A blog on military and commercial aviation matters in the Asia-Pacific region

PICTURES: RAAF F-35A and EA-18G on show at Avalon 2017

March 03, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Two key assets of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)'s Plan Jericho a 10-year blueprint for the transformation of the RAAF into a highly advanced and networked air force have arrived in Australia and are on show at the 2017 Australian International Airshow held from 28 to 5 March at Avalon, Victoria.

Taking a pause from multi-national pilot training duties at Luke AFB, Arizona where they have been based since the third quarter of 2014, the first two of 72 RAAF Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning IIs — AU-1 and AU-2 — arrived at RAAF Base Amberley on the evening of 27 February after their trans-Pacific ferry flight. Both jets, which are fielding the updated Block 3iP6 software release, arrived at Avalon on 3 March and were officially revealed to the public during the airshow. AU-1 and AU-2 will return to Luke early next week after the event. The first F-35s to be permanently based Down Under will begin arriving from 2018 to initiate the replacement of the F/A-18A/B Classic Hornets, after a period of local integration and operational test and evaluation. They will be operated by three fighter squadrons No. 3 and 77 Squadrons (along with 2OCU) at RAAF Base Williamtown, New South Wales and No. 75 Squadron at RAAF Base Tindal.

20170303raaf8185068_000120170303raaf8185068_0001Australias first F-35A Lightning II aircraft 01 and 02 in transit to the Australian International Airshow in Avalon. *** Local Caption *** The Australian Defence Force is proud to be part of the 2017 Australian International Airshow, with displays showcasing the latest military aviation assets and technology. Photo Credit: RAAF/Corporal Craig Barrett

Similarly, the first two of 12 EA-18G Growlers arrived at Avalon on 28 February following a delivery flight from NAS Whidbey Island, Washington, where RAAF crew are undergoing training with the U.S. Navy's Growler Fleet Replacement Squadron VAQ-129 'Vikings. To be assigned to No.6 Squadron at RAAF Base Amberley, all 12 electronic warfare and support aircraft are planned to arrive in Australia by mid-2017, after a six-month operational test and evaluation program.

20170228raaf8201782_019-A20170228raaf8201782_019-AA pair of Royal Australian Air Force EA-18G Growlers en route to the Australian Air Show in Avalon. *** Local Caption *** The Australian Defence Force is proud to be part of the 2017 Australian International Airshow - the premier event in the Southern Hemisphere for showcasing aerospace industry and military aviation. Photo Credit: RAAF/Sergeant Mick Bott

 

Further Reading

- Australia's first two F-35s take to the skies


Vipers' Nest - Hualien Air Base

January 27, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

A flight of five F-16A/Bs undergo final checks at the Last Chance Area while another two armed Vipers launch on a Combat Air Patrol. © Roy Choo We paid a visit to the Republic of China Air Force's Hualien Airbase located on the eastern cost of Taiwan in November last year. View the images from this fabulous F-16 and RF/F-5E/F base at the link here!


Tail Flashes on F-15SGs for Singapore Air Force's Exercise Top Ace 2017

January 14, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Tail flashes applied as part of this year's Exercise Top Ace have been spotted on various Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) fighters this week! Probably the more remarkable ones adorn the following two F-15SGs. Held from 9 to 13 January 2017 at Paya Lebar Air Base, the five-day exercise pits the RSAF's five fighter squadrons against each other in assessments of their air-to-air skills and competencies.

Exercise Top Ace 2017 (Jan 2017) - F-15SG serial 8331 is adorned with the Ex. Top Ace tail flash of 142 'Gryphon' Squadron. The five-day exercise pits the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF)'s five fighter squadrons against each other in assessments of their air-to-air skills and competencies.© Roy Choo F-15SG serial 8331 is adorned with this stunning tail flash of 142 'Gryphon' Squadron. This is the squadron's first participation in the annual Top Ace / Hot shot exercise series since its re-formation in March 2016.   © Roy Choo 

Exercise Top Ace 2017 (Jan 2017) - On finals to Paya Lebar Air Base amongst nondescript bulidings, F-15SG serial 8328 bears the Ex. Top Ace tail flash of 149 'Shikra' Squadron. © Roy Choo On finals to Paya Lebar Air Base amongst nondescript buildings, F-15SG serial 8328 bears the Ex. Top Ace tail flash of 149 'Shikra' Squadron. © Roy Choo

Further Reading

- Exercise Hotshot 2014: Tail flashes galore


Thai air force Gripen crashes at Hat Yai during Children's Day airshow

January 14, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

RTAF Gripen 70108 taxies out for the final time Hat Yai airport on 14 January with the late Group Captain Dilakrit Pattavi. Photo courtesy of Kitti Eaidkaew

What had been a horrifying sight for hundreds of spectators including scores of children, a Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) JAS-39C Gripen crashed in a ball of flames together with its pilot Group Captain Dilakrit Pattavi at Hat Yai airport in Thailand's far south. The Gripen had been performing at the local Children's Day airshow when it rolled over and nosedived into the ground.

This is the first loss of a Thai Gripen since the RTAF took delivery of its first jet in February 2011. The aircraft, serial 70108, joined the RTAF fleet on 5 April 2013. Pior to the accident, twelve of these had been in service with 701 Squadron, Wing 7, based at Surat Thani Air Force Base.


Singapore's Heli-Lift Facelift

December 01, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

AS332M Super Puma 220 is being readied for a flight to the Shoalwater Bay training area. Also in view are other RSAF aviation assets parked on the tarmac; Rockhampton Airport is beginning to resembleAS332M Super Puma 220 is being readied for a flight to the Shoalwater Bay training area. Also in view are other RSAF aviation assets parked on the tarmac; Rockhampton Airport is beginning to resemble a busy military airbase! © Roy Choo The RSAF operates a Super Puma training detachment at the Oakey Army Aviation Centre in Queensland, Australia. This is being expanded to include a Chinook detachment by the end of 2017 or early 2018. © Roy Choo

Singapore is moving ahead with its medium and heavy lift helicopter renewal programs with the award of contracts to Airbus Helicopters and Boeing for the H225M and CH-47F respectively.  The number of airframes and value of the contracts announced on November 7 were not publicised.

The favourite in the medium-lift competition, the H225M was running against the Leonardo-Finmeccanica AW101 but a decision on the H225M deal was delayed after the crash of a civilian Super Puma off the coast of Norway. The H225M will replace about two dozen Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF)’s AS332M/M1 Super Pumas which were introduced from 1983 and are currently  in service with 125 and 126 Squadrons at Sembawang Air Base, as well as the Oakey Army Aviation Centre detachment in Queensland, Australia.

Singapore operates 16 CH-47D/SD Chinooks, the first of which were delivered in 1996. Six of the CH-47Ds are based with the Peace Prairie detachment in Texas, training alongside the Texas Army National Guard's 149th Aviation Regiment. Delivered between 1998 to 2003, the remaining 10 improved CH-47SDs are in service with 127 Squadron at Sembawang. The improved SD features upgraded avionics and engines, though both RSAF versions are equipped with larger fuselage-flank fuel tanks. It is expected that the CH-47Fs to be acquired will replace the older Texas-based CH-47Ds. However, with the establishment of a Chinook training flight in Oakey by the end of 2017, the future of the Peace Prairie detachment and the basing plans for the Fs are uncertain.

Serial 88192 is the sole upgraded CH-47SD Chinook out of four deployed for the exercise. Modifications seen here include a SATCOM ball, a self-protection suite and chaff/flare dispensers. © Roy Choo Having undergone the MLU program, CH-47SD 88192 was one of four deployed at Warrior’s Camp in Rockhampton, Queensland in Australia to support the Singapore Armed Forces’ unilateral exercise at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area from 15 Sep to 7 Nov. © Roy Choo

Running concurrently with the CH-47F acquisition, the locally-based CH-47SDs are also undergoing a mid-life upgrade program. A joint project among the RSAF, the Defence Science and Technology Agency as well as local company Singapore Technologies Aerospace, modifications include an avionics upgrade, a SATCOM dome and an integrated self-protection suite with chaff and flare dispensers. Developmental trials were recently completed by the RSAF’s Flight Test Centre and the upgrade is being progressively rolled out across the fleet.

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