Tag: German Air Force

All The German F-35s To Be Stationed At Büchel Air Base

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All The German F-35s To Be Stationed At Büchel Air Base
F-35 Germany
File image of a USAF F-35A

( U.S. Air Force picture by Heide Couch) The F-35A jets of the Luftwaffe(German Air Force )will certainly be based in Büchel, in the Eifel area of western Germany. The Bundeswehr(the militaries of the Federal Republic of Germany)have actually made a decision that all the brand-new F-35A stealth jets predestined to the Luftwaffe(German Air Force)will certainly be posted at Büchel Air Base. Pointing out a representative of the Bundeswehr, Südwestrundfunk, a local public broadcasting firm offering the southwest of Germany, reported that the 5th generation airplane will certainly be based at the landing field in the Eifel area, in the western component of Germany, after the intended remodelling jobs of the path in Büchel. The building job, setting you back around 170 million euros, is anticipated to be finished in February 2026. According to SWR, a brand-new 11.5-km external fencing, worth 18M Euro has actually been put up around the air base to stop demonstrators, that continuously

climbed up the old fencing, from horning in the army installment. The choice to base the F-35s there is not unexpected: Buchel is the homebase of the Tornado IDS of the Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 33(TLG33)and also, most of all, according to a number of records (never ever been formally validated), it is likewise the base where the U.S. nukes needed to satisfy NATO’s nuclear sharing arrangement, are saved. By 2030, the nuclear strike goal will certainly change from the Tornado IDS to the F-35A, with the last able to bring the B61-12 bomb in the inner tools bay. F-35A AF-6 launches inert B61-12 throughout a twin qualified airplane(DCA)examination trip overhead over Edwards Air Force Base, California, on Nov. 25, 2019.(Image: DoD)A total amount of 35 Lightning II airplane will certainly be made use of to cover the jobs presently appointed to the Tornado IDS, consisting of the nuclear strike duty, while a variety of Eurofighter ECR, an Electronic Combat Reconnaissance (ECR)/ Suppression of Enemy Air Defences(SEAD)variation of the Eurofighter Typhoon that was very first revealed by Airbus back in 2019, is slated to change the Tornado ECRs as well as cover additionally the IuWES [Luftgestützte Wirkung im Elektromagnetischen Spektrum(

luWES )] Digital Attack demand Germany has actually dedicated to supply to NATO. H/T Jens Hameister for the heads-up About David Cenciotti David Cenciotti is an independent reporter based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder as well as Editor of”The Aviationist”, among the globe’s most popular as well as check out army air travel blog sites. Considering that 1996, he has actually created for significant around the world publications, consisting of Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and also numerous others, covering air travel, protection, battle, market, criminal offense, knowledge as well as cyberwar. He has actually reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and also Syria, as well as flown a number of fight airplanes with various air

pressures. He is a previous 2nd Lt. of

the Italian Air Force, a personal pilot as well as a grad in Computer Engineering. He has actually composed 5 publications and also added to much more ones.

2 German Pilots Have Just Graduated At The International Flight Training School

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2 German Pilots Have Just Graduated At The International Flight Training School
IFTS M-346 at Decimomannu Air Base (Image credit score: ItAF)The 2 German Air Force pilots have actually come to be the very first global grads of the IFTS. The IFTS(International Flight Training School), a joint endeavor in between the Aeronautica Militare(Italian Air Force)and also Leonardo in partnership with CAE, finished the very first worldwide pupil pilots. After 9 months of training at the Italian trip institution, 2 German Air Force (Luftwaffe) pilots have actually simply finished the Phase IV (Advanced/Lead-In to Fighter Training– LIFT) training course, one of the most tough and also sophisticated section of the competitor pilots’ training throughout which students embarking on cutting edge multirole training are phoned call to do air-to-air in addition to air-to-ground sorties with numerous risks and also complicated establish.

The flying tasks happened at the 61 ° Stormo (Wing) at Galatina Air Base, in southeastern Italy, where the IFTS is headquartered till it can transfer at the school being constructed at Decimomannu Air Base, Sardinia, (where a groundbreaking event was kept in December 2020 to note the start of the building and construction functions). When finished, it will certainly be a trip academy with the ability of holding trainees and also technological team, along with holiday accommodation, leisure locations, a snack bar, sporting activities centers. A whole structure will certainly be residence to the GBTS (Ground-Based Training System), with class as well as the setup of a contemporary training system, which is based upon the current generation of simulation gadgets.

IFTS has actually not completely relocated there yet, the last component of the LIFT program took area in “Deci”, that is residence to the AWTI (Air Weapons Training Installation), a totally incorporated training setup with air-to-ground and also air-to-air as well as an EW (Electronic Warfare) variety. Remarkably, the pictures launched by the Italian Air Force as well as Leonardo reveal the German pilots that simply finished at the IFTS positioning beside M-346s lugging BRD 4-250 (Bomb and also Rockets Training Dispenser), made use of to fill 4 Low-drag BDU-33D/ B bombs for usage in the varieties.

A GAF pupil pilot with an ItAF teacher pilot(IP)in the cabin of an ItAF M-346(T-346A).(Image credit scores: ItAF)The IFTS will certainly run a fleet of 22 M-346 jets: 4 Leonardo possessed airplane( the latter of those was provided in October 2019)and also 18 Italian Air Force T-346A s(as the M-346 is marked by the Italian MOD Mission Design Series). Educating at the IFTS is supplied by a staff of active-duty Italian Air Force and also very skilled global previous armed forces trainer pilots. Together with the German Air Force, the Qatar Emiri Air Force as well as the JapanAir Self Defense Force have actually currently chosen to send out pilots to the Italian IFTS. About David Cenciotti David Cenciotti is an independent reporter based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and also Editor of”The Aviationist”,

among the globe’s most renowned and also check out army air travel blog sites. Given that 1996, he has actually created for significant globally publications, consisting of Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, as well as several others, covering air travel, protection, battle, sector, criminal activity, knowledge and also cyberwar. He has actually reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and also Syria, and also flown numerous fight aircrafts with various flying force. He is a previous 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, an exclusive pilot as well as a grad in Computer Engineering. He has actually created 5 publications and also added to a lot more ones.

Fourth Joint Scramble In Less Than 2 Weeks For The Italian And German Eurofighters In Romania

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Italian Eurofighter scramble
File photo of an Italian F-2000A Typhoon during a scramble. (Image credit: ItAF)

The Italian and German Air Force jointly support QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) from Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, Romania.

From mid-February, eight Eurofighter Typhoons of the Aeronautica Militare and six Eurofighters of the German Air Force’s Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 74, jointly operate from Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, Romania, supporting NATO’s eAPA-S (enhanced Air Policing Area-South) mission, to protect the allied airspace in the Black Sea region, where tensions with Russia are at their highest since the Cold War years following the invasion and the war underway in Ukraine.

The Italian F-2000s are deployed to Romania since December as part of the Task Force Black Storm, led by the 36° Stormo (Wing), and supported by personnel from all the Italian Air Force air defense wings: the 4° Stormo from Grosseto, the 36° Stormo from Gioia del Colle, the 37° from Trapani and the 51° from Istrana. In accordance with the “plug & fight” concept, the German Eurofighters are fully integrated with the Italians contributing personnel and assets to the QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) service as part of a bilateral collaboration agreement between the two countries.

The QRA is carried out jointly, with mixed aircraft, personnel and pilots belonging to both services. The first joint A-Scramble (Alert Scramble) was launched on Mar. 2, 2022, the fourth one has been launched less than two weeks later, the ItAF announced on Mar. 14, 2022.

Once again, the Italian and German Eurofighters were scrambled by the NATO CAOC in Torrejon Spain, following a potential intrusion into the airspace under the responsibility of Romania by an unauthorized aircraft.

An Italian Air Force F-2000A during a scramble in Romania. (Image credit: Italian MOD)

Once airborne, the aircraft established a Combat Air Patrol (CAP) inside the Romanian FIR (Flight Information Region) before being cleared to RTB (Return To Base). This is also, pretty much, the “script” of all the previous QRA launches: aircraft are scrambled when “non-NATO” traffic approaches NATO airspace; the interceptors remain in CAP station to monitor the area of ​​competence and dissuade traffic in the area. VIDs (Visual Identifications) are usually not required.

The Air Policing mission is extremely important in this period, especially on the border with Ukraine, considered the risk of Russian Air Force aircraft and drones intruding into NATO airspace.

On Mar. 10, 2022, at 23:01 CET, an unidentified Soviet-era Tupolev Tu-141 Type 2 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), with up to 120 kg of explosive crashed in Zagreb, Croatia, after flying through Romanian, Hungarian and Croatian airspace. On Mar. 14, a Russian UAV reportedly crashed in Romania.

On Mar. 15, the Ukrainian military said it spotted a Russian surveillance drone crossing into Poland before reentering Ukrainian air space, where it was shot down.

David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.

Italian And German Eurofighters Deployed To Romania Have Carried Out First Joint Scramble Last Week

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Eurofighter scramble
An Italian and a German Air Force Eurofighter launch from Mihail Kogălniceanu. (All images: Italian Air Force)

The Italian Air Force interceptors, recently joined by the German Air Force Eurofighters, continue to support enhanced Air Policing from Romania.

The Italian Air Force detachment, originally made of four Eurofighters, recently increased to eight, has carried out 20 alert scrambles and 400 flight hours supporting enhanced Air Policing Area South (eAPA-S) in Romania, since December 2021.

The F-2000s of the Aeronautica Militare operating as part of the Task Force Black Storm at Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, Romania, were joined, from mid-February, by six Eurofighters of the German Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 74 which contributes personnel and assets to the QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) service as part of a bilateral collaboration agreement between the two countries.

The support provided by the Task Force Black Storm in terms of operational and logistical structures, and the close integration between the two contingents, allowed Lutwaffe to significantly reduce the logistical effort and shorten both the preparation times and those needed to achieve the operational readiness in theatre.

In fact, shortening set-up times and benefiting from the existing infrastructures for a rapid capacitive build-up are among the goals of NATO’s “Plug & Fight” concept, in accordance to which a small contingent of personnel and aircraft from one Ally conducts operations with another Ally by docking on existing structures, thereby further developing interoperability during a live deployment.

Italian F-2000 taxiing at Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base.

Interestingly, both the Italian and the German detachment are fully integrated in the QRA mission, that is carried out jointly with mixed aircraft, personnel and pilots belonging to both Air Forces. To that respect it’s worth of remark that the first joint Alert-Scramble was launched on Mar. 2, 2022.

Although the Italians don’t disclose the type of aircraft that caused the activation of the QRA interceptors, all the scrambles in support of eAPA-S mission have been ordered by the NATO CAOC in Torrejon Spain, to investigate “non-NATO” traffic approaching NATO airspace over the Black Sea.

The aircraft usually establish a Combat Air Patrol (CAP) to monitor the area of ​​competence and dissuade traffic in the area from any unauthorized entry. VIDs (Visual Identifications) are not always required. The Air Policing mission is crucial in this period of heightened tensions in the region caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the risk of Russian Air Force fighters intruding into NATO airspace. Several NATO assets, including F-35s in “full stealth mode“, have been forward deployed to Romania, Poland, Bulgaria and the Baltic States or carry out round-the-clock overwatch patrols with live armament, operating from their homebases.

A German Eurofighter supported by a mixed Italian German ground crew team.

The importance of the Italy-Germany agreement was underlined on Mar. 3, 2022, during a joint visit to the Mihail Kogălniceanu air base in Constanta, Romania, carried out by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Lt. Gen. Luca Goretti, and by the Chief of the German Air Force , Lt. General Ingo Gerhartz.

Before meeting their respective contingents, the Chiefs of Staff of the two Air Forces had a meeting with the Chief of the Forțele Aeriene Române, Lieutenant General Viorel Pană, during which they paid tribute to the eight crew members of the Romanian Air Force who lost their lives on Mar. 2, 2022, in the crash of a MiG-21 LanceR and a IAR-330 helicopter launched to search and rescue the missing MiG pilot.

“I am proud of you, the contribution you are providing to Italy and NATO is fundamental in the operational scenario in which we find ourselves operating in these days,” said Gen. Goretti addressing the personnel of the Italian detachment during a visit to the Task Force infrastructures accompanied by TFA Commander Col. Morgan Lovisa.

Referring then to the cooperation with the German Air Force, Gen. Goretti said he was “fully satisfied with the high level of standardization and interoperability achieved by the two European air forces. The first mixed scramble carried out yesterday morning is the tangible demonstration of this. Eurofighter has shown, once again, to be an absolutely mature machine with a level of operational performance that is at the heart of NATO’s Air Defense.”

David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.

Up Close And Personal With The The German Air Force Eurofighters Of The ‘Bavarian Tigers’

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Bavarian Tigers
Two Eurofighters of the Bavarian Tigers during an air-to-air shooting session (All images: Author)

Air To Air With The Eurofighters of The Tactical Fighter Wing 74 (Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 74)

Located along the Danube in Bavaria, Neuburg is not only home to approx. 30.000 people, but as well to tigers – the Bavarian Tigers. You find their airbase in the southwest of the town, close to the village of Zell, equipped with a 2.440 meters long runway, shelter areas, hangars and QRA facility. The Tactical Fighter Wing 74 (TktLwG74), as they are known with their official name, operate since 2008 all their missions with the Eurofighter and have so far as main mission the control of airspace in the South of Germany, but are currently training for the air to ground role too.

For the TktLwG74, May 17, 2016, is remembered as an important milestone, as on that day the wing was officially accepted as full member within the NATO Tigers Association and integrated in the Tiger Spirit. Being a full member, the Bavarian Tigers are always invited to participate to the NATO Tiger Meet, one of the largest high value exercises scheduled in Europe every year. This right of participation was initially one of the key drivers and is considered as a highly important, stated by Wing Commander Gordon Schnitger in an interview: “Once per year, a big exercise is organized where you fly and train with and against each other and exchange on experiences. And all participants identify themselves with this Tiger Spirit of training together and exchanging experiences!”

As with the NATO Tigers itself, the membership of the Wing in Neuburg with the NATO Tigers started as an idea of officers within the unit. In 2012, Squadron Commander Marc ‘Turbo’ Grüne and Commander Flying Group Jan Gloystein saw an opportunity arising, as the decision had been made by the German Government in 2011 to stand down the neighbouring Fighter Bomber Wing 32 (JaBoG) at Lechfeld south of Augsburg in 2013 as part of the general military reform. The JaBoG 32 included two flying squadrons – 321 Lechfeld Tigers and 322 Flying Monsters – and the first one was a full member in the NATO Tigers Association since 1994. With the disbandment in near future, Jan Gloystein and Marc Grüne developed the idea to take over this tradition and apply for full membership, highlighting the benefits for the squadron with the regular participation to the Tiger Meet.

Close up on one of the Eurofighters of the Bavarian Tigers.

On Mar. 18, 2013, during a ceremony at Neuburg, the Bavarian Tigers formally took over the Tiger tradition from the Lechfeld Tigers, which disbanded at the end of that month. After this takeover, a formal request had to be launched to become full member at the NATO Tiger Association. Supported by higher echelons and to demonstrate and express their motivation, Major Rafael ‘Klax’ Klaschka led a detachment consisting of three Eurofighters and 13 pilots and soldiers to the NATO Tiger Meet in June 2013 in Orland, Norway. Underlining the engagement and interest, the tail of one of the dispatched aircraft was painted only for that weekend in a tiger design, realised within a very short timeframe by a highly motivated team at Neuburg.

The Eurofighter 30+29 with special tail in 2013.

During the exercise in Norway, they were welcomed as observers during the weekend while at the same time handing their formal request for probationary membership. In contrast to other members, the request listed the full wing at Neuburg, as both squadrons already inherit a tradition as 741 ‘Falcons’ and 742 ‘Zapata’. The idea in requesting membership for the whole wing was not only to create an overall tradition (next to the squadron specific ones) and benefit from the Tiger Spirit, but as well create an integrative element for the wing and its squadron itself. Wing Commander Schnitger explained: “We try to really express the Tiger Spirit, which we took over from Lechfeld.  By this we generate integration, a cohesion and connection – expressed by the special painted aircraft and with the specific connection of the Tiger Spirit”. Having and supporting a tradition and fostering integration was also the rationale behind the creation of a club for the Bavarian Tigers, which is not only open to current and past members of the wing, but as well to civilians. This club is in existence and active till today and keeps growing to already more than 600 club members.

With the request for probationary membership approved, the Bavarian Tigers achieved the regular invitation to the Tiger Meets in the following years. For the annual exercise 2014 in Jagel, the Bavarian Tigers again wanted to express their commitment and interest. The fully painted Eurofighter 30+09 in bronze and gold plus eight other Eurofighters deployed to the base in Northern Germany, clearly demonstrating the motivation and at the same time winning them their first award at a Tiger Meet with the “Bronze Tiger” as best painted aircraft. This first success was followed in 2019 by another best painted aircraft award for the Ghost Tiger. Besides these award winning designs, the Tigers realised the Atlantic Tiger in 2017 for the Tiger Meet in Landivisiau, France and the Cyber Tiger in 2018 for the exercise in Saragoza, Spain.

The Bronze Tiger.

Bearing in mind the highly visible aspects with the painted aircraft and the large high value exercise, the wing received from the NATO Tiger Association membership much more than initially expected. “Tiger Spirit are not only us, there is a community behind, other nations and countries with their wings” as explained by Wing Commander Schnitger. This was as well expressed by the second president of the Bavarian Tiger club, who highlighted next to the experience exchange and collaboration between the NATO forces as well the social aspect, the formal and informal exchange with the other nations during the exercise as something the wing didn’t know about but value today very high and likewise important as the exercise. One expression of this social part are the Tiger Games performed during the weekend at every Tiger Meet where teams from all participating wings / squadrons compete their against each other in sport and fun games. The Bavarian Tigers managed to secure the third place in 2018 and even win this competition at the XTM in Kleine Brogel in 2021, enlarging their collection of tiger trophies won in these first years of membership.

Another stunning air-to-air image of the two Eurofighters.

Taking in consideration all these milestones and achievements, the 5th anniversary of the full membership in coincidence with the 60th anniversary of the TktLwG74 in 2021 had to be celebrated accordingly. Both of these anniversaries are important, as Wing Commander Schnitger explained: “You get a symbolic recognition for the wing, you generate cohesion”. COVID19 left its mark and prohibited any large public events like the planned but cancelled Day of the German Military scheduled for June 2021. At least a formal roll call was performed in May with 74 members representing the whole wing and several overflights with other aircraft from the German Air Force performed, but no honourable guests or even the public could attend.

Two Eurofighters, including the 60th Anniversary special color, flying close to the camera ship.

As an expression of the anniversaries, the Eurofighter with registration 31+01 received a special colour scheme integrating both milestones in a combined design. Based on the colours blue and white the fuselage depicts tiger eyes and stripes on the wings, which at the same time form a mountain with snow if looked from top. A large wing badge on the underside of the aircraft and a tiger on the tail combined with the wing badge complete the design of the ‘Bavarian Tiger’. This special coloured aircraft was scheduled for the Tiger Meet in Beja, Portugal, but COVID19 again left its mark and the Bavarian Tigers couldn’t attend there. In September, the specially painted Eurofighter was at least on display at the anniversary Tiger Meet in Kleine Brogel, Belgium.

The special color that celebrated the 60th Anniversary of TaktLwG 74.

“Especially in times of COVID, where everything is highly limited, an anniversary aircraft generates commonality and identification” as Wing Commander Schnitger confirms. Exchanging with members of the wing clearly showed this motivation and the Tiger Spirit – the Bavarian Tigers already plan for the Tiger Meet 2022 in Araxos.

Florian Szczepanek is a contributor for “The Aviationist” based in Munich, Germany. Working full-time in the Aerospace Industry, he uses his free time as enthusiastic aviation photographer and journalist on The Aviationist, aviationmedia.com and various other channels.

Check Out This Amazing Video Of German Air Force Tornado Aircraft Flying Low Level Over Afghanistan

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German Tornado Afghanistan
Some screenshots of the German Tornado aircraft operating over Afghanistan.

Some really cool footage shows the Tornado aircraft in action during their 3-year deployment to Mazar-i-Sharif.

For 3 years, from 2007 to 2010, a contingent of six German Air Force Tornado IDS aircraft operated over Afghanistan, flying reconnaissance sorties in support of NATO International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF) and Resolute Support (RS) missions.

Belonging to the Aufklärungsgeschwader 51 (AG51) “Immelmann” (51st Reconnaissance Wing – renamed, in 2013, as Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 51 – Tactical Air Force Wing 51 and equipped since then with Tornado ECRs) based at Schleswig, the “recce Tornados” were deployed to Mazar-i-Sharif, Northern Afghanistan, and during their operational tour generated more than 50,000 aerial photographs from almost 4,600 reconnaissance sorties across Afghanistan.

The video in this post was filmed back then and provides a glimpse into the life of the Luftwaffe aircrews and their missions over Afghanistan back then.

One of coolest parts of the clip is the take off segment, showing the German Tornado banking hard to the left after rotation and keeping low level to accelerate before zooming at higher altitude (with precautionary release of flares to disguise eventual IR-guided missiles fired from MANPADS – Man Portable Air Defense Systems). Then, there’s plenty of low level flying between the mountains, aerial refueling from U.S. tankers; and, again, low level recovery to Mazar-i-Sharif.

Interestingly, the footage shows the Tornado IDSs carrying the Telelens pod used before the Reccelite was introduced: the old one carried two Zeiss KS153A wet-film optical cameras for missions at altitudes over 2,000 feet.

The German Air Force is believed to operate around 20 of its 35 Tornado ECRs. Initially, the Tornado IDS/ECR were to be replaced entirely by Eurofighters, with the new Eurofighter ECR variant replacing the specialized Tornado ECR. However, under the current plans, Germany intends to replace its fleet of Tornado ECR and IDS aircraft with a mix of 55 Eurofighters, 30 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and 15 E/A-18G Growlers.

H/T to Aljoša Jarc for the heads-up!

David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.

We Went To Los Llanos Air Base For Tactical Leadership Programme 2021-4

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TLP 21-4
Mirage 2000 taking off during the afternoon wave (Image credit: David Parody)

The Aviationist was invited to the media day of the last Tactical Leadership Programme Flying Course of 2021 held in Los Llanos Air Base in Albacete, Spain. And here’s what we learnt there.

The last TLP’s Flying Course of the year, FC 2021-4, started on Nov. 15 and ended on Friday, Dec. 3, 2021. The 3-week course, saw the participation of a wide variety of aircraft, including the Italian Air Force F-2000 and Italian Navy AV-8B+ Harrier II, the French Air Force Mirage 2000D and 2000-5F, German Air Force Tornado IDS and ECR as well as Eurofighters, the Spanish EF-18-M and the Hellenic Air Force F-16Cs. As usual, the FC was also supported by a certain number of other assets, such as the the NATO E-3 AWACS, which provided Airborne Early Warning and Airspace Management and Control to the packages involved in the various missions, as well as the GFD Learjet 35, involved in EW (Electronic Warfare) training sorties.

Italian Air Force Eurofighter. (Image credit: Alessandro Fucito)
A Luftwaffe Tornado takes off during TLP 21-4. (Image credit: David Parody)

Dealing with the rotary wing, an SH-60 from the Spanish Navy and an NH-90 from the 48th Wing, both with their corresponding EZAPAC (Escuadrón de Zapadores Paracaidistas) extraction equipment, were also involved in certain missions of the course.

A GFD Learjet 35 took also part in the exercise. This aircraft can carry out multiple tasks, including EW training, Target simulation and Target Towing. (Image credit: Alessandro Fucito)

Our contributors David Parody and Alessandro Fucito took part in the TLP FC 21-4 media day on Dec. 1, 2021, and took the images you can find in this article.

Overall, a total of around 1,000 people took part in the TLP’s FC: 47 of these were graduate of the course (including 36 pilots, 6 intel officers and 5 air traffic controllers).

Flight line at Los Llanos AB (Image credit: David Parody)

This course saw some really interesting as well as somewhat unusual participants in the form of F-35B of the U.S. Marine Corps and the RAF.

Although not the first time that F-35s have taken part in TLP (first occurred in 2018, when the TLP FC was held at Amendola Air Base, Italy) it was the first time that carrier based and remotely located F-35s did. The jets were among the eight F-35B of the RAF 617 Squadron from RAF Marham deployed aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth along with 10 F-35B of the U.S. Marine Corps VMFA-211 Wake Island Avengers, based at MCAS (Marine Corps Air Station) Yuma, Arizona. HMSQE is on her way back to the UK from a 28-week deployment – dubbed CSG21 (Carrier Strike Group 2021) – that brought the British aircraft carrier to the troubled waters of the Indo-Pacific region as the flagship of the largest naval and air task force under British command since the Falklands war. As you will probably remember, a British F-35B embarked aboard the HMSQE crashed off the carrier after a failed launch on Nov. 17, 2021.

Close up on a Marina Militare AV-8B+. (Image credit: David Parody)
Italian Navy AV-8B+ and Mirage 2000s on the flight line at Albacete.

The F-35s had disembarked from the QE and landed in NAS Rota, in Southern Spain prior to returning back to the U.S. The Marine Corps F-35s participated in the TLP on one day with four sorties based from Rota, to where they returned.

The RAF/RN F-35s were due to participate the following day but bad weather and delays to the commencement of the day’s exercise saw them unable to physically take part. However, this was made up through the use of the MACE simulator which has only recently been installed at Los Llanos air base. Planning for event was also hampered by communication issues between the base and carrier as the latter was out in the Mediterranean and stable comms was proving challenging.

Commandants explained that the base has seen a number of infrastructure improvements that will enable more F-35s to deploy to TLP in the years to come as both the number of airframes increase as will do the participating nations acquiring the airframe. One of the key pillars of the TLP is the integration of 4th and 5th generation aircraft and technologies and with so many ageing aircraft types at this TLP, this would indeed be a major challenge.

The Tornado is one of the “legacy” jet taking part in TLP. (Image credit: Alessandro Fucito)

The Aviationist would like to thank Virginia García, PA to the TLP, Manfred Reudenbach, Public Affairs Officer at NATO Allied Air Command, and all the TLP team for the support provided to our contributors at Los Llanos Air Base, before and during the FC 21-4.

First German C-130J Hercules Performs Maiden Flight

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German C-130J
The first C-130J of the Luftwaffe takes off for its maiden flight. (Photo: Lockheed Martin via Bundeswehr)

The aircraft is the first of six C-130Js that will be operated together with four French ones in a joint binational squadron.

The Bundeswehr announced on November 8, 2021, the maiden flight of the first German C-130J-30 Hercules cargo aircraft out of Lockheed Martin’s facilities in Marietta, Georgia. The aircraft, with identification number 55+01 and serial number 5930, was rolled out of the assembly lines in July this year, before heading to the paint shop where it was spotted the next month with the new dark grey livery and Luftwaffe markings.

The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) approved a Foreign Military Sale (FMS) to Germany in 2018 for three C-130J-30s (“stretched” variant of the standard C-130) and three KC-130Js (tanker variant). The aircraft will be delivered together with various equipment including Link 16 MIDS (Multifunctional Information Distribution System) datalink, ALE-47 countermeasures dispensers, AAR-47 Missile Warning Systems, ALR-56 Radar Warning Receivers, IFF and Wescam MX-20 Electro-Optical/InfraRed (EO/IR) imaging systems.

The German Air Force decided to acquire the Hercules to perform airlift, air drop and air refueling missions and close the capability gap that would have been generated by the retirement of the similarly sized C-160 Transall, which is planned to be retired at the end of the year after 53 years of service. In fact, even if the A400M Atlas can provide all the capabilities needed by the Luftwaffe, its large size represents a limit when operating from short or unprepared runways and when flying in support of the special forces, which is one of the capabilities mentioned when the C-130 procurement was announced.

The new Luftwaffe C-130Js will be part of a French-German joint squadron based in Évreux (France), which was officially established in September after years of planning. This binational air transport squadron will have unrestricted exchange of aircraft, air crews, and maintainers, as well as technical and logistical support based on a common pool of spare parts and a common service support contract. The six German aircraft will be joined by four French one, for a total of five KC-130Js and five C-130J-30s.

The first German C-130J is towed out of the paint shop. (Photo: Lockheed Martin via Luftwaffe)

The first German C-130 is expected to be delivered to Évreux in February 2022, joining the already delivered French aircraft which were acquired in 2016 and delivered between January 2018 and February 2020. The delivery on the first Luftwaffe C-130 will also mark the Initial Operational Capability, while the Final Operational Capability is expected around 2024 with the delivery of the last aircraft. German crews are already training on the French C-130s, which were transferred from Orléans-Bricy to Évreux in July.

“The French and German aircraft versions are very close, allowing the Franco-German teams to indiscriminately fly one aircraft or another,” a French defense ministry spokesperson said in an email to DefenseNews in September. The Luftwaffe confirmed in a news feature about the training on the new aircraft that its C-130J will be in the latest configuration, the Block 8.1, while the French ones are reportedly in the Block 6 configuration.

The binational squadron has been in the works for some years, with a first agreement in 2017. Both nations had to remedy to the capability gap generated by the retirement of their C-160 Transalls (which will continue to serve in France for a few more years), and the joint unit offered an occasion to lessen the logistical and economic burden for such a small fleet of aircraft. Lockheed Martin is building and equipping the training facility, with Thales and Rheinmetall jointly supporting the certification phase.

Stefano D’Urso is a contributor for TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. He’s a full-time engineering student and aspiring pilot. In his spare time he’s also an amateur aviation photographer and flight simulation enthusiast.

First-Ever North American Luftwaffe Airbus A400M Atlas Demo at Thunder Over Michigan

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GAF A400 during the Thunder Over Michigan display. (All images: TheAviationist/Tom Demerly)

Flight Demonstration by Luftwaffe’s Air Transport Wing 62 Showcases A400M.

It was a weekend of firsts for air show fans in Michigan this past Saturday and Sunday at Willow Run Airport for Thunder Over Michigan. For many air show fans, this may have been their first show since the global COVID-19 pandemic began and quarantines forced air show cancellations. For most air show fans, this was the first opportunity to see the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds at one venue on the same day. But, for every air show fan in North America, this was the first time anyone would see a flight demonstration from a Luftwaffe Airbus Defense A400M Atlas.

The first-ever North American Airbus A400M Atlas demo took place over the April 1-2 weekend back in 2017 during the Melbourne Air and Space Show at Orlando Melbourne International Airport. But this demo at Thunder Over Michigan marked the first-ever German Air Force A400M flight display.

The German Air Force, or Luftwaffe, has been a regular and favored visitor to Thunder Over Michigan for years. Their transport units have established a rapport with the show organizers and with fans. Beginning with their visits in the twin-engine C-160 Transall starting years ago, German transport units have made regular appearances at the show.

This was likely a contributing factor to the decision to showcase the Luftwaffe’s new Airbus A400M Atlas tactical transport at Thunder Over Michigan this year.

The A400M Atlas of the GAF taxiing.

The aircraft flown to Willow Run for the demo was in the United States at Nellis AFB for training and exercises prior to its arrival at Thunder Over Michigan. Crew members told TheAviationist.com that their flight schedule around the U.S. had been busy.

The unit operating the new-looking A400M at Willow Run for Thuner Over Michigan was Air Transport Wing 62, or “Lufttransportgeschwader 62”. The unit was formed in 1959 is based at Wunstorf Air Base in Lower-Saxony, Germany. The crew that flew the demo at Willow Run had deployed operationally with their aircraft all over the world, including countries on Africa on humanitarian aid missions.

The crew of the A400M at TOM.

Unlike the promotional flight demonstrations of the A400M Atlas flown by an Airbus company flight crew at the Paris Air Shows going back to 2014, the operational Luftwaffe restricts their A400M demos to performance parameters of less than 2G’s and less than 60-degrees of bank angle to conserve maintenance routines on the aircraft.

Even with some relatively pedestrian, and understandable, demonstration constraints, the German A400M crew still wowed the crowd at Thunder Over Michigan with her elegant 8-bladed Ratier-Figeac scimitar-shaped propellers and her four unique sounding Europrop TP400-D6 turboprop engines that produced an elegant, low-pitched whine.

Air Transport Wing 62 demo pilot at Thunder Over Michigan, Rene Hoor, told TheAviationist, “We’ll fly a little different track each day so photographers can get a good look”. Hoor went on to say, “She is an absolute dream to fly, nothing is better!”

The A400M that took part in TOM airshow belonged to Air Transport Wing 62.

The aircraft flown at Thunder Over Michigan was aircraft number 54+36, an airframe that first flew on May 22, 2020 and was delivered to the Luftwaffe on November 23, 2020 for its first acceptance flight. To all observers, it was an excellent debut aircraft for an airshow performance as the plane was exceptionally clean and well maintained, and its crack flight crew represented Air Transport Wing 62, the Luftwaffe, the German Federation and Airbus very well.

Luftwaffe A400M during its display.

German Air Force Stages “Weird” Elephant Walk With 18 Eurofighters (With No Pilots, Wheel Chocks and Engines Off).

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Elephant Walk at Neuburg. (Image credit: Luftwaffe)

Elephant Walk at Bavarian Air Base involved 18 Eurofighters at Neuburg Air Base. Parked on the runway, rather than taxiing on it.

The German Air Force has arranged an Elephant Walk that involved 18 Eurofighter jets of TLG (Tactical Luftwaffengeschwader) 74 at Neuburg Air Base on Mar. 6, 2021.

Images of the Eurofighters together on the runway were posted by the Luftwaffe on their social networks.

While the reason for the Elephant Walk has not been made public, the way it was carried out is somehow weird. In fact, if you look closely, you’ll notice that the aircraft were not taxiing when the shots were taken as the wheel chocks are clearly visible in the head-on photographs. Actually, not even the pilot can be seen aboard the aircraft. In other words, it looks like the aircraft were towed in position and parked for the shooting.

During Elephant Walk exercises military aircraft (sometimes fully armed – at least with inert weapons) taxi in close formation or in sequence right before a minimum interval takeoff and, depending on the purpose of the training event, then they either take off or taxi back to the apron. Quite rare until a few years ago (and limited to the U.S. units in the Korean peninsula) such “shows of force” have become increasingly popular both at American air bases in CONUS and abroad, as well as among foreign air arms. Dealing with the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Italian Air Force arranged a small Elephant Walk with 11 F-2000s at Gioia del Colle airbase last year. But, in that case the Typhoons taxied on the runway and were not moved there to take the shots.

In 2019, the shortage of operational aircraft in the German Air Force made the news when Air Force Inspector Ingo Gerhartz warned. Spare parts were not available and servicing a Eurofighter often took longer than a year, “Completely unacceptable”, Gerhartz said at the time. The situation is said to have improved since then, but the Elephant Walk staged on Mar. 6, 2021, can’t be considered a proof of increased readiness.

Anyway, as reported here at The Aviationist, last year, Germany is renovating the Luftwaffe fleet, starting from the Eurofighter with Project Quadriga. The German parliament approved the acquisition of 38 new Eurofighter to replace 38 older Eurofighters of Tranche 1, the first delivered to the Luftwaffe, in November 2020. Deliveries should start in 2025.

The subsequent step is the replacement of the Tornado, which should be replaced by a mix of 55 Eurofighters, 30 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and 15 E/A-18G Growlers. Initially, the Tornado was to be replaced entirely by Eurofighters, with the new Eurofighter ECR variant replacing the specialized Tornado ECR. However, Germany needs a nuclear capable aircraft to fulfill the NATO’s nuclear sharing agreement. While neither the Eurofighter nor the Super Hornet can carry the B-61 nuclear bomb, the German MOD has assessed that the integration of nuclear bomb will be faster on the American-made aircraft, while it would take from three to five years longer on the Eurofighter.

David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.