AIR International – June 2018

(Jacob Rumans) #1

16 | http://www.airinternational.com @airnews@keypublishing.com


SCENE


NATO faces a growing Russian threat


The United States Air Forces in
Europe (USAFE) announced it has
deployed MQ-9 Reaper RPA to
Mirosławiec Air Base in Poland
in May. USAFE was at pains to
point out that the aircraft will
be unarmed and will perform as
surveillance platforms and that the
United States has a longstanding
security relationship with Poland.
Mirosławiec is about 200 miles
(120km) from the Russian enclave
of Kaliningrad, well within the
Reaper’s 1,000-mile (1,600km)
range. In March, the US Air Force
announced it had deployed other

Reapers to Larisa Air Base in Greece.
NATO began air policing missions
over Montenegrin airspace on June


  1. Montenegro, which lacks fighter
    aircraft of its own, joined NATO
    in June 2017. Italy’s Aeronautica
    Militare (Air Force) and Greece’s
    Elliniki Polemiki Aeroporia (Hellenic
    Air Force) shared the duty with
    both nation using F-16s which, in
    contrast to other NATO air policing
    missions, will fly from their home
    nations. This extends existing
    arrangements whereby Greece and
    Italy already provide similar cover
    for Albania and Slovenia.


NATO air policing missions seek
to safeguard the integrity of the
alliance’s airspace, and under NATO
regulations member air forces
must have at least two fighter
aircraft on 24/7 readiness to tackle
unidentified or suspicious aerial
activity. Allies with no air force can
seek multinational solutions to
guard their airspace. The Baltic Air
Policing mission to secure air space
belonging to NATO members
Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia is
perhaps the most well-known
mission under the scheme. The
Royal Air Force and Aeronautica

Militare support air patrols over
the Black Sea from Romania and
Bulgaria under the Southern Air
Policing mission.
UK Defence Secretary Gavin
Williamson announced on June 7
the Royal Air Force will deploy to
Estonia and Iceland as part of the
NATO air policing mission in 2019.
It will be the first RAF deployment
to Iceland in support of air policing.
Four Typhoons will deploy to
Estonia in mid-2019 for the first
time since 2016, with a further four
making the Iceland deployment
towards the end of next year.

Sudan receives FTC-2000s


Sudan’s Air Force has taken delivery
of six FTC-2000 jets, serial numbers
1201 to 1206, fitted with air-to-
air missiles and rocket pods for
light combat and training duties.
The Sudanese Ministry of Defence
inaugurated the new FTC-
squadron in a ceremony attended
by senior Sudanese military and
Chinese diplomatic figures on


May 16 at Wadi Seidna Air Base
14 miles (22km) to the north of
Khartoum. The aircraft were built by
China’s Guizhou Aircraft Industries
Corporation and marketed by the
Aviation Industries Corporation
of China, which confirmed the
Sudanese order in November 2016.
Sudan is the only known non-
Chinese customer for the FTC-

2000, which is the export variant of
the JL-9, in operation with both the
People’s Liberation Army Air Force
and Army Naval Air Force. Sudan’s
first aircraft rolled off the production
line on June 5, 2017. Sudan already
operates the Chengdu F-7 on which
the FTC-2000 is based, making the
acquisition a sensible one in terms of
logistics and spares. Guy Martin

One of six Guizhou Aircraft Industries Corporation of China FTC-2000 trainer jets at Wadi Seidna Air Base on May 16
at a ceremony to mark their delivery to Sudan. Sudan Air Force


B-1B


bombers


grounded


Air Force Global Strike Command
ordered a safety stand-down of its
B-1B Lancer bombers on June 7,
2018, because of a problem with
the jets’ ejection seats. The order
came after a safety investigation
board looking into the emergency
landing of 7th Bomb Wing B-1B
86-0109 at Midland International
Air and Space Port, Texas on May
1, 2018, raised concerns about
the seats. Images taken after the
incident showed the crew of four
sitting on the ground underneath
their stricken jet and a telling open
hatch atop the forward fuselage
above the offensive systems
operator’s seat on the starboard
side where the escape hatch had
been blown clear of the aircraft.
Following the initiation of the
ejection sequence, the hatch is
blown clear and then the ACES
II ejection seat automatically
activates. It is apparent from the
images that, while the hatch was
jettisoned, the seat did not fire.
The investigation continues, and
the Air Force says the jets will not
return to flight status until a fix has
been found.

First M28 sale in South America
Ecuador has ordered a single
M28 short take-off and landing
multi-role transport aircraft for the
Aviación del Ejército Ecuatoriano
(Ecuador Army Aviation).
Manufacturer Sikorsky-PZL Mielec,
a Lockheed Martin company,
announced the deal on May 16
and the aircraft is scheduled for
delivery later this year from the

company’s Mielec factory in
Poland. After a pilot and mechanic
training course in Poland, a PZL
crew will fly the aircraft across
the North Atlantic to Shell Mera,
Ecuador, via Iceland, Greenland,
Canada, the United States and
Central America. Ecuador is the
first Latin American country to
acquire an M28, following a two-

month demonstration tour of
seven Caribbean and Latin America
countries in 2017. Flown by two
PZL pilots, the touring aircraft
demonstrated landings at two
remote Ecuador airfields in April
2017 — a 1,968ft (600m) gravel
runway and a 1,738ft (530m)
gravel/grass runway — with 11
passengers on board.

Because of the tour, Sikorsky has
received requests for proposals
(RFPs) from commercial operators
and military air arms in Latin
America. Most of the RFPs are
from organisations seeking to
carry passengers and/or cargo into
unprepared landing strips at sea
level and high-altitude locations
throughout Latin America.
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