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Year Review 2020
 
Latest update: December 2020
 
2020 will be remembered as the year that COVID-19 (corona virus) changed the way of living around the globe. Military aviation wise it led to the cancellation of many exercises and air shows. Even now in December organizers already cancelled their intended exercises, trade shows and air shows which were scheduled during the first half year of 2021.

Back to this year. Below you will find a photographic overview of 2020 with additional information of exercise or visits which were possible during the year.

In January and February the Southern United States were visited. Starting in Los Angeles and ending in Las Vegas during two weeks the air bases in southwestern USA (Arizona, California and Neveda) were visited. We had some goals like the visit to Nellis AFB for Red Flag 20-1, Luke AFB for the F-35A's including our own Royal Netherlands Air Force aircraft, Davis-Monthan AMARG overflight, MCAS Yuma for the dual Harriers on TDY from their east coast base, NAF El Centro for the visiting units using the nearby ranges. A report covering the visit can be found here: United States January and February 2020. Below you can find you can find some more information.
 
January
 
A USMC KC-130T assigned to VMGR-452 performing overshoots at Palmdale.

MH-60R/S from nearby NAS North Island, San Diego training at Naval Outlying Landing Field Imperial Beach. NAF El Centro was home to T-45C Goshawks assigned to TW-1 and TW-2.
     
     
A pair of MH-60S assigned to HSC-14 "The Chargers" about to depart Imperial County Airport. NAF El Centro also housed HMH-465 "Warhorse" also operated from NAF El Centro with a few of their CH-53E's. NAS Cherry Point, North Carolina based VMAT-203 deployed to MCAS Yuma with both the AV-8B and TAV-8B.
     
     
ENJJPT T-6 Texans at Tucson IAP conducting a cross country navigation flight.  We made a perfect flight over AMARG, also know as the boneyard. On this photo
71 F-16's are visible.
 Royal Netherlands Air Force based F-16's at Tucson.  Embedded within the 148 FS / 162 FW Arizona ANG.
     
     
First of several visits to Phoenix Mesa Gateway Airport. VFA-122 Super Hornets (1 F/A-18E, 2 F/A-18F) made a fuel/lunch stop.


Except the Harriers assigned to VMAT-203 and AH-1Z / UH-1Y helicopters assigned to HMLA-469 the resident AV-8's and F-5N's assigned to VMFT-401 were flying.

A short detour was made to visit the two former Edwards AFB RF-4C Phantoms preserved in the town of Quartzsite. We then continued to Las Vegas to visit Nellis AFB where Red Flag 20-1 was held.

 
     
     
B-1B Lancers assigned to the 37th Bomb Squadron / 28th Bomb Wing from Ellsworth AFB, SD took part in Red Flag.
The RAAF participated with its F/A-18F Super Hornet, EA-18 Growler and this E-7A Wedgetail.
The resident Weapon School squadrons and 422 TES (Test and Evaluation Squadron) conducted their own training missions.
     
     
RCAF 425/433 Tactical Fighter Squadrons, 3 Wing deployed to Luke to train with the resident F-16 and F-35 squadrons.  425th FS / 56th FW trains pilots for the Singaporese air force. Both their special
painted F-16's were flying on January 30.

     
     
Tucson was visited for both the AZ ANG  F-16's as well as the Dutch ones based  here. Then off to Davis-Monthan AFB.
     
     
Three A-10 squadrons, one AFRC, are based at Davis Monthan AFB. as well as the EC-130H's of which one was shooting approaches. A T-38C from Randolph AFB, TX arrived for a fuel stop.
     
     
Thanks to the very friendly owner of   a scrapyard we were able to photograph the aircraft at his site. 
     
     
The last rays of sunshine were used to photograph several stored aircraft at AMARG.
 
After arrival at Los Angeles IAP (LAX) we drove to Palmdale (plant 42) airport. Three C-130's conducted touch & goes and overshoots. At the end of the afternoon we visited the museums from outside as they were closed and the F-4D Phantom preserved in Lancaster. We then headed south towards San Diego.
 
February
 
 
     
The first day of February we visited Phoenix Mesa Gateway Airport where two KC-130T,  one T-6A and four T-38C's were present. The former Williams AFB attracts many visiting aircraft during the day.
     
     
Phoenix Papago has an on base museum with a UH-1M Huey displayed inside and a former AZ ANG A-7D displayed near the gate. T-6A's from Sheppard AFB visiting Phoenix Sky Harbor IAP.
     
     
Sky Harbor the next day RCAF CC-150 AMC 305 AMW C-17A and the   departure of the T-6A's.
     
Three F/A-18D Hornets assigned to VMFAT-101 "Sharpshooters" departed Phoenix Scottsdale Airport.

We then went back to Phoenix Mesa Gateway Airport. Here we in time to catch the departure of a T-38C assigned to the 9th RS from Beale AFB, CA.
The Monday we spend at Luke AFB. We were lucky as the RNLAF NODF-35 send up five of its six F-35A's. Here its first delivered Lightning II "F-003" in on final approach.
     
Harriers assigned to VMA-223 had arrived at NAF El Centro. as well as Super Hornets (F/A-18E/F) assigned to VFA-122. and two EA-18G Growlers from VAQ-129.
     
Ospreys visited Imperial County Airport. Of course we drove back and fourth which saw us capture the special tail from VMM-364 "Purple Foxes". The last full day was spend at Nellis AFB to capture the action of 57th Wing aircraft and the Red Flag participants.
After the Red Flag mission had recovered we went back to the hotel. However on route we saw Bell 412's routing to North Las Vegas Airport. Four RCAF CH-146's arrived so we stayed for night photography.
     
 
As our flight left late afternoon we of course returned in the morning to photograph the Canadians in daylight.

A HH-60G "Pave Hawk" returns to Nellis AFB. In the fourth quarter of 2020 the USAF received its first HH-60W "Jolly Green II" which will eventually replace all Pave Hawks.
 
 
 
March
 
     
I
In March the first corona meassures were taken resulting in the cancellation of exercise Frisian Flag, Swift Blade. It also reduced flying operations of the RNLAF. Early March just prior to the meassures during two days a CH-47D Chinook assigned to 298 squadron used the Ginkelse heide (GLV-IV) for training with troops and equipment.
 
April
 
The first aircraftless month of 2020.
 
May
 
Also May was a month without any aircraft photos.
 
June
 
A Pakistani navy ATR-72 arrived at Mönchengladbachm Germany to undergo maintenance/upgrades. A day later the first Netherlands based F-35A "F-009" assigned to 322 squadron arrived at Volkel. Two UH-60M Blackhawks assigned to 4-3 AHB arrive at Eindhoven air base on June 29.
 
In June the corona meassures were lessened. It provided the opportunity to visit Mönchengladbach to photograph the Pakistan navy ATR-72. A day later 322 squadron send one of its F-35A's to Volkel for a two-day exercise. Later that day the first helicopters assigned to 3 Combat Aviation Brigade arrived at Eindhoven air base. 3 CAB completed its nine month Operation Atlantic Resolve rotation to Europe. All its helicopters (CH-47F, UH-60L/M, HH-60M and AH-64E) were flown to the port of Rotterdam. From there the helicopters and other equipment was shipped back to the USA.

Reports covering Operation Atlantic Resolve can be visited here:

US Army OAR rotation 5: 3 CAB (2019-2020): arrival of 3 CAB in the port of Zeebrugge, Belgium in 2019.

US Army Operation Atlantic Resolve (OAR): overview of the Combat Aviation Brigade rotations.
 
July
 
     
On July 2 the port of Rotterdam saw the  3 CAB helicopters arrive. Here they were  processed for their return to the USA.
     
     
Meanwhile the MMU had received it first KC-30M (A330MRTT).    
 
Most of the 3 CAB helicopters (70+) used Eindhoven as staging base before continuing to the port of Rotterdam. A few flights arrived directly from Germany.
The NATO Multinational MRTT Unit (MMU) received their first KC-30M on June 30. During a visit on July 6 the aircraft was parked on the apron next to the RNLAF KDC-10. The later will be withdrawn from service (with information in available in December in early 2022). The RNLAF is one of the MMU members and will utilize an annual amount of flying hours in support of its AAR and strategic transport needs.
 
August
 
A Tornado takes off from Büchel.
A 480 FS F-16C on final approach at Spangdahlem. The special returns after completing its mission in Eastern Europe.
     
A C-17A Globemaster III assigned to 144 AS / 176 Wg Alaska ANG about to land at Ramstein. Two TaktLwG 74 completed their checks and taxi towards the runway.
A German navy P-3C Orion arrived early in the morning and is about to depart Neuburg an der Donau.
     
12th CAB participated in exercise Saber Junction with an AH-64D Apache company It CH-47F Chinooks. Big Windy and its Apache colleagues are stationed at Katterback barraks, Ansbach. and its UH-60M company which is normally operating out of Wiesbaden army air field.
     
The JMRC has eight UH-72A Lakota helicopters assigned. Equally divided between four green and four camouflaged helicopters. A MV-22B Osprey departs Ramstein air base for Rota, Spain after taking part in exercise Saber Junction.
An Israeli air force F-16D assigned to 105 squadron about to touchdown at Norvenich in August 17.
     
 
The F-4E Phantom II of the National Military Museum at Soesterberg was placed outside for a few days in August. A RNLAF Cougar during its brown-out training at the Oirschotse heide (GLV-V).
 
 
August saw some visits to Germany. Büchel air base is home to Taktischen Luftwaffengeschwaders 33 (TaktLwG 33) equipped with the Tornado. The base hosted their colleagues of TaktLwG 51 „Immelmann“ which are stationed in Northern Germany at Jagel air base. Were TaktLwG 33 operates the IDS variant of the Tornado, TaktLwG 51 also flies the ECR version. From Manching airport ( which was closed for the holidays )the Wehrtechnische Dienststelle für Luftfahrzeuge und Luftfahrtgerät der Bundeswehr Wehrtechnische Dienststelle 61 (WTD 61) send one of its Tornadoes used in the test role to Büchel. Unfortunetely this Tornado didn't fly during our visits. After departure of the second wave of the day it was time to relocate to Spangdahlem air base, home to the 480th Fighter Squadron / 52nd Fighter Wing. We arrived in time to catch the F-16's return. Then we continued to Geilenkirchen air base home to the NATO E-3A AWACS fleet (NATO Airborne Early Warning & Control Force) to catch the arrival of their special marked E-3A.

A week later it was time for a visit to US Army Europe, 7th Army Training Command, exercise Saber Junction. On the way to and from Hohenfels we visited more air bases. The trip started at Büchel amd then continued to Ramstein air base. The base serves as a hub for transient Air Mobility Command (AMC) aircraft flying between the United States and the Middle East. Next stop was Neuburg an der Donau air base where the German air force TaktLwG 74 flies the EF-2000. The next day we were welcomed by the Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC) to visit exercise Saber Junction. The 173rd Airborne Brigade and allied forces were trained on the large US Army Europe training facility. Supporting the exercise where Apaches, Chinook and Blackhawk helicopters assigned to 12th Combat Aviation Brigade. They themselves were trained by JMRC Team Falcon (UH-72A Lakota). On the way home a stop was made at Ramstein air base. Here two of the four MV-22B's assigned to VMM-263, who participated in Saber Junction, and supported by a KC-130J departed back to their temporaily base at Rota, Spain. The US Marine Corps rotates its Osprey squadrons to Spain in support of US European command.
August also saw the first ever deployment of the Israeli air force to Germany. Six F-16's and a G550 arrived at Norvenich air base to take part in for exercises Blue Wings and Magday . On the arrival day the detachment was supported by two KC-707's, one C-130H and a G-V. In the Netherland the Defence Helicopter Command organized exercise HOT NL. The brown-out landing exercise would have been held in Portugal or Spain but due to COVID-19 this wasn't possible. The choice was made to use landing zones in The Netherlands to train the aircrews and loadmasters of the Chinook and Cougar helicopters.
 
September
 
A French air force KC-130J partipated in the air drop week of Falcon Leap. 366 squadron participated with both its C-130H Hercules transport aircraft with drops made over Deelen air base.
     
A C-130H assigned to 130 AS / 130 AW West Virginia ANG during one of the para drops at the Ginkelse heide.
Belgian Air Component 20 Smaldeel / 15 Wing C-130H "CH-09". The Hercules was withdrawn from service on December 17, 2020. The French air force A400M, assigned to ET 01.061, arrived at Eindhoven to take part in the liberation flypast during the evening.
     
"Charlie West" was on temporaily duty
at Ramstein AB
and particpated with both its Hercules it brought to Europe.
On the last day of Falcon Leap Ramstein based 37 AS / 86 AW joined with one of their C-130J.30's.
     
   
In 2021 the German air force will say farewell to the C-160D Transall. One of the LTG 63 stationed at Hohn in Northern Germany participated in Falcon Leap.    
 
In September the annual Falcon Leap exercise was held.  With more meassures to keep personnel save the organizers succeeded in running the exercise with the first week dedicated to cargo drops and the second week the drop of paratroopers. The WWII operation Market Garden commemoration was cancelled. On September 18, Eindhoven air base hosted a Belgian air force C-130H and French air force A400M. Both aircraft joined the Falcon Leap participants with a liberation flight over Eindhoven in the evening. Each year the RNLAF overflies the city with a Hercules. This year the European Air Transport Command organized the formation as one of their 10 year anniversary events.
 
October
 
Two CH-47D Chinook assigned to 298 squadron during a HWIC mission on the Ginkelse heide on October 9.
     
The German participatings at Gilze-Rijen air base on October 15. A NH90-TTH taxxing out to join the other participants for a large mission The German Tiger arrives back at Gilze-Rijen.
 
In October exercise HWIC SOF was held. Helicopters from the Defence Helicopter Command and German army THR-10, THR-30 (both NH90-TTH) and KHR-36 (Tiger) took part in this course of the Helicopter Weapons Instructor Course.

The RNLAF CH-47D's are in their last months of operation. Boeing Defence delivered 14 new build CH-47F "CAAS II" Chinook. Another six remanufacturered helicopters will be delivered by the end of 2021. In the United States 302 squadron (Fort Hood) already operates the new Chinook. 298 squadron is scheduled to receive its first CH-47F during the second quarter of 2021. In Q1-2021 the first will be transported to Woensdrecht were they will be assambled and once the first crews completed their training with 302 squadron be flown to Gilze-RIjen.
 
November
 
Three Lightnings at Volkel on November 18. A French air force AS555AN paid a visit to Schiphol (international airport) One of the two QRA F-16's scrambled for a training intercept on November 25.
     
Sunset photography at Volkel on
November 18. The F-16's and F-35's all
 returning from their mission around sunset.
     
Last chance for two F-16's before departing in the last afternoon, Nov 25. F-16BM "J-882" on a parallel runway (24L) departure. F-16's completing checks before starting their evening mission on November 25.
 
In November RNLAF 322 squadron deployed from its home base Leeuwarden to sister air base Volkel. The squadron took four of their F-35A Lightning II to the base in the province of Noord Brabant. Another two had been delivered to the squadron but were in the process of checks before being cleared for flight operations.
The first and only visit to Schiphol was made on November 24. A French air force AS555AN Fennec visited and departed back to France after a night stop.
Both Leeuwarden and Volkel were scheduled to fly with live bombs in the week of November 23 - 26. The Volkel squadrons also took over the QRA duties from 322 squadron (F-16 flight). Leeuwarden completed the F-16 QRA as the squadron is working towards their Initial Operational Capability (IOC) scheduled to be received by the end of 2021.
313 squadron (Volkel) made their last F-16 flight on December 18. From January 1, 2021 they will start their transition to the F-35A. Their colleageus of 312 squadron will, after 322 squadron will cease flying the F-16, continue to operate the Fightning Falcon until they are phased out in 2025.
 
December
 
The second corona wave hit The Netherlands (and many other European countries) from November. It led to a lockdown (at least until January 19) and a negative travel advice (until mid March). As a result the plans to visit Germany in December were cancelled.