AirForces Monthly - June 2019

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AFM’s opinion on the hot topics in military aviation.

Kamchatka’s heavyweights
Russian Naval Aviation stations a squadron of MiG-31 long-range fighter interceptors on the isolated Kamchatka peninsula. This remote unit is charged with the air defence and control of this easternmost corner of the country, as Alexander Mladenov explains.

‘BUFF’ show of force
In March, six US Air Force B-52H Stratofortresses deployed to RAF Fairford, UK, for one of the most significant bomber deployments to Europe in over a decade, as Ashley Wallace details.

Lightning in the ‘sandbox’
US Air Forces Central Command announced on April 15 that an undisclosed number of F-35As from the active-duty 388th Fighter Wing (FW) and reserve 419th FW at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, had been deployed to Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates. Thomas Newdick investigates the USAF Lightning II’s first combat deployment.

Forty years of Dutch ‘Vipers’
In 1979, the first F-16 entered Royal Netherlands Air Force service as a direct replacement for the F-104G Starfighter and the type later succeeded the NF-5 Freedom Fighter. Mike Schoenmaker and Niels Hoogenboom review the many achievements of the Dutch ‘Viper’ during a remarkable 40-year career.

Hawks over Oman
Following last month’s feature detailing the introduction of the Typhoon to the Royal Air Force of Oman, Derek Bower visits RAFO Masirah to witness pilot training on the Hawk Mk166.

Alouette III survivors: Belgium
As the Alouette III approaches 50 years in service with the Belgian military, the aircraft still has an important role to play, as Ian Harding finds out.

Alouette III survivors: Portugal
Portugal is preparing to say goodbye to the Alouette III. As the old helicopter begins to be replaced by the AW119 Koala MkII, José Matos looks at the conclusion to a 56-year career in Portuguese colours.

The Prowler’s last jam
March 8 was an historic moment in US Marine Corps aviation history as the last of the venerable EA-6Bs were officially retired. At the same time the final Prowler squadron, VMAQ-2 ‘Death Jesters’, was formally deactivated. Ivan Voukadinov reflects on the classic electronic warfare aircraft’s last days.


EXERCISE REPORT: Frisian Flag 2019
Leeuwarden Air Base – one of two Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) F-16 facilities in Europe – has been home to an annual fighter exercise since 1992. Manolito Jaarsma attended the latest manoeuvres, which included a significant Minnesota Air National Guard participation.

INTEL REPORT: All change for the Albatros
The Czech Air Force is scheduled to retire the L-39 Albatros in May, after 45 years of service. Alan Warnes spoke to personnel about the country’s plans for future training and reflects on a turbulent few months for manufacturer Aero Vodochody.

Iniohos 2019 saw fifth generation fighters meet fourth and veteran third generation warplanes as the skies over the Peloponnese peninsula became the centre of intense flying activities in April. Peter ten Berg reports from Andravida air base in the northwest of the province.

COMMANDER’S UPDATE BRIEFING: Storms build for Tempest
Following publication of the Ministry of Defence’s Combat Air Strategy last year, Air Power Association President, Air Marshal (ret’d) Greg Bagwell CB CBE, reviews the ambitious Tempest programme, its chances of success and the possible pitfalls it will face.

FORCE REPORT: French overseas ops
OPEX, meaning Opérations Extérieures – overseas operations – is now a part of the everyday language of both the French military and general public. Today, two such missions are mobilising the air assets of the French armed forces on a significant scale in Africa and the Middle East.

Dave Allport details the world’s most recent military accidents.

Coming up
See what’s featured in your AFM next month.