Aviation News Mega-Thread

Threads about the world of aviation outside of airshows. General aviation, airlines, spotting, etc.
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Re: Aviation News Mega-Thread

Post by n33d4sp33d_85 » Mon Jun 29, 2020 3:38 pm

The Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda has announced that LIAT is going to be liquidated.

The airline has been in bad financial shape for a while, but not being able to operate due to the outbreak of COVID-19 proved to be the final straw.

LIAT, which is originally short for Leeward Island Air Transport, was founded in 1956 and currently has a fleet of five ATR42s and five ATR72s.

As air transport is vital for the islands, the Prime Minister is hoping a new LIAT 2.0 can be formed later on.
Will the USAF opt for more combat-coded Raptors. Will they be necessary?

A closer look at what the USAF is currently struggling with. (10 minute reading !!)

With Russia's 4th+ Generation Sukhoi Su-57 (also known as PAKFA) and China's 5th Generation Chengdu J-20 (also known as Mighty Dragon) seemingly lurking to overtake USAF's Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor capacities, its worth to look closer at some more indepth information. The past years, ever since the last Raptor was delivered during 2012, multiple media outlets, current and former USAF generals have been suggesting that the USAF's F-22A inventory has never been enough to topple (future) adversaries.

It is expected that for the next 40+ years, the Raptor will provide air superiority to the Joint Forces, will have access in a highly contested operational environment and will participate in the US homeland and cruise missile defense. The F-22A was the first operational multi-mission jet fighter aircraft that combined stealth, supercruise, sensors, manoeuverability and integrated avionics together. Todays Raptor's results and capacities had to go a long way of testing the different techniques and integrating them into a single platform.

This is where Russia and China are lagging at this moment. Not only in quality but also in quantity. Scramble Magazine tries to keep track of every single military aircraft in the world. With the first loss of a Su-57 at the end of 2019, notably the first serial production example, the delivery schedule has been hampered for a while. At this moment Russia has only ten Sukhoi Su-57s in its inventory. Although having problems gaining micro electronic components for the Su-57 project since 2014, the Russian military have stated that Su-57s have been successfully tested during combat conditions in and over Syria and that the first will be assigned to Russia’s Southern Military District in 2020. The latter is doubtful. Scramble assesses that they are not considered to be used by an operational unit very soon. Some of them are already used by the Akhtubinsk based 929 GLITs state flight test center, also known as "Valery Chkalov". Probably more will follow suit, also to the Zhukovsky state flight test center.

In 2019, it was announced that the Russian Ministry of Defence had ordered 76 examples to be delivered by 2028. The latter remains to be seen. Serial production Su-57s will receive the NPO Saturn Izdeliye 30 engine, said to be similar in performance to the F-22A's Pratt & Whitney F119. But the production of the Izdeliye 30 has been postponed multiple times. For now it is expected that the Su-57 will receive the less capable AL-41F1 engines, also manufactured by the Saturn plant. Despite the fact that it has a nice shape, the Su-57 "Flattened Flanker" has structural design problems that will be obvious during a large scale conflict. Because of its minimum bay capacity, weapons have to be hung on outer stations. Than, the Su-57 will never be a real stealth plane in a highly contested operational environment. It is expected that the second serial production Su-57 will be delivered to the Russian Air Force shortly.

As for the Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) J-20/J-20A; in contrast to Russia's 4th+ Generation Su-57, the Chinese J-20 is probably having most of the 5th Generation jet fighter capacities. The J-20 fighter was originally intended to be equipped with a Shenyang/Xi'an WS-15 engine designed specifically for stealth and supercruise. However, immediately after being put to the test, the WS-15 engine showed low reliability and constantly having problems. So far, Chinese aircraft engineers have not been able to overcome those reliability problems. Currently the PLAAF's J-20s and J-20As are probably mostly fitted with Russian NPO Saturn AL-31F and modified WS-10B engines. The indigenous built WS-10B is derived from the WS-10 model, originally destined for 4th Generation jet fighters such as the J-10 and the J-11. The latter was considered to be an interim solution before China started importing large quantities of Russian AL-31F variant engines.

China announced that the first operational J-20 entered PLAAF service by late 2016. Scramble assesses that as of mid-July 2020, some 25 J-20A aircraft, excluding the 14 J-20 prototypes, have been delivered to operational units within the PLAAF. In February 2018, it was stated that J-20s subsequently had been commissioned within Chinese operational units. It is expected that a dozen J-20As were activated in the 176th Brigade Flight Test and Training Base in Dingxin and the 172nd Brigade Flight Training Base in Cangzhou, respectively. Although the latter two are Chinese training units, the first regular frontline PLAAF unit to receive J-20As was the 9th brigade located in Wuhu, subordinated to the Eastern Theater Command. The strategically located Wuhu has now some twelve J-20As as its home base. Strikingly, examining the Scramble database, during the past few years, less or no Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) J-20/J-20A prototypes have been sighted. This in comparison to when the J-20 was in development between 2011 and 2016. Assuming that some prototypes have been converted to "combat-coded" J-20s, the PLAAF has less 5th Generation aircraft at their disposal than expected.

Back to the F-22A Raptor. What is the fuzz of more combat-coded F-22s all about? Certainly not the quantity. With 185 examples left, this is way more than Russia and China will have for the next decade to come. The quality? The weaponry? The most advanced missile to be carried by the Raptor is the D-model of the AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM). Unconfirmed reports have stated that the AIM-120D will be able to kill targets over a distance of more than 200 km. Maybe that is the trigger. The Department of Defense Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Budget Estimates for the F-22A only mentions funding in the form of Capability Improvement (Link 16 and Sensor Enhancement), but nothing on weaponry or weapons testing.

Russia is developing and testing the The Vympel R-37M missile. The missile has been under development at Vympel, part of the Tactical Missiles Corporation since the 1990s and it is expected that it can destroy targets over 300 km til 400 km. Although there is no confirmation that it will be used by the Su-57. The MiG-31BM and Su-35S, also in Russia's inventory, will certainly carry the R-37M. Than there is the Chinese PL-15 missile which is said to be an advanced long-range air-to-air missile capable of hitting targets at a distance from 300 km up to 400 km. During the most recent public appearances, J-20s often had their weapons bays open and PL-15 missiles could be seen prominent. Although it is expected that both the Russian R-37M and Chinese PL-15 missiles will be mainly used against force multipliers, like Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft, in combination with their carrying platforms, they will be also posing a realistic threat to USAF's "Golden" F-22A Raptor. More combat-coded Raptors are unlikely and unfeasable. Newer, upgraded and integrated long range air-to-air missiles with more capacity are an option.
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Post by n33d4sp33d_85 » Tue Jun 30, 2020 2:56 pm

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.
#aviation #avgeek #avaddict #avgeeks #aircraft #aviationenthusiast #planes #P3 #P3Orion #PORG #P3OrionResearchGroup P-3 Orion On Station P-3 Orion Research Group P-3 Orion P-3 Orion P-3 Orion #Lockheed #LockheedP3 #LockheedMartin #BoeingP8 #P8 #Poseidon #P8Poseidon #VPU2 Avgeekery.com Avgeek's
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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.
F-35 news

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.
Last edited by n33d4sp33d_85 on Tue Jun 30, 2020 7:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by n33d4sp33d_85 » Wed Jul 01, 2020 12:45 am

As Su-57 proves it can control a “swarm” of Su-35 fighter aircraft during teaming experiment, Russia announces that will test upgraded Felon in 2022
https://theaviationgeekclub.com/as-su-5 ... -can-con…/
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Post by n33d4sp33d_85 » Wed Jul 01, 2020 2:58 pm

Blazing spooky goes out

On 26 June 2020, the 4th Special Operations Squadron "Ghostriders" made their final flight with the AC-130U Spooky gunship. Spooky 89-0510 was the last to leave Hurlburt Field (FL) and was, stripped of his weapons and other essential means, flown to retirement to the 309th Aircraft Maintenance And Regeneration Group, also known as the Davis Monthan storage boneyard, situated near Tucson (AZ).

The very last 4th SOS/1st SOW AC-130U to be retired will be tail number 87-0128. The latter is affectively named "Big Daddy" after being the oldest Spooky in the USAF's inventory. Strikingly, on 18 June 18 2020, "Big Daddy" made history by becoming the first Spooky to ever receive a black letter initial. "Black letter initials" are markings of approval on an inspection checklist certifying that the aircraft is not only mission-ready, but it is operationally perfect: zero discrepancies, zero write-ups and zero inspection violations. There were no discrepancies on Big Daddy’s status paperwork. His life will be prolonged as he will be making a short journey in due time. The last travel will be from the airfield's tarmac towards Hurlburt Field's Memorial Air Park to be preserved.

Last year, on 8 July 2019, two 4th Special Operations Squadron AC-130U Spooky gunships returned, from what was scheduled to be their last combat deployment, back at Hurlburt Field. Spooky was part of the third generation of C-130 gunships. All gunships evolved from the first operational gunship, the AC-47 (Dakota Spooky), to the AC-119 (Shadow/Stinger), and then the AC-130A (Spectre) which was the basis for the modern C-130 gunship. AC-130J Ghostriders have gradually taken over the tasks of the AC-130U. Besides the AC-130J, the USAF also operates the AC-130W Stinger II gunship. It is expected that the latter, when more AC-130Js become available, will be phased out as well.
The Irish government published a five-year Defence Forces investment strategy document, named "the Defence Forces – Equipment Development Plan 2020-24 document", that considered the purchase of a military jet aircraft.

Some sixteen jets and 54 crew must be capable of intercepting high-altitude (Russian) planes. The desirable aircraft must be fully air combat capable so it can police the Irish territorial airspace. The so far designated “future project at a pre planning stage” purchase would require a major financial commitment potentially running into hundreds of millions of euro and must include ground-based Early Warning radars too.

The Irish Air Corps (IAC) does not have any jet fighters in its inventory. The last jet the IAC flew was the CM170 Fouga Magister that was retired in 1998 and replaced by the Pilatus PC-9. That jet, as well as the PC-9, did not have any of the now requested capacity.

An Irish Defence Forces spokespersons reported after the publication of the document that “such a capability is being kept under review, and is based on threat assessment, but budget has not been allocated for this at this time. Such an aircraft would be capable of policing all airborne craft in Irish sovereign airspace, particularly those that are fast moving." and "it is a “proposal that needs to be developed and scoped out”.

Currently, Ireland is mainly relying (by an agreement with the UK government that permits the UK to use the Irish FIR) on protection of its airspace by Royal Air Force Typhoons. An educated guess could be that Ireland could invest in a lease programme that includes permanent RAF protection. Especially during this COVID-19 (crisis) era, massive investments for new jets will not fit in small defense budgets like that one of Ireland, but a purchase of surplus RAF (or Luftwaffe) Typhoons can not be excluded. It is assessed by Scramble that it will take some years, if it ever happens, that the IAC will get fighter jets.

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On 30 June 2020, Marco Papa of North East Spotter pictured the first 31st Fighter Wing/ 510th Fighter Squadron F-16CM wearing a new "Have Glass 5" livery during its landing at homebase Aviano air base (Italy).

Serial 90-0709/AV arrived from SABCA (Société Anonyme Belge de Constructions Aéronautiques) Charleroi (Belgium) after receiving a Depot-level maintenance, and paint upgrade. The 510th FS "Buzzards" marking can be found above the nose gear on the intake.

The Have Glass radar absorbing paint is developed through the years and is like Have Glass 1 to 4 created reduce the F-16 Radar Cross Section. The paint is made from RAM (Radar Absorbent Material) that consists out of microscopic metal grains. It is said that this Have Glass 5 is nearly the same as painted on the F-35 Lightning II. Of course, due to the shape of the F-16, the aircraft is less stealth than the F-35.

Initially, the Have Glass paint was selected for the squadrons that were involved in the Suppression of Enemy Air Defence (SEAD) mission, but now slowly all other squadrons will get the scheme too.

The SABCA facility overhauls some thirty F-16s each year after contracts with Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and the US Air Force in Europe. Most contracts run up to 2021.
Yesterday, Viva Aerobus took delivery of their first of 41 Airbus A321neos. The aircraft is registered XA-VBA and is c/n 9487.

The airline, which has its main hub at Monterrey, was founded in 2006 and already operates 37 A320s.
The EASA - European Union Aviation Safety Agency has, as of 1 July, decided to ban Pakistan International Airlines from flying to Europe for a period of six months.

The measure comes after a Pakistani government investigation found that 262 pilots in Pakistan had fake pilot licenses. 141 of them flew for the airline.

PIA plans to appeal the decision by the EASA and hopes to be able to resume their flights to Europe soon.
Third Qatari Advanced Eagle caught in the act

Alex Farwell kindly provided these stunning images of the third Boeing F-15QA destined for the Qatar Emiri Air Force. The Eagle was flying with callsign RED64 and blasting away from St. Louis Lambert International (MO) on 30 June 2020. It was the first flight of the third F-15QA.

As can be seen the aircraft is not painted yet but a small serial is present on the tail: “17003”. We are still in doubt if the full USAF Fiscal Year serial is 17-0003 or 17-1003. Hopefully one of our readers will help us out.
Last edited by n33d4sp33d_85 on Wed Jul 01, 2020 6:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by n33d4sp33d_85 » Thu Jul 02, 2020 3:23 am

A great tribute to the Polish 302 squadron by Invidia Me!

“On July 10, 1940, an order was issued to form the first Polish 302 Poznań Squadron in the structures of the RAF. This photo shoot is intended to commemorate the participation of Polish pilots during the Battle of Britain, in particular 302 Squadron, whose traditions were taken over by the 31st Tactical Air Base in Krzesiny. In the background is the Lockheed Martin F-16C Block 52+ in a special raven livery with 302 Squadron emblems!”
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Post by n33d4sp33d_85 » Fri Jul 03, 2020 2:21 pm

An update on Scramble Facebook News report of 30 June 2020 (*) about a contract modification of Lockheed Martin.

The US government reported that the contract contained also two F-35Bs for the Italian Marina Militare (MM, Italian Naval Aviation). So the announcement was incomplete and should be nine lot 16 F-35A Lightning IIs for the Koninklijke Luchtmacht (KLu, Royal Netherlands Air Force), seven F-35As for the Aeronautica Militare Italiana (AMI, Italian Air Force) and two F-35Bs for the Italian Marina Militare (MM, Italian Naval Aviation).
ATI Engineering Services, Johnstown (PA) has won a USD 10,1 million Foreign Military Sales contract from the Pentagon to provide two Textron C208 Grand Caravan EX utility aircraft for Rwanda.

The aircraft are part of the USAF budget, will be used for medical evacuation and light transport missions and will be delivered with spare parts, training and ground equipment and logistic support by 31 July 2022.

The EX is the third variant of the all-metal, high-wing Cessna 208 Caravan – introduced in 1984 – and the second iteration of the Grand Caravan, a stretched version of the 208, which arrived four years later. It is powered by a 870hp PT6A-140 engine.

The Force Aérienne Rwandaise (FAR, Rwanda Air Force) is based at Kigali International Airport (Rwanda) and is up to now only equipped with helicopters (Mi-8, -17, -24, SA342L, and AW109, AW139). The Grand Caravans will be the first fixed-wing aircraft for the FAR as their N2501 Noratlas and Do27 types were phased out many years ago.
Although The Boeing Company hasn’t confirmed the news yet, both Bloomberg and Reuters are reporting that the manufacturer is set to close down production of the iconic B747 in 2022.

At this moment the backlog consists of fifteen B747-8F, twelve of which are destined for UPS and the other three for Volga-Dnepr. However, these last ones are part of a dispute between Boeing and the Russian cargo company.

Currently the production rate for the B747 is one aircraft per two months, meaning all orders will be fulfilled by 2022.

Several of the suppliers making critical components for the Jumbojet have already announced they are ceasing their production.
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