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The Ministry of Defense confirmed that the fleet of RAF surveillance planes has been suspended due to a fault discovered in one of the aircraft.
As a precautionary measure, seven of Britian’s Boeing Sentry E3D are temporarily pulled out of service. The fault was discovered after a routine inspection.
The fleet of Sentry E3D are based at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire. They provide early warning and fighter control systems.
The MoD is confident it will not affect operations as other aircraft are available.
A statement from MoD said: “A routine inspection on an E3D aircraft at RAF Waddington has revealed a technical issue with one of the in-service aircraft. Routine E3D operations have been temporarily suspended pending further engineering investigation. There is no loss of operational capability.”
Defense Secretary Phillip Hammond rode one of Sentry E3D as the RAF prepare for the security cover for the London Olympics.
The surveillance aircraft was also used in operations in Libya.
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News source: www.bbc.com.uk
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RAF Tornado’s have been operating at such a pace in support of NATO’s Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR, aimed at protecting the civilian population of Libya from attack, they have now clocked up over 7000 flying hours; that’s the equivalent of approximately 2 years worth of training sorties back in the UK, at a much increased flying rate.
Operating from Gioia del Colle air base in southern Italy the tempo of operations has been relentless, and 9 Squadron has been at the forefront of the mission.
The Tornado Squadron was one of the first fast-jet squadrons to deploy to the area, Officer Commanding 9 Squadron, Wing Commander Andy Turk, explains how quickly they had to prepare.
“We deployed here at very rapid notice, we had returned from our pre deployment training exercise (Red Flag) in the United States. In fact, we got back on the Monday, by the Wednesday we were ‘spinning up’ for Ops and on the Friday we were prepared to launch; a historic 3000 mile storm shadow sortie, the first UK launched combat sortie since the Second World War.”
With nearly 30 years frontline Service, the Tornado aircraft have been proving their worth.
Over the skies of Libya they have integrated closely with the Typhoons; indeed with their combined, multi-role capabilities they have proven to be a ‘powerful and potent’ force. Wg Cdr Turk described how this integration has contributed to the success of the RAF’s air campaign and has earned the respect of the coalition.
But its not all about the aircrew, the engineers and Air Maintenance Mechanics (AMMs) of 9 Squadron have been working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to keep the Tornado aircraft flying, allowing them to complete all their missions, it’s been a huge team effort. Wg Cdr Turk added.
“We’re a really tight team, from the engineers to the aircrew. With the rapidly changing environment that we’re operating in, we have frequently had to scramble aircraft to support the ground effort in Libya and protect their civilian population from attack.”
Despite the unyielding pace of operations, the Tornado force has never failed to deliver, reaching almost 1400 sorties in just over 6 months.
Source:Royal Air Force
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The Defence Secretary, Dr Liam Fox, has announced a contract award for 14 new Chinook helicopters, the RAF’s workhorse on the frontline in Afghanistan. The contract with Boeing to supply the Chinook heavy lift helicopters will bring a significant enhancement to the mobility of frontline forces. Already the largest fleet in Europe, this new contract will bring the UK’s overall number of Chinooks to 60.
This announcement follows the Government’s recent commitment to a one per cent a year real term increase in the MOD’s equipment and support budget from 2015. This new Chinook contract is valued at £1bn or $1.64 billion, including development, manufacture, and the first five years of support to the new Chinooks.
“From the Falkland Islands to Iraq and Afghanistan, the RAF has operated Chinooks magnificently for many years in the most demanding environments. These additional helicopters will significantly enhance our existing heavy lift helicopter capability. This fleet will support our frontline troops in current and future operations for decades to come,” The Secretary said.
The new Chinook Mark 6 helicopters will feature a cutting edge digital flight control system making them easier to operate in the most difficult conditions, including the hot and dusty environments such as those encountered in Afghanistan.
“Chinook is an exceptionally capable helicopter that in the hands of the very skilful RAF crews has proved itself time and again in many operational theatres across the globe and is the backbone of the Royal Air Force’s helicopter fleet,” Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton said.
The RAF will receive the first aircraft for initial trials and testing in 2013 and it will enter service in May 2014 making an immediate contribution to the flexibility of the UK Chinook capability. Delivery will be complete by the end of 2015.
Story and Photo: Royal Air Force
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Len Hodges found his wings again.
The 89-year-old Royal Air Force veteran hadn’t flown in a Harvard Mk. IV flight trainer in 68 years. But he got his chance last week, taking a ride in the swift, yellow trainer when it visited Niagara District Airport — the same airport where he learned to fly as a Tiger Moth pilot in 1943.
As he climbed down from the wing of the plane, he was grinning from ear to ear.
The Harvard Mk. IV plane was just one piece of history brought to life as six vintage aircraft were brought out to the tarmac and shown off. They were part of the Yellow Wings initiative, a program flying coast to coast to draw attention to the history of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.
The airport was once part of that plan: As the former No. 9 Elementary Flying Training School, it graduated more than 1,800 pilots during the Second World War, sending them off with the basics of flight under their belts to earn their wings at more advanced schools.
Hodges is among the surviving graduates. ”It brings back a lot of memories,” he said prior to his flight.
At St. Catharines, he said, he trained in Tiger Moths rather than the Fleet Finch aircraft typically used. He moved up to the Harvard elsewhere, finding the plane easier to handle than those he flew here.
But the challenge of learning didn’t cow him. ”I wanted to fly, and I loved it,” said Hodges, who went on to fly B-24 Liberator bombers over Southeast Asia for the Royal Air Force.
Dave Hadfield, team leader of the Yellow Wings tour, said there were bound to be a few flying aces that came out of the Niagara operation.
“St. Catharines was a big operation,” he said. “One of the World War II hangars is still here, but it was a larger operation in those days.”
He said pilots did their first 50 hours in flight here, zipping about in bright-painted planes often dubbed yellow perils. They’d move up to fly Harvards elsewhere, and finally split off to fighter or bomber school.
The Yellow Wings have stopped at many of the old schools already, he said, with more on the agenda. They started their journey in British Columbia and plan to touch down at every base involved in the Air Training Plan.
In St. Catharines, they joined in a re-dedication ceremony for a monument at the airport terminal, honouring the flight school.
Hadfield said Canada started with only a handful of airmen. He said British prime minister Winston Churchill asked the country not to send 10 pilots to war right away, but to send 10,000 in a year.
“The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan was likely our largest (contribution) to victory in the Second World War,” Hadfield said. “We were the aerodrome of democracy.
“We trained over 200,000 people and we did it in an incredible hurry.”
Many were pilots from the United States and other countries.
“It was a magnificent accomplishment — never been equalled in Canadian aviation. It’s not something you read about in the history books.”
It’s a history that’s being lost, Hadfield said. He noted many Second World War veterans are old, and more and more are dying.
“That whole knowledge is disappearing, but by maintaining these aircraft and flying them we can preserve that history.”
It wasn’t just flight that brought Hodges to put down roots here, though. He’s originally from Basingstoke in the U.K. but has lived here since 1947. Here, he said, he met his wife of 64 years.
“I’m a war husband,” he said.
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The Royal Air Force has once again deployed Tornado GR4s from its base in Britain against targets in Libya using Storm Shadow missiles. The RAF Tornado aircraft launched from RAF Marham in East Anglia to conduct 8-hour round-trip missions over Libya. Armed with state-of-the-art Storm Shadow missiles, the six GR4 aircraft flew long distance sorties from the Norfolk base to target elements of Colonel Qadhafi’s military command and control facilities and air defence infrastructure.
The Tornado GR4s jets, some from RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland and some from Marham, were playing a crucial role in protecting Libyan civilians as authorised under United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1973. The involvement of the Tornados, together with the Typhoon fighters forward located in Italy, means that the UK can strike both air and ground targets as required by NATO.
The Tornado Squadrons have played a leading role in the military operations in Libya since operations began in March, carrying out precision strikes, making use of the GR4’s high-tech Litening 3 targeting pods and a variety of highly precise guided munitions.
“This mission has, once again, proved the GR4’s capability at long range. The engineers and crews comprised of personnel from Marham and Lossiemouth. I feel great pride in having the opportunity to command such an adaptable and capable Tornado force that proves its agility time and time again, “ said Group Captain Pete ‘Rocky’ Rochelle.
Source: Royal Air Force
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Royal Air Force Squadron Leader Rupert Joel told reporters at the Paris airshow that pairing the Tornado with the Eurofighter over Libya does not mean that the older jet is babysitting the younger.
While enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya since mid-March, the modern Eurofighter, which had not been used in real-life combat since its introduction in 2003, has generally been accompanied on missions by Tornado jets, which have been used in air-to-ground combat for some 20 years.
“It may seem strange to fly with the Tornados but it’s worked well,” UK Royal Air Force Squadron Leader Rupert Joel told reporters at the Paris airshow.
Asked whether it was not odd that the Typhoon — one of the most modern warplanes on the market today, with a list price of around $125 million — was being accompanied by the veteran Tornado, Joel said the pairing gave the British pilots an edge.
“The advantage of flying ‘mixed pair’ is that there are three different types of weapons available for use as well as the fact that Typhoon can use the benefits of the Tornado, whose pilots have huge experience of air-to-ground missions,” he said.
The British military has admitted that the Typhoon‘s air-to-ground missile attack capability was activated several years earlier than planned but said pilots were well-trained enough to conduct bombing raids.
“It’s true to say we had not done a huge amount of multi-role training before the Libyan conflict,” said Joel, who added the operation has gone well for the Typhoon team so far.
Some military analysts view the deployment of the Typhoon and the French Rafale in Libya as a move to give the two aircraft battlefield credentials in an effort to win orders.
48th Fighter Wing, Capt. Tyler Stark, F-15 pilot, F-15E, F-15E Strike Eagle, f15, F15 in Libya, Maj. Kenneth Harney, MV-22 Osprey, Royal Air Force
For the first time since their F-15E crashed on March 21 in Libya, U.S. Air Force Maj. Kenneth Harney of Lexington, Kentucky, and Capt. Tyler Stark of Littleton, Colorado, spoke publicly to a small group of friends , family and Air Force personnel.
“You feel the weight of not only the Air Force, but the entire military, focusing on you, making sure you get home,” Stark said recently in a video prepared by the Air Force.
The Air Force public affairs office posted pictures and video of the event on its official website, even after U.S. military public affairs officers involved in Operation Odyssey Dawn in Libya told CNN their names would never be made public.
The men were part of a the 48th Fighter Wing normally based at RAF Lakenheath, a Royal Air Force base that has hosted U.S. Air Force units for years in Suffolk, England. But on March 21 they took off from the U.S. air base in Aviano, Italy, in support of the no-fly zone enforcement over Libya.
After the ejection, Harney — “Meso” to his fellow fliers — and “Mask” Stark became separated.
“When you find yourself alone, and you’re isolated, in a country where there’s hostiles, you are scared,” said Harney, a veteran of both the Afghan and Iraq wars.
Stark was found by Libyan civilians who protected him from possible retaliation by forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, and eventually he was taken safely back to Europe. Details of how he was taken out of Libya have yet to be disclosed.
Harney’s rescue came more quickly. He stayed in communications with another F-15 pilot still in the air over Libya. Eventually an MV-22 Osprey carrying Marines who were part of a Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel, or TRAP, team landed near his position.
“As that back door opened, I see a group of young Marine recon units jump out, and that was probably the best feeling I’ve ever felt in my entire life,” Harney said.
Source: CNN, U.S. Air Force