If you thought low level flying was only for fighter planes, you were wrong. Watch how maneuverable a C-130 can be during a Red Flag sortie.
The following video shows a C-130H from the U.S. Air Force’s 36th Airlift Squadron, Yokota airbase Japan while conducting training operations during Red Flag Alaska 13-1. You can also spot another Hercules leading the formation through the valleys.
Even if low level videos usually feature fast jets, even cargo aircraft, often involved in special operations, reconnaissance, Search And Rescue, troops or humanitarian airdrops in troubled spots around the world, may have to fly (hence train) at low altitudes.
For instance, the low flying training of Royal Air Force C-130 Hercules pilots came in handy when they were tasked to rescue oil workers that were trapped in Libya in 2011, few weeks before the Air War kicked off. The C-130s coming from Malta flew at low level once over the desert and in hostile air space, picked up the oil workers at a small remote airfield and returned to Luqa flying, at very low altitude until they reached the boundaries of the Libyan airspace.
In anticipation of possible evacuation of American officials from Libya, more Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and KC-130 tankers have been deployed to Sigonella.
With tension raising in Libya, a U.S. crisis-response team deployed to Sigonella, in southeastern Sicily, to prepare for a possible evacuation of American personnel from the embassy in Tripoli.
Seven MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft supported by three KC-130Js along with a force of about 180 Marines and sailors have been forward deployed to Italy. They will be joined by another Osprey expected in the next few hours.
If called to facilitate the evacuation of the U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya, the aircraft would be able to reach the Tripoli in little more than one hour. Indeed, Sigonella is the perfect location to launch a Special Operation in North Africa.
Last October some 250 marines (200 according to some sources) were deployed from Moron, Spain, to Sigonella, to face potential threats to U.S. diplomats in Libya, that could be sparked by the Delta Force raid to capture Abu Anas al Libi, Al Qaeda leader in the North African country.
In May 2013, 500 American marines were moved from Spain to Sigonella amid growing tensions in Libya.
What someone saw as a rehearsal of an eventual air strike on Syria, was (more or less) a standard mission aimed at testing the U.S. capability to launch “Global Strike” missions across the globe from CONUS (Continental US).
But, whereas the attack on Libya had been really “stealth” (since the bombers used a REACH callsign, usually allocated to tanker, transport and support aircraft to go unnoticed among airband listeners) the entire flight of the two B-2s across the Pond on Sept. 13 was not only announced by the deployment of an E-6 Mercury in Europe, but was also very well documented by North American and British milair monitors.
Among them, “Rich”, an expert in the field, who has logged the entire 20-hour mission and has provided The Aviationist the following detailed log.
Two B-2A Spirits, callsign HAMAL 11/12 took off in the early hours of September 13 and conducted a global power mission over the north Atlantic.
They refuelled over Nova Scotia at 0800z with two KC135s callsign ETHYL B1/B2.
Two KC-135s from Fairchild McConnell AFB, callsign SPUR 57/58 forward deployed to RAF Mildenhall a few days previously and were tasked to conduct the Bombers second Air Refuelling which took place around 44N22W around 1230z, a few hundred miles west of Spain.
After the second air refuelling, the bombers headed south down the Portuguese FIR before routing back west towards Newfoundland for their third air refuelling over Nova Scotia with two more KC-135s, ETHYL B3/B4. The B-2As then transited back to Whiteman AFB.
As well as the six KC-135s to refuel the bombers, the B-2s were also supported by a forward deployed E-6B Mercury which was TDY (Temporary Deployed) at Stuttgart.
Using callsign RAZZ02 with the ATC (Air Traffic Control) the E-6 acted as SKYMASTER for the bombers using the callsign of AUDIO KIT throughout the second half of the mission. The E-6B set up an orbit in the western half of the Bay of Biscay.
This time the mission was monitored from the beginning to the end. If it were a real combat sortie, very few details would have been broadcast for anybody to hear. Hopefully…..
On Sept. 8, Eurofighter confirmed that the Eurofighter Typhoon has now achieved more than 200,000 flying hours since the entry-into-service of its worldwide fleet.
719 aircraft on contract, 571 aircraft ordered and 378 aircraft delivered: these are the figures of the programme that is Europe’s largest defense program today.
Alberto Gutierrez, Chief Executive Officer of Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH, said: “Every day our aircraft are protecting the skies in Europe, the Middle East and even in the Southern hemisphere. They are on Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Eurofighter Typhoon is combat proven since the Libya operations and is now gaining considerable momentum – indeed the programme has never looked stronger.”
The press release issued by Eurofighter for the 200K FH provides some interesting details about the history of the program.
The first 5,000 flying hours were achieved in November 2005. 10,000 hours came in August 2006 and 20,000 in May 2007. By August 2008, the Eurofighter Typhoon fleet had surpassed 50,000 hours and 100,000 flying hours was reached in January 2011. In the course of these flying hours, Eurofighter has demonstrated 100 per cent availability in numerous international deployments including: Alaska; Malaysia; the United Arab Emirates; the USA; and India.
The global Eurofighter fleet now comprises 20 operating units with locations in Europe, the South Atlantic and the Middle East. Specifically there are: 7 units in the UK (4 in Coningsby, 2 in Leuchars and 1 in Mount Pleasant, Falkland Islands); 5 in Italy (2 in Grosseto, 2 in Gioia del Colle, 1 in Trapani); 3 in Germany (Laage, Neuburg and Nörvenich), as well as 3 in Spain (2 in Morón, 1 in Albacete) and one each in Austria (Zeltweg) and in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – all of them have contributed to the 200,000 flying hour total.
To mark the 200,000 flying hours a German Typhoon “30-70″ was given red celebrative markings as the image in this post shows.
Even if the remote south’s illegal traffic, smuggling and mass jail breakouts have become a Libyan Government concern, the sea routes to the oil ports remain Tripoli’s main asset.
For this reason Free Libyan Air Force (FLAF) Mig-21s conduct frequent reconnaissance missions along the coast and over the Gulf of Sidra to detect suspicious ships, as the one during which the images in this post were taken.
Noteworthy, the aircraft in the photographs are unarmed, however, according to the FLAF FB page: “The Air Force is ready to carry out orders to bomb any target approaching the maritime and territorial waters, especially oil ports.”