13/08 - 19/08
Aircraft - Lockheed AC130H Spectre "GRAVE DIGGER"
Serial - 69-6572 (C/N 382-4346)
Operator - United States Air Force (USAF) Squadron - 16th SOS
Date and Location - 18/08 - RAF Mildenhall (EGUN)
The USAF Currently operate 25 AC130's, 8 x H and 17 x U versions, (In 2 dfferent variants) in service in the Gunship Role. The Lockheed AC-130 gunship is a heavily-armed ground-attack aircraft variant of the C-130 Hercules transport plane. The basic airframe is manufactured by Lockheed, while Boeing is responsible for the conversion into a gunship and for aircraft support. The AC-130A Gunship II superseded the AC-47 Gunship I during the Vietnam War. The Aircraft are armed with 2× 20 mm M61 Vulcan cannons, a 1× 40 mm (1.58 in) L/60 Bofors cannon and 1× 105 mm (4.13 in) M102 howitzer. Most of the weaponry aboard is mounted to fire out from the left or port side of the aircraft. During an attack, the gunship performs a pylon turn over the target area (flying in a large circle around a fixed point on the ground, the fixed point being the target). This allows it to maintain fire at a target far longer than a conventional attack aircraft. In March 2011 the US Air Force deployed two AC-130U gunships to take part in Operation Odyssey Dawn, the military intervention in Libya. The USAFS AC130s are underthe Air Force Special Operations Command which is made up of 3 Wings and 4 Squadrons. The upgraded AC-130U "Spooky" has a single 25 mm GAU-12 Equalizer in place of the Spectre's twin 20 mm cannons, as well as an improved fire control system and increased capacity for ammunition. The aicrafts power is provided by four Allison T56-A-15 turboprops, the standard engine throughout the C130 fleet worldwide. The H variant of the aircraft is due to be replaced by the new AC-130J gunships, based on MC-130J Combat Shadow II special operations tankers. 16 of the type are due to replace the older models and supplement the fleet. AC-130s from both the 4th and 16th Special Operations Squadrons have been deployed in nearly every conflict the U.S. has been involved in, officially and unofficially, since the end of the Vietnam War. The 16th Special Operations Squadron (16 SOS) is part of the 27th Special Operations Wing at Cannon AFB. The Units Mission goal is to train and maintain its combat-ready force to provide highly accurate firepower in support of both conventional and unconventional forces and have been operating the AC variant of the 130 since 1968.
Aircraft - Learjet Model 35 - C21A
Serial - 84-0129 (C/N 35A-576)
Operator - United States Air Force (Europe) (USAFE) Squadron - 375th AW
Date and Location - 18/08 - Prestwick International Airport (EGPK)
Operated by the 375th Air Mobility Wing (375 AMW) based at Scott Air Force Base,the unit is part of Air Mobility Command (AMC). The wing has four primary missions. It supports aeromedical evacuation within the United States. It provides operational support airlift for government officials. It offers direct security for U.S. community and nation. And it provides support for U.S. host units—making possible the command and control of the United States' entire military transportation effort. The Aircraft on strength with the wing are Pooled between two units at Scott, the 458th and the 311th. The aircraft is flown by a crew of 2 and is powered by two Garrett TFE731-2 turbofan engines. The cabin can be arranged for 6-8 passengers and has been designed for longer-range mission capabilities. The engines are mounted in nacelles on the sides of the aft fuselage. The wings are equipped with single-slotted flaps. The wingtip fuel tanks distinguish the design from other aircraft having similar functions.The C-21A is an "off the shelf" military variant of the Learjet 35A, with room for eight passengers and 42 ft³ (1.26 m³) of cargo. In addition to its normal role, the aircraft is capable of transporting litters during medical evacuations. Delivery of the C-21A fleet began in April 1984 and was completed in October 1985. Dyncorp International provides full contractor logistics support at seven worldwide locations. There are 38 Air Force active duty aircraft, and 18 Air National Guard aircraft in the C-21A fleet. On 1 April 1997, all continental U.S.-based C-21As were realigned under Air Mobility Command, with the 375th Airlift Wing at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, as the lead command. C-21As stationed outside the continental United States are assigned to the theater commanders. Both Units have been operating the type since 1984.
Aircraft - Beechcraft Shadow R1 (Beechcraft King Air 350ER)
Serial - ZZ504 (C/N FM-48)
Operator - Royal Air Force (RAF) Squadron - 14 Squadron
Date and Location - 16/08 - RAF Leuchars (EGQL) & RAF Leeming (EGXE)
The Shadow R1, of which the RAF currently operates 5 in the Surveillance (ISAR) role, is a heavily modified variant of the Beechcraft Super King Air 350ER. 14 Squadron recently operated the Tornado GR4 until disbanded on 1 June 2011. The Squadron was re-formed on 14 October 2011 at RAF Waddington operating the Shadow R1 aircraft previously operated by No. 5 Squadron at Waddington. The Shadow system is equipped with a turret-housed sensor pod believed to accommodate an electro-optical/infrared payload, and has a below-fuselage fairing believed to house a synthetic aperture radar. The modified airframe has also been equipped with a variety of antennas for communications purposes, and has a defensive aids suite for self-protection. The aircraft has been used extensively over Afghanistan in support of the ongoing Operations there, alongside the RAF's Sentinel R1's being used in ASTOR role. The aircraft were purchased under a urgent operational requirement (UOR) deal for a ISTAR Platform needed for the Afghan Campaign. ISTAR stands for Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and is a practice that links several battlefield functions together to assist a combat force in employing its sensors and managing the information they gather during Reconnaissance. The aircraft were operated by 5 Squadron before transferring to 14 at RAF Waddington. Based on the 350ER, Changes include an increase of MTOW to 16,500 lb, provision for surveillance equipment in a belly pod, the landing gear of the Beechcraft 1900 to handle the increased weight and provide ground clearance for the belly pod, and extra fuel capacity in the engine nacelles to increase range.
Fmansam - RAF Leuchars
Dustybug - RAF Leeming
Aircraft - Beech King Air Be200/GT
Serial - ZK451/K (C/N BB-1830) - Be200
ZK458/D (C/N BY-32) - Be200
ZK456/P (C/N BB-1837) - Be200GT
Operator - Royal Air Force (RAF) Squadron - 45R Squadron
Date and Location - 15/08 - RAF Linton-on-Ouse (EGXU)
The RAF have 10 of the type in service in the advanced multi-engine training role, operated by No 45(R) Squadron, which is part of No 3 Flying Training School based at RAF Cranwell. The aircraft was first introduced into RAF Service in 2004, replacing the Jet Stream in the same role. Powered by Two Pratt & Whitney PT6A-42 Turboprops the aircraft has a top speed of 259 knots and operates with a crew of 3. The Course with 45 Squadron is split into basic and advanced phases. In the basic phase, students learn essential multi-engine techniques such as general handling, asymmetric flying, emergency handling and radio-aids navigation, and consolidate the multi-crew skills. In the advanced phase, the emphasis shifts towards developing captaincy, crew resource management, and managing the King Air's advanced avionics systems. Students learn advanced skills such as formation flying, low-level flying and airways navigation. A variety of courses are available using the King Air, based mainly on the student’s previous flying experience. This experience can be as little as 100 hours for a student arriving straight from elementary flying training, to a few thousand hours for a qualified pilot transferring to the multi-engine role. In addition to its flying training role, the King Air can be used to carry up to 6 passengers or freight. 45(R) Squadron are also responsible for the RAF King Air Display during the Air Show Season. On completion of the course students are awarded their coveted pilot’s wings, and then undertake conversion to their frontline aircraft type at an Operational Conversion Unit. Established on 1 March 1916 as part of the Royal Flying Corps, 45 Squadron have been operating the type since 2003. The Beechcraft B200 King Airs operated by Serco. Serco Defence and Aerospace were the successful bidder for the contract needed to find a replacement for the venerable Jetstream. The King Air is known internationally as the 'drug-runners' choice of aeroplane because of its robustness and reliability, certainly not the sort of sortie expected from the RAF, but an unusual endorsement of the type's reputation for 'delivering the goods'!
Aircraft - Westland Sea King HAR3
Serial - XZ595/K (C/N WA861)
Operator - Royal Air Force (RAF) Squadron - 22sq/C Flt + 2
Date and Location - 16/08 Departing the University Hospital of North Staffs
The aircraft is one of 25 (19 HAR3 and 6 HAR3A) of the type in the SAR Role. The Westland WS-61 Sea King is a British licence-built version of the American Sikorsky S-61 helicopter of the same name, built by Westland Helicopters. The aircraft differs considerably from the American version, with Rolls-Royce Gnome engines. The HAR3 version of the Sea King is fitted with a relocated rear cabin bulkhead giving greater cabin length, extra fuel capacity and additional observation windows. The aircraft is a dedicated search and rescue (SAR) version of the Sea King and was developed for the RAF Search and Rescue Force. The aircraft, designated the HAR3, was introduced into RAF Service in 1978 to replace the Westland Whirlwind HAR.10. Up until 1992 19 of the type were in service until six further helicopters were ordered to replace the last remaining Westland Wessex helicopters in the SAR role, entering service in 1996 (Designated the HAR3A). The six Sea King HAR3As featured updated systems, including a digital navigation system and more modern avionics. 12 HAR3/3As were dispersed across the UK, a further two HAR3s were attached to the Falkland Islands, providing 24-hour rescue coverage. Some Royal Navy HAS5 ASW variants were adapted for the SAR role and served with 771 Naval Air Squadron, Culdrose and HMS Gannet SAR Flight at Prestwick Airport in Scotland and are expected to remain in service until 2018. 22 Squadron was reformed as a search and rescue unit equipped with Whirlwinds in 1955. In this guise 22 Squadron flew Wessex helicopters for a number of years before receiving Sea Kings in the mid-1990s. Although headquartered at RAF Valley, the Squadron maintains three detachments at Chivenor ('A' Flight), Wattisham ('B' Flight) and Valley ('C' Flight).
Aircraft - Lockheed C130T Hercules
Serial - 165350/RU-350 (C/N 5407)
Operator - United States Navy (USN) Squadron - VR-55
Date and Location - 19/08 - Glasgow International Airport (EGPF)
The USN currentlt operate 19 of the C130T aircraft in the Cargo/Transport Role. The C130T is the basic airlifer version of the C130 Hercules but is equipped with underwing external fuel tanks. The USN C-130T is similar to the C130R, but has additional avionics improvements and equipped with Allison T56-A-16 engines. The C-130T Aircraft provides rapid transportation for personnel or cargo for delivery by parachute or landing. The aircraft can be used as a tactical transport, or readily converted for ambulance or aerial delivery missions. The aircraft can land and take off on short runways, and can be used on landing strips such as those found in advanced base operations. It can provide mission capabilities such as emergency evacuation of personnel and key equipment, advanced party reconnaissance, and special warfare operations, as directed.The C-130T can haul much more cargo than a C-9B can accommodate, but the C-130T can only fly about half as fast as a C-9B or C-20G. A typical C-130T squadron has 4 aircraft. These aircraft are called on when there are very large unit movements, with the people going ahead in one or more C-9B's and the cargo following in a C-130T. The C-130T Logistics Support Aircraft is assigned to Naval Reserve Fleet Logistics Support Squadrons (VR) and was introduced from 1991.
Aircraft - Lockheed L-1011-500 TriStar K.1
Serial - ZD951 (C/N 193V-1165)
Operator - Royal Air Force (RAF) Squadron - 216 Squadron
Date and Location - 17/08 RAF Mildenhall (EGUN)
The aircraft is one of 7 the RAF currently have in service split between the Tranposrt and Aerial Refuelling Role. The TriStars were all bought and converted from ex Airliners versions (six ex-British Airways and three ex-Pan Am) and have been in service with the RAF since 1984. The aircraft have been subject to progressive updating, including the fitting of flight deck armour and Directional Infrared Counter Measures to protect against ground fire when flying into Iraq, and under a £22 million contract, are to be fitted with an updated cockpit. The KC1's that the RAF have in service are conversion of former British Airways TriStar 500s. They have been converted for tanker/cargo/transport role. The aircraft have seen service in many conflicts including both Gulf Wars, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Libya. Two were deployed to King Khalid International Airport, near Riyadh in Saudi Arabia during the 1991 Gulf War as tankers, with the rest used for transport between the Persian Gulf and United Kingdom. The two aircraft deployed received nose art naming them Pinky and Perky. During the 1999 Kosovo War, TriStars deployed to Ancona in Italy, again as tankers, with four aircraft involved. TriStars joined VC10s in the air-to-air refuelling role for Operation Veritas (Afghanistan), during which they provided aerial-refuelling for US Navy aircraft. The RAF deployed four TriStars during Operation Telic in the skies of Iraq, to an as-yet-undisclosed location. TriStar's supported the British air strikes on Libya on 19–20 March 2011 as part of the coalition operations to enforce UN Resolution 1973. The TriStar was expected to remain in service with the RAF until the end of this decade, when it was scheduled to be replaced by the Voyager under the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) programme. 216 Sqn was reformed in November, 1984 at RAF Brize Norton to operate the TriStar. The K1 variant of the TriStar is a conversion of former British Airways TriStar 500s for tanker/transport/cargo role, however is not fitted with a cargo door.
Aircraft - CASA CN235M-100PA
Serial - 252 (C/N93)
Operator - Irish Air Corps (an tAerchór) Squadron - 101 Squadron
Date and Location - 12/08 - Helvick Co.Waterford Ireland
The aircraft is one of 2 the IAC have in service in the Maritime Patrol role. The CASA/IPTN CN-235 is a medium-range twin-engined transport plane that was jointly developed by CASA of Spain and Indonesian manufacturer IPTN, as a regional airliner and military transport. Its primary military roles include maritime patrol, surveillance, and air transport. Its largest user is Turkey which has 61 aircraft. The aircraft saw action during the Libyan conflict to evacuate some 40+ Irish civillians from the troubled area. The type is operated 101 'Maritime Squadron' based at Baldonnel along with the rest of the IAC's aircraft, under the 1st Operations wing. Both of the IAC's aircraft were upgraded in 2006/2007 by EADS CASA to the FITS Persuader standard with enhanced radar, forward looking infra red equipment and a new electronic and avionics suite. The IAC is the aerial component of the Defence Forces of Ireland providing support to the Army and Naval Service, together with non-military air services such as search and rescue and the Ministerial Air Transport Service. The aircraft are used in support of fishery protection using their long-range to patrol throughout the Irish exclusive fishery limits. Other IAC Assets are used occasionly (Cessna's EC135 and AW139) to monitor inshore fishing activities. The aircraft can be equipped with 6 hardpoints to carry AM-39 Exocet-Missiles or Mk.46-Torpedos.
Aircraft - Boeing C17 Globemaster III (ER)
Serial - ZZ178 (C/N F-245)
Operator - Royal Air Force (RAF) Squadron - 99 Squadron
Date and Location - 17/08 - RAF Lossiemouth (EGQS)
One of 8 Aircraft the RAF have in the tactical Transport Role and are unofficially known as the C17 'ER'. This is due to the fact they operate C-17As with extended range due to the addition of the center wing tank. This upgrade was incorporated in production beginning in 2001 with Block 13 aircraft. The Boeing C-17 Globemaster III is a large military transport aircraft. It was developed for the United States Air Force (USAF) from the 1980s to the early 1990s by McDonnell Douglas; the company later merged with Boeing. The C-17 is used for rapid strategic airlift of troops and cargo to main operating bases or forward operating bases throughout the world. It can also perform tactical airlift, medical evacuation and airdrop missions. The C-17 carries the name of two previous, but unrelated piston-engine, U.S. military cargo aircraft, the Douglas C-74 Globemaster and the Douglas C-124 Globemaster II. In addition to the U.S. Air Force, the C-17 is operated by the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and NATO Heavy Airlift Wing. Additionally, India has ordered C-17s. The first C-17 was delivered to the RAF at Boeing's Long Beach facility on 17 May 2001 and flown to RAF Brize Norton by a crew from No. 99 Squadron which had previously trained with USAF crews to gain competence on the type. No. 99 Squadron of the Royal Air Force was a bomber squadron in both first and second world war. At present it operates the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III from RAF Brize Norton, the RAF's air transport hub. The squadron was the first RAF unit to receive the Avro Aldershot, Handley Page Hyderabad, Handley Page Hinaidi, Vickers Wellington, Bristol Britannia and Boeing Globemaster. In case of the Avro Aldershot the squadron even was its only operator as it is now for the Globemasters. One of the first high profile missions of the squadron was the deployment of Lynx helicopters and support equipment to Macedonia as part of a NATO peacekeeping force. This deployment was codenamed Operation Bessemer.
Thats all for this week!Aircraft - Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4
Serial - ZK314/EO (C/N 285/BS071)
ZK310/EL (C/N 281/BS063)
Operator - Royal Air Force (RAF) Squadron - 6 Squadron
Date and Location - 16/08 - RAF Lossiemouth (EGQS)
The Eurofighter Typhoon is a twin-engine, canard-delta wing, multirole fighter. The Typhoon was designed by a consortium of three companies, EADS, Alenia Aeronautica and BAE Systems, working through a holding company, Eurofighter GmbH, which was formed in 1986. The aircraft first flew on 27 March 1994 and entered operational service in August 2003. The Typhoon has entered service with the Austrian Air Force, the Italian Air Force, the German Luftwaffe, the British Royal Air Force, the Spanish Air Force, and the Royal Saudi Air Force. The RAF currently has some 87 Typhoons with a further 77 due to be delivered to complete the order of 160 Aircraft. The entire Typhoon fleet passed the 100,000 flying hours this year and saw the aircraft being deployed on its first Combat scenario in Libya. When flying Operations the Aircraft were based at Gioia del Colle airbase in Italy and working alongside RAF Tornado GR4s the Typhoons gained 91 strikes and a average sortie time of 2+ Hours. In total the RAF Tornados and Typhoons flew 1,114 sorties, 2,395 Hours flown and a Success rate of 97%. The RAF operate the Aircraft with 5 Squadrons (3(F), 6, 11, 17, 29 Squadrons) and 1 Flight (1435 Flight) in a variety of roles. No. 6 Squadron of the Royal Air Force operates the Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 at RAF Leuchars. It was previously equipped with the Jaguar GR.3 in the close air support and tactical reconnaissance roles, and was posted to RAF Coltishall, Norfolk until April 2006, moving to RAF Coningsby until disbanding in May 2007. The squadron officially reformed as a Typhoon squadron on 6 September 2010.