The Italian Air Force is developing a new indigenous jet trainer.
The Italian Air Force has identified the new trainer that will replace the SF-260EA in the role of initial flight screener of its student pilots.
The mock-up of the new indigenous project, dubbed T-344 V.E.S.P.A. (Very Efficient Smart Power Aircraft) was unveiled during a press open day organised at Cameri airbase as a side event of the EURAC (European Air Chiefs’ Conference) on May 7.
The T-344 is based on the Caproni C-22J, a light jet-powered aircraft developed in the 1980s: it features a side-by-side digital cockpit, two 170-kg thrust engines, retractable tricycle undercarriage, maximum speed of Mach 0.48 and service ceiling of 25,000 feet.
The cockpit is not pressurized, meaning that the pilots will have to use the flight helmet and oxygen mask.
The V.E.S.P.A. is being developed through Reparto Sperimentale Volo (Italian Air Force Test Wing based at Praitca di Mare) by the ItAF itself, that will assign production to an aerospace company at a later stage.
Interestingly, other innovative projects were showcased at Cameri.
Among them, the AgustaWestland HH-101A Caesar, the new CSAR (Combat Search And Rescue) helicopter that the ItAF will use for Special Forces support, Personnel Recovery in hostile environments, MEDEVAC (Medical Evacuation) and SMI (Slow Mover Intercept) missions; the Alenia Aermacchi MC-27J Praetorian, a gunship version of the successful C-27J Spartan equipped with pallettized machine guns, targeting sensors and C3I-ISR (Command, control, communications and intelligence – intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) systems; the AgustaWestland AW-149, that could find its way to the ItAF SAR fleet in the future; and the P.1HH HammerHead UAS (Unmanned Aerial System), that the ItAF has already procured (three UAS systems, consisting of six aircraft and three ground stations and complete with ISR configuration, that will be delivered early next year).
Even a scale model of the MALE 2020 medium-altitude, long-endurance UAV project developed by Italy, France and Germany.
The KC-767 is equipped with both the sixth generation flying boom (based on the one of the American KC-10), and three hose and drogue stations to refuel both aircraft equipped with onboard receptacle and those with a refueling probe: the KC-767 uses a futuristic remote boom operator’s station located behind the cockpit where boom operators, operate both the hoses and the flying boom by means of joysticks and live video filmed by cameras mounted on the aircraft’s fuselage.
Modern jets feature an impressive instantaneous roll rate
The roll rate, expressed in degrees per second, is the rate at which an aircraft can change its roll attitude. Modern jet fighters can achieve quite high maximum roll rates: the faster they can rotate around longitudinal axis the faster they can transit from one maneuver to another one.
However, the roll rate is just one of the parameters (not all equally important) that influence the aircraft’s maneuvering performance.
Although the roll rate depends on the configuration, weight, speed, altitude and the fact the rate is measured from stable flight (instantaneous roll rate) or after the rotation has been given some time to build up (i.e. the aircraft keeps on rolling long enough), the maximum roll rates for some of the most famous combat planes can be either found on vendors datasheets or online (hence, take them with a grain of salt): according to most reports a Rafale features a maximum roll rate of 270 deg/s, the Eurofighter Typhoon is able of around 250 deg/s, the F/A-18E Super Hornet has a maximum roll rate of 120 deg/s whereas the F-16 can roll at 240 deg/s.
Accurate or not (sometimes such performance data are PR-influenced…), the maximum roll rate may data gives a hint of the ability of the modern aircraft to rotate around the longitudinal axis.
During the flight, the pilot (Maj. Alessandro Olivares, Commander of the 212° Gruppo) showed me the stunning roll performance of the new aircraft (believed to be able of a 280 deg/s roll rate): he performed an aileron roll, an aerobatic maneuver in which an aircraft does a full 360° revolution around its roll axis.
Here below you can see the video of the maneuver.
The aircraft was extremely responsive, immediately achieved a high angular acceleration and rolled so fast, my head almost hit the canopy.
The roll rate of the T-346A (the designation of the Master within the Italian Air Force) may have been 280 deg/s or not; for sure, it was impressive to me, and similar enough to that of the 4th and 5th generation fighter jets to the student pilots of the LIFT (Lead-In to Fighter Training) course on the M-346 destined to fly F-35 or Eurofighter Typhoon multi-role jets.
Some cool pics showing the “zombies” intercepted by the Spanish Eurofighter Typhoons have emerged.
Deployed at Ämari airbase, in Estonia, four Eurofighter Typhoons and 114 personnel of the Ejército del Aire (Spanish Air Force) have been supporting the NATO Baltic Air Policing (BAP) mission since Jan. 1, 2015.
Four C.16s (according to the SpAF designation) belonging to Ala 11, from Moron airbase, contribute to the air defense of the airspaces of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Once again, such photographs confirm that the Baltic is the stage for some really interesting close encounters between Baltic Air Patrol QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) jets with “Ivan”.
Although no further detail about the images has been released, the fact that they depict two Su-34s at least one Su-27 and one An-26 may suggest the photographs were shot on Mar. 21, when two An-26s, two Su-27s, two Su-34s were identified according to the Latvia MoD:
Air Policing jets on 21 MAR in international airspace above the Baltic Sea near LV border identified RU AF. 2x An-26, 2x Su-27, 2x Su-34.
However, needless to say, they may have been taken on different missions.
As leading service of the current BAP rotation, the Italian Air Force has recently claimed that its Typhoons have launched 27 times (currently 28) since the beginning of the year to intercept Russian aircraft flying in international airspace.
Although such “escorts” are no more than routine stuff most of the times, a few intercept missions have been a bit tense: in one case, a Tu-22 was unusually flying at supersonic speed towards Sweden; in another episode, a Mig-31 Foxhound almost collided (at least according to the Royal Norwegian Air Force report) with an F-16 involved in a Su-34 identification and escort mission.
The alert take off of the QRA aircraft was ordered by the CAOC (Combined Air Operations Centre) in Uedem, Germany to intercept a Russian Il-20 on a routine intelligence gathering sortie over the Baltic Sea.
Interestingly, the intercept mission flown by the Italian F-2000s (as the Typhoons are designated within the Aeronautica Militare) was the 27th since the Italian Air Force took over the lead role of BAP on Jan. 1! Quite impressive, if compared to the standard frequency QRA cells are scrambled during the standard national air security service at home.