Year 2013 in review through The Aviationist’s Top 5 articles
The five top stories of The Aviationist provide the readers the opportunity to virtually review the year that is coming to an end.
Ordered chronologically, these posts got the most pageviews (out of about 8.5 million ones we recorded since January) among the +2,200 articles published on the site, and can be used to review year 2013.
Obviously, we covered many more topics during this year (including Syria, North Korea, SR-72 and its predecessor SR-71 Blackbird, Russian simulated attacks in the Baltics, etc.), so use the search feature or select the proper category/tag to read all what was written throughout the year.
On Feb. 1, 2013, Iran unveiled its indigenous fighter jet named “Qaher 313″.
The prototype of the Q-313 (or F-313 according to the stencils applied to the aircraft), was presented to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and publicly displayed as part of the Ten-Day Dawn ceremonies held in Iran to celebrate the 1979’s victory of the Islamic Revolution.
In the previous days, the Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi had said, “The aircraft will be different from the other fighter jets Iran has already made.”
Indeed, based on the first photographs released by the FARS News Agency, the new stealthy jet has a really peculiar design. It features hard edges and those distinctive edges and angle of the U.S. F-22 and the twin tail shape much similar to that of the F-35 Lightning II.
The Q-313 has large, seemingly fixed canards, and little wings whose external section is canted downward.
The canopy material is at least odd (based on its transparency, it looks like plexiglass or something like that).
The cockpit seems to be basic (a bit too much for a modern plane – note the lack of wirings behind the front panel and the presence of few instruments, some of those similar to those equipping small private planes…).
The nose section is so small almost no radar could fit in it.
The air intakes are extremely small (they remind those of current drones/unmanned combat aerial vehicles) whereas the engine section lacks any kind of nozzle: engine afterburners could melt the entire jet.
[Read the rest here.]
Although the oddities of the Qaher 313 or Q-313 or F-313 have been already listed in the article “Iran unveils new indigenous stealth fighter “Qaher 313″. And here’s a detailed analysis” many of the readers of The Aviationist have requested to recap them in a new post.
Hence, here below you can find all the reasons why we can affirm that Iran’s new stealth plane, at least in the form that was showcased on Feb. 2 during the Ten-Day Dawn ceremonies held in Tehran, is nothing more than a mock-up.
The size of the plane is weird. The cockpit seems to be too small, to such an extent a normal pilot doesn’t properly fit in the ejection seat. Have you ever seen a pilot with his knees above the side borders of the cockpit and his helmet well beyond the ejection seat’s head pad?
The general shape of the plane is interesting, probably the result of many inputs including the X-32, the X-36, the Boeing Bird of Prey. Still, wings with outern section canted downward seem to be a bit too little to sustain the weight of the aircraft, especially the “adveniristic plane” is intended to carry a powerful engine and internal payload
Overall, the plane seems to lack the characteristic rivets, bolts all aircraft, including stealthy ones, feature. Images released so far show it as a plastic-made aircraft
The engine exhaust misses any kind of nozzle. The use of afterburner (or, simply, the engine temperature) would possibly melt the entire structure of the jet
The aircraft sports fixed canards and air intakes a bit too small to feed a modern jet plane’s engine; air intakes resemble those used by modern UCAV designs. They are located above the wing meaning that at high AOA (Angle Of Attack) the intakes would get turbulent or no air at all for the engine.
The cockpit is too simple: the front panel lacks the typical wirings while it features few instruments of a type you expect to find on small private planes. Some readers have noticed the airspeed indicator is limited to 300 MPH.
The canopy lacks transparency and looks like it is made of plexiglass.
[Read the rest here]
According to internal documents obtained by Air Force Times, beginning on Apr. 9, 2013, the U.S. Air Force will begin grounding front line combat units as a consequence of sequestration and the need to deal with budget cuts.
Seventeen squadrons belonging to the various U.S. Air Force commands are going to be affected by the stand down order.
The grounding is aimed to save the 44,000 flying hours (worth 591 million USD) through September.
The funded 241,496 flying hours will be distributed to those squadrons that will remain combat ready or are expected to keep a reduced readiness level called “basic mission capable” until the end of the Fiscal Year 2013.
Whilst some squadron will be immediately grounded, others will be forced down as soon as they come back from their overseas deployment. Among them, the 94th Fighter Squadron from Langley, whose F-22 Raptor stealth fighters currently deployed to Kadena, Okinawa and Osan airbase amid Korean Peninsula crisis, or 354th Fighter Squadron, 12 A-10C of which are currently returning to Davis Monthan after being deployed to Afghanistan.
Other grounded units include the Thunderbirds demo team, 555th Fighter Squadron from Aviano airbase, Italy; 77th Fighter Squadron from Shaw AFB, South Carolina; 492nd and 494th Fighter Squadrons from RAF Lakenheath, UK; 18th Aggressor Squadron from Eielson AFB, Alaska; B-52 squadrons belonging to the 2nd Bomb Wing from Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, and 5th Bomb Wing from Minot AFB, North Dakota; as well as B-1 squadrons from both 2nd and 7th Bomb Wing from Dyess AFB, Texas.
[Read the rest here]
4) Wondering what happened to all fuel tanks jettisoned by U.S. fighter jets over Southeast Asia during Vietnam War?
External tanks are extremely important for military aircraft as they provide fuel to integrate internal tanks and extend fighters and bombers endurance.
Indeed, even if they can be refueled by aerial tankers, tactical jet planes heavily rely on the JP-8 fuel loaded on the external fuel tanks. However, the auxiliary fuel tanks represent an additional weight, additional drag, and they will reduce the aircraft maneuverability.
In real combat, external fuel tanks are jettisoned when empty or as soon as the aircraft needs to get rid of them to accelerate and maneuver against an enemy fighter plane or to evade a surface to air missile.
[Read the rest here]
Earlier this year, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little, said that an IRIAF (Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force) F-4 Phantom combat plane attempted to intercept a U.S. MQ-1 drone flying in international airspace off Iran.
As we reported back then, one of the two F-4 Phantom jets came to about 16 miles from the UAV but broke off pursuit after they were broadcast a warning message by two American planes escorting the Predator.
The episode happened in March 2013, few months after a two Sukhoi Su-25 attack planes operated by the Pasdaran (informal name of the IRGC – the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution) attempted to shoot down an American MQ-1 flying a routine surveillance flight in international airspace some 16 miles off Iran, the interception of the unmanned aircraft failed. After this attempted interception the Pentagon decided to escort the drones involved in ISR (intelligence surveillance reconnaissance) missions with fighter jets (either F-18 Hornets with the CVW 9 embarked on the USS John C. Stennis whose Carrier Strike Group is currently in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility or F-22 Raptors like those deployed to Al Dhafra in the UAE.
New details about the episode were recently disclosed by Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh who on Sept. 17 not only confirmed that the fighter jets providing HVAAE (High Value Air Asset Escort) were F-22 stealth fighters but also said that:
“He [the Raptor pilot] flew under their aircraft [the F-4s] to check out their weapons load without them knowing that he was there, and then pulled up on their left wing and then called them and said ‘you really ought to go home'”
[Read the rest here]