Author Archives: David Cenciotti

Video of B-1 bombers night and day departures from Al Udeid airbase in Qatar

A B-1 launch is always an impressive sight.

The following footage shows B-1 Lancer bombers with the 34th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron launch from Al Udeid airbase, in Qatar, to pound ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria.

The “Bones” (as the B-1s are nicknamed within the pilots community), have taken part in the air strikes on IS positions since the beginning of the air campaign.

The heavy bombers have been involved in carpet bombings not seen since the 2003 war in Iraq: according to a recent story published by the AFP news agency, the B-1s had flown 18 percent of all the strike missions against the Islamic State and accounted for 43 percent of the total tonnage of munitions dropped in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan over the last 6-month period.

B-1s were frequently spotted over Kobane, where they spent several hours dropping bombs on the extremists who were on the verge of seizing the strategic town in the north of Syria.

According to the pilots of the 9th Bomb Squadron who took part in the missions over Kobane and have recently returned to the U.S. after their deployment in Qatar, it was not uncommon for the B-1s to “go Winchester” (a radio codeword which means that the aircraft has dropped all the weapons on board) during air strikes over the Syrian border town.

 

Photos of World’s last active service F-14 Tomcat jets overhauled in Iran

The Iranian Air Force is the last operator of the legendary F-14 Tomcat.

The photos in this article were recently released by FARS News Agency.

They show some Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force F-14 Tomcat jets be overhauled at an unspecified location (Tehran Mehrabad International Airport according to some sources).

F-14 IRIAF overhauled 2

Iran still operates some Tomcats that are being modernized to F-14AM (“Modernized”) standard to extend their operative life until 2030. Domestic upgrades include avionics (radar and RWR) and weapons: R-73E, AIM-54A, AIM-7E and AIM-9J are among the air-to-air missiles adapted to the aircraft’s fire control system.

F-14 IRIAF overhauled 3

The Iranian Tomcats can also carry the AIM-54A+ “Fakour-90” missile: a domestically upgraded, partially reverse engineered version of the famous AIM-54 Phoenix long range missile of the U.S. Navy F-14s.

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The IRIAF F-14s are also being given a three-tone Asian Minor II camouflage pattern loosely resembling the “splintered” one adopted by Russian 4th and 5th generation fighter planes and U.S. Aggressors.

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Tehran is believed to operate a fleet of about 60 F-14s even if the number of combat capable aircraft is unknown. According to some rumors, there would be plans to use the Tomcat in the air-to-ground role as well.

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Anyway, in some way or another one Tehran managed to keep the F-14s airworthy, a significant achievement considered the embargo on Iran and the consequent lack of spare parts for the Tomcats.

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F-14 IRIAF overhauled top

Image credit: FARS News agency

H/T to user “ASFTD” on ACIG forum for the heads-up

 

New Iraqi Air Force F-16IQ Block 52 fighter jets train in Arizona

F-16IQ Block 52 Fighters shot in Arizona

Iraq has taken delivery of the first of 36 ordered Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 52 jets destined to rebuild the Iraqi Air Force.

Sporting the brand new, exotic two-tone grey camo, the first four F-16IQ Block 52 jets were delivered to Tucson, Arizona, beginning in December 2014.

The F-16IQ jets will be stationed in the U.S. until air bases are readied for the new planes and, above all, secured; in the meanwhile, the Iraqi pilots can be trained in a safe environment by the U.S. instructors of the Arizona ANG’s 162nd Wing, that already own an established experience with foreign students from the Netherlands, Norway, Singapore and Japan.

IAF 1602. F-16D-52-CF.156FS. IRAQ A-F. Tucson Int A-P. 06.02.2015

The training pipeline includes 14 Iraqi student pilots which will get qualified and combat capabable with the Fighting Falcon in about 300 flying hours. Then, they will return to their home and defend their own country with the new jet.

The Aviationist’s photographer Tony Lovelock was at Tucson at the beginning of February and took the pictures of the Iraqi F-16C and D models involved in local training sorties.

IAF 1601. F-16D-52-CF. 156FS. IRAQ Air Force. Tucson 06.02.2015

Image credit: Tony Lovelock

 

Iran destroys mock U.S. aircraft carrier in naval wargames

Do you remember Iran’s mock Nimitz class flattop? Here’s what it was built for.

On Feb. 25, a mock U.S. aircraft carrier, was destroyed by missiles launched by Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps missiles during the IRGC Navy’s massive Payambar-e Azam 9 (The Great Prophet 9) drills in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.

The model had first appeared in April last year, when images of the mock USS Nimitz class ship being assembled in an Iranian shipyard on the Persian Gulf had spread through social media.

Although the purpose of the fake carrier was not clear back then we mentioned the possibility the giant warship (adorned with several airplanes) might have built to test weapons or serve as a training tool to develop tactics to attack a U.S. flattop in the Persian Gulf exploiting its vulnerabilities.

According to the FARS News Agency, the model came under attack and was destroyed by missiles and rockets fired from tens of IRGC speedboats; also a number of the IRGC cruise and two ballistic missiles were fired at the mock US aircraft carrier.

H/T to Giuliano Ranieri for the heads-up

 

Unique Point of View: R-73 Missile Launch as seen from the pylon of a Russian Su-27 Flanker

Cool photo of a Vympel R-73 (NATO reporting name AA-11 Archer).

The R-73 is an infrared homing (heat-seeking), short-range missile with a sensitive, cryogenic cooled seeker that can “see” targets up to 40° off the missile’s centerline.

Developed by Vympel NPO, the missile has an off-boresight capability and can be targeted by a helmet-mounted sight (HMS): pilots can designate targets from a minimum range of about 300 meters to nearly 30 km by simply looking at them.

In this post you can see an interesting image released by UAC, the Russian holding which encompasses Irkut, Mikoyan, Sukhoi, Ilyushin, Tupolev, Beriev and Yakovlev, showing an R-73 just fired by a Sukhoi Su-27.

Image credit: UAC (United Aircraft Corp)