The US Air Force sprung a surprise on the military aviation community this spring with the ‘snap’ deployment of F-35A Lightning IIs from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings at Hill Air Force Base, Utah to RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk. It was the first operational deployment for the USAF’s new stealth fighter, and AFM was there to fly with them and learn from their crews about integration with fourth-generation assets like Lakenheath’s resident Eagles.
Elsewhere in the magazine, our monthly Force Report turns its attention to one of today’s most misunderstood air arms – the Syrian Arab Air Force. Taking into account the effect of recent US missile strikes, the article presents the current SyAAF order of battle in unprecedented detail. The survey of NATO’s European attack helicopter fleets concludes with a look at the largest gunship force in Europe – the British Army’s fleet of ‘Queen’s Apaches’. Elsewhere in the rotary-wing world, we cover the developments in the Mexican military and paramilitary Black Hawk force, fast becoming one of the most capable in the region.
Intel Report examines the conundrum faced by Asia-Pacific air arms as they seek to field meaningful maritime surveillance capabilities in and around the South China Sea. ‘Exercise season’ is also well under way, reflected in coverage from joint Polish and American C-130 training at Powidz, a gathering of Greek, Israeli and Emirati F-16s in Greece, and the swansong for the Portuguese Air Force Alpha Jet in Real Thaw.
There are more fast jets in focus in our articles on 6º Stormo at Ghedi air base, home of the Italian Air Force Tornado fleet, while Alan Warnes presents a detailed account of the F-16’s sometimes turbulent career with the Turkish Air Force. On the operations side, AFM uncovers the shadowy work of Royal Air Force and USAF RC-135 Rivet Joints over the Baltic, while in Flashpoint we look at Iraq’s efforts to transform Antonov transports into makeshift bombers.