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A senior Robins Air Force Base official believes the massive $29.4 billion upgrade to the Royal Saudi Air Force’s F-15 fleet remains on track although the Saudi government has not yet signed the agreement.
Final agreement from the Saudi government was expected by mid summer, but that did not occur. Col. Robert Stambaugh, who heads the project for the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, attributes that to the sheer scope of the effort.
“Typically, the Saudi timeline (for signature) is about six months which would have been the end of September,” Stambaugh pointed out. “We expected them to potentially sign this one early. But this is the biggest foreign military sale in history times three. So you can understand why they would be hesitant — $30 billion is a lot of money even for the Saudi Arabian government.”
Robins Air Force Base, the sustainment focal point for the U.S. Air Force’s F-15 fleet, will be a key player in the project when it becomes official. For almost three decades, Robins has partnered with the RSAF in supporting that nation’s F-15s. The new program would add about 100 people to the Robins payroll including some who will be positioned in Saudi Arabia.
Stambaugh said Boeing, the F-15 manufacturer, and a host of suppliers are cooperating to sustain the terms originally offered to the Saudi government in April.
Reports originally surfaced that Boeing would shut down its F-15 production line in 2012 if additional orders were not received by the end of 2011. The company has since backed off that timeline. According to media reports, Boeing will deliver the last of 21 F-15Ks to South Korea in March of next year. Singapore’s fleet of 24 F-15SGs also will be completed next year. The company is competing for a follow-on South Korean buy of 40 to 60 aircraft.
The former Warner Robins ALC vice commander does not believe the sale is being held up by politics.
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San Antonio, TX — For some pilots, it runs in the family. Maj. Ryan “Rider” Corrigan can draw influence from his uncle and dad, both F-16 pilots.
Corrigan will showcase his skills during the F-16 “Viper East Demo” at the Randolph 2011 Air Show this coming Saturday and Sunday.
“I knew I wanted to be a pilot after I saw my first air show,” Corrigan said. “My uncle was a Thunderbird F-16 pilot.” His older brother and cousin are also in the family business.
After 11 years in the Air Force (seven of which have been spent as an F-16 pilot), Corrigan acknowledged the difference between training for combat and an air show.
“It’s a different type of mentality,” he said. “Training for air shows takes you out of combat mentality and training. We get to showcase to Americans the maneuvering power and the airplane’s ability to change directions rapidly.”
Corrigan first applied for the position of demonstration pilot after completing his assignment as a combat aviator.
“I didn’t want a desk job somewhere, I wanted to hold onto the airplane as long as I could,” he said.
He will be flying the F-16 Fighting Falcon, commonly known as the Viper, a multirole fighter aircraft used for air-to-air combat and air-to-surface attack. Corrigan compares the experience to driving.
“I still feel 18 when I fly. Imagine driving the most impressive sports car you can imagine and multiply it by 10,” Corrigan said.
Even though he enjoys the plane’s 360-degree views and its ability to fly upside down at supersonic speeds, Corrigan is quick to point out the amount of training and “book knowledge” required to fly a Viper.
“There’s a lot of preparation that goes into a flight before we hit the runway. It’s scripted and well thought out,” Corrigan said. “Each maneuver has a specific entry, and we have to be able to hit those numbers or else we won’t do the maneuver.”
Corrigan has spent the last four years as an F-16 instructor pilot and demonstration pilot stationed at Shaw AFB in South Carolina, but the 34-year-old grew up in San Antonio, and attended Windcrest Elementary and White Junior High school. Although Corrigan already knows who will replace him in Viper East, he’s waiting for his next assignment: “Hopefully, it involves a plane that goes real fast.”
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After being temporarily grounded for days, Virginia-based F-22 Raptors returned to the air last Tuesday, Oct. 25.
Last Thursday, the commander of the 1st Fighter Wing ordered the stand-down after a pilot experienced hypoxia-like symptoms. Hypoxia occurs when the body does not receive enough oxygen.
Last week’s order came just a month after the nation’s entire fleet of F-22s was allowed back into the air. The planes, which cost $143 million each, were pulled from service in May because of hypoxia issues reported by at least a dozen pilots. The reports prompted an investigation into the F-22 plane’s oxygen delivery system. Senior military officials cleared the planes for flight last month even though the exact cause of the hypoxia issues reported by pilots had not been pinpointed.
Joint Base Langley-Eustis spokeswoman Monica-Miller Rodgers said what led to the Virginia pilot’s symptoms remains under investigation.
Raptors in Alaska also were grounded for two days as a precautionary measure following the incident at Langley, but they returned to flight Monday.
The stealth fighters were introduced in 2005 and have flown hundreds of Homeland Security missions but have seen no combat. About 30 of nation’s 170 F-22 Raptors are based in Virginia and 40 are stationed at the Anchorage base.
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Houma, LA — You can get an up-close look at area aircrafts and get better acquainted with the local airport Saturday at the annual Cajun Fly-In.
The Experimental Aircraft Association’s event runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Houma-Terrebonne Airport. To enter the airport, take Aviation Road, off East Main Street.
Newton Boudreaux, 78, a member of the local association, said the annual event, started about 10 years ago, showcases the airport and its role on the community and economy.
“Most folks have seen an airplane or helicopter fly overhead, but they have no idea what the thing looks like on the ground,” he said.
The event, sponsored by Houma’s Bill Fornof EAA Chapter 513, will also feature military, emergency and rescue vehicle displays from Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Houma Police and Fire departments. There is no charge to attend.
Tim Rochel, president of the local aircraft association, said residents don’t realize the airport’s significance.
“There’s more commerce that goes on there than one would begin to realize unless they can appreciate it firsthand,” he said.
Thibodaux residents Chris Aysen and Scott Thibodaux, both members of the local chapter, will display their home-built planes, and could take to the skies for a demonstration, Boudreaux said.
Aysen, a machine-tool instructor at L.E. Fletcher Community College in Houma, built a two-seat Zenith CH701 over about five years.
Thibodaux, a safety engineer for Schlumberger, built a fabric-covered Christavia MK-1 over 13 years. Both planes recently passed FAA inspections.
Twenty-five pilots showed off their home- and factory-built aircrafts at last year’s fly-in.
Boudreaux said the association will also register 8- to 17-year-olds for its Young Eagles program. The program gives local youth a chance to take a free airplane ride.
The program is a part of an international one started two years ago that has given plane rides to 1.6 million children, including about 90 in Houma.
“In most cases, this is the first exposure that these kids will have with aircrafts and actually flying in an airplane,” he said. Rides will be available Saturday on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The local aviation group is named after the late Bill Fornof, a Navy pilot from Houma who flew in aviation shows with his son, Corkey Fornof, in their F8F Bearcats. The son is now a movie pilot in California.
Helicopters from the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Coast Guard, State Police, Air Logistics, PHI, Acadian Ambulance and ERA will be displayed.
Boudreaux said there also is a possibility of seeing a B-52 fly-by.
Local pilot Charlie Hammonds will display his T-28 Trojan — a training plane for the U.S. Navy — and local attorney Darryl Christen will display his L-39 National Air Jet Racer 99 — a former Soviet Union training jet.
The Regional Military Museum, based on Barrow Street in Houma, will display several World War II uniforms, vehicles and weapons.
Rochel, a Houma resident, said locals should take advantage of Saturday’s fly-in, which he compares to a car show for airplanes, because not all state aircraft associations conduct fly-ins for their respective communities.
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Two jet fighter squadrons with crews of 500 officers and enlisted men and women are in line to move from the East Coast to Lemoore Naval Air Station, probably in spring 2014, the Navy said last Friday, Oct. 21.
An environmental assessment, which was made public Friday, determined that relocating two squadrons from Virginia to Lemoore would have no significant impacts. The assessment removes a major hurdle in possibly relocating the squadrons.
Navy Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk, Va., wants to move the two 12-jet squadrons west to be closer to Pacific Fleet aircraft carriers, and Lemoore is the best place because of its status as the Navy’s West Coast master jet base, the environmental assessment said.
The Navy also is considering reducing the number of jets assigned to a Lemoore training squadron, which would lead to a slight reduction in fighter jets at the base.
The Navy will make a final decision on the move by 2014, said Ted Brown, a spokesman for Fleet Forces Command.
The move would pump $1.9 million in salaries annually into the Valley’s economy, the report said.
Maureen Azevedo, CEO of the Lemoore Chamber of Commerce, hailed the potential move as “an awesome thing” for Lemoore, as well as Kings, Fresno, Tulare and Kings counties.
However welcoming the prospect of the relocations might be for Lemoore boosters, the looming question of where the next generation of jet fighters — 100 Navy F-35C Joint Striker Fighter jets — will be based remains up in the air.
An environmental-impact statement is being prepared to evaluate both Lemoore and an air base in El Centro in Imperial County, with a recommendation slated to be released in 2013.
But the announcement that the path is cleared for two new squadrons — which ones haven’t been determined yet — to make Lemoore their home “strengthens the viability of this base,” said John Lehn, president and CEO of the Kings County Economic Development Corp.
The squadrons would move west from the Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia. They would fly F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets, said Melinda Larson, Lemoore base spokeswoman.
That’s not the only change the Navy is moving toward. According to the environmental assessment, five squadrons at Lemoore would have their older F/A-18C Hornet jet fighters retired and replaced by Super Hornets, and a squadron assigned to train pilots would lose 30 older Hornets that won’t be replaced.
But the smaller training squadron would be more than offset by the two new squadrons, resulting in 180 more uniformed military at the base, Larson said.
The number of takeoffs and landings and other air operations at the Lemoore base would be cut by about 24% because there would be fewer jets in the training squadron. But the total number of fighter jets at Lemoore will be about the same, dipping from 238 to 234.
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Southwest Airlines Chairman, President and CEO Gary Kelly says it would be “fantastic” if the airline could find a way to retire the Boeing 717s that were part of its AirTran Airways acquisition before their leases expire, but adds that there is no deal in the offing.
Southwest earlier made clear it does not plan to keep the 88 aircraft when their leases expire, between 2018 and 2024, but seemed to be sending conflicting signals in early September, when it alluded to a possible deal with Boeing to get rid of them earlier (Aviation Daily, Sept. 8).
In a conference call on Oct. 20 to discuss the carrier’s third-quarter earnings, Kelly reiterated the desire to drop the aircraft type and said, “If we had an opportunity that was affordable for us to accelerate the retirement of the 717s and replace them with 737s, that would be fantastic.”
But Kelly also added that Southwest does not have that alternative right now. “We’re talking to Boeing about a whole variety of things, and that would be one,” Kelly said. But he also said, “The odds are you are going to see those aircraft operated for Southwest for quite some time.”
Kelly did not have any significant update regarding Southwest’s discussions with Boeing about the 737MAX, revealing only that “we are just now being briefed on what it does or doesn’t do.”
He added that he is not concerned that Southwest, a big and long-time Boeing customer, will be bumped down the list for 737MAX deliveries if it takes too long to decide. “I am sure they will meet our needs with respect to delivery positions,” he said.
Regarding another fleet-related decision—the installation of Boeing’s Sky Interior—Kelly described Southwest as “very enthused” about the new interior, which will be installed on its 737-800s, and said he has been thinking about elements of Sky that might be considered for 737-700s scheduled for delivery or via retrofits of existing aircraft. Southwest has made some decisions about the interiors but is not ready to reveal them yet, he added.
Kelly made the comments after an earnings report that showed a third-quarter loss of $140 million, primarily because of $227 million in non-cash markdowns related to a portion of the company’s fuel hedges for 2012 through 2015. Because oil prices have risen since Sept. 30, the future fuel hedge portfolio has gained back more than $300 million in fair value since then, Southwest notes.
Southwest reported $225 million in operating income and net income, excluding special items, of $122 million. That is less than the $194 million net income, minus special items, a year ago, largely because of higher fuel prices. But Southwest says bookings and revenue gains remain strong.
Southwest this week also participated in an industry-wide fare increase of $2-$5 one way, its 10th increase of the year. Quarterly revenue jumped 35% to $4.3 billion, with passenger unit revenue up 6%; total unit revenue gained about 7% and yield 5.7%, while load factor rose slightly to 82%.
Southwest still is planning for essentially flat capacity next year—with aircraft retirements offsetting new deliveries; however, it expects by June 2012 to be able to sell combined Southwest-AirTran itineraries for virtually all flight combinations as a single itinerary with one fare and baggage transfer. That will include connections to AirTran’s international services.
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The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory plans to flight-demonstrate a bistatic radar technique using a E-3 and a UAV.This would use a technique known as bistatic radar, where the transmitter (the AWACS) and the receiver (the UAV) are in different locations.
The future for the U.S. Air Force’s AWACS fleet might not be replacement of the E-3s, or even a new radar, but pairing of the E-3 Sentry aircraft with UAVs to extend surveillance coverage. According to a new sources-sought notice, the Air Force Research Laboratory plans to flight-demonstrate the AWACS mission performance improvements enabled by using a UAV equipped with an S-band bistatic radar receiver. This will use a conformal load-bearing antenna structure (CLAS) to enable integration of a very large receiver array on the UAV (see previous post).
Bistatic operation offers several advantages. With the smaller and more survivable UAV passively listening closer to the front line, the AWACS with its powerful active radar can be moved further back over friendly territory. This could be a major advantage in a conflict with China, as it would allow the vulnerable E-3 Sentry to stand off, making them easier to defend and to refuel.
As with everything these days, the idea is not new. U.S. and NATO E-3s have already controlled ScanEagle UAVs in exercises and a “Bistatic UAV Adjunct” was at one time proposed for the AWACS fleet.
AFRL’s test program may be a step in that direction. The Pentagon’s FY2012-2014 Aircraft Procurement Plan, meanwhile, says: “the E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) and RC-135 Rivet Joint ISR aircraft will reach the end of their service lives prior to FY 2041. It is possible that advances in UAS designs will allow unmanned systems to replace those aircraft.”
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Millville, NJ — Aviation Celebration 2011 picked up where the history books left off.
World War II history came alive Saturday, Oct. 15, at the city’s municipal airport, with views of battle-tested aircraft, firsthand stories from veterans and a visit from re-enactors who set up camp. The Aviation Celebration has become an annual tradition, hosted by the Millville Army Air Field Museum.
“It’s fascinating to talk to the men who were actually there,” first-time attendee Brian Juzwiak of Philadelphia said. “You can’t get this from a history book.”
Visitors’ jaws dropped as they took in a dozen warbirds, mostly World War II-era aircraft, including two B-25 bombers, a Spitfire, an F4U Corsair and the legendary P-47 Thunderbolt, the namesake for Millville’s sports teams.
Tunes from the 1940s crackled over the loudspeakers. It was music to the ears of local World War II veterans Owen Garrison, Bill Hogan, John McCabe and George Canning, who were on hand to share war stories and enjoy the familiar sights of the planes themselves.
The event was a static display allowing curious aviation buffs and newcomers alike to inspect the aircraft up close. Multiple fly-bys were arranged to show off the loud power of the old planes.
Weather hurt the event, however, with heavy winds causing an entire fleet of planes from the Experimental Aircraft Association to withdraw. Six vendors couldn’t make it, and even the inflatable bounce house had to be taken down for safety precautions.
“The wind didn’t cooperate,” Lisa Jester, the museum’s executive director, said. “But we’re being really positive. It’s all about preserving this history.”
The history wasn’t limited to aircraft. The museum’s newly restored “deuce and a half” — a 2.5-ton Army truck — joined a rare 1945 Studebaker Weasel off-road vehicle and a 1941 Dodge Army SUV.
The Weasel’s owner, Rob Giunta of Reading, Pa., was eager to answer questions about the unique ride.
“You park this next to a Corvette and any man would come to this first,” Giunta said.
Giunta, who boasted about driving the tank-like vehicle snow 70 inches deep two winters ago, joined the ranks of re-enactors of the 78th Infantry of the 309th Regiment 1st Battalion of World War II, who were dressed in full authentic Army regalia.
The encampment was just one several aspects that added to the authentic feel of the day.
The 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor was commemorated Saturday with a delivery of President Franklin Roosevelt’s address. Attendees of a private party hosted by airplane collector Bill Duffy walked around in Hawaiian leis.
Army veteran Ron Frantz of Millville recalls he was 19 years old, painting a shed, when he heard about the Pearl Harbor attack.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Frantz. “I was filled with anger.”
His response? Join the National Guard.
The Holly City native was stateside during World War II, guarding the homeland, and spent 1956-58 in an Army tank patrol keeping his eye on the German border.
Today, Frantz volunteers at the museum every morning to help preserve the historic site.
“Nowadays kids don’t seem to care as much,” he said. “But an event like this feels great because they’re paying attention. I’m here to make people aware of what happened. Makes me proud to be able to tell ya.”
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The RAAF may soon have 12 of its Super Hornet fighter-bombers equipped as “Growlers“, the US aircraft packed with electronic equipment that paralysed the Libyan regime’s communications and missile systems.
The Australian reports that the Gillard government is considering spending more than $300 million having half of the 24-strong Super Hornet fleet fitted out for electronic warfare.
The Growler would be much more potent than anything in the region and would be capable of paralysing the communications and radar systems around targets being attacked by RAAF aircraft or aboard enemy aircraft attacking Australian targets. As well as neutralising enemy capabilities, the Growler can deal with terrorists by shutting down their ground-based communications and devices to trigger bombs.
The 24 Super Hornets were ordered by Howard government defence minister Brendan Nelson for $6 billion and in 2009 Labor asked that 12 of them be wired to allow for the later installation of electronic attack capabilities.
Defence Minister Stephen Smith and the Minister for Defence Materiel, Jason Clare, said the Super Hornet would ensure Australia’s air combat dominance in the region until the arrival of the Joint Strike Fighter after 2018.
“The Super Hornet gives the RAAF the capability to conduct air-to-air combat, strike targets on land and at sea, suppress enemy air defences and conduct reconnaissance,” they said.
Source: The Australian
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The RAAF will celebrate the completion of the fleet for 1 and 6 Squadrons, based at Amberley with the flypast before an official ceremony at the base on Friday morning. A flypast of up to 20 RAAF Super Hornets is expected this Friday as it marks the final delivery of four aircraft.
“A flypast of up to 20 jets will take place over the skies of Queensland on Friday followed by a solo aerial display that will be performed over the base,” said a RAAF spokesman. She also said that the arrival of four Super Hornets jets from the US will take the number of the F/A-18F fighter jets to 24 at the base.
The F-18 jets will fly over the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Brisbane and then arrive at the base after 11am.
The first 15 Super Hornets became operational in December after the retirement of the F-111s. Thousands of spectators witnessed the final flight of the F-111s from multiple vantage points last year.
“There will be a mass formation flypast of up to 20 F/A-18F Super Hornets over the Gold and Sunshine Coasts, Brisbane and Ipswich, this Friday as part of the welcoming ceremony for four new Super Hornets,” another spokeman said in a statement.
“The final number of aircraft flying will depend on operational and training tasks for the aircraft.”