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Change of air: A massive logistic operation is now ramping up, as most elements of the 49-nation International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) are to be withdrawn from remote, landlocked Afghanistan by the end of 2014. The US Army alone is estimated to have $ 27 billion of hardware in the country, including 25,000 vehicles and 100,000 shipping containers.

On the assumption that Afghanistan's southern border would remain open, around 70 per cent of US military equipment was originally to be moved out by truck through Pakistan to the port of Karachi. However, continuing tensions with Pakistan may well result in more now being sent (expensively) through the Northern Distribution Network (NDN). In this they are trucked via the Salang Tunnel through the Hindu Kush, and subsequently moved by train across the former Soviet Union to ports in Latvia and Lithuania. Most goes via Termez in Uzbekistan at a cost of $ 40,000 per container. However, the Northern Distribution Network is closed to weapon systems and combat vehicles.

The original plan was that only personnel (US troops peaked at 125,000, hut are now down to less than 60,000) and high-value assets such as helicopters, drones and electronic equipment would be flown out. However, problems have recently arisen at Afghan border posts, with customs authorities claiming that much of the equipment imported since 2010 has no proper documentation. Consequent delays to ground

The V-22 has been slow to sell abroad, but in April 2013 a US-Israeli agreement was signed on an arms package that includes the V22. Japan is interested in the V-22 as a means to reinforce disputed islands. The V-22 can accommodate 24 combat troops, or carry ten tonnes internally or 6.8 tonnes externally.

Western Europe's largest helicopter is the 15.6-tonne AgustaWestland AW101, of which over 180 are on order for ten countries. Lower down the scale, 529 NH Industries NH9Os have been ordered for 14 countries.

I TWIN TURBOPROPS

Turning to fixed-wing aircraft, in late-2012 the last 8.1-tonne Airbus Military C212 to be assembled in Spain was delivered to Vietnam. This was the 47761 ordered, ending 42 years of continuous C212 production at Seville. However, the new upgraded version NC212 will be assembled by Indonesian Aerospace at Bandung. There are currently around 290 C212s in service in 40 countries.

The next in the Airbus Military series is the 16.5-tonne CN235, of which 279 have been ordered by more than 40 operators. The US Coast Guard currently has so far ordered 18 of the HC-144A Ocean Sentry maritime patrol version, half of its planned total. Recent customers for the CN235 include the Cameroun Air Force.

The 23.2-tonne Airbus Military C295 is basically a stretched CN235 with more powerful P&WC PW127Gs replacing GE CT7s, and the longest unobstructed cabin in its class. Some 121 have so far been ordered. The latest orders have come from Egypt (six), Indonesia (nine), Oman (eight) and Poland (five).

The company is now marketing the improved C295W, with winglets giving over 300 km extra range, and more powerful PW127s for better hot/high performance. The C295W appears to be aimed at an Indian Air Force RFP issued in May 2013, for 56 aircraft to replace its Avro 748Ms.

This programme entails the formation of a new private company, the Indian Production Agency (IPA), with no more than 26% foreign investment. The first 16 aircraft are to be delivered within two years of contract, followed by 16 in kit form for local assembly. The final 32 aircraft are to be manufactured in India by IPA, and the last completed within ten years. Reports link the Tata group with IPA.

The Russian Air Force is believed still to operate around 75 examples of the 24-tonne Antonov An-26, last produced in 1985. The Defence Ministry is considering two possible replacements: the 20.5-tonne Ilyush in Il -112V (development of which was suspended in 2010) to be built in Voronezh (Vaso) and a derivative of the Ukraine's 21-tonne Antonov An-140, built by Aviakor in Samara. Aviakor has a licence to manufacture, maintain, modify and further develop the An-140.

An initial seven An-140-100s have been bought by the Russian Air Force and Naval Aviation, which will need up to 120. If satisfied with the basic passenger version, they may order the projected An-140S with large freight door, or An-140T with a rear loading ramp. (However, an unconfirmed report states that Russia plans to buy 62 I1-112Vs). The baseline An-140-100 is also being built by Hesa in Tran as the IrAn-140. An agreement exists for An-140 assembly in Kazakhstan.

China copied the An-26 as the Xian Y-7, with Dongan WJ-5A engines. This led to the commercial MA60 with P&WC PW127Js, the improved MA600 and the all-new MA700 with T-tail and fuselage-mounted undercarriage. The MA700 is due to fly in 2016, and is clearly aimed at both civil and military applications. However, military sales will be hamstrung until China can develop its own engines.

Antonov developed the 27-tonne An-32 specifically for hot/high operations in India, using powerful, high-mounted engines. Over 240 are in worldwide service, and India is having its remaining 105 An-32s modernised with help from the Ukraine. For less extreme conditions, Antonov offers the 28.5-tonne An-32B-100 with derated engines, better economics and longer range. The An-32 is a contender fora forthcoming order from the Peruvian Air Force.

Compared to the C295, the 32-tonne Alenia Aermacchi C-27J Spartan is a larger, more expensive, wide-body aircraft. It has two Rolls-Royce AE2100s, as used on the four-engined Lockheed Martin C-130J. In 2007 the C-27j was selected as the US Army/Air Force Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA), with L-3 Communications Integrated Systems as prime.

However, in 2009 the US Air Force gained control of JCA, and in 2012 halted orders, claiming that the C-27j was too expensive to operate. The service has quoted an hourly operating cost of $ 9000 for the C-27J, compared to $ 10,400 for the C-130J, although the corresponding Ohio ANG figures are $2100 and $ 7000 respectively.

America's 21 existing C-27js are shortly due to go into open storage at Davis Monthan AFB, Arizona. However, in May 2013 the US Air Force announced a search to identify potential sources to manufacture further C-27js, with deliveries starting in 2016. This evidently responds to Congressional instructions that "The Secretary of the Air Force shall obligate and expend funds previously appropriated for the procurement of C-27J Spartan aircraft for the purposes for which such funds were originally appropriated."

There is also a proposal that US Air Force C-27Js, which cost the Pentagon $ 1.6 billion, should become a contractor-operated fleet under a Multi-Agency Airlift Capability (MAAC) programme, serving the needs of the Army National Guard (ARNG), Special Operations Command (Socom) and various US Government agencies, such as Homeland Defense, the Coast Guard and the Forest Service. It may be recalled that the original purpose of the JCA programme was to replace the US Army's 42 Shorts C-23s, which are still due to retire in 2016.

The C-27J has also been ordered by Australia (ten via FMS), Bulgaria (three), Chad (two), Greece (twelve), Italy (twelve), Lithuania (three), Mexico, (four), Morocco (four), and Romania (seven). Both the C-27J and C295 are contenders for Canada's FWSAR (Fixed-Wing Search And Rescue) programme to replace the de Hayilland CC-115 Buffalo and legacy Lockheed Martin CC-130.

I TWIN TURBOFANS

The availability of high-bypass turbofans is encouraging the development of twin-jet medium tactical transports, a category so far dominated by turboprops.

One such project is the 81-tonne Embraer KC-390, a multi-national, dual-role (transport/tanker) aircraft, designed to carry 80 troops or a 23-tonne payload, and powered by International Aero Engines (IAE) V2500-E5s. Embraer is working under a $1.5 billion Brazilian government contract to produce two prototypes. First flight is scheduled for late 2014, and service entry for 2016.

In 2010 the Brazilian Air Force announced plans to buy 28 KC-390s. Embraer has letters of intent for twelve for Colombia, six each for Argentina, Chile and Portugal, and two for the Czech Republic. All of these countries will participate in the manufacture of the airframe. If the Dassault Rafale or Saab Gripen wins Brazil's F-X2 contest, France or Sweden will be expected to buy KC-390s.

Embraer has an agreement with Boeing on possible technical and marketing cooperation, and in 2011 announced a stretched commercial version of the KC-390, aimed at the cargo market. Brazil's Correios postal service has stated the intention to buy 15 KC-390s to airlift mail.

In developing a new tactical transport, Antonov has the advantage of already producing a high-wing twin-jet regional passenger airliner, the An-148 and stretched - 158 series. Powered by Progress D-436 engines, the family has already grown from a maximum weight of 38.55 to 43.7 tonnes. The An-178 is a further development, retaining the wing and tail of the An-158, but with a larger fuselage and a rear loading ramp. The prototype mayfly before the end of 2014.

Antonov regards the An-178 as filling the gap between the 32-tonne C-27J and the 74.4-tonne C-1 30J, but it may be on the light side. In contrast, the Indo-Russian Multirole Transport Aircraft (MTA) is expected to gross around 68 tonnes, with a 20-tonne payload.

The Bangalore-based Multirole Transport Aircraft Ltd (MTAL) was formed in 2010 by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), Rosoberonexport, and Russia's United Aircraft Corporation - Transport Aircraft (UAC-TA), which had been created in 2008 to deal with the MTA, the II-112V, and the fl-76 and An-124 families.

The preliminary design contract for MTA was signed in October 2012, and a binational team began work two months later in Moscow. Aviadvigatel PS-90A-76 engines have been selected. The MTA is scheduled to fly in 2017, leading to deliveries in 2019. It is planned that 100 MTAs will be built for the Russian Air Force, 45 for the Indian Air Force, and 60 for other operators.

Japan's 141-tonne Kawasaki C-2, powered by GE Aviation CF6-80C2K1Fs, is a much larger aircraft. If exports are allowed, the C-2 will pose a threat to the Airbus Military A400M and Antonov An-70. The first of two prototypes flew in 2010, and two more were funded in FY2012. The JASDF is expected to buy 40 C-2s to replace its C-1 30s and Kawasaki C-is.

I QUAD PROPS

The Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules has been in continuous production longer than any other military aircraft. The first generation C-130A/B/E/H entered service with the US Air Force in 1957, and 2154 examples were built. The new-generation 70-tonne C-130J Super Hercules with Rolls-Royce AE2100D engines, six-blade propellers and a modernised flight deck and avionics followed in 1999. Orders currently stand at 337 units, of which 303 will be delivered by the end of 2013.

The C-130J is in service with the US Air Force (which plans to buy 168), Marine Corps and Coast Guard. International customers include: Australia twelve, Canada 17, Denmark four, India six (of twelve planned), Iraq six, Israel four (of nine planned), Italy 21, South Korea four, Kuwait three, Mexico two, Norway four, Oman three, Qatar four, Tunisia two, the UAE twelve and UK 25. Mongolia is planning to buy three C-130Js, and Congress has been notified of a possible sale of two to the Free Libyan Air Force.

As more nations are cutting defence funds, Lockheed Martin has proposed the simpler-equipped C-130XJ, which would offer a 15 per cent cost saving.

China's 61-tonne Shaanxi Y-8 is a reverse-engineered An-12. It is believed that over 100 have been built. Venezuela is currently receiving eight Y-8F-200s. Aside from the basic transport, the Y-8 serves as a platform for various radars. The PLA Navy's maritime patrol Y-8J has recently been in the news, monitoring shipping close to disputed islands in the South China Sea. The projected 77-tonne Y-9 derivative appears to be on ice due to lacking of government funding.

Major logistic operations invariably involve outsize loads, requiring the use of wide-body aircraft such as the Boeing C-17, Lockheed Martin C-5 or Antonov An-124.

The latest available wide-body is the midsize, less expensive 141-tome Airbus Military A400M Atlas. Powered by Europrop International TP400s turning eight-blade propellers, the A400M will be able to carry payloads up to 37 tonnes, accommodate Mrap vehicles and helicopters, and deliver them at near-jet speed over intercontinental ranges into short airstrips.

It has been claimed that when France intervened in Mali in early 2013, A400Ms (if then available) could have flown heavy equipment direct to the operations area, rather than to an airfield 900 km (and five days) away at Bamako, where the C-17s and An-124s landed.

The first of five 'Grizzly' A400M development aircraft flew at the end of 2009. The seven launch nations represent a domestic market for 170 units (Belgium seven, France 50, Germany 53, Luxemburg one, Spain 27, Turkey ten and UK 22). The only export customer to date is Malaysia, buying four, but Kazakhstan is considering buying two.

The first production A400M (MSN7) was handed over on August 1, 2013 to the French Air Force, which will base its fleet at BA123 Orleans-Bricy. The first for Turkey (MSN9) will also to be delivered in 2013, followed in 2014 by deliveries to Germany (starting with MSN18), Malaysia (MSN22), and Britain (MSN16). Spain will receive its first (MSN46) in 2017, followed by Belgium (MSN136) and Luxemburg (MSN133) in 2018.

The A400M is currently certified to a maximum gross weight of 132 tonnes, a maximum payload of 32 tonnes, a maximum speed of Mach 0.72, and a maximum altitude of 31,000 ft. There are some national differences in equipment standards. For example, British A400Ms (which will replace Royal Air Force C-130Js from 2022) will not be equipped for in-flight refuelling, but will have provisions for retrofitting at a later stage.

- Germany and Spain are each planning to release 13 of their A400Ms for sale, which could make aircraft available for early delivery, should (for example) the US Air Force develop a need for short-field, wide body transports for special operations in Africa. France is looking at some reduction in its planned A400M fleet, but Turkey is considering doubling its order.

Older physically thanthe A400M, having first flown in 1994, but arguably more advanced technologically, having propfans rather than turboprops, the Antonov An-70 is a long-running on-again, off-again saga that might (if launched earlier) have become one of the aerospace success stories of the Soviet Union.

Powered by Progress D-27 engines, each turning 14-blade contra-rotating propfans, the 145-tonne An-70 is claimed to offer better load capacity and performance than the A400M at less than half the price ($ 67 million, compared to $ 180 million). At time of writing the sole prototype, with Improvements to the engines, propfans, high-lift devices, avionics, flight deck and auxiliary power unit, is waiting to undergo joint Russo-Ukrainian state flight trials.

Two preseries An-70s funded by the Ukraine are being completed at the Antonov Serial Plant, and may be purchased by Russia, if the latter goes ahead with the 2010 plan to acquire at least 60 by 2020. Any further An-70s would be built by the Kazan Aircraft Production Association (Kapo), as would the commercial An-70T with Motor Sich D-727 high-bypass turbofans.

However, in early 2013 Russian Defence Ministry officials complained of production delays (Kapo was to build 21 An-70s by 2015), and indicated that it might withdraw from the programme by the end of the year. One report indicates that Russia would still expect Kapo to deliver 17 An-70s by 2020. In April Antonov announced that it had suspended development trials because the Russian Defence Ministry had suspended its participation in the programme. The Ukrainian prime minister then stated that his country would continue with the project, even if Russia withdraws, but there are doubts whether this is financially possible.

QUAD JETS

One sure thing for the Russian Air Force is the 210-tonne Ilyushin II-76MD-90A (aka II-476), with modern avionics, a glass cockpit, stronger wing and undercarriage, and Aviadvigatel PS-90A-76 turbofans. It first flew in September 2012, and a Russian Defence Ministry order for 39 to be delivered by 2018 was increased to 48.

Production will take place at Aviastar at Ulyanovsk, and is expected to be followed by at least 20 more for Russia (which has over 100 I1-76MDs in service) and around 30 II-76s and 11-78 tankers for China. In June 2013 Rosoberonexport announced that China had purchased ten pre-used II-76MDs as a stopgap measure, and that existing Chinese I1-76MDs were being refurbished in Russia.

China's AvidXian Y-20, which first flew on January 26, 2013, might be regarded as a wide-body 11-76 derivative. It is believed to gross slightly over 200 tonnes, and began flight trials with Soloviev D-30KP engines (as on the 11-76), although it is later to have Chinese WS-118s. The earliest possible service date is 2017.

Aviastar is refurbishing and upgrading ten 402-tonne An-124 Ruslans to An-124-100M standard for Russia's Military Transport Aviation (VTA). Russia's armament programme for 2011-2020 includes 25 such upgrades, with plans for 15 new-build aircraft beyond 2020.

Russia and the Ukraine have had multiyear discussions about launching production of the modernised An-124-200 at Aviastar, which assembled the final two An (for civil use) in 2004. However, in the absence of a Russian Air Force order, these talks have been fruitless. Volga-Dnepr has been studying assembling modernised An-124s with Western engines and avionics at Leipzig/Halle airport in Germany, where the An-124s of Nato's Strategic Airlift Interim Solution operation are based.

The US Air Force is meanwhile proceeding with modernisation of its fleet of 381-tonne Lockheed Martin C-5s. By FY2017 this will consist of 52 C-5M Super Galaxies with GE Aviation F138 (CF6-80C2) engines and only 29 C-5As. Some 46 C-5As are being retired, but will be kept in flyable storage until Congress decides their future.

One of the great success stories of military airlift has been the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, of which the US Air Force received its 223rd and last on September 12,2013. The production line is currently being kept open by international sales. Australia has so far ordered six, Canada four, India ten (with options on a further six), Kuwait one, Qatar four, the United Arab Emirates six and Britain eight. In addition, the twelve-nation Strategic Airlift Capability consortium of Nato and Partnership for Peace nations operates three C-17s, of which one is supplied by the US Air Force. An unspecified customer has ordered two, bringing firm export orders to 43.

Boeing indicates that Algeria is interested in buying four to six C-1 7s. New Zealand has an agreement with Australia to obtain flight hours on RAAF C-17s in exchange for time on RNZAF C-130Hs and Boeing 757s.

In anticipation of repeat orders from Australia and India, and to facilitate new sales to Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Singapore, Boeing is to build 13 'white tail' C-17s. The planned production total is now 279 units, with the line due to close in 2015.

Symbolising the withdrawal of Coalition forces from south-west Asia, these US troops wait for the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III to take them home from Joint Base Baled, which was handed back to the Iraqi Air Force in December 201 1. (US Air Force)

The largest helicopter in service, the 56-tonne Mil Mi-26 first flew in 1977, but is still marketed in updated Mi-26T2 form. (Russian Helicopters).

I A US Army sergeant attaches a container to the sling of an Afghan-registered Mil Mi-8AMT (YA-KME) at Forward Operating Base Salerno in Khost Province, Afghanistan. (US Army).

IThe Indian Air Force is believed to have ordered 80 Mil Mi-17V-5s in 2008 and 71 more in 2012. The Mi-17V-5 (illustrated by serial ZP-5166) entered service in February 2012 and is replacing older Mi-8s in Indian service. (Russian Helicopters). convoys are leading to more supplies being flown out, despite far higher costs.

Using "multimodal transport", such loads are first flown to another country and then placed on ships for the remainder of the journey. Germany, for example, is flying loads from the Bundeswehr's main base at Mazar-i-Sharif to the Turkish port of Trabzon on the Black Sea, and then shipping them to Emden.

I INTRA-THEATRE

One factor increasing demands on intra-theatre airlift, both in Afghanistan and Iraq, has been the insurgents' use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) against road convoys.

The resulting airlift demand is beyond military assets such as Beech C-12s and Shorts C-23 Sherpas, resulting in US Transportation Command (Transcom) outsourcing to civilian contractors. In the early years Supreme Site Services provided 70 per cent of the US Defense Department's cargo lift within Afghanistan.

In 2011 the Supreme contract was replaced by the $ 4.7 billion Transcom Mega programme, which included the use of 18 medium/heavy rotary-wing aircraft. Transcom contractors included Presidential Airways, which was an affiliate of Blackwater USA, but in 2010 sold its fixed-wing operation to the AAR Airlift Group in Florida. Other contracts went to Berry Aviation in Texas, Evergreen Helicopters in Alaska, and Flight Works in Georgia.

Turning to evolving logistic needs, Berry Aviation was recently awarded a Transcom contract to transport commandos of the Joint Special Taskforce Trans-Sahara in high-risk operations in 31 African countries.

I HELICOPTERS

One of the principal companies involved in Afghanistan since 2009 has been Russia's UTair Aviation (UTA). Aside from 240 fixedwing aircraft, UTA now has over 340 helicopters, including 25 Mi-26Ts (20-tonne payload), five Mi-10K (eleven tonnes), and 55 Mi-171/Mi-8AMTs, 67 Mi-8MTVs and 166 Mi-8Ts (all in the four-tonne payload class).

The 56-tonne Mi-26 first flew in 1977, and remains the heaviest rotary-wing aircraft in use. Over 300 have already been built, and it is in service with eleven military operators.

The Russian armed forces and Emercom (Ministry of Emergency Situations) together operate around 60 Mi-26s, and the Defence Ministry plans to launch a modernisation and life-extension programme in 2015. The Mi 26 is still being produced for the Russian Air Force, with deliveries continuing until 2025.

The latest variant is the M-26T2, with a glass cockpit, modern avionics and a crew of three. It lost the recent Indian Air Force contest to the much smaller (22.68-tonne) Boeing CH-47F, which is less expensive, has a 40 per cent lower disc loading (and consequently weaker downwash), and reportedly twice the centre of gravity range.

However, the Indian Air Force should perhaps keep its two remaining Mi-26s, as this type has been used in Afghanistan as the only means to recover damaged or unserviceable CH-47s from sites up to an altitude of 8500 ft. The Indian Air Force Mi-26s were used in the 1999 conflict with Pakistan, to airlift heavy artillery pieces to the Kargil Heights. They were recently key assets in Operation Rahat, providing relief in the flood-ravaged Uttarakhand state, delivering bulldozers for road reconstruction.

Mil's greatest success has been the Mi-8/17 family, of which over 12,000 have been built

Exploiting all of Russian Helicopters' technological resources in developing a replacement for the Mi-8/17 series, the Rachel (Russian Advanced Commercial Helicopter) is expected to enter service around 2020. (Russian Helicopters). for more than 60 nations. It has been the subject of a series of procurements by the United States on behalf of the Afghanistan National Security Forces (ANSF). This began with pre-used aircraft from Russia, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, but more recently America has bought new-build Mi-17V-5s via Rosoboronexport for Afghanistan's Special Missions Wing. A contract for 33 aircraft in May 2011 was followed by one for 30 more in June 2013.

Russian Helicopters is developing the Mi-171A2, with 2000-kW Klimov VK-2500s replacing 1565-KW TV3-117VMS, composite blades, an X-configuration tail rotor, and a crew of two. The VK-2500 is already in service on the Mi-171E, of which China ordered 32 in 2009 and 52 in 2012.

Russian Helicopters' long-term replacement for the 13-tonne Mi-8/17 is the Rachel (Russian Advanced Commercial Helicopter) project. It appears that the Mil proposal (initially V-37) has been selected, although ideas from the Kamov concept may later be incorporated. Rachel will enter service around 2020.

The 15.6-tonne Mi-38 fills the gap between Rachel and the Mi-26. Series production is planned for 2015, with either Klimov TV7-117V or P&WC PW127/TS engines. In 2012 the Mi-38 set anew altitude record for helicopters in the 10-20 tonne category, climbing to 8600 meters (28,215 ft).

America's big medium-lift success is the Boeing CH-47 Chinook, which in Afghanistan benefited from being designed to meet US Army hot/high requirements. The latest version is the CH-47F, which entered service in 2007. The US Army Modernisation Program calls for 464 CH-47Fs, plus 61 existing CH-47Ds to be rebuilt as MH-47Gs for Socom (Special Operations Command).

Following orders totalling 59 new-build CH-47Fs, in 2008 the US Army placed the first five-year contract, for 109 new-build and 72 remanufactured aircraft, with options on 24 more. In June 2013 a second five-year contract called for 177 more, with options on a further 38 new-built. The 177 included 22 for export to Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. Of the US Army's share, 31 are to be new-build and 124 remanufactured.

The CH-47F has also been ordered by Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Italy (where the ICH-47F is assembled and fitted out by AgustaWestland), and the Netherlands. Looking beyond 2020, Boeing plans the CH-47F Block Two with Advanced Chinook Rotor Blades (ACRB) and Honeywell T55715 engines, providing 20% more power than the current -714A. This aims to fulfil a US Army requirement to carry a ten-tonne load, such as the new JLTV (Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, the Humvee replacement), for a radius of 93 km from a take-off at 4000 ft (later 6000 ft) and 35 deg C.

The heaviest serving US helicopter is the 33.3-tonne Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion, used by the Marine Corps. Beginning in 2018, the CH-53E is due to be replaced by the 39.9-tonne CH-53K, powered by three General Electric GE38-1Bs, and designed to carry 12.25-tonnes over 205 km under hot, high conditions, tripling the corresponding load of the CH-53E.

The first of four CH-53K prototypes is to fly in late 2014. In June 2013 Sikorsky received a $ 435 million US Navy contract to build four production-representative aircraft, designated System Demonstration Test Vehicles (SDTA). The Marine Corps is to begin operational evaluation in 2017, aiming for initial operational capability in 2019. Current plans call for 196 CH-53Ks for delivery by 2028, to equip eight operational squadrons and one training unit.

The Marine Corps complements the CH-53E with the 23.86-tonne (25.86 tonne from sto) Bell Boeing MV-22B Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, of which the service is authorised to receive 360. At least 50 CV-22Bs are to be produced for Afsoc (US Air Force Special Operations Command). The US Navy can acquire 48 V-22s, but is still considering how to use Osprey, one possibility being as a replacement for the Northrop Grumman C-2 cargo aircraft.

In 2008 Navair (US Naval Air Systems Command) signed a five-year $ 10.3 billion contract with Bell Boeing for 141 MV-22Bs and 26 CV-22Bs, later increased to a total of 174. In June 2013 a $ 6.4 billion five-year contract was signed, for 92 MV-22Bs and seven CV-22Bs (with options on a further 23).

Landing a Humvee on the aft deck of the USNS Sacagawea (T-AKE-2) dry cargo ship, this Bell Boeing MV-228 Osprey is from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron VMM-265 'Dragons: (US Marine Corps).

This Royal Air Force AgustaWestland Merlin HC.3A, serial ZJ990/AA, of No 78 San, RAF Benson in Oxfordshire, England, was one of six AW101 Mk 512s purchased from the Royal Danish Air Force. (Agusta Westland).

One of 59 ordered for the Italian Army, this NH90 serial MM81531/E1214 was photographed in Afghanistan. Barely visible in this image is the Minigun fitted at the side door. (NHI).

This Airbus Military C212-400, serial 1541, is one of two flown by Thailand's KASET, the Bureau of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation. By developing a light transport suitable for both military and civil use, the manufacturer has won orders for almost 500 C212s. (Airbus Military).

The second of two Airbus Military C295s ordered by the Kazakh Air and Air Defence Forces is pictured at Seville, prior to ferrying to Kazakhstan. The service has an option to buy six more. (Airbus Military).

The US Air Force has done its best to kill the Alenia Aermacchi C-27J Spartan, seen here in demonstrator form during a visit to South Africa. Congress is now forcing the service to buy more, using previously allocated funds. (Armada/RB).

The An-158, here photographed at the recent Dubai air show, clearly shows where the DNA of the new An-178 comes from. (Armada/Eric H. Blass)

The Airbus Military A400M Atlas is designed to transfer and accept fuel in flight. British A400Ms will not be delivered with this capability, but will have provisions for retrofits. (Airbus Military).

One of the unique features of the Atlas A400M is clearly visible here: its mirror-spinning set of eight-bladed propellers on each one of its sides. With deliveries now underway and market confidence building up, the curiosity hitherto displayed for the Atlas (here in fact "Grizzly 5" captured at the recent Dubai Air Show) by potential customers is now turning into more than just "keen interest'

(Armada/Eric H. Biass)

Newly painted in military grey and pictured in the Ukrainian winter, the Antonov An-70 has been modified visibly, with 50% greater separation between the prop fan discs and a sensor turret under the nose. (Antonov).

This Indian Air Force IIyushin II-76MD is pictured at Joint Base Peral Harbor - lb Hickam, with US Air Force Boeing C- 175 in the background. (US Air Force).

This US Air Force Boeing C-1 7 Globemaster III is demonstrating its ability to use unpaved forward airstrips. (Boeing).
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Author:Braybrook, Roy
Publication:Armada International
Geographic Code:0PACI
Date:Dec 1, 2013
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