Category Archives: Military Aviation

Hornet Ball 2014: the best naval aviation video of the year

Once again, Hornet Ball is the best naval aviation video of the year.

The Hornet Ball (Strike Fighter Ball Pacific) is an annual event consisting of all the West coast Naval F/A-18C Legacy Hornet and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet squadrons, their pilots and guests.

Each year the event features a video, produced by “Wingnut”, a Hornet pilot himself, compiled from all the squadrons’ last year of flying in both combat and training missions: catapult launches, trap landings, aerobatics, dogfighting against Su-30s and Mig-29s, live firing of air-to-air missiles, HARM anti-radion missiles, LGBs (Laser Guided Bombs), cluster bombs, low level flying in the desert, ATFLIR  (Advanced Targeting Forward Looking Infrared) pod clips, and much more.

Here’s the Hornet Ball 2013.

H/T Tom Demerly and Al Clark for the heads-up

 

“Soviet mission markings” on a U.S. RC-135U spyplane used to monitor the Ukrainian crisis

Some interesting markings were noticed on the fuselage of a U.S. surveillance plane at RAF Mildenhall, in the UK. The reason behind them, is (somehow) unknown.

Traditionally, fighter jets that scored an air-to-air kill sport special markings (that may have the shape of stars, crosses, roundels, downed aircraft’s profile or silhouette, etc) painted on the sides. Similar markings (bombs, missiles, type of target etc) are also worn by fighter bombers to show the amount of ordnance spent by that specific aircraft against ground targets.

During “peacetime” operations, similar markings are sometimes applied to those aircraft that have scored simulated kills during mock air combat training, have dropped a new kind of weapon (on the range, for testing purposes), or have flown a specific mission. Needless to say, the markings which celebrate virtual kills are less significant than those earned during a conflict…..

However, not only tactical planes and fast jets wear these markings, as the image on this post, taken last month at RAF Mildenhall by photographer Gary Chadwick proves.

The photo shows the “mission markings” applied above the crew entry hatch, on the left hand side of the RC-135U Combat Sent 64-14849 “OF” with the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron/55th Wing of the U.S. Air Force: five hammer and sickle symbols along with the silhouettes of four aircraft carriers (outline reminds that of U.S. flattops rather than Russian Navy Admiral Kuznetsov).

The RC-135U is believed to be involved in missions to monitor the Ukrainian crisis since August 2014.

The Combat Sent is one of the most secretive U.S. surveillance planes that can simultaneously locate, identify, and analyze multiple electronic signals. It provides strategic electronic reconnaissance information, performing signal analysis by means of a wide variety of commercial off-the-shelf and proprietary hardware and software, including the Automatic Electronic Emitter Locating System.

RC-135U refuel

Above: RC-135U refueled by KC-135 over Norway during mission out of RAF Mildenhall, UK, in September

On Apr. 23, a U.S. RC-135U Combat Sent performing a routine surveillance mission in international airspace over the Sea of Okhotsk, was intercepted by a Russian Su-27 Flanker in one of the most dangerous close encounters since the Cold War.

Top image credit: Gary Chadwick

 

Photo shows F-35 SOM-J Air-Launched Cruise Missile separation tests in wind tunnel

Turkish air-launched cruise missile is being tested for integration on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

SOM (Stand-Off Missile) is a high precision cruise missile, developed since 2006 and unveiled for the first time during the 100th anniversary celebrations of the Turkish Air Force at Izmir, in June 2011.

The SOM can be used against stationary and moving targets at a distance of over 180 kilometers.

SOM-J is a low observable SOM variant designed to fit internal weapon bay of the F-35 Lightning II jet.

Another major difference is the warhead of SOM-J which is anti-ship and semi-armour piercing type with blast/fragmentation effects on soft targets (i.e. personnel, unarmoured military vehicles, radars, buildings, etc.).

The development activities have been initiated under the contract between Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (SSM) and ROKETSAN Inc. According to this contract, TÜBİTAK SAGE has been subcontracted to perform development activities.

Based on the material provided by Arda Mevlutoglu, owner of siyahgribeyaz.com, who sent us the press releases distributed by ROKETSAN during the meeting, the platform integration activities for the F-35 have started. Among the activities that have already conducted successfully, there are the wind tunnel tests.

Finalization of complete product is planned in 2018, when SOM-J will be available to all F-35 users.

H/T Arda Mevlutoglu for the heads-up

 

U.S. Air Force pilot reaches 9,000 flying hours on the B-52 Stratofortress bomber

A U.S. Air Force pilot has celebrated 9,000 flying hours on the B-52.

Lt. Col. Steve Smith, with 93rd Bomb Squadron from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, has the most flying hours in the B-52 Stratofortress: on Oct. 8, 2014, he has reached 9,000 flying hours in the iconic strategic bombers.

Smith, achieved the milestone during a flight from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. As the image shows he celebrated the 9,000th flying hour in a “Buff” with a special shoulder patch.

By the way, the next aviator is 2,000 hours behind him.

B-52 9000 FH

 

[Photo] F/A-18E lands on USS Nimitz with SLAM-ER stand-off missile

An interesting shot, shows a Super Hornet land on aircraft carrier with an AGM-84 Standoff Land Attack Missile-Expanded Response weapon.

This image shows an F/A-18E Super Hornet belonging to the Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147 Argonauts as it performs an arrested landing on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz underway conducting routine training exercises in the Pacific.

What makes the photo particularly interesting is the presence of an AGM-84 SLAM-ER on the Hornet‘s right hand underwing pylon, along with a centerline tank for buddy refueling.

The AGM-84H/K SLAM-ER (Standoff Land Attack Missile-Expanded Response) is a precision-guided, air-launched cruise missile for attack of land and sea targets at a maximum distance of 155 miles (250 km). The stand-off missile can be used for air strikes against still and moving targets, thanks to a GPS and IR (Infra-Red) imaging for its navigation and control and can be remotely controlled while in flight to be dynamically redirected to another target, should the need arise.

Even if the SLAM-ER is not a new weapon in the U.S. Navy inventor you can’t find many photos of the Super or Legacy Hornets operating from a flattop with the stand-off missile.

Image credit: U.S. Navy