The second CMV-22B flies!
The second US Navy CMV-22B Osprey, BuNo 169436, was pictured by Amarillo Aviation (see his very nice Flickr profile) during a test flight from the Bell-Boeing plant in Amarillo (TX) on 21 May 2020.
As reported before, the US Navy is planning 39 Carrier Onboard Delivery (COD) Ospreys that will replace the venerable C-2A Greyhound. The Greyhounds should be retired by 2024. The first COD Osprey was 169435 and made its first flight on 19 December 2019.
The US Navy Osprey will start operating with Fleet Logistics Multi Mission Wing (COMVRMWING) and its first squadron, Fleet Logistics Multi-Mission Squadron (VRM) 30, at NAS North Island (CA). The wing will get two additional CMV-22B squadrons under its command: VRM-40 and VRM-50.
Will Open Skies go on?
On 22 May 2020, the United States has submitted a notice of its decision to withdraw from the Treaty on Open Skies to the Treaty Depositaries and to all other States Parties to the Treaty.
The Treaty on Open Skies, which was signed during 1992, has currently 34 signatory states with numerous dedicated aircraft. It establishes a programme of unarmed aerial surveillance flights over the entire territory of its participants. The treaty is designed to enhance mutual understanding and confidence by giving all participants, regardless of size, a direct role in gathering information about military forces and activities of concern to them.
Aviation friend and neutral Open Source Intelligence Specialist Steffan Watkins has stated multiple times that this has nothing to do with the Open Skies Treaty itself but is more about politics and propaganda. He recently stated that it is a constant race to see who can out-dupe the most people.
Anyhow, the US have stated that, along with their allies and partners, have lived up to their commitments and obligations under the Treaty. Russia has flagrantly and continuously violated the Treaty in various ways for years. This is not a story exclusive to just the Treaty on Open Skies, unfortunately, for Russia has been a serial violator of many of its arms control obligations and commitments. (Also reffering to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. The US formally withdrew from the INF treaty on 2 August 2019).
Despite the Open Skies Treaty’s aspiration to build confidence and trust by demonstrating through unrestricted overflights that no party has anything to hide, Russia has consistently acted as if it were free to turn its obligations off and on at will, unlawfully denying or restricting Open Skies observation flights whenever it desires. Russia has refused access to observation flights within a 10-kilometer corridor along its border with the Russian-occupied Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, thereby attempting to advance false Russian claims that these occupied territories are independent states. Russia’s designation of an Open Skies refueling airfield in Crimea (Ukraine), is similarly an attempt to advance its claim of purported annexation of the peninsula, which the US does not and will never accept. Russia has also illegally placed a restriction on flight distance over Kaliningrad, despite the fact that this enclave has become the location of a significant military build-up that Russian officials have suggested includes short-range nuclear-tipped missiles targeting NATO.
In 2019, Russia unjustifiably denied a shared US and Canada observation flight over a large Russian military exercise. In a separate joint statement of the Foreign Ministries of France, Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Italy, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden was stated that they regret the announcement by the US Government of its intention to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty. With the note that they share their concerns about implementation of the Treaty clauses by Russia.
To be continued.
Over a year ago (*), Scramble Facebook News reported about the Hongdu / Nanchang K-8 acquisition by Angola.
At that time a Hongdu / Nanchang K-8 showed the markings of the Força Aérea Nacional de Angola (FANA, Angolan Air Force). Scramble research revealed that the FANA most probably ordered four K-8's (with an option for four more) with the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) in early 2018. They paid some USD 52 million to AVIC for the initial order, which includes spare parts, logistics, and instructor-/technician-training.
The China (Hongdu / Nanchang) and Pakistan (PAC) developed Hongdu JL-8 (Nanchang JL-8) trainer / light attack aircraft, also known as the Karakorum-8 or just K-8 will most probably be used by the FANA as a lead-in trainer for the acquired former Indian Air Force Su-30K/KNs (**) and its small existing fleet of Su-27s. But the Karakorum could also serve as a light attack aircraft as well as replacement or compliment to the eldery fleet of FANA L-39C Albatros'.
Our vast contributor Alan Warnes now found out that the FANA increased their order. They have already taken delivery of six K-8Ws through 2019. Another six are set to be delivered through 2020. So the order of eight has become twelve aircraft.
Scramble already processed serials I-61, I-62 and this I-65 in its databases. Please give us an update if you have some additional sightings of these exclusive K-8Ws.
Unique! SEVEN of eleven US aircraft carriers underway
USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) has completed sea trials after its annual repair period and ahead of its spring patrol in the Western Pacific. Reagan is expected to begin its Western Pacific patrol soon.
The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (CSG) remains in port in Guam. The outbreak of COVID-19 on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) has received international attention.
The Eisenhower CSG is underway in the North Arabian Sea.
The Nimitz CSG is in the Southern California Operating Areas conducting a composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX).
USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) and USS Essex (LHD-2) are also underway in the Southern California Operating Areas.
The Harry S. Truman CSG remains underway. It is within the U.S. Fleet Forces Command area of responsibility and operating off the coast of Virginia
USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) is underway in the Virginia Capes Operating Areas.
The Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and embarked 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) are in the Persian Gulf.
US Customs and Border Protection will get two additional Beechcraft King Air 350CERs
On 20 May 2020, Textron Aviation Inc. was awarded a contract for two additional Beechcraft King Air 350CER turboprop aircraft for the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations (AMO).
Both aircraft will get mission modifications by Sierra Nevada Corporation before entering the fleet that already contains 23 other King Air 350s.
The duo Multi-role Enforcement Aircraft (MEA) aircraft that have a range of up to six hours flying time and will be equipped with a range of active and passive sensors, will be used to safeguard the United States homeland as part of the coordinated application of CBP’s aviation and maritime law enforcement resources.
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The fleet of CERs will assist both ground and marine agents to detect, interdict and prevent acts of terrorism as well as the unlawful movement of people, illegal drugs and other contraband toward or across the borders of the United States. The aircraft are equipped with technical collection equipment and satellite communications capabilities that can be deployed for ground interdiction operations, air-to-air intercept operations and medium-range maritime patrols. The King Airs are operated by a crew of four, including two sensor operators who employ the mission equipment and coordinate the information flow to the ground.
The Beechcraft King Air 350CER aircraft is an extended range version of the King Air 350i twin-engine turboprop aircraft configured with an optional cargo door, resulting in enhanced mission flexibility.
RAF Marham-based 617 squadron ready to deploy HMS Queen Elizabeth
Early June 2020, the "Dambusters" will deploy to the newest UK aircraft carrier. It is reported that the whole squadron will leave home-base Marham in a first-of to understand how a complete squadron can function on the ship and operate in a maritime environment on a day-to-day basis.
The deployment is seen as a next phase for the Lightning force in the journey to declaring initial operating capability maritime at the end of the year.
The Dambusters crew and supporting personnel will be placed in quarantine due to COVID-19 before the deployment to ensure that they do not pass the virus to the crew of the carrier, which has already had a period of isolation at sea.
During the isolation period, the squadron will continue to prepare for their deployment with routine maintenance on the aircraft and flying activity at RAF Marham (including night operations from 27-30 May). The weekend of 30-31 May will also be filled with flying activities.
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