Category Archives: Military Aviation

Rare insight into F-22 Raptor vs T-38 Talon aerial combat training at Langley

This is how F-22 fighter pilots train to improve their air-to-air skills.

The venerable T-38 Talon which first flew in 1959 (production ceased in 1972) has found new life as an adversary aircraft used to hone the skills of Raptor pilots. The aircraft, pulled from storage at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and refurbished with current systems (including jamming pods such as the AN/ALQ-188) have been deployed in support squadrons at Holloman AFB, Tyndall AFB and Langley AFB (Joint Base Langley–Eustis).

The T-38s provide an excellent simulation of a number of non-stealthy adversaries that Raptors could come into contact with from countries around the globe. Beyond their value as adversaries, the Talon’s cost per flight hour is reported as $18,000 less than the Raptor and they preserve precious flight hours on the F-22s.

Small, relatively fast, and painted black the Talons are difficult to put eyes on, though primary training would imply detection and “shoot down” BVR (Beyond Visual Range).

The T-38s are typically flown by Raptor pilots who are the most qualified to challenge the Raptor, and exploit any and all perceived air-to-air vulnerabilities. Imagine a widely dispersed flight of T-38s moving fast at 50 ft off the water attempting to penetrate an area under Raptor CAP (Combat Air Patrol). The final result most certainly makes Raptor pilots extremely familiar and confident in their aircraft and its capabilities as they push both sides of an engagement thoroughly.

T-38 Langley

A typical day at Langley features the launching of groups of Raptors (1st Fighter Wing) and Talon adversaries (27th Fighter Squadron) morning and afternoon on two hour sorties for Tactical Intercepts and Offensive/Defensive Counter-Air training.

The training realized in these daily encounters ensure mission ready, mission capable pilots are available for deployment to any number of global hotspots. Perhaps most significantly this training provides an unparalleled level of confidence for Raptor pilots, for it is one thing to believe you are invisible, and another to know you are. It is this kind of confidence that leads to engagements like that of the F-22 Raptors sliding up undetected and unexpected on IRIAF (Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force) F-4 Phantom jets that were attempting to intercept a U.S. MQ-1 drone flying in international airspace off Iran.

Leaving no doubt, Raptors with Talons are more dangerous than Raptors alone.

Special thanks to the PAO of Joint Base Langley–Eustis.

Todd Miller lives in MD, US where he is an Executive at a Sustainable Cement Technology Company in the USA. When not working, Todd is an avid photographer of military aircraft and content contributor.

 

Mystery surrounds video showing Alitalia flight escorted by two German Eurofighters

A quite unusual sight for the passengers of an Alitalia Airbus 320 from Amsterdam escorted by two German Eurofighters for about 20 minutes.

A video of two German Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets escorting an Alitalia flight has emerged after some passengers reported that their plane, on a scheduled flight from Amsterdam to Rome Fiumicino, had been flanked and escorted by German warplanes.

Indeed, the footage, filmed with a smartphone shows the two Typhoons shadowing the civil plane.

Based on Flightradar24.com logs, the civil liner, an Airbus A320 registration EI-DSM, took off from Schipol at about 12.20 PM LT, climbed at 35,000 feet and crossed the German airspace flying more or less over Dusseldorf, Cologne, the west of Frankfurt and Stuttgard.

According to Fabio Guccione, owner of a travel agency in Palermo, who talked to several media outlets: “Someone asked the hostess to have information from the pilots about the reasons of the “escort”. But after a few minutes the flight attendant came back saying that the captain did not want to say anything.”

Civilian planes are escorted by interceptors when they lack diplomatic clearance to cross a sovereign airspace, for bomb threats, radio failures and, generally speaking any time the local Air Defense, usually after coordinating the intercept with nearby radar centers and ATC agencies, decide to perform a so-called VID (Visual Identification) of a plane to verify its identity, adherence to the filled FPL (Flight Plan) etc.

Sometimes, air defense radars ask (through the relevant ATC agency) flights passing through their sector whether they would be willing to be intercepted for training purposes; still, such requests are addressed to other military aircraft and not to civil planes, whose passengers could be scared by the sight of two (usually) armed combat planes.

Image credit: Eurofighter

H/T to Giuseppe Stilo for the heads-up

 

U.S. Air Force deploys F-22 stealth jets to Japan as a deterrence to North Korea and as a show of force to China

American F-22 stealth aircraft have been deployed to Japan for a deterrence and security exercise in the region.

U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor stealth multi-role aircraft from 525th Fighter Squadron at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, deployed to Kadena Air Base, in Japan, to take part in exercise Keen Sword, underway from Nov. 8 through Nov. 19.

The deployment has a dual purpose: let U.S. aircrews fly and train with local Japan Air Self Defense Forces, and show the presence of Washington’s most advanced fighter plane in service in a region where tensions have risen over maritime disputes in the South China Sea.

Held biennially since 1986, Exercise Keen Sword includes anti-submarine warfare, surface warfare, air-to-air and air defense warfare scenarios. This year, the drills involve about 11,000 personnel from U.S. Forces Japan, 5th Air Force, U.S. Naval Forces Japan, U.S. Army Japan, and III Marine Expeditionary Force. Among the Air Force units taking part in the exercise there are also 33rd Rescue Squadron from Kadena and 212th Rescue Squadron from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, that are training with their Japanese colleagues at Komatsu Air Base.

According to the Air Force, F-22s, that have had their combat first against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, have recently been active in training exercises in the region, “serving as a deterrence to North Korea and as a show of force to China.”

Earlier this year Raptors operated out of Osan Air Base, South Korea as part of large-scale exercise Foal Eagle.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

 

In photos, U.S. Air Force B-1 bombers blast through Green Flag-West 15-02

B-1B Lancer bombers at work at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, and over the Southern California desert during Green Flag exercise.

B-1 bombers, assigned to the 34th Bomb Squadron, from Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, have deployed to Nellis AFB, Nevada, to take part in Green Flag-West exercise.

Las Vegas background

Green Flag-West provides combat training to joint and coalition warfighters in the art of air-land integration and the joint employment of airpower at the U.S. Army National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California.

B-1 on apron

The images shows the “Bones” (as the B-1 is nicknamed among aircrews), both on the ground and while being refueled mid-air by a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 93rd Air Refueling Squadron, Fairchild AFB, Washington, temporary assigned at Nellis Air Force Base.

B-1 tails

The B-1’s blended body configuration, variable-geometry wings and turbofan engines with afterburners provide long-range employment, maneuverability and high speed while enhancing survivability. Moreover, the plane can rapidly deliver massive quantities of precision and non-precision weapons operating from deployment bases (as happening in Syria) as well as on Global Power round-trip missions from the Continental U.S.

B-1 refuel

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

 

U.S. Air Force teaming F-22s with F-35s to maximise their 5th Generation capabilities

U.S. Air Force is starting to integrate its F-35s and F-22s to improve fifth-generation tactics.

Four F-22 Raptors belonging to the the 94th Fighter Squadron, from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, deployed to Eglin Air Force Base, Florida to conduct joint training with the local-based F-35A Lightning IIs from the 58th Fighter Squadron.

The joint training was aimed at improving integration between the two most advanced radar-evading planes in service with the U.S. Air Force: flying mixed formations, the F-22s and F-35s flew OCA (offensive counter air), DCA (defensive counter air) and interdiction missions, maximizing the capabilities provided by operating two fifth-generation platforms together.

“The missions started with basic air-to-air and surface attacks,” said Maj. Steven Frodsham, F-22 pilot and 149th Fighter Squadron, Virginia Air National Guard in an Air Force press release. “As the training progressed, the missions developed into more advanced escort and defensive counter air fifth-generation integration missions.”

Fifth-generation capabilities had their combat debut with the F-22 in the air-to-ground role during the early stages of Operation Inherent Resolve, against ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria. The successful baptism of fire reaffirmed the pivotal role played by stealth technologies and sensor fusion capabilities, brought together by 5th Gen. warplanes, in current scenarios.

Earlier this year Chief of U.S. Air Force Air Combat Command Gen. Michael Hostage said the F-35 is what USAF needs to keep up with the adversaries but the F-22 Raptor will have to support the Joint Strike Fighter even though its service life extension and modernisation plan will cost a lot. Because, as he explained: “If I do not keep that F-22 fleet viable, the F-35 fleet frankly will be irrelevant. The F-35 is not built as an air superiority platform. It needs the F-22.

That’s why the U.S. Air Force has already started to team Joint Strike Fighters with Raptors.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force