Tag Archives: Transall

Dark picture shows German Air Assets in deplorable state

The air assets of the German Armed Forces are in a even more deplorable state that before, and is becoming worse and worse. Helicopters, transport aircraft and combat jets are spending so much time on the ground that it hurts the defence capabilities of one of Europe’s biggest countries way too much. Many aircraft are not available for any duties they are so needed for, at home or with the 13 deployments abroad, including the “flashy” new Airbus A400Ms.

A rather dark image of the state of the German Air Force, Naval Aviation and Army Aviation was painted by German Parliamentary Commissioner of the Armed Forces Hans-Peter Bartels during a recent press conference in Berlin. The inspector says units are facing “an overload” with too many deployments that include the Baltic Air Policing mission providing NATO fighter coverage for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and with the helicopter squadrons of the German Army and Air Force.

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)
(Image © LAF Air Base)
The current German rotary air lift at full speed: a CH-53 lifting essential needs into a combat zone (Image © Marcel Burger)
The current German rotary air lift at full speed: a CH-53 lifting essential needs into a combat zone (Image © Marcel Burger)

“The German airlift capabilities have become so weak that days of delays and cancellations of (planned) flights into and from areas of deployment are almost a normality,” Bartels says. “The status of materiel is equally bad and in many occasions even worse than during my first inspection visit in 2015. At the end of last year not a single of the 14 newly commissioned A400M transport aircraft was available. Eurofighter, Tornado, Transall, CH-53, Tiger, NH90 … the flying units rightfully complain they fail in having the appropriate flight hours for their crews because too many machines too many days a year are not ready to fly.”

A German Army NH90 in the field. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
No stopping however for this Tornado. Wings fully back, low, fast and loud - as seen at Laage airbase in 2005. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
No stopping this German Tornado. Wings fully back, low, fast and loud – as seen at Laage airbase in 2005. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Even the operation platforms of the German Navy helicopter fleet of Westland Sea Lynxes and in the future NH90 Sea Lion are far less than the German Ministry of Defence has promised to be available. Of the planned 15 frigates only 9 are in use and even they are often not able to sail with longer maintenance times in the shipyard for the aging vessels. Of the 220,000 job positions in the German Armed Forces, a massive 21,000 are vacant. Many troops lack winter uniforms or flack jackets.

© 2018 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger

Red Flag for big guys

For the past two weeks, Beja airbase in Portugal was the scene of multi national exercise European Air Transport Training (EATT15), organized by European Defence Agency (EDA) and European Air Transport Command (EATC). In other words: C-27J Spartan and C-130 Hercules galore in Portugal. This is Red Flag for the big guys.

Taking part in EATT15 were Portugal, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Romania, Sweden and the UK, as well as observer countries Brazil, the United States and Poland. Next to C-27Js and C-130s, also present at Beja were Airbus C295s and C-160 Transall aircraft. In total, 20 transport aircraft and 2,500 military personnel were involved, not counting in three Portuguese Air Force F-16s and a sole P-3C Orion.

The EATT15 aims to train and prepare the crews of tactical airlift squadrons in order to guarantee their readiness for all kinds of operations within the European alliance. The concept of the exercise is to “provide joint training and ensure interoperability among the participating forces”, said Lt. Col. Laurent Donnet, overseeing EATT15 on behalf of the Belgian Air Component.

 (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
A long way from home: a Swedish Hercules in Portugal. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
Also a long way from home, is this C295 from Finland. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
Also a long way from home, is this C295 from Finland. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
 (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
A fine study of a Alenia Aermacchi C-27J. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)

Scenarios
During the exercise, crews trained for various scenarios, such as operations to and from unprepared air strips, Combat Search And Rescue (CSAR), extraction of military and non-military elements, medical evacuations, plus air support in an urban environment and emergency situations.

The home team. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
The home team. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
(Image © Jorge Ruivo)
Blue skies surround this Spartan…. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
 (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
… and this Hercules. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)

JPADS
During EATT15, crews used the Airdrop Joint Precision System (JPADS), a US military airdrop system using GPS, an onboard computer and steerable parachutes to direct cargo to a designated impact point.

EATT15 was also about efficient use of logistics, tooling and spare parts. The proximity of similar aircraft types and their crews allowed for standardization of procedures, exchange of know-how as well as the fostering of a spirit of unity. This spirit is embraced by European Air Transport Command (EATC), the institution directing and overseeing operations of hundreds of European military transport and tanker aircraft. The latter had their own exercise earlier this year.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com guest editor Jorge Ruivo – www.cannontwo.blogspot.pt
Featured image (top): A C-130 overhead Beja in Portugal. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)

A Lithuanian Spartan. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
A Lithuanian Spartan. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
 (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
Touchdown for the Spartan. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
Flaring for landing. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
Flaring for landing. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
EATT15's final landing was on 26 June. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)
EATT15’s final landing was on 26 June. (Image © Jorge Ruivo)

More trouble for Airbus A400M

More evidence of the apparent disrespect for quality checks at the Airbus A400M manufacturing plant in Seville (Sevilla) in Spain – at least on the aircraft produced so far – has come to light this week. The issues are that serious that the German Air Force is going to keep its ancient C-160D Transall airlifters airborne into the next decade.

According to Luftwaffe inspection reports leaked to German media like Der Spiegel magazine, very important bolts that hold the big and very essential rudder of the aircraft show defects that are a direct result of problems during the assembly that should normally have been seen during routine quality checks. So far the defects are only confirmed on the single Luftwaffe A400M, as the French, British and Malaysian air forces have so far not given information on the matter.

Plastic bag
The rear end of the A400M already has given the Germans unpleasant surprises. During flight tests in April this year the Luftwaffe A400M crew heard repeatedly strange noises in the tail section of the plane. When investigating the matter further they found a plastic bag with screws left behind by a mechanic on the inside of part of the tail section.

Hohn Airbase
Not trusting the Airbus product Berlin has now made an alternative plan to keep the Air Force providing enough airlift in the near future:  as reported earlier here on Airheadsfly.com, the aging C-160 Transalls will have to soldier on until at least 2021, costing the tax payers 300 million euro extra and keeping Hohn Airbase in the north of the country open as C-160D location.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): The first German Air Force A400M (54+01 or MSN18) during taxi trials on 13 October 2014 at the Airbus plant in Seville, Spain (Image © Airbus Defence & Space)

‘France & Germany explore other options to face A400M delays’

Germany and France both take measures to bridge an airlift capability gap if delays keep plaguing the Airbus A400M, according to reports on Thursday 21 May. Germany is ready to pump 300 million EUR in keeping its old C-160 Transalls in the air for three year longer, while France is said to be looking into the Lockheed C-130J.

The A400M is supposed to replace the C-160 in Germany, but the Germans found their first-delivered A400M not up to par so far. Airbus apparently took notice of the complaints, as changes were made in the organization in order to improve quality and speed up deliveries. For Airbus, the 9 May crash that involved a brand new A400M destined for Turkey and killed four Airbus employees, could not have come at a worse moment. A software bug in the Electronic Control Unit (ECU) is suspected to have cut off the fuel supply to three out of the A400M’s four engines, leading to the crash.

Germany now considers keeping the C-160s in the air until 2012, three years longer than originally planned, at a cost of 300 million EUR for the  German taxpayer. The German Air Force still has quite a number of C-160 left at two airbases, but the aircraft are nearing the end of their usable lives.

Furthermore, France  has reportedly adapted its latest defense budget in order to possibly buy four Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules transporters, whereas Paris earlier stood 100 percent behind the A400M. France already has C-130H Hercules aircraft in service, along with C-160 Transalls.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: The 6th French Air Force A400M arrives at Orléans-Bricy on 18 December 2014 (Image © Jeroeme Frerejan / Armée de l’Air)

A Luftwafffe C-160 Transall. Archive photo (Image © Marcel Burger)
A Luftwafffe C-160 Transall. (Image © Marcel Burger)
The humidity of the air s clearly visible in this picture, nice special effect. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
A French C-130H shows the humidity in the air. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

France creating Niger airbase out of sand

What do you do when you want an airbase, but there is none. Then you just create it out of sand. The first tactical airlifters have already landed.

That is in short what the French Air Force Corps of Engineers is doing in the Niger desert. The 25th Régiment du Génie de l’Air (25e RGA). In Madama the French are creating new temporary airfields to support Operation Barkhane. That is the combined armed operations in the former French colonies in central Africa that include Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Niger and the Central African Republic to fight armed terrorists and rebel groups in the Sahel / Sahara Region.

On 4 December 2014 a French Air Force (AdlA) CASA (Airbus) CN235 landed on the runway of Madama, after leaving N’Djamena n Chad 3 hours and 40 minutes earlier. A C160 Transall followed on 7 December. Two C160s are already operating at Diori Hamani International Airport of the Niger capital if Niamey and fly in turn to Madama.

The 25e RGA made the Madama runway in little than a month time, from 5 to 30 November. It meant the recreation of the old track of 800 by 500 metres (2400 x 1500 feet). Leveling and reinforcing the ground included adding water – a scarce fluid in the region – to make it more compact to hold airlifters. The second phase of the project, which has just begun, consists of an extension of an additional 500 meter (1500 feet) track to reach a final length of 1800 meters (5400 feet). The Madame airfield will include a ramp, two aircraft parking locations and several helicopter landing zones.

Source: Ministère de la Défense

Armée de l'Air C160 Transall landing at the desert strip of Madama  (Image © Ministère de la Défense)
Armée de l’Air C160 Transall landing at the desert strip of Madama (Image © Ministère de la Défense)
The French armed force's 25th Corps of Engineers at work in Madama, Niger (Image © Ministère de la Défense)
The French armed force’s 25th Corps of Engineers at work in Madama, Niger (Image © Ministère de la Défense)
The runway of Madama was officially opened when this Armée de l'Air CN235 landed on 4 December 2014 (Image © Ministère de la Défense)
The runway of Madama was officially opened when this Armée de l’Air CN235 landed on 4 December 2014 (Image © Ministère de la Défense)