but scared off the competition as well.
,,After a comprehensive analysis of the final request of proposal, we determined that we were unable to compete effectively given the current requirements and the evaluation methodology defined in the document”, stated the spokesperson of AgustaWestland. The European company was earlier poised to offer its VH101 Merlin in co-operation with American Northrop Grumman.
The full-American Bell and Boeing companies dropped out too stating ,,problems with the structure of the competitive program”. No VH-47 Chinook or presidential VV-22 Osprey. The only remaining bidder: Sikorsky with the VH-92 Superhawk.
But what happened to the earlier star of the presidential helicopter show: the Lockheed Martin VH-71 Kestrel helicopter based on the AW101 that already seemed to have won the show to replace the ageing VH-3D Sea King? It was shot down by the Pentagon despite the White House commitment in 2009 to produce five operational VH-71As, making Lockheed Martin change sides to the Sikorsky team.
Litterly bits and pieces of the once future US commander-in-chief VH-71 helicopter fleet are now in use by the Royal Canadian Air Force, where they help maintaining the RCAF’s 15 CH-149 Cormorant SAR helicopters. The US presidential spare parts are now to protect and to serve the unfortunate drowning man off the Canadian coast.