Tugging in sleeves

After such an incredible war, the mighty Beaufighter was destined for a rapid and wide-sweeping stand down. Battle-hardened night-fighter, torpedo bomber and a strike weapon of awesome capability, it seemed that there was little use for the big Bristol with the advent of peace.

It was not just that the need had drastically shrunk but the layout that had made the twin so opportune when it first entered service in 1940 was working against it five years later. That slim fuselage was not capable of taking more advanced airborne interception gear and the remoteness of the gunner-turned-radar operator did not

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The last of the money

COMPLETED at Hawker’s factory at Langley, Buckinghamshire on July 27, 1944, Mk.llc PZ865 was the last of the more than 14,500 Hurricanes to be builtTo mark this milestone, the fighter had The Last of the Many! adorned on both sides of its fuselage, just aft of the cockpit.

PZ865 was rolled out bedecked with banners listing notable campaigns and theatres of war during the type’s service career — including the Battle of France, Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain, Malta, Russia, Africa, Burma, Italy and Normandy.The fighter then carried out its maiden flight in the hands of Hawker’s chief test pilot

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THE HAWK TURNS 30

THIRTY YEARS ago this month, a red-and-white-painted Hawk took to the skies over Britain. Today this aircraft has become one of the most successful, and by far the most successful jet trainer. With nearly 850 orders and 1.5 million flying hours to its credit, the BAE Systems Hawk has continued to evolve and remains at the forefront of jet trainer technology. This is largely the reason it continues to flourish, with a constant stream of orders flowing in.

The Hawk is a proud symbol of technological and marketing achievement for BAE Systems, and for Britain as a whole. As the

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Strike Test Squadron — NAS Pax River

Located at naval Air station Patuxent River in Maryland, the Strike Test Squadron is responsible for the testing of all carrier-based combat aircraft in the US Naval inventory.

The unit is currently involved in flight testing all the systems on Grumman F-14s, McDonnell Douglas F/A-18s and Grumman EA-6Bs. Before any new system can be incorporated into a fleet aircraft it is thoroughly tested by the unit. The unit is equipped with four F-14As, one ‘B’ and two ‘D’ model Tomcats, and some 12 F/A-18s are on hand varying from Lot 5 aircraft to the newest Lot 18 Hornet.

These were

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Riat Fairford.

THE 1999 Royal International Air Tattoo which took place during July 24-25 was hot…and we are not just referring to the temperature. The event attracted a record-breaking 483 aircraft, and crowds for the weekend reached 190,000. Easily attracting the most attention was the B-2A Spirit which was parked at the western end of the static line-up, and flew on both days.

Although the massed ranks of aircraft contained many regulars, there were also some very interesting items. How many people noticed that the Saab Viggen was an upgraded Block D variant, complete with four AMRAAMs? Only two squadrons will receive

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New Sensors on RAF Sea Kings

UK PROCUREMENT Minister Lord Bach announced on June 18 that work had begun on installing advanced sensors on the RAF’s Sea King search-and-rescue (SAR) helicopter fleet. The upgrade will significantly improve the ability of RAF SAR teams to detect missing people in all weather conditions. Initially, two Sea King HAR.3AS (ZH542 and ZH545) – operated by 22 Squadron A Flight and based at RMB Chivenor, north Devon — have been fitted with the new Sea King Multi Sensor System (SKMSS), which uses FLIR Systems’ STAR-Q thermal imaging equipment.

SKMSS is an infra-red detection system that can detect a person in

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Maltas Air Squadron

LAST YEAR THE SMALL Air Squadron of the Armed Forces of Malta celebrated its 20th year of operation. 1992 also marked the 50th Anniversary of the George Cross which was awarded by Britain to the people of Malta for their heroic defence against the air onslaught of Germany’s Luftwaffe and the Italian Regia Aeronautica during World War Two.

These two anniversaries coincided with a change in Malta’s air arm, the introduction of the first fixed-wing type, a change in name, and the changing of the unit’s national insignia into a roundel incorporating the George Cross.

Happily, Germany and Italy no

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Harrier GR.9 Enters Service

JOINT FORCE Harrier and BAE Systems rolled out the Harrier GR.9 at RAF Cottesmore, Rutland, on October 11, in a ceremony marking the type’s front-line service entry with 1 (F) Squadron.

The £500 million improvement programme involves upgrading all 60 Harrier GR.7s and nine T.lOs to GR.9 and T.12 standard respectively, extending the Harrier’s effectiveness until the F-35 Lightning II enters service, currently planned for 2018.

Conversion work is being undertaken by BAE Systems on the Joint Update and Maintenance Programme (JUMP) line at Cottesmore. On October 11, 24 single-seat GR.9s and one two-seat T.12 were in RAF service. The

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FAST TIMES IN THE FALKLANDS

Jim Dorschner visited the Falkland Islands to report on the Air Component, British Forces South Atlantic Islands.

TWENTY-THREE YEARS after the 1982 South Hi Atlantic War with Argentina, British airpower in the Falkland Islands remains robust, capable and busy. British Forces South Atlantic Islands (BFSAI), which replaced the former British Forces Falkland Islands last year and now includes responsibility for Ascension, St Helena, South Georgia and Tristan da Cunha, remains based at RAF Mount Pleasant (MPA), 35 miles (56km) southwest of Stanley on East Falkland. The air component is led by Group Captain Gordon Moulds, a Tornado F.3 navigator with

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Facing the Future Pari 2

CHANGING PRIORITIES have required the South African Air Force (SAAF — or Suid-Afrikaanse lugmaa — SALM) to re orientate and to scale down, in the light of new needs and strengths. The successfully prosecuted war in Namibia proved beyond doubt to the SAAF the value of its helicopter force. While the SAAF has reduced its rotary wing inventory to two types, the ‘new’ SAAF will rely heavily on helicopters for a wide variety of support tasks, essential to the need for rapid — and varied — response.

Helitopler Forte

With the withdrawal of the Frelons and Wasps, the SAAF now

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