Combat Aircraft - June 2019

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IN THE NEWS

HEADLINE NEWS
USAF F-35As deploy operationally for the first time, plus B-21 basing options revealed

US NEWS
Raptor training to relocate to Langley, Vermont ANG winds up F-16 ops, plus all the latest unit and deployment news

WORLD NEWS
News from Europe and around the globe, including latest Royal Air Force plans to acquire the E-7 Wedgetail, plus all the latest military losses

FEATURES

THE OPS DESK
Scott Wolff’s regular column looks at USAF maintainer shortages

TYPHOONS DOWN LOW IN THE DESERT
RAF Typhoons have been engaged in Exercise ‘Green Flag’, working with land forces in a high-end air-land integration exercise, as Jamie Hunter discovers

‘DUST DEVILS’
As the Department of Defense enjoys increased funding, new technology is flowing into test units and ultimately to the front line. For US naval aviation, much of the responsibility for testing new capabilities rests with a secretive test unit in the Mojave Desert — VX-31 ‘Dust Devils’

‘KNIGHTHAWKS’: WIN IN COMBAT
The US Navy is focused on the buzzword of readiness and its ability to become more dynamically deployable. Jamie Hunter visits VFA-136 ‘Knighthawks’ and finds a unit ‘on the hook’, ready to embark the aircraft carrier at very short notice

‘MISSION CLEMENCEAU’
Joris van Boven and Alex van Noye join French Navy aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle at sea in March with its air wing embarked for Operation ‘Chammal’, putting Rafale Ms into action against so-called Islamic State

NORTHERN GUARDIANS
For the fourth time, the Italian Air Force has safeguarded Icelandic airspace during a NATO deployment. Once again it highlighted the latest Eurofighter capabilities, as outlined in this exclusive report by Giovanni Colla and Remo Guidi

MISSILE-FIRING ‘FLANKERS’
Alexander Mladenov details the weapons employment training event of the Russian Aerospace Forces held at a makeshift air shooting range over Lake Ladoga near St Petersburg in north-western Russia in March

A FORCE AWAKENS
Qatar is transforming its fighter force, replacing a small squadron of Mirage 2000s with a shiny new fleet of Dassault Rafales, Boeing F-15QA Eagles and Eurofighter Typhoons. This is an unprecedented expansion — Jon Lake details Qatar’s ambitious plans and explains the reasons behind them

LIGHTNING STRIKES AT DECI
The famous Italian Air Force training base at Decimomannu, in Sardinia, is home to its Air Gunnery Standardization and Experimental Unit. Remo Guidi joins six new F-35As from the 13° Gruppo as they engage in a mandated training cycle as a final step towards full operating capability

GLORY DAYS: TIGER ATTACK
In a project that offers an interesting comparison with the current US Air Force light attack experiment, the Northrop F-5 was conceived in the 1960s with a very similar aim. Warren E. Thompson evaluates the role of this light attacker in Vietnam

LEADING THE CHARGE AT ANDRAVIDA
Ioannis Lekkas reports from the ‘Iniohos’ exercise at Andravida, which included the first appearance of the F-35A

HOT SPOT
With increasing levels of Russian military activity in the region, Tieme Festner and Cees-Jan van der Ende look at the current situation regarding Baltic Air Policing as the Polish Air Force leads the NATO mission

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

DUTCH LIGHTNING IN FOCUS
Dutch photographer Frank Crébas details his latest assignment, up close with the F-35A over California as well as down in the weeds in his F-16 cameraship

THE X-FACTOR
The US Air Force looks set to purchase its first new F-15 Eagles since 2001, so what has spurred this move? Jamie Hunter evaluates the new F-15X

FLASHBACK
Combat Aircraft’s trip down memory lane: this month, the ‘Snoopy’ Skywarrior