Author Archives: David Cenciotti

Some interesting photos of the impressive Israel’s 67th Independence Day flypast

An impressive flypast took place over Tel Aviv.

On Apr. 23, Israel celebrated its 67th Independence Day with the traditional flypast over the beaches of Tel Aviv.

Formations of F-16s, A-4s along with F-15s trailing a B-707 tanker, C-130s, CH-53s and several other Israeli Air Force aircraft took part in the aerial display.

The pictures in this article were taken by photographer Amit Agronov, who took the shots from the 16th floor of the Carlton hotel in Tel Aviv.

Here below is a C-130J-30 “Shimshon”:

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A Gulfstream G550 “Nahshon-Eitam” CAEW (Conformal Airborne Early Warning) aircraft:

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A formation of F-16I “Sufa” multirole combat planes:

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Some of the last A-4 Skyhawk trainers, “Ayit” for the Israeli Air Force, took part in the flypast. The aircraft are being replaced by the brand new Alenia Aermacchi M-346 “Lavi”.

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Below, Beechcraft Super King Air “Tzofit” and RC-12K “Kookiya”:

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Three CH-53 “Yas’ur 2000″ helicopters over the beaches of central Israel:

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Civilian liners from El Al and Arkia (below, a B-757 and an E-195) took part in the display as well: according to local media outlets they took off from Tel Aviv Ben Gurion, flew to the Haifa area before turning east and heading to Jerusalem.

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A formation of the F-16C “Barak”:

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The flypast is destined to feature some stealth multi-role aircraft in the coming years: speaking at the Independence day party, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said the United States plan to deliver the first of 33 F-35I (a specially modified version of the Joint Strike Fighter) fighter jets to Israel next year to help its ally maintain its military edge in the Middle East.

The Israeli Air Force could purchase further planes, to form two squadrons of F-35s, each one equipped with 25 JSFs.

Image credit: Amit Agronov

 

Video of the X-47B drone first autonomous aerial refueling

Someone said we are one step closer to Skynet..

On Apr. 16, one of the two Unmanned Carrier Air Vehicle demonstrator (UCAS-D) aircraft of the X-47B program performed the first autonomous drone air-to-air refueling (AAR) test taking fuel from an Omega Air KC-707 tanker.

Here is the video of the UCAS-D pluggin the retractable IFR (In-Flight Refueling) probe in the tanker hose basket.

The two X-47B technology demonstrators will be retired and probably donated to a museum or stored at the “boneyard”, the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) at Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, after these aerial refueling tests: Navy stealth killer drones are “just” a technology demonstrator, a testbed for the future planned Navy’s Unmanned Carrier Launched Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS).

 

Close encounters with Russian Su-27s as seen by a former RC-135 aircraft commander

“What passes for dangerous and provocative today was ho-hum to recon crews of my generation” former RC-135 commander says

On Apr. 7, a U.S. RC-135U spyplane, was intercepted over the Baltic Sea, off the Russian exclave between Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic, by a Russian Su-27 Flanker fighter jet scrambled from Kaliningrad Oblast.

The Pentagon protested for the “reckless” and “unprofessional” behaviour of the Russian pilot who buzzed the U-Boat (as the RC-135U is nicknamed in the pilot community) and flew dangerously close to the American aircraft.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said the RC-135U was intercepted because it needed to be identified as it was flying with its transponder switched off (just like all the Russian warplanes operating over the Baltic Sea and near UK) even though the spyplane’s Mode-S transponder could be detected by ADS-B receivers, according to Flightradar24.com.

Few days ago, a former RC-135 aircraft commander who flew the S, U, V, W, and X models, sent us an email and gave his point of view about the “U-Boat” intercept.
Here’s what he explained to us:

“About the RC-135U intercept last week, the absence of a transponder signal is a non-issue. Having flown many of these missions, we used the concept of “see and avoid” where the pilot flying is responsible for avoiding all traffic conflicts, much like a VFR flight plan without flight following.

Given that the intercept took place in VMC there is simply no merit in the Russian accusations that the U-Boat was flying without an active transponder and therefore a dangerous risk.

The close proximity is equally moot.

Prior to the end of the Cold War interceptors from a variety of nations managed to get into tight formation with RC-135s and EP-3s. Smaller airplanes like MiG-21s made it easy. The challenge with the larger airplanes like the Su-27 and MiG-31 is the sheer size of the interceptor as it moves in front of any portion of the intercepted plane.

At least the Su-27 pilot has excellent all-around visibility to see where the back end of his own airplane is as he maneuvers adjacent to the RC-135.

The U-Boat crew took video of the intercept, which has not been released but shows the precise extent of how close the FLANKER really was. Recent movies taken by a PRC aircraft that was intercepted by a JASDF F-15CJ suggests that the Eagle was very close—until the camera zooms out and shows the Eagle was 70-100 feet away from the wingtip….

Finally, although the number of Russian reactions to Western recon flights has been increasing recently, for 15-20 years (certainly from 1992 through 2010) there were almost no reactions on a regular basis. As such, what passes for dangerous and provocative today was ho-hum to recon crews of my generation (although we weren’t shot at like the early fliers from 1950-1960).”

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

 

You won’t believe this is NOT an F-117 Nighthawk stealth jet!

From a certain angle, the nEUROn drone is  an F-117 look-alike.

The image in this post was taken by The Aviationist’s contributor Roberto Zanda on Apr. 21. It shows the first example of the nEUROn UCAV (Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle), the full-scale technology demonstrator developed by France, Italy, Sweden, Spain, Switzerland and Greece, returning to Decimomannu airbase, Italy, at the end of test mission.

The European drone is involved in operational testing over the Perdasdefogu range, in Sardinia, before moving to Visdel, Sweden, for weapons trials.

We have often highlighted the loose resemblance of the new stealth combat drone to the American Northrop Grumman X-47B but this photo seems to prove the UCAV design was also inspired by the legendary Lockheed Martin F-117 Nighthawk stealth jet.

Image credit: Roberto Zanda

 

Photo shows China’s Air Force One escorted by 8 Pakistan Air Force JF-17 jets

You don’t see such kind of escort flights every day.

Chinese President Xi Jinping received a very warm welcome on his arrival for a two-day state visit in Pakistan on Apr. 20. A formation of eight JF-17 Thunder jets intercepted and escorted the presidential Boeing 747-400 as it entered Pakistan’s airspace in bound to the Nur Khan airbase in Rawalpindi, Punjab province.

The impressive escort was rather symbolic: the JF-17 is a light, single-engine, multi-role combat aircraft jointly manufactured by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) and the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) of China. It represents one of the most evident signs of the strong ties between Beijing and Islamabad.

The Pakistan Air Force plans to operate 160 JF-17 multirole jets about one-third of those are already in active service.

Image credit: AP via Sobchak Security