According to a Xinhua News Agency article the first six “”loyal and fearless” female pilots flying with the Xian JH-7 fighter bomber have just finished the training required to perform all-weather air-to-ground missions and are now able to attack and destroy targets located on unfamiliar ground, hidden by fog, using precision munitions.
The female fighter pilots, currently assigned to a PLAAF (People’s Liberation Army Air Force) Regiment, were selected from more than 20 million girls graduated from high school in Sept. 2005. After attending the flying school, they were assigned to a front line squadron in Mar. 2011, where they conducted advanced training that included formation flying, low altitude attack, live firing exercises using conventional weapons.
The Xinhua article depicts the female pilots as “skilled” “loyal” and “fearless” and provides also a group shot of the six JH-7 pilots with flight suits and helmets. Wow, not bad for a totalitarian state where the information on women (and women’s rights..) is usually hidden or classified as secret.
Included in the “F-35 from the Cockpit” webminar held on Jan. 18, the screenshot gives an idea of the Joint Strike Fighter glass cockpit featuring full touch screen, HOTAS, voice activated commands, system monitoring with all information displayed on a “portal” that make the most advanced (and expensive) 5th generation aircraft ever built, “amazingly easy to fly” as F-35 Test Pilot Bill Gigliotti said during the webminar.
As I witnessed some years ago in the F-35 Cockpit Demonstrator, the combat flight simulator-like symbology, combined with a Helmet Mounted Display with the 360° view of the battlespace, that correlates images coming from a set of cameras mounted on the jet’s outer surfaces, giving the pilot the ability to see in all directions, through any surface, as if it was equipped with x-ray vision, gives the pilot the opportunity to fulfil every kind of mission with the so-called Total Situational Awareness.
During the webminar, that featured also by F-35 Chief Test Pilot Alan (Al) Norman as speaker, Lockheed affirmed they are sure the F-35C will be able to land on a carrier since they are waiting the new testing campaign to validate it.
On a question about the dogfighting capabilities of the F-35 in relation to a Sukhoi Su-37: “they are years behind us.”
In the meanwhile LM has released on Flickr the first night flying pictures of the F-35.
“I’d rather go to war in a Typhoon than in a F-18 Hornet”. This alleged Australian exchange pilot’s statement is one of the most interesting outcomes (and marketing slogans) of BERSAMA LIMA 11 an exercise marking the 40th Anniversary of the Five Powers Defence Agreement (FPDA) the only multilateral defence agreement in South East Asia with an operational element commitment undertaken by five nations (UK, Singapore, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Australia) to consult in the event of an attack on Singapore or Malaysia.
Image source: RAF/Crown Copyright
This year’s edition of the exercise was attended by 18 ships, two submarines, 4000 troops and 68 aircraft: among them four RAF Typhoons (three single seat and one twin seat jets, both belonging to the Tranche 2) from RAF Leuchars that undertook a 4-day 7,000 mile trip to RMAF Butterworth (including stops in Jordan, Oman and Sri Lanka).
According to an email I’ve received today from a Eurofighter pilot, the overall performance of the plane was almost faultless and much better than anybody had anticipated in spite of the limited support and spare parts available:
“There were no significant problems with the aircraft apart from a small radar issue on one aircraft during the exercise. No issues were attributed to the extreme humidity and local environment, a significant improvement on performance during the Singapore campaign.”
During Bersana Lima 11, the British Typhoons, that had their baptism of fire in the air-to-surface role during the Air War in Libya, faced Malaysian Mig 29s, Australian F-18s (C and F) and Singaporean F16s using for the first time during an operational deployment, their electric hat (HMSS/HEA – Helmet Mounted Simbology System/Helmet Equipment Assembly the Typhoon JHMCS equivalent) and “easily came out on top in all engagements.”
To such an extent that the Aussie pilot made the notable comment (don’t forget the Royal Australian Air Force is an operator of both Legacy and Super Hornets….).
Image by Nicola Ruffino
Shortlisted in the Indian MMRCA (Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft) tender for 126 fighter planes for the Indian Air Force with the Dassault Rafale (the recent loser of the Switzerland selection for a fighter plane to replace the ageing F-5Es), with Ex. Bersana Lima 11 the Typhoon has undertaken another operative (and marketing) campaign to prove the aircraft expeditionary capabilities and its superior technology.
Yves Rossy is pilot with experience with the Dassault Mirage III and the F-5 Tiger in the Swiss Air Force, and with the B747 for Swissair. However, he is most known for being an aviation inventor rather than a former combat pilot. In fact he is the first person who was able to fly using a jet-powered fixed wing strapped to his back. A jet pack which led him to be named “Jet Man”.
After his first flight, dating back to November 2006, with his self developed back pack system, that includes also semi-rigid carbon-fiber wings and four attached jet engines, Rossy set several records: he flew across the English Channel, over the Alps and across the Grand Canyon.
However not all his attempt were successful. In November 2009, he failed to cross the Strait of Gibraltar and ditched into the sea to be rescued minutes later by a support helicopter few miles from the Spanish coast.
His last achievement can be seen in the video below. The Jet Man flew in formation with two L-39C of the Breitling Jet Team in what I believe was the first mixed human-airplane echelon formation ever!
According to the information available on the Internet, he once again used a helicopter as a flying platform. After jumping off the chopper he adjusted his flight path and altitude using his body movements and then performed some aerobatic maneuvers above the Swiss Alps alongside the two jet planes.
The following video is not only a gift for the “geekend”: it raises some interesting questions about the possible use of jetpack-propelled soldiers to infiltrate special forces behind the enemy lines across a heavily guarded No Fly Zone. Low observability, reduced noise levels, almost nonexistent radar cross section, small IR footprint: just imagine how difficult it could be to detect a formation of “jetpackers”.
In future robot wars fought by remotely controlled unmanned drones and robots, a jetpack similar to the one used by Yves Rossy could be the only way to postpone the final extinction of the word “manned” from the vocabulary of military aviation.
There is also another possibility suggested me on Twitter by Tim Robinson, Editor of Aerospace International the flagship magazine of the Royal Aeronautical Society, with the current financial crisis, the jetpack could be the low cost fighter jet of the Eurozone air forces…..
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