Tag Archives: Afghanistan

[Photo] U.S. A-10 Warthogs during aerial refueling over Afghanistan

An interesting gallery of U.S. Air Force’s A-10s being refueled over Afghanistan.

Taken on Jul. 10, 2014, the images in this post show U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft assigned to the 303rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, from Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, refueled over Eastern Afghanistan by a KC-135 Stratotanker with the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron from Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar July 10, 2014.

Operation Enduring Freedom

The A-10′s armored fuselage, maneuverability at slow speeds and low altitude has made the Thunderbolt (known as Warthog by its pilots) one of the best (if not the best) CAS (Close Air Support) asset throughout Operation Enduring Freedom (and several more operations, including Desert Storm).

Operation Enduring Freedom

However, the U.S. Air Force has plans to retire the A-10C aircraft between 2015 and 2018, even if the deadline might be postponed until 2028.

Operation Enduring Freedom

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

 

U.S. airborne communication plane could be tracked on the Web for 9 hours during air strike that killed Taliban leaders in Afghanistan

At least seven Taliban militants were killed following a NATO air raid Afghanistan. Noteworthy, a sign of the developing operation may have been a U.S. Air Force E-11A BACN plane orbiting over southeasern Ghazni province, clearly visible on Flightradar24.com.

Although many military aircraft are equipped with Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) transponders they are usually turned off during real war operations. In fact, by automatically broadcasting the plane’s callsign, GPS position, speed and altitude, these special transponders provide information about the plane can be received by ground stations, by other nearby aircraft (thus enhancing situational awareness) and also by commercial off-the-shelf or home-built receivers.

Flightradar24 and PlaneFinder have a network of several hundred feeders around the world who make the flight information received by their home kits available for anybody on their websites, or by means of their smartphone apps.

Even though some pilots have confirmed they are well aware of the above mentioned websites and for this reason are instructed to turn off their transponders when involved in real operation, during the opening stages of the Libya Air War, some of the aircraft involved in the air campaign forgot/failed to switch off their mode-S or ADS-B transponder, and were clearly trackable on FR.24 or PF.net.

Three years later, a U.S. plane involved in war mission over Afghanistan could be monitored for several hours as it circled at 41,000 feet to the southeast of Ghazni.

The aircraft did not broadcast its mission callsign, but based on the hex code FR24 could identify it as a Bombardier Global 6000 aircraft, an advanced ultra long-range business jet that has been modified by the U.S. Air Force to accomodate Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) payload.

Within the U.S. Air Force, the modified jet is designated E-11A.

BACN is technological “gateway” system that allows aircraft with incompatible radio systems and datalinks to exchange tactical information and communicate.

By orbiting at high-altitude, BACN equipped air assets provide a communications link from ground commanders to their allies in the sky regardless of the type of the supporting aircraft and in a non-line-of-sight (LOS) environment. In the rugged, mountainous terrain of Afghanistan, troops are not always able to establish LOS communications with close support aircraft overhead and moving position or relocating to higher ground could be fatal. In such situation, a legacy USAF A-10 attack aircraft could loiter away from the battlefield while using the BACN link to communicate with a special-forces Joint Terminal Air Controller (JTAC) on the ground until all targeting information is ready before “un-masking” and beginning an attack run.

The BACN system is also deployed onboard EQ-4B Global Hawk UAVs.

Anyway, the E-11A could be tracked on FR24.com for about 9 hours, from 21.54 UTC on Aug. 10 to 06.45 UTC on Aug. 11, when the aircraft got out of the flightradar24 coverage while returning back to Kandahar airfield (?). At the same time a NATO air strike in the same zone killed seven Taliban and wounded four.

Next time NATO is preparing a similar operation, the presence of the orbiting E-11A could expose and jeopardize the imminent air strike.

H/T to Jerod Harris for the heads-up.

Image credit: screenshot form flightradar24.com

 

Taliban Video of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl exchange reveals several details about U.S. Army planes and choppers involved in the handover

The video of the Taliban handing Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl over to the US military in Afghanistan reveals the presence of several assets, including some spooky King Air 300s.

Even if both parties had probably agreed almost every detail of the handover, the video of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl being released by the Taliban shows that the U.S. military took some further measures to ensure that the meeting would not turn into an ambush.

Indeed, the footage shows that some minutes before the first U.S. Army MH-60 (probably belonging to the 160th Special Operations Air Regiment “Night Stalkers”) appeared, at least two King Air 300s (or quite similar U.S. Air Force MC-12Ws) were already circling nearby.

Needless to say, they were not there by accident.

MH-60 Taliban video

U.S. Army King Air 300s, known as MARSS, Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System, perform ELINT (Electronic Intelligence), COMINT (Communication Intelligence), direction finding as well as Full Motion Video broadcasting to patrols on the ground.

These Army planes are particularly important for counter-IED operations during which they fly overwatch sorties along travel routes ahead of ground convoys to detect any suspect insurgent activity or side bomb sign.

MH-60 Taliban video ground

Their role in the handover scene was similar: they were monitoring the rendez-vous point, scanning the gestures of any Taliban in the valley to see if the meeting was actually an ambush to blow up the helicopter, possibly in front of the camera.

Even the U.S. individual who first meets Bergdahl seems to check his body for a suicide vest or something like that.

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[Photo] Tidal Wave of Sand and Dust approaching Camp Bastion in Afghanistan

An interesting image of Camp Bastion eerily still as a sandstorm approaches one of the main strategic bases in Afghanistan.

As already explained, sandstorms move extremely fast and can completely darken large areas in a very short time.

Airfields in Afghanistan can be particularly affected by such phenomena. Camp Bastion, Helmand, the main strategic base in the southwestern part of the country (that includes U.S. Camp Leatherneck and UK’s Camp Bastion), where several aircraft are deployed, is one of them.

The image in this post, taken by Cpl Daniel Wiepen and published on social media by Imagery Team at the UK Ministry of Defence, shows what a tidal wave of sand and dust approaching the base looks like.

If you want to see what a similar scene looks like from inside a C-130J click here.

On Sept. 14, 2012, a squad of 15 Taliban fighters breached the perimeter fence and launched an assault on the airfield, that took out several US Marine Corps Harriers with the loss of two Marines including the Harrier squadron commander. Since then, base security spending has increased and the size of the mixed Task Force which provide Camp Leatherneck and Camp Bastion’s security has nearly tripled.

Interestingly, the above image shows also one of the two white “spy blimps” that along with next-generation cameras, ground-based observational surveillance systems, and a tiny drone, support the Task Force.

If you want to see the image of the sandstorm at higher resolution click here.

Image credit: Crown Copyright

 

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(Fake) Video shows triangular shaped aircraft attack Taliban camp in Afghanistan

A mysterious triangular shaped airborne object attacks Taliban camp in a video allegedly filmed by U.S. Marines. Genuine or fake? Fake.

The following footage was allegedly filmed in Afghanistan by U.S. Marines that captured this footage of what looks like an Unidentified Flying Object, hovering over a Taliban camp in Afghanistan before attacking and destroying it.

Although triangle-shaped, hence resembling the mysterious planes spotted over Kansas and Texas, the UFO seems to be smaller than the two aircraft photographed at high altitude over Continental U.S.

Here’s a screenshot showing the aircraft.

Mystery triangle Afghanistan close-up

Is the video genuine?

No.

Here’s an interesting analysis.

The footage was posted on a Youtube channel with tons of videos of spacecrafts and UFOs, some of which are clearly fake, doctored videos.

Even if secret drones and new stealth planes really exist, this video is probably not among the evidences of those Black Projects and the triangular aircraft was added in post-editing on a video of an ammunition pile being detonated.

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