Canada is set to close a tender for a new Fix Wing Search and Rescue (FWSAR) aircraft on 11 January. Making a bid are FNM Aeronautics (formerly Alenia Aermacchi) with its C-27J Spartan, Airbus with its C295 and reportedly, Embraer with its yet-to-finish-development KC-390. Also, Lockheed Martin wil probably pitch its C-130J Super Hercules.
The closing of the tender marks the beginning of a selection in which the Brazilian KC-390 is definitely an outsider with a marginally chance of winning. The new aircraft should replace ageing de Havilland CC-115 Buffalos and Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules aircraft needed for other tasks.
The CC-115 has been in service for nearly five decades, providing long range SAR coverage over vast empty oceans and vast empty stretches of Arctic ice. The new aircraft is to do exactly the same.
Canada’s quest for an FWSAR aircraft has been a prolonged one. It started in 2004 and should have materialized into a ready aircraft in 2009. For various and mainly political reasons, that never happened.
The new type should be selected later in 2016 and deliveries are to start in 2018 with completion in 2023. A number of 17 aircraft has been mentioned, but it remains to be seen wether that will actually be the number on the final contract.
The US Army has ordered an additional six Bombardier (de Havilland Canada) Dash-8-315 turboprops to serve as Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) platform. The purchase is being made through the Dynamic Aviation Group of Bridgewater, Virginia, and is worth 39.2 million dollar including modification into the so-called Saturn Arch and Desert Owl configurations.
Both plane configurations can be used to detect mines on the battlefield, which is a very handy feature with Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) put into use by many fighting groups in US Army operation zones.
The Saturn Arch Program began in 2010, aimed to use sensor technology to help finding IEDs in Afghanistan, focusing on changes in the landscape which might give locations away where opponents have dug in the “home-made” bombs. Desert Owl started on a Beechcraft King Air 200T, combining radar and other imagery in all-weather conditions to detect changes on the ground.
The Dynamic Aviation Group already provides the US Army with 30 ISR aircraft, including at least four Dash-8-300s in either Saturn Arch or Desert Owl set-up as well as three Beechcraft King Air 200s as Communications Electronic Attack with Surveillance And Reconnaissance (CEASAR) platform for operations in Afghanistan. In 2013 the Dynamic Aviation Group added 17 Dash 8s to its fleet of 150 aircraft.
Karl Stoltzfus started the Dynamic Aviation Group in 1974, when he bought a Bridgewater airstrip and started providing aerial spraying and air tanker operations. Apart from at least 20 or 21 Dash 8s, the company has 20 King Air 200s and a hundred similar Beechcraft U-21s.
The Vietnam People’s Navy (VPN) is almost done with reaching full operational capability on its six Viking Air (de Havilland Canada DHC-6) Guardian Twin Otter 400s, ordered in 2010. Three have already been delivered to the Asian country, while the training of crew and technicians by Vikings affiliate Pacific Air is nearing completion.
All six VPN aircraft are meant to be able to fly with amphibious floats, but at least two of the aircraft were delivered with wheels. The Twin Otter 400 can be configured with different gear, that is fairly easily changeable. The Twin Otters are powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-34 engines.
The Pacific Air training program that the Vietnamese Navy personnel is following includes 6 months of English language training coordinated through Camosun College in Victoria, British Columbia, followed by 14 months of basic through advanced flight training at the facilities of Viking, Pacific Sky and FlightSafety International in Toronto, Ontario.
The Viking Twin Otter Series 400 was originally developed by De Havilland Canada, which became Bombardier Aerospace. Bombardier sold the type certificates for the DHC-1 to DHC-7 to Viking Air in 2006. The Guardian Twin Otter 400s are the first fixed-wing aircraft for the Vietnamese Navy. They will perform transport, resupply, maritime surveillance and search-and-rescue tasks. They come with different convertible interiors, including VIP, commuter and utility layouts.
The Twin Otter Series 400 is in operation in 16 countries.
The air defence of Iceland is (almost) fully in Nordic hands the coming months, as fellow Scandinavian Norwegians have taken over the NATO Air Policing role on Iceland from the Americans as of 28 January 2014. They will start their tour of duty with something nice: the Iceland Air Meet 2014 (IAM 2014) that will also see Swedish and Finnish fighter jets in a military involvement on Iceland for the very first time.
During the Cold War Keflavik Airbase, near the Icelandic capital Reykjavik, was a strategic key point for the American military. Since 2006 NATO countries in turn provide the air guard for the island nation of 320,000 people. Royal Norwegian Air Force F-16s have provided this NATO Quick Reaction Alert of four aircraft twice before, in 2009 and 2011.
During IAM 2014 the Norwegian air bases of Ørland and Bodø will be used as staging areas and logistic hubs. Bodø is a planned stop-over for the Finnish helicopters involved, and might be as well for the Swedish Gripens and Finnish Hornets.
This is the NATO-Nordic force during IAM 2014:
1 Icelandic Coast Guard (Landhelgisgaeslan) De Havilland Canada (Bombardier) DHC-8-314Q Dash 8 with reg. TF-SIF
2 Icelandic Coast Guard (Landhelgisgaeslan) Aérospatiale (Eurocopter) AS332L1 Super Puma with reg. TF-LIF and TF-GNA
6 Royal Norwegian Air Force (Luftforsvaret) Lockheed Martin F-16AM/BM Fighting Falcon from 331/332 skvadron Bodø Airbase (4 are deployed as NATO’s QRA on Iceland the coming months), plus 110 personnel
7 Swedish Air Force (Flygvapnet) SAAB JAS 39C/D Gripen from 212:a stridsflygdivision (212 Wing) of F21 Luleå-Kallax air base, supported by 2:a flygbasbataljonen and staff personnel. Plus personnel from the Swedish Air Combat School (Luftstridsskolan) for command, control and ground protection.
1 Swedish Air Force (Flygvapnet) TP 84 (C-130) Hercules equipped with in-flight refueling system from F7 Såtenäs Airbase, supported by transport personnel from F17 Ronneby and medical personnel from I19.
5 Finnish Air Force (Ilmavoimat) McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) F/A-18C/D Hornet from 21 HävLLv Satakunnan Lennosto (Satakunta Flygflottilj / 21 Satakunta Wing) from Tampere/Pirkkala
2 Finnish Army (Maavoimat) NH90 SAR from 1.HK/HekoP (Helikopteripataljoona / 1st Helicopter Squadron) from Utti
1 NATO Boeing E-3A Sentry from Geilenkirchen, during IAM 2014 based at Ørland Airbase in Norway
1 Royal Netherlands Air Force (Koninklijke Luchtmacht) KDC-10 tanker aircraft from 334 Squadron from Eindhoven Airbase
1 USAFE Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft from the 100th Air Refueling Wing from RAF Mildenhall
At the time of writing no confirmation on serial numbers yet.