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  1. A BRIEF HISTORY OF AERMACCHI AIRCRAFT IN THE IRISH AIR CORPS Cuid a do (Part II) First part can be seen on irish forum https://ipmsireland.com/a-brief-history-of-aermacchi-aircraft-in-the-irish-t3119.html A WHIFF of Cordite The 1997 Price Waterhouse Review of the Naval Service and Air Corps recommended that the six MB 326 EI and seven SF260WE's be replaced with eight examples of a single type training aircraft system. A requirement for a new aircraft had been identified. The Swiss Pilatus PC-9M was the first choice, a propeller aircraft with no realistic attack capability in any meaningful sense. The use of the MB 326 EI as a reconnaissance platform over the previous since 1977 had proven its worth, a capacity that the PC 9 could not cover. With the Aermacchi production and maintenance facility in Dublin, jobs were also under threat - most notably in Taoiseach Bertie Aherns' constituency. Regardless of the training and light strike / COIN decision, it was felt a reconnaissance platform was still required This led to the development of the MB 326 EI-RE ( Reconnaissance and Electronic) starting in 1999, planned at two conversion per year with a planned domestic capacity of 4 with the hope of gaining foreign orders. The aircraft was developed from MB 326 EI airframes. Using spares purchased from South Africa the airframes were 'zero houred' in a major Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) The first air frame selected was 220 In 2002 a new low visibility camouflage scheme based on the RNZAF pattern was selected. It was a mirror of the RNZAF style, and was applied as type B as with the historic Hurricanes in Irish service. Also, in homage to the first modern fighters in the Irish Air Corps, the two tone roundels were chosen, this also aided the low visibility concept. New wing tip tanks were installed to increase range were sourced from MB 326 K / Impala airframes. New plumbing was installed to allow a greater fuel tank capacity The fuselage - as with the A4 Skyhawk - was enlarged using a hump to allow more sensors, computing and data storage space in addition to extra electrical power. The larger tail elevators from the 326K Impala also were installed to improve handling. Visually the most apparent change in the air frame was a tail pod, designed to house electronic surveillance equipment. Unusually for a military aircraft, a commercial Stingray device was provided by the Gardai. All flight controls were removed from the rear cockpit to provide the sensor operator space. In 2007 the decision was made to deploy two MB 326 EI-RE to support the Irish UN deployment in Chad. Initial authorization for the mission by the Government was given following the UN Security Council in resolution 1769 of 31 July 2007 Two helicopters were leased to support ground operations, with the MB 326 EI-RE providing recon to the air mobile operations, checking landing areas etc. With the similarity in the theatre of operations, controversially, former SAAF technicians were hired from South Africa, as were advisors. It was pointed out that they were some of the few people who had experience in operating the aircraft from primitive field locations. The Irish UN contingent, as in the Congo 40 years earlier, had some bitter lessons to learn. In 2009, the loss occurred of an MB 326 EI-RE to a SAM 7 Grail fired by Janjaweed militia and probably provided by the Government of Sudan. The Irish aircraft, without countermeasures suited to the threat environment, was withdrawn. Unusually for a military aircraft, a commercial Stingray device was provided by the Gardai. This device led to quite a bit of controversy when it was revealed it was used in 2014 under the direction of the Gardai to carry out surveillance operations against journalists, some Irish MP's and GSOC representatives as well as some whistle blowers caused a controversy in Ireland. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_GSOC_bugging_scandal UN Operations In 2007 the decision was made to deploy two MB 326 EI-RE to support the Irish UN deployment in Chad. Initial authorization for the mission by the Government was given following the UN Security Council in resolution 1769 of 31 July 2007 Two helicopters were leased to support ground operations, with the MB 326 EI-RE providing recon to the air mobile operations, checking landing areas etc. With the similarity in the theatre of operations, controversially, former SAAF technicians were hired from South Africa, as were advisors. It was pointed out that they were some of the few people who had experience in operating the aircraft from primitive field locations. The Irish UN contingent, as in the Congo 40 years earlier, had some bitter lessons to learn. In 2009, the loss occurred of an MB 326 EI-RE to a SAM 7 Grail fired by Janjaweed militia and probably provided by the Government of Sudan. The Irish aircraft, without countermeasures suited to the threat environment, was withdrawn and replaced with 4 MB 339 EI which carried out the Aircorps first offensive military operations in 2010/11 TRANSFER The remaining modified MB 326 EI-RE were eventually donated to Malta in 2015, with LE Aoife. One stripped airframe was retained as a gate guard at Baldonnel as a memorial to Air Crew lost over the years. Their 2014 use in questionable surveillance operations of Journalists, the Garda Ombudsman, civillians and whistle blowers as well as elected officials in Ireland certainly hastened their departure. Irish Air Corps pilots were seconded to the Maltese air wing which proved crucial during the Mediterranean Refugee crisis. An additional re-conditioned 2 seat MB 326A was provided to Malta by the Italian air force to provide a suitable training platform, bringing the number of Maltese MB 326 to four. The remaining modified MB 326 EI-RE were eventually donated to Malta in 2015, with LE Aoife. Irish Air Corps pilots were seconded to the Maltese air wing which proved crucial during the Mediterranean Refugee crisis. An additional re-conditioned two seat MB 326A was provided to Malta by the Italian air force to provide a suitable training platform. In the selection of a dedicated trainer for the Irish Air Corps, all indications pointed to the Pilatus PC9 but in September 2001, events changed course. It was readily apparent that air defense should not be left with the PC-9, which was in military terms on a par of performance with allied aircraft …….. That is to say, on a par performance in terms of allied aircraft towards the end of the 2nd world war. On the afternoon of September 11, 2001 the Irish Prime Minister (Taoiseach), Bertie Ahern ordered the "heads of the security services of key government departments" to undertake a complete re-evaluation of measures to protect the state from attack. Hence, underway within hours of the 9/11 outrage in the United States was potentially the most far-reaching review of Irish national security in decades. Among the initial aircraft considered were the BAe Hawk, but at a 2003 unit cost in the region of GBP 18m was considered too expensive. There were also concerns about the lead in time involving the purchase, transition and training period needed to reach active service Other aircraft considered were the L-39 and in particular the L-159 at $9.5m with the Italian FIAR Grifo L multi-mode Doppler radar for all-weather, day and night operations, as well as it’s ASRAAM capability and fit to receive AMRAAM potential. A third option seriously considered was what was referred to as the Austrian option – to lease, or buy and upgrade F-5E/F Tiger II with the option to buy and upgrade to S/T standard. In 2002, during Ireland’s rugby tour of New Zealand, after quiet negotiations, it was announced that Ireland was to purchase 6 former RNZAF MB 339’s Their availability, cost and sharing a Rolls Royce Viper turbojet engine with the MB 326 EIRE was the major factor in the decision to purchase the aircraft, which had few air hours and a superb maintenance record. In addition, the training and re-qualification of pilots to combat jet status could be achieved rapidly in the transfer agreement with the availability of the RNZAF instructor cadre. For logistics and maintenance personnel, the transition to another very similar Aermacchi type from the 326 EI-RE was relatively straight forward. RNZAF personnel moved to Ireland for 6 months to provide training and advice. After negotiations with Aermacchi, a maintenance deal was reached to retain the Warriors in service as the basic trainer for IAC, the aircraft was still in production. In mid 2002 the MB 339’s began their long journey to Ireland, via Italy for upgrades to the aircraft. In 2011 the MB 339 EI and MB 326 EIRE were retrofitted with in-flight refueling capacity for use with the Aircorps rather dubiously 'acquired' two C-130's which could provide tanker support ACH SIN SCEAL EILE (That's another tale) COMING SOON - PART 3 MB 339 EI BUILD NOTES TO FOLLOW
  2. The 1997 Price Waterhouse Review of the Naval Service and Air Corps recommended that the MB 326 and seven SF260WE's be replaced with eight examples of a single type training aircraft system. A requirement for a new aircraft had been identified. The decision was taken to convert 4 MB 326 to a dedicated reconnaissance version - the MB 326 EI-RE The Swiss Pilatus PC-9M was the first choice, a propeller aircraft with no realistic attack capability in any meaningful sense. Then, in September 2001, events changed course. It was readily apparent that air defense should not be left with the PC-9, which was in military terms on a par of performance with allied aircraft …….. That is to say, on a par performance in terms of allied aircraft towards the end of the 2nd world war. On the afternoon of September 11, 2001 the Irish Prime Minister (Taoiseach), Bertie Ahern ordered the "heads of the security services of key government departments" to undertake a complete re-evaluation of measures to protect the state from attack. Hence, underway within hours of the 9/11 outrage in the United States was potentially the most far-reaching review of Irish national security in decades. Among the initial aircraft considered were the BAe Hawk, but at a 2003 unit cost in the region of GBP 18m was considered too expensive. There were also concerns about the lead in time involving the purchase, transition and training period needed to reach active service Other aircraft considered were the L-39 and in particular the L-159 at $9.5m with the Italian FIAR Grifo L multi-mode Doppler radar for all-weather, day and night operations, as well as it’s ASRAAM capability and fit to receive AMRAAM potential. A third option seriously considered was what was referred to as the Austrian option – to lease, or buy and upgrade F-5E/F Tiger II with the option to buy and upgrade to S/T standard. In 2002, during Ireland’s rugby tour of New Zealand, after quiet negotiations, it was announced that Ireland was to purchase 8 former RNZAF MB 339’s The PC 9 M order was cancelled and the designated numbers applied to the new airframes starting with 260 Their availability, cost and sharing a Rolls Royce Viper turbojet engine with the MB 326 K was the major factor in the decision to purchase the aircraft, which had few air hours and a superb maintenance record. In addition, the training and re-qualification of pilots to combat jet status could be achieved rapidly in the transfer agreement with the availability of the RNZAF instructor cadre. For logistics and maintenance personnel, the transition to another very similar Aermacchi type was relatively straight forward. RNZAF personnel moved to Ireland for 6 months to provide training and advice. After negotiations with Aermacchi, a maintenance deal was reached to retain the Warriors in service as the basic trainer for IAC, the aircraft was still in production. In mid 2002 the MB 339’s began their journey to Ireland, via Italy for upgrades to the aircraft in Italy. The order for the Pilatus PC 9 M was cancelled and the designated numbers were transferred to the MB 339, beginning with serial 260. The Camoflage pattern adopted by the RNZAF was kept, being suitable for local Irish conditions. It proved so effective a B version, or mirror version a la Hurricane A/B patterns was adopted The Aermacchi MB 339 were a quantum leap forward – with the ability carry air-to-air IR AIM-9L, air-to-surface AGM-65 Maverick, or Marte Mk IIA sea-skimming anti-ship missiles. A provision for Marte IIS was retro-fitted to the P50 class and later designed into the P60 class vessels of the Irish Naval Service. Having one system proved to be a very useful cost cutting measure. A huge leap forward was the electronic warfare suite including an Elettronica ELT-156 radar warning receiver, BAE Systems Integrated Defense Solutions (formerly Tracor) AN/ALE-40 chaff and flares dispensing system and Elettronica ELT-555 active electronic countermeasures (ECM) deception pod. Additional Chaff and flare dispensers were integrated inboard of the ventral fin. This was insisted on following the loss of an MB 326 EI-RE in Chad The militants who were believed to have fired the missile were pursued and destroyed by the MB 339’s, operating mostly at night, over the course of three days. Irish army ground units, including the Ranger wing were involved, closing in and engaging with MOWAG supported infantry. At the time, it was found that there was a real need for integrated artillery support. The shortcoming was to be finally addressed in 2020. The primary weapon used by the MB 339’s were AGM-65 Maverick which had been purchased from New Zealand. These were supplemented by SNEB rocket and unguided bombs. Sudanese fighter jets were a concern, but the French Air force was able to provide fighter Combat Air Patrol to the east of where the Irish were operating. It was clear that the cost of Maverick AGM-65 ( from USD $48,000 (A-model) to USD $269,000 for the G-model [FY 1999]) or even the Army’s FGM-148 Javelin missiles (an eye watering $106,000 per missile) for strikes on light trucks and small guerilla groups was prohibitive, and the use of unguided bombs with the presence of SAMs was considered too high risk. The action led to Irelands purchase and deployment in 2013 of the Northrop Grumman (later MBDA systems) GBU-44/B from the US, a light glide bomb that allowed a sufficient stand-off capability, with an explosive yield that helped with the reduction of collateral damage. The reason for the purchase was more to do with economics than humanity – a dossier called ‘The Cost of Killing’ making this clear was leaked by the Dept of Finance, being a cynical, but realistic calculation of cost and effect, it did create some controversy. The GBU-44 bombs purchased could also be used by the Air Corps supporting C-130’s - The munitions could be dropped from the new pressurized "derringer door," which uses a side door in the fuselage that enables the aircraft to launch and reload munitions while the aircraft remains pressurized, But the very dubious C-130H 'procurement' or .aquisition' in 2012, and the events that led to it, is another story. Now, in 2019 – after the lessons learned in UN missions, and an aging MB 399 fleet, the Aircorps have asked that a new Air Defense / strike aircraft be procured. With a budget of 416m, and additional funding from the EU of 100m towards ‘military mobility’ Ireland’s contribution to the EU military structure may well be non-offensive, with Air and Sea transport being the biggest capital outlays envisioned. EU PESCO requirements that came to the fore after the election of President Trump. From the PESCO budget, as was done in the 80’s, EU funding can be made available to Ireland – primarily for Maritime policing. The EU funding will not be used for armament, but rather platforms. From this potential funding, the Aircorps wish to purchase surveillance and transport aircraft. A proviso for purchase would be the purchase of EU built hulls and airframes. The Aircorps would like a decision by 2021 – A package of air defense with increased transport and maritime patrol capability. Of the Trojans, three are being offered with combined AEW / MPA capability and two as interchangeable transport / tanker. An advantage is the Aermacchi offering is also part of the US T-X program. If selected, this would greatly reduce future costs. It is believed a lot of the decision will rest on the US T-X competition results. The requirement for fixed wing procurement is to provide: Air Defense, Air Tactical Transport and ISAR The light fighter / training requirement is yet to be decided. Aermacchi, after a 40 year history with the air corps offering the M346 Master FA or FT (20m$) version for the air defense and strike role in a package with 4 C-27J Trojan to replace the Air corps aging CASA’s and, mostly for legal reasons, the C-130's -but that's another story, Sin Sceal Eile
  3. Hi all and a little egg-beater from Heller just finished for the 'In The Year I Was Born" GB here on Britmodeller. This a/c 195 (along with 196) were the first helicopters to enter service with the Helicopter Flight of the Irish Air Corps on November 25th, 1963 and operated in the SAR, Air Ambulance, army co-op and emergency relief roles until 2007. It's a credit to the crews and maintenance teams that 6 of the 7 machines still in service in 2007 were airworthy on their last day of ops, 44 years on. 195 is finished as she looked in June 1968, a month before my quiet arrival into the world The canopy and rotor fit weren't great and some of the finer parts are a little big but did my best with them. The build thread (and some classic 60's home-move footage of 195 in action that Summer) is here but to recap: Kit: Heller 1/72 Alouette III 'Securite Civile' boxing Build: OOB except for tape for belts and tea-bag mesh for the engine. Paints: Revell Acrylics with an airbrush; Klear; panel line wash. Decals: Max Decals donated by @rs2man Heller Alouette III IAC_Done (15) by Dermot Moriarty, on Flickr Heller Alouette III IAC_Done (22) by Dermot Moriarty, on Flickr Heller Alouette III IAC_Done (21) by Dermot Moriarty, on Flickr Heller Alouette III IAC_Done (10) by Dermot Moriarty, on Flickr Heller Alouette III IAC_Done (17) by Dermot Moriarty, on Flickr Heller Alouette III IAC_Done (13) by Dermot Moriarty, on Flickr Thanks for looking and happy modelling. Cheers, Dermot
  4. Hi all, So with the F-16I Sufa almost done, it's on to the next build and one I've wanted to do for a while using this wee kit... And hopefully turn it into an EC-135 of the Garda Siochana (Irish Police Force) Air Support Unit (Photo by Jerry Gunner; Wikipedia Commons. No copyright claim intended) Some of the police bits will need to be scratched while others (including the high skids) come in a spare sprue that's included in this kit. Decals will be from Max Decals. Thanks for looking. Cheers, Dermot
  5. Been busy with work so not a chance to get any modelling done in a while, so it was time to move out of my 1/144 scale zone and onto something a little bigger. This is the vintage Heller Fouga kit, to say it was a challenge would be an understatement. I built this for a workmate who wanted it for his Father, it is all raised detail and due to age some of the kit parts had warped including the wings and fuselage, Main ref book was Fouga Magister, An Irish Perspective By Joe Maxwell and Radu Brinzan As it is such an odd scale Maxdecals 1/48 sheet was used instead, it was my first time using these and I found them to be superb in quality and they had no problems conforming to the kit details even without using decal softener. It was also my first time using Tamiya fine primer spray and the Humbrol rattle cans and with the heating tip in warm water worked brilliantly, the dayglo (looks orange in the pics but its more red in real life) and other colours are from Humbrol tins ( hairy stick application!!) Anyone who knows this kit is aware that the canopy is split down the middle and must be fixed in place before the fuselage is joined, this presented the biggest problem. Some details where not included and need a little scratch-building such as the periscope on the canopy, battery cover vents, new aerials and standard tamiya tape belts. Anyway I think it all worked out in the end and it built into a really nice kit, as always all comments appreciated.( ADF red and white aerials on the nose where added after these photos where taken)
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