Author Archives: Dario Leone

Watch Finnish and Swedish fighter jets take off and land on a Finnish country road during a recent exercise

Finnish and Swedish aircraft take off and land on roads as part of the training.

From Sep. 19 to 26 the Finnish Air Force conducted Exercise Baana 2015 which took place at the Rovaniemi Air Base and from the road strip at Hosio.

Finnish Hornet and Hawk jets, tactical and light transport aircraft were joined in this exercise by two Swedish Air Force Gripen fighters from 211 Squadron, F 21, which landed on a road runway in Finland for the first time.

Gripen Forsvarsmakten

Gripen Forsvarsmakten 2

According to the Swedish Armed Forces, Baana 2015 has been a challenge for the Swedish pilots since they had to fly in from Sweden and land on a section of highway 924 under overcast conditions, as the following video shows.

As we have already explained, such kind of training was part of the standard training conducted mainly in Central, Eastern and Northern Europe during the Cold War. With the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, highway take-offs and landings have become less frequent.

However, the threat of Russian bombers violating the airspace of Baltic countries requiring dispersion and QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) intervention, from any place, including public roads, is still alive.

Image credit: Swedish Armed Forces

Video: F-35Cs land aboard USS Eisenhower to continue Joint Strike Fighter Developmental Testing at sea

The Navy’s F-35C has kicked off the second phase of Developmental Testing at sea.

On Oct. 2, U.S. Navy test pilots Cmdr. Tony “Brick” Wilson and LT Chris “TJ” Karapostoles landed F-35C test aircraft CF-03 and CF-05 aboard USS Eisenhower (CVN 69) off the coast of the eastern United States.

With these two arrested landings the carrier variant of the Joint Strike Fighter has begun the second phase of Developmental Testing  (DT-II).

F-35C test pilots and engineers from the F-35 Lightning II Pax River Integrated Test Force (ITF) based at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Patuxent River, Maryland, that has already conducted DT-I on the USS Nimitz (CVN 68) from Nov. 3 to 14, 2014, will remain aboard “IKE” until Oct. 15 testing JSF carrier suitability and integration in the at-sea environment.

The test team will achieve this objective through a series of test events designed to gradually expand the aircraft operating envelope at sea. In fact, during DT-II, the F-35C will perform a variety of operational maneuvers, such as catapult take offs and arresting landings, while simulating maintenance operations and conducting general maintenance and fit tests for the aircraft and support equipment.

DT-II is the second of three at sea test phases planned for the F-35C: indeed, as any other naval aircraft the Lightning II undergoes DT-I, -II, and –III test phases. After the end of each Developmental Testing phase, the team conduct an assessment of the F-35C’s performance in the shipboard environment before advising the Navy on any adjustments necessary to ensure that the fifth generation fighter is ready to meet its scheduled initial operational capability in 2018.

As this video shows, cold and wet weather did not prevent the test team from operating the two Lightning IIs aboard the USS Eisenhower.

Gorgeous cockpit video of the last Vulcan bomber flying in formation with the Red Arrows for the last time

The last flying Vulcan Bomber, XH558, flew with the Red Arrows one last time at the Southport Air Show.

After taking part in air shows for eight years, the last flying Vulcan bomber will perform its final flights today taking part at Heritage Motor Centre in Gaydon and at Shuttleworth Uncovered Air Show, which will end Old Warden Collection airshow season.

Avro Vulcan XH558 (carrying civil registration G-VLCN), is the only airworthy bomber of a fleet of 134 Vulcan V bombers operated by the Royal Air Force from 1953 until 1984.

Vulcan Red Arrows RAF cockpit 2

The aircraft made its maiden flight in 1960 and was retired from active service in 1984, then it continued to fly with the RAF’s Vulcan Display Flight, performing until 1992.

Its display career restarted in 2008, after the Vulcan To The Sky Trust was able to bring the bomber back to airworthy condition the previous year, but on May 15 this year it was announced that 2015 would have been the delta-winged aircraft’s final flying season.

Vulcan Red Arrows RAF cockpit 3

To salute the iconic plane, the Red Arrows display team performed a flypast with the mighty Cold War bomber for the last time during Southport Air Show on Sept. 19.

Squadron Leader David Montenegro, Red 1 and Team Leader of the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, remarked that “It was a great honour to lead a formation flypast with the Vulcan, particularly as the aircraft type was once based at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire – now home to the Red Arrows.”

Vulcan Red Arrows RAF cockpit 4

In the following beautiful video, taken from the cockpit of the bomber, you can join the Vulcan aircrew who flew with the Red Arrows for the final time.

U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors covered Pope Francis’s Boeing 777 during his US tour.

A photo unveiled the presence of two Raptors close to “Shepherd One.”

During Pope Francis’ visit to the United States, the U.S. government carried out one of the largest domestic protective security operations in its history.

In fact, each U.S. military branch, Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Secret Service (which is usually tasked to protect US president and vice president), and local-state police departments, joined together conducting a huge escort operation  to safeguard the Pope from a wide variety of attack possibilities.

As unveiled by Ian D’Costa in his article “America Deployed its Best Fighter to Cover the Pope’s Tour of the Country,” on, it seems that this impressive contingent also included the Lockheed Martin F-22, the U.S. Air Force fifth generation stealth fighter.

Indeed, as reported by D’Costa, shortly after Pope’s American Airlines Boeing 777 departed from New York heading to Philadelphia, a planespotter named Robert Dube, took a picture of an Airbus taking off from John F. Kennedy international airport with a KC-10 Extender refuelling a pair of F-22s in the background (top image).

Considered that Raptors don’t refuel over Manhattan or nearby too often, it is safe to assume that the aircraft were  deployed to counter a potential terrorist attack conducted by using a hijacked airliner.

Anyway the U.S. Air Force would have not allowed to any aircraft to penetrate the bubble erected to protect “Shepherd One” (as the aircraft in which the Pontiff is flying is nicknamed) and its most advanced air superiority fighter has been the best option to deter an intervention from any potential airborne threat.

Needless to say, it was probably not the only type of aircraft the Air Force committed to such task.

The Pope's return flight to Rome could be tracked online on

The Pope’s return flight to Rome could be tracked online on

Top image credit Robert Dube via Ian D’Costa (


US Navy bids farewell to the T-2 Buckeye trainer

On Sep. 25, the venerable T-2 took its final flight at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, ending a 56-year career.

Developed to be used from early flight training right on to carrier indoctrination, the first single engine North American T2J-1 (later designated T-2A) was delivered to the Navy in July 1959.

After 217 T-2As were produced, it was decided that a twin engine version of this trainer would have been more appropriate for the purpose and 97 T-2Bs equipped with two Pratt and Whitney J60 engines were delivered beginning in 1965. The final major version of the Buckeye, the T-2C powered by two General Electric J85s was introduced in 1968 and, overall 231 examples were produced since then. The Buckeye was also sold to Venezuela (that acquired 12 T-2Ds) and to Greece (which bought 40 T-2Es).

The T-2 served the Navy as a two-seat intermediate carrier-capable jet trainer from 1959 until 2008, when it was replaced by the T-45 Goshawk. Three T-2s were retained by Air Test & Evaluation Squadron 20 as chase aircraft for aircraft and weapons testing and they will now be replaced by C-38 Courier business jets.

In the following video you can see a T-2 performing an OFC (Out of Control Flight) training sortie, aimed to provide the student with the fundamental knowledge necessary to recognize, analyse and recover from the loss of aerodynamic control of the aircraft.

This footage leaves no doubts: the T-2 was a terrific spin trainer.