Tag Archives: Frecce Tricolori

Royal International Air Tattoo 2014 highlights

Here are some of the highlights of RAF Fairford’s Royal International Air Tattoo 2014.

Even though the F-35B Lightning II aircraft could not cross the Pond to take part in the world’s biggest military airshow, the Royal International Air Tattoo 2014 at RAF Fairford, UK, Jul. 17 – 19 did not fail to attract some interesting visitors.

Here are some of those military aircraft and display teams, shot during their demo flights, arrival or departure, by photographer Estelle Calleja.

A-7 HAF

Last Greek’s A-7 Special Color “Olympus”

 

AH-64 Apache

Army Air Corps AH-64 Apache

 

AMX

Italian Air Force AMX ACOL

 

C-27J

Italian Air Force C-27J

 

F-16 BAF

Belgian Air Force F-16 Demo

 

Frecce Tricolori

Frecce Tricolori aerobatic demo team

 

ItAF Typhoon

Italian Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon

 

Patrouille de France

Patrouille de France

 

Patrouille Suisse

Patrouille Suisse

 

SAF F-18

Swiss Air Force F/A-18

 

Solo Turk

Turkish Air Force F-16 demo “Solo Türk”

 

SpAF Hornet

Spanish Air Force F/A-18

 

Su-22

Polish Air Force Su-22

 

Super Hornet

Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet

All images by Estelle Calleja

 

M-345 HET in new Frecce Tricolori display team livery unveiled

On Sept. 24, 2013, the Italian Minister of Defense announced that the Frecce Tricolori, Italian Air Force’s aerobatic display team will replace their MB.339s with the Alenia Aermacchi M-345 HET (High Efficiency Trainer).

Even if the new basic-advanced trainer will be inducted into active service between 2017 and 2010, Finmeccanica has already unveiled what the traditional livery of the Frecce Tricolori on the M-345 HET could look like.

Image credit: Finmeccanica

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The Frecce Tricolori, world’s largest military aerobatic display team, to get new aircraft

Based at Rivolto, in NE Italy, the Frecce Tricolori is the Italian Air Force aerobatic display team, the world’s largest one and the only that can claim credit for five records unmatched by any other aerobatic team in the world.

Since the 1980s, the Frecce Tricolori are equipped with a modified version of the Alenia Aermacchi MB.339A, a single engine tandem seat training and tactical support aircraft, with an overall blue color scheme and the onboard colored smokes generation system.

However, the MB.339 will be replaced by 2017 with a new aircraft, the Alenia Aermacchi M-345.

The news was given by the Italian Minister of Defense Mario Mauro, on Sept. 24, after the “Frecce” had completed 2013’s last display.

The aircraft type that will be assigned to the team is the M-345 HET (High Efficiency Trainer) a new basic-advanced trainer, expected to enter service with the Italian Air Force between 2017-2020.

The new HET is a further development of the M-345 jet trainer (formerly M-311), the latest solution proposed by Alenia Aermacchi for the basic-advanced phase of military pilot training.

The M-345 HET will be equipped with a turbofan engine in the 1.600 kg (3,500 lb) thrust class and will feature long endurance, high load factors (+7/-3,5 g), HUD (Head Up Display) in the front cockpit with repeater in the rear cockpit, MFDDs (multi-function digital displays) for both pilot stations and HOTAS (Hands On Throttle-And-Stick) controls.

Before Mauro announced the M-345 would replace the MB.339, the M-346 advanced jet trainer was believed to be the main (if not only) candidate to equip the Frecce Tricolori team.

Image credit: Alenia Aermacchi

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Some special colors and kill markings at the airshow for the 60 years of the Patrouille de France

The Patrouille de France celebrated its 60th anniversary on May 26 with a beautiful air show at the Base Aèrienne 701 Salon-de-Provence.

The air show was attended by some of the most important European aerobatic display teams including the Frecce Tricolori, the Red Arrows, the Patrouille Suisse, the Patrulla Águila, the Team Iskry and the Diables Rouges.

The static display featured some interesting French Air Force hardware such as special colors aircraft and some kill markings painted in unusual way on Mirage 2000 auxiliary fuel tank.

As the imagesin this post show to celebrate the anniversary of the Patrouille de France one of its Alpha Jet its tail adorned with a big 60, as the number of seasons during which the team performed across the world; the Patrouille de France recalled this very important goal also during its display when its own pilots depicted a big 60 in the sky.

Mont de Marsan 4

But even more interesting was the French Air Force Mirage F1 CR in a special color scheme to celebrate the 100 years of the escadrille BR 11 “Cocotte” from Base Aèrienne 118 Mont-de-Marsan.

Mont de Marsan 3

This aircraft, which also celebrated the 30 years of the recce F1 with the squadron, had the name of its author, Damien Coudreau, on its ventral fins.

Coudreau is from Mont-de-Marsan and really did a wonderful job designing this special color.

Mont de Marsan 2

In the last photograph, another fighter, a Mirage 2000 sported some kill markings on its ventral auxiliary fuel tank.

Even if we didn’t know the Rules Of Engagement (ROE) and the training scenario of the dissimilar air combat training, the picture clearly shows two Alpha Jets downed by the Mirage 2000.

Mont de Marsan 1

Image credit: Dario Leone

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Impressive video: behind the scenes of world’s largest aerobatic display team. Flying with the Frecce Tricolori 10-ship formation

Even while most people like to attend air shows to see aerobatic display teams performances, they usually don’t know what happens inside the formation, which are the main roles of the team, which are the solo radio calls, and which flight instruments are used during the display.

Last week I was invited to attend the traditional dinner with the pilots of the Frecce Tricolori, the Italian Aerobatic Team, organized by the 1° Club Frecce Tricolori, the first of more than 120 fan clubs all around the world, that was born on May 27, 1989 at Pieve di Soligo, in North East Italy.  The event was also interesting because a brand new video, recorded with gopro cameras installed on both the planes, the cockpit and the flight helmets of the Frecce Tricolori,  produced by DeAgostini with the help of the Italian Air Force, was presented for the first time.

Available as a double DVD in a booklet containing information about the team (with excerpts from my official 50th Anniversary book) and stunning pictures, the new video gives a clear idea of what happens behind the scenes of the Italian Air Force’s 50-year old Frecce Tricolori the world’s largest aerobatic display team that can claim credit for five records unmatched by any other aerobatic team in the world.

I’ve seen many Frecce videos, but this one, with 170-minute footage bringing the viewer not only inside the cockpit but also inside the formation in the most unusual attitude, is by far the most interesting and realistic I’ve ever seen.

Here’s a teaser:

For more information about the DVD please visit Aviatorzone.com.

If you want to know something more about the team, here’s some background info for you.

Frecce Tricolori

Based at Rivolto, not far from Udine, in NE Italy, the Frecce Tricolori official designation is 313° Gruppo Addestramento Acrobatico (Aerobatic Training Squadron).

The Frecce Tricolori team is equipped with a modified version of the Alenia Aermacchi MB.339A, a single engine tandem seat training and tactical support aircraft. Apart from the overall blue color scheme, the aircraft differ from the standard model by the presence of the onboard colored smokes generation system.

This device is controlled by two buttons: one on the control stick, for white smoke, and one on the throttle for colored smoke. The system is fed from an underwing fuel tank filled with a coloring agent which is discharged through nozzles placed in the jet exhaust. The agent, vaporized in the jet exhaust, produces a colored trail.

The roles

Although every position is key in the overall display, the roles with greater responsibility are the ones of the Commander, the Leader, the First Slot and Solo.

Unlike other display teams, the Frecce’s Commander does not fly with the formation. He is the former Leader and issues instructions from the ground supervising the display both from a technical and a flight safety perspective.

The formation Leader (aircraft numbered #1) guides the whole team, dictating timings and managing separations, opposition passes and rejoins, aided by the First Slot (#6), who flies in the centre, and acts as a reference point for speeds and distances.

The Solo (#10) is tasked with displaying to the public the aircraft’s extreme capabilities in periods when the rest of the formation momentarily exits the air show area to prepare for the next maneuver. He flies an almost independent display program, with highly technical manoeuvres in which the aircraft is pushed to the limits of its envelope.

Formation flying

Most people don’t even know the reasons why military (and even civilian) planes fly and perform aerobatics in formation and many questions arise when display teams suffer incidents, like the Blue Angels near controlled flight into terrain or the Red Arrows tragic loss of Aug. 20, 2011 [although not display-related, unfortunately a pilot of the "Reds" was killed in a ground ejection incident on Nov. 8].

Formation aerobatics dates back to the end of the ’20s as a means for improving pilot’s skills, and it is still today one of the most important disciplines in the background of a military pilot. At that time formation aerobatics was used to train pilots to follow the formation leader in dogfights, regardless of the aircraft attitude. Still today, formations are a typical feature of military aviation: they are used in combat, for providing mutual cover or reducing the formation radar footprint, and also during peacetime operations for both training and operational purposes, and also for bringing an unexperienced wingman on the ground during a bad weather recovery to the homebase. That’s why, unless they are launched to check an aircraft subsystems after a maintenance work or to test some specific on board or ground equipment, the majority of tactical planes (“tacair”) missions involve at least two aircraft.

Apart from those phases in which the team splits into two sections, the Frecce fly in a standard diamond formation, in which its elements are arranged in five “layers”. The leader is the highest aircraft (hence it occupies the highest layer) while the second slot (#9) is the lowest. The first left wingman and the first slot are responsible for the set up and constitute the perspective reference to the rest of the aircraft. The Frecce aircraft very close to each other: they use a vertical and horizontal separation appearing almost overlapped to the eyes of the spectators.

Instrument flight is reduced to the minimum. The artificial horizon is used for no more than 20 or 30 seconds during the whole display, this being flown “visually”, looking out, maintaining one’s own position by sighting the specific reference points. For almost all the duration of the performance wingmen and slot pilots, have “only” to follow their leader, almost disregarding their position relative to the ground.

The program

According to the weather conditions as well as the topographic characteristics of the location in which the air show is being staged, the Frecce Tricolori can perform three types of program: “high”, “low” or “flat”.

The “high” program is the most spectacular: it is made by an uninterrupted sequence of some thirty figures (among those the Big triangle formation loop, and the Downward Bomb Burst), the performance of which requires on average some 25 minutes.  After performing the first part of the program with all ten aircraft, the solo display pilot detaches, alternating his own maneuvers with the ones flown by the remaining nine planes.

Even though to the eyes of a spectator displays don’t change during an entire air show season, the way the “Frecce Tricolori” fly may differ significantly depending on the environment in which aerobatics is executed.

“In the case of displays flown over land, the terrain usually offers a multitude of fixed references which assist in the perception of speed, travelled airspace and altitude, such as crop lines, fields, roads, railways, and rivers” Capt. Piercarlo Ciacchi, Frecce Tricolori’s pilot said.

Over the water, however, it is necessary to use buoys or boats to create the reference points for the pilots for the safe execution of all the maneuvers. “Although usually free of significant obstacles, displays flown over water can hide several traps. In those flown over the sea, the sunlight reflected on the surface may reduce visibility. Displays flown over a lake require even greater concentration on behalf of the pilots, since the absence of significant wave motion, low lake bottoms, and different water salinity amplify the reflective characteristics of the surface, causing the problem of spatial disorientation” Ciacchi explains.

The training

The training which precedes entrance in the formation lasts a little less than six months. It begins with single ship sorties and continues with other missions featuring an increasing number of aircraft. At the end of each training phase, the progress made by the new pilot is certified by a senior member of the formation, who is responsible for assessing if the trainee can proceed to the next one.

The newly assigned pilots enter the formation occupying the rear positions, considered easier and more comfortable to fly.