Category Archives: Military Aviation

Israeli drone spotted over Gaza with new, unknown (firing?) pod

Even if it may seem to be a standard drone carrying two long range tanks, the Hermes photographed over Gaza in the last days carry an unknown type of pod. A firing pod according to our source

An Israeli source who wishes to remain anonymous sent us the photos you can find in this post.

They were taken on Jul. 24 and Jul. 29, over the southern Israeli Gaza border by AFP photographer Jack Guez and show an Hermes 450 drone.

Noteworthy, the Israeli UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) carries two previously unknown underwing pods. At first glance, they may resemble the two fuel tanks of the Hermes 450LE (Long Endurance) variant but a closer look shows they are not attached to a standard pylon but they are directly attached to the wing. Furthermore, the rear edge of this new pod, is aligned to the wing’s trailing edge.

According to our source, this is “a firing pod for a light missile,” possibly used to attack Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip but we are unable to verify it.

For sure the pod is something new, whose shape (loosely trapezoidal) reminds that of some gun pods carried by some warplanes. Hard to say whether it can really house a light missile or something else, even though we can’t completely rule it out.

Hermes 450 with new pod 2

Image credit: AFP/Jack Guez

 

This Typhoon pilot’s selfie is one of the best we’ve ever seen

Pilots from all around the world continue to send us cool, really cool “selfies”. Here’s the latest from a Typhoon pilot.

Although it was slightly edited to make it resemble a Blade Runner – inspired image, or a drawing out of comic strip, this self-portrait photo or “selfie”, taken by a Eurofighter Typhoon pilot with a Go Pro camera, is simply stunning.

We have already posted some stunning selfies in the past, like the one by an F-16 pilot with a Dreamliner on the left wing, or the one by a Danish F-16 pilot while firing a live Air-to-Air Missile.

The latest one, proves that not only “Viper” pilots, but also Typhoon fighter jocks can take fantastic selfies.

 

How the AC-130 destroyed at least 20 vehicles per night during Vietnam War

During the early days of Vietnam Conflict, the US developed a special kind of attack aircraft to stop the flow of enemy troops and supplies: the gunship.

The Gunship aircraft, born from the conversion of cargo aircraft into powerful aerial weapons armed with big guns, were based on the concept of the circling attack.

In other words, the guns were mounted on the left side of the gunship so that the plane could fly a bank circle, achieving a good accuracy in strafing the target by using high velocity guns with a caliber of at least .30.

The first two types of gunships developed by the US were the twin-engine piston powered Douglas C-47 Skytrain and Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar, but the final leap was made relying on the size, speed and heft of the Lockheed C-130 Hercules which became known in the gunships world as the AC-130 Spectre.

The first AC-130As were deployed in Vietnam in 1968. They were armed with two 20 mm and two 40 mm cannons and they flew their first missions teamed with F-4s, which had the task to attack and destroy with cluster bombs the enemy AAA (Anti Aircraft Artillery) that opened fire against the gunship.

During the first missions  the Spectre was also able to achieve an aerial victory when on May 8, 1969 an AC-130 shot down an enemy helicopter, as told by Wayne Mutza in his book Gunships The Story of Spooky, Shadow, Stinger and Spectre .

But the AC-130s were best and widely used from October 1969 to April 1970, the so called dry season, during which the NVA (North Vietnamese Army) trucks transported ammunition supplies by using the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

Spectres crews, that had the task to hunt trucks, were able to destroy and damage 25 of them in one mission: among these there were also AAA vehicles and, some times, the gunships came back to the base badly damaged. In the 1969-1970 dry season the NVA moved about 68,000 tons of provisions on the Trail, 47,000 tons of which were destroyed by the 12 deployed AC-130s with their 20 mm high density rounds and 40 mm Bofors cannons.

The 1970-1971 was even busier for the gunships since American and South Vietnamese soldiers began moving into Laos: in fact, while the numbers of AC-130s increased from 12 to 18, the western part of the Trail became filled with an always increasing number of vehicles coming from east, where interdiction sorties had concentrated. Therefore, during this period a gunship could destroy more than 25 trucks per night and the 1970-1971 dry season ended with 58,500 tons of material destroyed.

By the end of the 1971, after the NVA increased the number of the armored vehicles and the caliber of guns along the Trail, the U.S. deployed the first example of AC-130E.

As explained in detail by Wayne Mutza in his book, the new Spectre model was armed with a new more potent gun, the M102 105 mm Howitzer which replaced one of the Bofors cannons on the left side of the gunship.

The first Howitzer was installed in a gunship after it was repaired from some battle damages. Since it could fire from a distance of 12,000 meters, the Howitzer highly increased Spectre stand-off capabilities: the result was a higher kill ratio against trucks, since a vehicle hit by a 105 round had only a 10% chance to be still operable.

During its first Vietnam deployment this single howitzer-mounted AC-130E destroyed 75 trucks and damaged 92 ones with the 105, and destroyed 27 vehicles and damaged 24 ones with 40 mm fire in 32 missions.

4th Special Operations Squadron

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

 

[Video] Up close and personal with the elusive RC-135 Rivet Joint at Al Udeid airbase, Qatar

You don’t happen to see many close up footage of the RC-135 Rivet Joint spyplane.

The Rivet Joint is a U.S. strategic asset that is used by the Pentagon in every theater across the globe to draw the EOB (Electronic Order of Battle) of the enemy prior and during crisis or wars.

The aircraft is equipped with all sorts of antennae and sensors, to eavesdrop enemy signals, transmissions, detect frequencies used by radio and radars and pinpoint sites of interest, mobile stations, SAM batteries, etc. within a large area of operation, and transmit the snooped data via satellite.

Whereas an RC-135W is often launched from RAF Mildenhall, in the UK, to collect Russian emissions from the Baltic Sea, other Rivet Joint are based at Al Udeid airbase, Qatar, in the Persian Gulf, from where they operate within the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing and keep an eye on the electromagnetic spectrum of Iranian (and Iraqi) and other regional forces.

Here’s an interesting video, with some close-ups on the elusive plane.

 

Here’s the first (and second) Australian F-35 Lightning II aircraft

A sneak preview of the first and second F-35 being delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force

The first of 72 F-35s for the Royal Australian Air Force rolled out at Lockheed Martin’s Ft. Worth facility on Jul. 24.

The RAAF is expected to base the Joint Strike Fighter at two bases: Williamtown, in New South Wales, and Tindal, in the Northern Territory, where 1.5 billion USD facilities and infrastructures to support the new fifth generation radar-evading plane will be built.

Ahead of the ceremony, Lockheed Martin unveiled to media the second F-35 (top image), AU-2, which already wears the standard overall grey color scheme along with the RAAF roundels and tail marking of the No 2 Operational Conversion Unit from RAAF Williamtown.

First F-35 RAAF

Above: the first F-35 AU-1

Image credit: Lockheed Martin