Military Flight Release Clears F-35A for Take-off

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The F-35A Lighting II Joint Strike Fighters can take to the skies with the Military Flight Release issued last February 28. The multi-million jet fighters has been stuck with test flights until the US Air Force Aeronautical System Center issued MFR. Now, the F-35A JSF can perform initial operations at the Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

Previously, all F-35A flights were limited to the test flights done by a select number of qualified test pilots at the Edwards Air Base in California and Naval Air Station Patuxent River flight test centers. Units of F-35A started arriving at the Eglin AFB in the summer of 2011, but stayed grounded while waiting for the MFR. Qualified Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps pilots can now fly the jet fighters starting with the Conventional Take-Off and Landing (CTOL) F-35A variant. Before the MFR clearance, these pilots can only perform taxi test and simulator flights, but could not fly the F-35A to the skies.

An airworthiness board assessed and evaluated the potential risks and corresponding remedial action for unmonitored flights of the F-3A, before issuing the MFR. The Air Force looks forward to finally see the F-35A Lightning II in the air. This will increase the pilots and maintenance staff familiarity with the aircraft, exercising the logistics infrastructure as well as develop the continued maturity of the aircraft.

“The Air Force, Joint Strike Fighter Program Office and other stakeholders have painstakingly followed established risk acceptance and mitigation processes to ensure the F-35A is ready. This is an important step for the F-35A and we are confident the team has diligently balanced the scope of initial operations with system maturity,” said General Donald Hoffman, commander of Air Force Materiel Command, the parent organization of ASC.

The Eglin Air Force Bas has two qualified F-35A test pilots. Air Force Lt. Col. Eric Smith and Marine Maj. Joseph Bachmann will act as the initial trainers for the rest of the pilots at the 33rd Fighter Wing.


Boeing Delivers the Air Force 1st Re-Winged A-10 Thunderbolt II

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The first re-winged A-10 Thunderbolt II of the US Air Force finally rolled-out at the Hill Air Force Base. It is the first aircraft out of the 233 units that Boeing are commissioned to fix up with new set of wings. All the re-winged aircraft is set to be delivered by 2018.

According to Mark Bass, Maintenance, Modification, & Upgrades vice-president and general manager for Boeing Defense, Space and Security, “This enhanced wing assembly will give the A-10 new strength and a new foundation for its continued service into 2040.” He adds that Boeing is committed to the US Air Force to ensure that the A-10 is always ready and capable to serve.

The A-10 Wing Replacement Program is one of the aviation company’s foray into non-Boeing platform work. The A-10 was originally developed by Fairchild Republic. The wings sets are manufactured in Boeing’s production facility in Georgia with the help of Korean Aerospace Industries. The wing sets are then delivered to Air Force’s Ogden Air Logistic Center.

Boeing delivered the first wing set in March 2011. After mating to the aircraft and after a series of testing, it took the first test flight in November last year. And now, the A-10 Thuderbolt II and its new set of wings are ready for service.

The A-10 Thunderbolt II was introduced to the Air Force service in March 1977. It provides close-air support and attacks tanks and other ground vehicles. It is expected to be in service until 2028.


Delays of F-35 Production Brings Bad News for South Carolina

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The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter was billed to be one of the most high-tech military aircraft. However, it also comes with a hefty price tag, which is something that the budget of the military can hardly afford.

The highly advanced fifth-generational aircraft had been conceived since 1990′s during the post-cold war. The F-35 JFS was envisioned to have evading radar system while having the ability to fly at supersonic speed. It is supposed to serve three branches of the U.S. military namely the Air Force, the Navy and the Marine Corps. Each service also wants its own customized model of the aircraft.

The aircraft was supposed to be built in rush, but production snags and flight-test problems that resulted to years of cost overruns lands the F-35 project to the chopping block of the Pentagon. This issue is vital for South Carolina where the three bases – Lower Richland, Sumter and Beaufort - that was assigned to receive the fighter jets are located. The F-35 will replace the aging aircraft on the bases like the F/A-18 and F-16. When the F-35 arrives in these bases, it will have the most modern aircraft in the service which will guarantee its continued operation and it can generate jobs for the locals. But if the project would not push through, the bases might close down and lead to unemployment.

Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that the F-35 JSF program would not be terminated outright. However, his deputy is less optimistic about the future of the fighter jets.


F-15E Attains Flying-Hour Milestone

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In the early hours of the morning of January 13, the Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan is bursting with activity. Crew chiefs, support units and flyers are also busy making sure everything will go without a glitch in order to achieve the 10,000 flying-hour milestone of F-15E Strike Eagle #89-0487.

F-15E Strike Eagle #89-0487, nicknamed “487”, entered the service on 13 November 1990. Despite being younger than many F-15A or F-15C models, it is the first F-15 of any type to reach the 10,000 benchmark. The aircraft has served the country zealously being a veteran of numerous operations like Desert Storm, Deliberate Guard, Northern Watch, Southern Watch, Iraqi Freedom, and Enduring Freedom.

This monumental achievement is shared by the entire 455th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. The 455th EAMXS includes the 335th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit and supporting units. For more than 21 years, over 1 million hours of inspection and repair had been performed by qualified maintenance technicians to ensure that the F-15E Strike Eagle 487 is ready and capable to do its assignment. The current crew chief all agree that good maintenance and support was essential for the “487” to gain this distinction. As the squadron’s flagship aircraft, the F-15E Strike Eagle 487 is a testament of the caliber of the former and current crew who maintains, supports and flies it. This milestone is a total team effort.

As a tribute to history, Lt. Col. David Moeller, the 335th Expeditionary Flying Squadron commander chose Capt. Ryan Bodenheimer, a 335th F-15E EFS pilot, and Capt. Erin Short, a 335th EFS weapons systems officer for the honor of flying the F-15E for its 10,000th flying-hour. “It just seemed appropriate that the longest flying F-15E be flown by the youngest flyers in the unit,” he said.

The F-15E Strike Eagle #89-0487 also has the sole distinction of being aircraft of its model to record an air-to-air kill.


Museum of Aviation gets RQ-4 Global Hawk

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A C-5 Galaxy is expected to bring a recently retired RQ-4 Global Hawk, a large unmanned aircraft, to be put on display at the Museum of Aviation. The delivery of the aircraft is expected next week.

While still a relatively new aircraft, the Global Hawk is being heavily used in combat operations. The  Global Hawk complements manned and space reconnaissance systems by providing near-real-time coverage using imagery intelligence or IMINT, sensors.

Global Hawk began as an Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration in 1995. The system was determined to have military utility and provide warfighters with an evolutionary high-altitude, long-endurance ISR capability. While still a developmental system, the Global Hawk deployed operationally to support the global war on terrorism in November 2001. The Global Hawk UAS provides near-continuous all-weather, day/night, wide area surveillance and will eventually replace the U-2.

According to museum spokesman Bob Dubiel, the aircraft the museum is getting has flown a fleet-high 357 combat sorties for a total of 7,074 hours. It was part of the original Block 10 Global Hawks, and the Air Force recently decided to retire those in favor of the newer Block 20 and Block 30 Global Hawks.

The RQ-4 aircraft will arrive partially disassembled. After undergoing reassembly and restoration, it will be placed in the Century of Flight Hangar, suspended from the ceiling.

Source:, USAF

Most F-35s cleared for flight

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The U.S. Air Force has lifted a two-week-old flight ban that had grounded the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, following a power problem on a plane at Edwards Air Force Base in California. While the probe continues, engineers determined that it is safe to resume test flights, said Joe DellaVedova, a spokesman for the Joint Strike Fighter Program Office.

Flight operations will resume for the rest of the planes, which are based at Edwards and at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland.However, two F-35s based at Eglin in Florida will remain grounded because they lack the monitoring systems used in developmental test aircraft that can detect any problems in flight.

The F-35 is the Pentagon’s biggest procurement program at a planned $382 billion to buy 2,457 of the stealth F-35 jets in different versions for the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. The F-35 may be a target for budget cuts as the Pentagon is pressed to help lower the federal deficit. The Defense Department will need to find at least $325 billion in cuts over the next 10 years in the first phase of a $2.4 trillion deficit- reduction agreement approved by Congress. Another round of $500 billion in defense cuts may be imposed if Congress fails to approve enough budget savings in other areas.

The Air Force has also grounded Lockheed’s F-22 Raptor, the military’s most advanced fighter, because of reported problems with the plane’s system for supplying oxygen to the pilot. The flight ban on the F-22, in effect since May, remains until an investigation is completed in a few months, said Air Force spokesman Lieutenant Colonel John Haynes.

Source: Bloomberg

JSF Program on track, officials said

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The Joint Strike Fighter Program Office deputy director expressed confidence in the progress of the JSF program at an Air Force Association breakfast program last week. The upgrades and acquisitions, particularly the completion of the new Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., training facility, helps to advance the fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II program, said Maj. Gen. C.D. Moore.

“The F-35 is at the nexus of concurrency where we are building production aircraft, conducting developmental tests, and starting to build a cadre of future Joint Strike Fighter maintainers and pilots,” Moore said.

Moore described plans for Pilot Training Center-1, a future facility where the services and their international partners will be able to train and interact. The location of the center has not been determined.

The general reported that F-35 flight science testing is making good progress at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., and Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The program is building mission avionics confidence with Block 1 software. Also, AF-6 and AF-7 conventional takeoff and landing aircraft are completing maturity flights to strengthen and verify the training syllabus that will be used at Eglin AFB.

Building momentum and maintaining affordability will ensure the JSF program’s longevity into 2035 and beyond, he said.

The Joint Strike Fighter Program Office is the Department of Defense’s agency responsible for developing and acquiring the F-35A/B/C, the next generation strike aircraft weapon systems for the Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and many allied nations.


MV-22 Osprey Featured in Joint Service Open House

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The MV-22 Osprey, was featured at the 2010 Joint Service Open House May 15, 2010, at Joint Base Andrews, Md.

The MV-22 Osprey, is a tilt-rotor aircraft that combines the vertical flight capabilities of a helicopter with the speed and range of an airplane. It is designed for expeditionary assault, raid operations,
cargo lift and special warfare.

The Air Force also flies the Osprey and fielded its version of the tiltrotor in 2009.

The Osprey is twice as fast as a helicopter and has much longer range resulting in greater mission versatility than a helicopter. Its multi-mission capability provides: amphibious assault, combat support, long-range special ops infiltration and exfiltration, transport, search and rescue, medevac, and, in the future, tanker capability.

“This is a great aircraft – faster than any helicopter,” said U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Brandon Ackerman, a flight line mechanic, who said its primary missions are troop transportation, medical evacuation and light supply transport.

Since entering service with the U.S. Marine Corps and Air Force, the Osprey has been deployed for combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Both services train jointly on the Osprey.

“The most exciting aspect of working with this aircraft is seeing everything it is capable of and watching it go from a helicopter to an airplane,” said Lance Cpl. Ackerman. “It’s a great feeling to be part of the team that helps make it fly.”

- planenews

Air Force Sent off C-130 Hercules to Support Oil Slick Response

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Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell confirmed that Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has authorized two Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft to support the response to a massive oil slick that threatens wetlands and beaches along the Gulf Coast.

The C-130 crews, assigned to the Air Force Reserve Command’s 910th Airlift Wing at Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Ohio, had repositioned in Mississippi in anticipation of the tasking. They are expected to be used to help disperse the oil slick in accordance with a 1996 memo of understanding between the Air Force and Coast Guard, Air Force officials said.

The C-130s are equipped with modular aerial spray systems, according to Master Sgt. Bob Barko Jr., the wing’s public affairs superintendent.

“This is a situation we have trained for, for years,” Sergeant Barko said of the Gulf mission. “To have the opportunity to do it in the real world and help folks along the Gulf Coast with this capability is really gratifying for everyone involved.”

The unit conducts spray missions at military installations and their surrounding communities primarily to control biting insects and on bombing ranges to control vegetation growth, Sergeant Barko added.

In addition, Navy officials have dispatched 66,000 feet of inflatable oil boom with anchoring equipment, along with seven skimming systems and their supporting gear to the region, Navy Lt. Myers Vasquez reported.

- planenews

First HC-130J Combat Rescue Tanker rolls out

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During a ceremony yesterday in Marietta, GA, Lockheed Martin rolled out the first of a new fleet of HC-130J Combat Rescue Tanker for the U.S. Air Force.

Maj. General Thomas Andersen , director of requirements, Headquarters Air Combat Command (ACC) , said “The HC-130J will enable us to meet the expanding operational tasks that we face today — wartime operations in Operation Enduring Freedom and the Horn of Africa, and relief operations in the continental United States as well as in areas like Haiti and Chile.”

“This new configuration of the proven C-130J will give ACC unparalleled capability for combat search and rescue., said Ross Reynolds, Lockheed Martin vice president for C-130 programs. “As demand for the C-130J continues to grow around the world, we will see more ways this aircraft can meet the demands of any operator and mission.”

The new aircraft, which is based on a KC-130J tanker baseline, will have the Enhanced Service Life Wing, Enhanced Cargo Handling System, a Universal Aerial Refueling Receptacle Slipway Installation (boom refueling receptacle), an electro-optical/infrared sensor, a combat systems operator station on the flight deck, and provisions for the large aircraft infrared countermeasures system. In-line production of this configuration reduces cost and risk, and meets the required 2012 initial operational capability.

Lockheed Martin is contracted with the U.S. Air Force to build 21 C 130J Super Hercules to replace aging fleets of combat search and rescue HC-130s and special operations MC 130s.

-original article and photo from planenews-