Category Archives: Military Aviation

Eurofighter Typhoon with conformal fuel tanks

Typhoon model with conformal fuel tanks in the BAE Systems wind tunnel

A Typhoon model fitted with conformal fuel tanks

CFTs (Conformal Fuel Tanks) have always been one of the features Eurofighter was thinking about since the Typhoon was pitched for the Indian MMRCA (Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft) and UAE fighter deals.

It looks like BAE Systems has eventually started the testing that will help to accelerate the clearance process by assessing the aerodynamic characteristics of carrying two fuselage mounted conformal fuel tank at the company’s world class high speed wind tunnel facility in the UK.

Actually, a mock up Typhoon was already fitted with CFTs and showcased at several exhibitions and airshows around the world, including Al Ain, earlier this year, where photographer Luigi Sani took the image below.

Typhoon CFT Al Ain

Image credit: BAe Systems (Top); Luigi Sani (Bottom).

The Typhoon is not only getting the CFTs: testing has also started to integrate air-launched cruise missiles, like the Storm Shadow and the Taurus.


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The crazy story of the Nigerian Air Force C-130H Hercules’s flight to Cambridge in 2011

NAF arrival

The Nigerian C-130H-30 that had arrived at Cambridge in August 2011, was eventually air tested. Here is its weird story.

On Apr. 16, Nigerian Air Force C-130H-30, registration NAF918, conducted a test flight from Cambridge airport.

The air test came slightly less than three years after the aircraft had arrived on Aug. 28, 2011, from Lagos, Nigeria, where it had been dumped, out of use, for a period of 7-10 years.

When U.S. financed restoration program, the Hercules was flown to the UK for major overhaul with Marshalls Aerospace. But its ferry flight was a sort-of Odyssey as The Aviationist’s contributor Tony Lovelock, who took the photographs in this article, recalls.

“Since the aircraft was unable to pressurise, due to massive corrosion of the front windscreen frames, it was flown low level at 12,000 feet from Lagos to England, by pilots wearing helmets and oxygen masks,” Lovelock says.

“Radar and communication systems were also unserviceable, therefore navigation was based on road maps, and a hand held Satellite Navigation; radio communication with London Military, was ensured by a hand held Mobile phone.”

The radio failed as the aircraft was inside the French airspace. Mirage 2000s were scrambled to intercept and shadow the 30-year old cargo across the Channel and hand it over to the RAF Typhoons of the 11 Sqn QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) from Coningsby, which eventually escorted it until landing at Cambridge airport.

Upon arrival, the aircraft was met by dozens of Immigration Officers and Police, as someone had made a hoax telephone call, saying there were up to 50 Nigerians on board , who were trying to attempt an illegal entry into the UK.

“The aircraft, was immediately impounded and grounded, de fumigated and inspected for snakes, beetles and other non indigenous creatures that were to be found, were either removed, or killed, by Rentokill.”

Following inspection by Marshalls inspectors, work sheets were prepared and work eventually proceeded to return this aircraft to an airworthy condition. Twenty months later, having exceeded its anticipated financial budget many times, during what eventually became almost a complete rebuild, NAF918 finally departed Marshall Air field, Cambridge, runway 23 for its first Air Test at 17:30 LT, returning at 19:30, on Apr. 16, 2014.

The image below shows NAF918 as it prepares for the test flight on Apr. 16.


The flight on Apr. 15 was cancelled due to an oil leak from number one engine, and electrical snags that had manifested on Tuesday but were fixed on Wednesday morning, just in time for the flight scheduled for later that day.

Overhaul works were originally expected to last only four months…

Image credit: Tony Lovelock


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Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16 demo team’s inverted selfie

RNlAF Dutch demo team inverted

Once again a cool selfie taken from the cockpit of an F-16 Fighting Falcon.

The latest example of self-portrait photo most probably taken with a GoPro camera from the cockpit of an F-16 comes from the Royal Netherlands Air Force: a cool series of “selfies” was posted by the Dutch Demo team on their Facebook page.

The shots, from various points of view, were taken during last week’s display practice at Gilze-Rijen airbase.

RNlAF Dutch demo team

Image credit: RNlAF Demo Team

The Dutch F-16 demo team 2014-2015 is based at Leeuwarden Airbase: the homebase of the team shifts between Volkel and Leeuwarden Airbase every two years.

The RNLAF F-16 Demo Team 2014-2015 is made of personnel from both the 323 and 322 Squadrons, based at Leeuwarden Airbase. The team consists of one display pilot, Captain Jeroen “Slick” Dickens, four display coaches, eight technical specialists and a webmaster.


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Another insane Russian helicopter low altitude flyby


A Russian combat helicopter performs an impressive, quite dangerous, low pass.

Few days ago, we published an article about the fully armed Ukrainian Air Force Mig-29 performing an impressive and unusual show of force in eastern Ukraine where pro-Russia separatists blocked the rails.

The Kamov Ka-52 Alligator is an all-weather attack helicopter featuring the distinctive coaxial rotor system of the Kamov design bureau.

Although the combat helicopter, usually employed as an armed scout chopper, equips the Russian army since 1995, you don’t happen to see them around every day.

By the way a few were seen supporting the initial helicopter armada during the Russian invasion of Crimea last month.

For this reason any video showing this weird aircraft is quite interesting. Even more if the Alligator performs an impressive, dangerous pass at ultra-low altitude.

H/T to Marsattaque blog for the heads-up


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B-2 Spirit or new Mysterious Stealth Plane? New image of triangular shaped plane emerges

Mystery plane over Wichita new

A new image taken in February seems to show the same mysterious plane photographed over Texas last month.

On Mar. 10, 2014 Steve Douglass and Dean Muskett took the famous photographs of three mysterious planes flying at very high altitude over Amarillo, Texas.

The images they took showed what looked like an almost boomerang shaped plane, equipped with two engines (or at least two exhaust nozzles).

Noteworthy, something quite similar was spotted in February this year in Wichita, Kansas.

As reported by KSN, Jeff Templin, an amateur photographer who was taking pictures of wildlife back in February, shot a silent triangular shaped plane leaving what looked like an unusual contrail.

The top image is a crop of the photo Templin took from the ground back then.

Is this the same plane spotted over Texas by Douglass and Muskett or is it just a B-2?

Even though we can’t be 100% sure, the above image (click here for a higher resolution version) doesn’t seem to show a B-2 Spirit, even if the shape can be distorted by reflection, distance, and several other factors.

Provided it is really a new black project, there are several theories about the role of the mysterious triangular/boomerang shaped plane: some believe it could be an RQ-180 stealth drone or, more likely, a prototype of the American next generation LRSB (long range strike bomber).

Updated: user Dayanx on Reddit, filtered the image and highlighted the possible shape of the aircraft. Don’t you think it’s quite similar to the shape I created with Ugo Crisponi from the first blurry images taken at Amarillo?

Judge by yourself:

Mystery plane over Wichita filtered+rendering

Image credit: Jeff Templin via KSN (H/T to Steve Douglass)


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