Tag Archives: aircraft carrier

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

 

[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

 

The U.S. forces that could be used to strike ISIS in Iraq and Syria

It won’t be easy to strike all ISIS positions in Syria and Iraq. But the U.S. has already amassed several “useful” weapons systems in the region.

Last year, when the U.S. (and France) seemed to be about to launch air strikes on Syria and its chemical weapons, we explained that the air campaign would probably be a limited air war, opened by the usual rain of cruise missiles shot by warships, submarines and bombers with little to no involvement of the so-called “tacair”, the tactical airplanes.

13 months later, the scenario has changed a bit.

Several F-15E Strike Eagles and F/A-18E/F Super Hornets carrying their PGMs (Precision Guided Munitions), are already flying over Iraq hitting ISIS targets five times a day, and they prepare to expand their mission to attack terrorist targets located in Syria.

Whilst last year there was no sign of imminent deployment of F-15s, F-16s or F-18s squadrons to airfields across the region, several warplanes, along with support assets (including tankers and ISR – Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance – platforms) are not only in place, but they are also flying daily missions over Iraq since July.

And, above all, there’s a supercarrier and its powerful Strike Group sailing in the Persian Gulf and pounding militants.

Stand-off weapons, cruise missiles and….stealth bombers?

Since U.S. planes are already freely flying inside Iraqi airspace, it is quite likely they will continue to do so to perform surgical attacks on ISIS targets in Iraq. The aircraft are deployed to Al Udeid, Qatar, and Al Dhafra, UAE, but they could also count of Jordan airbases, some of which already host some U.S. Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornets and Air Force F-16s.

On the other side, Syrian targets will be more difficult to hit: unless Washington will be allowed to use Syria’s airspace any incursion could theoretically require plenty of Electronic Warfare cover and SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defense) support to make Syrian Air Defense harmless. In other words, the unathorized use of Damascus airspace would not be cost-effective along with causing diplomatic issues, as it would require the U.S. to fight a war against Syria (by blinding or destroying Syrian radars and SAM – Surface to Air Missile – batteries) and against ISIS in Syria. And don’t forget that some Syrian Arab Air Air Force planes are fighting their war against local rebels and this raises two issues: deconfliction with SyAAF planes and the risk of being shot down by MANPADS (Man Portable Air Defense Systems) or other Anti-Aircraft weaponry in the hands of the Free Syrian Army.

A more clandestine approach is probably ahead, with a war made of drone strikes, stand-off weapons, and some limited stealth air strikes.

Dealing with drones, as said, they are already operating in Iraq, hence, they could extend their current mission to perform Strike Coordination And Reconnaissance missions in or close to Syria from Incirlik, in Turkey, that has been used as a drone forward operating base, for several years.

Cruise missiles could be fired U.S. destroyers theoretically capable to launch up to 90 Tomahawks Tactical Cruise Missiles as the USS Cole, currently in the Sixth fleet area of operations.

Some more cruise missiles could be fired by U.S. strategic bombers that would perform some global reach, round trip missions from the US (as well as from Diego Garcia): for sure, B-2 Spirit stealth bombers‘ r/t sorties from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, to be followed by some more B-1 air strikes  as done during the Libya Air War in 2011, and possibly B-52 ones.

Wars are always an opportunity to test new weapons systems so we can’t rule out an extended campaign in Iraq and Syria will eventually see the baptism of fire of the F-22 Raptor as a multi-role jet or even the mysterious triangle-shaped bomber spotted over the U.S. few months ago. Six F-22s are already stationed at Al Dhafra, in the Gulf area.

High flying U-2 Dragon Lady aircraft and Global Hawk drones flying from Incirlik, Sigonella or Al Dhafra are already getting the required imagery and will perform the post-strike BDA (Battle Damage Assessment) should the need arise.

Even if it will be an American air war, allied air arms will take part in the strike. France was about to fire some Scalp missiles from a handful of Rafale jets in 2013; they will probably ready their “omnirole” fighter jets this time. The UK has already committed some Tornado GR4s to perform reconnaissace and air-to-surface missions, whereas the Italian MoD has affirmed Rome is ready to offer its tanker aircraft (most probably the advanced KC-767 aerial refuelers).

Image credit: U.S. Air Force