The apparently oldest Bell/Boeing CV-22 Osprey in the US Air Force inventory has been taken out of service this week. The last trip will put the tilt-rotor aircraft to National Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB, of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, USA.
The machine in question is 12 years old and seems to have serial 0021, but AIRheads↑Fly was not able to confirm that at this time. Unlike the US Marines Corps MV-22s, the USAF uses the CV-22 especially for special operations. The first of the more operational USAF ones was CV-22 with 0026, flown from Edwards AFB to the 58th Special Operations Wing at Kirtland AFB on March 20, 2006. The aircraft has the unique ability to take-off, land and hover like a helicopter, and it can tilt its propellers to fly like a conventional, prop-driven aircraft.
The first operational USAF unit flying the CV-22 started operations at Hurlburt Field, Florida, in 2007. The Osprey has proven to be four times less vulnerable to enemy fire than helicopters. It is 75 percent quieter, can fly higher and has one-tenth the infrared signature compared to most rotary aircraft. Initial stability problems during landing, causing several death in crashes, seem to have been solved by adjusting landing routines with the advanced transport aircraft.
Meanwhile US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel has ordered the US Marine Corps to designate their next six production MV-22 to be transferred to the Israeli Defence Forces.
With the growing Chinese threat in the Pacific as a possible reason, the US Air Force (USAF) and US Army (USAR) have beefed up their Emergency Deployment Readiness Response (EDRR) of Hawaiian islands. On October 17th, 2013, USAR Stryker combat vehicles were flown in to largest land of the island group far from the US mainland by C-17s, for the first time ever.
It was a joint exercise by airmen from the 15th Wing and soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division. The C-17 crews flew two of the Army’s Stryker combat vehicles to the Pohakuloa Training Area on Kona for the exercise. Exercise players included the Army’s 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division and the Air Force’s 535th Airlift Squadron and 15th Wing. The Stryker is one of the more fast armoured vehicles which is suited for both heavy terrain and city warfare.
Until this week, the Army always moved their Hawaii based Stryker vehicles via ships. Although the island of Hawaii is the largest of the group of eight larger islands, the emphasize of the US defence in the area lies on Oahu and the islands groups capital Honolulu there.
A USAF F-35A Lightning II based at Edwards AFB, California, conducted the first live-fire launch of a guided air-to-air missile for the aircraft type on October 30th, 2013.
The AIM-120 advanced medium range air-to-air missile (AMRAAM) was fired from an F-35A (AF-6) conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) variant fighter operating with the F-35 Integrated Test Facility at Edwards. It was launched over a military test range off the California coast.
Test pilot, USAF captain Logan Lamping, released the AIM-120 radar-seeking missile from the F-35’s internal weapons bay against an aerial drone target in restricted military sea test range airspace. Test data and observers confirmed the F-35 identified and targeted the drone with its mission systems sensors, passed the target “track” information to the missile, and launched the AIM-120 from the aircraft to engage the target drone. After launch, the missile successfully acquired the target and followed an intercept flight profile. Moments before the missile was about to destroy the target, a self-destruct signal was sent to the AIM-120 in order to preserve the aerial drone for use in future tests.
The AIM-120 AMRAAM (Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile) is a radar-guided air-to-air missile and is the U.S. military’s standard air intercept missile carried on tactical fighter aircraft. The AIM-120 is a beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) capable of all-weather, day-and-night operations, and is powered by a solid-propellant rocket motor.
The F-35’s fire control system programs the missile’s internal guidance unit and provides mid-course updates from the aircraft via a data link to guide the AMRAAM toward its target. The AMRAAM’s control section controls the missile in flight using four movable tail fins. As soon as the target is within range, the AMRAAM activates its active radar seeker for autonomous terminal homing.
The first C-130J Super Hercules for the 61st Airlift Squadron at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas (USA) was delivered on October 24th, 2013. A 61th AS crew flew it home after taking off from the Lockheed Martin factory airfield in Marietta, Georgia.
The 61st AS, which has operated C-130s since 1956, is part of the 19th Airlift Wing that is assigned to Air Mobility Command. Lockheed Martin is on contract to deliver nine C-130J-30s currently designated for assignment to the 61st AS.
The last three F-15 Eagles departed the 120th Fighter Wing of the USAF Montana Air National Guard at Great Falls, making the flying unit wingless until the introduction of the Lockheed C-130 transport aircraft in 2014.
Currently Montana ANG air and ground crews are training on the C-130 at Little Rock AFB in Arkansas. The transfer from fighter unit to transport unit will have a big impact on the guard unit.
The 120th Fighter Wing originated in 1947 as the 186th Fighter Squadron, flying F-51’s and saw combat in Korea in 1951 – 1952. In 1953, the 186th was the first Air National Guard unit to receive the F-86 Sabre Jet. From 1958 to 1996 the unit was on a 5-day runway scramble alert, all the time, by flying the Sabre, the F-102 Delta Dagger (introduction 1966), the F-106 Delta Dart (intr. 1972) and the F-16A/B Fighting Falcon (intr. 1987).
The last couple of years have been a bit rough for the unit. Within a 15 year span the 120th Fighter Wing moved from the F-16A/B to the F-16C/D to the F-15C/D Eagle and will now receive the C-130, making the fighter unit loose its combat status. The less flashy transport and support task is now its future.
The former Montana F-15 Eagles are now used by the 194th Fighter Squadron of the 144th Fighter Wing, California Air National Guard. This unit, based at Fresno, CA, previously flew F-16s for a long time. As the unit is reponsible for air defence over California, it had been pushing for F-15 Eagles instead of F-16 for many years
Source: USAF with additional reporting by AIRheads’ Marcel Burger & Elmer van Hest