Author Archives: sln

#01 of 2017

The first issue of FLYMAG in 2017 features The last Sioux – The Ramex Spirit, Peak Performers, Winter Hide, USCG San Diego amongst others.

Super base – Ørland

Royal Norwegian Air Force – Ørland

Located on the west coast of Norway, Ørland Hovedflystasjon, Ørland Air Base, is one of two Norwegian F-16 bases,
the other being Bodø further north on the coast.
Super base – Ørland Air Base
Located on the west coast of Norway, Ørland Hovedflystasjon, Ørland Air Base, is one of two Norwegian F-16 bases, the other being Bodø further north on the coast.

Ørland Air base was built in 1941 by the then occupying German troops in Norway. The reason for building the air base was to enable the German Luftwaffe to attack allied convoys sailing supplies to the Russian harbor in Murmansk.

The first German aircraft to arrive at the base were Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condors, and in June of 1942 a squadron of Junkers Ju 87 Stuka dive-bombers were deployed to the base. The complement of aircraft at the base were further expanded when first a squadron of Messerschmitt Bf 109s and later a squadron of Focke-Wulf Fw 190 fighters arrived at the base.

This RNoAF F-16 taxiing back to it’s HAS, where the ground crew awaits it.
“In 1950 the Norwegian government decided to reopen the base and make it a permanent deployable base.”
After the war
When the German troops in Norway surrendered, they left behind a fully armed and defendable airfield, complete with docks and infrastructure.

After the war, the first Norwegian aircraft to be located at Ørland, was a squadron for Spitfires, but already in 1946 the base was closed down and all the wooden buildings torn down.

The woods were then transported north, to help rebuild Finnmark, which had been almost completely destroyed by the Germans. In the following years the base were sporadically used for exercises until 1950. In 1950 the Norwegian government decided to reopen the base and make it a permanent deployable base. In 1952 a new runway was constructed, and in 1954 the base was expanded to handle NATO forces.

In 1954 the 338 Squadron was relocated from Sola airbase to Ørland, flying the F-84E Thunderjet. Today the squadron flies the F-16A/B Fighting Falcon, and it remains the only fighter squadron on the base. In August of 1970 a detachment from 330 Squadron arrived flying the Grumman HU-16 Albatross. In 1973 330 Squadron converted to the Westland Sea King, which they still fly today. The squadron is responsible for SAR operations in the area.

The squadrons
In 1983 the airbase was updated to accommodate NATO’s E-3A Sentry AWACS fleet, which flies out of Geilenkirchen air base in Germany. Ørland is the only Forward Operations Location (FOL) for the NATO AWACS fleet in northern Europe, and E-3 Sentry aircrafts regularly deploy to the base.

Today the base is home to the following flying squadrons:
  • 138 Air Wing
    • 338 Squadron (F-16A/B MLU)
  • 330 Squadron (Westland Sea King – dethatched from Sola AB)
  • NATO Airborne Early Warning Force, FOL (E-3A Sentry)

338 Squadron
338 squadron was activated on 1954 at Sola air base, but moved to Ørland airbase that same year. The first aircraft the squadron flew was the Republic F-84E Thunderjet. In 1955 they swapped the E model with the F-84G, a jet they flew until 1960, when the unit converted to the North American F-86F Sabre. They continued flying the F-86F until 1967, when they began flying the Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter. After almost 20 years of flying the F-5, the squadron converted to the F-16A Fighting Falcon in 1986.

When the squadron converted to the F-16 in 1986, they were the last of the then four Norwegian fighter squadrons to do so. Despite being the last squadron to convert to the F-16, they were the first squadron to begin flying the Mid-life Update (MLU) versions of the F-16. In late 1998, early 1999 the squadron began converting to the MLU F-16 coming of the conversion line at the Kjeller depot.

With the introduction of the M2 software tape during 2002, the Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) decided to integrate the PANTERA targeting pod onto their F-16s, thereby introducing a state-of-the-art targeting system to their F-16 fleet, which would allow for pinpoint bombing accuracy.

The RNoAF was the first F-16 user to introduce the PANTERA pods, the export version of the Lockheed Sniper pod, to the MLU F-16s, and it clearly showed the advantages of this modern pod compared to the older Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night (LATIRN) system.
The pilot steps into his ‘office’, while on duty for NATO Baltic Air Policing in Lithuania.

A RNoAF F-16BM goes low level in a Norwegian fjord.
Mounted Cueing System
With the MLU M3 and M4 software updates, the RNoAF decided to introduce a new and more modern air-to-air missile into its inventory. After a competition, where a number of missiles, including the AIM-9X Sidewinder and the German designed IRIS-T missile participated, the IRIS-T missile was selected.

The missile takes advantage of the Helmet Mounted Cueing System used by the Norwegian F-16 pilots. As with the PANTERA targeting pod, the RNoAF became the first F-16 user to integrate the IRIS-T missile on the F-16.

In 2006 the Norwegian military decided that it would be easier to pool all F-16s into one unit under the Forsvarets Logistikk Organisasjon (Air Force Logistic Organisation). This unit now controls all the F-16s in the RNoAF, and F-16s are dispersed amongst all the F-16 squadrons according to their actual needs.

330 Squadron
330 squadron is the RNoAF helicopter unit responsible for military and civilian search and rescue (SAR). The unit’s home base is at Sola Air Base in southern Norway, but the unit has detachments at Rygge, Florø, Ørland, Bodø and Banak. Beside the unit’s main mission of SAR, it also performs duties as air ambulance, disaster relief and special operations support.

The squadron was formed on April 25, 1941 as 330 (Norwegian) Squadron under the Royal Air Force (RAF) Coastal Command, and base at RAF Reykjavik, as German forces at that time had occupied Norway. Here they were equipped with 18 Northrop N-3PB aircraft, and were initially tasked with providing arctic convoy escort. The N-3PB proved highly unsuited for this role however, and the squadron started focussing more on anti submarine sweeps and providing an air ambulance service from various forward deployed locations around Iceland.

In June 1942, the unit received the first of a total of six Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina flying boats, and at the same time they retained six of their N-3PBs. On January 23, 1943, parts of 330 squadron were relocated to RAF Oban I Scotland, with the rest following on June 11, 1943. During their time on Iceland, the squadron flew 4379 hours (3524 in N-3PBs and 885 in the Catalinas).

Burner take off! Ørland is surrendered by water, which attracting a lot of birds. The F-16’s needs to go rather high just after take off to avoid collition with birds.
“Until the end of WW II, 330 squadron
flew over 12.000 hours from Scotland.”
In Scotland the unit switched to the Short Sunderland flying boat. Being unable to buy these expensive aircraft themselves, the RAF lend twelve aircraft, six Mk II and six Mk III) to the squadron, while the Norwegians themselves paid the operating costs. While in Scotland, a 330 squadron detachment was set up at RAF Scatsta on Shetland.

They continued to fly the same role of submarine sweeps, search and rescue and convoy escorts. Until the end of WW II, 330 squadron flew over 12.000 hours from Scotland, carrying out 655 submarine sweeps, 50 convoy escorts and 22 SAR missions. After the end of the war 330 squadron, now flying Sunderlands Mk Vs, returned to Norway and set up base at the water aerodrome at Sola Air Station, flying daily routes to Bergen Airport, Sandviken and Trondheim – almost flying more like an airliner than a military unit.

Up until 1968 Norway did not have a dedicated SAR unit, but rather relied on various units equipped with suitable airframes to perform SAR as a secondary mission. This changed in 1968, when a private company was hired to operate two Sikorsky S-61 out of Sola and Bodø, while the government decided how best to set up a dedicated SAR unit.

In 1970 ten Westland Sea Kings were ordered, and 330 squadron were assigned the SAR role. Headquarter was at Bodø Main Air Station, with four flights; A-flight at Bodø, B-flight at Banak, C-flight at Ørland and D-flight at Sola, with two airframes in each flight. The squadron started operations on April 25, 1973.

On November 8, 2013, it was announced that the AugustaWestland AW101 had been selected as a replacement for the Sea King and a contract for 16 helicopters, with an option for six more, were signed. The helicopters are scheduled to be delivered between 2017 and 2020.

In 1983 Ørland AB was established as a Forward Operating Location (FOL) for NATO’s AWACS fleet of E-3 Sentry aircraft. Apart from providing the Sentry fleet with a base of operations in northern Europe, the base is also used for training flights, which helps in reducing the number of flights going in and out of the Sentry fleets home base at Geilenkirchen in Germany.

Since 2000, an average of over 170 AWACS sorties have been flown per year from Ørland, almost one flight every other day. A total of 33 personnel, 32 military and one civilian, work at the FOL and support the deployed AWACS crews during their stay at Ørland.

International Deployments
338 Squadron is part of NATO’s Rapid Reaction Force, and since 1999 they have been deployed on numerous international missions.

From March 23 until June 10 1999, RNoAF F-16s were deployed to Grazzanise AB in Italy to take part in Operation Allied Force. This was the first time since World War II that Norway had deployed fighters into action. The Norwegian F-16s were tasked with flying Combat Air Patrol (CAP) missions, since they did not send any of their new MLU updates F-16s.

The next time RNoAF F-16s were deployed on international missions were on October 1, 2002 when RNoAF F-16s were deployed to Manas AB in Kyrgyzstan to support the US led Operation Enduring Freedom. The F-16s remained at Manas until March 31, 2003.

On January 1 2005, four RNoAF F-16s deployed for the first time to Siauliai AB in Lithuania to take part in NATO Baltic Air Policing mission. The four aircraft flew from Siauliai until March 31, 2005. Since this initial deployment to Siauliai, RNoAF F-16s have performed the Baltic Air Policing mission two more times, from December 16, 2007 until March 15 2007 and from May 1, 2015 until September 1 2015, both times flying from Siauliai AB.
Operation Odyssey Dawn
As well as providing Air Policing over the Baltic, RNoAF F-16’s have also flown three times over Iceland during the NATO Iceland Air Policing and Surveillance mission. The first time was in 2009; second deployment was in 2011 and the last one in 2014.

The largest operation the RNoAF’s F-16’s have participated in was Operation Odyssey Dawn / Unified Protector. Six F-16’s were deployed to Souda AB in Greece from March 23, 2011 until July of 2011. In total the RNoAF F-16’s dropped over 500 precision bombs during the two campaigns.

The RNoAF F-16’s did not remain at Souda AB until the end of the conflict, but was withdrawn in early summer 2011 when less capacity was needed to end the conflict.

A RNoAF F-16 on air patrol in the Baltics

Getting ready for the F-35
In November of 2008 the Norwegian government selected the Lockheed F-35 Lighting II as the replacement for the aging fleet of F-16s. Having been a partner of the F-35 program since the System Development and Demonstration phase, it came as little surprise that the F-35 was chosen.

Norway placed an initial order for 52 F-35’s and as of late December 2016 they have funded the procurement of 22 of these. The first two F-35s were handed over to the Norwegian Air Force in late 2015 at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, where they will be used for pilot training.

The first Norwegian pilot took to the skies in an F-35 in September of 2015. Under current plans, the first F-35 will arrive in Norway in 2017, where they will gradually replace the F-16 fleet.

“Norway placed an initial order for 52 F-35’s.”
A RNoAF F-16 takes off with the burners lit.
The maintenance on the F-16s is done ‘in house’ at Ørland.

Only one super base
All the Norwegian F-35s will be stationed at Ørland AB. This means that once F-16 operations starts winding down in the early 2020s, Bodø AB will be closing down. Due to the geographical shape of Norway, a small Quick Reaction Alert detachment will set up at Evenes AB in the northern part of Norway, as the distance from Ørland to the far north of Norway is simply to great to cover from Ørland.

The plans to have the majority of the 52 F-35s on order based at Ørland, means that there is currently a massive expansion of facilities taking place at the base. New hangars and maintenance facilities are being built to accommodate the new jets, as well as buildings and offices for all the new pilots and squadron support staff coming to the base in the next few years.

So it is safe to say the Ørland will be at the heart for
the Royal Norwegian Air Force for many years to come.

Royal Danish Air Force – Fighting Falcons

Danish Falcons

We’ll take you on a look at the sole jet fighter in the Royal Danish Air Force through the past 30 years, the history, the current status and the future.
Danish Falcons
In the early 1970s the Royal Danish Air Force (RDAF) started looking for a replacement for the three types of fighter aircraft then in service. The new fighter would have to replace the Lockheed F-104G Starfighter, the North American F-100D/F Super Sabre and the SAAB F-35 Draken. Under consideration were alternative fighters, the General Dynamics (now Lockheed Martin) F-16 Fighting Falcon, the SAAB JAS-37 Viggen and the Dassault Mirage F-1.

By the end of the competition, the F-16 Fighting Falcon was selected and in 1975, Denmark joined Belgium, Holland and Norway in an order for a total of 348 airframes from the United States. Of these, Denmark initially ordered 58 F-16s, consisting of 48 F-16As and 10 F-16Bs all build by SABCA in Belgium.

The first F-16B, serial number ET-204, was delivered to the RDAF on the January 18, 1980. Following the initial order of 58 airframes, a further eight F-16As and four F-16B were ordered in 1984. These were built by Fokker in Holland and delivered in 1988-89. In 1994, a further three F-16As were purchased and more were added in 1997 (three more A models and one B model). These last seven aircraft were all ex-USAF airframes.

This last purchase brought the total up to 77 airframes made up of 62 A models and 15 B models. Of the 77 airframes delivered, 39 were delivered as Block-10 aircraft with the remaining 38 airframes delivered as Block-15. As of June 2016, the RDAF have 44 F-16s left in service, comprised of three F-16AM Block-10, three F-16BM Block-10, 29 F-16AM Block-15 and eight F-16BM Block-15. The forty-fourth F-16 is ET210, F-16BM Block-10, which flies in the USA for the F-35 Lighting II test program.

Since the first delivery in 1980, the RDAF F-16s have been through various update programs, bringing new features and capabilities to the fleet, as well as extending their service life.

The pilot signals to the ground crew before taxi.
“By the end of the competition, the F-16 Fighting Falcon was selected and in 1975, Denmark joined Belgium, Holland and Norway in an order for a total of 348 airframes from the United States.”
The largest of these that the RDAF F-16s have been through is the Mid Life Upgrade (MLU) program which the RDAF joined from its onset in 1989 when the initial planning stages started. In total, the RDAF upgraded 48 F-16As and 13 F-16Bs. All RDAF F-16s were modified at the main F-16 depot at Aalborg Air Base in the northern part of Jutland.

Most of the RDAF F-16 remaining in service has been upgraded to the MLU 6.5 tape standard; except for the seven remaining Block-10 airframes, which have only been upgraded to MLU 4.3 tape. Because they are only Block-10, they do not have the strengthened nose wheel construction and they are unable to carry a targeting pod as well as not being able to fire the AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missile. These airframes are only used for training and as Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) aircraft but not for international missions.

In 1986, many other European users of the F-16 upgraded the Pratt & Whitney F100 PW200 engines to a modernised version namely, the PW-100-220E. However the Danish government decided not to join this engine upgrade. With the drawn out selection process for the F-16 replacement, it soon became clear that the original engines would not be able to see the F-16s through to their out-of-service date.

This meant that the RDAF in 2013 purchased 50 used F100 PW220E engines and these are currently being fitted to the RDAF F-16 fleet to keep the aircraft flying until their planned out-of-service date in 2024. Commanding officer of 730 Squadron, pilot name ‘STI’ said about the upgraded engines “The main advantages of the new -220E engines are more rapid thrust during take off, which means the aircraft gets airborne quicker, leaving more runway in case of an emergency. The engine also performs better in the air, which improves its effectiveness during air-to-air combat”.

With the F-16 replacement not expected to reach Full Operational Capability (FOC) until 2027, the RDAF F-16s are currently going through a structural life enhancement program, which aims at keeping the F-16s flying until at least 2024.

F-16 squadrons
The RDAF currently have two F-16 squadrons, 727 Squadron and 730 Squadron. No F-16s are assigned to either squadron. All F-16s are pooled together at the Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and jets are assigned to each fighter squadron on an “as needed” basic.

Denmark is part of the European Participating Air Forces, and both squadrons are assigned to the European Expeditionary Air Wing. In the last almost 20 years, RDAF F-16 has participated in numerous international missions and both squadrons now have a core of very experienced pilots, many of whom have more than 1000 hours in the F-16.

The main day-to-day mission of the Danish F-16s is the 24-hour Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) maintained at FW Skrydstrup. 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, two F-16s are kept on QRA readiness, with two more as immediate backup. The four aircraft are kept in a specially constructed building close to the crew building. The aircrafts are fully fuelled, checked out and can be airborne within minutes of the alarm sounding.

The aircraft are armed with two AIM-9L Siderwinders, a centreline fuel tank and a full drum of 20mm ammo for the gun. Two pilots and two ground crews are on 12.5 hours standby in a building close to the QRA shelters. In addition to the two main jets and the two backup jets, 2-3 airframes are on standby, in case one of the four jets has a malfunction that can’t be fixed.

This is done to avoid situations where one of the four primary aircraft breaks down Friday afternoon, leaving one of the QRA jets without a spare airframe for the weekend. These standby jets are also armed and can be ready for flight at short notice.

Apart from keeping the 24-hour QRA, the two F-16 squadrons have to keep the pilots current and well trained. This means that on a normal day two missions are flown, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, usually consisting of eight aircraft per mission. In times when aircrafts are deployed on international missions, or on exercises, the number of airframes per mission is reduced.
The pilot and his office, high above the clouds, taking some gas from a tanker.

Two RDAF F-16 on QRA tango scramble.
International operations
The first time RDAF F-16s or any type of RDAF fighter aircraft, participated in combat operations was during Operation Allied Force, the NATO led missions against Serbian positions in Kosovo. On October 13, 1998, six F-16s from Eskadrille 730 (730 Fighter Squadron) departed Fighter Wing (FW) Skrydstrup, along with a total of 115 support personnel and headed for Grazzanise Air Base in Italy. In April 1999, a further three F-16s were send to Grazzanise where they operated until June 2000.

After this initial overseas operation, the RDAF F-16 has been very active internationally. The next time RDAF F-16s participated in a combat operation was during the US-led “Operation Enduring Freedom” over Afghanistan. From October 1, 2002 until October 1, 2003 six RDAF F-16s operated out of Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan. During the deployment the six F-16s flew a total of 743 missions over Afghanistan, totalling about 4350 flight hours. During these missions several laser-guided bombs were dropped.

Baltic Air Policing
After the Baltic countries joined NATO in April 2004, NATO set up the Baltic Air Policing mission to provide air policing over the three nations as they lacked the assets to do so themselves. RDAF F-16s have been deployed to the Baltic region four times (2004, 2009, 2013 and 2014), flying out of either Šiauliai Air Base in Lithuania or Ämari air base in Estonia.

In September 2006, the USAF stopped deploying fighter units to Keflavik Air Base, which left Iceland with no means to patrol their own airspace. Following several intrusions of Icelandic air space by Russian aircraft, NATO air policing over Iceland was started in May 2008. The RDAF have been deployed to Keflavik Air Base on three occasions, in 2009, 2010 and 2015.

While on station in Keflavik in March 2009, RDAF F-16 were also flying the Baltic Air Policing mission from Šiauliai Air Base in Lithuania, which meant that the RDAF were carrying out air policing over five different nations simultaneously.

Flex take off with burners! This Viper driver knows how to do it in style!
“During Operation Unified Protector NATO aircraft flew 26.435 single sorties, of which the Danish F-16s flew approximately 1.300.”
Operation Odyssey Dawn
On March 19, 2011 the Danish government, backed up by UN resolution 1973, decided to send a total of six F-16 and 120 personnel to the Naval Air Station Sigonella on Sicily to help with the US led Operation Odyssey Dawn, the fight again Colonel Gadhafi’s forces. The Danish F-16s undertook their first operational mission on March 20 and during the twelve days Operation Odyssey Dawn lasted, the Danish F-16s flew 41 missions and dropped 102 bombs.

On April 1, the US-led Operation Odyssey Dawn ended and was replaced by the NATO led Operation Unified Protector. During both operations the RDAF F-16s flew 600 missions and dropped 923 bombs. The Danish F-16s flew their last mission on the evening of October 31; this was also the last NATO mission with fighter jets. During Operation Unified Protector NATO aircraft flew 26.435 single sorties, of which the Danish F-16s flew approximately 1.300

More recently, in October 2014, four RDAF F-16s, plus three spares, deployed to Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base in Kuwait to assist the US-led international coalition in the fight against the Islamic terror organisation ISIL in Iraq. The F-16’s, along with around 140 personal, were deployed to Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base until October 2015, when they returned to their home base at Fighter Wing Skrydstrup. During this time, the Danish F-16s flew 547 missions over Iraq and dropped 503 bombs.

Fight against ISIL
On May 4, 2016 the Danish Parliament decided that RDAF F-16s should return to the Middle East to again help in the fight against ISIL, this time flying over both Iraq and Syria as part of the Inherent Resolve campaign. Like the previous deployment, four F-16s were sent with three airframes in reserve. On June 15, 2016 eight RDAF F-16s took off from their home base and headed towards Incirlik Air Base in Turkey.

On the way, they made a scheduled fuel stop at Gioia Del Colle in Italy. From there, seven aircraft continued to Incirlik Air Base, while the eighth one returned to FW Skrydstrup. It is expected that the F-16s will be deployed for six months. From Incirlik the Danish F-16s will fly missions over both Syria and Iraq in the fight against ISIL.

On June 17 two Danish F-16s flew the first combat mission from Incirlik AB over both Syria and Iraq but no bombs were dropped during this first sortie. As of October 5, the RDAF F-16s have flown 166 missions, during which 231 precision weapons have been dropped on various targets

“Having successfully completed a number of sorties over large parts of Greenland, the three F-16s returned to Denmark on August 7, 2015.”
All the maintenance of the Danish F-16s is done in Denmark.
A RDAF F-16 breaks away from the tanker in style.

Arctic Falcons
For many years the RDAF have flown patrols over Greenland using a combination of CL-604 Challenger and C-130J-30 Hercules aircraft from 721 squadron. In 2015 the decision was made to test out the F-16 and its sensor suite over Greenland and to gain knowledge about operating fighter aircraft over the arctic.

RDAF F-16s have previously made fuel stops at Kangerlussuaq (Sønder Strømfjord) while deploying to the United States, but this would be the first time missions would actually be flown over Greenland.

On August 5, 2015 three F-16s took off from FW Skrydstrup and headed towards Kangerlussuaq. Along with them were also a CL-604 Challenger aircraft and a C-130J-30 carrying spare parts and ground crews.

To help deal with the long distances when flying over Greenland, the RDAF borrowed two sets of 600-gallon drop tanks from the Portuguese Air Force. The 600-gallon drop tanks were used by the two primary jets, while the third, a backup jet, flew to Greenland with the normal 370-gallon drop tanks.

During their mission to Greenland, the two primary jets landed at Thule AFB, the first ever landing there by an F-16, almost 40 years after the last single seat fighter landed at the base. Having successfully completed a number of sorties over large parts of Greenland, the three F-16s returned to Denmark on August 7, 2015.

Future Fighter
The search for an F-16 replacement technically started in 1997 when Denmark joined the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program as a Level 3 partner. In August 2005 the competition to replace the F-16 started in earnest, when the Danish Department of Defence requested information from Lockheed (Joint Strike Fighter), EADS (Eurofighter), SAAB (JAS-39 Gripen) and Dassault (Rafale) but the latter refused to enter into the selection process as they felt that the Joint Strike Fighter had already been chosen.

In December 2007, EADS pulled the Eurofighter out of the competition as they felt that Lockheed were receiving an unfair advantage, however they re-entered the fray in March 2013. In May of 2008, Boeing made a last minute entry into the selection process with the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet.

Postponed decision
In March of 2009 the decision for the new fighter was postponed for the first time until late 2009. In October 2009, the decision was postponed for a second time, this time until 2010. Yet again, in March 2010 the selection process was put on hold for up to four years as new analysis showed that the RDAF F-16s could fly for four years longer than first assumed.

The decision process was re-started in March 2013 and on April 10, 2014, the Danish Ministry of Defence sent out “Request for Binding Information” (RBI) to the four manufacturers in the competition. On July 21, 2014 the ministry received the RBI back from Lockheed, Boeing and EADS. SAAB decided to pull out of the competition at this point.

On the May 26, 2015 the then Defence minister announced that the discussions about the new fighter would start in the Parliament on June 18, but the next day the then Prime Minister called for a general election on that date and the decision were postponed yet again.

On May 12, 2016 the Danish government announced that it had chosen the Lockheed F-35 Lightning II as its preferred replacement for the F-16 in RDAF service. On June 9, the leading Danish government party, along with other parties in the Danish Parliament, reached an agreement to purchase a total of 27 F-35’s at an estimated cost of $3 billion.
F-35 Lightning II
The 27 airframes will replace the current F-16 fleet of approximately 44 airframes. Of the 27 F-35s, five will remain in the USA at Luke Air Force Base where they will be used to train future Danish F-35 pilots and ground crews.

Commanding officer of 730 Squadron, ‘STI’ had this reaction to the selection of the F-35; “Generally the pilots are pleased with the decision. There is a feeling that it was the correct choice. It is important that we have chosen the same type as two of our European Participating Air Forces (Norway and The Nederland’s) partners have chosen.” He added, “It is expected that all the teething problems will be solved before the RDAF receives their first aircraft.”

The decision to purchase 27 F-35s has subsequently been met with criticism and scepticism from aviation experts, both nationally and internationally. In their reasoning for replacing 44 F-16s with just 27 F-35s, the Danish government is, amongst other things, expecting to be able to fly a minimum of 250 hours per airframe per year, compared with the 165 flight hours that the F-16s fly now.

A top view of the characteristic Fighting Falcon.

In years when the F-35s are deployed on international missions, the government expects to be able to fly 290 hours per airframe. The 250 hours in a “normal” year, is in stark contrast to the 167.7 flight hours per year that the Norwegian government is expecting for their F-35 fleet and no other F-35 user in the world is expecting to be able to fly 250 hours per year.

Experts have called the numbers used by the Danish government to justify purchasing 27 F-35 unrealistic and naive.

When the decision to purchase just 27 airframes was announced, the Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen said: “The government has concluded that it is necessary to have 27 new F-35s to replace the F-16s.
This is neither a build-up nor disarmament. It is a completely neutral extension of the Danish fighter capacity.”

Afterwards, several experts pointed out that, whilst the capability of the Danish fighter force remains that same, the capacity will be severely impaired. Having only 22 airframes available in Denmark, will make it very unlikely that the RDAF will be able to participate in international operations while at the same time participating in either the Baltic Air Policing or the air policing over Iceland, something which the F-16 fleet has done before.

Ready to go with a few minuts warning.
This RDAF F-16 awaits it’s pilot, before the next mission.
“It is also noteworthy that the F-35 unit cost cited in the report differs significantly from Pentagon’s own estimate of $99 million..”
Challenge by Boeing
Following the recommendation by the Danish government, Boeing officially challenged the selection, claiming that the estimates of cost per airframe were made using flawed data. In the official government report, it was concluded that 28 F-35s would be purchased at a total cost of $2.33 billion or $83 million per aircraft.

The report also concluded that a total of 38 F/A-18 Super Hornets would be needed to accomplish the same mission over a thirty year period and the total price for these jets were calculated at $4.65 billion or $122 million apiece.

Boeing challenged the price information given in the report, saying that when calculating the cost of the Super Hornet, the cost of sustainment and training for the first five years was included in the upfront procurement cost, but that this was not done for the F-35. It is also noteworthy that the F-35 unit cost cited in the report differs significantly from Pentagon’s own estimate of $99 million. The complaints were however refuted by the Danish government.

In mid-September, Boeing took the first step towards a legal challenge against the Danish Ministry of Defence (MoD) recommendation of the F-35, by submitting a “request for insight”, which would require the MoD to hand over all the information used to evaluate the three fighters in the competition.

It is especially the economical criteria of the evaluation, and the high cost of the Super Hornet used, that Boeing is going to focus on. They will also be looking into the other three criteria’s, strategic, industrial and military aspects.

Poor evaluation
Boeing says that they are concerned that the evaluation was not as fair and transparent as leading Danish politicians have claimed, and they want it “reviewed to the fullest extent allowed under Danish law” according to vice president and general manager of Boeing’s global strike division Debbie Rub.

Boeing is also concerned that the high cost used and the poor evaluation of the Super Hornet given by the Danish MoD, will have a negative effect on other potential Super Hornet customers, namely Canada and Finland.

It is unlikely that the legal actions taken by Boeing will make the Danish government cancel the F-35 order, but if Boeing can prove that the prices used by the Danish MoD were exaggerated, it will make them stand better in future fighter competitions non the less.

It is not only the high number of flying hours and comparatively low unit costs used in the selection process which have raised concerns. The Danish government have also calculated using radical changes in the pilots working conditions. These changes included rising the weekly working hours from 37 hours, which is the standard Danish working week, to 48 hours.

They will also open up for the possibility of a 2-to-1 deployment vs. home time, meaning that pilots can be deployed for twice as long as they get to stay home before being deployed again.

Low level over the Danish oceans is also a place for the danish Falcons.
Ready for a training sortie in the dark. The RDAF practice night sorties
during the winter months, where the daylight period is short.

First F-35s by 2021
The service time for pilots might be increased from 8.5 years to 17 years to cut down on the need to train new pilots. It remains to be seen how the pilots work union will react if these changes are implemented.

The current plan put forward by the Danish government is for the first four F-35s to be handed over to the RDAF in 2021, followed by another six in 2022 and the remainder between 2023 and 2026. According to the Danish Defence Ministry, the Danish government reserves the right to buy fewer than 27 airframes if the initial deliveries are delayed or fail to meet the price criteria set once a contract has been negotiated.

The possibility of buying additional airframes in the future is also still on the table. The F-16 fleet is to be phased out from 2020 to 2024. This is expected to leave a gap of two years, from 2022 to 2024 where the RDAF will be unable to participate in international fighter operations as the full operational capability for the F-35 is expected in 2027. It remains to be seen if the planned time schedule is achievable.

The author would like to thank 730 squadron for their help with making this article possible – Vis Superne.

721 Squadron – Hercules Flight

Danish heavy haulers

When the Danish Armed Forces need to move large amounts of goods or personnel,
the task is given to 721 Squadron’s Hercules Flight. FLYMAG takes a look at the Hercules Flight of 721 Squadron.
Danish heavy haulers
When the Danish Armed Forces need to move large amounts of goods or personnel, the task is given to 721 Squadron’s Hercules Flight. The Flight is based at Aalborg Air Base, also known as Air Transport Wing (ATW) Aalborg, located in northern Jutland.

721 Squadrons Hercules Flight is equipped with four Lockheed C-130J-30 Hercules aircraft. The first of these were delivered in 2004 but the unit’s first encounter with the C-130 was back in 1975, when three C-130H’s were delivered to Værløse Air Base, which back then was the unit’s home base. The H models replaced the aging Douglas C-54D/G Skymaster and the C-47 Skytrain as the primary transport aircraft in the Royal Danish Air Force (RDAF).

As the Danish Armed Forces started to become more involved in international operations around the world, the need for tactical air transport increased.

Despite numerous upgrades, the H models were starting to show their age and on 1st of December 2000, the Danish government signed a contract with Lockheed Martin (now Lockheed) for three C-130J-30 Hercules, with the option for one more. The -30 version of the C-130J is a stretched version whereby 15 feet (approximately 4.5 meter) has been added to the fuselage to expand the cargo hold.

The first C-130J-30 (B-536) for RDAF was delivered on 1st March 2004 which coincided with the units move from Værløse Air Base to its current home at Aalborg Air Base. The next two aircraft were delivered on 15 March (B-537) and 5 April (B-538).
“The first C-130J-30 (B-536) for RDAF was delivered on 1st of March 2004.”
A RDAF C-130J-30 lands on the beach of the Danish island of Rømø.

The easy way to tell the differnce between a J and a non-J model of the C-130,
is the 6 blades propeller on the J and the 4 blade of the non-J.
Block standards
In 2006 it was decided to take out the option for the fourth aircraft and B-583 was delivered to Aalborg Air Base on 15 July 2007. The three old C-130H airframes were sold to Lockheed as part of the deal. These were then later sold to Egypt.

The first three C-130J-30 were delivered in Block 5.4 standard and the forth in Block 6.1 standard. After the delivery of the fourth airframe, the first three were sent to Marshall Aerospace in Cambridge and upgraded to Block 6.1 standard.

Block 6.1 upgraded the C-130J-30 in a number of ways compared to the 5.4. The upgrades included a higher maximum takeoff weight (up from 70,308 kg to 74,390 kg), enhanced performance during operations in hot or cold climate and an upgrade to the hydraulic pump used to open the cargo ramp, so that it is now possible to open the ramp at altitudes up to 35,000 feet (10.5 km) as opposed to 15,000 feet (4.5 km).

The upgrade
Denmark is a member of the C-130J Joint User Group which means that the four Hercules will receive continues upgrades. The next planned will most likely be a double-upgrade as a delayed Block 7 package will be combined with the Block 8 upgrade.

This will among other things, give the Hercules Link 16 secure data communication, a new Flight Management System (FMS) based on the FMS from a Boeing 737 and a GPS, which is certified to be used during GPS approaches to civilian airports. It has not yet been decided when these upgrades will start though.

Before work on any upgrades can begin, all four airframes have to go through a D-check, which is performed after ten years in service. B-536 was the first aircraft to be flown to Marshall Aerospace for this work and it returned to Aalborg Air Base in August 2015. Once B-536 had returned, B-538 was sent to have its D-check performed. During a D-check, the aircraft is almost completely taken apart and all systems are checked and put back together again. This means that while the D-checks and block upgrades are happening, the unit will only have three aircraft available.

The missions
As the Danish Armed Forces have become more involved in international missions, the squadron have been very busy flying personnel and equipment all over the globe in support. This has resulted in many missions to and from Afghanistan and more recently to Kuwait where seven Danish F-16’s were deployed in the fight against IS.

The C-130J-30 is also often used to transport VIP’s into high-threat areas. The aircraft is equipped with advanced systems for electronic warfare and self-protection. These systems are developed by the Danish company Terma A/S and are centred on the AN/ALQ-213 Electronic Warfare Management System (EWMS) which is also used in the Danish F-16’s.

The EWMS controls the AN/ALR-69 Radar Warning Receiver, the AN/AAR-54 Missile Approach Warning System, the ALQ-162 Electronic Countermeasures Jammer and an advanced chaff and flare dispenser system developed by Terma A/S. All of this equipment plus armour plating on the aircraft makes it much more capable of flying in high-threat areas than the CL-604 Challengers that usually handle VIP transport for the Royal Danish Air Force.
“The unit also flies a lot to Greenland.”
The modern glass cockpit of the C-130J, with a lot of computers and HUD to help to pilots.

Flying over Greenland
In addition to all the missions flown to support Danish troops, the unit also flies a lot to Greenland in order to deliver supplies to the Danish garrison stationed there. When the C-130J-30 flies missions to Greenland, they are mostly flown as single missions and not as a part of what is called “Luftgruppe Vest” (Air group West), such as when the Challenger flies over Greenland.

The Hercules does sometimes fly as a stand-in for the Challenger in Luftgruppe Vest when the former are busy on international missions such as Operation Ocean Shield. Thanks to the ability to land and take off on very short runways, down to 800 meters and the ability to use grass and gravel runways, the C-130J-30 can operate from most runways in Greenland and around the world.

A close look at the new SABIR arm, and the ‘bubble glass’-door.
New engines
Because of the upgraded engines with better fuel economy compared to the H model, the C-130J-30 is capable of flying nonstop from its base at Aalborg to Greenland if the weather conditions and the weight of the load are within the limits.

Usually a flight to Greenland is planned with a fuel stop in Iceland basically to ensure that there is enough fuel to reach an alternative runway if the runway at the destination suddenly closes due to bad weather. On the day of the flight, it is then decided if the fuel stop at Iceland is necessary or if it is possible to fly directly to the destination.

The crew
The minimum crew of the C-130J-30 is two pilots and a loadmaster but on most missions the unit flies with two pilots and two loadmasters. On longer missions a crew chief is often brought along as well. The advantage of taking a crew chief on a mission is that he is not limited in the number of hours he can work with the aircraft.

This means that the crew chief can stay behind and work on any problems that may have arisen during the flight while the pilots and loadmaster can get the required rest and be ready to continue with the mission the next day.

The new advanced systems in the cockpit of the C-130J-30 have meant that the crew have been reduced from five in the H model (two pilots, a navigator, an engineer and a radio operator) to just two pilots. One of the big differences from the H model is that the J model has dual Head Up Displays (HUD), one for each pilot.

On the HUD the pilots can get all the information they need to fly the aircraft and accomplish the mission. The HUD comes in especially useful when flying low-level or in high-threat areas where the crew constantly needs to visually check their surroundings.

721 Squadron has nine crews in total. Because of the large number of different missions the unit performs, each crewmember is specially trained in one area, i.e. flying with Special Forces or visually dropping Search and Rescue (SAR) equipment over the ocean. All crews are trained in all missions, but gain the highest possible level of expertise by focusing on specific areas.

The Hercules’ tasks
The primary mission for the C-130J-30 is to move personnel or cargo from point A to point B. It is however not always possible to land at the location the cargo or personnel needs to be delivered to. For this reason the floor in the cargo compartment is equipped with rollers, which means the cargo can be dropped out the rear of the aircraft with parachute.

The cargo is dropped inside containers which can weigh up to one ton each. Because of the stretched cargo compartment, a total of 24 one-ton containers can be carried at any one time.

When dropping cargo by parachute, all the necessary information such as coordinates for the drop zone, the direction, height and speed the aircraft will be traveling and so on, is entered into the flight computer, which then calculates exactly when the cargo needs to be released. This means that the pilot only has to concentrate on flying the aircraft within the correct parameters.

The squadron does still practice visual manual drops of equipment though in case of equipment failure. They have recently started practicing manual drops of SAR equipment to people in distress in open waters. During such drops it is up to the pilot to alert the loadmasters when the equipment should be dropped in order for it to reach the people in distress. This capability will mainly be used when flying over the Arctic Circle.

When personnel leave the Hercules using parachute, it is usually done by a static line jump, where the soldier’s line up in two rows and jump out the two side doors of the aircraft in much the same fashion as during World War 2. However, when Special Forces jump from the C-130J-30, they usually exit from the rear ramp of the Hercules. The reasons for this are that not only can they jump in a tighter group, they usually also carry more equipment than a normal paratrooper, making it more practical to leave via the ramp.

The unit regularly trains not only with the Danish Special Forces, “Jægerkorpset” and “Frømandkorpset”, but also with Special Forces from other NATO countries, as well as participating in international exercises which include Special Forces elements.
“The cargo is dropped inside containers which can weigh up to one ton each. Because of the stretched cargo compartment, a total of 24 one-ton containers can be carried at any one time.”
A RDAF C-130J on a low-level mission over the ocean around Denmark.

The new SABIR arm, with the attached FLIR camera.
New equipment – new options
As part from the Block update described earlier, the units C-130J-30 sometimes receive new equipment to test to see if it can bring new and useful capabilities to the aircraft.

In the spring of 2015, B-536 was equipped with a Special Airborne Mission Installation and Response (SABIR) arm on the right side of the airframe, just under the right side door. The SABIR arm is produced by the American company Airdyne Aerospace and consists of a standard NATO pylon and a control station placed inside the cargo hold of the Hercules. From the control station, the operator can control whatever equipment is attached to the SABIR arm.

So far the RDAF have attached a Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) camera to the SABIR arm with the intent to use it during SAR missions to help locate people in the water. The FLIR camera will not only be used in the SAR role, but it is also planned to use it in the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) role in the future.

The possibilities of the SABIR arm
The squadron is currently testing the system to see what new capabilities it brings and how it can be incorporated into the unit’s current missions and then what new missions the unit will be able to perform using the SABIR arm.

Using the FLIR camera the Hercules could be used to survey an area where Special Forces have been inserted and if a laser designator is attached to the SABIR arm, they could be used to designate targets for other ground and air units.

If more pylons were to be attached to the Hercules, they could even designate and drop laser guided weapons or cargo of their own. However, currently there are no plans to attach anything else other than the FLIR camera to the SABIR arm.

The C-130J is the heavy hauler of the Royal Danish Air Force.
The loadmaster is also the operator of the SABIR-arm, in this case with the attached FLIR.

The future
The SABIR arm and FLIR camera will be used in the Arctic areas where the FLIR, along with the new “bubble doors” will make the C-130J aircraft into an effective SAR aircraft, that can scan and locate people in distress through the FLIR, and then throw down various types of rescue equipment via visual drops. In addition, the SABIR arm can also be used in connection with the ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) role.

New equipment brings new capabilities, which means that the unit’s nine crews will have even more missions to train for and fly, and with the current D-checks and future Block upgrades which mean the unit only have three airframes available in the next couple of years, the squadron is facing a busy future.

FLYMAG would like to thank the Hercules Flight of 721 Squadron, for their big help in making this article possible.

T-17 – Danish Basic Trainer

Pilotschool at FSN Karup

For more than 40 years, the SAAB T-17 Supporter has fulfilled various roles in the Royal Danish Air Force.
Danish Basic Trainer
For more than 40 years, the SAAB T-17 Supporter has fulfilled various roles in the Royal Danish Air Force.

The selection
In the early 1970s, the Royal Danish Air Force (RDAF) started searching for a replacement for the KZ 7, Piper Cub and Chipmunk aircraft, which at the time were being used as basic trainers for pilots in all the branches of the Danish Armed Forces. Three types were selected as potential candidates; the Scottish Aviation Bulldog, the SAAB MFI-17 Supporter and the New Zealand build CT-4 from the Pacific Aerospace Corporation. During August and September of 1973 each of the three types spent a week at Vandel Air Base where representatives from all the branches of the Danish armed forces tested them with support from test pilots from each of the three manufacturers.

During flight-testing of the SAAB MFI-17, the Danish pilots had some questions that the Swedish factory pilots couldn’t answer. They wanted to know what would happen if the canopy, which is hinged behind the pilot and opens up and backwards, accidentally opened during flight. Would the canopy fall off and strike the T-tail of the aircraft causing it to crash, or would it stay in place? And if it stayed in place, would the pilot be able to land safely?
Three T-17s with the special Baby Blue tail markings.

Break away! The wingman of the pair of T-17’s is breaking away.
To find out, an MFI-17 was equipped with a safety device, which made sure that if the canopy fell off when opened in flight, it would not strike the tail. One of the Swedish factory pilots then had to open the canopy, on purpose, in mid-flight to find out if it would stay attached to the airframe. The test went well and the hinges held!! The canopy laid flat against the top of the fuselage and the pilot was able to land without problems.

After a comprehensive test program, where the three candidates were put through their paces by both the factory pilots and pilots from the RDAF and the Army Air Corps, the Swedish SAAB MFI-17 Supporter was selected. There were several reasons why the MFI-17 was chosen. The aircraft’s high-wing construction, the only one of the three aircraft tested, meant that it was more stable during slow flight. The aircraft was also very easy to maintain and the airframe was strong enough to make take off and landings on grass and dirt strips possible.

SAAB T-17 Supporter
The SAAB T-17 Supporter, as it became known in Denmark, is of high-wing construction with an all-metal fuselage, which makes it very strong. The aircraft can carry two or three people, depending on the internal configuration. The cockpit has two seats for a pilot and navigator or a student pilot and an instructor, seated in a side-by-side configuration. In the cargo compartment behind the two pilots, an extra seat can be fitted and it is then possible for a passenger to squeeze into the back.

The T-17 is equipped with a fixed tricycle landing gear and skis can be added for landing in snow. The engine is a Lycoming 10-360-A1B6 which produces 200 HP. The power from the engine is transferred to a Hartzell constant speed propeller which gives the aircraft a top speed of 146 mph (236 kph). The aircraft has the following technical data:
  • Length: 23 feet (7 meters)
  • Height: 8.5 feet (2.6 meters)
  • Wingspan: 29 feet (8.85 meter)
  • Empty weight: 1.653 lbs. (750 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 2.645 lbs. (1.200 kg)
  • Max weight aerobatics: 1.985 lbs. (900 kg)
  • Max speed at sea-level: 146 mph (236 kph)
  • Service ceiling: 13.451 ft (4.100 m)
  • Range: 435 miles (700 km)

Delivery of the new aircraft
After the decision was made to purchase the SAAB T-17 Supporter, 25 million Danish Kroner (approximately £2.5 million), was allocated to purchase thirty two aircraft. The order, which apart from the 32 aircraft, also included training of mechanics and maintainers, was given to SAAB in January 1975.

On 11 September the same year, the first aircraft, serial number T-401, arrived at Vandel Air Base. The remaining thirty one aircraft arrived during the next sixteen months with the last aircraft, serial number T-432, arriving at Vandel Air Base on the 5 January 1977.
“The engine is a Lycoming 10-360-A1B6 which produces 200 HP. The power from the engine is transferred to a Hartzell constant speed propeller which gives the aircraft a top speed of 146 mph (236 kph).
The student pilot is doing the final checks, before stepping in the T-17, for his next flight.

A couple of T-17s is sitting waiting for maintenance and service.
Army Air Corps
The thirty two aircraft were split between the “Flyveskolen” (Flight School) which received fifteen, the “Hærens Flyve Tjeneste” (Army Air Corps) which received nine and the remaining eight were split between the various air bases as Station Flights.

In the Army Air Corps the T-17s were used in many different roles, including:
  • Forward Air Control (FAC)
  • Delivery/drops of supply to troops at forward locations
  • Recognisance
  • Artillery spotting
  • Camouflage inspections
  • Liaisons flights
  • Target towing

The T-17 high-wing construction and large canopy give great downward visibility from the cockpit, which was a great benefit in many of the roles the Army Air Corps flew.

The T-17 can be equipped with six hard points, three under each wing, and it can carry a total of 300 kg of payload. Among the weapons that can be attached to the hard points are up to 14 7.5’’ air-to-ground rockets, two Borfos Bantam wire-guided anti-tank missiles and various free-fall bombs. A number of live fire tests were conducted, but they showed that the T-17 was not a very stable weapons platform. It was decided to stop using it as a weapons delivery platform.

The high-wing and T-tail construction gives good ground clearance and the aircraft can be used on both grass and gravel. The aircraft does however have a relatively weak nose wheel construction and if it strikes a molehill or other small obstruction during take-off or landing, there is a high probability of the nose wheel collapsing.

In 2003 Vandel Air Base was closed and the Army Air Corps was disbanded at the same time. The Army Air Corps AS 550 Fennec helicopters were transferred to 724 Squadron in the RDAF, based at what is now known as Helicopter Wing Karup. The T-17s were handed over to the Flying School.

When the RDAF flight school (Flyveskolen) received its first fifteen T-17 Supporters it was located at Avnø Air Base. In 1993 Avnø Air Base was closed and the flight school was moved to Karup Air Base, which today is known as Helicopter Wing Karup.

As a primary trainer, the T-17 is a very forgiving plane which, due to great stability during all speeds, allows inexperienced pilots to make mistakes without bringing the aircraft into a critical situation.

The side-by-side cockpit layout enables the instructor pilot to monitor the student pilot during the entire flight and ensures good and easy communication.
The side-by-side cockpit is great for students and instructors.

Evaluation of the students
While the student pilots attend the Flyveskolen, they fly approximately twenty seven hours and twenty minutes in the T-17. Their total flight time depends on weather conditions and other factors that might prolong or shorten some flights.

The primary job of the Flyveskolen is not to teach the student pilots to fly. It is more of a selection process where the instructor pilots have to evaluate each student pilot and test if they are capable of completing the training in the USA following the Flyveskolen.

Not only does a student have to have the ability to learn a large amount of information in a short time, they also have to have the correct personality in order to fit in and function in one of the squadrons of the RDAF once they complete their training.

A modern glass cockpit
When originally designed by SAAB, the T-17 had very basic cockpit instrumentation. This was however upgraded in the T-17s delivered to the RDAF, largely to meet the demands set by the Army Air Corps with regards to communications equipment. Since delivery, the cockpits have been further upgraded in order to give the student pilots more representative modern instrumentation.

Now that all the RDAF F-16s have been upgraded to MLU standard, new C-130J-30 have been purchased and the soon-to-be-delivered SH-60 Seahawk helicopters arrive, the vast majority of the types used by the RDAF are equipped with modern glass cockpits. Plans have therefore been drawn up to upgrade the cockpit of the T-17s once again.

This time with a modern glass cockpit to better prepare the student pilots for the aircraft they will eventually fly. So far the upgrade is only in the planning stages and no firm decisions have been made.

Formation flying is rutine for the T-17 pilots.
A 10.000 flying hours sticker is seen on T-405, which it achived on
the 6th of November, 2013.

Baby Blue
For many years it has been a tradition that aircraft from the Flyveskolen, performs a flypast at Svinøkirke at sunset on 4 May in conjunction with the memorial service held to mark the Danish liberation during World War II. The fly-past consists of four aircraft flying over the church in Finger Four formation, before returning to perform a Missing Man routine to honour fallen allied pilots. The call sign for this formation is Baby Blue.

These fly-pasts inspired some of the instructor pilots to rehearse close formation flying when their daily duties allowed it and soon after the Flyveskolen was capable of displaying four aircraft in close formation at special events. In the mid-80s they were able to perform a small T-17 formation display.

A number of former F-104 Starfighter pilots, now instructors, wanted to take the concept further and together with a former F-100 Super Sabre pilot, they developed a show display programme. The programme was approved by the Tactical Air Command and in the following years the team, named Baby Blue of course, flew at RDAF Open House air shows and various other events. However, as the four instructor pilots left the Flyveskolen, the Baby Blue project came to a halt.

The move to Karup
In 1993, when the Flyvekolen moved to Karup, it coincided with the withdrawal of the F-35 Draken also based at Karup. This meant that a large number of ex-Draken pilots joined the Flyveskolen as instructors and they were keen to restart the Baby Blue project. One of the pilots originally involved in the Baby Blue project was now the Operational boss of the Flyveskolen and thus the project was revived.

The new instructor pilots had many new ideas for the display routine, but a number of them had to be abandoned when they realised that they could not take maneuverers flown in the Draken and transfer them directly to the T-17. They did however mange to put together a display routine that was far more advanced that the one flown in the 80’s.

The new routine was approved by the Tactical Air Command again and the Flyveskolen was once again able to supplement their solo T-17 display with a four ship formation team. Baby Blue is now a firm fixture at all Danish Air shows and even travel abroad for air shows when the opportunity arises.

Service and maintenance
In the forty years that the T-17s have been in RDAF service, they have accumulated over 200,000 flight hours. This milestone was reached in 2010 and was marked with a small ceremony at HW Karup on 7 May 2010 when most of the remaining T-17s were gathered. On the 6 November 2013, T-17 serial number T-405 was the first airframe to reach 10,000 flight hours.

However, there is a large spread in the number of flight hours that each T-17 has accumulated, the reason dating back to the time when the fleet was split between the Flight School and the Army Air Corps. Back then there were no common maintenance and rotation plan to even out the flight hours.
“The new routine was approved by the Tactical Air Command again and the Flyveskolen was once again able to supplement their solo T-17 display with a four ship formation team.”
The students and instructors walking back after another training session.

Ready for taxi. The first of three T-17’s is on the move.
Today all T-17s are maintained by a team of dedicated mechanics and technicians. For many years a private company, Danish Aerotech, had the job of maintaining the T-17 fleet in a hangar at HW Karup. Shortly before Christmas 2015 the company went bankrupt and closed down.

This meant that the RDAF were suddenly without maintainers for their T-17s. The Danish Material Command took over the responsibility for maintaining the T-17 fleet and they quickly hired all the former Danish Aerotech employees. As the bankruptcy happened just days before Christmas and the need for T-17s was low, it did not have a significant impact on the day-to-day operations of the Flight School or on the other air bases using the T-17s for station flights.

The two other RDAF bases, Fighter Wing Skrydstrup and Air Transport Wing Aalborg, typically have three T-17 as station flights. The technicians at the two bases are responsible for the daily maintenance and the fifty and one hundred flight hour’s checks.

Celebrating 40 years in service
When a T-17 is getting near the more complicated two hundred flight hours check it is flown back to HW Karup and swapped for a “fresh” T-17 which has just been through the two hundred hour check. This means that the flight hours are now spread evenly amongst all the airframes.

With the T-17s robust construction and relative low number of flight hours each year, they are scheduled to remain in service with the RDAF for many years to come.

To celebrate the T-17s 40th anniversary, a reception was held at the Flight School on the 11 September 2015. A number of special guests were invited including former instructors, former Army Air Corps pilots and the Danish and Swedish test pilots who first test flew the T-17 at Vandel Air Base.

During the reception the current boss of the Flight School, pilot name HIR, unveiled a special design to mark the occasion. It was applied to T-17 serial number T-401, the first T-17 delivered to the Royal Danish Air Force back in 1975.

FLYMAG would like to thank Sgt. Ole Jørgensen and the boss and instructors at the Flight School for their help in making this article possible.
Three ‘Baby Blue’ T-17’s flying in close formation.

#04 of 2016

The last issue of FLYMAG in 2016 contains articles from Turkish Army Aviation Command, Super Base Ørland, Luftstridsskolan in Malmen and more!

#03 of 2016

We look into the Polish exercise Anakonda ’16, as well as we take a closer look at the F-16 of the Royal Danish Air Force in this 3rd issue of FLYMAG in 2016.

NATO Air Policing – Baltikum

Baltic Air Policing

At bevare integriteten i luftrummet, har altid været et vigtigt mål inden for NATO alliancen.
FLYMAG tager her et kig ind på NATOs mission omkring overvågning og styring af luftrummet.
NATO Air Policing
At bevare integriteten i luftrummet, har altid været et vigtigt mål inden for NATO alliancen. Det er blevet udført som en kollektiv opgave, i fællesskab og kollektivt ved hjælp kampfly, en mission der er blevet navngivet “Air Policing”. Air Policing er en ren defensiv mission.

Siden 1970’erne har NATO etableret et omfattende system af luft overvågning og styring af luftrummet, samt Quick Reaction Alert midler i form af fighter jets, til at dække alle medlemslande i alliancen, også selvom de ikke selv har et luftforsvar.

Ved hjælp af radar, kontrol og rapportering centre, og Combined Air Operation Centre (CAOCs) sikrer alliancen, konstant overvågning og kontrol med lande i alliancens tildelte luftrum, 24 timer i døgnet, 365 dage om året.

NATO udnytter disse faciliteter til at reagere inden for sekunder ved lufttrafikhændelser, og krænkelser i de allieredes luftrum. Denne struktur af våbensystemer, kontrolcentre og procedurer omtales som NATO Integrated Air Defence System (NATINADS).
Up close, and personal. En italiensk Eurofighter under en tango QRA mission.

En norsk F-16 breaker væk, afsted på endnu en QRA mission.
Hjørnesten i alliancen
NATINADS har været, og er stadig en hjørnesten i alliancens solidaritet og samhørighed. De ansvarlige Allied Air Headquarters, som står for dette, er baseret i Izmir, Tyrkiet og Ramstein, Tyskland og deler Europa i to, et område syd for, og et nord for Alperne.

Allied Air Command Ramstein luft ansvarsområde er delt i to Air Policing Areas (APA):
  • APA 1 styres af den kombinerede Air Operation Centre (CAOC) Finderup, Danmark.
  • APA 2 styres af CAOC i Uedem, Tyskland.

NATO-medlemmer uden egen Air Policing aktiver bistås af andre NATO-medlemmer. Luxembourg er dækket af fightere fra Belgien, mens Slovenien og Albanien er omfattet af italienske og græske fly.

Starten på Baltic Air Policing
Siden marts 2004, hvor de baltiske lande blev medlem af NATO, har opgaven med at forsvare luftrummet over de baltiske lande været blevet gennemført på en fire-måneders rotation fra Lithuanian Air Force Air Base, nær den nordlige by Šiauliai. Normalt består en sådan udstationering af fire kampfly med mellem 50 og 110 support crew, og piloter.

For at sikre at udførelsen af Air Policing udføres på en sikker og professionel måde, var og er tilstrækkelig uddannelse stadig påkrævet, når NATO-nationer udstationerer deres aktiver på skift til Šiauliai Air Base, Litauen.

For at standardisere uddannelse på tværs af nationer, indførte Headquarters Allied Air Command Ramstein en række uddannelsestiltag kaldet Baltic Region Training Events (BRTE), for at drage nytte af erfarne flybesætninger udsendt til Šiauliai og tilbyde overlegen uddannelse for estiske, lettiske og litauiske luftstyrker og kontrol faciliteter.

De tre værtsnationer bidrager med 3,5 mio € om året, til dækning af udgifter. I 2012 afsatte alliancen 7 mio € til modernisering af Šiauliai flybasen fra Security Investment Programme.

Det er et krav at de nationer der er på vagt, har mindst 2 armerede fly, på hvad der hedder Readiness State 15, RS-15, hvilket betyder at de skal kunne være i luften på under 15 minutter fra alarmen går. Et normalt deployment består af mellem 50 og 110 personer, hvor man normalt har 7-8 piloter iblandt disse.

Dette crew går dog på skift i den 4 måneders lange udstationering, således at det ikke er de samme 50-110 mand der er udstationeret under hele perioden.

Målet for de deltagende lande, er at flyve så meget som muligt, hvor Norge som eksempel, havde som mål at flyve 400 timer på de 4 måneder de var udstationeret sidst på Šiauliai.

Dette er ikke meget forskelligt fra hvad de gør når de er hjemme i Norge, og NATO betaler ikke andet end blot det brændstof de bruger i QRA regi.
To norske F-16 med live våben, patruljerer over Šiauliai i Litauen.

“Amerikanerne øgede sin NATO-tilstedeværelse, for at øge styrken af Baltic Air Policing.
En koncentreret norsk pilot, er fokuseret på QRA missionen over baltikum.
I 2013 blev Baltic Air Policing deployment kaldt ind, da det svenske flyvevåben ikke var i stand til at reagere på et simuleret angreb fra russiske bombefly mod Stockholm.

Under Krim-krisen i marts 2014, udstationerede US Air Force yderligere seks F-15C Eagle fightere fra RAF Lakenheath luftbasen i det østlige England til Lithuanian Air Force Air Base nær Šiauliai.

Disse flys tilstedeværelse, forøgede den foreliggende opgave, der allerede omfattede fire amerikanske F 15C-Eagle fly. Amerikanerne øgede sin NATO-tilstedeværelse, for at øge styrken af Baltic Air Policing missionen. I maj 2014 udvidede NATO Air Policing over baltikum med endnuluftbase. Denne gang i Estland, med flybasen Ämari nær Tallinn. RDAF var de første der blev udsendt til Estland.

Foruden dette, blev det polske luftvåbens QRA enhed på Malbork Air Base, også forstærket af den franske luftvåben, ligeledes i maj 2014, både med Mirage 2000C, og Rafale fightere, som alle, inkl. den polske QRA enhed, indgik i Baltic Air Policing missionen.

Med etableringen af Air Policing basen i Estland, udvidede man også antallet af nationer på Šiauliai, fra at have en nation, til to nationer, hvor begge nationer var til stede med hver 4 fly.

Fra omkring april 2014, og frem til 1. september 2015, var der konstant udstationeret NATO nationer, med 4 fly hver, samt ground-crew og piloter, på Malbork i Polen, Ämari i Estland, samt 2 nationer på Šiauliai i Litauen.

NATO valgte pr. 1 september at nedskalere dette fra at have 16 fly parat 24/7, til 8, henholdsvis fire på Ämari i Estland, og fire på Šiauliai i Litauen. Valget om at skære Baltic Air Policing ned med 50 procent, er ret kontroversiel, og er sandsynligvis grundet omkostningsbesparelse, da det russiske militæres luft aktivitet i regionen forbliver på det højeste det har været inden for dette årti.

Polen bevarer dog en af sine egne MiG-29 Fulcrum air defence fighter enheder på Malbork, som tildels er til rådighed som back-up for Baltic Air Policing, da NATO-medlemmerne Estland, Letland og Litauen har ikke nogle jagerfly af deres egne.

Mange NATO lande har bidraget med fly og personel igennem de 11 år, hvor Baltic Air Policing har eksisteret, hvor lande som Belgien, Danmark, England, Norge, Tyrkiet, Rumænien, Canada, USA, Spanien, Polen, Frankrig, Portugal, Tyskland, Tjekkiet, Holland, Italien alle har deltaget, og nu senest Ungarn.

Dette er første gang Ungarn tager Baltic Air Policing rollen. Ungarn, og deres JAS 39 Gripen, overtog rollen fra de norske F-16ere, og de italienske Typhoons på Šiauliai. Italien havde som den første, og måske eneste nation, gennemført 2 hold i træk, hvilket førte til en 6 måneders udstationering af deres Typhoons på Šiauliai. En stor bedrift, og dedikation til NATO af Italien.

Udstationeringen i Litauen kan måske lægge et ekstra pres på det ungarske luftvåben, som har haft to JAS 39 Gripen crash på det sidste, som mest sandsynligt har været på grund af enten forkert vedligeholdelse, eller pilotfejl. Taget dette i mente, og nedskaleringen fra to nationer på Šiauliai, til en, og ingen nationer på Malbork, vil uden tvivl lægge et ekstra pres på skuldrene af det ungarske luftvåben.

Nogle vil være bekymrede, for hvad der virker som en mærkelig beslutning fra NATO, med at nedskalere sin tilstedeværelse på et tidspunkt, hvor Rusland har optrappet sin flåde og luftvåben tilstedeværelse i Baltikum over de sidste par år.
To italienske Eurofightere, og to norske F-16 flyver i tæt formation over Šiauliai basen.

Rutinemæssige QRA missioner
Mens NATO-jetfly rutinemæssigt foretager QRA missioner, for at afværge enhver potentiel indtrængning i de allieredes luftrum, har alliancen oplevet en støt stigning i russiske militærflys aktivitet siden 2012.

I de første 3 måneder af 2015 har NATO observeret en moderat stigning i russiske militære flyvninger, til sammenligning med samme periode i 2014.

I 2014 interceptede de allierede fly, russiske fly over 400 gange, 50 procent oftere end i 2013. Over 150 af disse interceptions blev udført af fly fra NATOs Baltic Air Policing mission. Et tal som helt sikkert vil være noget nær det samme, eller måske endda højere for 2015, hvilket i første omgang, er langt højere end de 30-50 interceptions man havde i de første mange år af Baltic Air Policing.

Den stærke alliance
“NATO er en stærk alliance, som fortsat er forpligtet til et kollektivt forsvar og vil fortsætte med at udføre fredstids missionen Air Policing.” siger brigadegeneral Kevin A. Huyck, Deputy Chief of Staff Operations på HQ AIRCOM.

“Baltic Air Policing missionen analyseres løbende og omstruktureres til at forblive klar. Når jeg ser på disse state-of-the-art supersoniske fighter jets, og de professionelle og erfarne flybesætninger, har jeg mere end tillid til at NATO Air Policings kapaciteter kan klare opgaven.”

Da den nye Baltic Air Policing struktur blev annonceret, var NATO embedsmænd ivrige for at understrege, at de ikke ser det som en reduktion, men snarere en rationalisering af missionen for balancere antallet af NATO fighter jets, der er nødvendige for at holde truslen fra Rusland for døren:

“Alliancen tager sit ansvar for at garantere sikkerheden for de allieredes luftrum meget alvorligt – når et fly flyver tæt på eller flyver ind i et NATO-medlemmernes luftrum uden forudgående koordination eller planlægning, kan både den kommercielle og militære lufttrafik komme i fare. NATO jetfly identificerer, opfanger, og eskorterer rutinemæssigt sådanne fly som en beskyttelsesforanstaltning.

Ændringer i Baltic Air Policing Mission kapaciteten, udgør ikke en ændring i effektiviteten af denne mission. Alliancen har en passende og tilstrækkelig kapacitet til at sikre en fælles standard for sikkerhed inden for alle de allieredes luftrum.”

To norske F-16 på patrulje over baltikum, på endnu en NATO QRA mission.
“Ændringer i Baltic Air Policing Mission kapaciteten, udgør ikke en ændring i effektiviteten af denne mission.”
To italienske Eurofightere, og to norske F-16 flyver i tæt formation.

Fra 1. september 2015 består Baltic Air Policing således af fire JAS 39 fra Ungarn udstationeret på Šiauliai i Litauen, og fire Eurofighter Typhoons fra Tyskland, udstationeret på Ämari i Estland, med back-up fra det polske luftvåbens MiG-29 på Malbork.

Danmark har været udstationeret hele 5 gange i forbindelse med Baltic Air Policing, hvor vores F-16 har været i Litauen fire gange, og i Estland en enkelt gang.

En stor tak til NATO, og i særdeleshed, Norwegian Air Force, Italian Air Force, samt Capt. Ieva Gulbinienė Public Affairs Officer Lithuanian Air Force for muliggørelse af denne artikel.

Anatolian Eagle – 2015

Anatolian Eagle 2015

Anatolian Eagle kan sammenlignes med Red Flag – et simuleret krigsmiljø, som løbende stiger i sværhed ved hjælp af den normale
byggesten tilgang, hvor kompleksiteten af hver mission vokser i løbet af de to uger, som træningsperioden varer.
Anatolian Eagle
Store multinationale luft øvelser, hvor kombineret luftoperationer kan udføres mod strategiske, og taktiske mål, giver gode uddannelsesmuligheder for alle deltagere.

Men kravene til at være vært for sådan en type øvelse er så store, at der kun er tre træningscentre i verden, hvor de kan finde sted. Af disse er kun et placeret uden for Nordamerika, hvilket er Anatolske Eagle Training Centre (AETC) i Tyrkiet.

Den årlige internationale øvelse, Anatolian Eagle, afholdt på Turkish Air Force 3. Main Jet Base, Konya Air Base, fandt sted i midten af juni. Med de fortsatte kampe mod ISIS i Syrien og Irak, konflikten i Yemen mellem shiamuslimske Houthi oprørere og pro-regeringsstyrker sammen med den konstante uro i Libyen så tæt på Tyrkiets dørtrin, er behovet for at uddanne og samarbejde med NATO og dets mellemøstlige allierede vigtigere end det nogensinde tidligere har været.

Den første Anatolian Eagle øvelse blev afholdt i 2001, efter at behovet for at Tyrkiet fik egne uddannelsesfaciliteter, via modernisering af det tyrkiske luftvåbens fighter flåde, opstod. Efter konflikterne i Bosnien og Kosovo, fik det tyrkiske luftvåben erfaring, og nåede et sådant niveau, at de kunne være vært for deres egne øvelser og tilbyde uddannelse til andre allierede luftstyrker.

Red Flag er inspirationen og grundlaget for Anatolian Eagle øvelserne, og det er derfor ikke underligt at faciliteterne på basen, som f.eks. spisesal og operations bygningerne, er på samme niveau som dem ved Red Flag eller Maple Flag øvelser.

Anatolian Eagle afholdes to til fire gange om året, hvoraf de første er klassificeret som nationale øvelser, mens det tyrkiske luftvåben inviterer allierede kræfter med til en af øvelserne, for at give dem mulighed for at slutte sig til øvelsen på Konya Air Base.

En F-15C fra 493th Fighter Squadron baseret på RAF Lakenheath taxier ud til start,
mens han wingman allerede på vej i luften.
En F4-E udstyret med det AGM-142 Popeye missil under take-off til endnu
en mission under Anatolian Eagle 2015.

Den europæiske Red Flag
Anatolian Eagle kan sammenlignes med Red Flag – et simuleret krigsmiljø, som løbende stiger i sværhed ved hjælp af den normale byggesten tilgang, hvor kompleksiteten af hver mission vokser i løbet af de to uger, som træningsperioden varer.

Dette giver flybesætninger den bedste uddannelse, og den bedste mulighed for at forberede dem på de virkelige konflikter, som er at finde ude i verden. Scenarierne har både blå og røde forces, som kæmper imod hinanden.

Det tyrkiske luftvåben beskriver selv her formålet med øvelsen:
  • At træne fightere i at vinde.
  • Til systematisk at teste og evaluere status på fighterens kampberedskab, samt styre det taktiske trænings fremskridt.
  • At opbygge et vidensgrundlag, for at forske i forbedring af taktiske luftkampe.
  • For at gøre opbygge erfaring, til at få fighter elementer hos det tyrkiske luftvåben til at nå de militære mål på kortest tid, og med et minimum af ressourcer og kræfter.
  • Udarbejde definitionen af operationelle krav, forsynings-, forsknings- og udviklingsaktiviteter.
  • Oprette et uddannelsesmiljø, som tilfredsstiller kravene fra det tyrkiske luftvåben.
  • For at understøtte test af eksisterende, under udvikling, samt fremtidige våbensystemer.

Realistiske træningsområder
Deltagerne ved Anatolian Eagle har adgang til et træningsområde inden for 300 km, hvor området er beliggende mellem Konya og Ankara, hvilket holder transittiden til et minimum. Inden for dette træningsområde er der tre luft-til-jord ranges, henholdsvis Tersakan, Koc og Karapmar, som alle indeholder jord-til-luft trusler fra SA-6, SA- 8, SA-11 og ZSU 23-4 systemer, som leverer et realistisk miljø for øvelses scenarierne.

Konya Air Base har alle de faciliteter, du ville forvente af et verdensklasse træningsanlæg, men måske er dets bedste funktion den geografiske placering af Konya Air Base, som giver uovertruffen godt vejr, og dermed den bedste mulighed for så få aflyste missioner, som muligt.

Under missionerne sendes al flight information tilbage til command and controlcenter via ACMI (Air Combat Manoeuvring Instrumentation) i realtid. NATO E-3A AWACS, samt det tyrkiske luftvåbens Boeing 737 AEW&C Peace Eagle giver dataforbindelser til andre fly, således at de kan give oplysninger tilbage på mål, placering af venlige, og fjendtlige styrker i området og til at give taktisk information til at besejre de fjendtlige styrker, som så bliver delt til de allieredes fly.

Efter endt missionen, bliver flybesætninger fra både blå og røde forces, debriefed i det store briefing lokale, for at samle erfaringer, og for at forbedre deres færdigheder.

Tre F-16 fra Pakistan Air Force holder klar til at det bliver deres tur til at starte,
mens den fjerde har fået lov til at taxi ud på banen til take-off.
“Under missionerne sendes al flight information tilbage til command and controlcenter.”
Vejen mellem øst og vest
Tyrkiet, der ofte omtales som vejen mellem øst og vest, er let tilgængelige for luftstyrker fra både Europa og Mellemøsten. Luftvåben, som måske ikke normalt er i stand til at træne sammen, får her chancen for at gøre det.

Udenlandsk deltagelse til Anatolian Eagle 15-2 inkluderede Boeing E-3A AWACS fra NATO Airborne Early Warning Force (NAEWF), som er hjemmehørende i Geilenkirchen, Tyskland, men som til dagligt bruger Konya Air Base, som en forward deployment base.

Med de fleste deltagere kommende fra de sydlige NATO-lande og i Mellemøsten, har Anatolian Eagle altid garanteret at tiltrække de vigtigste luftvåben fra de omkringliggende lande. Med den seneste konflikt i Yemen mellem shiamuslimske Houthi oprørere og pro-regeringsstyrker, har den Saudi ledede koalition den seneste tid været involveret i luftangreb mod oprørerne.

Koalitionen består af de Forenede Arabiske Emirater, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan, Marokko, Sudan, Egypten og Pakistan, hvor det kun var det pakistanske luftvåben der var i stand til at deltage i denne Anatolian Eagle øvelse.

Det pakistanske luftvåben deltog med fire F-16BMs og to F-16As fra 9. Squadron (Griffins) baseret på Mushaf Air Base. Logistikken blev leveret af tre C-130Es fra 6 Squadron (Entelopes), som er baseret på Nur Khan – Islamabad International Lufthavn.

Royal Air Force medbragte seks Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4s, som havde sammensat et team på 20 piloter fra 11. Squadron baseret på RAF Coningsby sammen med omkring 150 ground supportcrew, herunder ingeniører og kommunikation specialister.

US Air Force medbragte tolv McDonnell Douglas F-15Cs fra 493th Fighter Squadron baseret på RAF Lakenheath, og hvor den sidste udenlandske deltager, kom fra det spanske luftvåben, der deltog med seks McDonnell Douglas EF-18A (M) Hornets fra ALA15 baseret på Zaragoza.

“Turkish Air Force stillede med over 45
F-16 fly
til øvelsen.”
En C-130 fra Pakistan Air Force ankommer på øvelsens sidste dag, for at hente personel
og udstyr, inden turen går tilbage til Pakistan for de seks F-16 som Pakistan Air Force havde med til øvelsen.
En EF-18A fra det spanske luftvåben under take-off.

Türk Hava Kuvvetleri – THvK
Hjemmeholdet, det tyrkiske luftvåben (Türk Hava Kuvvetleri – THvK), deltog blandt andet med følgende frontline fighter enheder:
  • 132 Filo “Dagger (Hançer)”
  • 141 Filo “Kurt (Wolf)”
  • 143 Filo “Öncel”
  • 151 Filo “Bronze (Tunc)”
  • 152 Filo “Raider (Akinci)”
  • 161 Filo “Bat (Yarasa)”
  • 162 Filo “Harpun (Zipkin)”
  • 182 Filo “Hawk (Atmaca)”
  • 191 Filo “Cobra (Kobra)“
  • 192 Filo” Tiger (Kaplan)“

Alle opererer forskellige versioner af Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon. Turkish Air Force stillede med over 45 F-16 fly til øvelsen. De mange tyrkiske F-16 blev trukket fra hele deres store flåde af Block 30, 40, 50 og 50 + fly fra en række forskellige eskadriller.

De mest bemærkelsesværdige, var de F-16 Block 50+ fly udstyret med konforme brændstoftanke (CFT), og to sædet D version, som har den store firkantede “rygsøjle”.

Det er de nyeste tilføjelser til Turkish Air Force, som er blevet produceret lokalt i Tyrkiet, af Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) under Peace Onyx IV aftalen, hvor den sidste blev leveret i 2012.

Turkish Air Force stillede også med McDonnell Douglas F-4E 2020 Terminators fløjet af besætninger fra:
  • 111 Filo “Panther (Panter)”
  • 171 Filo “Pirates (Korsan)”

Det billige alternativ
De opgraderede F-4E 2020 er i stand til at bruge en lange række moderne våben, herunder laserguidede bomber, og AGM-65 Maverick missiler. Det er stadig en formidabel platform trods den er betydeligt mindre adræt, end mere moderne typer, hvor tilføjelsen af Rafaels Litening III avancerede målsøgnings pod også øger dens effektivitet. Under øvelsen var et par F4-Es udstyret med AGM-142 Popeye missil.

Der blev fløjet to missioner hver dag (Eagle 1 og 2) under øvelsen, med en morgen mission og en eftermiddag mission, hver med op til 60 fly. Under missionerne, gav det tyrkiske luftvåben støtte ved hjælp af air tankning, via deres KC- 135 lufttankere, og taktisk transport med C-130 Hercules og CASA 235s.

Den hjemlige SAR enhed fra Konya Air Base, 135 Filo, med sine Eurocopter AS532UL Cougar helikoptere deltog ikke aktivt i øvelsen, men forblev på CSAR standby i hele perioden, hvis noget skulle gå galt under missionerne.

Værdien af øvelser som Anatolian Eagle kan ikke overvurderes. Tyrkiets beliggenhed, på grænsen mellem Europa og Asien, gør det let tilgængeligt for deltagere fra begge kontinenter at deltage.

Med fremragende faciliteter som dem, der tilbydes af Red Flag i USA eller Maple Flagi Canada, med deres sofistikerede trusselbaserede scenarier, og med svindende forsvarsbudgetter i disse tider, er det let at se, hvordan Tyrkiet og deres Anatolian Eagle øvelse kan være et attraktiv alternativ for nationer, der ønsker fremragende uddannelse i luftkamp, til en brøkdel af de omkostninger det koster at sende deres enheder til Nordamerika.
“Værdien af øvelser som Anatolian Eagle
kan ikke overvurderes.
En ikke helt normal F-16 som vi kender den. Denne F-16D Block 50+ fra det tyrkiske luftvåben (Türk Hava Kuvvetleri – THvK), har både den store firkantede “rygsøjle”, og konforme brændstoftanke (CFT).

Northern Edge – 2015

Northern Edge 2015 – a large-scale exercise

Northern Edge can trace its roots back to 1975, with exercise Jack Frost (1975-1979), then Brim Frost (1981-1989),
Arctic Warrior (1991-1992). The first Northern Edge exercise was held in 1993.
Northern Edge 2015
Large-scale exercises and the opportunity to test experimental equipment between different branches of the US armed forces, including the US Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force, is a rare opportunity these days.

In June 2015, the Alaskan Command gave around 6000 troops from all these branches just such an opportunity during exercise Northern Edge 2015 (NE15). In Alaska, the participants had to train interservice cooperation between all the different branches, as well as working with units from bases outside Alaska.

Even though it was an “air-centred” exercise, four US Navy ships as well as troops and ground vehicles joined close to 200 aircraft during the two week long exercise during June of 2015. The host, Alaskan Command, described this as:

“Alaska’s leading joined training exercise, designed to train operations, techniques and procedures, and to increase the interoperability between the service branches.”

An F-15C during takeoff from JBER.
This “ZZ”-bird is usually based at Kadena AFB in Japan.
“Even though it was an “air-centred” exercise, four US Navy ships as well as troops and ground vehicles joined close to 200 aircraft.”
Roots dating back to 1975
Northern Edge can trace its roots back to 1975, with exercise Jack Frost (1975-1979), then Brim Frost (1981-1989), Arctic Warrior (1991-1992). The first Northern Edge exercise was held in 1993.

Alaskan Command is unique in the sense that it is made up of units from many different branches, who together defends America’s “Last frontier”. Even though they report directly to the US Northern Command, Alaskan Command units routinely work with the geographically close US Pacific Command units.

While foreign units routinely participate in the smaller, compared to Northern Edge, Red Flag Alaska exercise, Northern Edge is only for American units and troops.

Usually Northern Edge takes place every other year, but it was cancelled in 2013 due to the sequestration, which put a stop to all non-essential exercise due to the financial crises facing the USA at the time. This meant a four year gap before the next NE was held in 2015.

Ground breaking technology changes fast, and NE is a prime opportunity to test and validate current and future hardware and software, in a “close-to-reality” combat environment. More than a dozen high-end experiments and simulations were planned during NE15, including a complete failure of the GPS system, and a major software test on the F-16.

The 49th state
Large scale radar/anti-radar and electronic countermeasures training can be conducted at the vast Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex (JPARC) where NE15 took place.

It is not necessary to be in the 49th state in order to participate in NE15. One Alaskan Command press release stated: “NE15 is the largest military exercise planned in Alaska this year, with real and virtual participants from all over the USA, practicing together with real players”.

Planning for the exercise began one year before the exercise took place. Identifying different goals and experiments were done early, and participants committed themselves to the exercise soon after. Not all participants were military organisations. A number of civilian contractors were present to test, validate or showcase their military hardware.

To cover all scenarios, and give the participants the opportunity to achieve their goals, a couple of large training areas in Alaska were used.

The entire JPARC airspace covers around 157.000 square kilometres over land in the southern and central part of Alaska, as well as a separate area of about 130.000 square kilometres over the Gulf Of Alaska (GOA) were used during NE15. Adding to this, a special corridor between the two airspaces were set up by the FAA, so the participating aircraft could travel from one airspace to the other, without getting into conflict with civilian traffic.

The participation of US Navy submarines attracted the attention of US Navy’s fixed wing patrol aircraft as well as helicopters launched from three destroyers.

A Temporary Maritime Activities Area (TMAA) was set up off the coast of Alaska. Inside the TMAA, assets hunting for the participating submarines could drop sonar buoys.

A lot of residents in Alaska depend on the ocean, not only to make a living, but also as part of their cultural heritage.
When flying in the newest and most advanced fighter in the USAF inventory,
then you have to look cool, even when you have the visor up.

“The Alaskan Command is proud of its environmental conservation, and will go to great lengths to minimise the damage to the environment.
Several units had made the trip from Japan to Alaska.
Here are two F-15C from Kadena AFB, Japan, before it was their turn to get some jet fuel.
This factor meant that the Navy worked very hard to communicate how the exercise would impact the environment of Alaska as little as possible. Almost 1200 sonar buoys were dropped, all of which emit acoustic noise, which could impact the environment.
Here are some snippets from the Alaskan Command press release regarding the protection of the environment:

“Environmental protection is an integrated part of the exercise.

… The Alaskan Command is proud of its environmental conservation, and will go to great lengths to minimise the damage to the environment.

… Previous Northern Edge exercises were analysed in US Navy 2011 Gulf of Alaska Final Impact Statement (EIS).

… TMAA was designed to avoid critical habitats, and even though it is not possible to avoid all fish or marine habitats, activities are rare and spread out over the entire TMAA. US Navy’s training activities follows an extensive set of rules and regulations, meant to minimise the potential risk for marine life. US Navy has conducted Northern Edge and other large exercises in the Gulf of Alaska for many years without significant damage to the environment.

For future exercises, starting from 2016, the US Navy is currently working on a supplement to the original 2011 EIS, and seeks a renewal of the permissions from the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act.”

The US Army and US Air Force have recently updated their EIS for the JPARC.

Joint Base Elemndorf-Richardson
The two large US Air Force bases Eielson AFB and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson were used during the exercise, and supported the flying assets during NE15.

Several US Army bases were also used during the exercise, including Fort Greely and Fort Wainwright, which was used for a large paradrop using C-17s. A Tactical Air Operations Centre (TAOC) was set up at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER), close to the town of Anchorage.

JBER is geographically located closer to the Gulf of Alaska than Eielson AFB, which is located 600 km to the north, close to the town of Fairbanks. Most for the US Navy flying assets were therefore base at JBER. Usually most of the tactical flying assets are based at Eielson AFB during large-scale exercises, as it shortens the flight time between the base and the airspace over JPARC. During NE15, the flying operations were split between the TMAA area over the Gulf of Alaska and the over-land area of JPARC.
It was all branches of the armed services, who participated in Northern Edge 2015 exercise. Here’s a USMC KC-130J for example.

Two VFA-154 “Black Knights” from NAS Lemoore is waiting for their wingmen
to finish, so it’ll be their turn to get some additional jet fuel from the tanker.
US Navy
US Navy P-8 Poseidons and P-3 Orions operated from JBER, together with E-2D Hawkeyes while VX-9 Vampires were there with their F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler test aircraft. They were joined by a couple of active west coast Navy Hornet squadrons, as well as numerous F-15C and F-16C/D’s from the US Air Force test units at Eglin AFB, Nellis AFB and Edwards AFB.

Also at JBER was the Japan based F-15C from Kadena and the US Marine Corps VMGR-152 with their KC-130 from Iwakuni. All participating F-22 Raptors (one squadron from Langley AFB and two squadrons resident to JBER), and the E-3 Sentry AWACS aircraft also operated out of JBER during NE15.

Besides all these military aircraft, a number of civilian aircraft also flew from JBER during the exercise. Among these were Hawker Hunter’s from ATAC and L-3/Flight Internationals Learjets acting as hostile aircraft and target towing. Larger civilian aircraft, like Northrop Grumman’s rare BAC-1-11 test bed also flew out of JBER.

Eielson AFB
Eielson AFB further north had more US aircraft from Japan stationed, including US Marine Corps F/A-18D Hornets from VMFA(AW)-242 from MCAS Iwakuni and US Air Force 13th Fighter Squadron F-16Cs from Misawa AFB. F-15E Strike Eagles from 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour-Johnson AFB and VMAQ-2 EA-6B Prowlers from MCAS Cherry Point also flew from Eielson AFB.

To accommodate the long mission, a local Tanker Task Force (TTF) were established and run from the base. This TTF had four KC-10’s and ten KC-135’s, which rotated between the different training sorties.

It was common for the TTF to have 7-9 tankers airborne for each sortie. US Air Force 18th Aggressor Squadron, who is based at Eielson, played the role as Red Air during the exercise.

Three large civilian aircraft, a Falcon, a Sabreliner and a Cessna Caravan, participating in the exercise also flew from the base. Their mission was to test new equipment.

In addition to all the aircrafts based in Alaska, a number of other aircrafts also participated in NE15, but flying directly from their home bases in the continental USA. B-2 Spirits from Whiteman AFB, RQ-4 and U-2 reconnaissance aircrafts from Beale AFB, B-52’s from Barksdale and B-1B’s from Dyess AFB, were all part of NE15 while flying from their home bases. Satellites and other space-based assets were also controlled from outside Alaska.

“TTF has four KC-10’s and ten KC-135’s.
A civil aggressor, in the form of a Hawker Hunter from ATAC, also participated in the exercise.
An AWACS E-3C Sentry from Kadena AFB taxis out for another mission.

The good and warm summer
Thanks to an uncharacteristic clear and warm weather, NE15 had fantastic flying conditions, which were far better than usual – at least for the first week of the exercise.

During the second week, some areas and bases were hit, more or less severe, by smoke from some of the many forest fires that hit Alaska over the summer.

During the summer of 2015, Alaska had around 250-300 simultaneous forest fires, which did affect the flying during the second week of the exercise.

NE15 took place around the summer solstice, which meant close to 20 hours of daylight each day, giving the exercise an extra dimension with that many daylight hours.

NE15 gave thousands of US military personnel valuable inter-service training. Groundbreaking technologies were tested, already validated technologies were improved and large groups of aircrafts worked together over the training areas in Alaska.

NE15 not only sharpened the edge of the US military, it also tested equipment that will be used in future military operations.

A big “Thank you” to Capt. Anastasia Wasem, Director, Public Affairs Alaskan Command, Capt. Tania Bryan, USAFR Director, Joint Information Bureau and Maj. Elizabeth Magnusson, USAFR for making this article possible.