The German Air Force is happy that its largest military exercise of the year went fairly well despite the government shutdown of the USA. The ops called Mountain Roundup didn’t take place in the idyllic Bavaria, but in the airspace around Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, USA, in October.
Not that everything went according to plan. “Especially the stand-down of the 64th Aggressor Squadron of Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada hurt us in the beginning of the exercise”, admits Luftwaffe Major Marcel Schlereth of the German training centre at Holloman AFB to the press department of the German Air Force. German Tornados meant to fly on the ‘friendly side’ now had to be redeployed to fly as ‘Red Air’.
Only at the end of the exercise the Americans were able to put up some extra adversary air power with F-15E Strike Eagles from the 391st FS out of Mountain Home AFB and A-10 Warthogs from the Idaho ANG flying from Boise. The number of aircraft participating in the so-called Composite Air Ops (COMAO) were up to 60 at a time.
In total the Luftwaffe deployed 18 of its Tornado fighter jets. Base element were 10 from the German Air Force Flying Training Center (GAFFTC) at US Holloman AFB. But the Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 33 (TLG33) at Büchel in Germany dispatched 6 Tornado ASSTA 3s, joined by two Tornado IDS from Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 51 (TLG51) from Schleswig. A pair of civilian Learjet 35s from GFD based at Hohn joined in, as well as a NATO E-3A Sentry from Geilenkirchen AB.
Seven Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18A+ from RCAF Cold Lake and six Singaporese Air Force F-15SGs based as a training unit at Mountain Home AFB participated as well, but most impressive was the US involvement:
4x EA-18G Growler, USMC VAQ-136, homebase NAS Whidbey Island
10x AV-8B Harrier, USCM VMA-542, homebase MCAS Cherry Point
1x KC-130T, USMC VMGR-234, homebase JRB Fort Worth
10 F-15E, USAF 391 FS, homebase Mountain Home AFB
4x F-15C, Oregon ANG 114 FS, homebase Kingdley Field
8x A-10, Idaho ANG 190 FS, homebase Boise
2x B-52H, USAF 23 BS, homebase Minot AFB
2x KC-135, USAF 22 ARW, homebase McConnell AFB
1x KC-135, USAF 92 ARW, homebase Fairchild AFB
1x RC-135, USAF 38 RS, homebase Offut AFB
The Europe based Luftwaffe Tornados took off on October 21st, to return back to the east side of the Atlantic Ocean. The 10 Tornado IDS of the German training unit at remain Holloman in the States until the Luftwaffe is close to phase-out the Tornado totally.
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.