In social circles, I find that my profession is an unusual one about which I get asked some pretty standard questions: “how fast have you been? How high have you been? Do you ever get scared?” Luckily, pilots love to talk about themselves and flying in general. The chats I like are those which ask questions I haven’t even thought about. Some of these were “what’s the coolest thing you’ve seen?” and “what are your most memorable flights?”
So, the coolest thing I’ve seen? I can’t choose one thing, but I can probably make a shortlist.
1. Watching the Northern Lights on NVGs while I was flying from Scotland.
2. Watching my wingman trail a shockwave behind him with the sun setting behind him at low level over the North Sea
3. Watching mount Etna erupt with massive thunderstorms all around me while I flew on NVGs on my way to Libya
4. Landing on a compacted snow runway at Bodo in Norway
5. Looking in my mirrors as I left contrails behind me flying a barrel roll at 38,000’ in a Typhoon for the first time
6. Looking at the curvature of the earth from 50,000 over the Falkland Islands flying at Mach 2
7. The view on top of the clouds on a rainy day
My most memorable flights?
1. First solo in every aeroplane I’ve flown
2. First flight in every aeroplane I’ve flown
3. My “wings trip” when I passed my advanced flight course on the hawk
4. Passenger flights when I took ground crew flying as passengers
5. The first time I went air to air refuelling
6. My first war time flight
7. The first time I dropped a bomb in anger
8. My third trip on the Typhoon OCU where students are introduced the high performance capability of the jet
As for the standard questions?
Twice the speed of sound, 55,000’ and yes. We can chat in more detail about some of these flights another time, unless you can think of a different question you would ask?
Kuwait has finally signed a contract with Finmeccanica for 28 Eurofighter Typhoon fighter aircraft, Finmeccanica reported on Tuesday 5 April. The signature was inked in Kuwait and comes after long negotiations that resulted in an bilateral agreement between the governments of Kuwait and Italy. It is Finmeccanica’s largest commercial contract ever.
Kuwait purchases 22 single seat and six two seater Typhoons for an estimated 8 billion USD. The contract includes logistics, operational support and the training of flight crews and ground personnel, which will be carried out in cooperation with the Italian Air Force. Kuwaiti pilots already receive flight training at Lecce airbase in southern Italy. The contract also provides for the upgrade of ground-based infrastructure in Kuwait which will be used for Typhoon operations.
The Typhoons for Kuwait will be the first to be equipped with the new active electronically scanned array (AESA) E-Scan radar. The radar is developed by the European EuroRADAR consortium which is led by Finmeccanica.
The aircraft will be build at Finmeccanica’s facility in Turin. The facility hosts an assembly line for Typhoon and produces parts for other Typhoon assembly lines as well. The facility so far only saw final assembly of Typhoons destined for Italy.
“This is Finmeccanica’s largest ever commercial achievement”, said Mauro Moretti, Finmeccanica CEO and General Manager. “It is an outstanding industrial success with significant benefits, not only for our company and the other Eurofighter consortium partners, but also for the entire Italian aerospace industry.”
The deal for 28 Eurofighter Typhoons for Kuwat drew one step closer this week with the parliamentary approval in Kuwait of an advance payment of 500 million USD. The approval came after earlier this year an expected contract signing fell through .
Kuwait is expected to pay well over 8 billion USD in total for the Typhoons and will become the third Tyhpoon user in the area following Saudi Arabia and Oman. The first aircraft for the latter recently entered final assembly.
Swizterland is restarting its quest for a new fighter jet for its air force after a botched attempt two years ago to purchase 22 Saab Gripens. New aircraft are still needed to replace ageing F-5 Tigers, defense minister Guy Parmelin told Swiss government on Wednesday 24 February.
This year the Swiss start setting up requirements for the new fighter plus a set of plans for the selection process and eventual purchase. The selection is set to last until 2020, with a formal decision and order no later than 2022. Deliveries should start by 2025, according to Parmelin.
‘No’ to Gripen E
Prior to 2011, the Saab Gripen E, Dassault Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon were evaluated in Switzerland. Although not showing itself as the best option in all aspects plus allegations of bribery, the Gripen came out on top. The Swiss government decided to buy 22 Gripens, but opponents managed to get enough support for a referendum in which voters eventually said ‘no’ to Gripens.
The F-5 Tiger needs replacement, especially since cracks grounded parts of the fleet recently. As of now, 30 out of 54 Tigers are operational. The type was set for retirement this year but may very well fly on for some time.
In 2025, the 31 current F-18 Hornets reach the end of their service life. Extending their service for five years will cost tax payers half a billion Swiss francs (410 million EUR).
UPDATED 16 February | The Royal Saudi Air Force is about to send combat jets to Incirlik Airbase in Turkey, to start bombing runs against the so-called Islamic State forces (ISIS / ISIL / Daesh) in Syria.
Update | News surrounding the deployment is vague at best. Most recent info is that the Saudi jets will deploy to Turkey ‘by the end of February’, sources in Riyadh say.
Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlüt Cavusoglu confirmed the Kingdom’s plans Saturday 13 February 2015. Saudi quarter makers already inspected Incirlik and see it fit for operations, Cavusoglu said to Turkish journalists.
With the substantial Russian combat air expeditionary wing operating inside Syria, the RSAF probably will not only deploy air-to-ground attack dedicated F-15S/SA Strike Eagles, Eurofighter Typhoons and Panavia Tornado IDSs – or a mixture of those – but very likely add a dedicated counter-air/air escort element to the ops. That task could either be done by the Typhoons or Saudi F-15C and D Eagle air-supiority fighters.
According to sources in Ankara and in Riyadh the Saudis are even considering a land operation, with troops being flown into Incirlik to cross into Syria from Turkish territory. If that plan will be executed, it may mean involvement of Saudi AH-64 Apache attack helicopters operating from Incirlik as well, but so far that plan is just a plan.
The Saudis are calling an end to the leadership of Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad, who in turn is more or less supported by Moscow – at least for the time being.