The aging fleet of C-135FRs, the French variant of the C-135 used as dual-role tanker/cargo and troop carrier aircraft, will be replaced with A400M and A330 MRTT (Multi Role Tanker Transport) aircraft.
Here are some images of Steadfast Noon 2014, a NATO Nuclear exercise.
With news, AIP supplements, comments all over the Internet, and photographs published on aviation websites and spotters forums across Europe, it’s not a secret that, at the end of October, Ghedi airbase, in northern Italy, hosted Steadfast Noon 2014, a yearly exercise whose aim was to train NATO units employing “special weapons” (i.e. nuclear bombs).
Needless to say, such exercises are routinely conducted without the aircraft carrying any bomb, since their purpose is to train the crews to load and unload nukes and to assess the participating units’ ability to safely deal with this kind of ordnance.
In other words, Steadfast Noon exercises and Strikeval (Strike Evaluation) inspections and certifications are extremely important to ensure nuclear weapons can be properly managed should the need arise.
Anyway, in this post you can find some interesting photographs depicting the Steadfast Noon participants, from Poland, Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, and United States, taken by photographer Fabrizio Berni.
Here are some stunning photos of the Belgian Air Force Days, held at Kleine Brogel airbase.
On Sept. 13 – 14, Kleine Brogel airbase, in Belgium, hosted the Belgian Air Force Days, an airshow attended by several interesting local and foreign aircraft whose main themes were the +100 years of Military Air Power and the 40th anniversary of the F-16.
The air show, preceded by a Spotter Day on Sept. 12, was particularly interesting, as it featured not only the usual solo display of several aircraft types, including the Dassault Rafale and the Mig-29, but also a tactical event whose aim was to provide the spectators a better insight on the how the Belgian Air Force is integrated in a NATO operation: the BAF set up a fictional scenario based on the current PSO (Peace Support Operations) in Afghanistan, within which 10 F-16 jets, supported by A-109 and Mi-24 helicopters, B-Hunter UAV (from 80th UAV squadron of the BAF) and NATO E-3A AWACS demonstrated some of their capabilities to the public.
Among the most interesting aircraft that took part in the BAF Days there were two Slovak Air Force Mig-29s, a single seater and a two-seat aircraft (the latter in static display only) belonging to the N° 1 Squadron. The Slovak Air Force is equipped with 12 Mig-29s based at Sliac.
Another interesting aircraft was the F-16C Block 52+ of the Hellenic Air Force Solo Demonstration team “Zeus” from Souda Bay airbase, in Crete. The team, formed in 2009, flew its first official demo flight in November 2010 and has so far made only a few overseas appearances.
Several display teams took part in the show. Along with the world-famous Frecce Tricolori, Red Arrows and Patrouille de France, that have been flying for 50 years, there were also the PC-7 Team, the Team Breitling, the Royal Jordanian Falcons and a relatively new team on the airshow scene: the United Arab Emirates air force’s Al Fursan, or “The Knights”.
The team flies six MB-339 trainers, the same aircraft as the Frecce Tricolori the team that helped the Al Fursan display team, in an attractive black and gold colour scheme, symbolizing the desert with oil underneath, with the colours of the United Arab Emirates’ flag on the bottom of the planes. The flag’s colours are also the colours of their smoke: white, red, green and black.
All the images in this post were taken by The Aviationist’s photographer Alessandro Fucito during the BAF Days.
Two F-16 Fighting Falcon jets, one F-18 Hornet and one Mig-29 Fulcrum were among the most interesting foreign guests of Roma International Air Show 2014.
Along with the Frecce Tricolori and Patrouille de France display teams and the usual solo displays by the Italian Air Force’s F-2000, Tornado IDS, AMX and C-27J, Roma International Air Show 2014, didn’t fail to meet the expectations of about 1 million spectators bringing in the skies over Ostia, on the coast to the west of Rome, Italy, some really interesting guests: the Dutch F-16 Demo Team, the Belgian Air Force F-16 demo team, the Swiss Air Force F-18 demo and the Polish Air Force Mig-29 demo.
In this page you can see some images taken on Jun. 28, during the airshow rehearsals.
From Mar. 31 to Apr. 11, 60 aircraft from eight different European countries will take part to NATO Exercise Frisian Flag 2014 whose purpose is to train for complex, multinational operations, like those over Libya and Afghanistan. Ruben Veenstra and Lieuwe de Vries went to Leewarden airbase, in the Netherlands, to report from Frisian Flag for The Aviationist.
It’s 9 o’clock in the morning and the first fighters are lined up on Runway 27 of Leeuwarden AB, the Netherlands. It’s the second day of the NATO exercise Frisian Flag 2014. The exercise, held since 1992 (in 1999 it took its current name), is meant for European nations to train for multinational operations like those over Libya and Afghanistan. It is also an opportunity for pilots to engage in dissimilar aircraft training (DACT) missions.
Host nation aside, Belgians, Danish, Norwegians and Portuguese with their F-16s, Spain and Germany with their Eurofighters, and the Finnish with their F-18 Hornets are taking part to the Frisian Flag. Support will be provided by a French Air Force AWACS E-3F, a British civilian operated DA-20 for EW (Electronic Warfare) and a DA-42 M-NG in a S-UAV role. Yep, you read that right: that’s a heavily modified Diamond DA-42 (a type of surveillance plane flown by Ukraine as well) with basically all the electronics and equipment of a RQ-1 Predator due to an absence of European operated Predators. It’s a manned aircraft but for all intents and purposes during Frisian Flag, it’s a recon drone with a real live feed to Leeuwarden AB.
In conjunction with Frisian Flag, the European Defense Agency is holding its first-ever multinational air-to-air refueling (AAR) exercises called, unglamorously, European Air-to-Air Refueling Training 2014 (EART14). A Dutch KDC-10, a German A310 and an Italian KC-767A will fly dedicated AAR (Air-to-Air Refueling) training missions from Eindhoven AB. Next to assisting Frisian Flag in AAR, they will train in Link 16 procedures, bailout procedures and multiple AAR formations. EART14 will also further certification for the Italian KC-767.
EART14 was born out of the realization of European member states that they are suffering from a lack of equipment and interoperability. In comparison: the EU member states have 40 tankers of ten different types, whereas the U.S. have over 550 tankers of just three types. In recent years, the EDA has defined three objectives: increasing the overall AAR capacity, reducing fragmentation of the fleet and optimizing the use of assets.
Although NATO-members have a long tradition of training with each other, Frisian Flag is one of the few initiatives in Europe that simulates large-scale wartime missions and conditions.
Complex missions are being flown above three countries (The Netherlands, Germany and Denmark) and will simulate real world operations like those in former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Libya. Missions range from defensive (like protection of ground objects and slow movers) to offensive missions (air interdiction and SEAD -Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses). To make things even more interesting, the Germans have placed SA-6s and SA-8s in the fighting area. The aircrews have no idea where they are placed, maximizing the training value. In turn, the Dutch have placed several Smokey Sams and inflatable targets.
For Close Air Support missions the fighters will rely on JTAC (Joint Terminal Attack Controller) units from the Dutch Special Forces who have operated previously in Afghanistan. An active Link 16 network is set up for communications throughout the two-week exercise.
Crews are divided in 12-hour morning and afternoon shifts with planning alone taking 6 hours a day. Each shift has a wave of 44 aircraft. This pace is being help up every day, for twelve consecutive days with the missions getting more and more complex along the way.