The US Air Force practiced airlift tactics and procedures last week in the skies above Japan. Osakabe Yasuo took the opportunity to take this great image of seven C-130s in formation above Yokata Air Base, on August 19th, 2013, from what looks like the rear of the lead aircraft.
The Royal Navy warship HMS Dragon, Royal Air Force Typhoons, US Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornet and US Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles have put their skills and technology to the test during a recent joint exercise.
The goal was to detect, classify and monitor contacts on the sea’s surface in the challenging conditions of the Gulf. The Type 45 destroyer provides a complementary service to the highly manoeuvrable and effective Typhoon fast jet combat aircraft.
One of Dragon’s fighter controllers, Lieutenant Francis Heritage, said: “We received the help of a United States Air Force Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, or JSTARS, aircraft to cue our fighters onto their targets. The JSTARS surface radar is incredibly powerful. When combined with our own organic sensors and those of the jets under our control, we can provide force protection over a massive area.”
The American surveillance jet fed information directly into Dragon’s operations room, allowing the destroyer to cue fighter jets onto their objectives. HMS Dragon is in the second half of her inaugural deployment, which is a mix of carrying out maritime security operations with the UK’s Gulf partners and contributing to the wider air defence of the region, such as when she joined forces with the USS Nimitz Carrier Strike Group a few weeks ago.
The US Air Force 347th Rescue Group at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, received its first new dedicated fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft. The HC-130J Combat King II made the small ferry flight from Lockheed Martins plant in Marietta on July 19th, 2013.
The CSAR variant of the C-130J variant replaces existing HC-130P/N aircraft. It specializes in tactical profiles and avoids detection to support recovery operations in austere environments. This HC-130J is one of six Super Hercules on contract designated for assignment at Moody AFB.
Boeing announced on July 1st, 2013, that it had begun assembly of the first part of the KC-46 tanker aircraft (Engineering and Manufacturing Development version), destined for the US Air Force.
The US Air Force is about a third of the way into the KC-46 tanker development program. It is to acquire 179 KC-46 tankers to begin replacing the more than 50-year-old KC-135 fleet. The initial delivery target is for 18 tankers by 2017. Production will then ramp up to deliver all 179 tankers by 2028.
The aircraft being produced at the Boeing factory in Everett, Washington is a commercial derivative design based on the Boeing 767-200ER passenger aircraft. When the aircraft comes off the Everett production line, it will be a 767-2C Provisioned Freighter that will eventually become a military-configured KC-46 tanker.
The first fully equipped KC-46 is slated to fly in early 2015.
Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, will get 72 additional F-35A Lightning II fighter aircraft, bringing the eventual total number of the fifth-generation fighters expected there at 144.
The Air Force’s initial decision to establish an F-35 pilot training center here was announced in August 2012, following a three-year process that included an extensive environmental impact analysis.
The Lockheed Martin F-35A, also known as Joint Strike Fighter, intended to be the Air Force’s premier strike aircraft through the first half of the 21st century. It is a multirole fighter that is expected to eventually phase out the F-16 Fighting Falcon and A-10 Thuderbolt II.
Aircraft are expected to begin arriving at Luke AFB in spring 2014, although exact timing will depend on production schedules. Construction on base to prepare for the aircraft is currently underway, with about US$10 million of US$57 million in projects already completed.
The 2012 Record of Decision cited several reasons why Luke AFB was the service’s top choice for F-35A basing, including facility and ramp capacity, range access, weather and capacity for future growth. The base has been training fighter pilots for more than 70 years.