That’s the end of the A-10 Thunderbolt operations in Europe as the last squadron was deactivated last June. For 71 years, the men and women of this fine squadron have ensured America’s security. The 81st Fighter Squadron piloted many of the most iconic and legendary aircraft the world has ever seen. Fiscal constraints stemming from the Budget Control Act of 2011, and reduced defense funding outlined in the 2013 presidential budget required the Air Force to develop a strategic vision for future operations during this financial crisis. This led to the deactivation of the 81st Squadron operations. The decision was further approved by the US Congress. The 52nd Fighter Wing now employs only the F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft since the inactivation of the 81st FS and the removal of the A-10s. The F-16 is a multipurpose fighter, meaning it can fight air-to-air and air-to-ground, whereas the A-10 provided only close-air support to ground forces. Today, the climate has changed in this part of the world. And so has the need for conventional forces like the A-10. At one time there were six squadrons of A-10s in Europe with over 140 aircraft and tens of thousands of Cold War ground forces preparing for battle.

Testing the X-47B

Are we getting closer and closer to a world of aviation without pilots ? Recent tests have been carried out on a civilian airliner, and more currently, drones are setting up the pace in the Middle East. Now, on July 10th, the Navy moved one step closer to integrating unmanned aircraft into carrier-based operations today, when the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator landed aboard USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). This was the first time an unmanned aircraft has made an arrested landing aboard a modern aircraft carrier. The X-47B completed the 35-minute transit from Pax River to the carrier and caught the 3 wire with the aircraft’s tailhook. The arrested landing effectively brought the aircraft from approximately 145 knots to stop in less than 350 feet. Shortly after the initial landing, the aircraft was launched off the ship using the carrier’s catapult. The X-47B then proceeded to execute one more arrested landing. Check out the video:

Fly a jet fighter in France

We are doing a tour in South West and the South of France to get people to live a unique experience: to fly a jet fighter. To this end, we have planned a schedule of dates and cities. Here they are:

  • Rochefort & Niort – South West France from 19th to 23rd July
  • Cuers – South of France, from 24th July to 31st July
  • Grenoble nr the Alps, from 11th September to 16th September
  • Clermont Ferrand, over the volcanoes from 11th October to 15th October
  • Cuers – South of France, from 17th October to 23rd October

Flights are done in the Fouga Magister.
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The Middle East is turning into one of the largest buyer of military unmanned aerial vehicles. Growing demand is supported by the investment capabilities of the countries in the region, as well as the tensions that are actually rising in the Middle East. Currently, the U.S. and Israel are the top UAV exporters globally. Israel’s lack of military ties with Arab nations due to historic conflicts means that Middle East countries have had no option but to procure UAVs from the United States. However, other countries are achieving significant success in UAV technology and may soon be able to export to the Middle East. Regional interest and expertise in the domain is rising fast as well. A key market driver is the fear of spreading regional unrest. UAVs can offer smaller states a way to expand their strength beyond traditional capabilities. The lack of UAV capability in the larger Middle East states significantly influences regional power dynamics. For instance, the Hezbollah movement recently acknowledged its use of UAVs against Israel. Gulf Arab states are alarmed at the civil war in Syria and want to ensure that popular uprisings in North Africa do not spread to the Gulf. They are also concerned about Iran’s nuclear program. As a result, every large country in the region understands the need to acquire UAVs. Since traditional defence partners, the UK and France, have limited UAV capability, Middle East countries are looking for other partners. Turkey, with strong cultural ties to the Middle East, has made significant developments in unmanned capability. It is highly likely that Middle East countries will import a good number of UAVs from Turkey when the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) ANKA UAV is ready for export. Interestingly, Pakistan-made UAVs have also managed to generate interest in the Middle East.