Tag Archives: Neuburg

Germany’s top toy on Red Alert

Neuburg Airbase, situated in the Bavarian region in southern Germany, is home to the German Luftwaffe’s JG74, flying the Eurofighter EF2000 (Typhoon) in the air defense role since 2006. This November Airheadsfly.com met them when they returned home to Neuberg after a long stay elsewhere.

For a considerable time, JG74 (Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader, or Tactical Air Force Wing) had to call other airbases ‘home’ while the runway at Neuburg saw complete renewal. What was planned to be a nine month stay, turned out to be close to two years. This was caused by a few dozen World War II bombs found during the work.

Lechfeld

During Airheadsfly.com’s visit, the return to Neuburg hadn’t been fully completed, as some Eurofighters – the Typhoon name was never adopted in Germany –  were left behind for maintenance at Lechfeld, the airbase that served as the main home away from home.

QRA

JG74 is fully dedicated to air defense und Alarmrotte, which could well do with some explanation for non-native speakers. Alarmrotte (literally: red alert) is the German term for Quick Reaction Alert (QRA), which applies here because JG74 is responsible for guarding the skies over southern Germany. It’s not a recent thing by any standards. In fact, they have been doing it at Neuburg since May 1961. So next year sees the 55th anniversary of QRA duties at the Bavarian airbase.

NATO Tiger

Where now Eurofighters stand guard, F-4 Phantoms stood until not too long ago. Between 2006 and 2008 and after more than 30 years of service, JG74 replaced its Spooks for brand spankin’ new Eurofighters. Since 2013, the wing is a proud member of NATO’s Tiger Association. They took over the tradition from JBG32 (Jagdbombgeschwader, or bomber squadron), which flew the Panavia Tornado from Lechfeld until disbanded in 2012.

Check, check, check. Just a few checks to go, and this JG74 Eurofighter is about to get into the air for another sortie (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Checks, checks and more checks. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
"Hi there!", this JG74 Eurofighter pilot is definitely ready to go (Image © Dennis Spronk)
“Hi there!”, this JG74 Eurofighter pilot is definitely ready to go (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Take off into the blue (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Into the blue yonder. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Arctic Challenge

JG74 has 33 jets assigned, of which 24 are available at Neuburg. This year, the wing’s pilots and crews participated in large scale exercise Arctic Challenge in Norway, but they also did the “real thing” by supporting NATO’s  Baltic Air Policing mission from Ämari airbase in Estonia. From there, German pilots in 2014 got to meet Russian pilots up close, albeit always thousands of feet up in the air and each in the cockpit of their respective aircraft.

A nice summer day? No, it's a beautiful november day as this JG74 Eurofighter taxies to the runway of Neuburg (Image © Dennis Spronk)
A nice summer day? No, it’s a beautiful November day as this JG74 Eurofighter taxies to the runway of Neuburg (Image © Dennis Spronk)
A pair of JG74 Eurofighters taxy to the runway to get into the air for another practice sortie (Image © Dennis Spronk)
A pair of JG74 Eurofighters taxy to the runway to get into the air for another practice sortie (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Typical outlines of a Eurofighter, as it approaches at Neuburg (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Typical outlines of a Eurofighter, as it approaches at Neuburg (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Kill ratio

At Neuburg they are pretty confident with the Eurofighter, the jet that saw Germany at it’s cradle as one of the founding nations of the Eurofighter consortium. Christian Härter, taking care of the jets at Neuburg since 2013, thinks the Eurofighter is the best all round fighter at this moment. “The Eurofighter has an 8:1 kill ratio against a variety of other fighter aircraft. Even the US Air Force F-22 Raptor is having a hard time in many aspects against our aircraft.” In reality of course, the Eurofighter has yet to achieve a real kill against any type of aircraft.

Typhoons serviceability

Criticism aimed at Germany’s top toy can’t be ignored. This fall, deliveries of German aircraft were halted over a production fault found across the fleet. According to Härter however, Typhoons serviceability at Neuburg is around 70 percent, the proof perhaps being the presence of three jets inside the T-Halle, a hangar that can house up to 6 aircraft. In the eight year old T-Halle, maintenance is being performed in more favourable conditions than in the hardened aircraft shelters that litter Neuburg. The T-Halle gets a lot of natural light from outside, which makes work very comfortable.

Flight hour costs

The presence of the many data cables and computers in the T-Halle clearly shows we’re dealing with a modern aircraft. As the computer/software is getting more and more important, Härter even expects the Eurofighter could well be the last manned aircraft of the Luftwaffe. One flight hour in a Eurofighter costs around 65,000 euro, of which fuel accounts for ‘only’ 6,000 euro. Therefore it might not come as a surprise that every pilot flies 40 hours  on a Typhoon flight simulator each year. Aircraft like the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 are more and more being marketed as operational trainers, saving costly flying hours.

Christian Härter, Quality Safety Manager of JG74, in front of a Eurofighter (Image © Vincent Kok)
Christian Härter in front of a Eurofighter (Image © Vincent Kok)
3 Eurofighters inside the maintenance hangar (or T-Halle) at Neuburg (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Three Eurofighters inside the maintenance hangar (or T-Halle) at Neuburg (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Just some final checks, and this JG74 Eurofighter pilot is about to leave his aircraft, after a mission (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Work being done between missions in the aircraft shelter.  (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Roar

But on this beautiful day in November, pilots elect to fly for real. Up to seven Eurofighters roar into the skies in preparation for yet another busy year. For JG74, next year will see participation in the NATO Tiger Meet in May at Zaragoza airbase in Spain, while June will see an airshow at Neuburg because of the 55th anniversary of JG74. There might be even another tour of Baltic Air Policing, offering Russian pilots one more chance at the experience of meeting a Eurofighter up close – and be aware of a kill ratio that apparently stands at 8:1.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Dennis Spronk, video shot and edited by Orange Avenue Filmworks
Featured image (top): Pilots eager to get airborne at Neuburg Airbase. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Ready to taxy to the runway. This JG74 Eurofighter just left its hardened aircraft shelter (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Ready to taxy to the runway. This JG74 Eurofighter just left its hardened aircraft shelter (Image © Dennis Spronk)
JG74 ground crew do some final checks before giving the pilot a "go" (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Ground crew do some final checks before giving the pilot a “go” (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Touch down! Creating burning rubber, as this JG74 Eurofighter arrives back from the afternoon sortie (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Touch down! Burning rubber as this Eurofighter arrives back from the afternoon sortie (Image © Dennis Spronk)
A JG74 Eurofighter comes out to play (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Return to the shelter. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
After the mission, a JG74 Eurofighter is being checked and prepared to be pushed back into its hardened aircraft shelter (Image © Dennis Spronk)
After the mission, a jet is being checked and prepared to be pushed back into its hardened aircraft shelter (Image © Dennis Spronk)
A JG74 Eurofighter is being pushed back into its hardened aircraft shelter, at the end of a beautiful day (Image © Dennis Spronk)
A Eurofighter is being pushed back into its hardened aircraft shelter, at the end of a beautiful day (Image © Dennis Spronk)