Tag Archives: German Navy

Germany ends Tornado training in US in 2019

Germany will disband its Tornado training unit at Holloman Air Force Base in the US in 2019. Berlin has decided to move training to Schleswig-Jagel in northern Germany. Holloman AFB in New Mexico has been home to German Air Force fighter jet training since 1992, using both the F-4 Phantom and Panavia Tornado.

The announcement doesn’t come as a surprise, given the reduced number of Tornados still in German operation. A total of 85 of the fighter-bomber jets still fly, with roughly 70 based at two airbases in Germany. The remainder are at Holloman and will return to Germany by 2019, heading to Schleswig-Jagel.

Berlin states training within its own borders is more cost-effective, probably since fever Tornado crews are required. The Eurofighter has largely taken over all of it tasks, although Tornados are currently flying recce mission over Syria.

A Tornado during pre-flight checks. (Image © Luftwaffe/Astrid Burger-Weber)
A Tornado during pre-flight checks. (Image © Luftwaffe/Astrid Burger-Weber)

Numerous

During the eighties and especially during the nineties, the Tornado was the most numerous fighter aircraft flown by the German Air Force. The type was in use as fighter bomber, recce and SEAD platform and also served as an air-to-air refueller. The German Navy used the jet for anti-shipping warfare.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top):  German Tornados take off from Holloman Air Force Base. (Image © Luftwaffe/Jane Hannemann)

 

First picture: NH90 Sea Lion for Germany

An Airheadsfly.com visit to Airbus Helicopters in Donauwörth on Friday 22 January produced the very first picture of the first NH90 Sea Lion helicopter for the Germany Navy. The helicopter is currently in final assembly and along with 17 others and from 2019 onwards, replaces the Sea King helos still in use with the Marine.

The first Sea Lion entered final assembly in October and is now having its electrical harnesses fitted, after which avionics and initial mission equipment will be installed. The helicopter is expected to fly for the first time in November 2016.

The naval variant differs from German Army NH90s as it has a stronger landing gear for deck landings, plus provisions for the installation of a full anti-submarine warfare (ASW) kit and anti-surface warfare (ASuW) kit. The German government still has to decide on the exact specifications, though. The Netherlands, France, Italy, Norway and Sweden already operate ASW-versions of the NH90.

Search and rescue

In 2019, the Sea Lion will be ready to take over search and rescue (SAR) plus transport and support duties from the Sea King, the oldest of which dates back to 1973. At a later stage, the new NH90 should be ready also to take over the ASW and ASuW role from current Super Lynx helos.

With the engines ans landing gear installed, this brand new NH90 for the German army, is almost ready to be moved to the so called Flightline hangar at Donauwörth for test flights (Image © Dennis Spronk)
With the engines ans landing gear installed, this brand new NH90 for the German army is almost ready to be moved to the so called Flightline hangar at Donauwörth for test flights. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
In the front the first German NH90 Sea Lion, in the Final Assembly Line (FAL) at Airbus Helicopters in Donauwörth, Germany (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Airbus Helicopters is ramping up production tempo a bit in 2016. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Production

The last of 18 Sea Lions – total estimated cost 1.4 billion EUR – is to be delivered in 2022. Airbus Helicopters will slightly push production tempo in Donauwörth a bit to over ten NH90 helicopters per year. These also include the remaining NH90s for the German army, plus more ASW-variants for Sweden. Worldwide, 35 to 50 NH90s are manufactured yearly.

The NH90 has suffered from a bad reputation in Germany over maintenance and reliability issues. Airbus Helicopters is now retrofitting early production helicopters with the latest configuration including software and other upgrades. The company also says it is now getting good and positive feedback from NH90-pilots.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): The first German NH90 Sea Lion in production, in the Final Assembly Line (FAL) at Airbus Helicopters in Donauwörth, Germany. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

The first German NH90 Sea Lion in production, in the Final Assembly Line (FAL) at Airbus Helicopters in Donauwörth, Germany (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Production of a single NH90 takes about 12 months. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Extended life for German Navy Orions

The Orions of the German Navy – bought once in a very priceworthy deal from the Netherlands – are to have another 15,000 flight hours of life extra. In order to make this happen Airbus Defence and Space plus Lockheed Martin will rewing the eight maritime patrol, anti-submarine warfare and reconnaissance aircraft.

Lockheed Martin will produce the outer wing, centre fuselage and horizontal stabilizer in Georgia, USA, while Airbus will do the installation in Manching, Germany. The upgrade program will take eight years after which the Orions will have P-3C Update II.5 MLU-K15 status.

The Royal Netherlands Fleet Air Arm bought 13 Lockheed P-3C Orion (Update II.5) in 1983, which flew from NAS Valkenburg near The Hague. After sudden budget cuts announced in 2003 the Orions were hastily withdrawn – with the Mid-Life Update in full progress – and Valkenburg was closed. Germany bought eight of the aircraft in 2004, with Portugal buying the remaining five. The last Orion left the Netherlands in 2006.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger, including source information provided by Airbus Defence and Space
Featured image: A German Navy (Marineflieger) Lockheed P-3C Orion Update II.5 maritime patrol aircraft at the 2008 ILA airshow at Berlin-Schönefeld, Germany (Image © Marcel Burger)

Green light for German Navy NH90 Sea Lion, Army gets less choppers

Despite problems with quality control and the availability of spare parts for the Airbus Helicopters / NHIndustries NH90s of the German Army Aviation, the German Navy got the green light for the procurement of 18 NH90 Sea Lion maritime helicopters this week.

Berlin wants the Nato Frigate Helicopter (NFH) version of the NH90 to replace the aging Westland Mk 41 Sea King operating with Marinefliegergeschwader 5 (MFG5) at Nordholz, and the MFG5’s Westland Mk 88A Sea Lynx choppers that fly from German Navy frigates. The deal was okayed on 4 March 2015.

The land-based NH90 Sea Lions will operate as troop-insertion platform, support for naval special forces and as search-and-rescue chopper. The Sea Lion will be about 60 knots faster than the Sea King, which is one of the reasons why the Navy wants to move quickly forward with the purchase.

The future of German Navy Aviation: the NH90 to serve also in the naval special forces role like demonstrated here by the French Navy (Image © Airbus Helicopters)
The future of German Navy Aviation: the NH90 to serve also in the naval special forces role like demonstrated here by the French Navy (Image © Airbus Helicopters)

German Army Aviation
The Bundeswehr will go ahead with downsizing of the NH90 fleet. As propositioned earlier the Heeresflieger (German Army Aviation) will only get 80 NH90 TTHs, instead of the 134 originally planned a decade ago. Thirty-six were delivered at the end of 2014, but the introduction has been plagued by big operational issues and not even a single NH90 is said to be in full promised operational status. Another two NH90s will be purchased as training system.

A German Army NH90 in the field. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
A German Army NH90 in the field. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Tiger attack helicopter
At the same time the Army Aviation has got to say bye-bye to 11 of its EC665 Tiger attack helicopters of the oldest batch. Berlin has set the operational level to 40 Tigers in total, while Airbus Helicopters delivers another 17 for attrition replacement, testing and training. After complaints about its quality on the battlefield the German Army finally received the last of a dozen upgraded Tiger UHT support helicopters in March 2014.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): A maritime version of the NH90, this example serving the French Navy (Image © Marine Nationale)

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Eurocopter EC665 Tiger UHT (Tigre) in German Army (Heer) livery at the 2008 ILA Airshow at Berlin-Schönefeld, Germany (Deutschland). UHT stands for Unterstützungshubschrauber Tiger (Support Helicopter Tiger). The aircraft bears serial no. 98+26 and has no. 398 on the nose. (Image © Marcel Burger)
Eurocopter EC665 Tiger UHT (Tigre) in German Army (Heer) livery at the 2008 ILA Airshow at Berlin-Schönefeld, Germany (Deutschland). UHT stands for Unterstützungshubschrauber Tiger (Support Helicopter Tiger). The aircraft bears serial no. 98+26 and has no. 398 on the nose. (Image © Marcel Burger)

Alarming low availability German air assets

The star of current German airlift operations, the C-160 Transall, scores a 50% availiability rate (Image © Marcel Burger)
The star of current German airlift operations, the C-160 Transall, scores a 50% availiability rate
(Image © Marcel Burger)

LATEST UPDATE 5 OCTOBER 2014 (CORRECTION READINESS LEVELS) | The air assets of the Bundeswehr, the German Armed Forces, are at an alarming low availability rate, according to recent reports leaked to the public via German Der Spiegel magazine.

According to maintenance journals that the editors of Der Spiegel got their hands a shocking low number of only 8 (!) of an official 109 Eurofighter EF2000s, named Typhoon in British service, are fully ready for all combat tasks. Meaning the German Air Force has to rely much on the remaining, aging and maintenance-sensitive Tornado jets to fulfill its duties. But of these 89 swept-wing fighter-bombers and electronic warfare aircraft, only 36 were fully combat ready at the end of September 2014 according to German media.

Helicopters
The number of available Sikorsky CH-53s dropped vertically to as low as 8 machines this summer, while 67 are on strength with an operational aim of 42. The new NHI Industries NH90 – a European product with tremendous problems while being deployed with Germany units in Afghanistan – is not much better of: 5 of the 33 helicopters are flyable. The German Navy’s Sealynx fleet had only four machines available in September.

A main reason for all these problems is partly a lack of funds, partly technical issues with new equipment.

Airlifter
The current star of German international operations, the old C-160 Transall tactical airlifter that flies into Northern Iraq and provides an air bridge between Senegal and the MINUSMA force in Mali, has an availability of about 50 percent – with 20 to 25 of the 56 machines ready to go at a given time.

For airlift operations there is a small beam of light at the end of the horizon, as the Luftwaffe is expecting its first new Airbus A400M at the end of 2014. Hopefully the availability will be much better than that of the new Eurofighter jets. Airheadsfly.com already reported in December 2013 that some of those remain grounded for years in a row.

© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger

The nightmare helicopter of Europe: the NH90, here an German example (Image © Marcel Burger)
The nightmare helicopter of Europe: the NH90, here an German example (Image © Marcel Burger)
A rare sight in German skies, an Eurofighter EF2000 that seems to be fully combat ready (Image © Marcel Burger)
A rare sight in German skies, an Eurofighter EF2000 that seems to be fully combat ready (Image © Marcel Burger)
A pair of German CH-53s training from Alpnach Airbase in Switzerland in 2008  (Image © Marcel Burger)
A pair of German CH-53s training from Alpnach Airbase in Switzerland in 2008 (Image © Marcel Burger)