Tag Archives: F-16

[Updated] Greek F-16 has reportedly crashed on TLP apron during take off from Albacete. Other aircraft reportedly hit

Photos from Albacete airbase, in Spain, show fire on the flightline.

According to the reports coming from Albacete airbase, home of the Tactical Leadership Program, an F-16 belonging to the Hellenic Air Force has crashed on take off.

Photos emerging on social networks seem to suggest the aircraft may have hit the flightline: two Italian Air Force AMX jets seem to be quite close to the burning wreckage of the Greek two-seater F-16D. However, more aircraft are believed to be involved, since several explosions were heard following the impact of the HAF fighter jet.

www.rtve.es

Screenshot from rtve.es website

Spanish media outlets have been issuing updates since the incident occurred around 3.00 PM LT: according to the latest reports, 2 people were killed and 10 injured as a consequence of the crash.

Update 18.30 GMT

10 casualties and 13 injured people, according to the latest reports from the crash scene. At least one French Alpha Jet seems to have been hit by the F-16D; U.S. F-15E aircraft appears to be parked close to wrecked Fighting Falcon.

According to the Italian MoD 9 Italian military injured in the Greek Air Force F-16D crash at Albacete in Spain. The Italian contingent taking part in TLP includes 2 AMX jets from 51° Stormo (Wing) of the Italian Air Force from Istrana airbase and 5 AV-8B+ Harrier II of the Italian Navy from Grottaglie airbase.

 

Top image credit: @MotorAire

 

Jordanian F-16 allegedly downed by ISIS in Syria. Pilot captured.

A Rojal Jordanian Air Force F-16 was allegedly downed by ISIS in Syria. Pilot has been captured by IS militants.

Although it has not been officially confirmed yet, pictures posted on Social Media seems to prove a Royal Jordanian Air Force F-16 has crashed in Syria. Pilot, whose military ID card was recovered and posted on Twitter, was captured by Islamic State militants.

According to several sources, the aircraft was downed by ISIS militants, 11 km to the east of Al-Raqqa, in the northern part of central Syria.

ISIS captured RJAF pilot

Although the reasons of the crash are still unknown, if it was not flying at high altitude, the aircraft may have been hit by ground fire.

ISIS forces are known to operate MANPADS (Man Portable Air Defense Systems) along with anti-aircraft artillery pieces: the effectiveness of such weapons systems against low/medium flying jets and helicopters has been proved by the number of Syrian Arab Air Force aircraft shot down by local insurgents.

F-16 downed in Syria

H/T Lorenzo Mainardi for the heads-up

 

New Photos of Russian Planes intercepted by Norwegian Fighter Jets

Here’s a nice collection of images shot by the Royal Norwegian Air Force during the recent close encounters with Russians off Norway.

On Dec. 18, two RNoAF F-16s in QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) were scrambled from Bodo airbase to intercept an unidentified aircraft flying off the north of Norway.

The aircraft was later identified as an Il-20 Coot intelligence gathering plane, flying in international airspace off Finmark.

The news of the latest close encounter was given by the Norwegian media outlet Nordland in an article on their website which included an extremely interesting collection of images (some of those posted below) taken by RNoAF pilots during recent intercept missions of Russian Air Force combat planes.

Here below, an armed Mig-31:

Mig-31 side
A couple of weeks ago, the RNoAF released HUD (Head Up Display) footage of an F-16 almost colliding mid-air with a Russian Mig-31 Foxhound flying alongside Su-34 Fullbacks.

Below, an armed Tu-22M:

Tu-22

Tu-22 missile

A Su-24 Fencer:

Su-24

Bottow view of an armed Mig-31 Foxhound:

Mig-31

Il-78 refueling a Tu-95 Bear:

Il-78 refueled

Image credit: RNoAF

H/T to Stefan Bøyum Schlömilch for the heads-up

 

U.S. Air Force has approved mass production of the stealthy JASSM air-launched cruise missiles

According to Lockheed Martin the U.S. Air Force granted a consent to start mass production of the extended range variant of the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, also known as AGM-158B.

The JASSM-ER has successfully completed the USAF program of Initial Operational Test and Evaluation. Out of 21 launches, 20 were successful. USAF plans to acquire 100 ER variant missiles within Lot 11 and 12, specified by the contract signed in Dec. 2013.

According to Lockheed Martin, more than 1500 examples have been produced so far. Target quantity to be delivered to the USAF is 4,900 missiles.

Lockheed Martin stated that the decision undertaken by the U.S. Air Force means that the flying branch is confident the new missiles can provide an effective first-strike capability in dense air defense environments.

AGM-158B JASSM-ER missile is capable of striking targets at ranges of at least 925 kilometers (ca. 500 miles), and it is armed with a dual-mode penetrator equipped with a blast-fragmentation warhead.

The missile itself has been designed, similarly as the A variant, with stealth features. Missile uses two-mode GPS/Infra-Red guidance system, which contributes to its precision strike capabilities.

So far, solely the B-1B bombers possess a capability of using the ER variant of the missile. The basic version, the AGM-158A, can be dropped by B-2s, B-52s, F-16s and F-15Es. However, back in April this year press releases by USAF suggested that JASSM-ER is to be also integrated with F-15E, F-16 and B-52H fleets.

Whilst Australia and Finland use the A-variant of the missile with their F/A-18 Hornets, the baseline JASSM is also to be procured soon by the Polish Air Force for the F-16 Block 52+ planes.

As explained earlier this year, the Polish deal, a bit expensive at the first sight (with 40 missiles worth about $250 million), should also include a modernization bundle for the Polish Air Force F-16 fighters.

The Polish Vipers are to be upgraded up to the M6.5 standard, in order to facilitate use of the new weapons system. The upgrade includes modification in the avionics to improve Link-16 data exchange system and IFF capabilities, the update of the AIDEWS defensive suite, as well as modernization of the Sniper targeting pods. Nevertheless, a larger Mid-Life Update program should be undertaken by the fleet in the next few years, according to the Polish media outlet Dziennik Zbrojny.

According to the official information released by the Polish Ministry of Defense, Minister Tomasz Siemoniak expressed the Poland’s will to procure the ER variant as well even though it is yet unclear whether the M6.5 upgrade would provide the Polish Vipers with the -ER capability in advance.

Poland has signed Letter of Acceptance, regarding procurement of the first 40 missiles on Dec. 11. 2014 at Krzesiny AB, near Poznan.

The agreement falls within the US Foreign Military Sales program and the first deliveries are to take place in the second half of 2016. One additional missile is to be delivered for test firing purposes. Initial Operational Capability is planned to be achieved by 2017, as the F-16 modernization program is to be started in the 2nd half of 2016, at a pace of 2 fighters per month.

The JASSM-ER can be considered to be a strategic weapon, so it will most probably boost Poland and NATO’s deterrence capabilities in eastern Europe: will it be an effective deterrent? Hard to say. For sure, the air-launched cruise missiles are not the only measure the Polish Armed Forces are acquiring at the moment to face the Russian threat. There are additional programs, including the procurement of NSM (Naval Strike Missile) systems.

Secondly, as one of The Aviationist readers pointed out, the M6.5 upgrade for the F-16 fighters may mean that they would be capable of using the AIM-120D air-to-air missiles that have been reserved exclusively for the USAF so far.

These missiles may provide a significant boost of the Polish Viper’s air-to-air capabilities, which would be implemented in the shadow of JASSM deal, but this claim has not been officially confirmed. The Air Force has already stated that it analyses potential implementation of new armament that may be used by the Viper thanks to the envisaged upgrades.

Lastly, as Polish MoD Secretary of State said the use of the JASSM missiles will not be externally limited by the US Authorities. This means that Poland will be free to use the missiles at its own will, if needed.

Image credit: Lockheed Martin

 

Video allegedly shows Norwegian F-16 almost collide with Russian Mig-31 during Su-34 intercept mission

The Royal Norwegian Air Force has released an HUD (Head Up Display) video that would show Russian aggressive flying.

The RNoAF has released HUD (Head Up Display) footage, filmed by an F-16 of the 331 Sqn, based at Bodo, during the escort of a Russian Su-34 Fullback long-range strike planes on armed patrol off Finmark on Oct. 29.

This was the first time the Su-34s were observed and identified while flying in international airspace off Norway.

Although the video does not show it very clearly, according to Norway’s military as the F-16 was getting closer to the Su-34’s left wing, a Mig-31 that was escorting the Foxhound initiated a sudden maneuver, forcing the Norwegian interceptor to perform an evasive left turn to avoid a mid-air collision.

As said, the footage does not show the close call: all we can see is the F-16 roll to the left while approaching the Mig-31 (that appears to be flying more or less straight when it enters the HUD field of view). Nevertheless, Nowegian authorities said the video prove how dangerous and aggressive Russian pilots are during such close encounters that have become quite frequent in the Nordic region of Europe.

Photographs taken by RNoAF F-16s on QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) at Bodo airbase were released last month: they depict a Su-34 Russian aircraft carrying what looks like a single external fuel tank and two Vympel R-73 air-to-air missiles, shadowed by another F-16 carrying two drop tanks and two AIM-120 AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles).

H/T Lars Westholm for the heads-up