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Marinefliegergeschwader 3; Nordholz, August 25, 2014

The German Marineflieger, part 1; Text and Photograph's by Alex van Noye

The fixed wing unit of the German Navy is Marinefliegergeschwader 3. This unit is named after the famous German aviation pioneer Graf Zeppelin who became famous for the invention of the airship. The unit MFG-3 operates the P-3C Orion for maritime patrol flights and Dornier Do-228 for maritime inspection flights.

Commander Stephan Schroeder works at Nordholz as the commander of the German Marineflieger. Schroeder is a former Sea Lynx helicopter pilot. He explains the organization and tasks of the Marineflieger. The history of the naval airbase Nordholz begins in 1912 with the deployment of the first Zeppelins at the airbase. From 1913, an airship unit is permanently stationed at the airbase which is equipped with Zeppelins. Besides the Navy also the German Army used the airbase during this period. These units remained active at the base until the end of 1918. During the First World War the Marineflieger units were part of the Kaiserliche Marine. Between the world wars the Marineflieger was adapted by the Luftwaffe in 1935. The Germans had almost finished an operational aircraft carrier in 1936, but due a lack of suitable aircraft it never entered service. From 1943, all anti-ship attacks were flown by the Luftwaffe. The German Navy stopped to exist after the Second World War until 1950, when the federal Marine was founded. The Marineflieger was founded shortly after this event in its current form. The staff of the Marineflieger were often trained by the British and there were also many British planes and helicopters purchased. The first fighter planes which were taken into use were the British Hawker Sea Hawk and the Fairey Gannets. Nordholz became an operational base again within the German Navy from 1957. Germany became at that time a member of NATO and is rebuilt as a modern army.

In the past the Marineflieger consisted of four wings since 1975, these wings are; MFG-1 in Schleswig-Jagel, MFG-2 in Eggebek, MFG-3 at Nordholz and MFG-5 at Kiel-Holtenau. MFG-1 and MFG-2 were in the 80s and 90s units which flew with the Panavia Tornado IDS. MFG-1 was disbanded in 1993 and re-established as AG-51. The unit was at the same moment transferred to the Luftwaffe. From 2005, also MFG-2 at Eggebek was disbanded and there came an end to the jet era for the German Navy. From 2012, the other two airfields Nordholz and Kiel-Holtenau were merged. Kiel-

Holtenau was closed and the helicopters of MFG-5 were transferred to Nordholz. MFG-3 which operates with the patrol aircraft was always stationed at this base and this would not change. On August 13, 2013, the German Marineflieger celebrated its 100th anniversary. The fleet command of the western fleet of the German Navy is stationed in Flensburg north of Kiel. The command of the eastern fleet is stationed in Rostock. The Navy has two operational Flotillas. A Flotilla is the part of the Navy which is managing the ships. Flotilla 1 has three ports in use, namely; Kiel, Eckernforde and Warnemunde. Flotilla 1 contains the submarines and the smaller vessels of the Navy. Flotilla 2 has only one port and is stationed in Wilhelmshaven; this port contains the large frigates of the Navy. The Navy also has some training facilities in use. These facilities are stationed in Flensburg, Bremerhaven, Neustadt and Parow.

Nowadays all the fixed wing material of the German Navy is assigned to Marineflieger- geschwader 3 (MFG-3) at Nordholz. MFG-3 is named after the famous aviation pioneer Graf Zeppelin. Zeppelin is the inventor of the airship which also is called Zeppelin in the vernacular. MFG-3 is in addition to the fixed wing operations also responsible for the Base Group Nordholz which maintains, monitor and manages the airport. The German Navy has two Dornier Do-228 short-range patrol aircraft in use. The two planes are used for the department of overhead surveillance and marine pollution. The official owner of the aircraft is the federal ministry for transport, construction and unusual developments. The Dornier is operated by the Navy and is under the command of the maritime emergency command in Cuxhaven. The crew of the aircraft consists of two pilots and a sensor operator. The Dornier is equipped with radar, infrared sensors, a UV camera, a microwave radiometer, a fluorine laser sensor and a device capable of performing air measurements. The two Dorniers are 365 days a year and 24 hours a day ready to take measurements. More than 40% of operated flights take place at night. Annually the aircraft fly over 11,000 missions which take nearly 35,000 flight hours. In the past year the two Dorniers measured over 4,500 cases of pollution and reported these to the authorities. Most pollutants which are measured are emitting factories and water pollution at sea due to for example illegal discharges. Usually this involves oil which is dumped in the water.

In 2006 the German Navy bought eight former Dutch P-3C Orion patrol aircraft acquired from the Royal Netherlands Navy. In 2009, to supplement this, a P-3C simulator was purchased to train the crew for this aircraft type. The P-3Cs are assigned to MFG-3 at Nordholz. The last Breguet Atlantic was decommissioned from the German Navy in 2010. Two Atlantics are currently preserved in Nordholz. One of these aircraft is preserved as a gate guard at the main gate of Nordholz and the other Atlantic is preserved in the museum next to the airport. The P-3C Orion is mainly used for anti-submarine missions. During these missions, the Orions fly above water and they will detect and track submarines with the on board sensors. A second task of the Orion is supporting tactical transport operations. These missions often include acting as a flying command post during maritime operations. The German Orions were right after their delivery drastically modernized and meet the latest standards. During the patrol missions, the Orion can use systems, such as radar, ESM, Sonar Buoys and the MAD MX15 and MX20 system. The main system which is used in the Orion is the MAD (Magnetic Anomaly Detection) system which is characterized by the long tail boom to the rear of the aircraft. In addition to these systems, the Orion can also be armed with torpedoes in a bomb bay. In addition to the eight operational Orions, the Navy also has a ninth aircraft in use. This aircraft is bought from the US Navy and is used for training purposes on the ground.

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