In a weird coincidence, a US Air Force F-16 flying with the Thunderbirds and a US Navy F-18 flying with the Blue Angels, crashed on the same day on Thursday 2 June. The Thunderbird came down after a fly over for president Obama in Colorado Springs, Idaho. The pilot escaped by ejecting.
The Blue Angels F-18 Hornet came down near the town of Smyrna in Tennesse. Smoke was seen rising from the ground near the airport were the Blue Angels were practicing their show routine prior to an airshow. The pilot did not survive the crash.
Pics of the downed Thunderbird show the aircraft relatively intact on the ground. The pilot apparently attempted to land at nearby Petersen Air Force Base.
The Finnish Air Force and United States Marine Corps (USMC) have agreed about exchanging F-18 Hornet flight instructors. A Finnish Air Force pilot will work three years as an air combat instructor in the US and a Marines pilot will do the same in Finland. It marks the first exchanging of Hornet pilots for Finland, that has been flying the F-18 for twenty years.
The exchange will take place from August 2016 to 2019 and the aim is to develop the Finnish Air Force Hornet multirole (fighter/attack) instruction and national flight instruction system in unison with the originating country of the Hornets. In addition, the exchange procedure enables deepening know-how regarding the implementation and development of air-to-ground armament that´s integrated in MLU 2- upgrading of Finnish Hornets.
The Finnish instructor will serve three years in 3rd Marine Air Wing, Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 101, based at 3rd MCAS in Miramar. His American counterpart will be based at Hävittäjälentolaivue 31 of the Karelian Air Wing at Rissala AB.
The exchange comes at a time that Heksinki is looking for an fighter jet to replace its Hornets. The F-18 Super Hornet is one of the candidates for the job.
Finnish pilots have worked as exchange flight instructors for BAe Hawk- training at NATO multinational flight training program in Canada.
Contrary to reports from Helsinki in April, the US Departement of Defense will not offer the Boeing F-15 Eagle and Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon to Finland as possible replacements for the country’s fleet of ‘legacy’ F-18 Hornets. Washington told Helsinki it will not respond to Finland’s Request for Information (RfI) for those jets, Finnish MoD confirmed on Monday 2 May. Washington however will send information on the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet and Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II.
Both the F-15 and F-16 were named on a list of candidates released by Helsinki in April. Both were designed in the 70s and are nearing the end of production in the US. Their inclusion in Finland’s list – and the inclusion of the F-15 in particular – came as a surprise to many, although officials earlier said that Finland was open to all offers that met the conditions of the HX-fighter project. That is the name assigned to the F-18 Hornet replacement program.
The candidates now left in that program, are the Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Boeing F-18 Super Hornet, Lockheed Martin F-35 and Saab’s next generation JAS-39 Gripen. The latter will see its rollout of the factory in Sweden on 18 May.
All manufacturers will have to send Helsinki all required information by the end of this year. Comparison of the performances of all jets is scheduled for 2018 and a final decision is expected not before 2021.
The US Navy’s newest playground for its Hornets, Super Hornets and – in the future – Lightning II multi-role fighters is nearing its entry into service. The US Navy press office has confirmed that the USS Gerald R. Ford – an aircraft carrier of a new kind – will be delivered in September.
First CVN 78 will undergo ship sea trials between July and August.
F/A-18E Super Hornet on AAG
The almost 13 billion dollar vessel has been plagued with delays. One of them being the new catapult system, which no longer uses steam but electromagnetics to launch aircraft into the air.
Also, the new turbo-electric landing system has been cause for concern, but manufacturer General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems just reported the first aircraft arrest with the Advanced Arresting Gear on 31 March, done with a US Navy Boeing (McDonnell Douglas) F/A-18E Super Hornet on the tarmac of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in Lakehurst, New Jersey.
Legendary USS Nimitz
With an official 97 percent of the US Navy’s next-generation supercarrier complete, Newport News Shipbuilding is confident with that the Ford can replace the USS Enterprise (CVN 65) later this year.
At the same time the builder says it is cutting down costs for the second ship in the class, the USS John F. Kennedy, that will trade places with the legendary USS Nimitz (CVN 68) in 2021.
Swizterland is restarting its quest for a new fighter jet for its air force after a botched attempt two years ago to purchase 22 Saab Gripens. New aircraft are still needed to replace ageing F-5 Tigers, defense minister Guy Parmelin told Swiss government on Wednesday 24 February.
This year the Swiss start setting up requirements for the new fighter plus a set of plans for the selection process and eventual purchase. The selection is set to last until 2020, with a formal decision and order no later than 2022. Deliveries should start by 2025, according to Parmelin.
‘No’ to Gripen E
Prior to 2011, the Saab Gripen E, Dassault Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon were evaluated in Switzerland. Although not showing itself as the best option in all aspects plus allegations of bribery, the Gripen came out on top. The Swiss government decided to buy 22 Gripens, but opponents managed to get enough support for a referendum in which voters eventually said ‘no’ to Gripens.
The F-5 Tiger needs replacement, especially since cracks grounded parts of the fleet recently. As of now, 30 out of 54 Tigers are operational. The type was set for retirement this year but may very well fly on for some time.
In 2025, the 31 current F-18 Hornets reach the end of their service life. Extending their service for five years will cost tax payers half a billion Swiss francs (410 million EUR).