MRTT arrived in The Netherlands
On 30 June 2020, at 14:50 hrs (local time), the first MRTT for the NATO Multinational MRTT Fleet (MMF) arrived at Eindhoven air base (The Netherlands).
The first of eight Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft ordered by the MMF was accepted on 29 June 2020 and ferried to The Netherlands one day later.
The A330-243MRTT, serial T-055 (construction number 1911, first flight 21 January 2019 as EC-336), will enter operational service within the MMF, which consists of The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Norway, Germany, Belgium and Czechia. Five aircraft will be based at Eindhoven and three at nearby Köln (Germany). T-055 flew 67 flight hours and 33 minutes before delivery.
The US Navy’s only special projects patrol squadron has moved to a new base, retired its final three P-3 Orions and will convert to P-8A Poseidon.
Special Projects Patrol Squadron (VPU) 2 "Wizards" (assigned tailcode "SP", but this one is not carried) which flew three modified P-3C Orion secretive reconnaissance aircraft. The squadron will transition to to P-8A during summer 2020. The three P-3SPA Orions, 160285 (construction number 185-5648), 160290 (185-5653) and 160292 (185-5655) all moved to the 309th Aerospace Maintenance And Regeneration Group (AMARG) at Davis Monthan (AZ) by June 2020.
VPU-2, commander by the Commander Patrol Reconnaissance Wing TWO, moved from MCAS Kaneohe Bay, MCB Hawaii (HI) to NAS Jacksonville (FL) on 1 April 2020. It was the Navy’s last of four P-3 squadron to depart Kaneohe Bay. The other three squadrons - regular Patrol Squadron (VP) 4 "Skinny Dragons" ('YD-xxx'), VP-9 "Golden Eagles" ('PD-xxx') and VP-47 "Golden Swordsmen" ('RD-xxx') have moved to NAS Whidbey Island (WA) and have already made the transition to the P-8A Poseidon.
VPU-2 originated in the late 1960s as a special projects detachment of a patrol squadron but later became Patrol Squadron Special Projects Unit 2. It was upgraded later to a full squadron and its name was changed to Special Projects Patrol Squadron 2. VPU-2’s P-3Cs were equipped with specialized sensors and other modifications for reconnaissance and special projects.
Two years ago, the Navy had planned to deactivate VPU-2 but suspended the decision to 2020.
As far as Scramble knowledge goes, now the Naval Air Systems Command...
VP-30 "Pro's Nest" ('LL-xxx') and
VP-62 "Broadarrows" ('LT-xx') both at based Jacksonville,
Scientific Development Squadron (VXS) 1 "Warlocks" ('RL-xxx') based at NAS Patuxent River (MD),
VX-30 "Bloodhounds" ('BH-xxx') at NAS Point Mugu (CA)
VP-69 "Totems" ('PJ-xxx') and Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron (VQ) "World Watchers" ('PR-xxx') both based at Whidbey Island,
...still operate the Orion. Please let us know if you have other thoughts.
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Airbus has formally delivered the first of eight Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft ordered by the NATO Multinational MRTT Fleet (MMF) after a ceremony held at the Airbus Getafe site (Spain). The official acceptance of this first aircraft marks a decisive milestone towards the entry into service of this multinational unit formed by the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Norway, Germany, Belgium and the Czech Republic.
The aircraft will take off on 30 June 2020 towards its Main Operating Base located in Eindhoven (The Netherlands). The MMF fleet will also operate from a second location, the Forward Operating Base in Cologne (Germany). An arrival time at Eindhoven is not known yet.
The MMF programme is funded by the six nations which will have the exclusive right to operate the NATO–owned aircraft in a pooling arrangement. The aircraft will be configured for in-flight refuelling, the transport of passengers and cargo, and medical evacuation operations.
The European Defence Agency (EDA) initiated the MMF programme in 2012. OCCAR manages the MMF acquisition phase and the first two years of the Initial In-Service-Support as Contract Executing Agent on behalf of NSPA. Following the acquisition phase, NSPA will be responsible for the complete life-cycle management of the fleet.
New Merlins at Leonardo's Yeovil (UK)
ZZ109 was delivered to the Luftforsvaret (Royal Norwegian Air Force) on Wednesday 24 June 2020 with call-sign "Westland01" while ZR363 was delivered to Italy on 26 June as "Westland02".
ZR363 was the last of the HH-101A deliveries to the Aeronautica Militare (AMI, Italian Air Force). The HH-101A was delivered to Cervia air base (Italy) where it will be assigned to 15° Stormo.
The US Marine Corps has activated a second Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) on 26 June 2020.
Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron (VMFAT) 502 “Nightmares” ('WF-xxx') was activated at MCAS Beaufort (SC). It is set up to train aviators to fly the F-35B Lightning II. The squadron will eventually move to MCAS Miramar (CA). It is a reactivation of Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 513 "Flying Nightmares". VMA-513 operated the AV-8B Harrier II when it was deactivated on 12 July 2013. VMA-513 was redesignated during the reactivation ceremony.
At Beaufort, VMFAT-501 "Warlords" ('VM-xxx') was the first FRS.
On 29 June 2020, Lockheed Martin Corp based at Fort Worth (TX) was awarded a USD 360,8 million contract modification to a previously awarded contract. This modification provides for the procurement of four F-35C Lot 14s for the US Navy.
The modification also procures long lead materials, parts, components and support necessary to maintain on-time production and delivery of nine lot 16 F-35A Lightning IIs for the Koninklijke Luchtmacht (KLu, Royal Netherlands Air Force), as well as two F-35Bs, and aircraft parts, for the Italian Marina Militare (MM, Italian Naval Aviation). From the Final Assembly and Check-Out (FACO) line in Cameri(Italy), KLu F-35A serial F-012 took to the skies for the first time on 18 June 2020.
In the meantime, two F-35s, construction numbers AF-246 (USAF serial 18-5355/AK "355 FS") and BF-101 (USMC BuNo 169686), made company test flights from Fort Worth on 19 June 2020.
On 25 June, three USAF Panthers were delivered from Fort Worth to Eielson AFB (AK): most probably construction numbers AF-241, AF-242 and AF-243 (including confirmed serials 18-5351/AK and 18-5352/AK). The Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) ferried the trio USAF Lightning IIs to the 356th Fighter Squadron at Eielson. Pilots assigned to DCMA are responsible for the delivery of aircraft to bases all around the world. For the 356th FS, DCMA aircraft deliveries enable F-35 pilots to focus on stand up and training preparation without risk of COVID-19 exposure. DCMA pilots are primed to deliver Eielson’s remaining 48 jets by the end of 2021.