Category Archives: Aircraft Carriers

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

 

[Photo] F/A-18E Super Hornet VFA-81 CAG bird (with POW markings, sharkmouth) during night ops aboard USS Carl Vinson

F/A-18E Super Hornet from the Sunliners of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 81 about to be launched from flight deck of USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70).

U.S. Navy CAG birds (aircraft in special liveries, officially assigned to commanding officer of United States Navy Carrier Air Groups) take part in air strikes in Syria and Iraq alongside all the other warplanes wearing standard paint schemes and low-visibility markings.

The photo in this post shows the striking F/A-18E Super Hornet BuNo 166830, Modex “200”, CAG bird of the VFA-81 “Sunliners” with POW-MIA art work on the tail and sharkmouth applied to the aircraft back in 2013, being marshalled onto the catapult during night ops.

The aircraft does not seem to carry weapons, hence it was probably only involved in a routine training mission.

USS Carl Vinson is currently supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, launching air strikes against ISIS targets in both Iraq and Syria from the U.S. 5th Fleet AOR (Area of Operations).

Image credit: U.S. Navy

 

How to survive in a dogfight, alone against six MiGs: the lesson learned from Richard Schaffert dogfight.

An incredible air-to-air engagement, where one U.S. pilot alone survived to six North Vietnamese MiGs.

A true milestone in the progress of naval aviation, the Vought F-8 has been one of the few carrier-based fighters that could outperform most land-based counterparts.

Being the first genuinely supersonic naval aircraft, the Crusader, was a single seat, single engine swept fighter that introduced an unusual feature, the variable incidence wing. Armed with four Colt Mk 12 cannons,  the F-8 was called “The last gunfighter”: these guns combined with its high thrust-to-weight ratio and with its good maneuverability, made of the Crusader a good dogfighter.

The Crusader showed its ability in close combat during the Vietnam war, especially on Dec. 14, 1967: in fact, as explained by Barrett Tilman and Henk van der Lugt in their book “VF-11/111 Sundowners”on that day, Lt. Cdr. Richard “Brown Bear” Schaffert (the VF-111 Sundowners operation officer during the 1967 deployment  onboard the CV-34 USS Oriskany), were involved in an aerial combat which became a classic dogfight of the jet age, even if did not result in any MiG kill.

Schaffert was escorting an A-4E Skyhawk, piloted by Lt Charles Nelson, tasked in an Iron Hand anti-SAM (Surface to Air Missile) mission in the area between Hanoi and Haiphong, when “Brown Bear” saw two MiG-17s (“Fresco” based on NATO designation).

Schaffert immediately started a descent from 18,000 ft and when he recovered at 3,000 ft, he looked for Nelson but he found two more MiGs. Having lost the sight of the A-4E, Brown Bear understood that he had to rely on his 3500 hours of flight experience to face four bandits alone. He started the dogfight with an 8 Gs break forcing the first Fresco to overshoot, but Schaffert knew very well that he had to fight working in the vertical, since the F-8 couldn’t turn as fast as a MiG-17.

As it became obvious that the four bandits had split into two sections,Schaffert started a series of yo-yo maneuvers using the afterburner, trying to reach an advantage position against the MiGs, leaving the chance to Brown Bear to conduct the dogfight as a 1 vs 2 engagement.

Schaffert got a “good tone” from one of its Sidewinders, but the second pair of MiG-17s shot at him with their cannons and he had to perform three more yo-yos before launching a Sidewinder….which didn’t explode. Now he had only two missiles left since one of the four AIM-9s carried by the F-8 had already experienced a failure before take off.

Executing reversal maneuvers and pulling high Gs to defeat the superior turning radius of the MiG-17, Schaffert shot another missile which failed to explode.

Then, two MiGs fired a couple of IR-guided K-13 missiles (AA-2 Atoll as reported by NATO designation) which failed to get on target because they were launched out of the missile operative envelope. Brown Bear found himself once again in a good firing position but this time the guidance system of the last Sidewinder failed, leaving Schaffert with only the rounds of his plane’s four Colt cannons.

After another 5 Gs turn, he had a good tracking solution on a MiG but when he pulled the trigger, all the four 20 mm cannons…choked!

The problem was caused by a common defect of Crusader cannons: the pneumatic ammunition feed system disconnected after high-Gs maneuvers.

Two MiG-21s joined the air combat firing two more Atolls missiles, which Brown Bear was able to avoid.

Facing six adversaries, Schaffert started another series of high altitude yo-yos and engaged the enemy leader in a vertical rolling scissors; once he had reached the bottom of the maneuver, he accelerated towards the coast leaving the enemy behind. He returned safely to the USS Oriskany with almost no fuel left.

Despite the fact that Brown Bear didn’t shoot down any enemy fighter, he left an important lesson to Topgun instructors: how to survive in a dogfight alone against six MiGs, a good lecture to give to the Fighter Weapons School students in the following years.

F-8C_VF-111_over_USS_Intrepid_(CVS-11)_1967

Image credit: U.S. Navy

 

[Video] F-35C successfully completes first arrested landing on aircraft carrier

The Navy’s F-35C CV (Carrier Variant) version of the Joint Strike Fighter has finally landed onto the USS Nimitz’s flight deck using a new arresting gear.

On Nov. 3, at 12.18PM LT, F-35C CF-3 with a new tailhook assembly successfully, piloted by Navy test pilot Cmdr. Tony Wilson, landed on the flight deck of USS Nimitz, marking the very first arrested landing of the costly 5th generation plane on a supercarrier.

The successful  arrested landing comes about three years after the F-35C, the variant developed for the U.S. Navy proved to be unable to get aboard a flattop because of its first tailhook design issues.

At that time, during specific tests conducted at NAWC-AD (Naval Air Warfare Center – Aircraft Division) Lakehurst, the F-35C failed to engage the MK-7 arresting gear with a disappointing score of 0 successes in 8 attempts. According to the subsequent reports, root cause analysis pointed to some AHS (Arresting Hook System) design issues: aircraft geometry (short distance between the Main Landing Gear tires and the tailook point); tailkook point design, with scarce ability to scoop low positioned cables;tailkook hold-down ineffective performance in damping bounces relative to the deck surface profiles.

In other words, the distance of 7.1 feet between the tires and the tailhook was too short and the responsive dynamics were such that the cable lied nearly flat on the deck by the time the tailkook point should intercept it for arrestment.