F-14, F-4 and F-5 jets: not the U.S. Navy of the ’70s but today’s National Army Day in Iran April 21, 2013Posted by David Cenciotti in : Iran, Military Aviation , 17comments
On Apr. 18, Iran celebrated the traditional National Army Day in honor of its land, sea and air forces.
According to the Press TV, “after the military parade, Iran’s military commanders said their forces are more than ever ready to defend the country against foreign threats, including those of the United States and its ally Israel. The Iranian Army has in recent months staged several drills to test-fire different types of home-made missiles and torpedoes. The army has also tested a large number of home-made submarines, gun ships, artillery, helicopters, fighter jest, drones, air defense and electronic systems.”
It will take at least some time before the recently unveiled Qaher 313 stealth fighter plane will be able to attend the yearly aerial display…..
Iranian F-4 Phantom jets fail to intercept U.S. Predator off Iran. Once again. Scared by F-22 escort? March 14, 2013Posted by David Cenciotti in : Drones, Iran, Military Aviation , 11comments
According to a statement by Pentagon Press Secretary George Little, on Mar. 12, an IRIAF (Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force) combat plane attempted to intercept a U.S. MQ-1 drone flying in international airspace.
As happened on Nov. 1, 2012, when two Sukhoi Su-25 attack planes operated by the Pasdaran (informal name of the IRGC – the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution) attempted to shoot down an American MQ-1 flying a routine surveillance flight in international airspace some 16 miles off Iran, the interception of the unmanned aircraft failed.
Interestingly, the last close encounter was unsuccessful because the fighter jets scrambled to intercept the unarmed U.S. drone were discouraged from accomplishing the mission: at least one of the two F-4 Phantom jets came to about 16 miles from the UAV but broke off pursuit after they were broadcast a warning message by two American planes escorting the Predator.
Image credit: U.S. Air Force
Clearly, following last year’s close encounter the Pentagon has decided to escort the drones involved in intelligence gathering missions with fighter jets (either F-18 Hornets with the CVW 9 embarked on the USS John C. Stennis whose Carrier Strike Group is currently in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility or F-22 Raptors like those deployed to the UAE).
Although dispatching fighter jets to escort drones makes them less vulnerable, it makes also the UAV more visible. Unless the fighter jets providing HVAAE (High Value Air Asset Escort) are F-22 stealth fighters.
Few days ago, Iran recovered from sea a mysterious drone; most probably an Iranian one.
Thirty minutes to choose your fighter jet: how the Shah of Iran chose the F-14 Tomcat over the F-15 Eagle February 11, 2013Posted by Dario Leone in : Military Aviation , 30comments
More than 6 years after its last flight with the U.S. Navy, the Tomcat is still in service in a small number of examples with the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF), to such an extent, Iran has recently tested a brand new air-to-air missile dubbed “Fakour”, for the combat plane made famous by Top Gun.
In fact, 80 F-14s were ordered by the Shah and 79 were effectively delivered. The procurement of the Tomcat to Iran was very important not only for Grumman, which was facing serious cash flow problems due to the difficult development of the aircraft, but also for the future of the fighter itself, since at the time F-14’s program was affected by schedule slippage and cost overruns.
Image credit: Grumman/IIAF
When the Shah announced his intention to replace the old F-4 Phantoms in service with the Imperial Iranian Air Force, it was clear that both the USAF’s new F-15 and the Navy’s F-14 would have had the same opportunity to become Iranian’s main fighter.
So, after briefings held by USAF and Navy personnel in the Shah’s palace in Tehran, Iranian officials decided that it would have been the flight demonstration at Andrews Air Force Base, near Washington DC, scheduled in July 1973, to determine which one between the two fighters, would be the best to satisfy the then Imperial Iranian Air Force’s requiremens.
The flight demonstration was scheduled not to exceed 30 minutes from the first take off to the landing of the second aircraft.
The base was closed for that short time in which at the presence of the Shah, the two U.S. fighters had to fly their demonstration: it was decided that the USAF’s F-15, piloted by Irv Burrows (McDonnell Douglas’ test pilot), would have performed first, while Don Evans and Dennis Romano (Grumman’s test crew) with their F-14, would wait their turn after the Eagle.
While the F-15 taxied onto runway, Don and Dennis started engines of the Tomcat ahead of the schedule and burned down fuel in the warm up area during the Eagle demonstration, to reduce the difference in thrust to weight ratio between the two fighters. However F-15’s demonstration was spectacular, not only for the raw power of the aircraft but also for pilot’s skills: Burrows was a great pilot and that day, he showed all his ability.
Image credit: U.S. Air Force
The flight demonstration was the same for both aircraft: it consisted in a sequence of maneuvers beginning with a high performance take off followed by an Immelman turn and climb-out, then a descent to a high speed fly-by, two high-g low altitude turns followed by a slow speed fly-by in the landing configuration and last, the landing.
Since the F-15 has a higher thrust to weight ratio than the F-14A, the Eagle performed a really impressive flight profile during which it pulled an incredible 7-g 360 degree turn.
After the F-15 had finished its display, everyone was waiting for the underpowered F-14A demonstration: the Tomcat’s TF-30 engines would have not given to the aircraft the same thrust to weigh ratio of the Eagle.
However, during the F-15’s performance, Evans and Romano burned down a great quantity of fuel and now they had only 2,500 pounds of remaining gas: while this little quantity was only sufficient to accomplish their flight demonstration, 2,500 pounds was also one eight of the Tomcat’s internal fuel capacity and thanks to this fact the Tomcat had the same thrust to weight ratio of the Eagle.
At this point the F-14 had one thing that the F-15 didn’t have: variable geometry wings that would have made the difference for the grace of the flight demonstration.
Don and Dennis pushed both throttles to full zone five afterburner (which was the maximum afterburner thrust setting for TF-30 engine) and took off to perform the same demonstration of the F-15: the sequence of the maneuvers was just like the Eagle’s one, but the Tomcat’s crew, during the knife-edge pass, decided to sweep the wings from fully swept to fully forward and then they executed a turn at the maximum Tomcat’s performance, producing a large cloud of vapor off the wings due to the shock wave.
Image credit: U.S. Navy
Then approaching the mid with the wings swept at 40 degrees, the Tomcat went into a full afterburner 360 degree 8 ½ g turn accelerated to 400 knots, very impressive to see. To end the demonstration, Evans and Romano added a touch-and-go landing: when the main landing gears came in touch with the runway they inserted full zone five afterburners and the Tomcat climbed in vertical. At this point, while they had almost ran out of fuel, they made a spectacular carrier landing approach and they fully stopped in one thousand feet of runway.
Once the show ended, the Shah literally ignored the Eagle and walked directly towards the Tomcat speaking for some minutes with the crew still sat in the cockpit of the fighter: he’d chosen the Tomcat, saving the Grumman and assuring a future to the F-14.
Grumman F-14 Tomcat’s first flight (and first crash) video January 29, 2013Posted by Dario Leone in : Aviation Safety, Military Aviation , 1 comment so far
Several years since it was eventually retired from the U.S. Navy, the Grumman F-14 Tomcat remains one of the most loved planes by aviation enthusiasts.
Any article about the iconic fighter plane, still operating with the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force, its story, capabilities, records and surrounding anecdotes, always become a much debated and commented post on The Aviationist.
For this reason, we will continue writing about this legendary plane and its replacement: the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.
The following video, part of a documentary uploaded to Youtube, shows both the first flight and the first crash of the legendary F-14 Tomcat.
On Dec. 21, 1970, the first Full Scale Development (FSD) Grumman F-14A Tomcat (BuNo 157980) took off for its maiden flight from Grumman’s flight test centre at Calverton.
That day, Grumman chief test pilot Robert Smythe and project test pilot William Miller decided to take off in spite of the bad weather: the poor wx conditions, however, forced the test pilots to cut the flight (consisting in a couple of visual patterns with the wings in the forward position) short.
Although the flight lasted less than initially planned, the first Tomcat took the air a month ahead of the contracted data and showed the great potential of the aircraft.
The F-14 BuNo 157980 took off for the second time on Dec. 30 and that day Miller sat in the front cockpit since in the first flight Smythe had been in front.
It was during this flight that a chase plane noted that the Tomcat was leaving a trail of smoke: shortly thereafter the F-14 experienced a primary hydraulic system failure forcing Miller to head immediately back home.
While they were preparing to land, the secondary hydraulic system also failed, due to the use of the emergency nitrogen bottle to blow down the landing gear: once it failed, the crew tried to rely on the Combat Survival System which had to supply the power to the rudders and tailerons only.
However this last limited control system showed signs of failing as well, the pilot lost control all over the aircraft and the crew was forced to eject.
The breakdown was caused by a fatigue failure of both titanium main hydraulic lines due to a coincidence of pump resonance and a loose connector: ironically, the F-14’s hydraulic system was fixed by changing from titanium to stainless steel hydraulic lines only.
As you can see from footage (around 03:20 min), the crew ejected only few meters above the trees but, luckily, they suffered only minor injuries.
Sadly, Miller died on 30 June 1972 when its Tomcat crashed into Chesapeake Bay during preparation for an air display with the tenth FSD F-14 (BuNo 157989), while Smythe passed away this year.
Both Smythe and Miller contributed in bringing to life the last in a long tradition of Grumman Cats.
Written with David Cenciotti
Image credit: U.S. Navy
Iranian fighter jet seemingly flying over Homs: is Tehran actively taking part to the air war in Syria? September 26, 2012Posted by David Cenciotti in : Iran, Syria , 18comments
Although the majority of footage, photo appearing on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and so on, some of the images coming from Syria proved to be fake, as those allegedly showing a Syrian Arab Air Force plane hit by surface to air missiles or the L-39 crashing into the ground after being hit by Free Syrian Army’s anti-aircraft fire.
That said, take the following with grain of salt.
Brought to my attention by Bjørn Holst Jespersen the following image was uploaded on the Syrian Revolution Memory Project Flickr photostream. The photograph, whose EXIF can be found here, is the last of a set reportedly describing a day spent by Abu Jafaar “the citizen journalist” with the Al-Farouk Brigade of the FSA.
It was taken on Aug. 31 (at least, according to the EXIF), even if the caption says it was shot on Aug. 6 (noteworthy, all pictures in the set have the same caption: “Homs, Syria August 6, 2012″).
Anyway, the photograph clearly shows an F-5 Tiger fighter jet. Among the various operators of this kind of aircraft, Iran and Turkey are the closer ones.
Provided that the image was really taken in Syria, over Homs or elsewhere in the country, and considered that Tehran has recently admitted it is helping Assad against the rebels (recent imagery even disclosed the presence of Iran Air and Mahan Air planes at Damascus airport) there are some chances that the plane depicted in the photograph is really an Iranian F-5.
Maybe it’s a bit far fetched but this photo could prove Iran is a bit more actively than thought taking part to the air war over Syria. Even if it could be risky and surely destined to be unveiled quite soon by drones and intelligence gathering platforms spying on Assadists movements.
Less likely, the image could have been taken near the border with Turkey, thus showing a TuAF NF-5…
- Video: Rebels down Syrian Arab Air Force Mig-23BN fighter jet in East Syria (theaviationist.com)
- Photo: Syrian Air Force Mig-21 shot down by rebels had a weird Syrian flag painted on tail (theaviationist.com)
- This may be the first video taken on board a Syrian Arab Air Force gunship helicopter during a mission against the rebels (theaviationist.com)
- Syrian rebels shot down another Mig-21 fighter jet (theaviationist.com)
- Syrian Arab Air Force trainer jets turned into attack planes to strike rebel positions (theaviationist.com)
- Syria: this is what being fired upon by an L-39 jet looks like (theaviationist.com)
- These dramatic pictures DON’T show Syrian warplanes hit by surface to air missiles (theaviationist.com)
- Syria: Mig-21 firing rockets caught on tape (theaviationist.com)
- Fake video of Syrian L-39 forced to crash raises questions about rebel claims (theaviationist.com)