Ghana is to order four additional Embraer A-29 Super Tucano light attack, counter-insurgency and training aircraft from Brazil, according to Ghanaian Air Force’s Air Vice Marshal Michael Samon-Oje. More new aircraft are on their way.
The high-ranking officers confirmed on Accra Airbase this week that its country will gain a second batch of the Super Tucanos, following a 2015 order for five A-29s, and that negotiations with Brazil are ongoing.
Third Ghana Airbus C295
As we reported earlier Ghana is upgrading its military. Apart from the five Harbin Z-9EH helicopters received in October this year, a third Airbus C295 tactical airlifter is soon expected. Six additional Mil Mi-17 tactical transport helicopters are on order in Russia, to complement the current seven “Hips”.
After the four remaining Aermacchi MB-339 aircraft were placed in storage in 2014, the Ghanaian Air Force has no fixed-wing combat element until the entry into service in 2016 of the first five Embraer A-29 Super Tucanos.
For the past two weeks, Beja airbase in Portugal was the scene of multi national exercise European Air Transport Training (EATT15), organized by European Defence Agency (EDA) and European Air Transport Command (EATC). In other words: C-27J Spartan and C-130 Hercules galore in Portugal. This is Red Flag for the big guys.
Taking part in EATT15 were Portugal, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Romania, Sweden and the UK, as well as observer countries Brazil, the United States and Poland. Next to C-27Js and C-130s, also present at Beja were Airbus C295s and C-160 Transall aircraft. In total, 20 transport aircraft and 2,500 military personnel were involved, not counting in three Portuguese Air Force F-16s and a sole P-3C Orion.
The EATT15 aims to train and prepare the crews of tactical airlift squadrons in order to guarantee their readiness for all kinds of operations within the European alliance. The concept of the exercise is to “provide joint training and ensure interoperability among the participating forces”, said Lt. Col. Laurent Donnet, overseeing EATT15 on behalf of the Belgian Air Component.
During the exercise, crews trained for various scenarios, such as operations to and from unprepared air strips, Combat Search And Rescue (CSAR), extraction of military and non-military elements, medical evacuations, plus air support in an urban environment and emergency situations.
During EATT15, crews used the Airdrop Joint Precision System (JPADS), a US military airdrop system using GPS, an onboard computer and steerable parachutes to direct cargo to a designated impact point.
EATT15 was also about efficient use of logistics, tooling and spare parts. The proximity of similar aircraft types and their crews allowed for standardization of procedures, exchange of know-how as well as the fostering of a spirit of unity. This spirit is embraced by European Air Transport Command (EATC), the institution directing and overseeing operations of hundreds of European military transport and tanker aircraft. The latter had their own exercise earlier this year.
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.
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.
Big decisions are made in New Delhi these days. Apart from a giant deal with Russian Helicopters, the Defence Acquisition Council said “yes” on Wednesday 13 May to the Airbus-TATA offer to replace the Hawker Siddeley 748 aircraft with the Airbus C295 medium airlifter.
A total of 56 Avro aircraft – licence-produced in the sixties by Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) – are to be replaced. Sixteen of the aircraft will be bought directly from the former CASA – now Airbus – plant in Spain, while TATA Advanced Systems and the Indian Production Agency (IPA) will locally produce the other 40 twin-propeller aircraft under license.
Czech, Hungarian and Swedish Saab JAS 39 Gripens fighters show themselves from every angle during exercise Lion Effort 2015 in the Czech Republic these days. In-flight pictures are a top priority for many. However, not all are aware of the effort and preparations that goes into air-to-air footage.
See here and here for more recent air-to-air footage on Airheadsfly.com.
The actual release of the camera shutter is the culmination of a complex process which eventually makes the day for some of the photographers who get the chance to zoom in on the Gripen flying over Čáslav airbase, where over two dozen Saab Gripens operate alongside each other for two weeks.
This photo shoot was attended by a total of five Gripen jets – one Czech and two Hungarian and Swedish each – as well as one Czech Air Force L-159 ALCA and a CASA C-295.
Preparations begin long before the aircraft are launched. It takes a lot of coordination for the fighter pilots to join up with a Czech Air Force CASA C-295 transport aircraft from Prague-Kbely airbase, carrying the photographers and their equipment – on a space available basis.
Planning the mission involves a pilot briefing to decide which jets will be chosen for the photo session. Subsequently the choreography of the birds is coordinated with the photographers. Together with the pilots they arrange formations that allow unique and visually interesting aspects.
When everything is sorted out and agreed, the participants – jet and transport aircraft crews, the photographers – have to wait for their take off times and hope that the weather will hold.
The top priority is always on the safety of all involved. Various other factors need to be taken into account such as the speed, positioning and altitude of the fighters and the photo platform. Therefore pilots have designed each passing manoeuvre and brought it to perfection – all pilots exactly know their role in the photo shoot.
Once airborne the CASA and Gripen pilots maintain radio contact permanently to handle any challenges that may occur. Everyone involved – the jet pilots and the transport aircraft crews as well as ground controllers and ground handling crews – did an excellent professional job. And as you can see for yourself, the results show.
Lion Effort continues until 23 May, when an airshow at Čáslav celebrates the end of the exercise as well as ten years of flying the Gripen in the Czech Republic.