Tag Archives: Marine

Final flight for French Etendards

After 42 years, it’s all over for the Dassault Super Etendard in French service. The final flight was scheduled for Tuesday 12 July at Landivisiau airbase, close to the French Atlantic coast. In its career, the sea was familiar territory for the Etendard, as the type was also operated from French Navy aircraft carriers.

The final flight was performed in front of hundreds of spectators at Landivisiau. Only five jets remained in service until the very end, although a significant number of Etendards still participated in operations against co-called Islamic State forces untill recently, flying from a French carrier.

Iraq

Less known is the fact that France leased some Etendards to Iraq in the Eighties. Iraq then used the aircraft to employ the feared Exocet anti-shipping missiles at Iranian vessels in the Persian Gulf. The jets eventually returned to France,

The Dassault Rafale of course replaces the Etendard in French service, with several dozen already in service. The last Etendards will probably find their way to museums in technical schools.

The world’s last Etendards are now to be found in Argentina, which operates just a few aircraft. These jets earned their fame in the 1982 Falklands war.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest

One of the classic shapes in aviation. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
One of the classic shapes in aviation. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A French super Etendard, seen at Landivisiau. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
A French super Etendard, seen at Landivisiau. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Not all Dassault Super Etendards look the same... (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Not all Dassault Super Etendards look the same… (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The French Etendards have a thing for Tigers. By their standards, these are rather boring tiger markings. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The French Etendards have a thing for Tigers. By their standards, these are rather boring tiger markings. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Superbe! A Super Etendard looking old skool at the Le Bourget Salon in june 1991. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Superbe! A Super Etendard looking old skool at the Le Bourget Salon in June 1991. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Dassault re-delivers early Rafale M

Stick 'm up again! (Image © Elmer van Hest)
One of the early Dassault Rafale M aircraft, seen here in basic F1 configuration. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Dassault Aviation in early October delivered the first of ten early built Rafale M fighter aircraft back to the French Marine after an extensive update to F3 standard. The first batch of ten Rafale M aircraft was built in the late 1990s to replace old F-8 Crusaders performing air defense duties, flying mainly from Marine aircraft carriers.

Those first aircraft were in basic F1 standard and limited to superiority and air defense missions only. Standards later switched to the more versatile F2 standard and the current F3. Reconfiguration fro F1 to F2 was fairly easy, but a change straight from F1 to F3 proved more challenging, according to Dassault. The company therefore designed a specific program for converting the ten F1 Rafale M aircraft to F3.

The modernization includes new modular electronic computers and cockpit screen, changes to the electrical wiring, upgrading of the Spectra countermeasures system, changes to the RBE2 PESA radar as well as changes to the weapon store stations.

Seen here in 2008 while stored at Landivisiau airbase in France, is Rafale M M10. This aircraft has now been modernized to F3 standard and has re-delivered to the French Marine. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Seen here in 2008 while stored at Landivisiau airbase in France, is Rafale M M10. This aircraft has now been modernized to F3 standard and has re-delivered to the French Marine. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Stored
The aircraft concerned were taken out of service several years ago and stored. They will now return to flying duties. The first F1 Rafale M to be re-delivered is serial M10. The other nine aircraft are to follow, with the last one expected some time in 2017.

Of the 180 Rafale aircraft ordered by France to date, 133 have been delivered. The French Rafale fleet has now flown a total of 120,000 flight hours, 16,000 of which during operations. Dassault is still struggling to sell the Rafale abroad. An order from India seems to be closing in, although talks have been ongoing for years.

© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest

France sends more Rafales to bomb ISIS

French president François Hollande ordered an additional three Dassault Rafale fighter jets to Al Dhafra Airbase in the United Arab Emirates.

The three will supplement the six Rafales currently deployed there as part of Operation Chammal, which is the French contribution to the international air strikes on targets of the so-called Islamic State forces (Daech in French) in Iraq and Syria.

The French commenced their bombing operations on 19 September, focusing on Iraq only. The mission is supported by a French Air Force C135FR tanker also based al Al Dhafra for the time being and an Breguet Atlantique 2 MPA from the French Navy for reconnaissance and battle damage assessment.

The French fighters not only fly strike missions, but also perform tactical reconnaissance duties.

Source: Ministére de la Défense

See all our #iraqsyrialog coverage

One of the two Rafales taking part in the first air strike on ISIL / Groupe Daech taxiing for take-off on Al Dhafra Airbase, United Arab Emirates (Image © Armée de l'Air)
One of the two Rafales taking part in the first air strike on ISIL / Groupe Daech taxiing for take-off on Al Dhafra Airbase, United Arab Emirates (Image © Armée de l’Air)

Atlantique 2 upgrade, to last beyond 2030

A French Navy Atlantique 2 (Image © Jacques Tonard / Marine Nationale)
A French Navy Atlantique 2 (Image © Jacques Tonard / Marine Nationale)

The French Naval Aviation (Aéronautica Navale) decided to upgrade 15 Dassault-Breguet Atlantic 2 (ATL2) maritime patrol aircraft to fly at least into the 2030s. The modernisation will be executed by Dassault Aviation and Thales and a lot of stuff exist only a bit, in the Rafale fighter.

The companies will develop and integrate new technologies on board the aircraft that are almost a quarter of a century old. Plans call for a new tactical mission system, modern sensor subsystems and digital displays. The French say to be proud that they are the only country that can develop maritime patrol aircraft in full glory besides the United States, boasting that the Atlantique 2 can deploy optronic, radar and acoustic sensors, while launching anti-ship missiles, torpedoes and laser-guided weapons.

“The upgrade program will improve the ATL2’s ability to deal with new and emerging threats under all weather conditions, both in strategic deterrence roles and in asymmetric conflicts involving quiet and stealthy submarines, high-speed craft, land vehicles, etc. The aircraft will be equipped to remain in operational service beyond 2030”, writes a Dassault press spokesperson in a press release.

The program will be conducted by Dassault Aviation and Thales (co-contractors) in partnership with DCNS and working with the SIAé. Dassault Aviation will be in charge of developing the core system, including the LOTI(2) mission software developed by DCNS. Dassault Aviation will also be responsible for subsystems integration and the conversion of a ‘prototype’ aircraft for flight testing.

Thales will develop the radar/IFF[3] subsystem and the latest-generation digital acoustic processing subsystem (STAN), using technology incorporated in the Rafale fighter. Sensor developments will build on the results of government-funded advanced study programs in underwater detection and combat aircraft radars, including the RBE2 active electronically scanned array radar (AESA) developed for the Rafale. The STAN subsystem will process signals from all existing and future sonobuoys, detecting targets over a wider frequency range and making it possible to counter new types of threats.

DCNS will develop the LOTI software, which will establish an overall tactical picture based on data from different sensors, and manage the deployment of torpedoes, missiles and other weapons. This collaborative system enables several operators to interact at the same time. The SIAé will be responsible for developing the upgraded tactical display consoles and managing full-rate aircraft upgrade operations.

Dassault Aviation delivered the French Navy’s fleet of ATL2 aircraft during the 1990s to conduct air missions in support of France’s deterrence capabilities for the strategic ocean force and its fleet of nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarines, and for intelligence gathering and reconnaissance. The Atlantique 2 was a further developed version of the original Breguet Br. 1150 Atlantique which first flew in 1961.

Other countries like Germany replaced the Atlantique through the years often with a larger aircraft such as the Lockheed P-3 Orion. Already the P-3 aircraft itself has made the German Navy (Marine) a lot happier, but the 18 hours of endurance for a mission flight of the Atlantique still beats a lot of aircraft.

Source: Dassault Aviation/DGA with addional reporting by © 2013 AIRheads’ Marcel Burger

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