Author Archives: David Cenciotti

Russia is basing 14 combat planes, including modernized Su-27s and Su-30s, to Crimea

Moscow reinforces Belbek airbase in Crimea with 14 jets, including 4th Generation Su-27SMs.

Russia continues to encircle Ukraine with air power: according to ITAR TASS news agency, Belbek airbase, in Crimea, was reinforced with ten upgraded Su-27SM and four Su-30 fourth-generation fighter jets.

The aircraft, which flew to the Belbek from southern Russia’s Krasnodar territory on Nov. 26, will serve with the 62nd Fighter Regiment of the 27th Combined Air Division of the Russian Air Force.

Belbek, the main airfield of the peninsula annexed by Moscow earlier this year, will operate a total of 24 warplanes and six training combat aircraft. First training sorties will be launched on Dec. 1.

The move comes few days after Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council, reported that the Russian Federation is amassing forces, including radar stations and Mig-31 Foxhound combat planes, at the eastern border with Ukraine, where pro-Russia separatists are fighting against Kiev regular forces.

The Su-27SM is a 4+ Gen. Flanker with multi-role capabilities upgraded engines and avionics; the Su-30 is a two-seater twin-engine, supermaneuverable multirole fighter jet.

Su-27 in Crimea

Top Image credit: RIA Novosti


[Video] Inside the cockpit of an F-15E Strike Eagle at very low altitude through the valleys

Think twice before watching this video if you suffer motion sickness.

Although most of the recent war scenarios involved stealth multi-role jets with standoff weapons, drones, cyberwar, electronic warfare, etc., it’s been the fleet of conventional, unstealthy fighter bombers to carry the burden of the air strikes against the enemy.

For instance, whilst F-22 Raptors, at their baptism of fire, made the news during the opening stages of Operation Inherent Resolve, U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles (along with B-1s, F-16s, Navy’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, Legacy Hornets and some other tactical planes) carried out the majority of the missions against ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq.

Indeed, although far from being radar-evading, Strike Eagles can carry more weaponry than the F-22s and for this reason, when enemy air defenses are either suppressed or don’t pose a real threat, F-15Es are dispatched to take care of multiple ground targets during the same sortie.

The fact that they usually fly at medium or high altitude with PGMs (Precision Guided Munitions), because of the lack of anti-aircraft threats, doesn’t imply F-15Es no longer need to train at ultra low-level: for example, low altitude flying is required to survive an engagement by enemy fighter planes or an IR guided missile in combat, or to keep visual contact with the ground and VMC (Visual Meteorological Conditions) during a stateside training mission.

The following video shot with GoPro cameras brings you aboard a 366th Fighter Wing Strike Eagle during one of those ultra low-level training hops through the valleys, from the high performance take off to the formation landing.


Mystery surrounds video showing Alitalia flight escorted by two German Eurofighters

A quite unusual sight for the passengers of an Alitalia Airbus 320 from Amsterdam escorted by two German Eurofighters for about 20 minutes.

A video of two German Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets escorting an Alitalia flight has emerged after some passengers reported that their plane, on a scheduled flight from Amsterdam to Rome Fiumicino, had been flanked and escorted by German warplanes.

Indeed, the footage, filmed with a smartphone shows the two Typhoons shadowing the civil plane.

Based on logs, the civil liner, an Airbus A320 registration EI-DSM, took off from Schipol at about 12.20 PM LT, climbed at 35,000 feet and crossed the German airspace flying more or less over Dusseldorf, Cologne, the west of Frankfurt and Stuttgard.

According to Fabio Guccione, owner of a travel agency in Palermo, who talked to several media outlets: “Someone asked the hostess to have information from the pilots about the reasons of the “escort”. But after a few minutes the flight attendant came back saying that the captain did not want to say anything.”

Civilian planes are escorted by interceptors when they lack diplomatic clearance to cross a sovereign airspace, for bomb threats, radio failures and, generally speaking any time the local Air Defense, usually after coordinating the intercept with nearby radar centers and ATC agencies, decide to perform a so-called VID (Visual Identification) of a plane to verify its identity, adherence to the filled FPL (Flight Plan) etc.

Sometimes, air defense radars ask (through the relevant ATC agency) flights passing through their sector whether they would be willing to be intercepted for training purposes; still, such requests are addressed to other military aircraft and not to civil planes, whose passengers could be scared by the sight of two (usually) armed combat planes.

Image credit: Eurofighter

H/T to Giuseppe Stilo for the heads-up


U.S. Air Force deploys F-22 stealth jets to Japan as a deterrence to North Korea and as a show of force to China

American F-22 stealth aircraft have been deployed to Japan for a deterrence and security exercise in the region.

U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor stealth multi-role aircraft from 525th Fighter Squadron at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, deployed to Kadena Air Base, in Japan, to take part in exercise Keen Sword, underway from Nov. 8 through Nov. 19.

The deployment has a dual purpose: let U.S. aircrews fly and train with local Japan Air Self Defense Forces, and show the presence of Washington’s most advanced fighter plane in service in a region where tensions have risen over maritime disputes in the South China Sea.

Held biennially since 1986, Exercise Keen Sword includes anti-submarine warfare, surface warfare, air-to-air and air defense warfare scenarios. This year, the drills involve about 11,000 personnel from U.S. Forces Japan, 5th Air Force, U.S. Naval Forces Japan, U.S. Army Japan, and III Marine Expeditionary Force. Among the Air Force units taking part in the exercise there are also 33rd Rescue Squadron from Kadena and 212th Rescue Squadron from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, that are training with their Japanese colleagues at Komatsu Air Base.

According to the Air Force, F-22s, that have had their combat first against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, have recently been active in training exercises in the region, “serving as a deterrence to North Korea and as a show of force to China.”

Earlier this year Raptors operated out of Osan Air Base, South Korea as part of large-scale exercise Foal Eagle.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force


KC-767 performs special bio-containment flight to transport Italy’s first case of Ebola

The Italian Air Force carried out the first special biocontainment flight, to repatriate an Italian doctor who contracted Ebola virus working in Sierra Leone.

An Italian doctor, who developed a fever and was positive at the virus after working at a clinic located few miles west of Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown, was repatriated with a special bio-containment flight on Nov. 24.

The doctor was isolated and transported on a Italian Air Force Boeing KC-767A, a dual role aircraft that can perform both the tanker and the strategic transport mission, operated by the 14° Stormo, that landed at Pratica di Mare airbase, near Rome, early in the morning on Nov. 25.

The Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force) operates four such planes, one of those is currently supporting US-led campaign against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

Ebola flight

According to the Italian Air Force, in Europe, the ability to carry out transport of highly infectious patients through the use of special isolated stretchers is a peculiarity held exclusively by the Aeronautica Militare and UK’s Royal Air Force.

The Italian Air Force has developed the ability to perform aeromedical evacuation in bio-containment since 2005, establishing proper procedures and working closely with both the Ministry of Health and the Department of Civil Protection.

This capability is based on the use of special ATI (Aircraft Transport Isolator) stretchers, used to board the patient, and the smaller TSI (Stretcher Transit Isolator) terrestrial system, required to transfer the patient from the aircraft to the ambulance upon arrival.

Within the Italian Air Force, “bio-containment” missions can currently be conducted with C-130J Hercules, C-27J Spartan and KC-767 aircraft.

Ebola flight 2

Image credit: Italian Air Force