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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Luftwaffe Bundles Eurofighter Capacity

Over the last 11 months, the Luftwaffe has been bundling the capacities of its Eurofighter squadrons to accelerate training and improve capabilities. The personnel and equipment of two squadrons were centralized at the base of Jagdgeschwader (Fighter Squadron) 73 (JG 73) in Rostock/Laage, starting with Jagdgeschwader (Fighter Squadron) 74 (JG 74) from Neuburg an der Donau on 1 March and followed by Jagdbombergeschwader (Fighter-Bomber Squadron) 31 from Nörvenich in July. Only quick reaction aircraft remained in Neuburg and two aircraft in Nörvenich for start-up operations and testing.

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The bundling of capabilities produced eight more flying instructors and six new Eurofighter pilots, including two converted directly after their jet pilot training at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas. It also allowed more intensive training of the personnel of JG 74, who commuted by C-160 Transall from Neuburg on Mondays and flew back on Fridays. Lt.Col. Markus Krammel, commander of JG 73, said JG 74 pilots were able to do their tactical-operational training and gain new operational qualifications, while ground crew gained more experience with Eurofighter and trained new personnel, including from JG 73.

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Eurofighter with all three squadrons' emblems marked on tail

In addition, 16 Luftwaffe Eurofighters and 500 personnel spent four weeks between mid-June and mid-July at Decimomannu, the Sardinian base jointly operated by Italy and Germany, flying 250 missions, including the first solo flights by four trainees.

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On the downside, Eurofighters were grounded for three weeks in September because of safety problems with their ejection seats, requiring an additional week to re-ride (make refresher flights) and Laage does not have enough twin seaters.

Meanwhile, a JG 73 pilot flew the 100,000th Eurofighter hour worldwide on 13 January.

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