KALININGRAD, August 14. /TASS/. More than 20 planes and helicopters and 500 troops from the Baltic Fleet’s naval aviation base are involved in flight and tactical exercise and missile firing and bombing practices at a proving ground in the Kaliningrad Region, the fleet’s spokesman, Roman Martov, told TASS.
“Participating in the routine exercise are more than 20 crews of Sukhoi-27 and Sukhoi-24 planes and military transport helicopters Mi-24 and Mi-8, as well as deck helicopters Ka-27, and military transport planes Antonov-26,” he said.
The participating forces provide fire support for ground forces, destroy command centers, armored vehicles and manpower of a hypothetical enemy, conduct air reconnaissance and destroy air targets and search for and eliminate submarines of a hypothetical enemy.
In both daytime and at night air crews launch guided and unguided missiles of different class, drop bombs ranging 100 kilograms to 500 kilograms and practice maneuvering in dog fight and approach targets in adverse radio-electronic warfare conditions.
A total of 30 combat training flights are due, Martov said.
KUBINKA /Moscow region/, August 12. /TASS/. Women will be admitted to the Krasnodar aviation school for pilot training this year for the first time in Russia’s modern history, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu told reporters on Saturday.
“There are quite a few girls who would like to become military pilots. We’ve received hundreds of letters, hence the decision to enroll the first group of girls in the Krasnodar military aviation school this year”, the minister said.
“They will be few in number, 15 all in all. However, considering the number of applications received by the Russian Aerospace Forces we cannot ignore these requests, so on October 1, the first group of girls will start training to become military pilots”, he added.
Shoigu who visited the celebrations to mark Aerospace Forces Day earlier in the day expressed the hope that the school’s female graduates will make such holidays more spectacular thanks to their skills five years later.
In 2009, the Krasnodar aviation school enrolled female cadets but not for pilot training.
ARLINGTON, Va. — The Navy is looking at ways to accelerate the phase-out of F/A-18C “Classic” Hornet strike fighters from its carrier air wings and replacing the last few squadrons with F/A-18E Super Hornets, a Navy spokeswoman said.
“As we balance operational requirements and our initiatives to build the most capable and ready forward-deployed force, we are identifying the most efficient and effective way to safely transition the last four Navy operational Hornet squadrons to Super Hornets,” Cmdr. Jeannie Groeneveld, public affairs officer for commander, Naval Air Forces, said in an e-mail to Seapower.
“In order to provide our most capable warfighting force forward, the Navy began the first of the final transitions of our four operational F/A-18C Hornet squadrons to F/A-18E Super Hornet squadrons in July, with an expected completion in [fiscal] ’19. Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 131, was the first of the four squadrons to begin the transition last month.”
The other three F/A-18C squadrons, all based at Naval Air Station Oceana, Va., are VFA-34, VFA-37 and VFA-83.
“Accelerating the transition to Super Hornets will allow cost savings and reduce depot maintenance workload,” Groeneveld said. “As the Navy approaches the end of the extended service life for Hornets, the cost per flight hour continues to increase. Additionally, there are shortages in the Department of the Navy’s spare parts and supply system that have contributed to flight line readiness challenges, as well as our ability to extend the service lives of these airframes.”
She also said the transitions give the Navy the opportunity to select its best-condition Hornets for use by the Marine Corps and by Navy support and reserve units, such as Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center, Fighter Composite Squadron 12, Reserve squadron VFA-204 and the Navy’s Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels.
The Navy is confident it will be able to continue to support all operational requirements as it completes transition of the Hornet fleet to Super Hornets,” she said.
Congress has supported the Navy’s requirements for increased Super Hornet procurement to bridge the gap to the fleet introduction of the F-35C Lightning II strike fighter. The first fleet squadron to make the transition to the F-35C will be VFA-147 in 2018.
WASHINGTON — Marine Corps aviation units must cease flying for a 24-hour period within the next two weeks to review safety procedures following two recent Marine crashes that killed 19 troops, the service’s top general ordered Friday.
Gen. Robert Neller, the Marine commandant, has ordered aviators to review “the fundamentals of safe flight operations, standardization, and combat readiness” during the “operational reset,” said Capt. Ryan Alvis, a spokeswoman for the Corps.
“The intent is for flying squadrons to review selected incidents which occurred enterprise-wide and study historical examples of completed investigations in order to bring awareness and best practices to the fleet,” she said.
Unit commanders will determine when to conduct the stand-downs. Neller’s order instructed commanders to conduct the pause when it will not interrupt training or combat operations.
Fifteen Marines and a sailor were killed in the July 10 crash of a KC-130T tanker-transport aircraft into the Mississippi Delta. Three additional Marines died Saturday in the crash of an MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft just off the coast of Australia.
The Marines on Wednesday announced they had determined the Ospreys were safe to fly following inspections and a preliminary investigation into Saturday’s crash. In that incident, the Osprey crashed into the deck of the USS Green Bay as it was landing on the amphibious transport dock before crashing into the ocean about 18 miles off the coast of Queensland.
The three Marines killed are believed to have been trapped inside the aircraft as it sank, officials said. Twenty-three others aboard the aircraft were rescued.
In the July crash, the KC-130T appears to have broken up in mid-air before it crashed to the ground leaving two debris trails each stretching more than a mile long, an initial investigation found. All of the personnel aboard the plane were killed.
The Marines grounded its entire fleet of 12 KC-130T aircraft following the incident.
Safety stand-downs of individual airframes or for particular units are not uncommon.
Last August, the Marines ordered a similar stand-down for all F/A-18 Hornets aircraft following several crashes of the fighter jets. The Marines also temporarily grounded AV-8B Harrier and Osprey aircraft in Japan last year following non-fatal wrecks.
Ahead of the 90th anniversary of the formation of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), military experts have been discussing the development of the various divisions over the years.
China’s air force, which was non-existent when the PLA was first formed in 1927, has grown to become one of the major components of China’s Defense sector.
Chinese air force expert Wang Mingliang says Chinese-developed air technology has seen significant advancements in China’s air force in recent years.
“Before we carried out the transformation, which was before the 1990s, our fighters were mainly the first generation fighters. But now the scale of our third generation fighters taking the lead gives us a major advantage.
We not only have the third-generation fighters but are moving forward to the fourth generation. We also have new types of surface-to-air missiles, new types air-to-air missiles and a series of other new weapons, including new types of unmanned aerial vehicles.
We have now mastered these state-of-the-art achievements in the military aviation field,” said Wang.
The PLA air force began developing during the Korean War from 1950.
Today, the J-15 fighter jet, which is China’s first carrier-based fighter jet, is considered one of the most advanced military aircraft in the world.
Russian Defense Ministry plans to begin purchases of MIG-35 lightweight fighter jets as of 2018, Deputy Minister of Defense Yuri Borisov told reporters on Tuesday on the sidelines of the MAKS 2017 aerospace show.
“R&D works are near complete and we hope we could begin the purchases in the interests of the Armed Forces as of 2018,” he said.
MIG-35 is the newest Russian G4++ multirole fighter jet. It represents a highly upgraded extension of the line of fighters that includes the MIG-29K/KUB and MIG-29M/M2 jets.
Its flight tests began on January 26 and its international presentation took place in the Moscow region on January 27.
Earlier reports said the Defense Ministry had placed an order for two fighters to be delivered in 2017 or 2018.
More than 3,000 Russian and Tajik military are taking part in the first joint snap combat readiness check that began in the Central Asian republic on Friday, Assistant Commander of Russia’s Central Military District, Colonel Yaroslav Roshchupkin, said.
“The military of Russia and Tajikistan are participating jointly for the first time in a snap readiness check. The servicemen of the two armies backed by Russian operational-tactical and army aviation are performing training and combat tasks in line with a single plan in a common operation situation on the mountainous firing grounds of Lyaur and Kharbmaydon,” he said.
The troops were alerted and deployed to the firing grounds where they started performing exercises in shooting and fire control and practicing cooperation. The checks are overseen by Commander of the Russian Central Military District Vladimir Zarudnitsky and Chief of the General Staff of Tajikistan’s Armed Forces Emomali Sobirzoda.
Eight Russian warplanes – Su-24 bombers and Su-25 attack aircraft – were earlier sent to Tajikistan.
The Russian Helicopter company will showcase two versions of the Mi-8AMT helicopter, which is manufactured by Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant, at the MAKS-2017 International Air Show. The first version will be multi-purpose, capable of carrying out medical evacuation and transportation of cargo and personnel, and the second version will be a VIP version, the company’s CEO Andrey Boginsky told reporters on Friday.
“Equipment from all the company’s manufacturers will be presented [at the show]. We’ve got two versions of the helicopter produced by Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant: the multi-purpose Mi-8AMT (which can perform medical evacuation and transportation of cargo and personnel) and a VIP [version],” he said.
Boginsky assured that the rotorcraft will attract attention at the MAKS-2017, adding that the helicopters may be delivered to potential buyers right after the air show.
The first Mi-8AMT multi-role helicopter was produced at Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant in 2014 for Progress Arsenyev Aviation Company.
Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant is one of Russian Helicopters’ production facilities which has manufactured over 8,000 aircraft since 1939. Today the plant focuses on the production of the Mi-8AMT (Mi-171E), Mi-171 and Mi-8AMTSh(Mi-171Sh) helicopters.
The MAKS-2017 International Air Show will run from July 18 to July 23 in the town of Zhukovsky, in the Moscow Region.
The CH-53K King Stallion has completed its first long-range test flight from West Palm Beach to the base as it transitions to its next test phase.
The CH-53K King Stallion has completed its first long-range test flight from West Palm Beach, Fla. to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, MD. as it transitions to its next test phase, Lockheed Martin announced on Wednesday.
The flight was over 800 miles with a total flight time of six hour is the first of a planned series of long-range flight testing until 2018. The program will be overseen by Sikorsky, the Navy and Marine Corps during the transition to Patuxent River /
“This first movement of CH-53K flight testing to our customer’s facility denotes that the aircraft have achieved sufficient maturity to begin transitioning the focus of the test program from envelope expansion to system qualification testing,” Dr. Michael Torok, vice president of CH-53K programs at Sikorsky, said in a press release. “This has been the plan from the beginning and is another important step toward getting these fantastic aircraft into the hands of the U.S. Marine Corps.”
The CH-53K King Stallion is a heavy-lift transport helicopter being developed by Sikorsky for the U.S. Marine Corps. It is an extensive redesign of the CH-53E Super Stallion, featuring three powerful new engines that give it triple the lift capacity and a larger cabin than the Super Stallion.
The rotorcraft can carry an external load of up to 27,000 pounds more than 120 miles, giving it excellent mobility for heavy cargo lifts and is large enough to carry HMMWV vehicles internally.
The King Stallion has a composite airframe structure that is lighter and stronger than earlier models along with composite rotor blades. It is suitable for troop and cargo transport, medical evacuations, and search-and-rescue operations. The Marine Corps is expected to purchase 200 King Stallions, with the first six being delivered next year.
The Sea Stallion series of heavy lift helicopters has been in use with refurbishment and upgrades by the Marine Corps for over 50 years.
Russian military planes have been flying too close for comfort in Baltic and Nordic airspace. Experts warn that the tension in the skies could lead to dangerous accidents or kick off an “escalation spiral.”
The Baltic nations and Poland just got some long-awaited NATO boots on the ground, inaugurating new standing battalions last week amid multinational exercises along the Russian border. In the skies above, the Kremlin made sure everyone knew it was watching, sending its warplanes to “buzz” Baltic airspace and even, according to the Lithuanian ministry of defense, to illegally enter it on two occasions.
Finland and Sweden also noted incidents in their vicinities. In a dramatic encounter on June 21, a Polish F-16 approached the plane carrying Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on his way to Kaliningrad, videotaped from aboard the Russian plane. Russian media reported a Russian escort plane intervened between the NATO jet and Shoigu’s aircraft, see: NATO F-16 warned away from plane carrying Russia’s defense minister [VIDEO]
The same day the US reported a Russian jet flew less than two meters from one of its surveillance planes, which a Pentagon spokesman said was dangerous due to the Russian pilot’s “high rate of closure speed and poor control of the aircraft.” Sweden summoned Russia’s ambassador after a Russian fighter jet flew unusually close to a Swedish reconnaissance plane in international airspace above the Baltic Sea.
NATO notes more Russian ‘visitors’
NATO’s deputy spokesperson Piers Cavalet confirmed to DW that there was an unusual spike in the Russian air presence over the Baltic Sea last week. “These included strategic bombers, fighters, reconnaissance, transport and other aircraft,” Cavalet said, adding that planes operating as part of NATO’s air-policing operations or from national air forces followed standard procedure in “scrambling” to monitor the aircraft.
Cavalet rejected Russian accusations that NATO planes are the ones creating tensions, saying “when NATO aircraft intercept a plane they identify it visually, maintaining a safe distance at all times. Once complete, NATO jets break away. All our pilots behave in a safe and responsible way.”
Speaking Monday in Brussels, the chairman of NATO’s military command, General Petr Pavel, added that it’s not just the airspace over the Baltic Sea where the spike is evident, but also over the Black Sea.
“In most of these cases we haven’t been observing [the flights] would be clearly hostile,” Pavel said at an event hosted by Politico. “[W]e are mostly witnessing what we call unprofessional behavior in the airspace. When these rules are broken the chance of getting into an incident is pretty close.”
But Thomas Frear, a research fellow with the European Leadership Network, has been writing for years about what he calls the “escalatory potential” of encounters between Russian and Western aircraft and ships. After a decline in tension in 2016 following a 2014/2015 spike, Frear believes the situation has become more critical now, with the stand-off between the US and Russia in Syria.
“The unexpectedly hostile relations between [Russia and] the Trump administration, the ever increasing tempo of military exercises in Europe, and the closer proximity of Russian and coalition aircraft in Syria have combined to drive the number of incidents up again,” he told DW.
Frear said that Western authorities are not taking the situation seriously enough, especially the risk to civilian aircraft. “I view this as a combination of complacency and a lack of understanding of the problem,” he said, explaining that international regulations governing interaction between aircraft do not apply to military planes.
Neither are national air forces required to be transparent about their rules of behavior with respect to non-military aircraft, Frear said. “[C]ivilian pilots will be unaware of military patterns of behavior,” he noted, “risking an accident.”
While there are some efforts to change this, Frear said it would require amending the 1944 Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation, a global agreement, making the possibility of any quick action quite remote.
US-Russian tension over Syria worse than Cold War
Frear urges immediate attention to the potential NATO-Russia conflict brewing beyond the Baltics in Syria, where the status of the US-Russian air safety agreement in the country is now uncertain.
“Greater engagement by both Russia and the US-led coalition in Syria has certainly heightened the possibility of a lethal clash,” Frear warned, pointing to the fact that NATO ally Turkey already shot down a Russian plane it said crossed into its airspace in 2015. In addition, he said, “Russian and US aircraft have already attacked ground forces allied to the other, leading to rhetoric from military leaders of a bellicosity not seen even at the height of the Cold War.”
As well as the need for the Syrian deconfliction agreement to be preserved, Frear said joint groups of experts should be urgently examining how to craft a broader NATO-Russia agreement on avoiding and managing hazardous incidents. In the shortest term, he writes in his report, “there should be zero tolerance for reckless behavior of individual military commanders, pilots and other personnel, especially by the Russian leadership. Use of dangerous military brinkmanship tactics for political signaling is a high-risk strategy, which may backfire in case of an incident.”