A quite unusual photo caught a U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command’s CV-22 Osprey with the full moon in the background.
Taken close to RAF Mildenhall, UK, on Oct. 7, 2014, by Gary Chadwick, the spectacular photo in this article shows a U.S. Air Force CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft with the 7th SOS (Special Operations Squadron) flying a night mission with a full moon in the background.
The 7th SOS is a component squadron of the 352nd SOG (Special Operations Group) whose role is infiltration and exfiltration of troops from hostile, sensitive, behind-the-enemy-lines locations.
The ICH-47F is a customised version of the legendary, legacy Chinook which incorporates a secure communications system, self-protection system and advanced datalink system.
According to AgustaWestland, the new variant has a Maximum All Up Weight (MAUW) of 23 tons, is equipped with two Honeywell T55-GA-714A engines which gives it excellent “hot and high” capability and is suitable for all-weather operations. Even though it can perform a wide variety of missions, its primary one has obviously remained the same: tactical transportation of troops and equipment, both internally and externally, by means of the aircraft’s cargo hook system.
The ICH-47 is produced by a Joint Industrial Agreement between Boeing and AgustaWestland, that is prime contractor for with responsibility for systems integration, final assembly and aircraft delivery to the Italian Army. Boeing builds the fuselage in the U.S, then final assembly is carried out at Vergiate plant in Northern Italy.
Italian Navy EH-101 support SPAG (Submarine Parachute Assistance Group) activities of the e Gruppo Operativo Subacquei (G.O.S.) of COMSUBIN (Italian Navy Operational Divers Group).
Support of SPAG activities is among the tasks assigned to the 1° Gruppo Elicotteri, based at Luni, in northwestern Italy.
The unit is equipped with EH-101 Merlin helos. Among the variants in service with the squadron, there is also the EH-101 ASH (amphibious support helicopter) used to carry members of the SPAG team including the submarine escape specialists of the GOS (Gruppo Operativo Subacquei – Divers Operative Group) of COMSUBIN (Italian Navy Operational Diver and Raider Command Group), the elite commando frogman force of the Marina Militare.
Here are some images taken by The Aviationist’s photographer Giovanni Maduli during a SPAG training mission of the GOS in the sea near La Spezia.
The GOS is made of various specialists engaged in underwater activities capable to perform rescue of personnel from disabled submarines to a depth of 300 m; mine clearance operations and port facilities defense.
The Italian Air Force has retired the HH-3F Pelican after 37 years of active service. The helicopter was replaced by the HH-139A.
On Sept. 26, with a ceremony held at Pratica di Mare airport, near Rome, Italy, at the presence of the CinC of the Air Staff Gen. Pasquale Preziosa, the Italian Air Force retired the HH-3F Pelican after 37 years of active service, 185,000 flying hours and 7,000 saved lives in Search And Rescue missions (and C-SAR ones) flown across Italy and abroad.
The HH-3F helicopter, a variant of the Sikorsky S-61R produced by Agusta and in service with the 15° Stormo (Wing), will be replaced by the HH-139A, the AgustaWestland’s multipurpose chopper that the Italian Air Force has purchased in 10 examples.
The HH-139A is equipped with a brand new heavy duty landing gear, secure communications suite, integrated defensive aids suite, hoist, search light, wire cutters, nose mounted FLIR (Forward Looking Infra-Red), cargo hook, loudspeaker system and emergency floatation gear and any other oddity required to perform “convetional” search and rescue, as well as Combat SAR missions in place of the venerable AB-212 and HH-3F.
The last flight was conducted by HH-3F MM81337 “15-25″ as the images in this post, taken at Pratica di Mare by The Aviationist’s photographer Giovanni Maduli show.
Image credit: The Aviationist’s photographer Giovanni Maduli.