Tag Archives: F-16

[Video] Red Flag 15-2 Night Launches

Evening activity at Nellis AFB during Red Flag Aerial Warfare Exercise 2015-2

We have already explained what happens on the flight line at Nellis Air Force Base, near Las Vegas, during Red Flag exercises.

This video shows local planes along with aircraft deployed to the airbase in Nevada to attend Red Flag 15-2, including U.S. B-52 Stratofortress bombers, EA-6B Prowlers and Norwegian F-16s, taxi and launch for their night sorties.

Enjoy.

 

Polish Air Force F-16s join one of the most important NATO exercises in central Europe

Polish Air Force F-16s take part in Frisian Flag 2015 exercise

According to a report published by the Polska-Zbrojna media outlet, six Polish F-16 Block 52+ fighters from Łask airbase are currently involved in “Frisian Flag 2015” exercise, taking place at Leeuwarden AB, in the Netherlands.

The Dutch-based exercise is considered one of the most important NATO training events this year. It will involve U.S. Florida Air National Guard F-15 Eagles (currently deployed in Leeuwarden), Dutch F-16 Fighting Falcons, Finnish F/A-18 Hornets, German and Italian Eurofighters, along with NATO E-3A AWACS component and flying tankers from France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.

When it comes to the Polish involvement, the PolAF has sent six F-16 jets to the exercise: five single-seater jets and one F-16D  two-seater aircraft.

Not only is the Frisian Flag exercise aimed at conducting training combat sorties, but it also aims to train COMAO (composite air operations), whose purpose is to practice sorties in large formations and to bolster the interoperability of the NATO air forces.

Notably, the exercise will also contribute to enhance skills in aerial refueling operations and in cooperation with JTACs (Joint Terminal Attack Controllers) in air-to-surface missions; all missions will be conducted in a dense EW (Electronic Warfare) environment.

After attending Frisian Flag 2015, the Polish F-16 fighters are also going to attend the NATO “Air Meet” and the NATO Tiger Meet in Turkey, the annual meeting of the NATO Squadrons that have Tiger  emblems.

Image credit: Tim Felce/Wiki

 

UAE F-16s arrive in Jordan to support war on ISIS. Some of them don’t wear national markings

Six UAE Air Force F-16s have arrived in Jordan.

Photographs showing of six United Arab Emirates Air Force F-16E/F Block 60 jets arriving at an airbase in Jordan were released by the Jordanian Armed Forces on Feb. 8.

UAE F-16 Jordan

The images depict the warplanes which were deployed to help Jordan and the US-led coalition in the fight against ISIS. The kingdom has conducted 56 air strikes against ISIS positions in the last three days after it launched an air campaign following the burning alive of the pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh captured on Dec. 24.

UAE Jordan taxi

According to the information released by Amman, C-17 cargo planes and A330 tanker aircraft supported the deployment.

The UAE Air Force had temporarily suspended its participation in the coalition air strikes over concern for the safety of its aircrews, following Kassasbeh’s murder.

Interestingly, two of the aircraft depicted on arrival in Jordan, don’t wear the national flag on the tail. This is not the first time aircraft taking part in real operations are stripped off their national markings. Some U.S. drones deployed in sensitive areas perform their clandestine missions “unmarked.”

However, since the participation of the UAE to the anti-ISIS air war is far from being secret, the lack of the UAE flag on the tail of two F-16s could be explained by their participation in the far less advertised air strikes on Islamist militias in Libya last year.

Here below a Royal Jordanian Air Force F-16 is prepared for a mission with its bomb marked with Koranic verses Jordanian bomb

Image credit: Jordanian Armed Forces

 

Dogfights, low level flying, live firing at Red Flag-Alaska through F-16’s GoPro cameras

Amazing footage filmed by 35th Fighter Squadron F-16s during training activities in Alaska.

Update: unfortunately the video was removed by the user who had uploaded it. Let us know if you see it online at a different address.

Here is an interesting footage made of several different clips filmed by the 35th FS pilots during Red Flag-Alaska 15-1 at Eielson Air Force Base in October 2014.

The Squadron deployed with their F-16s from Kunsan airbase, in South Korea, to train with U.S. and international forces and prepare for air expeditionary force tasking.

There’s almost everything you may expect from a cool aviation video: low-level flying, dogfighting, aerial refueling, live firing at the range.

Enjoy!

F-16’s automatic ground collision avoidance system: details, strengths and limitations

Ground Collision Avoidance Technology (GCAT)

On a recent flight in a Block 40 F-16 with our squadron’s weapons officer I was introduced to the new pilot-activated recovery system (PARS). Starting at about 20,000 feet (FL 200) we rolled inverted and started a rapid 30 degree nose-low dive. The pilot pressed a button initiating the PARS. Immediately the aircraft’s computer took command of the flight controls and we experienced a very intense 180-degree roll until wings level followed by a 5-G pull-up at 4 G’s/second until we were again flying straight and level. On the second demonstration we put the aircraft in a 30-40 degree nose-up attitude. After PARS initiation, the Viper went into autopilot controlling the roll and yaw of the aircraft while allowing the nose to slice down until we were again straight and level.

This PARS feature is part of the F-16’s newest upgrade to avoid mishaps due to controlled flight into terrain (CFIT). The entire fleet of F-16’s in the USAF received this important upgrade during the 2014 calendar year. This is incredibly EXCITING news for the fighter pilot community and hopefully will translate into hundreds of lives and billions of dollars saved. CFIT occurs for a variety of reasons and plagues aviation taking the lives of hundreds of military and general aviation pilots each year. Aside from PARS, the other application of this new capability is the Auto-GCAS (Ground Collision Avoidance System). Auto-GCAS provokes inputs to the flight controls similar to the PARS feature described above, but happens automatically without pilot initiation. The technology relies on sophisticated computer software, terrain maps, GPS and predictive algorithms that will ‘take the jet’ from the pilot when CFIT is predicted to be imminent.

A video HUD demo of the Auto-GCAS can be seen directly below, and further below a NASA video discussing how the GCAT technology was developed and works.

A Brief History of GCAT

The GCAT software was developed by NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards AFB, in partnership with the Office of the Undersecretary for Personnel and Readiness, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), the Air Force Test Center (AFTC) and Lockheed Martin. The technology began development in the 1980’s and was ready for testing by the late 1990’s. By 2009, the Ground Collision Avoidance Technology was incorporated into an upgraded USAF Block 25 F-16D and underwent further testing at Edwards AFB, CA.

According to NASA: “The team conducted more than 556 test maneuvers during 49 flights, some of which involved diving at the ground and toward the sides of mountains. Key objectives included demonstrating that Auto-GCAS could significantly reduce the number of mishaps resulting from pilot spatial disorientation, loss of situational awareness, gravity-induced loss of consciousness, and landing-gear-up landings.

Air Force officials announced in 2013 that an operational Auto-GCAS system would be installed in the F-16 fleet and this largely took place throughout the 2014 calendar year. At the base I am currently stationed, we received the upgrade in Sep-Oct 2014. The application has also been tested for general aviation. In 2012, Auto-GCAS was adapted for a small, unmanned research aircraft and implemented as a smartphone application using the Android operating system linked to the aircraft’s autopilot. There remain plans to develop similar systems that can be incorporated into the F-22, F-35, and F-18.

Strengths & Limitations of GCAT

Two of the most common human factors conditions that lead to death or loss of aircraft in combat aviation are spatial disorientation and G-induced loss of consciousness (G-LOC). Spatial Disorientation is the inability to determine one’s position, location, and motion relative to their environment, and is covered in greater detail in a separate post. There are three types of Spatial D: Unrecognized, Recognized, and Incapacitating. The Pilot-Activated Recovery System (PARS) will save pilots suffering from recognized and capacitating Spatial-D as long as the pilot remains able to activate the technology. If a pilot is spatially disoriented but remains unable to initiate PARS, Auto-GCAS should theoretically still save him/her from CFIT. The other big killer, the notorious G-LOC (For more info on Pulling G’s see this post), is expected to occur less frequently with incorporation of the newer, more effective G-suit called ATAGS, but Auto-GCAS will also play a role to save pilot and aircraft if G-LOC were to occur. Lastly, gear up landings in any aircraft utilizing this technology should no longer occur.

Ground Collision Avoidance Technology has some significant software and hardware limitations. For example, the system is not able to make inputs on the throttle. If the throttle is in idle upon activation, the aircraft will quickly lose maneuverability and control authority. This will limit the efficiency and ability for inputs of the flight controls to produce their desired effect. In other cases, a reduction in power may be required for the optimal recovery. Pilots have been trained on this new system and are aware of these limitations. If the GCAT systems find that they are unable to initiate recovery due to the current throttle setting, all it can do is notify the pilot.

Although this technology will undoubtedly give fighter pilot spouses reason to sleep more peacefully, possible exceptional circumstances in which the Auto-GCAS cannot prevent CFIT still exist. The recent loss of an F-16 and death of Capt. Will “Pyro” DuBois after installation of GCAT remains a tragic example of the fact that even though new technologies are creating significant strides in safety, the risk inherent to combat aviation will always be present.

A tribute to PYRO can be found here.

REFERENCES

1. Peter Merlin, Public Affairs. NASA website. Auto-GCA Installed in USAF F-16s. Accessed 14 Dec 2014.

Adapted from an original article on the aerospace medicine blog called GoFlightMedicine, owned and edited by USAF Flight Surgeon, Capt Rocky ‘Apollo’ Jedick.

Top image credit: NASA