May 2019As the Royal Air Force increases its frontline Typhoon squadron total to six - with No IX (Bomber) Squadron’s conversion to become an air defence unit based at Lossiemouth – May’s AFM assesses the pressing issue of combat air ‘mass’ and the metric used to gauge the appropriate size of a fighter fleet. The Royal Saudi Air Force has no shortage of fighters and plays a prominent role in this issue, including coverage from Exercise Red Flag, the latest F-15SA deliveries via RAF Lakenheath and an Intel Report from the inaugural Saudi International Airshow. There’s more from the Middle East, including an exclusive visit to the Gulf to witness the introduction of the Eurofighter Typhoon with the Royal Air Force of Oman, and a rare glimpse of assets from five of Iran’s air arms at the Iranian Armed Forces’ Aerial Achievements Expo in Tehran. Recent retirements include the last airborne electronic warfare squadron in the US Marines Corps - VMAQ-2 - and its well-used EA-6B Prowler, and the last mission of the Belgian Air Component’s Sea King helicopter after 43 years of loyal service. The May issue also brings coverage of the Dutch Defence Helicopter Command in the UK for Exercise Tac Blaze UK, while Angad Singh reports from behind the scenes at the Indian Air Force’s latest public firepower demonstration, involving almost 140 aircraft. The next generation of pilots destined for the Luftwaffe’s fighter fleet is trained at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas, where a 55-week course includes 200 flight hours spent in the cockpit of the T-6A Texan II and T-38C Talon, as Dr Stefan Petersen reports.
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