As already explained in the report about the Air-to-Air Refueling mission we took part, Ex. Star Vega is this year’s largest Italian exercise.
Centered on two Main Operating Bases, Decimomannu and Trapani, were the tactical planes were based; Star Vega 2013 saw the participation of all the types of assets of the Italian Air Force, including the C-130J and C-27J cargos from Pisa, the KC-767s from Pratica di Mare; and the Italian UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) from Amendola.
The following images were taken by Alessandro Caglieri and Gian Luca Onnis at Decimomannu airbase where the attack planes were based.
Tornado ECR of the 50° Stormo from Piacenza:
Tornado IDS of the 6° Stormo, from Ghedi:
AMX of the 51° Stormo, from Istrana:
Lockheed Martin “Dragon Star” Airborne Multi-Intelligence Laboratory (more on this platform will be published in a future piece):
C-27J of the 46^ Brigata Aerea from Pisa:
Image credit: Alessandro Caglieri and Gian Luca Onnis
Flying activity at one of the busiest airbases in Europe April 28, 2013Posted by David Cenciotti in : Military Aviation , add a comment
With several European air forces forced to ground squadrons, reduce flying activity (with significant impact on their preparedness to react to the surge of Russian air force bombers and spyplanes missions) and cut hours destined to the aircrew training just like happening in the U.S. as a consequence, of sequestration cuts, there are few airbases where aircraft enthusiasts can still spot some intense flying activity (but the few that are hosting a large exercise).
One of them is Decimomannu airbase, in Sardinia, where aircraft belonging to several Italian and foreign services (including U.S. ones, sporadically) deploy to undertake air-to-air and air-to-surface live firing activities.
Few weeks ago, we published the images of the Eurofighter Typhoons belonging to all the Italian Air Force squadrons equipped with the European fighter jet, deployed at “Deci”.
The images in this post, taken by The Aviationist’s contributors Gian Luca Onnis and Alessandro Caglieri, show some of the aircraft recently deployed in the Sardinian base.
Noteworthy, along with the Italian Air Force AMX and German Air Force Tornado fighter bombers, Decimomannu has hosted in April the last detachment of the WTD-61′s F-4 Phantoms.
The F-4 is going to be retired by the GAF later this year.
Image credit: Gian Luca Onnis, Alessandro Caglieri
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Held twice each year in the Scottish Exercise Areas, Joint Warrior is a large exercise that sees the participation of assets from all three UK armed services as well as numerous foreign ones.
Taking part to the JW13, that kicked off on Apr. 15 and is due to last until Apr. 29, are personnel, aircraft, warships belonging to the UK, France, U.S., Brazil, Canada, Poland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Norway and Italy.
The two airbases involved in the exercise are Lossiemouth, which hosts maritime patrol aircraft and local Tornado GR4s; and Leuchars, where fighters and foreign jets are headquartered.
The current Order of Battle of the JW, is as follows.
- Tornado RAF
- 1x P-3AM BrazAF
- 2x CP-140 CAF
- 2x ATL-2 FN
- 2x P-3C USN
- 1x Shadow R1
- 3x HH-60G USAF (LN)
- Typhoon RAF
- 1x E-2C FN
- 7x Rafale N FN
- 7x Super Etendard FN
- 1x Chinook HC2 RAF
- 4x Hawk T1A RAF
Missions flown during a JW range from Close Air Support, to TASMO (Tactical Air Support to Maritime Operations) to Defensive Counter Air. Usually, during the first week the aircraft involved in the exercise get used with the local procedures and fly basic sorties; during the second week, things become tough and realistic, with MPA aircraft aloft up to 10 hours and live firing activities.
Noteworthy, both the RAF Typhoons and the French Rafale taking part in the exercise are being operated as multirole planes. According to Officer Commanding 6 Squadron, Wing Commander Mike Baulkwill, who spoke to The Courier:
“Joint Warrior brings together our pilots and our engineers with their French equivalents who have a slightly different way of operating, so we can learn lessons from them and likewise they can learn lessons from us. It is about making sure that when we go and do this for real we can get it right first time.”
Image credit: Alessandro Fucito
All the images in this post were taken by The Aviationist’s contributor Alessandro Fucito, who went to Lossiemouth to observe some JW13 flying activity.
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The RAF has recently announced that its highly acclaimed Tornado Role Demo Display Team is to return to the UK Air Show circuit for 2013.
The two-ship display team using radio callsigns Poker 1 and Poker 2 provides a display that shows the British public the RAF’s frontline strike capabilities and tactics used by aircrew of the Tornado GR4 bombers deployed to the Afghanistan theatre of operations in the Close Air Support (CAS) role.
The display is fast, loud and dynamic, with large explosions from the pyrotechnics as the unfolding scenario is acted out via a commentator.
Image credit: Gareth Stringer / GAR
The scene is set as coalition troops are pinned down by an enemy firefight. The GR4s enter flying fast and low, wings swept, re-heat plugged in, as they provide a 550 kts “Show of Force.” The ensuing fight includes Brimstone attacks and strafing runs, that give the viewing crowd heat and percussion from the explosions that can even be felt in the aircraft.
Image credit: Gareth Stringer / GAR
Flown by aircrew from XV (15) Squadron based at RAF Lossiemouth, whom are all Iraq and Afghanistan experienced aircrew the team have proved to be very popular with Air Show crowds during 2012.
An exclusive in-depth interview with the Team pilots can be found on the FREE 2012 airshow season review magazine of the Global Aviation Magazine, the monthly digital-only magazine published by the Global Aviation Resource team.
Richard Clements for TheAviationist.com
RAF Tornados involved in "marathon" seven-hour mission to defend US and Afghan forces in Afghanistan April 20, 2012Posted by David Cenciotti in : Military Aviation , add a comment
RAF Tornado GR4s from 617 “The Dambusters” Squadron, belonging to the 904 Expeditionary Air Wing at Kandahar, have helped to defend US and Afghan forces from an insurgent attack in Helmand province, as part of a marathon mission lasting over seven hours.
Two of the RAF Lossiemouth-based “Tonkas”, had already spent 3 hours providing armed overwatch for British and American troops when the emergency call came in. The bombers, flying a CAS (Close Air Support) mission, were requested to fly 300 nautical miles north west, near the Turkmenistan border to provide support to a joint United States and Afghan National Security Forces patrol under repeated small arms fire (a condition known as TIC – Troops in Contact).
The British bombers conducted a typical high speed – low altitude passage over the insurgents: a show of force at 100 feet and 500 knots that persuaded the Taliban to retire to the cover allowing the ground patrol to withdraw to safety.
Image credit: Jez B/Flickr
The 617 Squadron Tornados were airborne for three hours prior to the call for assistance and the entire marathon seven-hour 45-minute flight required four aerial refuelings worth 20,000 litres of fuel each.
According to the UK’s MoD, in the same week, the squadron also conducted one “show of presence” (a higher-level flypast designed to indicate the presence of a supporting combat plane) and four lower-level shows of force.
617 Sqn’s crews are currently flying in Afghanistan with the new Helmet Mounted Cueing System (HMCS), a system that projects symbology on the helmet’s visor so the pilot can read the flight parameters and other information of interest, regardless where he is looking.
Image credit: U.S. Air Force
- Dambusters test adveniristic helmet for RAF Tornado crews. Most advanced combat planes have similar helmets, except the F-22. (theaviationist.com)
- RAF’s weapon of choice in Libya to be upgraded as export opportunities emerge (theaviationist.com)
- Low level flying in the age of stealth bombers and standoff weapons: welcome to the famous “Mach Loop” (theaviationist.com)