Tag Archives: Eurofighter Typhoon

These may be the only F-22’s Achilles’ heels in a dogfight against 4th gen fighter jets

Considered almost unbeatable in the air-to-air role, the F-22 successfully debuted in combat, taking part in air strikes against ISIS targets. But what if the F-22 found a 4th Gen. opponent?

Even though we don’t know much details about them, missions flown by the F-22 Raptor over Syria marked the combat debut of the stealth jet.

As already explained, the radar-evading planes conducted air strikes against ISIS ground targets, in what (considering the 5th Generation plane’s capabilities) were probably Swing Role missions: the stealth jets flew ahead of the rest of the strike package to cover the other attack planes, dropped their Precision Guided Munitions (PGMs) on designated targets, and escorted the package during the way back.

Considered that it could not carry external fuel tanks (to keep a low radar signature), the F-22 were refueled at least two or three times to make it to North Syria and back to the UAE, flying a mission most probably exceeding the 6 – 7 hours flying time.

Raptor’s stealthiness is maintained by storing weapons in internal bays capable to accomodate 2x AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, some AIM-120C AMRAAM air-to-air missiles (the number depending on the configuration), as well as 2x 1,000 pound GBU-32 JDAM or 8x GBU-39 small diameter bombs: in this way the Raptor can dominate the airspace above the battlefield while performing OCA (Offensive Counter Air) role attacking air and ground targets. Moreover its two powerful Pratt & Whitney F-119-PW-100 engines gave to the fifth fighter the ability to accelerate past the speed of sound without using the afterburners (the so called supercruise) and TV (Thrust Vectoring), that can be extremely useful, in certain conditions, to put the Raptor in the proper position to score a kill.

All these capabilities have made the F-22 almost invincible (at least on paper). Indeed, a single Raptor during one of its first training sorties was able to kill eight F-15s in a mock air-to-air engagement, well before they could see it.

These results were achieved also thanks to the specific training programs which put F-22 pilots against the best US fighters jocks in order to improve their abilities to use the jet’s sophisticated systems, make the most out of sensor fusion, then decide when and to execute the correct tactic.

The Raptor has a huge advantage against its adversaries as demonstrated by the F-22’s incredible kill ratio against USAF Red Air (which play as enemy air forces during exercises) and its F-16s and F-15s, during the exercises undertaken in the last decade: for instance, during exercise Noble Edge in Alaska in June 2006, few F-22s were able to down 108 adversaries with no losses, while during the 2007 edition of the same exercise, they brought their record to 144 simulated kills.

In its first Red Flag participation, in February 2007, the Raptor was able to establish air dominance rapidly and with no losses.

As reported by Dave Allport and Jon Lake in a story which appeared on Air Force Monthly magazine, during an Operational Readiness Inspection (ORI) in 2008, the F-22s scored 221 simulated kills without a single loss.

Still, when outnumbered and threatened by F-15s, F-16s and F-18s, in a simulated WVR (Within Visual Range) dogfight, the F-22 is not invincible.

Raptors refuel

Apparently along with the Rafale, one aircraft which proved to be a real threat for the F-22 is the Eurofighter Typhoon: during the 2012 Red Flag-Alaska, the German Eurofighters not only held their own, but reportedly achieved several kills on the Raptors.

Even though with don’t know anything about the ROE (Rules Of Engagement) set for that training sorties and, at the same time, the outcome of those mock air-to-air combat is still much debated (as there are different accounts of those simulated battles),  the “F-22 vs Typhoon at RF-A” story, raised some questions about the threat posed to the Raptor by advanced, unstealthy, 4th Gen. fighter jets.

In fact, even though these aircraft are not stealth, Typhoons are equipped with  Helmet Mounted Display (HMD) systems and IRST (the Infra-Red Search and Track), two missing features on Raptors.

The Typhoon’s HMD is called Helmet Mounted Symbology System (HMSS). Just like the American JHMCS (Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System) which is integrated in the U.S. F-15C/D, F-16  Block 40 and 50 and F-18C/D/E/F, HMSS provides the essential flight and weapon aiming information through line of sight imagery. Information imagery (including aircraft’s airspeed, altitude, weapons status, aiming etc) are projected on the visor (the HEA – Helmet Equipment Assembly – for the Typhoon) , enabling the pilot to look out in any direction with all the required data always in his field of vision.

The F-22 Raptor is not equipped with a similar system (the project to implement it was axed following 2013 budget cuts). The main reason for not using it on the stealth jet is that it was believed neither an HMD, nor HOBS (High Off-Boresight) weapons that are fired using these helmets, were needed since no opponents would get close enough to be engaged with an AIM-9X in a cone more than 80 degrees to either side of the nose of the aircraft.

Sure, but the risk of coming to close range with an opponent is still high and at distances up to 50 km an aircraft equipped with an IRST (Infra-Red Search and Track) system, which can detect the IR signature of an enemy fighter (that’s why Aggressors at Red Flag carry IRST pods….), could even be able to find a stealthy plane “especially if it is large and hot, like the F-22″ as a Eurofighter pilot once said.

Summing up, the F-22 is and remains the most lethal air superiority fighter ever. Still, it lacks some nice features that could be useful to face hordes of enemy aircraft, especially if these include F-15s, Typhoons, Rafales or, in the future, the Chinese J-20 and Russian PAK-FA.

David Cenciotti has contributed to this post.

Top it off: Tankers refuel RED FLAG-Alaska

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

 

Russian “Bear” strategic bombers intercepted by Typhoon jet from base in Scotland for the first time

RAF Typhoons from RAF Lossiemouth, Scotland, intercepted Russian Tu-95 bombers.

This news would sound different if Scotland got independent anyway, on Sept. 19, Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4 aircraft, based at RAF Lossiemouth were scramble for the first time since they relocated from RAF Leuchars, Scotland, to the most northerly Scottish base, to identify, intercept and escort Russian Air Force Tu-95 Bears.

This was the very first time the Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) was launched since the Scottish base took on the role of defending the UK’s Northern airspace on Sept. 1.

The Bear bombers were flying a routine long-range training mission off the British Isles and did not enter UK airspace (unlike what two Su-24 did in Sweden earlier this week to probe Swedish Air Force readiness).

This is not the first time Typhoon from the 6 Sqn intercept Russian strategic bombers skirting the UK airspace: on Apr. 23, two RAF Typhoons from RAF Leuchars (where the squadron was previously based), intercepted and escorted two Tu-95 “Bear-H” aircraft that were approaching the British Isles.

Image credit: Crown Copyright

 

Following bomb threat two Italian Typhoon jets perform supersonic scramble to escort Lebanese Airbus 320

Two Italian Eurofighter Typhoon in QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) were scrambled to intercept and escort MEA214 flight that reported a bomb threat aboard.

Two loud sonic booms were heard at around 1.45PM LT in Central Italy as two Italian Air Force Typhoons accelerated to supersonic speed to intercept Middle East Airlines 214 flight, an Airbus 320 from Geneva to Beirut.

The two fighter planes, belonging to the 4° Stormo (Wing) from Grosseto, in QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) service round the clock together with those of the 36° Stormo from Gioia del Colle, were dispatched to intercept the Lebanese plane that, once flying over Bari, in southeastern Italy, radioed the Italian Air Traffic Control the request to land at Rome Fiumicino airport, because of a bomb threat.

The two armed Typhoons intercepted the Airbus 320 T7-MRC and escorted it to landing on runway 16R at Fiumicino airport, then circled at low altitude over the sea near the airport, until security forces surrounded the plane and brought it to an isolated parking slot.

The subsequent inspection did not find any bomb aboard the plane.

The MEA214 route could be tracked on Flightradar24.com as the following screenshot shows.

MEA214

Image credit: screenshot by FR24.com

 

Here’s another epic series of F-16 cockpit GoPro videos

The Portuguese Air Force has released some really interesting footage. Including a segment recorded during a dogfight with a Polish Mig-29.

The following videos show the F-16 jets of the Portuguese Air Force (Força Aérea Portuguesa – FAP) which operates a fleet of 25 F-16AM-15MLU and 5 F-16BM-15MLU two seater Fighting Falcons.

The first one brings you aboard a PoAF F-16AM of the Esquadra 301 during a training mission from Monte Real airbase, located to the north of Lisbon.

The following videos show an F-16 of the Esq 301 performing BFM (Basic Fighter Maneuvers) with a Polish Mig-29 Fulcrum. On Sept. 1, Portugal took over the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission from Poland. Six PoAF F-16s are currently deployed to Siauliai airbase, in Lithuania.

And here below you can watch the footage filmed during the flyby which celebrated the handover between the 35th and 36th Baltic Air Policing rotations. It shows the Portuguese F-16 flying in formation with a Polish Mig-29, a British Eurofighter Typhoon and a Canadian CF-18.

H/T to our reader War Junior for the heads up.

 

Focus on Eurofighter Typhoons’ role in Exercise Anatolian Eagle in Turkey

Twelve Eurofighter Typhoons belonging to the Royal Air Force and the Ejército del Aire (Spanish Air Force) took part in the international edition of Anatolian Eagle, from June 9 – 20 at Konya airbase, Turkey.

The Royal Air Force deployed six Typhoon FGR4s and a team consisting 13 pilots from 11 Squadron and 3(F) Squadron from RAF Coningsby, to Konya airbase, in Central Turkey, to take part in Anatolian Eagle 2014-2.

The 1,000 miles trip to Turkey gave the British Typhoons the opportunity to train jointly with the Turkish Air Force and international partners inside a large, segregated airspace measuring 200 x 150 Nautical Miles, most of which is available from ground to 50,000 feet – the ideal stage for simulated contingency operations.

RAF Typhoon FGR4 Konya

RAF Typhoons flew swing-role missions, leveraging on the multi-role capabilities of the aircraft: carrying underwing RAIDS (Rangeless Airborne Instrumentation Debriefing System) pods to gather and transmit to ground station relevant flight data, the “Tiffies” flew high and fast to provide cover to the rest of the strike package during the ingress into the enemy airspace, dropped their simulated Precision Guided Munitions (PGMs) on targets designated with the centerline Litening III targeting pod, and escorted the package again during the egress and subsequent return to Konya.

Typhoon FGR4 one wheel touchdown

Talking to the Royal Air Force website, newly appointed Typhoon Force Commander, Air Commodore Philip Beach, said: “The Typhoon Force is very much in demand, providing Quick Reaction Alert in the UK, the Falklands and in the Baltic region; it is on call 24/7 every day of the year. Typhoon is also a fundamental component of UK contingent operations and it is vital that we train with our NATO and international partners, in complex scenarios, to retain our competitive edge. This exercise provides the opportunity for us to further enhance interoperability with our allies and ensures that we maintain the highest levels of readiness for operations.”

Typhoons lined up

The Spanish Air Force brought a tactical air expeditionary group to Turkey made up of six Eurofighter Typhoon C.16 jets from Ala 14 based at Albacete for what was their first participation in an overseas multinational exercise, and six EF-18s from Ala 12, based at Torrejón. Along with the Hornets, two Typhoons deployed to Konya non-stop, taking fuel mid-air from an Italian Air Force Boeing KC-767A tanker; the remaining four C.16s made a stopover at the Italian Eurofighter base at Gioia del Colle.

C.16 departure with IRIS-T

The Spanish Typhoons were tasked with pure Fighter Sweep missions: their role was to conduct offensive counter air missions, destroying all the enemy aircraft within the area of responsibility and to clear the way for incoming attack planes.

C.16 take off

Depending on the length of the sortie, the aircraft flew with two or three drop tanks, an AIS (Airborne Instrumentation Sub-system) pod for the flight data downlink to the ground ACMI sensors, and a dummy IRIS-T air-to-air missile.

C.16 landing

For the Ala 14 pilots, who were taking part in their first expeditionary experience with the Typhoon, their participation in Anatolian Eagle was an important opportunity to validate and enhance their reference tactics, share knowledge and improve cooperation with personnel from different nations, and fly the Eurofighter in a challenging scenario, with up to 60 aircraft flying at the same time, in a large, almost unrestricted airspace.

Spanish with drag chute