Although it’s hard to believe these images depict Soviet maritime patrol aircraft flying in U.S. Navy markings May 9, 2013Posted by David Cenciotti in : Military Aviation , 7comments
The following images were brought to my attention by writer Miguel Vargas-Caba.
Author of “Bear: Flight to Liberty”, during research for his novels, Miguel has acquired an extensive collection of Soviet and Russian articles, videos, documentaries, books, hundreds of photos, etc., illustrating the Soviet Armed Forces during the Cold War, as well as the Russian Armed Forces of today.
Among the material he has collected, there are the following images (probably stills taken from a video) depicting a real Il-38 of the Soviet Naval Aviation painted with US insignias for a Soviet movie called “Incident at Square 36-80″ made in 1982 by Mosfilm.
“The movie was about “an American nuclear sub” that got in troubles and threatens to blow up and contaminate the ocean. Before the sub sank, the Soviet Navy comes to the rescue of the unfortunate, stranded American sailors, and saves the day.
A nice, if somewhat prophetic movie, although on the wrong side. In October 1986 Soviet submarine K-219 (seen in the movie “The Widow Maker” with Harrison Ford) had an accident onboard, when one of its torpedos blew up, causing it to sink. One happened in fiction, the other, for real.
Broken Arrow incidents: when U.S. B-52 bombers lost their nuclear weapons during the Cold War April 24, 2013Posted by Dario Leone in : Military Aviation, Military History , 4comments
Back in 1955, when it entered the operational service with the U.S. Air Force Strategic Air Command (SAC), the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress had the nuclear strike against the Soviet forces as its main mission.
During the Cold War, in particular between the end of the 1950s and the beginning of the 1960s the United States and the Soviet Union nuclear arsenals grew up so much that the Doomsday Scenario appeared to be quite close so as the consequent danger of the worst case scenario: the MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction).
The MAD soon became also a principle which stated that a nuclear power would not try the destruction of another one due to the fear that it would be destroyed itself.
To ensure the application of the MAD principle both super powers created their own nuclear deterrent. U.S. one was made by submarine-based missile force and by land-based missile force integrated by the manned bombers of those the mighty BUFF (Big Ugly Fat Fellow – B-52 nickname) was the best expression.
During the “MAD age” there were several B-52 crashes that involved not only the airframes alone, but also the nuclear weapons aboard the aircraft: these were code named “Broken Arrow” incidents.
The two most famous of the Stratofortress Broken Arrow incidents happened in Spain and Greenland.
The first happened on Jan. 17, 1966, when a B-52G collided with a KC-135 Stratotanker during aerial refueling above the Mediterranean Sea, near the coast of Spain. Both aircraft exploded in mid air killing seven aircrew members.
The Stratofortress carried four B28 thermonuclear weapons, three of those hit the land near Palomares: two of them caused a non nuclear TNT explosion, but in their impact with the land they released some radioactive plutonium.
The fourth bomb was lost into the Mediterranean and it was found unexploded at a depth of 2,550 feet on Mar. 17; it was recovered only on Apr. 7 by some U.S. Navy ships.
The second incident involved another B-52G and it occurred on Jan. 21, 1968 when a Stratofortress crashed in Greenland.
The bomber failed to make an emergency landing at Thule AB (Air Base) in Greenland after having experienced a cockpit fire and it crashed on sea ice in North Star Bay.
Even if six men of the seven crew members were able to eject safely, the four B28s aboard scattered and some radioactive material was released. An attempt to restrict the radiation leaks immediately started, but it turned out to be a really though operation, due to the high winds, the cold temperatures and the fire that not only burned the B-52 but also caused the dispersion of some other radioactive material into the sea.
Image credit: U.S. Air Force
At the end, most, but not all, of the bomb parts were recovered and this incident produced some concern to the Danish government, since Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark and because Denmark had stated that its lands were nuclear-free zones.
These two very well known BUFF Broken Arrow incidents along with the embarrassment they caused brought this kind of missions, carried out with nuclear weapons aboard, close the shores of other countries, to an end.
Written with David Cenciotti
Harrier: the story of the “Jump Jet” fighter jet that helped Margaret Thatcher win the Falklands War April 11, 2013Posted by Jacek Siminski in : Military Aviation , 9comments
One cannot speak of Margaret Thatcher, who passed away on Apr. 8, 2013, without mentioning the 1982 Falklands – Malvinas a war, a conflict that the UK was able to win thanks to a revolutionary airplane: the Harrier.
The origins of the “Jump Jet” date back to the Cold War-
The historical context imposed by the Cold War made the tactical experts wonder how to get rid off one of the basic drawbacks of an airplane – airplane is dependent on runways. The reality of nuclear war to come was brutal, airstrips and their coordinates were not secret, both in the West as well as in Soviet Russia. Obviously they would be destroyed in the beginning of any conflict.
Assisted Take-off was another approach towards making take-offs shorter. It was issued by the Germans during the WWII. They were pioneers in the field nowadays referred to as JATO or RATO (Jet/Rocket Assisted Take-Off). This approach resulted from severe damages made to the German airstrips by the allied bombers at the end of the WWII.
The lenght of the airstrips was limited because of them being damaged. The air superiority can be achieved by destroying the infrastructure needed for the airplanes to operate.
Dispersing the aircraft was an idea which was often talked about after the second world war. Some countries have developed a concept of highway strips - section of a highway that is specially built to allow landing of (mostly) military aircraft and to serve as a military airbase.
And this was the basic assumption that led to the development of Harrier Jump Jet
The advantages of using RATO not only included shortening the required runway lenght but also limit fuel consumption and prolong the range of the aircraft.
Using rocket engines had its downsides as well. First of all, the fuel is sensitive and requires special treatment. Second, the additional trained crew for rocket maintenance is needed.
JATO technology was broadly researched in the USA.
Bombers and other jets had big requirements towards the runways. Without long runways they were not able to operate. Nevertheless, use of RATO throughout the Cold War period was limited. Tactical danger of a nuclear strike has contributed to emergement of ZLL or ZLTO programme (Zero Lenght Launch / Zero Lenght Take-Off).
Image Credit: airvectors.net
The system has been developed by the Martin company, which, in the early stage of the test programme has used disabled F-84 fighter jets. F-84 had a rocket engine installed in the back section of the fuselage and it was shot into the desert. Test programme was started on Dec. 15, 1953.
On Jan. 5, 1954 the first piloted launch took place. The worries (to be proven wrong later) considered the high G-loads the pilots were to face during the take-off procedure. 3.5Gs were recorded, not much more than G-load of an aircraft carrier catapult take-off.
F-84 was driven up to 175MPH – well above the stall speed. Nevertheless the programme was abandoned.
An interesting application of the JATO technology was the C-130 Hercules destined to the Credible Sport operation. The U.S. planned a hostage rescue mission in Iran in the 1980. The plan was corageous – it assumed C-130 landing and taking-off from a football stadium the hostages were held in proximity of.
The XFC-130H planes had been modified by installing rocket engines on the fuselage, not only to assist take-off but also to shorten the space required for landing. Additional modifications included arrestor hook so that big plane could land on an aircraft carrier.
Nevertheless, the problems which occured at programming the rocket sequence made the tacticians turn towards a different rescuing plan.
British Rolls-Royce started its VTOL experiments from the early 50s.
The Flying Bedstead project used 2 engines – one for vertical flight and the second one for horizontal movement. The project is notable because of the first use of jet engines for providing the control in hover later applied in the lunar landing module. The platform was the springboard for what was to become a foundation for the best known VTOL jet in history.
Revolution came together with introduction of Rolls Royce Pegasus Engine and P.11.27 known today as Harrier.
It was developed in mid 1960s, as a first of the practical VTOL concepts. The thing that made the Harrier different from other designs at the time was its engine – the Pegasus. The concept surpassed the contemporary VTOL designs in a sense that they either took-off standing on their tail – that was far from being conveinient for the pilots – or needed several powerplants to achieve VTOL.
The designers had to overcome meny difficult problems in designs such as Convair Pogo or Lockheed Salmon and Rolls-Royce Flying Bedstead. And the British approached the issue from completly different angle, succeding.
Harrier was designed by Hawker Company in 1957 in a form of P.11.27 Kestrel prototype in cooperation with other NATO countries.
The Pegasus Engine was the strong point of the new aircraft since it simplified what other designs (e.g. French Balzac) complicated. The concept works as a basic thrust-vectoring – nothing unusual now, in 2013, but quite extraordinary in the ’60s.
Nevertheless the concept was not really trusted, and it took almost 20 years for it to prove it was useful.
In the mid ’60s the Harrier was the only VTOL aircraft in the market. But its performance in comparison with the conventional designs of that period was not really satisfying. It was subsonic and it could not carry much of armament. Still the U.S. Marines considered it was extremely useful as it did not need runways. In the context of nuclear danger, that feature was a clear advantage.
U.S. Marines bought the Harrier in 1968, and in the following year so did RAF.
In the RAF, Harrier did not play a role of a frontline fighter, it was rather a CAS aircraft which did not need runways to operate. However, changes were to come, as the Royal Navy did not have big carriers at the time.
Being faster than a helicopter, Harrier would be a perfect means for providing cover to the Royal Navy. This is when Sea Harrier was created. It was basically a Harrier fitted with a radar what would make it less of a CAS aircraft and more of a fighter.
It is hard to describe the Harrier history without mentioning the Falklands intervention. The concept was still regarded as not very useful until 1982, when the Falklands intervention was conducted.
The engineers were saying that they need a small local war to let the Harrier prove its capabilities, and they had it. If it was not for the 20 Harriers that initially took part in the campaign, Margaret Thatcher would have probably lost the war.
Nevertheless, the inequality in air-power was signifcant, as at the beginning of the conflict it was 20 Harriers vs. 200 airplanes of the Argentinian Air Force.
Image credit: Fleet Air Arm Museum Facebook page
The war started on May 1, 1982 with the attack on Port Stanley. The enemy for the Harrier – Mirage airplanes – had twice the speed and performance of the Jump Jet. Nevertheless, unique thrust vectoring feature and the hook maneuver let the British pilots achieve the first 2 kills during the war.
However, on May 6, 1982, two Harriers were lost due to the terrible weather conditions and fog: they collided mid-air. There were only 18 aircraft left protecting the Royal Navy. Until May 21, Sea Harriers achieved 9 kills, and RAF GR.3 Harriers were on their way on a container ship – Atlantic Conveyor. When they arrived they overtook the air-to-ground tasks, leaving the air-to-air sorties to the Sea Harrier.
On June 6, the Argentinian Skyhawks were attacking the British Fleet, when Harriers intercepted them only one of the four taking part in the attack escaped.
However, it was not easy for the British pilots either. The weather conditions were terrible, with the fog and 50 feet waves on the Atlantic. The Argentinian planes also suffered from what the sea l0oked like, because after Port Stanley was overtaken they had to fly from the mainland, continental part of the country.
The combat was not easy. Eight planes at a time were stationed on board tha aircraft carrier and one pilot spent the entire night on alert in the Harrier cockpit. That was really excruciating for the crews.
The war ended on June 14 when Harrier jets flew their last sortie disabling the Port Stanley. Without them, winning that war so far away from the UK would be practically impossible.
And Margaret Thatcher would not be probably that well known.
Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist.com
Drones over Poland – Cold War going on? April 5, 2013Posted by Jacek Siminski in : Drones , add a comment
Poland is to be involved in the NATO Alliance Ground Surveilance programme, aim of which is to watch over the ground objects and movement of the ground forces beyond the Polish border (supposedly eastern) using drones.
Image Credit: air-attack.com
NAGSMO board of directors has received Polish MOD application and applicable documents will be prepared.
Jacek Sońta, Polish Ministry of Defence Spokesman says that “after receiving these documents they [the documents - JS] will be undergoing negotiations and interdepartamental discussion for 6 months.”
Poland is to enter the programme in the early 2014.
The AGS is going to involve five RQ-4 Global Hawks, Euro Hawks to be accurate, HALE (High Altitude – Long Endurance) drones stationing in Germany, and the data collected will be passed on to intelligence and recon units taking part in the programme.
According to what Polish MOD says Polish companies producing radar and avionics, such as Bumar Elektronika, Netline, WIŁ and Transbit could be involved as well. That would be a significant boost for them, introducing these companies into the international economic arena.
The drone programme might be a part of the response to the Russian activity on the Polish border.
The Belarus and Russia are planning to conduct exercise named West 2013 autumn this year. Similar exercise took part in 2009. Its scenario assumed that Polish uprising happened in Grodno, Belarus, and Russia was called for help. Specnaz neutralized the revolt, and the allies (Russia and Belarus) use tactical
nuclear weapons to defend themselves from the Western attack starting from Poland.
As Polish Uważam Rze newspaper recalled in January this year, there was no significant reaction on the side of the Polish MOD. Bogdan Klich, Head of MOD at that time had been surprised with the scale of exercise but also doubt led the potential probability of such scenario taking into account the fact that none of the NATO countries has aggresive stance towards the Eastern partners.
According to statrisks.com the Zapad 2013 (West 2013) exercise is going to involve a scenario in which a nuclear attack on Warsaw is going to be a part of:
“We are not going to threaten anyone. We do not regard any state as our enemy. We are open and consistent focusing on collective defence. I mean the defensive capabilities of, if I may say so, the joint army of Belarus and Russia and the regional force grouping in the western zone,”
Alyaksandr Lukashenka said about the manoeuvres.
The Russian Ministry of Defence gave to understand it doesn’t like Poland’s activity in NATO.
“We need to take into consideration the NATO potential. We see that Poland became a place for many of its infrastructure projects. We are concerned about it for many reasons, in particular because NATO tries to convince us that the threat comes from the South, Africa and the Near East. But we see military preparation in NATO’s eastern part, on the territory of new alliance members. We need to take it into account in our military doctrine,”
Defence24.pl quotes Alexander Grushko, a Russian deputy minister of defence.
Furthermore Uważam Rze claimed that NATO would not have enough confidence to conduct similar exercise involving e.g. Russian minority uprising in Laivia. This point is no longer valid – the Alliance is not passive this time as it is preparing to conduct Steadfast Jazz 2013, which will be the largest scale manoeuvres this year.
Image Credit: Polish Army General HQs
Although the scenario for this exercise is not known yet, it can be seen that the dialogue and sort of Cold War setting still exist between the West and East, despite the rhetoric of partnership. The general objective is to train and apply collective defense which is one of the foundations underlying NATO policy.
SFJZ 2013 is also going to be devoted to checking how Lile HQ (French), responsible for NATO Response Forces, will cope with its new function, specified in the Article 5 of the Washington Treaty.
Secondly the exercise aims at integrating land, air and sea forces activity, what will involve interconnecting 7 IT Networks.
Czech and French ABC Warfare units, one of British battalion are said to be involved. Over 1,200 French soldiers are declared to take part in the exercise.
Since it is the first info about the drones, it is hard to assess how the society will react and how the media discourse and discursive representation of the drone issue will develop, as the drone-related discourse is hot within the US media.
The anti-missile shield idea was welcomed neutrally, the mainstream media did not report any protests, and the shield was presented as a natural step of NATO integration process.
Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist.com
Related articlesNorth Korea , 14comments
Although defended by an obsolete Air Force made of ex-Soviet fighters and bombers North Korea still operates a decent air defense system featuring: radar system with overlapping coverage and high mobility allowing for shoot-and-scoot tactics, anti-aircraft guns (probably ex-Soviet ZSU-23s) and shoulder-fired stinger-like missiles.
Image Credit: ustosunkowani.blogspot.com
As pointed out by an interesting article published on Popular Mechanics website tunnels and command centres located underground, similarily to Afghan Tora-Bora, could make hitting key fortified and hidden targets a bit difficult.
Image Credit: cambodianairdefense.wordpress.com
The general picture of the U.S. forces location in case of war in the peninsula sees B-2s flying from Missouri and F-22s stationed in South Korea: however, this is a plan based only on the recent involvement of these aircraft in the region.
Even if the batwing bomber could operate from their homebases in Continental U.S., as done in Serbia and Libya, there’s a chance they could be stationed at Guam in the Pacific in a second stage of the air campaign.
Guam as well as other bases in the region will be probably used to host other bombers (B-52s, B-1s) as well as the numerous tankers needed to support the air war.
An eventual war will start with the typical cruise missile attack, targeting the main air defense sites (i.e. airports, radars, SAM – surface to air missile batteries, etc).
Then, the first waves of air strikes will be conducted by stealth bombers escorted by stealth fighters, with Electronic Warfare planes (in the form of Growlers or Prowlers) providing the required electronic cover.
As already explained, F-22s would predominantely be tasked with high-value escort and air-to-surface missions.
When it comes to neutralizing the underground structures, the U.S. experience dates back to the first Iraqi war, when they were to destroy Saddam Hussein’s bunkers. Then, USAF used GBU-28 bombs, which were 2,500 kg steride-fed PaveWays. The mass of the unit was to penetrate the thick concrete roof of a bunker and explode inside.
The GBU-28 was a mother for Massive Ordnance Penetrator. Developed in order to be used against the Afghan fortified mountains the monster MOP bomb can only be carried by the B-2: each stealth bomber can carry two such weapons.
Nevertheless it is said that Pentagon has developed a new penetration munition which began testing at the beginning of this year. We might see its first use in the Korean air campaign.
For sure, what will happen after the initial stages, it’s quite difficult to predict (the unbalance of power does not imply it would be a quick campaign…) and this is one of the reasons that make the military option unlikely at the moment.
Moreover, the political situation though does not let us predict that the war will start soon.
Taking into account the fact that the North Korean Air Force is old, and the plans to launch the rockets against US targets are rather science-fiction than a realistic objectives, it is quite unlikely the war will start, or at least that it will be started by the North Koreans, regardless of the fact that the state of war with the South was declared by the North Korean leader.
Indeed, since 1994, North Korea has cancelled the cease-fire agreement six times…
When it comes to the political-outline of the crisis it bears a great resemblance to the Cold War between U.S. and USSR. It is also the reason why the War is unlikely to be started by Kim Jong Un.
The situation is quite similar to the Cold War MAD doctrine (Mutualy Assured Destruction). During the Cold War this doctrine resulted in Nash equilibrium. In other words, that meant that if any of the sides decided to attack the other, it would be destroyed. This stemmed from the extensive proliferation of the nuclear weapons.
The Nash equilibrium does not really exist in case of NK but, on the other hand, once it starts any action against the South, it is quite certain that the US intervention would have catastrophic results.
Hence, the whole crisis is rather a demonstration of ideologies, pretty much similar to the Cold War political setting, than the real conflict.
This New York Times article says that the White House officials do not consider the North Korea to be a serious threat.
According to NYT, the White House’s press secretary, Jay Carney said: “We are not seeing changes to the North Korean military posture such as large-scale mobilizations or positioning of forces, what that disconnect between rhetoric and action means, I’ll leave to the analysts to judge.”
Written with David Cenciotti