Author Archives: David Cenciotti

In photos, U.S. Air Force B-1 bombers blast through Green Flag-West 15-02

B-1B Lancer bombers at work at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, and over the Southern California desert during Green Flag exercise.

B-1 bombers, assigned to the 34th Bomb Squadron, from Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, have deployed to Nellis AFB, Nevada, to take part in Green Flag-West exercise.

Las Vegas background

Green Flag-West provides combat training to joint and coalition warfighters in the art of air-land integration and the joint employment of airpower at the U.S. Army National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California.

B-1 on apron

The images shows the “Bones” (as the B-1 is nicknamed among aircrews), both on the ground and while being refueled mid-air by a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 93rd Air Refueling Squadron, Fairchild AFB, Washington, temporary assigned at Nellis Air Force Base.

B-1 tails

The B-1’s blended body configuration, variable-geometry wings and turbofan engines with afterburners provide long-range employment, maneuverability and high speed while enhancing survivability. Moreover, the plane can rapidly deliver massive quantities of precision and non-precision weapons operating from deployment bases (as happening in Syria) as well as on Global Power round-trip missions from the Continental U.S.

B-1 refuel

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

 

Video of E-3F AWACS refueled mid-air by French tanker over Iraq

French C-135FR refueling Belgian Air Force F-16 and E-3F AWACS over Iraq during air strikes on ISIS.

You don’t see an AWACS refuel mid-air too often. Although AAR (Air-to-Air Refueling) of E-3s take place quite often, the size of the aircraft and the rotating radar dome may make the operation a bit more difficult than usual.

In this case, the video shows a French Air Force E-3F taking gas from a French C-135FR over Iraq, during air strikes on ISIS in both Syria and Iraq.

During the same sortie, the French tanker refueled also an F-16AM of the Belgian Air Force, carrying a GBU-12 LGB (Laser Guided Bomb), a GBU-38 JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition), two AIM-120 AMRAAMs (Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles) and two AIM-9 Sidewinder IR-guided air-to-air missiles.

The aging fleet of C-135FRs, the French variant of the C-135 used as dual-role tanker/cargo and troop carrier aircraft, will be replaced with A400M and A330 MRTT (Multi Role Tanker Transport) aircraft.

Photo of Secretary General of NATO aircraft escorted by Dutch F-16s over the Baltic enroute to Estonia

This is what is what a HVAAE (High Value Air Asset Escort) looks like from inside the plane being escorted!

On Nov. 20, Secretary General of NATO, Mr. Jens Stoltenberg, visited Estonia as part of a tour of the Baltic States.

Before arriving at Estonia’s Ämari Airbase the Stoltenberg aircraft was accompanied and escorted by Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16s based at Malbork in Poland.

The Dutch contingent, made of four F-16 Fighting Falcon jets, is supporting NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission along with the Canadian CF-18 Hornets and the Portuguese F-16s based at Šiauliai in Lithuania and the German Eurofighter Typhoons based at Ämari

“[…] the presence or jets and troops from many nations demonstrates the resolve of all allies to stand with the Baltic nations. All for one. One for all,” he said.

The sort-of HVAAE mission flown by the Dutch F-16 was rather symbolic, since there was no risk of any air threat to the NATO VIP flight. Still, it was an opportunity to get some nice photographs, as the one you can see on top of this article.

NATO fighter jets deployed in the Baltic Region have frequently been scrambled to investigate and escort Russian Air Force planes in the area.

Image credit: NATO

 

Watch a Soviet-era Battlestar Galactica spacecraft-like reconnaissance drone launched by Ukrainian forces

An interesting video shows the Ukrainian forces launching Soviet-era Tu-143 reconnaissance drones.

Some months ago we published some pictures showing an almost intact Tu-143 Reys drone, recovered, almost intact, in a field by the pro-Russia separatists in Ukraine.

Here is an extremely interesting video showing the Ukrainian military extract the Tu-143 from the launching truck, prepare and finally launch the spacecraft-like drone.

The Tu-143 is quite similar to the Tu-141, even though substantially smaller. It has an operative range of about 60 – 70 kilometers and a low-level flight capability.

It is truck-launched and recovered by means of a recovery-parachute, deployed from a hatch on the upper side of the rocket’s rear fuselage.

Powered by  a TR3-117 turbojet with 5.8 kN (590 kgf, 267 lbf) thrust it can reach an altitude of 5,000 mt (16,400 ft) and a top speed of 950 km/h (580 mph). It can carry both photographic and TV sensors with datalink capability to transmit live data to the ground control station.

H/T Brian Ostrander for sending the link over

 

Here’s the latest Iranian jet mock-up

Tehran has unveiled a mock-up of a trainer/light attack plane.

Mashregh News, a news website affiliated with the IRGC, the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution, has published a blurry picture of a mock-up of a new Iranian jet dubbed “Borhan.”

The new jet is an evolution of the HESA Shafaq, a domestic design for a subsonic, light attack/combat trainer aircraft made of radar-absorbing material that never made it past a full-scale mock-up shown in some pictures that you can find on the web.

Both the Shafaq and the new Borhan, are clearly inspired to the Russian Yakovlev Yak-130 combat trainer and have an almost identical front section and large LERX (Leading Edge Root Extensions). Dealing with the tail section, whereas the Shafaq had two canted vertical stabilizers (like those of the HESA F-5E Saqeh), the only available image seems to suggest that the Borhan was designed with a single large tail, almost a perfect replica of the Yak-130’s one.

According to Mashregh News, the aircraft’s top speed will be Mach 0.65, its empty weight will be 2,800 kg and its payload will be 1,200 kg. Range should be 1,800 km.

The mock-up depicted in the first image carries fake AGM-65 Maverick and AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles.

Noteworthy, unlike what happened with the F-313 Qaher stealth jet, this time it would look like the Regime is not pretending the new aircraft is anything more than a mock-up.

Let’s see if this mock-up will eventually turn into a real plane some time in the future.

Image credit: Mashregh News