Tag Archives: C-17

Sweden ignores French request for military support

The Swedish government is mostly ignoring a request by France for military support. Paris asked for combat assets after the November 2015 terror attacks in the French capital that left 130 people (plus 7 attackers) dead, about 90 people critically wounded and another 270 less-critical injured.

Within European Union agreements France subsequently asked all EU members states for military support, to which all countries agreed, arguing that the attacks executed by a cell of the so-called Islamic State (ISIS / ISIL / Daesh) forces that rule in large parts of Syria and Iraq was a military attack. Paris hoped for Swedish SAAB JAS 39 Gripen jets for tactical reconnaissance for Operation Barkhane (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger) and/or Syria. But on Wednesday 16 December 2015 Stockholm says no to this request.

International grey zone

“The most important reason is that deploying Gripen planes would put them in a grey zone when it comes to international law. That could change once there is a very clear United Nations mandate,” Swedish foreign minister Margo Wallström said during a press briefing on Wednesday.

One of three C-17A Globemasters of the the NATO/EU Heavy Airlift Wing, taking off from Linköping-Malmen in Sweden (Image © Marcel Burger)
One of three C-17A Globemasters of the the NATO/EU Heavy Airlift Wing, taking off from Linköping-Malmen in Sweden (Image © Marcel Burger)

Papa C-17

However, Sweden is willing to give away 50 to 100 hours of its 160 hours on the NATO/EU Boeing C-17A Globemaster III Heavy Airlift Wing based at Papa Airbase in Hungary. Moreover, Stockholm is willing to look at a French request to use Swedish weapon stocks or military materiel. In 2017 Sweden is planning to contribute one of its TP 84 (C-130) Hercules tactical airlifter to the UN force in Mali (MINUSMA). Political and military experts, and part of the opposition in Swedish parliament, sees the Swedish answer to the Paris request as an unclear compromise, and certainly something far off of what the French government was hoping for.

Operation Unified Protector

In April to October 2011 first eight, later five Swedish Air Force Gripen jets flew tactical reconnaissance missions under NATO umbrella in the skies over Libya, operating from Sicily. This operation Unified Protector was backed by the UN. The 2011 deployed marked the first Swedish combat missions since the 1960s, when SAAB J29 Tunnans formed the air element of the UN forces in Congo.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): A Swedish Air Force JAS 39C Gripen fighter at Linköping-Malmen (Image © Marcel Burger)

Final C-17 Globemaster leaves Long Beach

After 21 years and 279 aircraft procuded, the curtain falls for Boeing C-17 Globemaster III production in Long Beach, California. The final C-17 left the production facility on Sunday 29 November on it’s way to another Boeing facility in Texas in preparation for delivery to the Qatar Emiri Air Force next year.

Qatar is one of nine operators of the  Boeing C-17 Globemaster, the military transport aircraft that first flew on 15 September 1991 from Long Beach. The US Air Force is the largest operator by far, taking 223 aircraft. The last USAF-delivery took place in 2013.

Customers

Over the last decade, India quickly became the second largest operator, counting 10 Globemaster. Australia and the UK both operate eight aircraft. Other operators are Canada, NATO, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Along with the UAE, Qatar was one of the operators to snatch up some of the last Globemasters remaining for sale. Ahead of closing down production, Boeing decided to produce a dozen or so ‘white-tail’ C-17s; aircraft with no formal customer. Other countries to take some of these aircraft were India, Australia and Canada.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest

RAAF C-17 Globemaster III (Image © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
An Australian C-17 Globemaster III (Image © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)

The Raptors have landed, in Germany

UPDATE 11 September | The muscle to show Russia the United States means business has arrived. The meanest, leanest, winged US military asset has landed on Spangdahlem Airbase in Western Germany early in the evening of 28 August 2015. It marked the first deployment for the Raptor Pack as Rapid Reaction Force in Europe. Airheadsfly.com caught them on the spot.

UPDATE The Raptors headed home again on 11 September, arriving at RAF Mildenhall on their way back

Four Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptors flew from Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, across the Atlantic to give a clear signal that Washington is committed to the protection of its European NATO allies, although four birds don’t make a summer. Sixty airmen accompany the temporary deployment that was supported by a Boeing C-17A Globemaster III strategic airlifter with some necessary support equipment. The supporting tanker aircraft headed for Mildenhall airbase in the UK.

A remark at the Pentagon last week pointed to the Raptors being deployed to Europe. Their exact destination and arrival remained unknown – or better; untold – until just one day prior to their actual arrival at Spangdahlem.

(Image © Elmer van Hest)
The Raptors arrived in formation overhead the airfield. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
(Image © Elmer van Hest)
Not a lot, but at least some sunlight on this F-22. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Enemy radar
The F-22 is the world’s most advanced fighter jet currently in operational service. Costing more than 150 million dollar a piece, the US Air Force received the last of 187 ordered Raptors in 2012. The aircraft has three internal weapon bays, making it hard to detect by enemy radar as long as it keeps the weapon bays shut. The main bay can accommodate six launchers for beyond-visual-range missiles and two side bays for short-range missiles.

A F-22 Raptor climbs after take-off from the flightline on 24 November 2014 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam (Image © Airman 1st Class Amanda Morris / USAF)
RELATED POST: Raptor Pack as Rapid Reaction Force

Four launchers can be replace with racks for up to 1,000 lb (450kg) bombs or Joint Direct Attack Munition and Small-Diamater Bombs, a secondary attack option that the Raptors first fielded in a real war situation over Syria in 2014.

X-Mas Trees
However, for this Rapid Reaction kind of deployment to Germany, military radars – including Russian ones if within range – must have been able to track the F-22s all the way like they were flying X-Mas Trees. The landing birds of prey were carrying external fuel tanks that likely mess up their stealthy features completely – apart from looking aesthetically weird. But the extra wing tanks do make long-distance flights much more comfortable, when range and as few in-flight refuelling moments as possible are something to consider too.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): Final approach for this Tyndall F-22 Raptor at Spangdahlem Airbase in Germany.  (Image © Elmer van Hest)

(Image © Elmer van Hest)
The formation performed a right hand break to land at runway 05. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
(Image © Elmer van Hest)
The F-22s will probably remain in Europe for quite some time. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sergio A. Gamboa/Released)
The F-22’s departure from Tyndall was also something to behold, judging by this picture. (Image © US Air Force / Airman 1st Class Sergio A. Gamboa)
USAF_F22_Raptor_USAF_2
Preparing for a long flight. (Image © US Air Force / Airman 1st Class Sergio A. Gamboa)

Recap: defense orders at Paris Air Show

UPDATED 19 June | As always its the orders for airliners that fight for attention at the Paris Air Show, but on the military side, things are happening as well. Most interesting little fact was the apparent first export order – announced on Monday – for the Pakistan-made JF-17 Thunder, although no country was mentioned. Let’s not be surprised however when it turns out to be Myanmar.

Pakistan Air Force officials only described the country that soon may add the JF-17 to its military inventory, as ‘Asian’. The same officials reported that current turmoil in the Middle East has slowed down export talks. The JF-17’s development meanwhile continues, with a possible two seat version on the way.

On the slower spectrum, Mali and Ghana agreed to buy six and five A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft respectively, while Saudi Arabia signed for four Airbus C295W medium transport and patrol aircraft. Perhaps the most prominent deal was the purchase of four Boeing C-17s for the Qatar Emiri Air Force.

As far as helicopters are concerned, Malaysia placed an order with Airbus Helicopters for two AS365 Dauphins for SAR duties.

Unnoticed by many was the first sale for Aero Vodochody of its new L-39NG aircraft. More on that is here.

Flying
Dassault’s Rafale was the most numerous aircraft. Three Rafales were on the ground, while a fourth gave a flying display. In the trade halls, models of Rafales in the colours of Qatar, India and Egypt were seen. Given the recent orders from those countries, further Rafale sales are unlikely.

Also in the halls, Alenia Aermacchi was pitching its M-345 jet trainer. France is reportedly interested in this trainer aircraft. Elsewhere, Antonov was pitching its new An178 transporter. The Ukrainian company also announced the An188, a military transport aircraft in the A400M and Boeing C-17 category, powered by four turbofan engines.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): Caught by its tail: a Black Panther’s JF-17 from Pakistan. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Globemasters hit 3 million

The worldwide C-17 Globemaster III fleet hit three million flight hours on Tuesday 5 May. Boeing announced the impressive litte fun fact just as C-17s see good use for relief flights to earthquake stricken Nepal, and just as the final aircraft come off the production line in Long Beach, California.

It’s been close to 24 years since the C-17’s first flight on 15 September 1991. As expected from the start, the US has been the type’s main user, in the end ordering 223 aircraft.  The 437th Air Wing at Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina, is by far the most experienced C-17 unit, introducing the type in operational service in 1995.

Other nations using the Globemaster are the UK (8 aircraft), Australia (6 +2 on order), Canada (5), India (10), NATO (3) , Kuwait (2) , United Arab Emirates (6) and Qatar (4). The worldwide fleet hit 2 million hours in 2010.

Workhorse
The Globemaster III was an air transport workhorse in nearly all major conflicts over the last two decades. The type also provided aid to countless people worldwide. A civilian version of the C-17 was considered, but never materialized.

Another remarkable fact is that those 3 million flight hours resulted in only one fatal mishap,. On 28 July 2010, an Alaska Air National Guard C-17 crashed as the aircraft was taken beyond its flight limits during a practise display, killing all four crew members. The mishap was attributed to crew error. Other C-17s have been damaged during operations in Afghanistan, but those aircraft were patched up and continue to fly.

Currently, the last of 279 Globemasters built is being readied for flight in Long Beach and Boeing has started to auction production equipment. However, five aircraft remain unsold. With defense spending set to rise as a result of current international turmoil – and natural disasters unfortunately being a fact of life – these ‘white tail’ ‘aircraft will however sure find their way to users and many more flight hours.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: A US Air Force C-17. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

The first Kuwait Air Force C-17 Globemaster strategic airlifter is here (Image © Boeing)
Perhaps the must colourful C-17 around, is this Kuwait Air Force aircraft. (Image © Boeing)