Tag Archives: A.400M

Es donnert auf der Heide

On the 9th of June 2018 the German Ministry of Defense hosted the Tag der Bundeswehr, during which 15 military bases across the country opened the gates for the general public. One of these bases was the Wehrtechnische Dienststelle für Waffen und Munition 91 (WTD91) in Meppen.

WTD91 in Meppen is a unique location, as it actually is a unit with both military and civillian staff where new weapons and munition are tested. For these purposes, the unit can use a 19200 hectare instrumented shooting range, which measures approximately 31 by 7 kilometers.

Meppen Range (EDR34) in Northern Germany, as shown on aviation charts

Weapons, weaponssystems, guided missiles, drones and armour are tested in Meppen for the German army, navy and  airforce. WTD91 boasts a unique professional experience in the disciplines of balistics, acoustics, optronics and meteorology when it comes to military equipment.

The Tiger attack helicopter on the ground before the display

During the Tag der Bundeswehr, the visitors were welcomed onto the general area of WTD91 where they could see the equipment of the German army up close, from the Fennek reconaissance vehicle up to the immense PzH2000 howitzer. On the other side of the street, the WTD village was showing the various WTD units from accross the country. These units showed various military innovations that they are currently working on, from 3D printing and robotics via temporary camouflage paint onto an electronic quad from the Trier based WTD41.

Bundeswehrfeuerwehr

A few meters further the highlight of the day was reached, this was were the dynamic weapons display took place 3 times per day for 45 minutes. This weapons display was not only dynamic by the fact that the various military vehicles moved in front of the public, next to that live shots were fired to show the visitors the power and precision of the weapons.

The display started exactly on the hour with a first missile being fired from the LARS rocketlauncher. This first missile was fired to determine if it reached the right target area, situated 12 kilometers further. Once this was confirmed, a salvo of 15 rockets was fired. At this point it became quite clear why visitors had to wear ear protection and why children under the age of 14 years were not allowed at the dynamic weapons display.

The LARS missile system is no longer in use with the Bundeswehr, but WTD 91 still had plenty of rockets in stock to be fired.
LARS firing sequence

Next up was the Dingo armoured transport vehicle, shooting the remote fired MG5 machinegun at several balloons, destroying them all. When the Dingo drove off, the next weapons system was already prepared for action in the form of the MG6 machinegun. This machinegun has 6 barrels and can fire 6000 shots per minute. By using this massive firepower, an array of 400 clay pigeons was cleared in no time.

Then the heavy, tracked vehicles showed up on the range. First to display its firepower was the Puma Schützenpanzer which can transport 6 armed soldiers onto the battlefield. The Puma is equipped with a 30mm machine cannon, with which it destroyed the water barrels that simulated targets on the range. The puma was then followed by the Leopard 2. This main battle tank was staffed by a mixed German/Dutch crew. First it fired the 120mm canon whilst standing still, the next shot was fired whilst driving at full speed. The Leopard was then followed by the PzH2000 howitzer firing the mighty 155mm canon at a target 12km away.

Puma in action
Leopard 2
PzH2000

Then, during a short parade of the ENOK, EAGLE IV and Boxer, a display was given how troops would be inserted and extracted from the battlefield.

After the ground-based displays, all eyes were focused onto the sky, as it was time for the aerial display of WTD61s Tiger attack helicopter. An array of impressive manouevres was shown directly in front of the guests, so that they could get an impression on the versatility of this helicopter.

When the Tiger display was over, it was announced that Meppen could see some aerial visitors as well. First up was a C-160D Transall from LTG63 in Hohn. This Transall flew along all Tag der Bundeswehr bases in northern Germany and treated the audience to a Sarajevo approach. The final visitor of the day was the Transall’s successor, an Airbus A.400M from LTG62 in Wunstorf, that flew accross the entire country to visit Tag der Bundeswehr events during which it was in the air for more than 6 hours.

 

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The runway is wet

On 21 and 22 March 2017 Twente Airport hosted an Airbus A.400M to perform wet runway tests together with the Netherlands Aerospace Center (NLR). Niek van der Zande Photography was there to witness these tests.

The A.400M waits at the platform for the next tests to begin.

The fact that Airbus would send an A.400M to Twente only became known to the outside world on Monday 20 March, when a NOTAM (NOtice To AirMen) was issued and the Grizzly was airborne out of the facty airport in Sevilla, Spain. Twente Airport already knew of these plans for a long time, but was not allowed to mention anything before.

The Grizzly’s crew is ready for another mission.

Upon arrival in Twente, the crew first circled the airfield for a considerable time, as the crew was not yet sure whether the meteorological conditions were good enough for them to land. There are no ILS facilities in Twente, which means that conditions need to be good enough for a visual approach.  Luckily, Twente Airport has its own meteo station on site, so the most accurate information could be passed on to the crew, after which they considered it safe to land.

Various calibration marks on the A.400M

The reason behind this unique visit is that Twente Airport has the facilities to perform wet runway tests, something that cannot be performed just anywhere. Twente has the unique situation that it has a long runway with the right surface. Next to that, the runway is prepared to create a water basin through which the aircraft can perform high speed taxi runs. In 2016 the first tests were already performed with a NLR Citation ( see: NLR tests at Twente Airport ), these tests were now performed on a larger scale. For this a set of grooves of 1cm wide and 3cm deep were cut into the runway. In these grooves large rubber slats were inserted so that a basin was created. This basin could be filled up with up to 3 centimeters of water, which resembles a heavy downpour of rain during a storm.

The Grizzly taxies out for another series of tests.

The A.400M then taxied through the water basin in order to measure the brake performance under various circumstances. IN order to get a clear picture, a total of 16 runs were executed, all at different speeds and with different braking profiles. The maximum speed at which the runs were performed was 110 knots, which guaranteed a big splash of water around the aircraft.

Splash! That’s the result of 8mm water on the runway.

The tests themselves were initiated by the European Commission, in order get further information on aircraft performance under extreme conditions. These results will be used to further expand regulations and certifications and thus enhance the safety in aviation.

After this succesful series of tests, the A.400M left for Sevilla on Thursday 23 March. Twente Airport hopes to see more of these tests in the future, they are now talking to the Chinese manufacturer COMAC in order to see if tests with the COMAC C919 can be held at Twente Airport. This will get easier when ownership transfers from de Dutch Ministry of Defence to the Province of Overijssel on the 30th of March 2017. From then on the restrictions on the usage of the airfield will be lifted and visiting aircraft can be accepted at a 24 hours advance notice (24Hr PPR). This 24Hr PPR was introduced since the airport does not have a fixed staffing of Air Traffic Control, Fire Brigade etc. These will be hired on a need-be basis.

In order to facilitate operations outside of daylight hours, a GPS appraoch system will be introduced in the fall of 2017. This means that pilots can fly to and from the airport under Instrument Flying Rules (IFR).

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Paris Air Show 2015

During the week of 15 to 21 june 2015, the 51st edition of the Paris Air Show (Salon international de l’aéronautique et de l’espace) was held at Le Bourget airport. This Air Show takes place every 2 years and counts as one of the largest trade shows for the aviation industry.  Also this year, the show was visited by over 150,000 professional visitors as well as more than 3,000 journalists from over 80 countries.

This year’s edition of the Paris Air Show showed 1,017 order commitments and 206 options, which leads to a total of 1,223 orders. Of these orders, 531 went to Airbus and 350 to Boeing.

Traditionally the Paris Air Show is the home show for Airbus, as well as companies from the French defence industry like Dassault, Thales and MDBA. After this year’s merger with Eurocopter, the Airbus booth was the largest booth on the grounds and showed a wide spectrum of aircraft, ranging from the electrically powered E-Fan, through the Caracal helicopter, up to the enormous A.380 airliner.  The booth also featured a full-scale mock-up of the new H160 helicopter. The H160 made it’s first flight from Marseille in the week prior to the Paris Air Show. Airbus also showed it’s goods in full force during the flying display. After the may 2015’s fatal crash in Seville and it’s subsequent grounding, the A.400M was back in action, showing an impressive flying display.

The Airbus A.400M waits at the beginning of the runway whilst the A.380 completes its display.
The Airbus A.400M waits at the beginning of the runway whilst the A.380 completes its display.

Due to the sequestration, the United Stated Department of Defence had to miss out on the 2013 edition of the Paris Air Show, but this year they returned in full force, showing aircraft such as the A-10 Thunderbolt II and the P-8 Poseidon on the static display.

P-8 Poseidon
US Navy P-8 Poseidon at Paris Air Show 2015

An interesting newcomer was the Chengdu/PAC JF-17 fighter aircraft from Pakistan. This fighter aircraft was developed jointly by China and Pakistan. Pakistan produces 58% of the aircraft, China produces 42% and the aircraft is powered by a Klimov RD-93 engine. There are plans though to equip the next version of the JF-17 with a different engine, as the RD-93 (developed from the MiG-29’s RD-33) produces too much smoke. For this year’s Paris Air Show, the Pakistan Air Force brought 3 aircraft. One featured in the static show, while the other was shown during the flying display. The 3rd JF-17 featured as a backup aircraft. At the end of the show, Air Commodore Khalid Mahmood of the Pakistan Air Force announced that the first export-order was signed with an undisclosed Asian country.

The  JF-17 in the static show  displaying the weapons it can carry.
The JF-17 in the static show displaying the weapons it can carry.

Even though Airbus dominated the show, Boeing also made sure it’s presence was noted. In the weeks before the Air Show a video was already loaded onto YouTube, showing the complete display that the Boeing 787-9 would fly in Le Bourget. This display featured a near-vertical take-off and the audience was not left disappointed.

Boeing displayed the B.787-9 Dreamliner in the colours of Vietnam Airlines
Boeing displayed the B.787-9 Dreamliner in the colours of Vietnam Airlines

A new player in the market for small airliners is Bombardier. In Paris the Canadian company showed it’s new C-series with the CS100 and the CS300. With these aircraft Bombardier focuses on the market that is currently served by aircraft such as the Airbus 320 and the Boeing 737.

On the Ground

Le Bourget always has many gems in the static display, some hidden away behind flagpoles, tents and banners. Below is an impression of what could be found on the ground.

Up in the Air

Next to a huge showground for the static display, Le Bourget would not be complete without a flying display. Here are some pictures from this years show.

Patrouille de France

No Air Show is complete without a show from the famous Patrouille de France. The same obviously goes for Le Bourget.

The next Paris Air Show will be in June 2017. Let’s see what that edition will bring.

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