The Belgian Air Force has taken delivery of its first of seven Airbus A400M military transport aircraft. The aircraft was handed over to the customer at the A400M Final Assembly Line in Seville (Spain) and subsequently performed its ferry flight to the 15th Wing Air Transport in Melsbroek (Belgium), where the aircraft will be based.
This A400M, known as MSN106, will be operated within a binational unit composed of a total of eight aircraft, seven from the Belgian Air Force and one from the Luxembourg Armed Forces.
The second A400M for Belgium will be delivered in early 2021.
Alberto Gutierrez, Head of Military Aircraft at Airbus Defence and Space, said: «With the delivery of this aircraft all launch customers are now equipped with the A400M. MSN106 will join Luxemburg’s aircraft in the binational unit operated jointly with Belgium. Despite challenges due to Covid-19, our teams have achieved all 10 aircraft deliveries scheduled this year, bringing the global fleet in operation to 98 aircraft».
Leonardo has begun the final testing of the C-27J Next Generation which features new equipment, a new avionics system and advanced aerodynamic devices, these will enhance the existing high performance of the aircraft. The first C-27J Spartan in the new configuration will be delivered to an undisclosed customer in 2021.
The performance and reliability of the C-27J Spartan continues to evolve as the best response to its customers’ needs. Pushing on the aircraft’s versatility and mission flexibility, the C-27J Spartan offers an ever-increasing range of mission solutions, which adapt in response to new challenges faced by operators. A true force enabler, its unrivalled multi-mission capabilities are key in presenting the latest evolution of the Spartan as a cost-effective solution and an intelligent investment for nations, which are selecting it for their military, as well as civil protection requirements.
Marco Zoff, Leonardo Aircraft Division’s Managing Director, said: «The enhanced C-27J brings the unrivalled quality and capabilities of the Spartan to the next, higher level. Its operators will benefit from modern avionics, increased performance and efficiency. The Spartan embodies the essence of national security, proving to be the best asset for armed forces’ defence operations and for their fundamental contribution to population support and disaster relief». In a world hit this year by the COVID-19 pandemic and other emergencies international media have extensively reported on the C-27J’s relentless and effective support to communities in need. Mr. Zoff also added: «Our customers have discovered in this aircraft an element of social inclusion, because it is the only aircraft capable to reach people in the most remote rural areas of their nations».
Leonardo is committed to serving and protecting communities around the world, contributing to their sustainable growth by leading in next generation technologies. Partnering with Governments, private organizations and industries for the best security and safety capabilities is a cornerstone of Leonardo’s BeTomorrow2030 Strategic Plan.
Already acknowledged as the most effective multi-mission military transport aircraft in its class, the C-27J Next Generation today features comprehensive new avionics and aerodynamic developments with new winglets, for improved operational efficiency and even better performance. Mission-proven across all continents with a number of prime air forces, the Spartan is operated in the world’s most demanding operational environments – from the Andes to Afghanistan – for military transport, cargo and paratroopers air drop, last tactical mile troop support, special operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
The brand-new avionics system of the C-27J Next Generation is designed to comply with Next Generation Air Traffic Control requirements, including Future Air Navigation System (FANS) 1/A+ datalink; Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) 7.1; Instrument Landing System (ILS) Cat.II; enhanced video Terrain Awareness Warning System (TAWS). New cockpit displays; new weather radar; new radio navigation; enhanced satellite communications and radio communication capabilities; new intercommunication system; new cockpit and cargo panels; Mode 5 Friend or Foe/ Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (IFF/ADS-B) out and tactical Vertical Navigation (VNAV) and Search and Rescue; lighting system with Light-Emitting Diodes (LED) technology have also been included. Moreover, former avionics and general systems interface boxes have been replaced with new equipment by Leonardo’s Electronics. The new baseline configuration is also offered as a retrofit to current operators wanting to upgrade their C-27J Spartan fleet capabilities.
Thanks to its exceptional structural strength and systems redundancy, the C-27J Spartan offers unique qualities of ruggedness, reliability, outstanding survivability and manoeuvrability. Its capability to operate from the most rudimentary airstrips, performing Short Take-Offs and Landings (STOL) in extreme environmental conditions is enhanced by the winglets, while Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) provides an independent power source, which can restart engines in flight, or make the aircraft autonomous and self-reliable during deployment missions at improvised airfields.
The aircraft can be equipped with a Defensive Aids Sub-Systems suite, secure communications and ballistic protection in order to operate in high threat environments.
Thanks to its multiple roll-on/roll-off mission kits and systems, the C-27J Spartan can be quickly configured and reconfigured to carry out a wide range of tasks, including a tactical transport, maritime patrol, even incorporating Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) or Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C3ISR) tasks. As a tactical transport aircraft, its capabilities include transport of troops, cargo, paratroops and cargo airdrop, Medical Evacuation/Casualty Evacuation (Medevac/Casevac), VIP, but can also carry out operations of humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and fire-fighting, thanks to its fast operational reconfiguration.
The U.S. Air Force Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation (SDPE) Office awarded Lockheed Martin a $25 million contract to support the next phase of the service’s Palletized Munitions Experimentation Campaign.
The fourth phase includes a system-level demonstration in 2021 and continues to assess the potential to deliver large volumes of air-launched weapons via airlifters.
«Despite the Palletized Munitions program being relatively new, it’s moving very quickly», said Scott Callaway, Lockheed Martin Advanced Strike Systems director. «The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) contracting and Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation (SDPE) offices, and Lockheed Martin teams established this new contract in a record time of 30 days, supporting faster prototyping and a shorter timeline to bring this advanced capability to the warfighter in the field».
Initial studies show that airlifters have the potential to deploy large quantities of Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile Extended Range (JASSM-ER) missiles, providing a significant increase in long-range standoff scale and complementing traditional strike and bomber aircrafts. This innovative approach enables warfighters to launch offensive operations from a greater number of airfields and engage a larger number of near-peer adversarial targets.
The overall goal of the experimentation is to develop a modular system to deliver air-launched weapons, leveraging standard airdrop procedures and operations. The system will have the ability to be rolled on and off multiple types of aircraft, including the C-17 Globemaster III and C-130.
Phase I successfully accomplished five high-altitude airdrops from an MC-130J Super Hercules (manufactured by Lockheed Martin) and a C-17 Globemaster III earlier this year using simulated weapons. During this effort, the U.S. Air Force tested the suitability of launching JASSM-ERs from an airlifter. JASSM is a long-range, conventional, air-to-ground, precision standoff missile for the U.S. and allied forces designed to destroy high-value, well-defended, fixed and relocatable targets.
Florence Parly, the Minister of the Armed Forces, and her German counterpart, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, laid, Thursday, September 17 on the air base 105 of Evreux (Eure), the first stone of the building which will house the first Franco-German air transport squadron. The ceremony was followed by a trip by the two ministers across the Rhine to the Airbus Defense and Space site for a status update on the advancement of the combat system of the future (SCAF). «Defense Europe» is on the move.
«The birth of this squadron embodies the «Defense Europe» in the most beautiful and concrete way», said Florence Parly, laying the first stone, with Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the German Minister of Defense, of the building that will house the future Franco-German C-130J tactical transport squadron on Air Base 105 at Evreux.
A major asset for European defense, this squadron will be unique in Europe. «This is a first, a real revolution», explains Florence Parly. «For the first time, French and German pilots, mechanics and airmen will train, operate and accomplish missions together, sharing daily life in the same squadron».
This binational squadron will be made up of ten aircraft (four French and six German) by early 2024. This fleet of Super Hercules, multi-role par excellence, considerably strengthens the capabilities of the Air and Space Force in the field of tactical air transport. It is also resolutely part of the ramp-up of helicopter in-flight refueling capability, particularly for the benefit France’s H225M Caracal helicopters.
Parly: «Giving substance to ideas we pushed with strong political will»
To welcome these new aircraft, the Air Base 105 at Evreux had to undergo a transformation. Large-scale works have been undertaken for the construction of aircraft parking lots and operational areas. From summer 2021, 260 French and German soldiers will gradually transfer to the air base.
A training center with a simulator and training aids will also be set up within three years. This ramp-up of the Evreux air base is also fully in line with the Family plan of the Ministry of the Armed Forces with the integration, at the local level, of military families in terms of housing and education.
The Franco-German squadron, which will be commanded by a French officer and assisted by a German counterpart, shows a common desire to go further in building a strong, united Europe with the capacity for autonomous action. For this, the Franco-German relationship is the foundation in the field of Defense.
Proof, once again, that Defense Europe is not just a concept but well and truly a reality, Florence Parly and Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer traveled to Manching (Bavaria) on Thursday afternoon, to the Airbus Defense and Space site.
This was an opportunity to take stock of the development of the Future Air Combat System (FCAS, French: Système de combat aérien futur, SCAF) and the Eurodrone, two structuring projects for Defense Europe. «For each of these Franco-German projects, the efforts made on both sides of the Rhine are colossal. And it is a source of pride to see our teams working together with ardor to give shape to the ideas that we have brought forward with a strong political will», notes Florence Parly.
Weapon systems of the future
Particularly close, this Franco-German cooperation notably enables the development of ambitious and innovative programs. This is particularly the case with SCAF, in which Spain is also a stakeholder.
The objective of SCAF? Allow collaborative air combat. Clearly, the aim is to make national military capabilities (Rafale for France, Eurofighter for Germany and Spain, drones, surveillance and air refueling aircraft, command systems) interoperable with future capabilities, like the New Generation Fighter (NGF).
Ultimately, all of these vectors will be interconnected as part of the weapons system of the future (Next Generation Weapon System – NGWS) for which France is leading the project.
At the end of a full day, marked with the seal of European Defense, Florence Parly reaffirmed her «will» and her «determination» to bring Franco-German friendship to life through concrete advances to benefit of a «stronger and more sovereign Europe».
The Airbus A400M new generation airlifter has achieved a new decisive milestone after the certification of its Automatic Low Level Flight capability, offering a unique in its class capability for a military transport aircraft.
The certification campaign, performed in April above the Pyrenees and central France, involved operations down to 500 feet/152 m, including transitions from low level flight to other operations like aerial delivery.
This first certification phase concerns operations with Visual Meteorological Conditions, meaning with crew visibility. There will be a second phase including Instrumental Meteorological Conditions, without visibility, to be certified in Q2 2021.
Inherent to the fighter aircraft world, and as a unique capability for a military transport aircraft, the Automatic Low Level Flights improves the A400M’s terrain masking and survivability, making the aircraft less detectable in hostile areas and less susceptible to threats when cruising towards key military operations like aerial delivery, air-to-air refuelling, logistic or other specific special operations.
The Airbus A400M new-generation airlifter ordered by the Luxembourg Armed Forces has made its maiden flight, marking a key milestone towards its delivery. The aircraft, known as MSN104, took off from Seville (Spain), where the final assembly line is located, at 16:08 local time (CET) and landed back on site 5 hours later.
The Luxembourg aircraft will be operated by the armed forces of Belgium and Luxembourg within a binational unit based in Belgium. MSN104 is scheduled to be delivered in the second quarter of 2020.
The picture shows the Luxembourg aircraft landing at Seville airport, Spain.
On 31 March, at 17.35 local time, an AN-124 landed in Pardubice Airport carrying tons of medical supplies that the Czech government will use to fight COVID-19.
This is the third flight arranged by the Strategic Airlift International Solution (SALIS in support to Czech Republic. In total, SALIS airlifted 106 tons of medical supplies from China to the Czech Republic.
This flight followed a similar itinerary than the previous ones, taking off from Leipzig/Halle airport, SALIS Operating Base, and arriving to Shenzhen Airport, in southeaster China on the following day. On 31 March 2020, the plane landed in the city of Pardubice, where the equipment was unloaded and transported to the warehouse of the Ministry of the Interior in Opočínek.
Precautionary measures were put in place to ensure the safety of the crew during the operation.
The Czech Republic has been a member of the Strategic Airlift International Solution (SALIS) since its beginning in 2006. SALIS provides participating nations with a strategic air transport capability. Nine NATO Allies (Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Norway, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia) currently participate in the programme, managed by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA).
Through SALIS, nations obtain assured access of up to five AN-124 aircraft within few days. In addition, the current contract with Antonov Logistics SALIS also provides access to AN-22, AN-225 and IL-76 Chap IV aircraft.
Boeing recently delivered the first CH-47F Chinook with an upgraded cockpit to the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF), continuing a track record of on-time deliveries to customers. The RNLAF will operate a fleet of 20 CH-47F Chinooks, the newest configuration in use by countries around the world.
«The RNLAF made it clear to us that they need the advanced, proven capability of the CH-47F now», said Andy Builta, vice president of Cargo & Utility Helicopters and H-47 program manager. «I want to thank our phenomenal team for working hard during a difficult situation to safely deliver these aircraft. This is a reminder to all of us of how important Chinooks are to our customers».
The 20 CH-47F Chinooks will be a fleet equipped with the same state-of-the-art technology as the U.S. Army, including digital automatic flight controls, a fully-integrated Common Avionics Architecture System (CAAS) glass cockpit, and advanced cargo handling capabilities. The common configuration leads to lower overall life cycle costs.
The RNLAF currently flies a mix of F-model Chinooks with the Advanced Cockpit Management System (ACMS) and CH-47D Chinooks.
«It has been a pleasure to work closely together with the U.S. Army and Boeing teams to achieve this milestone», said Colonel Koen van Gogh, Netherlands Defence Materiel Organisation. «The Chinook helicopter is a vital asset for our missions and the in-time delivery certainly supports our operational planning. I salute the Boeing workforce for their continued efforts to make this happen in these troubling times, as well as the U.S. Army officials that helped keep us on track».
Deliveries to the RNLAF are expected to continue into 2021. Chinooks are currently in service or under contract with 20 international defense forces, including the U.S. Army, U.S. Special Operations Forces and eight NATO member nations.
Boeing is the world’s largest aerospace company and leading provider of commercial airplanes, defense, space and security systems, and global services. As a top U.S. exporter, the company supports commercial and government customers in more than 150 countries. Boeing employs more than 160,000 people worldwide and leverages the talents of a global supplier base. Building on a legacy of aerospace leadership, Boeing continues to lead in technology and innovation, deliver for its customers and invest in its people and future growth.
Lockheed Martin delivered the U.S. Air Force Reserve’s first HC-130J Combat King II on April 2, 2020 to a crew from the 920th Rescue Wing (RQW) from Patrick Air Force Base, Florida. This HC-130J will be operated by the 39th Rescue Squadron (RQS), which is part of the 920th RQW.
These Reservists are long-time operators of legacy HC-130 P/N Combat King combat search-and-rescue aircraft, flying and maintaining HC-130s since the 1960s – using HC-130s to save more than 3,000 lives. The HC-130J is the sole dedicated fixed-wing personnel recovery platform operated by the Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard.
The 920th RQW and 39th RQS also have the distinction of being the Air Force Reserve’s only HC-130J operators and will eventually have an HC-130J fleet to support mission requirements.
Like others in the U.S. Air Force Rescue community, the 920th RQW and the 39th RQS live by the motto, «That Others May Live», which reflects the mission of supporting combat search and rescue anywhere in the world. These crews rely on HC-130s to also extend the range its HH-60 Pave Hawk combat search and rescue helicopters, which were manufactured by Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky business in Stratford, Connecticut.
Often tasked for airdrop, airland, and helicopter air-to-air refueling and forward-area ground refueling missions, the HC-130’s mission capabilities also include humanitarian aid operations, disaster response, security cooperation/aviation advisory, emergency aeromedical evacuation and noncombatant evacuation operations.
«From supporting humanitarian relief efforts on the Florida coast to making combat rescues in Southeast Asia, the 920th’s HC-130s have exemplified the reputation of being tried and true workhorses for 60 years», said Rod McLean, vice president and general manager, Air Mobility & Maritime Missions at Lockheed Martin. «As we salute one fleet for a lifetime’s worth of work, we are also excited to commemorate a new era with the arrival of the U.S. Air Force Reserve’s first HC-130J Combat King II. This HC-130J provides the Citizen Airmen with increased power, capability and performance to continue to support critical missions close to home and around the world».
Compared to legacy platforms, the HC-130J Combat King II offers significant performance and capabilities advancements, to include fuel efficiencies, improvement in payload/range capabilities, an integrated defensive suite, automated maintenance fault reporting, high-altitude ramp and door hydraulics, and unmatched situational awareness with its digital avionics and dual Head Up Displays.
The HC-130J is one of nine production variants of the C-130J Super Hercules, the current production model of the legendary C-130 Hercules aircraft. With more than 450 aircraft delivered, the C-130J is the airlifter of choice for 20 nations. The global Super Hercules fleet has more than 2 million flight hours of experience supporting almost any mission requirement – any time, any place.
The U.S. government operates the largest C-130J Super Hercules fleet in the world. This delivery continues the U.S. government’s transition to the C-130J as the common platform across Air Mobility Command, Air Force Special Operations Command, Air Combat Command, U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Marine Corps. The Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command currently operate a mixed fleet of C-130J and older Hercules aircraft.
Antonov Airlines flew four Apache AH-64E Attack Helicopters on behalf of Boeing, from Phoenix Mesa Gateway Airport (AZA), Arizona, USA, to Hindan Airforce Base (VIDX) in India.
An Antonov Airlines AN-124-100, which can accommodate up to five Apache helicopters, transported the aircraft, with a total payload of 39 tonnes/85,980 lbs. including their dismantled rotor blades. The mission proved highly successful.
«The Antonov Airlines team was responsive and willing to support deadlines while applying for the complex overflight permits required for military cargo», said Jon Roland, Boeing Program Manager. «Antonov Airlines partnered with us to secure the required clearance and permissions, creating a cooperative environment to ensure smooth delivery».
The Antonov and Boeing engineers collaborated closely on mission planning in real time during the loading process.
«We worked out how to best use the available space during loading to safely transport the cargo», said Amnon Ehrlich, Commercial Director, Antonov Airlines USA. «We also took into consideration the high summer temperatures in Arizona while planning the move. The loading started in the early hours to avoid the high temperatures. Following a night-time departure, the mission was completed 24 hours later».
Boeing has already contracted Antonov Airlines for further Apache helicopter shipments later this year.