Author Archives: David Cenciotti

Russian “Bear” strategic bombers intercepted by Typhoon jet from base in Scotland for the first time

RAF Typhoons from RAF Lossiemouth, Scotland, intercepted Russian Tu-95 bombers.

This news would sound different if Scotland got independent anyway, on Sept. 19, Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4 aircraft, based at RAF Lossiemouth were scramble for the first time since they relocated from RAF Leuchars to the base in Scotland, to identify, intercept and escort Russian Air Force Tu-95 Bears.

This was the very first time the Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) was launched since the Scottish base took on the role of defending the UK’s Northern airspace on Sept. 1.

The Bear bombers were flying a routine long-range training mission off the British Isles and did not enter UK airspace (unlike what two Su-24 did in Sweden earlier this week to probe Swedish Air Force readiness).

This is not the first time Typhoon from the 6 Sqn intercept Russian strategic bombers skirting the UK airspace: on Apr. 23, two RAF Typhoons from RAF Leuchars (where the squadron was previously based), intercepted and escorted two Tu-95 “Bear-H” aircraft that were approaching the British Isles.

Image credit: Crown Copyright


This is how a Reaper drone is deployed to Afghanistan. In Kit Form.

Did you know RAF delivered its five Reaper UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) as if they were model kits?

The Royal Air Force has just deployed five more MQ-9 Reaper remotely-piloted aircraft that have joined the five Reapers already there and support ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) operations in Afghanistan. Interestingly, the drones are delivered as model kits and re-assembled at Kandahar airfield as the following images, released by the UK MoD.

Reaper model kit

Along with the images of the British have also released some figures about the air strikes against Taliban conducted by the RAF unmanned aircraft in theater with LGBs (Laser-Guided Bombs) and Hellfire missiles:

“In over 54,000 hours of operations using Reaper in Afghanistan, only 459 weapons have been fired, which is less than one weapon for every 120 hours of flying.”

Reaper model kit 3

And here’s the reassembled Reaper:

Reaper model kit 4

Image credit: Crown Copyright


Two Russian attack planes intentionally violated the Swedish airspace to probe local air defense

Two Russian Air Force Su-24 Fencer attack jets violated the Swedish airspace to probe the Swedish Air Force readiness.

On Sept. 17, two Russian Su-24 Fencer combat planes intentionally violated Sweden’s airspace the Expressen newspaper reported.

According to the Swedish media outlet the incursion saw the two aircraft skirt the Polish airspace before heading north, at low altitude, towards the island Öland, in the Baltic Sea. At around 12:00 PM LT, the Russian planes entered the airspace over the Swedish territorial waters south of Öland.

Swedish Defense officials confirmed some Jas-39 Gripen fighters were scrambled from Ronneby airbase, in southern Sweden, to intercept the Russian planes but they did not reach the intruders as the Su-24s, after flying a couple of kilometers on the wrong side of the border, turned again eastbound, most probably towards Kaliningrad.

Even though the Swedish Armed Forces have not officially commented the incident, sources who talked to the Expressen said authorities believe the violation was aimed at probing the Swedish air defense readiness.

Last year Russian Tu-22 bombers conducted some mock attacks on Sweden; more recently an airliner almost collided with a Russian spyplane off Sweden. The increased Russian activity in the area and the crisis with Moscow caused by the situation in Ukraine, pushed Stockholm to move some Gripen jets to Gotlad island, off the eastern coast of Sweden, in the Baltic Sea.

The Su-24 Fencer is a supersonic, all-weather attack aircraft developed in the Soviet Union and serving, among the others, with the Syrian, Iranian and Libyan Air Force.  It’s twin-engined two-seater plane with a variable geometry wing, designed to perform ultra low level strike missions.

H/T to Lasse Holmstrom for the heads-up

Image credit: File photo Swedish Air Force


We have visited California Firefighting Hub: San Bernardino Airtanker Base

We have visited the Airtanker Firefighting Hub in California.

Located on the former grounds of Norton Air Force Base, closed under the BRAC (Base Realignment And Closure) proceedings in the early 1990s, San Bernardino International Airport, to the east of Los Angeles, is nowadays the home to the U.S. Forest Service Tanker.

The Airtanker base is the backbone of aviation firefighting in Southern California as it provides support for fixed and rotary wing aircraft during the fire season each year.

Airtanker 16

Airtanker 5

Airtanker 22

During the still burning Silverado Wildfire, Shorealone Films photographer Matt Hartman was able to photograph the amazing aerial firefighting aircraft used to fight the flames, during their early morning ground operations before deploying to the fire.

Airtanker 33

Two DC-10s, (Tanker 911 and Tanker 912) a BAE 146-200, a C-130Q, two Lockheed P-2 Neptunes and a Rockwell Turbo Commander 690 “AirBoss” command and control aircraft were there ready to be dispatched from Airtanker base.

Airtanker 12

Airtanker 28

All images: Matt Hartman


[Video] Buzzed by U.S. F/A-18 jets in the Death Valley

The American “Mach Loop” is on the Death Valley

Beware: video contains strong language

There is a series of spotting places in Wales, UK, that aviation enthusiasts have nicknamed the “Mach Loop” after the small town at the circuits’ most southern point: Machynlleth.

The “Mach Loop” is located inside an unpopulated area that was given the designation ‘Low Flying Area’ 7 (LFA-7).

LFA-7 has a series of valleys, lined by steep sides with mountains either side rising to around 1,000 metres the highest in the chain being Snowdon (1,200 metres), that allows the pilot to do circuits or to leave this circuit at any point (usually due to low cloud).

It looks like that, besides Coyote Summit, used to spot Red Flag traffic near Area 51, there is a somehow similar place in the famous Death Valley.

Here’s a cool video showing multiple F/A-18 Hornet jets flybys during a training sortie over there.