Category Archives: Aircraft Carriers

Strike Fighter Ball 2014: the new, stunning, East Coast naval F/A-18 Hornet squadrons video!

Badass video by the East Coast Hornet squadrons.

An F/A-18 pilot at NAS Oceana has produced the Strike Fighter Ball 2014, this year’s video with the most spectacular footage filmed by the East Coast Naval F/A-18C Legacy Hornet and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet squadrons.

As the West Coast’s Hornet Ball 2014, East’s Strike Fighter Ball 2014  features low level flying over the Desert, catapult launches, trap landings, flybys, aerobatics, formation flying, dogfighting against F-15s, plenty of live firing of air-to-air missiles, JDAMs (Joint Direct Attack Munitions), LGBs (Laser Guided Bombs) and ATFLIR  (Advanced Targeting Forward Looking Infrared) pod clips.

Strike Fighter 2014 back

The video shows also some International Space Station clips, most probably to honor NASA Astronaut Reid Wiseman, who spent 165 aboard ISS earlier this year with Exp. 41 and was previously assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 103, Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia, flying the FA-18F Super Hornet.

Last but not least, the Strike Fighter Ball video of the East Coast squadrons features much anti-ISIS air strike footage.

Strike Fighter Ball 2014 from NO, EVERYTHING on Vimeo.

Strike Fighter 2014

H/T to “Strobes” for the heads-up


“Secret Operation Z”: the Japanese air strikes on Pearl Harbor 73 years ago today

06:14, Hawaii-Aleutian Time Zone (UTC-10:00), 7 December, 1941; 221 miles north of Oahu in the Pacific Ocean.

Navigating through a dark, Pacific morning under strict radio silence the Japanese aircraft carriers Zuikaku, Kaga, Soryu, Hiryu, Shokaku and task force flagship Akagi came about into the wind on mild seas. Deck crews stood ready at the wheel chocks of idling attack aircraft with exhaust flame flickering from their cowlings. Dawn would break in minutes. Communications officers on the high decks changed signal flags to indicate the attack was underway.

Chocks were pulled and throttles advanced as 50 Nakajima Kate dive bombers began there short take off rolls from the carrier decks. They were laden with massive, specially designed 1,760-pound armor-piercing bombs. Another 40 Kates carrying top-secret long-finned, shallow water torpedoes thundered forward on the flight deck, drowning out the cries of “Bonzai! Bonzai!” from the deck crew.

Secret Operation Z was under way. The Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor remains one of the most successful combat operations in history. Achieved with total surprise after maintaining strict security a massive naval armada of over 60 total Japanese vessels crossed 3000+ miles to stage near simultaneous attacks on multiple targets with miraculous precision and minor losses. The American naval capability was compromised to such a degree that it would take months to mount a tangible offensive in the Pacific. That more Americans did not die at Pearl Harbor is likely a function of the attack coming early on a Sunday morning.

Days earlier on November 26 the secret task force had left the covert naval installation at Etorofu Island and sailed over 2100 miles to its “initial point”. On December 2nd they were assembled stealthily under cover of bad weather to begin their final attack run toward the aircraft launch area north of Oahu. Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, back on mainland Japan, issued a coded radio message via morse, “新高を登る!” or “Climb Mount Niitaka!”. This signaled the attack was to proceed as planned.

A new U.S. Army SCR-270 mobile radar array mounted high up Opana Point on Oahu detected the Japanese attack force 70 miles away but believed they were friendly aircraft. At 07:40 local the Japanese attack force spotted the Hawaiian coast at Kakuku Point. They had navigated partially by following the radio transmissions of music from the island.

The attack began with total surprise and withering precision. Air superiority over Pearl Harbor was quickly established by lightweight, highly maneuverable Japanese A6M2 Zero fighters, the equivalent of today’s F-16. The Americans were unable to mount an effective air defense. As a result, air-attack commander Mitsuo Fuchida transmitted a famous morse radio message in the clear, “トラ,トラ,トラ…” or “To-ra, to-ra, to-ra!”.

Fuchida’s torpedo and dive bombers destroyed their targets with impunity as the Americans attempted to mount a defense with anti-aircraft guns. Two ships, the USS Nevada and USS Aylwin were able to start their boilers and run for the channel toward open ocean. Only the Aylwin, staffed by four new junior officers, made it to sea. The Nevada ran aground intentionally in Pearl Harbor after its commander was seriously wounded.

The attack on Pearl Harbor was an incredible tactical and strategic success for the Japanese. It put the Americans on the back foot at the beginning of WWII. There were 2,402 Americans killed in the attack. By comparison 2,977 people in the U.S. died in the 9/11 terror attacks.

This article originally appeared at


A memorable anti-terrorist operation with U.S. Navy F-14s and E-2s took place over the Mediterranean Sea in October 1985

A memorable anti-terrorist operation took place over the Mediterranean Sea in October 1985.

On Oct. 7, 1985, four PLF (Palestine Liberation Front) militants hijacked the Achille Lauro cruise ship.

With passengers and crew hostage, they directed the vessel to sail to Tartus, Syria, and demanded the release of 50 Palestinians jailed in Israeli prisons. After two days of negotiations (and the killing of an American citizen, Leon Klinghoffer, a Jewish retired businessman who was in a wheelchair) the terrorists agreed to abandon the ship in exchange for safe conduct and were flown towards Tunisia aboard an Egypt Air Boeing 737.

Of course something had to be done to intercept the commercial airliner which would have carried the terrorists who had hijacked the Achille Lauro liner off Egypt.

A brilliant operation was orchestrated  by CVW 17 Commander Air Group (CAG) Robert “Bubba” Brodsky, who explained how the mission took place to Robert L. Lawson in the latter’s book “Carrier Air Group Commanders.”

On Oct. 10, after having completed a major NATO exercise in the Central Mediterranean, the USS Saratoga (CV-60), commanded by Capt. Jerry Unruh, received a phone query from Sixth Fleet headquarters in Gaeta, Italy, asking for the exact location of each ship of the battle group.

Intelligence had indicated to the National Security Council (NSC) staff that the hijackers were still in Egypt and about to be transported out on an Egypt Air Boeing 737 about to be flown to Tunisia.

According to Brodsky the idea to attempt to capture the hijackers came from a Navy captain in the NSC staff who suggested: “Why don’t we pull a Yamamoto on these guys?” referring to the Japanese admiral intercepted by American fighters over the Pacific during WWII.

Aboard the Saratoga orders were immediately received from Sixth Fleet to launch the Alert CAP (Combat Air Patrol) and despite the official “Alert 60″ posture, two VF-74 F-14A Tomcats and a VAW-125 E-2C Hawkeye were airborne in just 22 minutes.

Within minutes, confirmation of their mission came from Sixth Fleet.

Since the exact take-off time, the route and the altitude the hijackers plane would fly were unknown, other VF-103 and VF-74 Tomcats, with tracer ammunition in their 20mm cannons, were launched, while another E-2 alongside with VA-85 KA-6D tankers were alerted for a possible launch.

But, perhaps, the most difficult problem to solve was how to communicate with the airliner, once intercepted, and how to persuade the crew to divert to the NATO base at Sigonella, Sicily.

C3 (Command, Control and Communication) provided by the E-2C was essential to the success of the mission. “CDR Raplh Zia, commanding officer of the E-2 squadron, widely respected for his airborne professionalism, had been kept abreast of unfolding events almost from the beginning. As much as anyone, he had a clear picture of what we were attempting to do. When directed, CDR Zia personally manned the second E-2 and was launched to assume airborne control of the operation. There wasn’t a better man for the job. His ability to quickly assess the situation and ad lib solutions to each hiccup in the evolution was the key to success,” Brodsky explains in “Carrier Air Group Commanders.”

Since, as we explained, the takeoff time of the Egypt Air airliner was unknown, the Tomcats assigned to CAP stations south of the Greek island of Crete were vectored by the E-2 to intercept all contacts that fit the profile of an airliner following the airways between Egypt and Tunisia.

According to Brodsky, on the fourth intercept of the evening, two F-14s pulled up behind an airliner and when they radioed the markings and tail number-2843- back to Saratoga (the tail number had already been discovered by Israeli intelligence agents as reported by Michael K. Bohn in his book “The Achille Lauro Hijacking: Lessons in the Politics and Prejudice of Terrorism”), the Tomcats were ordered to remain in position, keeping their lights out so the Egyptian crew and their terrorist cargo would have no idea they were under escort.

In the meantime, the State Department in Washington asked Tunisia and other friendly littoral Mediterranean nations to deny landing rights to the terrorists.

After CDR Zia in “Tigertail 603” listened the landing clearance denials to the Egypt Air pilot, he understood that it was time for the Hawkeye crew to take charge.

“2843, this is Tigertail 603, over” CDR Zia radioed. After several more attempts at communications, the Egypt Air pilot finally acknowledged.

Zia continued: “Egypt Air 2843, you are being escorted by two F-14s. You are directed proceed to and land immediately at Sigonella, Sicily. Over.”

The Egyptian pilot was shocked. “Say again. Who is calling?” Allowing the pilot to believe he was talking with one of the F-14 pilots, Zia repeated, “This is Tigertail 603. I advise, you are directed to land immediately. Proceed immediately to Sigonella, Sicily. You are being escorted by two F-14 interceptor aircraft. Vector 280 Sigonella, Sicily. Over.”

The order was repeated once again before the F-14s turned on their external lights. The Tomcat crews watched as the excited Egyptian crew ran to both sides of the airliner to peer out the passenger windows. Zia now had the Egypt Air pilot’s attention.

Concerned by the close proximity of the Navy fighters, the nervous Egyptian pilot again came on the radio: “I’m saying you are too close. I’ m following your orders. Don’t be too close. Please.”

“Okay, we’ll move away a little bit”  Zia responded.

Since the Italian air traffic controllers vectored the 737 to land at the civilian field nearby Catania and refused the permission to land in Sigonella, the escorting F-14 commander declared a low fuel emergency and indicated the requirement for an immediate landing. But the presence of four F-14 Tomcats on his wing charged up the Egyptian pilot, who was able to land only after having going around on his first pass.

“Everyone breathed easier when he landed successfully on the second pass.” Brodsky says.

He also believed that even if the terrorists were taken into Italian custody once the mission ended, that fact did little to diminish the elation aboard the Saratoga: “The real reward, was the knowledge that they had helped bring terrorists and cold-blooded murderers of an American citizen to justice.”


Image credit: U.S. Navy


Fascinating 50th Anniversary Behind the Scenes Video Brings You Aboard the C-2A Greyhound

The Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 30 (VRC-30) “Providers” has prepared a cool video to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the C-2A Greyhound, the workhorse of the U.S. Navy fleet.

On Nov. 18, 1964, the Grumman C-2 Greyhound twin-engine, high-wing cargo aircraft, designed perform the COD (Carrier Onboard Delivery) to carry equipment, supplies and mail to and from U.S. Navy aircraft carriers, made its first flight.

Since then, the aircraft and its crews have performed a vital role supplying the carrier fleet with over a million pounds of high priority logistics.

The video, produced by VRC-30, United States Navy Fleet Logistics Support squadron based at Naval Air Station North Island with detachments all around the world, provides some amazing insight into the mission of the COD as well as the challenge/thrill of flying the COD: take a look at the skills (and amount of inputs on the control yoke) required to perform an arrested landing on the flight deck of a nuclear aircraft carrier at sea.

By the way, this author has had the privilege to fly aboard a COD to visit the USS Nimitz off Pakistan in 2009.

H/T to VRC-30 for sending the link to us


Video of F-35C jet’s first carrier-based night flight operations aboard aircraft carrier

F-35C Lightning II Conducts First Night Flight Ops During Developmental Testing aboard USS Nimitz

On Nov. 3, F-35C CF-3 piloted by Navy test pilot Cmdr. Tony Wilson, conducted the very first arrested landing of the Joint Strike Fighter plane on a supercarrier.

Following the first successful arrested landings (the second came on the same day, with F-35C CF-5), the two jets of the F-35 Lightning II Pax River Integrated Test Force from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23, performed a series of catapult launches, touch-and-gos and arrested landings.

On Nov. 13, at 6:01 p.m. (PST), the JSF had another first when it was launched for the first carrier-based night flight operations aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68). After a series of planned touch-and-go landings, the aircraft came for an arrested landing at 6:40 pm.

Here’s an interesting video of the first night ops aboard a U.S. Navy flattop.

Image credit: U.S. Navy