CONTINUING UNCERTAINTY Surrounds the European Fighter Aircraft project and despite the German government announcement in June that it was to stay with the programme until the end of the development phase. A letter dated September 16 from the German state secretary responsible for armaments to the British defence procurement minister served formal notice that Germany now intends also to withdraw from the development phase os soon as next February — the earliest permissible date under the dispute process agreed in 1988 by the participating countries.
Contractually, Germany is still obliged to either continue paying its share of expenditure or pay for the cost of transferring of work to other partners until the end of the development phase in 1999.
ANNOUNCED BY THE Minister of State for the Armed Forces on October 27 was the decision to base two Army Air Corps regiments at Wattisham following retirement of the Phantom force. Under Options for Change it was planned to double the two UK-based regiments (at Dishforth and Netheravon) with the redeployment of two of the three regiments based in Germany.
After a review of possible future defence uses for Wattisham, it has been decided that the base provides the most cost-effective option for an operational base for the two regiments and their support units which are returning from Germany.
Units involved are 3 Regiment at Soest, which will move by July 1993, and 4
In addition, it was announced on October 7 that Deutsche Aerospace was to cut 7,500 jobs, 11% of the total workforce, many in the defence sector, which the company blames mainly on lack of political guidance as to the future needs of the German armed forces.
Following the German decision, the Spanish Ministry of Defence told EFA contractors in mid-October that there should be a slowdown in investment in the programme and stated that no new money would be allocated to EFA. On October 10, the Italian Defence Minister wrote to the Air Force Chief of Staff and the Director General for weapons acquisition ordering a freeze on development and stating that no new EFA contracts were to be signed. As a result of Eurofighter’s study into cutting costs on EFA to suit differing
Regiment together with 71 Aircraft Workshops ana 2 Aircraft Support Unit, all at Detmold, which will transfer in March 1995. Each of the two regiments comprises three squadrons, 653, 662 and 663 Sqns coming under 3 Rgt while 654, 659 and 669 Sqns are under 4 Rgt, each sqn operating a mix of Gazelle AH. 1 s and Lynx AH.l/7s. All will operate in support 24 Airmobile Brigade.
Some rationalisation of existing UK-based AAC units will also take place with one squadron from 7 Regiment at Netheravon joining 9 Regiment at Dishforth and Deina replaced by one of three new TA Flights being formed in 1993. The other two TA Flights will be based at Shawbury and Turnhouse.
national requirements a seven-volume report issued to participating nations on October 16 revealed a New EFA (NEFA) which could reduce costs by between 12 and 30% while still using the existing airframe but excluding major design changes which would reauce performance and increase costs.
The NEFA would be tailored to individual Air Force’s needs, the more basic version required by Germany featuring a 4-5% reduction in capabilities compared to the original EFA and alternative equipment including replacement of the GEC Ferranti ECR90 radar with the Hughes APG65 and fitting of a more limited defensive aids subsystem.
DEMONSTRATIONS BEGAN by American Eurocopter of Grand Prairie on September 14 of two AS.350BA AStar helicopters to the US Army at Fort Rucker, Alabama, as prospective candidates for the New Training Helicopter (NTH) programme to replace the UH-1 Iroquois as the Arm/s training helicopter.
Two variants of the AStar were involved, N93TH being powered by the Turbomeca Arriel 1B usually fitted to all non-North American AS.350s while N94TH was fitted with an Allison 250-C30M in place of the Textron Lycoming LTS-101-600A-3 normally to be found in models destined for the US market. Using kits supplied from Marignane by the manufacturer, the helicopters were assembled and modified at Grand Prairie, incorporating an equipment fit which was 60% of US origin to suit NTH requirements. Eurocopter’s AStar is currently the only foreign competitor for the NTH contract the others comprising a wheeled conversion of the Bell 206 produced by Global Helicopters/lmagineering and designated Bell 206TH, the Enstrom TH-28 three-seat version of the four-seat Model 480 and the Schweizer TH-330. The US Army is treating the two variants of A Star as separate entries for the NTH competition and each will undergo the entire fly-off.
A decision on NTH is expected by the end of February 1993 with delivery of the first helicopters in April 1994. Total requirement, previously set at 205 helicopters, has been cut to 157 due to budget restrictions.
FOLLOWING THE ANNOUNCEMENT of a proposed £60 million order for an additional six Sea King HAR.3 search-and-rescue helicopters for the RAF to replace Wessex HC.2s currently employed in this role (AFM April, page 6), the contract for which was awarded on October 28, a Parliamentary Answer to an Open Government Document published on October 21 revealed further details of the redeployment of RAF SAR assets following the introduction of an all Sea King fleet.
Changing to an all-Sea King SAR fleet will enable rationalisation due to its increased range and superior search capability and as a result the flights at Brawdy, Coltishall, Leuchars and Mansion will be withdrawn. The flight at Mansion will move to Wattisham, while Chivenor and Valley will remain but replace their Wessex with Sea Kings. Boulmer, Leconfield and Lossiemouth, all of which currently operate Sea Kings, will remain unchanged.
To ensure maximum flexibility, each flight will continue to operate two helicopters.
In addition, the Royal Navy will maintain its present Sea King-equipped SAR flights at Culdrose, Portland and PrestwicK while the three Sikorsky S-61N-equipped SAR flights operated by Bristow Helicopters on behalf of HM Coast Guard at Lee-on-Solent, Stornoway and Sumburgh will also remain. SAR in Northern Ireland will continue to be maintained with a dedicated RAF helicopter based at Aldergrove.
Dates announced for the changes include withdrawal of 22 Squadron/B Flight at Leuchars on April 1, 1993, closure of 202 San/B Fit at Brawdy on April 1, 1994 and concurrent transfer of 24-hour Sea King coverage from there to 22 Sqn/A Fit at Chivenor.
This will be followed by transfer of 202 Sqn/C Fit from Mansion !o Wattisham by mid-1994, 22 Sqn/E Fit at Coltishall being withdrawn, and the Wessex of 22 Sqn/C Fit at Valley being replaced with Sea Kings during the first half of 1996.
RECENT CISAF DEPARTURES from eastern Germany have included 30 plus MiG-23UM and -27M Floggers of the 116th IBAP at Brand which moved to Finsterwalde in early July before transiting back to the CIS, and the departure of 14 MiG-25R/Us of the 11 th RAP at Welzow, leaving the unit with 28 Su-24MR Fencer Es scheduled to leave next year.
There will now be no further withdrawals of CISAF aircraft until next Spring although the CIS Army is continuing to withdraw its helicopters. During the second week of August, over 40 336th VP Mil Mi-8/9/17 Hips and Mi-24 Hinds flew from Weimar-Nohra to Poland en route to the CIS and on August 20 the small number of Mi-8/17/24s at Dresden/Hellerau also flew home -Dresden has to be ‘Russian-free’ by the end of this year.
Several ECM communications jamming Mi-8 Hip Ks and airborne command post Mi-6 Hooks had left before the official departure date.
Most remaining regiments will depart during Spring/Summer 1993 including
Falkenberg’s Guards regiment, the 31 GwIAP, and Sperenberg will be the last base to close as it houses the transport aircraft which will be supporting other departures right to the end.
Groundcrews at Grossenhain also revealed during the open day there on August 15/16 some hitherto unknown local designations for the Fulcrum. Apparently the Fulcrum C (with enlarged dorsal spine for avionics) is referred to as Type 9.13′ while Fulcrum As are known os ‘Tvpe 9.11’ (although several are modified to Fulcrum C standard) and twin-seat MiG-29UB Fulcrum Bs are ‘Type 9.12’. Most regiments remaining in Germany now fly the Fulcrum C with a handful of Fulcrum Bs although a small number of Fulcrum As survive at Ribnitz/Damgarten and Wittstock.
It is anticipated that once the Russians have left Falkenberg the Luftwaffe will move their MiG-29s in from Preschen and new Hardened Aircraft Shelters are already under construction on the site of the old Flogger HASs which were not wide enough for Fulcrums.
FURTHER DRASTIC CUTS in the Belgian Air Force’s annual (lying hours have been ordered by the Belgian Defence Minister as part of a continuing series of defence cutbacks. Earlier plans were for hours to be cut from the present level of 27,500 hours to 17,800 by 1996 but the new ruling means that from 1993 only 15,000 hours will be allowed.
This has caused much concern within the Air Force, whose pilots are already only flying 165 hours per year whereas the NATO standard calls for an absolute minimum of 180 hours, a level below which it is not considered that proficiency can be maintained, although NATO guidelines suggest that 240 hours is preferable.
TWO SECOND-HAND Airbus A310-300s are to be purchased by the French Air Force for logistics support duties, replacing two of the four Douglas DC-8s currently employed by ET.3/60 Esterel at Roissy in this role.
The first will be purchased during 1993 when one DC-8 will be withdrawn for fitting out as an electronic surveillance platform, to join one Srs 53 already serving in this role with 51 Escadron Elécfronique Aubrac’ at Evreux as part of the SARIGUE (Système Aerporte de Recueil des Informations de Guerre Elécfronique) airborne EUNT programme.
The second A310 will be acquired in 1995 or 1996 to take over when the second DC-8 is retired. It is anticipated that further long-range transport purchases are to be made in the future which are most likely to include the new four-engined Airbus A340.
UNDER AN AGREEMENT currently being negotiated and aimed at rejuvenating an F-7/FT-7 factory in Guizhou province, in the south-central part of the country, co-operation between China and Mikoyan is planned which will lead to co-production of the MiG-31 Foxhound with China.
The Russians would provide a skilled workforce of engineers and technicians and an initial batch of 24 aircraft would be assembled from Mikoyan-supplied kits while a follow on batch of 48 would be co-produced, some of this output being delivered to Russia.
In addition to these plans and the recent delivery of Su-27 Flankers, the Air Force of the People’s Liberation Army is seeking modernisation and expansion of capabilities in other areas, including plans for the AFPLA to lease or purchase a number of Ilyushin ll-76s converted both to tankers and airborne warning and control aircraft with long-range radars.
FOLLOWING US APPROVAL of the sole of further F-l 5s to Saudi Arabia (AFM November, page 9), the Pentagon has also approved the start of negotiations with Israel for acquisition of AH-64A Apache and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters as the US is keen to see that Israel maintains military superiority in the Middle East.
The US is already providing £1 billion worth of military aid annually to Israel, accounting for almost half of all US foreign military aid. Under the new proposals, which are part of the $700 million-worth of equipment promised to Israel following the Gulf War, 24 AH-64As and ten UH-60 Black Hawks taken from the US Army inventory will be given to Israel.
SEVERAL NEW HELICOPTER projects from the Mil OKB have recently been revealed, including the 15 tonne 30-passenger Mi-38 intended as an Mi-8/-17 replacement from 1997 and the 4 tonne take-off weight (S-76-sized) Mi-54 planned as a 10-12 passenger multipurpose helicopter, with a 2,204-2,866lb (1,000- 1,300kg) payload, reliability and simplicity of operation, and high performance as its main objectives.
A troop-carrying version of its Mi-28 attack helicopter, designated Mi-40, is also under development while the Mi-46 is projected as a replacement with a 10-12 tonne payload for the Mi-6/Mi-1 OK heavy-lift types. The Mi-46 will also be supplemented by the Mi-26M development of the massive Mi-26, shown again at Farnborough, with uprated engines for improved hot and high performance.
Upgrades are also planned for the many Mi-24 Hind attack helicopters still in worldwide service, in conjunction with British equipment manufacturers. According to Mil, the company has produced some 25,000 Mil helicopters to date, representing around 95% of all Soviet/CIS rotary-wing aircraft output.
US ARMY INITIAL funding authorisation has been granted for two prototype AH-64C Apaches which will be used to assist validation of the Army Apache modernisation concept. The two AH-64Cs will join four AH-64D Longbow Apache prototypes being built by MDH as part of a 70-month development and test programme.
The entire Apache fleet will eventually be modernised to either AH-64C or AH-64D configuration.
The contract for the two prototypes, signed in early September, confirmed the $21 million authorised by Congress from FY92 funding to initiate AH-64C development.
The AH-64C and AH-64D are essentially identical aircraft, the main differences being that the AH-64D incorporates the mast-mounted Longbow millimetre-wave radar as a permanent feature and has uprated General Electric T700-GE-701C turboshaft engines while the AH-64C can be quickly reconfigured with Longbow, but will not normally carry it as a standard fit, and does not have the uprated engines.
The decision last December by the Hellenic Army General Staff to purchase the AH-64A Apache attack helicopter (AFM January, page was confirmed on October 6 with an order for 12 Apaches, plus options on a further 12, marking the first time the Greek Army has acquired offensive rather than reconnaissance and support helicopters.
Although several other countries have ordered Apache, Greece becomes the first NATO member outside the USA to order the type and will begin taking delivery in 1995. In addition, the US Army has ordered eight Apaches for ‘future foreign military sales requirements’ and MDH have also been discussing a potential Apache sale with the Republic of Korea.
PROPOSALS FOR SETTING up a production line in Greece for the Kamov Ka-50 Hokum were revealed at the 7th Defendory International military equipment exhibition in Athens by the Geneva-based Group Vector. Plans are for a new factory to be built near Athens, using a $400 million loan from US and European banks, where export Ka-50s would be produced for the Asian, European and Middle East markets and would be fitted with Western avionics, probably from GEC-Ferranti.
Plans for Ka-50 production by Group Vector were first revealed earlier this year (AFM August, page 9), when it was suggested that production would be in the USA. Group Vector have also been granted export sales and marketing rights for the MiG-29 Fulcrum and MiG-31 Foxhound and it has been suggested that the new factory could also assemble MiG-295 for export.
DELIVERED TO ASUNCION recently by ENAER was the last of 12 T-35 Pillan piston-engined basic trainers, following training of FAP pilots and ground crew in Santiago. Overall orders and production of the type stand at 112, including 48 for the Chilean Air Force, whose original requirement for 80 was reduced because of export priorities, as well as 41 for Spain and ten for Panama in addition to a single aircraft converted to Turbo Pillan standard by installation of a 420shp Allison 250-B17D turboprop.
Further FaCh interest in the Turbo Pillan has resulted in renewed flight development of this variant, with some modifications, including a revised nose intake and Tucano-type one-piece moulded canopy, while more of the standard T-35s are also being laid down for production.
FIRST PROTOTYPE BAe/McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier II Plus, converted from AV-8B No 205 (164129), made its first flight from St Louis on September 22, a month ahead of schedule. An enhanced capability, radar-equipped derivative of the AV-8B, the Harrier II Plus has been developed in conjunction with Hughes Aircraft.
Similar to the night-attack AV-8B, it differs from its predecessor in being fitted with the integrated Hughes AN/APG-65 multi-mode pulse Doppler radar, resulting in the nose being extended by 1ft 5in (0.43m), enlarged LERX, FUR, improved ECM, an RAF-type eight pylon wing, increased weapons capability to include AMRAAM, Harpoon, Sea Eagle and Sparrow and an increased fatigue life of 6,000 hours.
Current orders comprise 24 for the USMC who will take delivery of their first aircraft, No 233 (164542), in Spring next year and the last in January 1994 and 13 tor the Italian Navy (plus eight more on option) while the Spanish Navy has a requirement for eight plus 11 conversions but has yet to place an order.
BASIC HELICOPTER PILOT training for the Royal Navy, currently undertaken by 705 Squadron at Culdrose using 19 Gazelle HT.2s, is to be privatised by April 1,1994. Tenders are now being invited for a five-year contract for training using contractor-owned and operated helicopters.
Contractors will be given the option of either providing their own helicopters or purchasing the Gazelles currently in use. Twelve or the 22 Qualified Helicopter Instructors currently with 705 Squadron will be retained, including the Commanding Officer, under the new scheme.
A similar scheme is planned for the RN Flying Grading Flight at Plymouth/Roborough where ten Chipmunk T.lOs are currently in use which could be purchased by the prospective contractor, or new aircraft provided.
CONFIRMATION OF THE overturning of protests from rival bidders in the USAF EFS contest (AFM November, page 7) has been followed by the announcement that in USAF service the T-67M Firefly will be designated T-3A.
The US services decided some time ago after allocating T-47 to the US Navy’s Citation lls that they would start trainer designations at T-l again, allocating the latter to the Beech Jayhawk. As T-2 remains a current designation for US Navy Buckeyes, T-3 was therefore the next logical allocation not currently in use.
MIKOYAN AND PROMAVIA are reportedly discussing the possibility of Promavia’s proposed tandem two-seat ATTA-3000 jet trainer, announced in 1989, being developed and built by the Russian manufacturer. On offer for the USAF/USN Joint Primary Aircraft Training System, the ATTA-3000 is a derivative of Promavia’s earlier side-by-side Jet Squalus although the new aircraft is an almost entirely new design with only the empennage of the Jet Squalus likely to be used.
Under the proposed agreement with Mikcyan, the company would build and test flv two prototypes although Promavia is still also in discussion with Canadian authorities about setting up a production plant in Quebec or Saskatchewan.
BUDGET APPROVAL WAS granted in August for upgrading of the Royal Australian Air Force’s fleet of Lockheed P-3C Orions in order to extend their service life and reduce operating costs. In addition the RAAF will acquire three ex-US Navy P-3B Orions for circuit training and other such duties which cause high airframe fatigue in order to extend the fatigue life on the operational fleet.
The 19 P-3Cs currently in service will all be given an ESM upgrade. The new wide-ranging upgrade brings together numerous previously planned major and minor upgrades into a single project which will incorporate a new MAD, acoustic processor and flight instruments, corrosion abatement, radar replacement, weight reduction of 3,528lb (1,600kg) at minimum zero-fuel weight, and a nav/comms upgrade which will include satcom and GPS.
A draft Request for Proposals is due for release in January with a final request in April, selection in December and contract signature in May 1994. Work should commence in December 1996 and will be completed by August 2001.
CONFIDENCE IN THE Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey was boosted when the 1993 fiscal year Congressional budget conference voted for approval of a further $755 million in FY1993 and release of $790 million in unspent FY92 funds to be spent on the programme.
Funding is to be used to construct an additional two aircraft which will be representative of the production model and to modify two existing prototypes to meet the US Navy requirement for a less expensive V-22. Other doubts, following the loss of two prototypes, were also eased by publication of a report into the second crash (see Write-Ofh, page 56).
NORTHROP HAVE NOW flown the fifth of the six prototype B-2 low-observable strategic penetration bombers and the aircraft, 82-1070, was delivered on October 5 to the USAF’s 6520th Test Squadron at Edwards AFB, California, where it will be used for weapons, climatic and low-observable testing. The four other B-2s have now totalled 815 hours of flight testing in 176 flights. Sixth and final prototype, 82-1071, should also have joined the test programme by the end of this year.
MCDONNELL DOUGLAS HAVE revealed that there have been identical structural failures in both wings of the C-17 airlifter static test specimen. Failure occurred on October 1 when the wings reached 30% above the maximum operating load, lower than the highest structural load which the aircraft was designed to cope with in order to satisfy USAF requirements.
At the time the test was simulating loads which would be generated at about 32,000ft with vertical gusts of 55ft/sec when the aircraft was Hying at 275lcts and at a heavy weight of 585,000lb • more than the maximum take-off weight but a condition that could occur just after inflight refuelling.
The test was to be the highest loading on the airframe of all the tests scheduled to be carried out and should have been run for about 18 hours but after the load had been stabilised at 130%, with the winqtips deflected upwards about 8ft above their normal position, there was a symmetrical buckling failure of the skin and associated structure between the inboard and outboard engines on both winos, running forward and aft along the chord.
As a result of the failure it will now to be necessary for a design change to future production examples and modification of those already built. Examples already flying will continue to do so but a sizeable margin will be left between the level of structural load which resulted in failure and the flight loads the aircraft currently operate at. At least one of the flight test aircraft is currently planned to undergo modifications to the wing structure early next year.
PRODUCTION OF THE GRUMMAN F-14 Tomcat has finally ended after 21 years. The last of 37 new production F-14D Super Tomcats, 164604, was delivered from Calverton to the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division at NAS Patuxent River on July 10. Total Tomcat production was 712 airframes which comprised 636 F-14As (including 79 for Iran), a single prototype F-14B, 38 F-14A+, redesignated F-14Bs from Mew 1,1991 (see AFM February, page 9) and 37 F-l 4Ds.
In addition, 32 F-l4As were remanufactured as F-14Bs, two F-l4As were converted to F-14D prototypes and work is continuing with the remanufacture of 18 F-l4As to F-14Ds, this being due for completion in March 1993.
BOEING MILITARY AIRPLANES have been awarded a $156 million follow-on contract for an additional 34 KC-135R Stratotanker re-engining conversion kits for delivery to I the USAF (rom 1994. The 54,000-part kits replace the KC-135s old Pratt & Whitney J57 turbojets with new CFM56 turbofans while additional modifications include upgraded electrical and hydraulic systems, strengthened main undercarriage and dual APUs for quick engine starting. A total of 397 kits have now been ordered and Boeing has already re-engined over 280 of these eldedy tankers with CFM56s.
TO SUPPLEMENT THE 22 examples remaining in service, the Royal Australian Air Force is to purchase a further 18 surplus ex-USAF F-l 11s, about 200 of which are currently in the process of being retired from service with the USAF.
According to the Australian defence minister the ‘nev/ aircraft will not be used to form additional squadrons or increase the strength of existing units but will initially be stored and upgraded when required in order to act as replacements for existing aircraft in order to extend the service life of the type beyond the present deadline of 2010 when it nod been planned to retire the fleet.