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Combat Aircraft Monthly - September 2013

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    SEPTEMBER 2013 4.20

    European Edition Vol 14, No 9 | www.combataircraft.netTHE WORLDS FAVOURITE MILITARY AVIATION MAGAZINE



    FORCE FORCEF-15E Strike Eagle

    European mig-21 survivorsMirage f1S on baltic patrol

    Sea harriers over bosnia

    Glory Days:

    BRITISH COMBAT AIR FORCESA review of UK air power now and into the future

    UK cover (Anns amends 2).indd 1 19/07/2013 16:37

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  • 68 EUROPES FINAL FISHBEDS Over 50 years after the type was first flown, the MiG-21 is still serving on the front line in Europe. Dirk Jan de Ridder explains how, over the next 12 months, several of these operators may finally replace their jets

    76 AIR POWER REVIEW: BRAZILIAN ARMY AVIATION COMES OF AGE Santiago Rivas reports on how Brazilian Army Aviation is emerging as a very modern and efficient force, with a growing fleet composed almost entirely of Eurocopters

    82 EXERCISE REPORT: ANATOLIAN EAGLE 2013 Derek Bower visits Exercise Anatolian Eagle for a rare opportunity to see some Middle Eastern air combat assets deployed in Europe

    88 GLORY DAYS: SEA HARRIER OVER THE BALKANS It is now 20 years since Royal Navy Sea Harriers first deployed into the Adriatic as part of Operation Grapple. In this first instalment of a two-part feature, Richard Scott looks at the contribution of the FRS1 variant in its twilight years

    96 CUTTING EDGE Combat Aircrafts monthly column reporting from the front line of aerospace technology, by David Axe


    X-47B traps aboard a carrier for the first time, USAF squadrons return to operations following grounding and US Navy receives F-35C


    P-8 Poseidon passes operational test milestone, Mildenhall receives first Ospreys and California ANG gets F-15Cs


    RAF Typhoon training latest, third F-35B delivered and MoD evaluates unmanned future


    Spanish Mirage F1s bow out, first Italian ICH-47F makes maiden flight and Russia shapes up for MiG-35


    First Australian MH-60R maiden flight, new missile on J-20 and UAE Typhoon deal looks to be on?



    PLUS: Special report on the Luftwaffe F-4F retirement event and Chinas new bomber programme plus Robert F. Dorrs Front Line column and all the latest military Losses

    Whats insideVol 14, No 9 September 2013

    Typhoon Force in this issue Combat Aircraft evaluates the future face of Royal Air Force combat air power. Jamie Hunter

    SUBSCRIBE AND SAVESubscribe to Combat Aircraft Monthly and make great savings on cover price. See pages 86 and 87 for details.

    Typhoon Force in this issue Combat Aircraft

    56 UK AIR POWER 2013

    Since the end of the Cold War, the Royal Air Force has seen a steady decline in strength and resources. The UKs armed forces have been especially badly hit by budget cutbacks over the past ve years. Combat Aircraft reviews the future prospects of the RAF. Photo Jamie Hunter

    38 BALTIC AIR POLICING: FINAL BOW FOR THE MIRAGE F1CR Six out of 28 NATO member states are unable to defend their own airspace. France is currently performing the Baltic Air Policing mission for the fourth time, as Tieme Festner and Cees-Jan van der Ende report

    44 EXERCISE REPORT: ARCTIC FIGHTER MEET 2013 Jan Jrgensen attends the Arctic Fighter Meet at Bod, located on Norways west coast, just north of the Arctic Circle

    46 F-15E: DIFFERENT BENEATH THE SKIN No-one expected the F-15E to become a close air support platform when the aircraft first flew, but as Robert F. Dorr details, improvements in sensors, avionics and ordnance have changed all that

    62 EXERCISE REPORT: TIGER! TIGER! TIGER! The largest ever NATO Tiger Meet brought an impressive array of front-line aircraft to rland MAS, Norway and thus afforded perhaps the best training opportunities of any NTM to date. Ben Dunnell was there

    3 Contents UK C.indd 1 22/07/2013 15:32

  • Combat Edge



    Tieme Festner was born in Rotterdam in the Netherlands and his work has been published since the 1990s. In a career spanning over 20 years he has worked with various air forces, government and industrial institutions. As a photographer he has flown many hours in a variety of aircraft types, notably in Lithuania, where he has become an expert in NATOs Baltic Air Policing mission.

    GRIM RREAPEREAPERAs the US Navy takes delivery of its rst F-35Cs for eet replenishment squadron (FRS) VFA-101 Grim Reapers, it is an important step on the road towards bringing the Lightning II to the eet. Lockheed Martin

    4 September 2013 www.combataircraft.net

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  • THIS MONTHCombat Edge

    US NAVY PILOTS and maintainers are now gearing up to start formal training on their brand new F-35C Lightning IIs at Eglin AFB, Florida. With larger wings, beefed up undercarriage, increased fuel

    capacity and arrester hook, this is the F-35 variant that is lagging behind in flight-testing, and one that many still consider to be vulnerable in the current fiscal climate.

    LCDR Chris Tabert delivered the first F-35C to VFA-101 at Eglin. The F-35 offers the Navy that fifth generation strike fighter capability that we need in the carrier strike group, he said.

    However, Orlando P. Carvalho, the new Executive Vice President of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, is well aware of the US Navys scepticism over the F-35C. His mission is to boost confidence in the aircraft, and he hopes carrier trials next year will go a long way towards achieving this. Carvalho does however concede that the C-model is inherently more expensive than the US Air Forces F-35A.

    In March, the Chief of Naval Operations ADM Jonathan Greenert acknowledged that walking away from its planned 260 F-35Cs would damage the overall programme, but he did not rule out a possible reduction in orders. Reducing the Navy order will inherently bump up unit costs for everyone. Greenert said that the Navy needs the F-35Cs capabilities, but he warned that the service is well aware there is still a lot of expensive work to do on integrating the F-35 into the Navys carrier air wings (CVWs).

    Greenerts comments came as another warning shot across the programmes bows. In 2012 he warned that future stealthy aircraft such as the F-35 may become compromised by improving radars.

    Integrating the F-35C into the CVWs is set to be a complicated and costly affair. Over the last decade the Navy has simplified and streamlined its decks, mainly thanks to the success of the Super Hornet. Its a factor that Boeing officials hope will still deliver fruit for its St Louis plant. Boeing is offering credible alternatives to F-35C technology. It announced in May that it plans to progress with its work on the Advanced Super Hornet and embark on a flight test programme. The conformal fuel tanks, an internal infra-red search and track (IRST) sensor, new large area cockpit display and an enclosed weapons pod (EWP) all offer F-35-esque capabilities.

    The big question is: will the Navy sit out the F-35 and exit via the door marked Super Hornet, opting to skip a generation and focus on long-term goals?

    Jamie Hunter, EditorE-mail: jamie.hunter@keypublishing.com

    Does the Navy need the F-35C?

    5www.combataircraft.net September 2013

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  • News

    6 September 2013 www.combataircraft.net

    Unmanned touchdown!X-47B makes history with carrier trap

    NORTHROP GRUMMANS X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrator (UCAS-D) completed its f

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