We already served you a nice dish of images of the big NATO & partners exercise Cold Response earlier, but the military photographers and the Norwegian military audiovisual unit have given us some more nice stuff! Press play and see more of the aircraft and helicopters that supported the 15,000 troops strong exercise in Northern and Central Norway, with even the Norwegian crown prince Haakon deployed, earning his tactical special operations parajump certification with the Norwegian Special Operations Command.
About 15,000 troops, including 2,000 of non-NATO member Sweden, 40 aircraft and helicopters, about a thousand vehicles and several ships and boats are currently kicking a** in Northern and Central Norway. Exercise Cold Response included the taking of the normally peaceful village of Namsos, situated on the shores of beautiful fjords.
The 7th edition of the multinational winter war exercise hosted by Norway brings units from mainly NATO countries together, to show what they can as “bad” and “good” force against each other. To train for a possible real war scenario and to show NATO’s current strange “friend” Russia that the North American-European alliance still can.
Delivery rate for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II averaged close to four a month in 2015. In absolute numbers, 45 were delivered compared to 36 in 2014. The figure marks the highest yearly production rate of the 5th generation fighter jet so far.
“Meeting aircraft production goals is a critical stepping stone in demonstrating the program is ready for the expected significant production ramp up,” said Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, F-35 Program Executive Officer. “It took thousands of people around the world to achieve this milestone and they should all be proud of what they accomplished.”
Lightning II numbers
The 45 F-35 deliveries include 26 F-35A for the US Air Force, eight F-35B and four F-35Cs for the US Marine Corps, another four F-35Cs to the US Navy, two F-35As for the Royal Norwegian Air Force and finally, the Italian F-35A already mentioned.
Most aircraft were sent to Luke Air Force base in Arizona, while others went to Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, Eglin Air Force Base, Hill Air Force Base and Nellis Air Force Base.
Textron owned Beechcraft is putting its hope on a fat order from the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence for its T-6 turboprop trainer aircraft, a company spokesman acknowledged. Beechcraft is about to finish the production of the 700-aircraft deal for the US military.
Since 2000 the Beechcraft T-6A Texan II has been replacing the Cessna T-37B Tweet within the US Air Force, with 449 T-6s delivered. The remainder of the 700-aircraft US deal goes to the US Navy (T-6B) and US Marine Corps, plus four specially adapted aircraft ordered by the US Army.
The Beechcraft trainer has had success abroad as well, with versions flying with the NATO Flying Training in Canada (24 CT-156 Harvard II), the Hellenic Air Force (25 T-6A + 20 armed T-6A NTA), the Israeli Air Force (25 T-6A), the Iraqi Air Force (15 T-6A + 24 T-6C ordered), the Mexican Air Force (12 T-6C+), the Mexican Navy (2 T-6+), the Royal Moroccan Air Force (24 T-6C), the Royal New Zealand Air Force (11 T-6C).
Now hopes are high for the United Kingdom, which sees the T-6 as the replacement for the Short Tucano in training both the Royal Air Force as well as Royal Navy future combat jet pilots; with an order in the range of 80 to 120 aircraft awaiting. As for new export customers: it won’t be easy for Beechcraft. The Pilatus PC-9 and PC-21 and the armed Embraer A-29 Super Tucano are very tough competitors, already having scooped up orders like for the Afghan Air Force that years earlier might have gone more naturally to Beechcraft.
There may be some other light on the horizon though. Upgrades of the basic A-model within the US Air Force, US Navy and Hellenic Air Force to C-standard are expected. The current C-model has a digital class cockpit with HUD, multi-function displays, HOTAS to access functions with buttons on the flight control stick and wing hard points, nice featured to incorporate on the A-model.
STATUS MID 2015. LATEST UPDATE 24 JULY 2015 | The so-called Islamic State forces – numbering as many as 30,000 – have taken control over parts of Syria and Iraq since 2014. The forces known in short as ISIS or ISIL (The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) pushed local populations to flee by the hundreds of thousands. ISIS also assassinated several Western journalists and other nationals, causing furious reactions in those countries.
Fearing more instability in and maybe even at home by fellow countrymen supporting the Syrian uprising, many Western countries first enrolled in a humanitarian aid mission to refugees in Northern Iraq in Summer 2014. After much discussion this turned into a full-out air campaign led by the United States of America, with the first US air strikes on ISIS positions in Iraq on 8 August 2014 and the first US/international air strikes in Syria on 23 September 2014.
Although ISIS has a strong foothold on the ground and making the governments of Iraq and Syria quite nervous because of the advances ISIS makes, the group has no air assets. While Iraq fully supports the US led bombing campaign, Washington kind of just informed the Syrian government that they would start bombing. Being uncertain of the Syrian reaction, the US deployed its very advanced and stealthy F-22 Raptors for the first time in combat and had aircraft tasked with countering Syrian air defences in case they would interfere.
During the course of several weeks many countries outside Southwest Asia promised military contributions to the air strikes and air support missions against ISIS. We at Airheadsfly.com tried to make an as complete as possible overview of the air assets deployed, based mainly on official sources. We’ll update the overview frequently.
Rockwell B-1B Lancers, bomb / strike. Operating from a.o. facilities Al Udeid Airbase in Qatar
Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptors, bomb / strike
Boeing F-15E Strike Eagles, attack /CAS
Lockheed Martin F-16C Fighting Falcons, attack/CAS. One F-16 was lost in an accident over Jordan on 30 November 2014, killing its pilot.
Lockheed Martin F-16CJ Fighting Falcons, anti-radar & anti-SAM
Fairchild A-10C Thunderbolts, close-air support / attack. Operating from Ahmed Al Jaber Airbase in Kuwait (confirmed November 2014)
Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers, in-flight refuelling
McDonnell Douglas KC-10 Extenders, in-flight refuelling
Lockheed C-130 Hercules / Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules, airdrop of weapons, ammunitions and medical supplies near / in Kobane to Kurdish fighters 2014.10.20
General Atomics MQ-1 Predators, attack / recon drone
General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper, attack / recon drone
Operating from several bases in the region, as well as the mainland USA. Since the end of July 2015 / beginning of August 2015 US forces also started to operate from Incirlik Airbase in Turkey, after that country gave up on an earlier blocking of such operations from its soil. US name the anti-ISIS actions Operation Inherent Resolve.
US Navy (USN)
Since 2014.08.08. 60 to 70 aircraft:
12 Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornets, strike / attack (part of CVW-1; and earlier CVW-8 and successor CVW-17; confirmed involvement)
22 Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornets, strike / attack (part of CVW-1; earlire 10 to 12 were part part of CVW-8 and successor CVW-17; confirmed involvement)
20 to 24 Boeing F/A-18C/D Hornets, strike / attack (till April 2015; part of CVW-8 and successor CVW-17)
5 Grumman EA-18G Growlers, anti-radar & anti-SAM (part of CVW-1 and 4 or 5 were part of CVW-17; since Mid-October)
4 or 5 Grumman EA-6B Prowlers, anti-radar & anti-SAM (part of CVW-8; relieved Mid-October)
4 Grumman E-2D Hakweye, AWACS (part of CVW-1; first cruise of E-2D version)
3 or 4 Grumman E-2C Hakweye, AWACS (till April 2015; part of CVW-8 and successor CVW-17)
Sikorsky SH-60B Seahawk, support (till Mid-October; part of CVW-8)
7 Sikorsky SH-60F Seahawk, support (part of CVW-1)
10 to 11 Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk, support (part of CVW-1; earlier part of CVW-8 and successor CVW-17, some placed on other ships)
2 Grumman C-2A Greyhound, transport (part of CVW-8 and successor CVW-17)
Mid-October 2014 the CVN 70 USS Carl Vinson and that carrier’s Carrier Air Wing 17 (CVW-17) with 67 aircraft relieved Carrier Air Wing 8 (CVW-8) on board the CVN 77 USS George H.W. Bush (and escort ships) in the northern Arabian Gulf. The Carl Vinson was relieved by the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) with Carrier Air Wing 1. US named the anti-ISIS actions Operation Inherent Resolve.
US Marines (USMC)
Since 2014.09.28. Although the involvement of the US Marine Corps in the bombing campaign is very small (unknown at this point), the Marines do fight ISIS targets on the ground and support the operations of the other branches of the US military with shipborne aircraft of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) in the Arabian Gulf (aka Persian Gulf). Moreover, the Marines provide ground based air assets.
At least 6 McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) F/A-18, fighter / attack / CAS; land-based from February/March 2015; replaces AV-8Bs deployed
10 McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) F/A-18C(N), fighter / attack / CAS; part of US Navy CVW-1 operating from the Persian Gulf as of April 2015
6 McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) AV-8B Harriers, attack / CAS, shipborne
4 or more Bell AH-1Z Super Cobras, attack / CAS, shipborne
3 or more Bell UH-1Y Hueys, attack / CAS / utility / medevac, shipborne
3 or 4 Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallions, transport / assault, shipborne
Operating from the amphibious assault ship LHD 8 USS Makin Island and the amphibious transport dock ship LPD 22 USS San Diego. The dock landing ship LSD 45 USS Comstock sails along with them in the Arabian Gulf (aka Persian Gulf). US name the anti-ISIS actions Operation Inherent Resolve.
Iraqi Air Force (Al Quwwa al Jawwiya al Iraqiya; IQAF) and Iraqi Army Aviation (IQAR)
15 Sukhoi Su-25 (“Frogfoot”) attack and close-air support aircraft. Since Autumn 2014.
Up to 6 Mil Mi-35M (“Hind”) attack helicopters. One or two Mi-35s have been lost due to hostile fire.
Up to 15 Mil Mi-28NE Night Hunter attack helicopters are planned to have made its debut before the end of the year 2014, but no firm confirmation yet
Up to 19 Airbus Helicopters (Eurocopter) EC635 (IQAR) armed scout and ground support helicopters. Date of first combat action unknown. A twentieth EC635 was shot down in December 2014 by ISIS militants.
Up to 23 Bell 407 JetRanger armed scout and utility helicopters. A 24th Bell was lost due to hostile fire.
6 Aérospatiale SA342 Gazelle scout helicopters
Armée de l’Air (AdlA) & Aéronautique Navale
9 Dassault Rafales, reconnaissance / attack / CAS
6 Dassault Mirage 2000D, attack / CAS. Announced 2014.11.19.
Initially the French contingency, made up of the Rafales, Boeing C135FR and Atlantique 2, only operated from the United Arab Emirates, Al Dhafra Airbase, since 2014.09.17. The Mirage 2000Ds announced in Mid-November fly from an airbase in Jordan. French name for the entire contribution is Operation Chammal.
Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)
6 to 8 Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornets, strike / attack
1 Boeing E-7A Wedgetail, AWACS
1 Airbus KC-30A, in-flight refuelling
1 Boeing C-17A Globemaster III, transport of supplies and ammunition to Kurdish forces. Flew at least once between Tirana (Albania) and Erbil (Northern Iraq) in September 2014, before returning to the RAAF Forward Operation Location at Al Minhad Airbase in the UAE
Operating from the United Arab Emirates, Al Minhad Airbase, since 2014.10.01. The Australians have given the missions the name Operation Okra.
Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF)
6 McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) CF-188 Hornets, strike / attack
Commencing operations in 3rd or 4th week of October 2014. Operating from a base in Kuwait, possible Ahmed Al Jaber Airbase where the Danish F-16s also fly from (see below). Canadians name the anti-ISIS actions Operation Impact.
Royal Air Force (RAF)
8 Panavia Tornados, strike / attack; operating from RAF Base Akrotiri on Cyprus, since 2014.09.27.
Boeing RC-135W Rivet Joint, surveillance; possibly be operating from RAF Base Akrotiri on Cyprus. Announced 2014.10.21. To be relieved by Sentinals.
Raytheon/Bombardier Sentinal, surveillance; possibly be operating from RAF Base Akrotiri on Cyprus. Announced 2015.03.26
General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper, surveillance; relocation to Iraq announced 2014.10.16. Arrival date or base not known yet.
British name the anti-ISIS actions Operation Shader.
Flyvevåbnet (Royal Danish Air Force (RDAF))
7 General Dynamics (Lockheed Martin) F-16AMs from Skrydstrup AB. Since 2014.10.05, but grounded until 16 October due to diplomatic clearance blunder
1 Lockheed C-130J Hercules, transport of supplies and ammunition to Kurdish forces. Was based at RAF Base Akrotiri on Cyprus from 28 October to Mid-September. Continued support for the Iraqi operations even into 2015.
The F-16s are operating from Ahmed Al Jaber Airbase in Kuwait since 2014.10.04.
Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force (AMI))
4 Panavia Tornados, tactical recon; operating from Ahmed Al Jaber Airbase in Kuwait. Since 2014.11.22
1 Boeing KC-767A, in-flight refuelling; operating from Ahmed Al Jaber Airbase in Kuwait since 2014.10.26
2 General Atomics MQ-1 Predators, attack / recon drone
Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF)
4 or more Panavia Tornado IDS and/or Boeing F-15S Strike Eagles; during start bombing campaign on targets in Syria in Summer 2014
Eurofighter EF2000 Typhoon multi-role fighters; according to some sources using Paveway IV precision guided weapons in February 2015, marking the combat debut of the weapon on this aircraft type
Other air forces (in order of appearance during the campaign)
United Arab Emirates Air Force (UAEAF); at least 6 Lockheed Martin F-16s and/or Dassault Mirage 2000s; during start of bombing campaign on targets in Syria and continuing strikes afterwards. The UAE suspended its contribution in December 2014 after a Royal Jordanian Air Force pilot was captured, but resumed ops from a Jordanian airbase with at least 6 F-16E/Fs from February 2015.
Royal Bahraini Air Force (RBAF); at least 3 Lockheed Martin F-16C/Ds; during start of bombing campaign on targets in Syria
Belgian Air Component (BAC); 6 General Dynamics (Lockheed Martin) F-16AMs from Florennes AB; operating from Jordan, likely As Shaheed Muwaffaq al Salti Airbase in Al Azraq; since 2014.10.01. The Belgians named their involvement Operation Desert Falcon.
Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF / KLu); 8 General Dynamics (Lockheed Martin) F-16AMs (4 from Volkel AB, 4 from Leeuwarden AB); operating from Jordan, likely As Shaheed Muwaffaq al Salti Airbase in Al Azraq, since 2014.10.03
US Army (USAR): Boeing (McDonnell Douglas) AH-64D Apache; operating out of Baghdad International Airport officially as additional protection for the US Embassy. Might have carried out strikes against ISIS in the 2nd week of October 2014
Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF): possible 4-8 McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom IIs and maybe up to five Sukhoi Su-24MKs (Fencer); semi-confirmed by Teheran and operating apparently on request by the Iraqi government. NOT part of US-led operation Inherent Resolve. At least one operation on 2014.11.24. IRIAF pilots are also involved on operating Iraqi Air Force Su-25s.
Royal Moroccon Air Force: 6 Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Fighting Falcon multi-role fighters, based in the United Arab Emirates. Since 2014.11.26.
Turkish Air Force: 3 Lockheed Martin F-16C Fighting Falcon multi-role fighters, operating out of Diyarbakir Airbase. First strike 2014.07.24, target in Syria.