Show Reports

Al Sakhir 2014

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Sakhir Air Base (Bahrain)

Bahrain Air Show 2014

16-18 januari 2014

The 2014 edition of the biennial Bahrain International Air Show (BIAS) was held for the third time at Sakhir Air Base. It      
is normally used by the Royal Bahrain Air Force (RBAF) for its VVIP fleet, but a large portion of the airport is built especially      
for the air show, with a dedicated entrance to the chalet and show area. Making use of the impressive growth in aviation      
in the gulf region, the air show had more participants and more visitors than the last edition. Around 30.000 people      
were visiting as trade, while 22.000 people were making use of the dedicated viewing area. This year’s line-up had      
some nice surprises with displays of the TAI T129A attack helicopter and Indian Air Force ERJ145SM AEW aircraft.      
Biggest news released during BIAS were the start-up of two new airlines, Saudi Gulf and Al Maha. Both airlines are using      
the liberalization of the Saudi Arabia domestic market and are aimed specifically at domestic routes. Saudi Gulf announced      
its order for sixteen Bombardier CS300 single aisle commuter aircraft at the show, and also its option for ten more of these      
aircraft. The aircraft, aimed at passengers who demand a premium product, will have a two class layout and will have      
a high level of passenger comfort, also with regards to inflight entertainment and communication systems. Deliveries      
for these aircraft will start in 2016. Saudi Gulf, being advised by Gulf Air, will be based in Damman and its first routes will      
be to Riyadh and Jeddah, while other Saudi cities will follow with the subsequently deliveries of more aircraft. The other      
airline, Al Maha, is owned by Qatar Airways and will begin its operation in the third quarter of this year. Although the first      
ten aircraft will be leased to allow a rapid service entry, later aircraft, both single- and twin-aisle aircraft, will be diverted      
from Qatar Airways’ extensive order book. Although no base has been announced, routings will be similar as for Saudi      
Gulf, although with growth also destinations in the Gulf area will be added. Other news being released during the show      
was expansion of the new to be built Khartoum International Airport. Work on the twin runways, 12 million passengers      
capacity airport, located 45 km from Sudan’s capital, will start in May and the first phase, with a single runway and a      
4.5 million passenger capacity terminal should be finished in July 2015. Local airline Gulf Air announced during the show      
that it has cut its previous losses by half in 2013. It is operating in the shadow of fellow Gulf carriers and has shrunk its fleet      
from 36 to 26 aircraft, and with the focus on regional routes, it has changed its order for twenty twin-aisle A330 aircraft      
into eight A320 and sixteen A320neo single-aisle aircraft.      
Despite the excellent performances by the Typhoon display team and the presence of two Spitfires, both painted in      
colours representative of the six aircraft paid for by the people of Bahrain during the second world war, no order      
for the Typhoon was signed as a replacement for the twelve ageing F-5E/F fighters, delivered in 1985. Two of the main      
tasks of the F-5E/F fighter are anti-ship missions and leadin fighter training. All RBAF fighter pilots are trained inhouse      
on the T67 Firefly primary trainer and thereafter on the Hawk T Mk129 jet trainer. Both aircraft were delivered      
around 2007 in a deal with BAe Systems. Then the pilots will be trained on the F-5E/F and only after 300 hours on type will      
they progress to the F-16. If the DBAF will select the advanced Typhoon, they will have to readdress these two important      
tasks, as the Typhoon is not suited as a lead-in trainer, nor the F-16, and up until now the Typhoon is not properly      
equipped for the anti-shipping role. Talking about Typhoons, according the English delegation there will be no deal with      
the UAEAF mainly because the UAEAF demands a buy-back of the to-be-replaced Mirage 2000-9 fighters. Meanwhile, the      
RSAF Typhoon pilots told that 10sq is almost operational on the Typhoon. The Typhoon on static display had just been      
delivered from Warton. Another DBAF aircraft which will have to be replaced in the near future are the AH-1 Hueycobra      
anti-tank helicopters. Two contenders were in place at the BIAS; the AH-1Z and the T129. The Turkish built T129 made a      
rare appearance and even did his demo. TAI also took a RBAF instructor pilot along for a ride who was very positive with      
regards to the T-129’s speed and agility and he favoured it above the AH-1Z. The T129 has more powerful engines than      
the AgustaWestland A129 and all equipment is also made in Turkey. The helicopter on show was a T129A which lacks the      
advanced anti-tank missiles of the T129B variant and were ordered under a 2010 urgent operational requirement. At      
this moment, the first A models are flying and pilots and technicians are being trained on type. Expect first deliveries      
to the Turkish Land Forces later this year. And as all modern air forces will need a AEW aircraft at some stage, the newest      
one was also on the show. The Embraer ERJ145SM showed its ugly face at the static and during its air show routine. This is      
the second of six ordered by the Indian Air Force and it flew in from India. The third aircraft will arrive in India in the      
near future. It has the Swedish Erieye AESA radar on top of its fuselage, a refueling probe above the cockpit windows and      
many other systems hidden under many fairings.      
In the afternoon, it was time for the air show element. It started with the BDF Special Forces Parachute Team whose      
members were jumped out of a RBAF Blackhawk helicopter. Thereafter, it was time for the Gulf Air A330 fly past, escorted      
by four F-16s and four F-5s. This is always impressive and a good way to get some serials from these rare aircraft. The      
three display teams rotated during the show days to assure every team did a routine at the end of the show. In between,      
there was a show of force by the F-22A, temporarily based at Al Dhafra, and by the B-1B, which came from Al Udeid.      
Also nice was the DHL aerobatic team which teamed up with a DHL B757 for a neat fly past. After sunset, the dark sky was      
lighted by the SWIP aerobatic team which performed their pyro display in two SA110 Silence Twister light aircraft. Also      
after sunset, the large apron lights were turned on which allowed some fancy night shots of most aircraft on static. The      
static itself was well arranged with proper space between all aircraft. All aircraft on the flight line were next to the static      
and could easily be seen and photographed. Main problem at Bahrain is that you are facing the sun during the show.      
However, along the northwestern side of the airport, there is a dirt road which gives a good view onto the runway, taxi      
track and on the show itself, with the sun in your back. This road can be reached by following directions to the University      
from the end of the highway. Just before the University gate, drive into the sand towards the airport.      
The BIAS will be back in 2016 between 21 and 23 January.      
203 F-16C 2nd FTS FMS 98-2014
336 UH-60M 3rd HS 703147
343 AB212 3rd HS 5596
506 Hawk Mk129 5th Squadron  
683 F-5E 6th FTS FMS85-0058
974 AH-1F 9th HS 22317
1061 Bo105C 10th HS S-252
RBAF 966 S-70M Royal Flight 703278
A9C-BDF BAe146-RJ85 Royal Flight  
138/104-GQ Rafale C EC03.030  
13-1005 T129A TAI also flying
ZJ914/QO-X Typhoon FGR4 3sq  
PM651/X Spitfire PR.XIX preserved  
G-CCCA/’W3632” Spitfire T9C ex PV202 also flying
KW3556 ERJ145SM DRDO 14501135 also flying
8811 Hawk Mk65A 88sq Saudi Hawks colours
1009 Typhoon F2 10sq CS021
UAE836/N6151A Beech C90GTI MoP Affairs LJ-1951
05-1435 C-130J 143rd AS RI ANG 5572
88-1708/SJ F-15E 335th FS  
168050/YX-46 AH-1Z VMM-166  
167794/YX-32 UH-1Y VMM-166  
164770/TB-03 MH-53E HM-15  
165412/CE-03 F/A-18D VMFA(AW)-225  
166793/AC-101 F/A-18F VFA-32  
168243/YX-01 MV-22B VMM-166  
RA-78818 Il-76MD 224 Flight Unit  
RA-78765 Il-76TD Aviacon Zitotrans  
(OE-XAE) Arrowcopter   025
A6-CJE A319-115(ACJ) Emirates Executive 16-17
A6-EES A380-861 Emirates 16-17
A6-ORX G450 Falcon Aviation Services  
A6-XAD Aeroprakt-22LS   164
A6-XLG Aeroprakt-22LS   171
A6-XYD Aeroprakt-22LS   267
A7-ATT P2006T   094
A7-BCF B787-8 Qatar Airways  
A7-CEV BD5000 Qatar Executive  
A7-FCK PA-28-181   2890191
A7-GHO AW139 Gulf Helicopters 31523
A7-KAC P2002JF   227
A7-NHA MD900 Life Flight MD900-00125
A7-UAO Tecnam P92   1448
A7-USS Autogyro MTO Sport   Q10S03
A7-UEE Calidus Gyrate   C00231
A7-UFF Calidus Gyrate   V00076
A9C-ACE CL605 TAG Aviation 5778
A9C-AP A320-214 Gulf Air  
A9C-DHD B757-225(PCF) DHL International Aviation  
D-MFDC Arrowcopter   also flying
D-MGLS Arrowcopter   also flying
G-EEEK EA300S G-Force Aerobatics/DHL &  
G-EXIL EA300S G-Force Aerobatics/DHL &  
HZ-NJ1 Ce172S   172S10469
N1SA Falcon 900EX OnTime Avn Corp 128
N256NM Beech 350 Beechcraft FL-777
N450GA G450 Gulfstream 4275
N522CM Kodiak 100   100-0010
N610AT AT-6B Beechcraft  
N650GA G650 Gulfstream  
N980VP Ce525 OnTime Avn Corp (HZ-NJ4)
P4-CLA B767-2DX(ER) Comlux Aviation  
Public area:
342 AB212 RBAF 5594
1063 Bo105C RBAF S-323
BPS-9 Bell 412EP Police Aviation 36475
Near tower:
321 AB212 RBAF  
MoP Affairs stands for Ministry of Presidential Affairs      
ZJ923/DM Typhoon FGR4 11sq  
ZJ932/DB Typhoon FGR4 11sq  
3080,3081 F-16E UAEAF&AD  
724,738 Mirage 2000-9 UAEAF&AD  
A6-MMM B747-422 Dubai Air Wing 18
G-SWIP Silence Twister SWIP Team  
G-JINX Silence Twister SWIP Team  
G-JOKR EA300/L Catherine Jefferies  
N707TJ N2S-1 Breitling ex BuNo 3173
N5057V PT-13D Breitling ex 42-17435
Su-27/27UB* of Russkiye Vityazi:
08 bl 36911038304, 10 bl 36911038405, 12 bl xxxxxx35103, 20 bl*,      
23 bl* 96310417101      
Hawk Mk65/65A* of 88sq/Saudi Hawks:
8805*, 8806*, 8807, 8808, 8814, 8816, 8820      
MB339NAT of UAE Aerobatic Squadron/Al Fursan:
430/4, 431/-, 432/2, 434/5, 435/3, 436/6, 438/-, 439/7, 440/1      
Flying only:
103 F-16C 1st FTS 16,17
109 F-16C 1st FTS 17
154 F-16D 1st FTS 16
201,208 F-16C 2nd FTS 16,17
202 F-16C 2nd FTS 16
681 F-5E 6th FTS 16,17
682 F-5E 6th FTS 17
685,686 F-5E 6th FTS 16,17
687 F-5E 6th FTS 16
85-0080/DY B-1B 28th BS 16,17
06-4122/AK F-22A 3rd Wing 17
07-4139/AK F-22A 3rd Wing 16
A9C-DHE B757-225(PCF) DHL Int Av 16,17,18
A9C-KE A330-243 Gulf Air 16,17,18
472 C-130H 4sq 15
478 C-130H 4sq 19
486 C-130H 4sq 19
1630 C-130H-30 16sq 19
1213 C-130H UAEAF&AD 17

Credits: Frank Mink, Patrick Dirksen and Jurgen van Toor

Many thanks for their extensive log.

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