Category Archives: Military Aviation

The F-16 and the Forward Air Controller (Airborne) mission

The Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon is the western world’s most prolific fighter of the last 40 years.

Born in response to LWF (Light Weight Fighter) requirement for a small and agile fighter, the Viper has become U.S. Air Force’s standard multirole jet.

Among the many tasks that the F-16 can perform, there is also the Forward Air Controller (Airborne) or FAC (A) mission.

In the cool video below you can see the strafing run of eight F-16CJs belonging to 22nd and 23rd Fighter Squadrons from Spangdahlem AB, during a NATO FACs exercise held at Nordhorn Range in Germany on Aug. 20, 2009.

But which are the skills requested to perform a FAC(A) mission?

In this kind of mission, the airborne platform has also the task to allocate fighters to targets designated by the ground troops.

Even if the FAC(A) concept dates back to WWII and, later, Korea Air War, nowadays the job generally requires a single seat plane, with a quite busy pilot who runs the radios, coordinates the attack runs with the ground troops, writes down some specific data information and flies the aircraft.

Aircraft flying FAC(A) missions usually carry a wide variety of ordnance such as dumb bombs, white phosphorus rockets (used to mark targets for inbound attackers) and also 20 mm rounds which flank the latest precision guided munitions that the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS) and Sniper targeting pod (along with Link 16 and other on board tech) make more efficient.

The FAC(A) manages the Close Air Support stack, that is the vertical pier of airplanes that respond to the FAC(A)’s call for support.

While flying his own airplane and avoiding enemy Surface to Air Missiles (SAMs) and Anti Aircraft Artillery (AAA), the FAC(A) must keep track simultaneously the CAS stack which is made up of different types of aircraft, with many different types of air-to-ground munitions most of the times, and furthermore they have different loiter times, airspeeds and ability to hit targets on the ground.

Moreover the FAC(A) also coordinates army artillery fires. Therefore, it’s a quite busy mission!

The F-16, a fast jet that offers its pilot an impressive visibility, can carry plenty of ordnance, is maneuverable even at low-speed and high AOA (Angle of Attack) and can effectively cooperate with different types of aircraft, is the perfect asset to perform FAC(A) missions.

Another aircraft quite good in the same role is the OA-10 Warthog.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

 

U.S. Air Force F-15C crashes in Virginia

104th Fighter Wing F-15C crashed earlier today in in Virginia’s Augusta County.

A pilot is still missing after a 104th Fighter Wing F-15C jet went down during a cross country mission.

At approximately 9:05 a.m. LT on Aug. 27, radio contact with an F-15C was lost as the unarmed aircraft was flying over the Shenandoah Valley Virginia. According to the 104th FW Press Release, the pilot flying the Eagle aircraft reported an inflight emergency prior to radio contact being lost.

The aircraft crashed in a remote, wooded area not far from the Virginia-West Virginia border. Even though the status of the pilot is still unknown, there are unverified reports by witnesses that saw an ejection and subsequent chute.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

 

A 360 angle “globe” image of a Tornado GR4 aircraft

Here’s a Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 as you have never seen it before.

This is a No II (AC) Sqn Tornado GR4 based at RAF Marham, through a fisheye lens for an interesting 360 angle ‘globe’ image.

No. 2 Squadron’s role is Army Co-Operation as reflected in the “AC” of its title.

Tornado GR4 from RAF Marham have been conducting reconnaissance missions out RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus, supporting UK airdrops in Iraq.

Image credit: Crown Copyright/SAC Lee Matthews

 

Royal New Zealand Air Force T-6 Texan II aircraft make stop at Stansted

Some quite rare and interesting visitors at Stansted airport.

Two Royal New Zealand Air Force T-6 Texan II aircraft, NZ1401/01 (N2824B) and NZ1402/02 (N2826) believed to be destined to 42 Sqd/Central Flying School at RNZAF Base Ohakea made a stopover into Stansted airport on the afternoon of Aug. 2.

The aircraft came from Keflavik and were on their delivery flight to the RNZAF.

RNZAF T-6 2

Image credit: Tony Lovelock

 

Join an F-16 pilot on a low level mission over Greenland with a GoPro

HQ video with RDAF F-16s low level over Greenland ice sheet.

Here’s another interesting footage filmed with GoPro cameras of a Royal Danish Air Force F-16 flying along the ice rim east of Kangerlussuaq, to the DYE-2 radar station, over the icefjord near Ilulissat, over the inspectionship Knud Rasmussen, and over the town of Ilussisat where the polar explorer Knud Rasmussen was born.

The RDAF deployed three F-16s from the Fighter Wing Skrydstrup to Greenland. Only two aircraft were fitted with 600 gal extra-tanks borrowed from Portuguese Air Force and and these two (with arctic-day glow missiles – the remaining aircraft was probably a spare) deployed north to Thule AB and south to Nuuk (Greenlands capital).

H/T to Eggert Norðdahl for providing some more details about the RDAF deployment and to John Kristensen for the link to the video