Air International 2006-09
R.Burgess - US Naval aviation 2006 /Military/ (3)
Boeing F/A-18A and B versions of the Hornet are used by the Naval Flight Demonstration Squadron - the Blue Angels - to demonstrate the skill of US naval aviators at airshows across North America and, occasionally, in other countries.
US Navy pilots streamed for flying helicopters receive their first taste of rotary wing flight on the TH-57B Sea Ranger. This version is used to teach basic helicopter manoeuvres and visual navigation, while the TH-57C is primarily for instrument and advanced tactics training, and shipboard landings.
Among the great successes of reserve naval aviation are the maritime patrol squadrons, which aid the active component by sharing the burden of overseas detachments. For a period during the Cold War there were as many as 13 reserve P-3 squadrons. Pictured is an Orion from VP-92 Minutemen, one of only three remaining reserve maritime patrol squadrons.
Naval Air Force Reserve provides airlift for the whole fleet using a number of aircraft types. Pictured is a C-130T of VR-54 Revelers, one of 20 of this type of Hercules in use with five Navy squadrons.
Beech's T-34 Turbomentor first entered US Navy service in 1976 and is used for primary pilot training. This T-34C belongs to Training Air Wing 5 at NAS Whiting Field, which has three squadrons operating the type.
The US Navy uses four variants of Gulfstream for rapid-response airlift. As well as carrying high-ranking personnel, this C-20G version of the business jet, operated by VR-48 Capital Skyliners, can also be loaded with bulky items through its large side cargo door.
NAS Corpus Christi, Texas, is the home of VT-31 Wise Owls, which uses the Beech T-44A Pegasus. This military version of the King Air 90 trains aircrew for the P-3 Orion and C-130 Hercules.
Unlike other major nations within NATO, Germany trains its weapons systems operators in a joint programme with the US Navy at NAS Pensacola; the T-44A is typical of the aircraft used for this programme.
One of the main tasks of Boeing's T-45 Goshawk, a version of the BAE Systems Hawk created for the US Navy, is to carrier-qualify new pilots. This T-45C from VT-7 Strike Eagles, based at NAS Meridian, is shown about to touch down on the USS John C Stennis.
The US Navy plans to procure a total of 328 Raytheon T-6A Texan Ils to replace the Beech T-34 Turbomentor. This new trainer currently serves with VT-4 Mighty Warbucks and VT-10 Wildcats at NAS Pensacola.
VFC-13 Saints is the US Navy's only Northrop F-5 unit. These aircraft act as air combat adversaries, wearing camouflages to simulate potential enemy aircraft - the F-5 shown has a North Korean flag on the tail. The squadron is based at NAS Fallon, Nevada, though it also maintains a detachment at NAS Key West in Florida.
McDonnell Douglas C-9B Skytrain Ils and DC-9-33s are steadily being replaced by Boeing C-40A Clippers. Nine of these military versions of the Boeing 737 are in service with the US Navy, and a further eight are planned. This aircraft belongs to VR-59 Lone Star Express, based at NAS Fort Worth JRB in Texas.