Tag Archives: Tucson

Iraqi F-16 force at Balad now ten-strong

Iraq is gaining an increasingly potent F-16 force at Balad airbase near Baghdad. The number of F-16s jets available for the fighter against so-called Islamic State (IS) has grown to ten after this week’s delivery of four more jets.

The Iraqi Air Force has 36 F-16s on order from Lockheed Martin. A number of aircraft remains stationed in the US for pilot training in Tucson, Arizona, while most of the jets will head to Iraq to join the Iraq Air Force’s 9 squadron at Balad. From there, the Iraqi F-16 have already been used in battling IS.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi Air Force also gains more and more Aero Vodochody L-159 trainer and light attack jets from the Czech Republic. Furthermore, the first Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) T-50 Golden Eagle should soon also find its way to Iraq.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): An Iraqi Air Force F-16, seen here at Tucson IAP. (Image © Elmer van Hest

NATO retires first E-3A AWACS

NATO’s E-3A Component at Geilenkirchen airbase in Germany retired its first Boeing E-3A Sentry this week, a spokesperon confirmed on 15 May. The aircraft, registered LX-N90449, was taken on its final mission on Wednesday 13 May and welcomed with a water salute from the fire brigade as it returned to Geilenkirchen for the last time. Read here for on inside report from Geilenkirchen.

The retired aircraft served NATO for well over 30 years, being delivered in the early 80s. Over the next few weeks, sensitive and re-usable equipment is taken out, after which the aircraft will be flown to desert storage in Tucson, Arizona, on 23 June. There, the equipment that was needed for the ferry flight, is also taken out of LX-N90449. The Sentry will then rest among hundreds and hundreds of other retired military aircraft at the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, better known as AMARG.

The retirement leaves 16 E-3As in operation at Geilenkirchen. Out of those, 14 are to be updated with a part-glass cockpit. The first aircraft is currently undergoing tests in the US, with the first E-3A Component pilot having flown the aircraft on 29 April. The entire modification program is set to be done in 2018.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): An E-3A Component AWACS. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Iraq to finally receive F-16s this summer

The first Iraqi Air Force force are set to fly to Iraq next July, the Iraqi Ministry stated earlier this week. The aircraft are expected to be used in the fight against Islamic State (IS) forces very soon afterwards.

The aircraft are they first of 36 F-16s ordered to actually arrive in Iraq. Since early 2015, Iraqi pilots are being trained in the US by the Arizona Air National Guard in Tucson, with Iraqi aircraft delivered there also.

The first F-16s were scheduled to arrive in Iraq last year already, but the US seemed to develop cold feet following the advance of IS in 2014. Balad Airbase, future home of the F-16s, was even under threat of being overrun. For safety, the first aircraft were kept in the US and flown to Tucson for training.

Iraqi pilots will operate the brand new F-16s, which were heavily anticipated by Baghdad. Iraqi authorities complained about the slow delivery, stating the F-16s were necessary to fight IS. Instead, Russia was quick to supply Iraq with a number of Sukhoi Su-25 ground attack aircraft mid 2014.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): A two seat Iraqi Air Force F-16 in the US. (Image © Jordan Castelan / USAF)

Dreamliner on display in Pima Air & Space Museum

Following the Seattle Museum of Flight, the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona, is the second aviation museum to put a Boeing 787 Dreamliner on display. The museum announced it will receive ZA002, the second Boeing 787-8 to be produced, from Boeing on Friday 27 March.

The Dreamliner will arrive at nearby Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and then be towed to the Pima Air & Space Museum. A formal induction ceremony and opening of public static display will be announced at a later date.

“This is an extremely exciting and monumental time for the museum, the Tucson community and Arizona in general,” said Scott Marchand, Executive Director of the Pima Air & Space Museum. “We are honored to be selected by The Boeing Company to be the custodian of such a significant historic next generation aircraft and to be able to display it to the public from the USA and from around the world.”

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is an all-new family of midsize airplanes that deliver new efficiencies, exceptional environmental performance and passenger pleasing features. Advances in engines, aerodynamics, airplane systems and materials, including airframe made mostly of carbon-fiber composites, make the 787 family 20 to 30 percent more fuel efficient than the airplanes it replaces, with an equivalent reduction in emissions.

Dreamliner ZA002 seen during its first flight, painted in ANA colours. ANA was the Boeing 787 launch customer. (Image © Boeing)
Dreamliner ZA002 seen during its first flight, painted in ANA colours. ANA was the Boeing 787 launch customer. (Image © Boeing)

“Boeing is proud of our long-standing relationship with the Pima Air & Space Museum, and donating the second 787 Dreamliner begins another chapter in our partnership,” said Boeing Vice President of Attack Helicopter Programs and Senior Mesa Site Executive, Kim Smith. “We’re thrilled to share this 787 with students, aviation enthusiasts and visitors from Arizona and around the world.”

Dreamliner ZA002 flew for the first time on December 22, 2009, joining what would become a six-airplane flight test and certification program for the 787- 8. The primary focus of ZA002 was testing systems performance.

The Museum of Flight in Seattle on 8 November 2014 became the first museum in the world to add a Boeing 787 Dreamliner to its collection. In that case, it was ZA003, the third Dreamliner built.

Source: Pima Air & Space Museum, with additional reporting by © 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest

US keeps Iraqi F-16s close

Captured during its first flight is the first Iraq Air Force F-16. (Image © Lockheed Martin – Liz Kaszynski)

Anyone who can read between the lines, saw it coming from miles away: brand new Iraqi Air Force F-16s are waiting to fly to Iraq, but the US has decided not to allow the potent aircraft to be flown to the Islamic State (ISIS) forces plagued country. The aircraft will instead be used in Tucson, Arizona, to train Iraqi Air Force pilots, the US confirmed on Monday 10 November.

The move comes as no surprise, as the delivery of the first batch of Iraq Air Force F-16s from the Lockheed Martin production facility in Fort Worth, was already delayed by two months. Deliveries should have started in September, but the advance of ISIS forces have understandably caused fold feet with US authorities. These are not aircraft to fall into unwanted hands.

The first of 36 state of the art F-16 block 52 fighter aircraft first flew last May in the US. The first three aircraft will now not be ferried to Iraq, but be flown to Tucson to join the Arizona Air National Guard F-16 training unit based there. A fourth aircraft will join those in January, with three more expected by May 2015. According to the US Department of Defense, 26 Iraqi pilots will receive their training in Tucson, with another 16 to follow.

The fleet of Iraqi F-16s was planned to be housed at Balad Airbase, some 80 kilometers North of Baghdad. Earlier this year, the US Department of Defence awarded Sallyport Global Services a 215 million US dollar contract (fixed-price) to renovate and reconstruct key facilities at the airbase. Sources now say as a result of ISIS-ignited turmoil, the Balad runway is deemed unsuitable for F-16 operations.

The government of Iray probably won’t be pleased by the US decision. Earlier this year, it practically begged the US for the F-16s, as they would be valuable in the fight against ISIS. As a last resort, Iraq hastily reinforced its air force with Russia-supplied Sukhoi Su-25 Frogfoots, with some Iranian aircraft in the mix as well.

The US has prevented F-16 deliveries to foreign nations before. In the nineties, a batch of 28 Pakistani F-16s fell victim to a US arms embargo. Those brand new aircraft were also sent to Tucson, however not for training, but for storage in the desert. In 2013, the US halted the delivery of modern block 52 F-16s to Egypt.

© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest