Tag Archives: German Air Force

Tornado Time

Fly low, hit hard. That sums it up for the Panavia Tornado. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Follow the leader! (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Just because we feel like it, and just because we can; it’s Tornado Time. Want loud? Want fast? Want beastly? Want a true Cold War working machine? The Panavia Tornado had and continues to have it all. Its numbers crowded European skies in the eighties and nineties, but those numbers now start to decrease slowly but steady. We take the time to look at its noisy and low-flying career.

The Tornado earned its fame during Desert Storm in 1991, although Italian Tornadoes weren't all that succesfull. Here's an Italian Tornado IDS at the 1991 Le Bourget Salon. Dress code was 'Desert Camo' during that particular salon. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The Tornado earned its fame during Desert Storm in early 1991, although Italian Tornadoes weren’t all that succesfull. Here’s an Italian Tornado IDS at the 1991 Le Bourget Salon. Dress code was ‘Desert Camo’ during that particular salon. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Want more desert camo, but with a splash of colour? This Tornado form Saudi Arabia provides just that. Saudi Arabia bought 134 Tornadoes, of which 96 were of the IDS-version, seen here. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Want more desert camo, but with a splash of colour? This Tornado from Saudi Arabia provides just that. Saudi Arabia bought 134 Tornadoes, of which 96 were of the IDS-version, seen here. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Saudi Arabia also purchased the F3 fighter variant of the Tornado. Those aircraft are rarely - if ever - seen outside the kingdom. This is a an RAF Tornado F3 in 'max noise' mode. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Saudi Arabia also purchased the ADF fighter variant of the Tornado. Those aircraft are rarely – if ever – seen outside the kingdom. This is a an RAF Tornado F3 in ‘max noise’ mode. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The F3 was also flown by the Italian Aeronautica Militare for some years, as a stop gap between the Lockheed F-104S-ASA and the Eurofighter Typhoon. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The F3 was also flown by the Italian Aeronautica Militare for some years, as a stop gap between the Lockheed F-104S-ASA and the Eurofighter Typhoon. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
More from Italy, this time in the shape of a Tornado IDS taking off from Ghedi airbase.(Image © Dennis Spronk)
More from Italy, this time in the shape of a Tornado IDS taking off from Ghedi airbase. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
We actually prefer the older colours on Italian Tornadoes. Just imagine the noise for now. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
We actually prefer the old colours on Italian Tornadoes. Just imagine the noise for now. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The RAF Tornadoes also looked better in green. This a GR1A recce Tornado flown by number 13 squadron. It is seen here at Boscombe Down in June 1992. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The RAF Tornadoes also looked better in green. This a GR1A recce Tornado was operated by number 13 squadron. It is seen here at Boscombe Down in June 1992. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Stopping time! This German Tornado ECR uses reverse thrust to slow down at Lechfeld airbase in southern Germany. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Stopping time! This German Tornado ECR uses reverse thrust to slow down at Lechfeld airbase in southern Germany. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A better look at the reverse thrust system on the Tornado. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A better look at the reverse thrust system on the Tornado. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Same ocassion, different Tornado. This one is carrying a recce pod. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
No stopping however for this Tornado. Wings fully back, low, fast and loud – as seen at Laage airbase in August 2006. It’s carrying a recce pod below the belly. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Maximum noise, one more time. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Maximum noise, one more time. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
And again, we prefer older colours, such as on this German Marine Tornado. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
And again, we prefer older colours, such as on this German Marine Tornado. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

The Tornado first flew on 14 August 1974 from Manching airfield in Germany. A total of 992 aircraft were eventually built and a good number of those will continue to fly for years to come. But the highlight of its career is behind it.

Nice scenery, great aircraft. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Nice scenery, great aircraft. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

© 2013 AIRheads’ Elmer van Hest

And the losers are …

The JAS 39 Gripen (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The JAS 39 Gripen (Image © Elmer van Hest)

As reported this week, the F-35A Lightning II has taken the final hurdle in the Netherlands. That leaves a few companies with empty hands, although it has to be said that Saab, Dassault and Eurofighter GmbH did just about everything they could. It’s however no major surprise that the F-35A will after all replace the Dutch F-16 in a few years time. Saab, Dassault, and Eurofighter GmbH were essentially the losers from the word ‘go’, as the Dutch MoD basically had only thing in mind. Here goes a tribute to losers!

The granddaddy of all; the first Rafale first flew on 4 July 1986, two months before the first Eurofighter technology demonstrater and two years before the first Saab Gripen. This is the same Rafale at the Le Bourget in 1991. Excuse the shitty picture, but the Rafale happens to be our favoruite loser. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Le grand-père of all; the first Rafale first flew on 4 July 1986, two months before the first Eurofighter technology demonstrator and two years before the first Saab Gripen. This is the same Rafale at the Le Bourget Airshow in 1991. Excuse the shitty picture, but Rafale happens to be our favourite loser. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

In 2001, Rafale, Gripen and Eurofighter went head to head at the Leeuwarden airshow in the Netherlands. The JSF – as the F-35 was known as back then – was nowhere to been seen, since the prototype X-35 only flew first in October 2000.

First up was this Saab JAS39A Gripen. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
First up was this Saab JAS 39A Gripen … (Image © Elmer van Hest)
... followed by this Italian pre production EF2000. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
… followed by this Italian pre-production EF2000. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Closing the curtains was the Rafale B. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Closing the curtains at Leeuwarden was this Rafale B. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

In the years that followed, all three competitors started appearing in European skies more and more, while the F-35 only really started testing in late 2006.

In 1997, Eurofighters started to appear in the UK, Germany, Spain and Italy. This Spanish twoseater was a unfortunate one, as it crashed in November 2002. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
In 1997, Eurofighters started to appear in the UK, Germany, Spain and Italy. This Spanish two-seater was an unfortunate one, as it crashed in November 2002. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Nice motion blur on this Swedish Saab JAS39A, seen in June 2006 at Satenäs in Sweden. The model A Gripen have now been replaced by C models. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Nice motion blur on this Swedish Saab JAS 39A, seen in June 2006 at Såtenäs in Sweden. The model A Gripen has now been replaced by C models. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
New type, new training. In the UK, RAF Coningsby was and is the place to be for Typhoons, as the Eurofighter EF2000 is now called. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
New type, new training. In the UK, RAF Coningsby was and is the place to be for Typhoons, as the Eurofighter EF2000 is now called. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Export
As production mounted, Saab, Dassault and Eurofighter started looking for export customers for their hardware in the hope that sells would really take off. All types saw action in the 2011 Libya war. Meanwhile, testing of the F-35 continues in the US. Some time between August 2016 and December 2016, the first USAF F-35 squadron will reach Initial Operational Capability.

A Rafale C takes off loaded with maximum fuel (Image © Elmer van Hest)
June 2008: an Armée de l’Air Rafale C takes off loaded with maximum fuel. Despite many efforts, the sky remains cloudy for Dassault. The company still hasn’t sold a single Rafale outside France. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Saab is actually not with empty hands. The company has exported the Gripen to the Czech Republic, Hungary, South Africa and Thailand. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Slightly clearer skies for Saab. The Swedish company exported the Gripen to the Czech Republic, Hungary, South Africa and Thailand. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The Eurofighter Typhoon was sold succesfully to Saudi Arabia. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The Eurofighter Typhoon was sold successfully to Saudi Arabia. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Show off
In recent years, Gripens, Rafales and Eurofighters were steady performers at airshows worldwide. It is unclear when the first F-35 will be seen outside the United States.

Stick 'm up! (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Light ‘m up! (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Stick 'm up again! (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Light ‘m up again! (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The Gripen design in true form. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The Gripen design in true form. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Spanish Typhoon rolling during an airshow. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A Spanish Typhoon rolling during an airshow. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A Rafale rolling as well. Rafale and Eurofighter went head to head during several bids. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A Rafale rolling as well. Rafale and Eurofighter went head to head during several bids. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Gripen on approach (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Landing time for this Gripen. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Landing time for this RAF Typhoon. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Typhoon on approach. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Rafale aims for a touchdown, and is still doing so in 2013. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Rafale aims for a touchdown, and is still doing so in 2013. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
As a matter of fact, older JAS39A Gripens are already used as museum pieces. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Forever touchdown: older JAS 39A Gripens are already used as museum pieces. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

The final loser
There is however one more loser in the well over a decade long debate about a Dutch F-16 replacement. It’s the F-35A Lightning II that in some years time will touch down on Dutch soil, but will have to do its very best to win the hearts and trust of Dutch taxpayers. Plus, we at AIRheads↑FLY simply think its not the sexiest thing in the sky. Go Rafale!

Dutch F-35A F-001 seen over Texas. (Image © Ministerie van Defensie)
Dutch F-35A F-001 seen over Texas. (Image © Ministerie van Defensie)

© 2013 AIRheads’ Elmer van Hest

Phantom Pharewell Afterparty

,,Can’t be!” one of the authors  of AIRheads↑FLY thought after seeing F-4F Phantoms touchdown for the last time at Wittmundhafen airbase in northern Germany. It should be Phantoms Phorever. So let’s throw a little afterparty, right here and now.

Starting off with some chilling, easy Phantom vibes, here are some Germans doing what they do best: looking phabolous.

germanF4F_1
Luftwaffe F-4F blasting off from Laage airbase in 2006. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
German F-4F Phantom about to slam it down on RWY24 of Leeuwarden AB.
German F-4F Phantom about to slam it down on RWY24 of Leeuwarden AB. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Hellenic Air Force
Turning up the heat with a taste of Southern Europe. The Greeks modified their Phantoms to F-4E AUP standard, including the AN/APG-65GY radar suited for AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles. Advanced radar warning receivers were added, and the Greeks also took the opportunity to integrate the Rafael Litening II pod and AGM-142 Popeye missile. Plus their Phantoms can use state-of-the-art JDAM ammunition. The modified Phantoms are recognized by the four IFF transponders on the nose. But we actually don’t really care about all that … as long as the results look this good.

Back in the days when the Tactical Leadership Program (TLP) was still at Florennes in Belgium. This Greek Phantom is taking off ahead of the pack for a refuel at Leeuwarden. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Back in the days when the Tactical Leadership Program (TLP) was still at Florennes in Belgium. This Greek Phantom is taking off ahead of the pack for a refuel at Leeuwarden. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Still at Florennes, a different Phantom. There's a runway there, somewhere ... (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Still at Florennes, a different Phantom. There’s a runway there, somewhere … (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Turkish Air Force
Slightly further south Turkey still uses Phantoms everyday. In 2011 the Türk Hava Kuvvetleri showed a modified RF-4E during the Izmir airshow, celebrating a 100 years of military aviation in Turkey. That’s two tasty Phantoms!

Oven-like hot day in Izmir, cool camouflage. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Oven-like hot day in Izmir, cool camouflage. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Not hot enough for you? Warm your hands on what these J-79s put out at Lechfeld in Germany. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Not hot enough for you? Warm your hands on what these J-79s put out at Lechfeld in Germany. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

South Korean Air Force
Okay, getting into serious Phantom territory now, with rarer-than-rare South Korean rhinos. The Koreans used the ancient F-4D up till a few years ago. Crazy stuff.

Heart-attack moment at Seosan when - in the middle of a flock of F-16s - came two F-4D dinosaurs. We're talking October 2000 here. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Heart-attack moment at Seosan when – in the middle of a flock of F-16s – came two F-4D dinosaurs. We’re talking October 2004 here. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

The South Korean RF-4Cs are nearing the end of their lives, but they still haul some serious equipment around. Feel free to guess what the center-line pod on this Phantom is … because we just don’t know.

What's that under the fuselage? No prizes for the right answer (or any answer). Just look at that RF-4C Phantom. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
What’s that under the fuselage? No prizes for the right answer (or any answer). Just look at that RF-4C Phantom. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

The F-4E is still in use in South Korea. No problem, keep it going! Phantoms Phorever!

Approaching Cheongju airbase in central South Korea. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Approaching Cheongju airbase in central South Korea. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

As we are still digging through our archives, we found Japanese, Spanish and US Phantoms caught a long time ago. They are screaming to be seen again. So, we’ll be back soon with more of the mighty Phantom.

© 2013 AIRheads’ editor Elmer van Hest

Wittmund Pharewell

Luftwaffe F-4F Phantom II with serial 38+28 in a shelter at Wittmundhafen AB (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Luftwaffe F-4F Phantom II with serial 38+28 in a shelter at Wittmundhafen AB (Image © Elmer van Hest)

June 2013 will be noticed in the world’s aviation records as the goodbye to the legendary McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II fighter from West-European skies as the German Air Force said farewell to the type after 40 years of operations. But not before Fighter Wing 71 (Jagdgeschwader 71) threw a little party at its homebase Wittmundhafen in the north of the country. Special paint jobs had turned the last of the Luftwaffe F-4s in tasty eye-candy, as witnessed by tens of thousands of enthousiasts, including AIRheads editors.

>>> See YouTube Clip >>>
>>> See full photo series >>>

Luftwaffe McDonnell Douglas F-4F Phantom II 37+01, the ever first of the type delivered to the German Air Force, performing a high-speed pass of Wittmundhafen, Germany (Image © Marcel Burger)
Luftwaffe McDonnell Douglas F-4F Phantom II 37+01, the ever first of the type delivered to the German Air Force, performing a high-speed pass of Wittmundhafen, Germany (Image © Marcel Burger)

NATO Tigermeet 2011

Czech Air Force Mi-35 Hind (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Czech Air Force Mi-35 Hind (Image © Dennis Spronk)

In 2011 Cambrai hosted the 50th NATO Tigermeet. Because of this anniversary and the fact that this French airbase was due to close the Tigermeet provided a last opportunity to visit Cambrai while still at operational status.

AIRheads’ Dennis Spronk went to hunt for Tigers and this is what he caught.
>>> Check full coverage here >>>

Royal Navy Merlin (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Royal Navy Merlin (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Portuguese Air Force F-16AM (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Portuguese Air Force F-16AM (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Turkish Air Force F-16C (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Turkish Air Force F-16C (Image © Dennis Spronk)
French Air Force Mirage 2000C (Image © Dennis Spronk)
French Air Force Mirage 2000C (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Polish Air Force F-16C (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Polish Air Force F-16C (Image © Dennis Spronk)
German Air Force Tornado ECR (Image © Dennis Spronk)
German Air Force Tornado ECR (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Swiss Air Force F/A-18C Hornet (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Swiss Air Force F/A-18C Hornet (Image © Dennis Spronk)
German Air Force Tornado ECR (Image © Dennis Spronk)
German Air Force Tornado ECR (Image © Dennis Spronk)
German Air Force Tornado ECR (Image © Dennis Spronk)
German Air Force Tornado ECR (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Break of Tornados (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Break of Tornados (Image © Dennis Spronk)
French Air Force Mirage-5F (Image © Dennis Spronk)
French Air Force Mirage-5F (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Spanish Air Force EF-18A (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Spanish Air Force EF-18A (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Czech Air Force JAS 39C Gripen (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Czech Air Force JAS 39C Gripen (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Czech Air Force JAS 39C Gripen (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Czech Air Force JAS 39C Gripen (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Czech Air Force JAS 39D Gripen (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Czech Air Force JAS 39D Gripen (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Czech Air Force Mi-35 Hind (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Czech Air Force Mi-35 Hind (Image © Dennis Spronk)

>>> Check full coverage here >>>

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