Military aviation news - December 2005
Norway sending F-16s to Afghanistan
Four Norwegian F-16s are being sent to Afghanistan in February 2006 to protect the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) forces stationed there to stabilize the area outside the capital Kabul. The mission is to last for three months and their main task it to provide close air support for Norwegian and other countries forces when they are moving into new dangerous areas. The planes will not be part of Operation Enduring Freedom, but may under difficult situations offer assistance.
Posted: Mon, Dec 19, 2005 3:20 PM (CET)
JAS 39 Gripen and Eurofighter Typhoon carries out Meteor trials
On December 13th a Gripen multi role fighter, carrying a Meteor Avionics missile, took off from the Saab-field in Linköping, Sweden, marking an important milestone in the Meteor development program. For the first time a Meteor missile equipped with functional subsystems has been used in flight.
This flight was the first time a Gripen and a real subsystems equipped Meteor missile took to the air. It was also the first time in a missile program, when the aircraft integration for all three designated aircraft, that will carry the missile, will be conducted in parallel with the actual missile development program. Gripen is at the center of this program and this flight was one of many that will involve Meteor and Gripen.
On December 15th a Typhoon from Royal Air Force 17 Squadron also carried out a Meteor missile trial. The aircraft was fitted with two GHTM (Ground Handling Training Missile) Meteors on the port and starboard forward fuselage stations. The missile represents the dynamic properties of an operational missile such as size, mass and aerodyamic configuration.
Typhoon has now demonstrated its ability to carry the full range of air-to-air weapon systems proposed for use in its air defence role of AIM-9L, ASRAAM, IRIS-T and AMRAAM. Firing clearances for these weapons are in place. The air forces therefore are able to go operational with weapons in 2006 with the Italian Air Force to start as the first.
About the Meteor program
Meteor is being developed by the European guided weapons leader MBDA to meet the requirements of six European nations for a superior Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air-to-air missile system with the operational capability to excel in all future aerial combat scenarios. Designed to defeat the emerging threat from new BVR missiles, Meteor provides the long stand-off range and high kill probability which combine to ensure pilot survivability. The missile’s ramjet propulsion system gives Meteor its high-speed performance and the energy to defeat fast, manoeuvring targets at long range.Gripen Meteor trial press release and Typhoon Meteor trial press release.
Posted: Fri, Dec 16, 2005 9:57 AM (CET)
F-22A Raptor goes operational
The F-22A Raptor, the US Air Force’s most advanced weapon system
is ready for combat, US Air Force officials announced on Dec. 15th 2005.
In reaching initial operational capability, the Raptor is certified ready
for operational use.
The first combat-ready Raptors are flying with the 27th Fighter Squadron of the 1st Fighter Wing. The squadron’s deployment capability is a 12-ship package designed to execute air-to-air and air-to-ground missions.
The F-22 Raptor, the world's most advanced 5th generation fighter, is built by Lockheed Martin in partnership with Boeing and Pratt & Whitney. Approximately 1,000 suppliers in 42 states provide parts and subsystems. F-22 production takes place at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics facilities in Palmdale, Calif.; Meridian, Miss.; Marietta, Ga.; and Fort Worth, Texas, as well as at Boeing's plant in Seattle, Wash. Final assembly and initial flight testing of the Raptor occurs at the Marietta plant facilities.
Posted: Fri, Dec 16, 2005 9:28 AM (CET)
New Sniper pod sharpens pilots’ view of targets
The new gear is called the Sniper XR - for "extended range" - Advanced Targeting Pod
The wing, known as the Wolf Pack, is the first within Pacific Air Forces to field the new Sniper pod. The pods were delivered to Kunsan in November for use by the Wolf Pack's two F-16 squadrons: the 80th Fighter Squadron and 35th Fighter Squadron. Full story at F-16.net.
An export version of the pod, dubbed Pantera, is already flying with the Royal Norwegian Air Force. RoNAF pilots demonstrated Pantera's advantages during the most recent multinational Maple Flag exercise in Canada. Once mission planners recognized the pod's capabilities, Norwegian crews quickly found themselves assigned the most challenging targets, according to a Lockheed Martin official.
A more in-depth look at the Sniper pod over at Aviation Week.
Posted: Fri, Dec 16, 2005 9:20 PM (CET)
Pentagon Proposes Extension of F/A-22 Fighter Production Line
The Pentagon is proposing to extend by two years, until 2010, production of Lockheed Martin Corp.'s F/A-22 stealth fighter, according to a government official familiar with the decision.
The proposal calls for slightly reduced production levels in 2007 and 2008 at Lockheed Martin's plants in Marietta, Georgia, and Fort Worth, Texas, said the official, who requested anonymity. Work on the plane would continue at those facilities in 2009 and 2010, and ultimately a few more than the 180 planes already approved by Congress would be built, the official said.
The Pentagon wants to keep F/A-22 production going until the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program -- the Pentagon's largest single weapons project -- proves itself in combat testing and begins full production, said Loren Thompson, a defense analyst with the Washington-based Lexington Institute, a research organization.
``Funding will continue until 2010,'' Thompson said. ``They want to ensure a warm production line for the F-35.''
About $46 billion has been approved by Congress for F/A-22 spending since the 1980s. The total program is valued at $61 billion.
The production decision was reviewed as part of the Quadrennial Defense Review of strategy, threats, force structure and systems that is to be released in February. The production change must be approved by the White House's Office of Management and Budget. See Full story.
Posted: Tue, Dec 02, 2005 5:39 PM (CET)
BAE celebrates installation of F-35 JSF vertical tails
BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company have completed the installation of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) vertical tails, representing a major milestone in the F-35 Program. Full story at F-16.net.