Virtually 20 years since its final flight within the Italian Air Drive an F-104S/ASA-M has simply flown once more in Florida due to Starfighters Aerospace.
On Apr. 27, 2023, a former Italian Air Drive F-104S/ASA-M carrying civilian registration N993SF flew for the primary time from NASA’s Kennedy Area Heart, Florida, residence of Starfighters Aerospace, the corporate that operates a fleet of seven F-104s, together with 5 former Italian Air Drive “Zippers” for analysis and improvement flights in addition to pilot/take a look at pilot coaching. In truth, the F-104 can be utilized to assist all kinds of exams, together with captive carry of payloads and take a look at articles; microgravity experiments; pre-launch area payload testing/qualification; suborbital spaceflight simulation; air-launch of microsatellites; human components and flight physiology analysis and plenty of others.
For its return to flight, the N993SF was flown by Piercarlo “Capone” Ciacchi, Director of Flight Operations at Starfighters Aerospace. As already defined many instances right here at The Aviationist, Ciacchi is a former Italian Air Drive F-104 pilot who, amongst many different issues, achieved a notable report flying the 9-99, the last F-104 in special color scheme, as “Picca 21” for two hours and 50 minutes in a Tip + Pylon configuration throughout his “finiflight” (final flight on the sort) on Mar. 26, 2004.
The one seater is the primary F-104S/ASA-M to hitch the Starfighters fleet. The plane, with navy registration MM6734, was delivered to the Italian Air Drive in 1970 and was transformed to ASA variant in 1990 after which to the ultimate ASA-M in 1997. It was retired and saved by the service in 2005, at Pratica di Mare Air Base.
As an F-104S/ASA-M, it was essentially the most superior Starfighter ever produced: though out of date, uncomfortable and scarcely interoperable with different NATO belongings the ASA-M (Aggiornamento Sistema d’Arma-Modificato, Weapon System Replace-Modified), integrated the alternative of a few of the most severely burdened airframe elements like the primary touchdown gear legs and the horizontal stabilizer, and the whole alternative of these electrical and avionic elements that had been arduous to seek out on the spare components market. A brand new TACAN (TACtical Help to Navigation), a brand new UHF radio Have Fast appropriate, the introduction of a GPS (World Positioning System), the set up of the LN-39A2 INS (Inertial Navigation System) and a brand new cockpit structure improved pilot’s situational consciousness and enhanced navigational capabilities. Moreover, the removing of the AN/ALQ-70 self-defence system, of the M61Vulcan and of all of the equipments and fittings associated to the strike position.
Based on Ciacchi (who posted three fascinating movies on his Youtube channel), N993SF will now perform few extra take a look at flights earlier than being actively concerned in analysis and improvement actions of Starfighters Aerospace. It joins one other former Italian Starfighter, the 2 seater TF-104G-M (beforehand MM54258) often known as the “Black Beauty”, that can also be anticipated to participate within the celebrations for the a centesimal Anniversary of the Italian Air Drive on June 16-18 at Pratica di Mare Air Base, close to Rome.
The video of the beginning up under exhibits that the unique cockpit of the ASA-M has been modified to accommodate fashionable business avionics. As defined once we reported concerning the TF-104 N991SF, the entrance panel and consoles noticed the combination of the 2 Garmin G5 Digital Flight Devices and the GTN 650 Touchscreen Flight Navigator, new UHF and VHF radios and an iPad related to the GTN 650’s GPS (World Positioning System) and WAAS (Vast Space Augmentation System).