Aerfhórsa Ríoga na Ghraonlainn - Royal Galenic Air Force
Ordú Ionsaí - Assault Command
Something long overdue... The first in (hopefully) a series on Galenic aircraft, past, present and future.
Fast jets in the Royal Galenic Air Force / Aerfhórsa Ríoga na Ghraonlainn are split between 1, 11 and 18 Grúpa which are head-quartered in Omagh, Tamlaght and Kinvara respectively. Permanent overseas deployments in the Galenosphere states and Tol Varad draw from these three groups, all in all there are fifty active fast-jet squadrons in the RGAF / ARG totalling some 596 aircraft, the depth fleet holds another 250 or so whilst another 70ish are in storage for one reason or another. By 2020, notwithstanding losses it's envisaged for the RGAF to have 950 fast-jets on the books both flying and in depth.
GAe Golden Eagle
The Eagle is a twin-engine, all-weather strike fighter based on the McDonnell Douglas latterly Boeing F-15 Eagle in use by the Royal Galenic Air Force (RGAF / ARG). The Eagle is produced under license by Galenic Aerospace, Tol Galen's largest aerospace company. Subsequently other Eagle variants have been produced by GAe, namely the re-manufacturing of existing airframes into something comparable to the Advanced Eagle and the production of new 'Silent' Eagles. Tol Galen is by far and away the largest customer of the Eagle outside the Organised States. The term Golden Eagle comes is a result of a series of upgrade programs carried out on both the initial single-seat and later two-seat aircraft to bring them up-to a common standard with the Silent Eagles then being procured.
Currently there are three two full standards and two sub-standards to the Eagle family. The FGR.3 encompasses all of the single and twin-seat Strike Eagles that have been brought up to the 'Golden' standard. Functionally they are identical save for the reduction in fuel and additional crew-member of the two-seat aircraft. The upgrade process consists of re-manufacturing much of the aircraft including new wings re-wiring and integration of fly-by-light controls, structural upgrades to reset fatigue lives of certain components and extend those of others. Less drastic but still substantial changes include the standardisation of engines between all aircraft on the General Electric F110X, re-design of cockpits with large area displays, standardised electronic warfare systems and restoration of the outer wing hard-points.
The aircraft designated as EF.3s are what were trainers for the original single-seat fleet. These aircraft were brought up-to the same standard as the other Golden Eagles but received further modifications including but not limited to the fitting of an emitter locator system in the wing leading edge and conformal tanks for the DEAD/SEAD role. These modifications resulted in the deletion of the aircraft's cannon. As well as the DEAD/SEAD role the twelve aircraft currently in service are tasked with the battlefield reconnaissance role, usually with a centreline mounted DB-110 reconnaissance pod.
GAe Black Eagle
The Black Eagle is like the other Eagle variants manufactured by GAe a twin-engine, all-weather strike fighter based on the McDonnell Douglas latterly Boeing F-15 Eagle. The Black Eagles are newly produced aircraft of a similar specification to the 'Silent Eagle' promoted by Boeing. The name for the Black Eagle came about as a reaction to the Golden Eagle upgrade program. The attention paid to lowering the aircraft's sizeable radar and infra-red cross-section combined with the dark grey paint used to manage them resulted in the moniker of Black Eagle, the name stuck and became semi-official, being used to differentiate between other Eagle variants though the official name for the aircraft is still simply, Eagle.
The Black Eagle was typed as the FGR.4. Differences between the FGR.3 and FGR.4 include canted fins, application of HAVE GLASS V (PACER GEM / PACER MUD, ITO-wrapped canopy etc.) as well as the procurement of confomal weapons bays and enclosed weapon pods. In practice the bays are rarely fitted, 'naked' CFTs and a pair of EWPs being the more usual complement.
The Venom is a strike-orientated derivative of the General Dynamics latterly Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon, and manufactured under licence by Galenic International Aerospace in concert with Elbit Calendor for the Royal Galenic Air Force, with a 70/30 split in manufacturing between the two companies. Initially entering service in 2005 in lieu of further Eagle procurement the Venom was optimised for the strike role to allow Eagles to be better committed to the air-defence role. Much like the Golden Eagle the Venom has undergone a substantial mid-life-upgrade necessitated by the deteriorating situation in Vinya. The aircraft were upgraded in the same vein as their larger counterparts with large-area displays and standardised engines amongst other modifications.
The RGAF and had considered tendering out to develop a domestically-designed, domestically-produced replacement for their fleet of Jaguar fighter-bombers as not long after they had been procured, underpowered at altitude and unable to carry much in the way of a war load they were initially loathed by the service. A feasibility study came to the conclusion that the easiest solution was to re-wing and re-engine the Jaguar, the resulting aircraft known as the Panther would be an interim solution until a domestically developed aircraft could be built. Based on Tol Galen's success in producing other aircraft under license it was thought that a direct off the shelf purchase would be the easiest solution. Contractors argued that they needed to build a new aircraft from the beginning in order to both retain and develop the skill of their engineers and, in turn, develop the Galenic aircraft industry. The end result of this ongoing argument between industry and government resulted in a hybrid solution of building an existing design to Galenic specification in Tol Galen, thus the Venom was born. Incorporating a high degree of composite materials in construction as well as outer hard-points certified for air-to-ground ordnance, stronger landing gear and an internal infra-red search and track / FLIR combo.
The Goshawk is an Advanced Short Take Off/Vertical Landing (ASTOVL) multi-role fighter. Powered by an engine utilising plenum chamber burning, the Goshawk was the first truly successful supersonic STOVL aircraft, not requiring lift engines or rockets. Initially entering service in 1997 the Goshawk initially was to directly replace 1st generation Harriers, they would serve alongside 2nd generation Harriers until that types retirement in 2013, thereby becoming Tol Galen's only STOVL aircraft, this brought about problems with fielding enough aircraft for both the naval and land-based roles, as such a further batch of aircraft was ordered, bringing the total ordered up to exactly 200. The entire fleet is currently to FA.2 standard or a substandard thereof, there remains an active OCU for the type due to the different characteristics associated with the type compared with conventional aircraft, this is one of two units to actively field the twin-seat variant, the other using the type in the DEAD / SEAD role. The type like others has recently undergone a substantial mid-life upgrade and capability sustainment program, of all the types in service with the RGAF the Goshawk has consistently and continually been the most forward-deployed, being a near permanent fixture around Vinya since their introduction. Major aspects of their MLU are similar to that of the other major fast jets in that they have harmonised systems across the fleet, had their fatigue lives extended and obsolescent or outmoded systems replaced.
Lockheed Martin Strike Raptor
The F/B-22 Strike or King Raptor, known in Galenic service as the Alecto is an advanced low-observability strike fighter born of the need to strike at ever evolving Vinyan and AVA threats, both air and land-based. Essentially a development of the FB-22-1 the Alecto (current standard FA.1) is for all intents and purposes an enlarged Raptor, longer and wider with larger weapon bays, enclosed weapon pods and low-observability hard-points to carry signature-reduced stores with a minimum in signature increase. Initially it was intended to procure 150 of the type but due to increasing costs and delays this was slashed to 100 and then 80. There are currently two squadrons actively flying the with the remainder in the depth fleet or stored, deliveries are still ongoing and expected to be complete by 2020.
Cabhlach Ríoga na Ghraonlainn - Royal Galenic Navy
Flít Aer Arm - Fleet Air Arm
MDD / GAe / NG F-35C Joint Strike Fighter
The F-35C, known in Galenic service as the Nemesis is a low-observability strike fighter procured out of a requirement like the Alecto to strike at ever evolving Vinyan and AVA threats. Currently operating from the aircraft carriers Clíodhna and Lagertha there will eventually be enough Nemeses to equip all four carrier air wings. Currently the two active squadrons each have 16 aircraft in them, this will in time change to two 10-aircraft squadrons per air wing. Like the Alecto the Nemesis makes use of enclosed weapon pods and low-observability hard-points to carry external signature-reduced stores with a minimum in signature increase. Initially it was intended to procure both the A and C variants of the type but due to increasing costs and delays in production this was amended to only the navy receiving the type, the air force being expected to receive a second batch of Alectos instead.
Boeing Calendor Banshee
Entering service in 2001 the Banshee is a product of the requirement to neck down types on Galenic aircraft carriers. Essentially the Columbian Super Hornet tailored to Galenic requirements the type would eventually come to replace the Buccaneer, Jaguar and Phantom. Initial feedback on the type was not positive, the typed lacked the legs and low-level characteristics of the Buccaneer and the performance yielded by the Phantom in its final form, the only praise came from replacing the Sea Jaguar which to many was never more than an 'okay' aircraft even after re-winging and a program to re-engine them in line with air force aircraft.
A series of upgrades since 2010 have however mitigated many if not all of the complaints initially raised with the type. These include retrofitting with more powerful engines, integrating conformal fuel tanks, infra-red search and track and a more effective MAWS. By 2015 the type had become a well liked aircraft by most of those who flew it. Further improvements to the fleet have been had since then such as the integration of enclosed weapons pods, replacement of Blue Vixen with SABR, integration of new avionics and upgrading the cockpit to feature large area displays not unlike those fitted to the air force's Eagle fleet.
Boeing Calendor Nixie
The Nixie is an electronic warfare adaptation of the Banshee, they are a relatively recent addition to the fleet with the realisation that electronic warfare had become a seriously neglected field in carrier air wings after the retirement of the Buccaneer. There are currently four detachments active, one to each carrier - each with four aircraft. Eventually it is planned to maintain a fleet of around thirty aircraft allowing for detachments to be tailored as required between deployments.
Like the Banshee the Nixie has gained the ability to use enclosed weapons pods, though usually only on the centreline. This has allowed the type to more actively go after threats with their own ordnance.