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How do our Herc's compare ?

130th Airlift Wing tapped to convert to C-130J Super Hercules

W6QULCHNNJBCNP3PWPCBPYWH4Y.jpg Air Force C-130J aircraft take part in an elephant walk before takeoff during an exercise at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., in March 2018. (Airman 1st Class Rhett Isbell/Air Force)

The 130th Airlift Wing out of McLaughlin Air National Guard Base in Charleston, West Virginia, has gotten the green light to convert to the C-130J-30 Super Hercules from the legacy C-130H models, acting Secretary of the Air Force John Roth announced Wednesday.

 

“We are exceptionally pleased to have gotten word today that the Acting Secretary of the Air Force has officially signed off on the basing decision so that the 130th Airlift Wing can move forward with the conversion to the new J models,” said Brig. Gen. William “Bill” Crane, adjutant general of the West Virginia National Guard, in an Air Force news release. “These men and women have been working non-stop since the announcement of being selected as a preferred alternative back in November, and now we can put our plans into action to begin training and preparing to receive the new C-130Js.”

“The 130th Airlift Wing expects to receive its first C-130J model aircraft later this summer, and we look forward to celebrating this tremendous honor,” Crane said.

The 130th Airlift Wing was designated a preferred alternative for the C-130J aircraft in November 2020. The Air Force said at the time the 130th Air Wing was tapped due to its ability to support the mission, along with economic and environmental considerations.

Specifically, the Air Force cited the 130th Airlift Wing’s strong retention numbers over the years as “consistently one of the highest in the nation,” and pointed to the fact that the wing already has the modern infrastructure to accommodate the C-130J.

 

The 130th Airlift Wing has eight of the C-130H Hercules model aircraft, and has operated various versions of the C-130 since 1975.

“Today’s announcement is incredibly exciting for the men and women of the 130th Airlift Wing as they move forward with this conversion,” West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said in the news release. “Our National Guard is second to none, and these great Airmen will do a wonderful job with this conversion process. I thank them for all their hard work in preparing to get to this important milestone.”

The outgoing C-130H aircraft will head to other locations, with two to three leaving monthly.

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The Chipmunk prototype, CF-DIO-X, first flew on 22 May 1946 at Downsview, Toronto, piloted by Pat Fillingham, a test pilot who had been seconded from the parent de Havilland company.
Manufacturer: de Havilland Canada
Primary users: Royal Air Force (historical); Roy...
First flight: 22 May 1946

 

75th Anniversary of the first Chipmunk Flight

The de Havilland Chipmunk flying above green fields. The de Havilland Chipmunk became the RAF’s primary trainer aircraft. However, the Prefect now also provides training.  Richard Paver Photography 2020.

The de Havilland Chipmunk first flew on 22 May 1946 and from the late 1940s, becoming the RAF’s primary trainer aircraft. Although still used, the RAF now also have the Prefect. 

The Prefect aims to provide Elementary Flying Training for students with the foundation of core level flying skills for their future military flying careers, as well as enable them to qualify for Fast-Jet lead-in, Rotary or Multi-Engine specialist training. 

The Prefect Aircraft taking off. The Prefect is the next-generation elementary training aircraft enabling students to learn general handling, spinning, stalling, aerobatic and navigation skills. 

The RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight has two Chipmunks, invaluable for training fighter pilots to fly Spitfires and Hurricanes as they have the same tailwheel landing gear – two wheels at the front and one at the back – as opposed to the ‘tricycle’ formation of modern aircraft.  It has a two-seat tandem cockpit and is powered by a de Havilland Gypsy Major engine. 

For now, the Prefect is the next-generation elementary training aircraft, which was named in honour of the Avro single-engine biplane trainer used by RAF pilots before and during the Second World War.  Designed to the latest safety standards, it offers an ideal training platform for new students to learn general handling, spinning, stalling, aerobatic and navigation skills. 

THE PREFECT FACTS: 

  • Side-by-side twin-seat training aircraft 
  • Powered by a Rolls-Royce M250 turboprop 456hp engine
  • Can sustain ‘G’ forces from -4G through to +6G 
  • Top speed of 238 knots (274 mph) 
  • Maximum altitude – 25,000ft
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Red Arrows Return to UK Airshows

Red Arrows Team with the Blues and four aircraft in formation on the ground. The Red Arrows Display Team are set to return to the skies for their 57th season.  

Audiences across the UK can once again enjoy the spectacular displays of the Red Arrows the first time in almost two years. 

They last performed in July 2019, at the Royal International Air Tattoo, but the Pandemic forced event organisers to cancel displays. However, now led by Squadron Leader Bould, the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team were given Public Display Authority (PDA) to return to the skies for their 57th season.  

Red Arrows and white trails flying. The new season will feature new manoeuvres. 

During the Pandemic the Red Arrows kept extremely busy with several major flypasts – including marking the 75th anniversaries of VE and VJ Day – and a vast online outreach programme that explored themes around leadership, teamwork, and science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects.

Five personnel and a vehicle on the ground looking up to the performing Red Arrows.

Then, the Red Arrows trained as their home base RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire and then moved overseas to a location with more settled weather on Exercise Springhawk.  Here RAF Air Officer Commanding, 1 Group, Air Vice-Marshal Al Marshall deemed them to be safe and visually appealing ahead of the new season. 

“This is the culmination of several months of hard work and everyone’s dedication to the task has brought us to this point, whether they be fellow pilots in the team or our highly-trained support staff.  Being my first PDA as Red 1, I feel incredibly honoured to have led the team to this point and to now have the opportunity to present a new show – featuring all the energy, excitement and excellence that airshow audiences expect and enjoy.”

Squadron Leader Bould
Red 1

The new aerobatic show will begin on June 4 at the Midlands Air Festival, followed by a four-month summer campaign spanning the UK and mainland Europe. The first show will last 20 minutes and display some of the most impressive formations including Swan and the Big Vixen Roll.  There will also be several new moves, such as the Boomerang, and even an all-blue-smoke trail as a respectful dedication to the NHS and key workers. 

Red Arrows performing a loop move.

 

“Over the last 12 months, from the high-profile flypasts to the countless remote, virtual sessions we’ve participated in as a team, it’s been clear that people’s enthusiasm and desire for bold, colourful displays and enjoying precision flying is stronger than ever."

Wing Commander Montenegro
Officer Commanding Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team

  Wing Commander Montenegro and Squadron Leader Boule stand in-front of a Red Arrows Fighter Jet holding their helmets. Wing Commander Montenegro and Squadron Leader Boule.

Dates and displays are subject to change due to operational, weather and other factors. Further dates will also be added if and when shows confirm.  Some of the locations the Red Arrows are currently expected to visit are listed below, and more information on dates or types of moves can be found on the RAF Website Red Arrows Display Page. 

  • Midlands Air Festival
  • Headcorn Battle of Britain Airshow
  • Belgian Air Force Drive-In Air Show
  • Goodwood Festival of Speed
  • Silverstone British Grand Prix
  • Duxford Summer Airshow
  • Gdynia, Poland Sidmouth Air Display
  • Bournemouth Air Festival
  • Guernsey Air Display
  • Jersey International Air Display
  • International Sanicole Air Show
  • Cosford Airshow
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ScreenShot009.jpg.fedce6d6ca2066a56058177abe1300f4.jpg

 

 

The Chipmunk.....

My first flight in any aircraft,,,,,,,,RCAF station Centralia a few eons ago

Did not eat for two days as I was afraid I would get airsick   

Eight hours of flight and went for my first solo

Landed safely but almost ran over the marshaller when I parked the aircraft...I was so excited 

Finished flying the "Chippy" after 24 hours of flight time and moved to the Harvard...

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Continuing with the Chipmunk.

A longtime  Airforce/Airline friend sent me this photo. Hope I am OK to post it.

This Chipmunk is in my logbook January 14, 1959 with the trip being exercise Post Solo #5.

The gent on the left is a squadron mate from CF-100 days in North Bay. He is retired from AA

after a post Air Force career in the airlines. The gent on the right is the owner of the Chipmunk, his son, who is now a pilot with AA having started with them in maintenance.

The aircraft looks beautiful.

The thought occurs that if I could snivel and whine enough to get a ride I could put the same aircraft in my logbook with  some 62 odd years in between. Actually I would settle for a photo sitting in it.

1.jpeg

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Germany’s Hensoldt pushes drone collision-avoidance system under EU banner

By: Sebastian Sprenger   1 hour ago
 
HMGLCZXAQNECXJ6OBF65OA5DAU.jpg 

Airbus unveiled a mockup of the future Eurodrone at the 2018 Berlin International Airshow. The unmanned aircraft is billed as the first drone that will be certified to fly alongside civilian aircraft in the dense European airspace. (Sebastian Sprenger/Staff)

 

COLOGNE, Germany – German defense contractor Hensoldt is banking on its own detect-and-avoid sensor to emerge as the product of choice for the multinational Eurodrone and other unmanned aircraft developed on the continent, according to company executives.

Engineers expect to test their active electronically scanning array (AESA) radar in conjunction with an autopilot system during tests this summer under an initiative headed by the civilian German Aerospace Center, or DLR in German. The goal is to determine how data picked up by the sensor in the manned test aircraft’s nose cone can trigger the autopilot to initiate a successful collision-avoidance sequence.

Such safety features are an essential requirement for integrating manned and unmanned flight in the same airspace, a stated goal of new drone developments. Most notably, the European medium-altitude, long-endurance remotely piloted air system, dubbed Eurodrone for short, is slated to have a certification for civilian airspace integration built in from the start.

Larger passenger aircraft use transponders to notify others of their position, and collision-avoidance systems exist for cases in which two aircraft with such equipment installed get too close to one another. Dealing with aircraft, including drones, lacking these features remains an unsolved problem.

Hensoldt is among a raft of European defense-electronics companies participating in the European Detect and Avoid System (EUDAAS) effort sponsored by the European Union. It belongs to a collection of mini-projects under the European Defense Industrial Development Program, meant to push industry-driven approaches to Europe’s defense problems.

 

While Swedish company Saab has the lead for EUDAAS, Hensoldt hopes its sensor components will be front and center when the project reaches the stage of initial test flights around 2023. That timeline roughly fits into the envisioned Eurodrone schedule, which expects to see a first flight of the aircraft two years or so later.

Nationally, Hensoldt’s work on a detect-and-avoid system is sponsored by civilian agencies like DLR and the Germany economic ministry. But there is a written agreement that any insights can flow towards the German defense ministry’s acquisition arm, said Dietmar Klarer, the company’s chief of radar concepts. “The applications really are very intertwined,” he said in an interview.

One of the deliverables under the EUDAAS project is hammering out standards for what happens in the final moments leading up to a potential collision, Klarer explained. For example, to what extent can a dodging sequence be automated, and when can human operators on the ground still interfere in the process?

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Europe

Croatia to drop €1 billion on used Rafale fighter jets

By: Jaroslaw Adamowski   7 hours ago
 
SFEFT7MCSVH5LCMR4VGJFMNKCI.jpg 

A Rafale fighter performs its flying display at the International Paris Air Show on June 17, 2019, at Le Bourget airport near Paris. (ERIC PIERMONT/AFP/Getty Images)

 

WARSAW, Poland — Croatia’s government has made a decision to buy 12 second-hand Rafale F3-R fighter jets from France for the country’s Air Force, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said.

“The purchase of the multirole fighter aircraft will strengthen Croatia’s position as a member of NATO and a partner within the European Union. For the first time, we will reach 2 percent of the GDP allocated to strengthening our defense capabilities,” Plenković said, as quoted in a statement released by his government.

The deal is to be worth some €999 million (U.S. $1.2 billion) and, in addition to the aircraft, it will cover weapon systems, spare parts, logistics and training. Following the cabinet’s decision, Zagreb will proceed to negotiate the contract’s details with Paris.

Under the plan, France is to deliver the first six twin-engine aircraft in 2024, and the remaining six Rafales will be supplied the following year. The delivered aircraft will include 10 single-seater and two twin-seater fighter jets.

Other offers considered by Zagreb included the purchase of F-16 Block 70 aircraft from the United States, Swedish JAS-39 Gripen C/D fighter jets, and F-16C/D Block 30 aircraft from Israel. Through the acquisition, Croatia’s Air Force is aiming to replace its outdated Soviet-designed Mikoyan MiG-21 fighters.

 

In 2018, Croatia’s Defence Ministry announced it intended to purchase used Israeli F-16s, but in early 2019 the government scrapped the decision and re-launched the tender. Croatian officials told local media the U.S. government accused its Israeli counterpart of unfair competition in the tender

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US Air Force to mothball dozens of A-10s, F-15s and F-16s in FY22 budget

By: Valerie Insinna   2 hours ago
 
OAFB74SNJNDOLD7GAVTVQNDJLY.jpg 

The U.S. Air Force wants to send more than 200 aircraft to the boneyard. Will lawmakers push back? (Senior Airman Kristine Legate/U.S. Air Force)

 

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force wants to send more than 200 aircraft to the boneyard with its fiscal 2022 budget request, freeing up $1.3 billion in savings that it can reinvest in cutting-edge technologies like its sixth-generation fighter and hypersonic weapons.

The Department of the Air Force, which released its budget request on May 28, requested a total of $173.7 billion — $156.3 billion for the Air Force and $17.4 billion for the Space Force.

Although research, development, test and evaluation costs for the Air Force increased from $26.6 billion to $28.8 billion, procurement fell from $26.1 billion to $22.9 billion.

The request could be a bitter pill to swallow for Congress. It asks lawmakers to approve the retirement of dozens of aircraft — including the beloved A-10 Warthog, F-15C/D and F-16C/D fighters, KC-135 and KC-10 refueling tankers, C-130 cargo planes, and RQ-4 surveillance drones — while, in many cases, funding fewer new aircraft than anticipated in the Air Force’s FY21 plans.

Despite the major changes, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. C.Q. Brown has said that FY23 would host the biggest overhauls to the service.

 

“You always go into, I think, election years with a little bit different [mindset],” Brown told Defense News in November. “You probably don’t make as many big, bold moves in certain areas. And so there are some things we will take a look at as we work through [FY22]. ... And as we look at [FY23], this is where I’m really focused.”

Aircraft divestment

Tactical aircraft make up a huge portion of the aircraft the Air Force wants to retire in FY22, and it will not buy new fighter aircraft in numbers to make up for their loss.

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“To attain the desired fighter fleet, the Air Force must right size current aircraft inventories to expedite the transition away from less capable, aging aircraft and emphasize investment in future capabilities” such as the F-35 Block 4 modernization program and Next Generation Air Dominance, the service’s sixth generation fighter, said Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek.

 

The service hopes to shed 42 A-10 Warthogs, which would bring the total inventory to 239 aircraft — the number the Air Force believes it needs for counterterrorism and low-end operations through at least 2030, Stefanek said.

A U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle release flares over the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility on Aug. 13, 2020. (Senior Airman Duncan C. Bevan/U.S. Air Force)

A U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle release flares over the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility on Aug. 13, 2020. (Senior Airman Duncan C. Bevan/U.S. Air Force)

It also plans to cut 47 F-16C/D and 48 F-15C/D fighters, which have “major structural issues” and will become unsafe to fly as early as 2023, Stefanek said.

The Air Force is continuing the trend from FY21 of retiring a portion of its legacy tanker fleet, divesting 14 KC-10 tankers and 18 KC-135 tankers. The retirement of those aircraft will allow the Air Force to invest more money toward standing up the KC-46, specifically the transition of KC-10 and KC-135 maintainers to the KC-46, Stefanek said.

The Air Force would retire a total of 13 C-130Hs, a move than Stefanek said “constitutes a low level of risk, given future joint war-fighting missions.”

The service also plans to retire four of its 16 E-8 JSTARS aircraft, which are used for ground surveillance and targeting, and 20 RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30 surveillance drones.

 

“The Air Force must accelerate investment in competitive capabilities that can penetrate and survive in the highly contested environment,” Stefanek said of the proposal. “Divestment of less-survivable weapon systems provides resources to fund emerging ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] capabilities that can penetrate and collect data in the highly contested environment.”

Lawmakers have already signaled they may not accept the Air Force’s plan to retire certain aircraft.

On Friday morning, Arizona Sens. Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema as well as Reps Ann Kirkpatrick, Ruben Gallego, Tom O’Halleran and Greg Stanton issued a statement opposing the proposed divestment of the A-10, which is based at Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona.

“Removing A-10s from the fleet when there is not another aircraft capable of performing this mission takes a vital tool away from our military and is the wrong step for our national security,” Kelly said.

The Air Force might encounter similar opposition for retiring the RQ-4 and E-8 — something it attempted in past budgets, only to be shot down by lawmakers who have fought divesting those aircraft when no direct replacement exists.

 

Congress may be more likely to approve the retirement of KC-135s this year. In FY21, lawmakers blocked proposed divestment of KC-135s due to concerns from U.S. Transportation Command about the overall size of the tanker force. However, TRANSCOM head Gen. Stephen Lyons told lawmakers during a May 18 hearing that he would support some KC-135 retirements this year.

Trade-offs today for tomorrow

The Air Force’s decision to slash procurement — resulting in some cases in lower buys of aircraft than was projected in FY21 — may also prove controversial.

The service stuck to its plan of buying 48 F-35A conventional-takeoff-and-landing models and 12 F-15EX Eagle II fighters in FY22, at $4.5 billion and $1.3 billion respectively.

It also wants to spend $2.4 billion on 14 KC-46 tankers — two more than projected in its FY21 plans.

However, the service lowered procurement of the HH-60W combat rescue helicopter from 20 aircraft in its FY21 plans to 14 in the FY22 request. And instead of buying four MC-130Js for Air Force Special Operations Command, as it planned in FY21, it will buy only three at a cost of $220 million.

It also funds a single C-130 and E-11 Battlefield Airborne Communications Node to replace combat losses.

The service requests $2.1 billion to procure missiles. Most notably, it will buy hypersonic missiles for the first time, adding $161 million to the budget for low-rate initial production of the AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon.

Meanwhile, the Air Force wants to make big investments in several advanced technology programs under development to outmatch emerging Chinese threats. The service stepped up its investment on Next Generation Air Dominance, a family of systems that will include a sixth-generation fighter. Spending on the program is set to increase by $623 million, for a total of $1.5 billion in FY22. An NGAD demonstrator first flew last year. Though it remains unclear when the capability will be fielded, it is set to replace the F-22.

Although the Biden administration will likely pursue a nuclear posture review, Air Force nuclear development programs received a huge boost in funding despite ongoing questions about whether to fund the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent, which is meant to replace Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles. GBSD was dealt a major victory in FY22, with the Air Force adding $1.1 billion to the program for a total of $2.6 billion.

The service increased spending on the Long Range Standoff Weapon from $385 million in FY21 to $609 million in FY22. Funding for the B-21 bomber stayed stable at $2.9 billion.

The Air Force boosted spending on the Advanced Battle Management System program from $158 million in FY21 to $204 million in FY22. It also increased spending for hypersonic weapons prototyping from $386 million to $438 million.

The service also put more money toward upgrades for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and B-52 bomber. The service increased funds for the F-35′s Block 4 modernization program and Technology Refresh 3 by $239 million, for a total of $1.1 billion. It added $233 million for B-52 upgrades, including the engine replacement program, for a total of $716 million.

Funding for the VC-25B Air Force One replacement aircraft dropped slightly from $799 million to $681 million.

 
 
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1 hour ago, Kip Powick said:

Kinda weird.....all the canopys have been modified.... Here is a photo of the ones we flew at initial pilot training..

 

ScreenShot002.jpg.0bec99fc61500e64b25569ad7bbe4cc8.jpg

It seems that both canopies are stock, the variance is based on where the aircraft was manufactured.     Which Chipmunk Is That? by Rod Blievers (clubhyper.com)  Good article with pictures of the two types.

 

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Interesting 

US Air Force wish list includes more F-15EX jets but no F-35s

By: Valerie Insinna   1 hour ago 

 


 

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force’s $4.2 billion wish list for fiscal 2022 includes about $1.4 billion to buy 12 more F-15EX fighters from Boeing, helping to narrow a projected gap as the service divests its aging F-15C/D fleet.

More funding for the F-15EX — which includes procurement of 24 conformal fuel tank sets and assorted spares to extend the range of the aircraft — ranked as the top priority and most expensive item on the service’s annual unfunded priorities list, which was delivered to Congress on June 1 and obtained by Defense News.

But the biggest surprise was the conspicuous absence of additional F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.

The services are required to submit unfunded priorities lists to Congress that spell out how they might spend money if the budget top line had been larger. Typically, lawmakers use the lists as a blueprint for making changes to the budget — especially as rationale for adding more expensive items like ships or aircraft.

Over the past several years, the Air Force requested funds for 48 Lockheed Martin-made F-35s in its budget and additional F-35s in its unfunded wish list. But service officials hinted that practice could stop in FY22 as it waits for the upgraded Block 4 version of the jet to be fielded in the mid-2020s.

Instead, the Air Force list puts $360 million into F-35 sustainment. About $175 million of that sum would go toward 20 F135 engine power modules, helping ameliorate a shortage that is “causing aircraft to become not mission capable at increasing rates,” according to the Air Force’s justification for its unfunded priorities.

Congress is usually amenable to boosting aircraft procurement to the levels laid out in the unfunded list, but the Air Force’s planned divestment of more than 200 aircraft in FY22 — including 42 A-10 Warthogs, 47 F-16C/Ds and 48 F-15C/Ds — could make lawmakers even more likely to increase F-15EX procurement.

The Air Force requested funds for 12 F-15EX aircraft and 48 F-35s in its FY22 budget released Friday.

The second biggest chunk of funding on the unfunded priorities list — worth a collective $825 million — would go toward weapon system sustainment and spares needed to keep aircraft flying.

Specifically, the list includes $37 million for U-2 sustainment, including special fuel, U-2 and T-38 trainer maintenance, and a contract extension for the aircraft’s mission-planning cell. The service also added $37 million for five additional spare engines for the EC-37 Compass Call prior to the production line shutdown. The EC-37 is set to replace the legacy EC-130H Compass Call electronic warfare aircraft.

 

The list adds $377 million to augment the Air Force’s command-and-control enterprise, with funds to accelerate the Three Dimensional Expeditionary Long-Range Radar program and underwrite ongoing procurement, operations and maintenance of Battlefield Airborne Communications Node aircraft.

The Air Force also included $180 million for three major aircraft upgrades and technologies. It requests $86 million for the Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar Systems program and $38 million for the Large Common Carriage, allowing the program to move into the engineering, manufacturing and development phase.

The list also adds $57 million for the Adaptive Engine Transition Program, which would allow General Electric as well as Pratt & Whitney to finish work on their engine prototypes.

Finally, the unfunded wish list contains about $1 billion for infrastructure, including about $736 million for military construction projects.

Joe Gould in Washington contributed to this report.

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 Danish military to lease electric training COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — The Danish defense ministry said Thursday that it will lease two electric trainer airplanes as a test, adding that it is the first country in the world to do so.

The single-engine, two-seater Pipistrel Velis Electro is an electric-powered Slovenian light aircraft intended primarily for training use. It will complement the Danish air force’s current training aircraft, the Saab T-17 Supporter, which is used for school flights and maintenance training flights.

The noise level of the plane corresponds to that of a normal conversation, the ministry said in a statement.

“Everyone has a responsibility to contribute to climate change. This also applies to the area of defense,” said Defense Minister Trine Bramsen. The trial of the planes "will be important for future equipment acquisitions in the field of defense."

They will be delivered in the fall of 2021, and would be leased via a French company. The ministry didn't say how much the lease would cost.

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More good news for Bombardier.

US Air Force awards $465M contract for new E-11A planes

By: Valerie Insinna   21 minutes ago
 
SH35ZMV3RVH5PAOARTPSUYFSMI.jpg 

The E-11A is a U.S. Air Force aircraft that provides unparalleled communications capabilities to coalition forces on the ground and aircraft in the air. Commonly known as Battlefield Airborne Communications Node, or BACN, this aircraft extends the range of communications channels and enables better communication amongst units. ( Capt. Keenan Kunst/U.S. Air Force)

 

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force on Tuesday awarded Learjet a contract worth up to $465 million for Bombardier Global 6000 business jets, which will be modified into the E-11A aircraft used to relay data between platforms that cannot normally share information.

The contract immediately obligated $70 million to pay for the first Global 6000 out of a potential total of six planes. That aircraft will become an E-11A once it is modified with Northrop Grumman’s Battlefield Airborne Communications Node payload.

The Air Force received $63 million for the E-11 program in fiscal 2021 to procure the first aircraft. As part of its FY22 budget request, which was rolled out last week, the service requested $124 million for another two E-11s.

The BACN payload provides relay, bridging, and data translation for platforms that are not able to communicate, either because they use different voice and data link systems or are separated by mountains or other terrain that impedes a reliable connection.

The new E-11A aircraft would expand the current fleet and allow the Air Force to “rapidly respond to the operational needs of combatant commanders worldwide,” Elizabeth Rosa, the Air Force’s BACN procurement lead, said in a news release.

 

Currently, the Air Force retains seven aircraft with the BACN payload. The service was left with three E-11As — which are crewed by two pilots — after one E-11 crashed in Afghanistan in January 2020. It also operates four EQ-4B Global Hawk drones equipped with the BACN payload.

Last year, the service attempted to retire a total of 24 Global Hawks, including the EQ-4B aircraft, as part of the FY21 budget. Congress ultimately rebuffed the proposal.

At the time, the Air Force said it expected to buy five E-11As to offset the divestment of the EQ-4B.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Antonov Airlines Transports 5 Helicopters On The AN-124-100

An Antonov Airlines An-124-100 flew an interesting mission this week. The massive aircraft flew from Poland to the Phillippines carrying five Black Hawk helicopters. While the helicopters themselves weren’t particularly heavy for the An-124, safe transportation was crucial.

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