Author Archives: David Cenciotti

[Photo] F/A-18E lands on USS Nimitz with SLAM-ER stand-off missile

An interesting shot, shows a Super Hornet land on aircraft carrier with an AGM-84 Standoff Land Attack Missile-Expanded Response weapon.

This image shows an F/A-18E Super Hornet belonging to the Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147 Argonauts as it performs an arrested landing on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz underway conducting routine training exercises in the Pacific.

What makes the photo particularly interesting is the presence of an AGM-84 SLAM-ER on the Hornet‘s right hand underwing pylon, along with a centerline tank for buddy refueling.

The AGM-84H/K SLAM-ER (Standoff Land Attack Missile-Expanded Response) is a precision-guided, air-launched cruise missile for attack of land and sea targets at a maximum distance of 155 miles (250 km). The stand-off missile can be used for air strikes against still and moving targets, thanks to a GPS and IR (Infra-Red) imaging for its navigation and control and can be remotely controlled while in flight to be dynamically redirected to another target, should the need arise.

Even if the SLAM-ER is not a new weapon in the U.S. Navy inventor you can’t find many photos of the Super or Legacy Hornets operating from a flattop with the stand-off missile.

Image credit: U.S. Navy

 

North Korea’s Mig-29 Fulcrum jets getting new paint scheme

Photos of a North Korean Mig-29 operating from a highway shows the Fulcrum with a brand new color scheme.

A series of images released by North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) show Pyongyang’s leader Kim Jong Un attending Korean People’s Army Air Force’s latest highway drills.

Among the aircraft involved in the drills there is also a Mig-29.

Interestingly, the Fulcrum sports a new color scheme: whereas the bottom of the fuselage has kept the light blue color, the top has been painted with a two-tone gray color scheme.

North Korea Mig-29 KJU

Here below you can see the “old” livery of North Korea’s Mig-29s.

Mig-29 old livery

It’s not clear whether the new livery is temporary, or it is going to become a standard within North Korea’s fleet; in 2013, KPAF changed the camouflage of some Il-76s belonging to the state-owned national flag carrier airline of North Korea Air Koryo to reinforce the flying parade over Pyongyang.

Image credit: KCNA

H/T to @CombatAir for the heads-up

 

Sweden has released a photo of the mysterious foreign vessel in Stockholm’s archipelago

Sweden is investigating a mysterious, foreign underwater activity in the Stockholm’s archipelago.

On Oct. 19, Sweden Ministry of Defense released a grainy photo of a vessel in waters less than 30 miles (50 km) from Stockholm.

Although this version was partly denied by the Swedish military, according to Swedish media outlets the search for the mysterious vessel, a submarine or underwater vehicle used to deploy divers, started on the night of Oct. 16, after the National Defence Radio Establishment (“Försvarets radioanstalt”, FRA) intercepted a radio communication in Russian, most probably a distress call, and, later, an encrypted radio communication that was used to pin-point the position of both the transmitter and the receiving station. Whilst the transmitter was located somewhere in the Stockholm’s archipelago, the receiver was situated in Kaliningrad oblast, on the Baltic Sea.

Chart Sweden

The hunt for the mysterious vessel started on Oct. 17 and included ships, planes and helicopters.

Area of search

The presence of the vessel (that could be involved in a spying mission) was then confirmed by three different witnesses, in three different locations. One of those people managed to take the picture, from distance, of the object above the sea surface, released by the Swedish Navy.

Among the various theories, there is also the possibility that the submarine, involved in a clandestine mission, experienced an emergency and it is now sailing towards a rescue vessel.

[Read also: Italian Navy Elite team conduct disabled submarine rescue training with support of EH-101 Merlin helicopter]

The Swedish authorities have not linked the submarine to Russia: officially, the vehicle is “very likely” involved in “foreign” underwater activity in an area of interest for many nations.

Regardless to whether the submarine, or mini-sub, is Russian, the incident, which reminds the incident of the Soviet submarine that went aground near a Swedish naval base in 1981, takes place amid raising tensions with Moscow: Stockholm has often accused the Russian Air Force aircraft for their increasingly aggressive behaviour during close encounters with Swedish planes over the Baltic Sea.

Last month, two Russian Su-24s intentionally violated the Swedish airspace to probe local air defense.

Image credit: Swedish Navy

 

[Photo] Armed Czech JAS-39 Gripen jets deploy to Iceland for NATO Air Policing Mission

Here are the first photos of the Czech Air Force JAS-39 Gripen fighter planes deploying to Iceland to undertake Icelandic Air Policing duty.

The Czech Air Force has deployed five of its JAS-39 Gripen fighter aircraft and a total of 80 aircrew and ground personnel from 21st Tactical Air Force Base Čáslav to Iceland.

Their ferry flight to Keflavik was supported by an Italian Air Force KC-767A tanker from the 14° Stormo (Wing) based at Pratica di Mare.

Gripen formation

The Gripens mission is to provide Airborne Surveillance and Interception Capabilities to meet Iceland’s Peacetime Preparedness Needs (ASICIPPN) on behalf of NATO.

Noteworthy, the aircraft deployed to Iceland carrying live AIM-9L Sidewinder air-to-air missiles.

Gripen landing

Image credit: Eggert Norðdahl

 

This may be the first video to show an ISIS jet in flight in Syria

A video, filmed in central Syria today allegedly shows the first ISIS jet in flight.

In the last few days, several media outlets reported the news that the Islamic State has started combat operations using “Mig” fighter jets from an airbase in Syria.

Indeed, in 2014, ISIS has captured two airbases in central Syria, Tabqa and Kshesh, where Islamic State fighters have seized some Syrian Arab Air Force airplanes. Among these aircraft, several Mig-21s and L-39s, some of those, if not airworthy, were probably at least in pretty good shape.

Photos of IS fighters posing next to intact L-39s at Kshesh, about 70 kilometers to the east of Aleppo, have been published on several websites and social media: some of them show the combat trainers in near operational conditions.

Obviously, the mere fact that some aircraft, with some missing parts were captured by ISIS, does not mean they now have an Air Force. Still, their capability to bring a few of those “Migs” to flight conditions should not be underestimated: with the help of the Iraqi personnel formerly serving with the Iraqi Air Force the three planes were reportedly brought back to operational status at Kshesh. Most probably piloted by Iraqi, IS supporters or mercenaries.

On Oct. 18, a video reportedly filmed near Kshesh emerged. It shows a jet landing at the airbase under IS control in central Syria.

Although it’s not easy to guess the type of aircraft, it may be an L-39.

As said, the fact that some aircraft have been brought to operational status is far from being surprising. What’s weird is that U.S. aircraft involved in Operation Inherent Resolve (as the U.S.-led campaign against ISIS was dubbed) have not yet targeted Kshesh airbase to wipe out the first three aircraft of the quite basic IS Air Force…

Top image is a file photo of a Syrian Arab Air Force L-39 during an air strike over Aleppo.