Saturday, July 18, 2009

Elefantes: Operating the new C-295M tactical transport aircraft

In a visit to the Montijo air base I have visited the 502 Sqn. Elefantes, the unit of the Portuguese Air Force which is receiving the new C-295M fleet. Officially moved to the air base of Montijo, with the city of Lisbon in the background, in the begin of 2009, the Elefantes had previously operated in Sintra with the C-212 Aviocar. The unit has a long history including the operation of iconic aircraft such as the Junkers Ju-52 and the Nord Noratlas transport aircrafts.

The new Airbus Military C-295M is a medium-range transport aircraft with a payload of 9t and a capacity for up to 71 passengers. Among its users are Spain, Brazil, Colombia, Algeria, Finland, Poland, and others.

The C-295M fleet boosts the operational capabilities of the 502 Sqn. both for tactical transport, medical evacuation, logistic support, operations with paratroops, search and rescue missions and maritime surveillance. From the 12 aircrafts acquired by Portugal, 7 will be of the transport version and 5 will operated primarily in the maritime surveillance configuration equipped with the CASA FITS (Fully Integrated Tactical System). However, the characteristics of the C-295M allow that these last aircrafts can be quickly transformed for transport missions. The deliver of the first maritime surveillance aircraft is expected for the end of this year. By the end of 2010, it is expected that all the 12 ordered C-295M are already in the air base of Montijo. Meanwhile, the priority is the preparation of the crews for the operation with the new aircraft.

I would like to acknowledge to the military personal from the 502 Sqn. which received me in the unit and their explanations about the new C-295M.

Pedro Monteiro

Spotting in the air base of Monte Real

Some photographs of the morning missions during a spotting session in mid-July in the air base of Monte Real. This is the home base for the F-16 fleet from the Portuguese Air Force. This year, the air base of Monte Real celebrates its 50th anniversary. Commemorations include an air show, in 22th of July, which will bring to Portugal the A-7H Coirsair from the Greek Air Force - the last operator worldwide of this historical aircraft that once operated with the Portuguese colors.

Currently, two squadrons operate the F-16 fighter in Monte Real: the 201 Sqn. "Falcões" with the F-16 OCU fleet and the 301 Sqn. "Jaguares" with the modernized F-16 MLU. The OCU cells, received by 1994, are now starting a modernization programme which will bring the entire fleet up to the MLU variant.

A F-16BM fighter from 301 Sqn. arrives from a mission in the Portuguese skies. Notice that the pilot is using the new JHMCS (Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System) and the aircraft is equipped with a Litening AT (Advanced Targeting) targeting pod. The operation of the Litening AT started in 2009 and it has been already used in the international military exercise Real Thaw.

The older but still trustable F-16B from the 201 Sqn. which has an important operational background with a dettachment in the Balkan war in the 1990s and the participation in the well-known Red Flag exercise from the US Air Force.

A Portuguese F-16 fighter from 201 Sqn. in a fly-by above the air base of Monte Real minutes before landing.

Pedro Monteiro

Monday, July 13, 2009

Coimbra Air Show 2009

As it has been hapenning every year (you can also check the reports for the 2007 and 2008 editions), the Bissaya Barreto airfield in the city of Coimbra has received a new edition of the Coimbra Air Show.
The airshow took place between 11th and 12th of July including the performances of the Smoke Wings civilian acrobatic team which flies two soviet-build Yakovlev Yak-52 and the military acrobatic team Asas de Portugal from the Portuguese Air Force equipped with two Alpha-Jet A. Civilian aircrafts as well as a rare operational Dornier Do-27 of the Air Force museum also participated in the airshow.

The impressive demonstration of the Asas de Portugal, here flying their two Alpha-Jet A in a close formation and at high speed.

One of the two soviet-build Yakovlev Yak-52 from the Smoke Wings civilian acrobatic team. The portuguese pilots pushed their aicrafts to the limits and impressed the public.

Close view of the impressive the soviet-build Yakovlev Yak-52. Originally, this aircraft was developed as a trainer. A classic aircraft in an air show whith a recent tradition.

Pedro Monteiro