- The US Marines released their 2015 aviation plan [PDF], which shows they plan to retire their Harriers then their Hornets as they phase in F-35s in the second half of next decade.
The USA’s fleet of 2 “VC-25” 747-200 derivatives is unique in several respects. It’s more popularly known as the latest incarnation of the “Air Force One” fleet that transports the President of the United States around the world, though the planes themselves only acquire the “Air Force One” call sign when the President is on board. The VC-25 can also serve as a secondary command post, thanks to a suite of advanced communications and electronics gear that’s both highly encrypted, and protected from the Electro-Magnetic Pulse effects of nuclear detonations. The 89th Airlift Wing operates them from Andrews AFB, MD.
During the Cold War, if humanity’s time on earth had been cut short, at least one of the orders would almost certainly have come from a 707-based “VC-137” predecessor. The 747-based VC-25s were ordered in 1985, and added to the fleet in 1990, where they continue to serve in the same roles, flying an average of nearly 200,000 miles per year. Of course, maintenance and upgrades are still required, such as the 2002/2003 upgrades that let the President address the nation from on board, new defensive systems, etc…
In 2005, NH Industries’ NH90 helicopter was selected to replace the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s aging UH-1 Iroquois, which would remain in service until 2009. A firm deal was finalized in July 2006, and New Zealand will buy 9 TTH variant helicopters; Australia’s initial 12-aircraft NH90 buy may offer some points of comparison.
Delays would eventually push New Zealand’s NH90 project back, but making the decision also allowed New Zealand’s Labour Party government to move ahead with a 2nd helicopter replacement: A109E Training and Light Utility helicopters, to replace New Zealand’s ancient M.A.S.H. era Bell 47Gs. That buy happened in 2008, but its helicopters have entered service years before the NH90s. Why is that, and what drove New Zealand to make the choices it did?