Tag Archives: aircraft carrier

Maverick and Goose would not have had to bail out from their jet if they had flown a F110-powered F-14 Tomcat

Almost every aviation geek has seen the famous film Top Gun. But few of them know that if Maverick and Goose flew an F-14B they would not have had to eject during the flat spin they experienced in the movie.

Developed in the late 1960s as a multi-mission fighter, the F-14’s missions were to protect U.S. Navy Carrier Battle Groups (CBG – now CSG where “S” stands for Strike) from potential raids conducted by the Soviet bombers armed with long-range cruise missiles and to provide fighter cover for Navy attack aircraft.

The Tomcat was fitted with the potent AWG-9 radar which, supporting six AIM-54 missiles, gave the F-14 unprecedented and unparalleled mission capabilities.

Still, even though it was one of the most capable fighters in the aviation history, one problem that plagued the F-14A was the reliability of its TF30 engine. In fact, the fan blades of the Pratt & Whitney engine could break free, causing aircraft stalls and spins as a result of airflow induced engine stalls.

These problems were solved when the F-14B (former F-14A Plus), powered by a new engine, the General Electric F110-GE-400, began to enter in service in 1987.

As explained by Grumman’s Chief Test Pilot Kurt Schroeder to aviation artist and author Lou Drendel, in an interview released towards the end of the 1980s for his Squadron Signal Publications book Modern Military Aircraft: Tomcat:

“The TF30 engine’s highest stall margin, which means the difference between its operating line and where the engine will stall, occurs when it is stabilized at military power. If you would like to go to idle power when you are maneuvering, you stand a very good chance of stalling the engine. The F110 has tremendous stall margin everywhere and, at idle power, it’s higher than anywhere else. When you are maneuvering with the F110 engines, you can do whatever you want to do, whenever you want to do it.”

Moreover, with the new engine, the afterburner thrust went from 20,000 pounds per side up to 28,000 pounds per side, while dry power increased from 11,000 pounds per side to 16,000 pounds per side.

Thanks to the improved performances, Schroeder told Drendel that Maverick and Goose would not have had to bail out from their jet if they had flown a F110-powered Tomcat.

Indeed, Grumman’s Chief Test Pilot explained that the flat spin shown in the movie was “a very concern early in the F-14 program. When the aircraft is in a fully-developed flat spin, it’s going at a very high yaw rate and it is spinning down in a very small radius. In the ejection sequence, the canopy leaves first, then the back seat, then the front seat. […] The concern in a spin is that the canopy will be ejected straight up, followed shortly by the seats and the possibility exists for a collision. We have had several ejections in spins and I believe there was one case where the RIO brushed the canopy. So the scene (of the movie) was entirely possible.”

Some concern existed about the possibility of generating a stall or a spin even with the 110 engine in case its greatly increased thrust was applied asymmetrically, but Schroeder affirmed that “We deal with that easily in 110 powered aircraft. If the aircraft departs for any reason, we just pull the throttles back to idle, which just takes all the thrust effects out of the equation and you recover the aircraft. Since the 110 loves to run at idle, there is no problem. Unfortunately the TF30 does not love to run at idle and you can’t apply this solution.”

According to Schroeder the enhanced maneuverability of the 110 powered Tomcat was able to make the F-14B and F-14D superior to its adversaries in the Air Combat Maneuvering (ACM) arena.

Then, as the experienced F-14 driver said to Drendel, alongside with the new engine, the digital flight control system improved the handling qualities of the aircraft making of the Tomcat airframe the perfect platform for air to ground missions:

“The F-14 was designed to carry bombs. The Navy, however, chose not to develop that capability. There is now more and more emphasis on carrier deck loading and development of multi-mission aircraft, with the F/A-18 as the primary example of that. The F-14 is very capable of performing the air-to-ground mission, mainly because of our range and the fact that we carry the weapons conformally on the fuselage between the engine nacelles, which results in much less of a drag penalty than carrying bombs on the wings. The technology to enhance the radar for this mission has already been developed in the form of the F-15E.”

The F-14 was retired on Sep. 22, 2006, but the last years spent as U.S. Navy’s premiere fighter bomber confirmed Schroeder claims and were a proof of the reliability reached by the Tomcat thanks to the improvements it had received, the most important of which was the F110 engine.

 

 

Strike Fighter Ball 2014: the new, stunning, East Coast naval F/A-18 Hornet squadrons video!

Badass video by the East Coast Hornet squadrons.

An F/A-18 pilot at NAS Oceana has produced the Strike Fighter Ball 2014, this year’s video with the most spectacular footage filmed by the East Coast Naval F/A-18C Legacy Hornet and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet squadrons.

As the West Coast’s Hornet Ball 2014, East’s Strike Fighter Ball 2014  features low level flying over the Desert, catapult launches, trap landings, flybys, aerobatics, formation flying, dogfighting against F-15s, plenty of live firing of air-to-air missiles, JDAMs (Joint Direct Attack Munitions), LGBs (Laser Guided Bombs) and ATFLIR  (Advanced Targeting Forward Looking Infrared) pod clips.

Strike Fighter 2014 back

The video shows also some International Space Station clips, most probably to honor NASA Astronaut Reid Wiseman, who spent 165 aboard ISS earlier this year with Exp. 41 and was previously assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 103, Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia, flying the FA-18F Super Hornet.

Last but not least, the Strike Fighter Ball video of the East Coast squadrons features much anti-ISIS air strike footage.

Strike Fighter Ball 2014 from NO, EVERYTHING on Vimeo.

Strike Fighter 2014

H/T to “Strobes” for the heads-up

 

Video of F-35C jet’s first carrier-based night flight operations aboard aircraft carrier

F-35C Lightning II Conducts First Night Flight Ops During Developmental Testing aboard USS Nimitz

On Nov. 3, F-35C CF-3 piloted by Navy test pilot Cmdr. Tony Wilson, conducted the very first arrested landing of the Joint Strike Fighter plane on a supercarrier.

Following the first successful arrested landings (the second came on the same day, with F-35C CF-5), the two jets of the F-35 Lightning II Pax River Integrated Test Force from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23, performed a series of catapult launches, touch-and-gos and arrested landings.

On Nov. 13, at 6:01 p.m. (PST), the JSF had another first when it was launched for the first carrier-based night flight operations aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68). After a series of planned touch-and-go landings, the aircraft came for an arrested landing at 6:40 pm.

Here’s an interesting video of the first night ops aboard a U.S. Navy flattop.

Image credit: U.S. Navy

 

[Photo] F/A-18E Super Hornet VFA-81 CAG bird (with POW markings, sharkmouth) during night ops aboard USS Carl Vinson

F/A-18E Super Hornet from the Sunliners of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 81 about to be launched from flight deck of USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70).

U.S. Navy CAG birds (aircraft in special liveries, officially assigned to commanding officer of United States Navy Carrier Air Groups) take part in air strikes in Syria and Iraq alongside all the other warplanes wearing standard paint schemes and low-visibility markings.

The photo in this post shows the striking F/A-18E Super Hornet BuNo 166830, Modex “200”, CAG bird of the VFA-81 “Sunliners” with POW-MIA art work on the tail and sharkmouth applied to the aircraft back in 2013, being marshalled onto the catapult during night ops.

The aircraft does not seem to carry weapons, hence it was probably only involved in a routine training mission.

USS Carl Vinson is currently supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, launching air strikes against ISIS targets in both Iraq and Syria from the U.S. 5th Fleet AOR (Area of Operations).

Image credit: U.S. Navy

 

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