WITH VIDEO | The Belgian Air Component (BAC) has been taking part in operation Guardian Falcon in Afghanistan for almost five years now. Six BAC F-16 fighter aircraft operate daily from Kandahar Airfield (KAF), supported by a hundred ground troops from Belgium and Luxemburg.
Guardian Falcon is supporting the operations of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). The Belgian F-16s support ground forces, secure communication lines and fly reconnaissance missions, explains the Belgian detachment commander Sam in the BAC’s YouTube video (in Dutch and French):
The first Belgian maritime NH Industries NH90 performed its first 45 minutes of flight at the Eurocopter facility Donauwörth in Germany on August 5, 2013.
,,The crew successfully tested the basic systems of this new generation aircraft”, writes a press spokesperson of NH Industries. ,,During the next weeks, this first Belgian NH90 NFH will perform several other test flights in order to check the aircraft behaviour and its mission system with industry and customer crews.”
The Belgian armed forces ordered eight NH90s, four TTHs for tactical transport operations and four NFHs for naval operations. The first Belgian army version of the NH90 flew already on September 19th, 2012. The Belgian NH90 navy variant is delivered in its full operational capability standard, already known as the Step B. This aircraft is very close to the Dutch NH90 NFH Step B currently operationally deployed with the Royal Netherlands Navy.
The NH90 NFH is a helicopter of 11 ton class primarily configured to perform naval operations such as search-and-rescue at sea, anti-piracy missions and transport. The chopper features a full glass cockpit with multifunction displays, fly-by-wire controls with 4-axis automatic flight control system. The dedicated mission system includes an electro optic sensor, tactical control and tactical communication system, a multimode radar and an on-board monitoring and diagnostic system. Two Rolls-Royce/Turbomeca RTM322 engines provide power.
NH Industries is a consortium of AgustaWestland (32%), Eurocopter (62.5%), and Stork Fokker (5.5%). So far 153 NH90s have been delivered with firm orders of 529 aircraft for 14 nations: France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Greece, Oman, Australia, New-Zealand, Spain and Belgium.
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.