Combat Aircraft - April 2014

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GORILLA FORCE
Lockheed Martin’s Joint Strike Fighter program has had its share of trials and tribulations, but genuine progress is now being made. The US Air Force’s 58th Fighter Squadron ‘Gorillas’ is at the forefront of service introduction of the F-35A Lightning II, as Robert F. Dorr reports, with exclusive photographs by James Haseltine

SPECIAL REPORT: F-35 ON TEST
The annual report from the DoD’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation always provides an interesting insight into the world of key US military programs. Jamie Hunter evaluates the F-35 feedback

R ENEWING BRAZIL’S NAVAL WINGS
Cees-Jan van der Ende travels to Brazil and discovers how naval air power has been subject to government-enforced cutbacks. With rich pickings of Skyhawk IIs, Sea Kings and Super Pumas, the skies around Naval Air Station São Pedro da Aldeia are buzzing with activity again

AIR POWER REVIEW: CHARRÚA FIGHTERS
Brigada Aérea No 2 of the tiny Uruguayan Air Force concentrates all of the air arm’s combat units at its base in the center of the country. Santiago Rivas flew with the unit

VAMPIRE TESTERS
Dick Wels visits the ‘Vampires’ of VX-9 at NAWS China Lake, California, to meet the US Navy squadron responsible for the execution of operational test and evaluation

SPECIAL REPORT: TARANIS BREAKS COVER
BAE Systems and the UK Ministry of Defence have together developed an advanced concept demonstrator that may lead to the next-generation of combat aircraft post-2030. Jamie Hunter reports

FACT FILE: FIRE SCOUT
A unique unmanned aerial vehicle, the US Navy’s vertical take-off and landing Fire Scout is designed to serve aboard aircapable ships. Tom Kaminski details how these UAVs will soon form a key component of the Littoral Combat Ships

INDUSTRY REPORT: C-17: THE FINAL COUNTDOWN
The Boeing C-17 experienced a somewhat checkered history in its early years, before emerging as the US Air Force’s go-to intratheater transport. With production now set to end in 2015, Jon Lake looks at the status of the Globemaster III

SWING-WING SURVIVOR
Bartosz Bera and Maciej Wolanski celebrate  30 years of Polish Air Force duty by the Su-22 ‘Fitter’, a type that may now be facing imminent retirement

EXERCISE REPORT: ‘RED FLAG’ IS BACK!
Following the unprecedented cancellation of two of last year’s events due to sequestration, exercise ‘Red Flag’ is back with a vengeance this year. Jamie Hunter attends the first of this year’s scheduled three-week exercises at Nellis AFB

GLOR Y DAYS: ROVING SANDS ’97
Warren E. Thompson recalls a one-of-a-kind event, ‘Roving Sands ’97’ — at the time, the largest joint tactical air operations exercise staged anywhere in the world

CUTTING EDGE
Combat Aircraft’s monthly column reporting from the front line of aerospace technology, by David Axe

AIR POWER REVIEW: THE SEA DRAGON RISES
During the last decade the People’s Liberation Army Naval Air Force has developed further towards becoming a truly capable air arm than at any time since its foundation. Andreas Rupprecht details a service that no longer hides behind the ‘real’ Air Force. via Chinese Internet

News

HEADLINE NEWS
United Arab Emirates to buy more ‘Vipers’, Iraq to acquire Apaches, and UK unveils Taranis testing

US NEWS
F-35 production rates slowed, AC-130J gunship rolled out, CH-53K starts dynamic testing

UK NEWS
‘Dambusters’ end Tornado GR4 operations, F-35 order imminent and Voyagers grounded

WORLD NEWS
Kuwaiti C-17 delivered, all the latest Chinese news and Saudi Eagles head to ‘Red Flag’

EUROPE NEWS
Plans for new Russian display team, French E-3Fs upgraded and Belarus ‘Flankers’ are coming back