Norway is aiming to have its pilots flying the first two Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning IIs just before Christmas 2015, the Norwegian Ministry of Defence confirmed. The aircraft, called AM-1 and AM-2, are planned to make their delivery flight from the production plant in Forth Worth in Texas to Luke Air Force Base in November 2015.
Together with a third and fourth aircraft to arrive in 2016, the two Royal Norwegian Air Force next-generation multi-role fighters will be part of the so-called “international pool” to train aviators and aircraft technicians.
Current RNoAF combat pilots flying the F-16 will go through conversion training on the new type in 2015 and 2016. From 2018 on forward Norway will have at least 6 trainees – aspirant-pilots that have never flown the F-16 or similar aircraft before – at Luke. At the same time the RNoAF will start decommissioning its facilities at Tuscon in Arizona, where Norwegian fighter jocks-to-be now go after basic training on Sheppard AFB.
Meanwhile Ørland Airbase near Trondheim in Norway is getting ready to accept the first F-35 in 2017, with a new simulator division and maintenance division. The first RNoAF Lightning II is planned to be operational in 2019, with all planned 52 F-35s reaching full operational capability by 2025.
While Ørland will be the F-35s only Main Base, Norway will fly its Quick Reaction Alert on NATO northern flank with F-35s based at Evenes on a rotating basis. Until 2021 F-16s will fly the mission from Bodø – initially on a rotating basis with the F-35s until the QRA task will be fully transfered to the new stealthy jet ahead of full decommissioning of the Fighting Falcon.
The US Air Force’s advanced jet trainer – the Northrop T-38 Talon – is good to go until 2030. The first aircraft that underwent a major overhaul is back in the fleet, after 8,900 man hours were put into replacing and upgrading structural elements inside the fuselage.
In what is officially called the Pacer Clasic III upgrade things like floors and longerons are renewed, giving the body of the plane more life to fly longer. The work is being done at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph in Texas, where another 11 Talons are now going through the hands of the personnel of 575th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. Next year another 17 T-38s are planned to undergo the overhaul with a total of 150 Talons upgraded by 2021 when the program ends – giving each aircraft 15 to 20 years of additional service life.
The US Air Force received a massive 1,100 Northrop T-38s – somewhat similar to the F-5 fighter-bomber – between 1961 and 1972. A small number is in use by the US Navy, while NASA keeps a substantial fleet of 32 aircraft. The jets are also used by the German Air Force, which flies 35 of them in US Air Force livery from Sheppard Air Force Base, the Republic of China Air Force (40 aircraft) and Turkey (67).
The US Defence department spends another US$ 59,703,818 for the manufacturing and delivery of 15 UH-1Y Venom (Lot 12) assault helicopters and 11 AH-1Z Super Cobra (Lot 12) attack helicopters for the US Marine Corps, the department announced on 27 March 2014. Work will be done by Bell Textron in Forth Worth and Amarillo, Texas, and will be completed in September 2015.
The AH-1Z Super Cobra, aka Viper, is the US Marines flying artillery. The first version was introduced in 1967 and was almost immediately forwarded to the war operations in Vietnam. Armed with rockets and a 20mm canon the Super Cobra provides close air support for Marines on the ground. Moreover it escorts transport helicopters into battle. The AH-1Z is equipped with enhanced navigation displays that distinguish friends from enemies, data transfer systems that deliver real-time aerial reconnaissance to Marines on the ground and composite rotor blades and tail booms that can withstand 23mm cannon fire.
When outfitted with door-mounted .50 caliber and 7.62 machine guns and teamed alongside AH-1s, Marine UH-1s give USMC commanders an extra fist on the battlefield. All Marine UH-1N Hueys are being replaced with four-bladed UH-1Y Venoms. They feature upgraded glass cockpit avionics, a new satellite data link network, a 125% boost in payload and 50% increase in range and speed.
The Joint Netherlands Training Detachment (JNTD) at Fort Hood has officially been established as the new RNLAF 302 Squadron by the Dutch minister of Defence Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert en the Dutch commander of the Air Forces lt-gen Sander Schnitger during a ceremony on 24 November 2014.
302 Squadron hosts a 5 week training course for air mobile units and helicopter crew. Moreover, it trains active Apache crew four weeks a year in operational environments and perform the initial mission kwalification of Apache student crews.
302 Squadron at Fort Hood has a permanent strength of 8 Apaches and 3 Chinooks to train the RNLAF aviators. Before its disbandment the old 302 squadron built a bit of reputation flying Alouette helicopters during military operations in Bosnia. It has already flown Apaches earlier, including the first operational deployment of the type in RNLAF service in Djibouti. 302 is part of the Defnce Helicopter Command of the Netherlands.
Source: the Netherlands MoD (Ministerie van Defensie)
The Royal Australian Air Force Alenia/L-3 C-27J Spartan will make its first flight in November 2013, roughly one month from now and way ahead from the originally for 2014 planned take-off. A senior RAAF official confirmed this to the international press this week.
The US based L-3 Communications company is the prime contractor for the supply of 10 new C-27Js, originally designed by and produced together with Alenia from Italy. Australia pays about 300 million US dollars and letting it run through the US Foreign Military Sales channel has likely been cheaper than buying the aircraft directly from Italy.
Australia wants to deploy the C-27J as a battlefield airlifter, meaning it has to be able to land and depart quickly on sometimes short and so-called ‘Hot LZs’. The Spartan with two turboprops stands a better change in doing so then the 12 larger four-engine Lockheed C-130J-30s Super Hercules the RAAF operates. It must be able to perform logistical re-supply, medevac, troop movement, airdrop operations and humanitarian assistance in even more difficult environments than the C-130s.
The RAAF C-27Js are being readied at the L-3 plant in Waco, Texas. The first plane will be handed over officially in the beginning of 2014, but will as aircraft 2 and 5 remain in the US for RAAF crew training. The others will make their ferry flights to Australia starting in mid-2015. When the three US ‘residential’ RAAF C-27Js will get down under is yet unclear.
Source: L-3 / Commonwealth of Australia Government