Along with the KC-767s, already supporting the coalition forces with an aerial refueling capability, Rome has committed four Tornado IDS and two Predator drones to the war on ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
The Italian Air Force is about to move four Tornado IDS attack planes, belong to the 6° Stormo, from Ghedi airbase, to Kuwait, to join the US-led coalition that is fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria. According to DefenseNews, the aircraft are going to be based at Ahmed Al Jaber air base in Kuwait, the same country where Rome has deployed one of its brand new KC-767 tankers.
For this kind of mission, the aircraft usually carry a Rafael Reccelite reconnaissance pod: the Reccelite is a Day/Night electro-optical pod able to provide real-time imagery collection. It is made of a stabilized turret, solid-state on board recorder that provides image collections in all directions, from high, medium and low altitudes.
The Reccelite reconnaissance pod is used to broadcast live video imagery via datalink to ground stations and to ROVER (Remote Operations Video Enhanced Receiver) tactical receivers in a range of about 100 miles.
The pod can also be carried by the AMX ACOL, the light tactical jet that has performed close air support/air interdiction and ISR missions in support of ISAF from 2009 until the summer of 2014.
The Italian Air Force operates a mixed force of 6 MQ-9 Reaper and 6 MQ-1C Predator both assigned to the 28° Gruppo (Squadron) of the 32° Stormo (Wing).
The Italian UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) have already operated in Iraq between January 2005 and 2006 when the first RQ-1 Predator A was deployed to Tallil airbase, in Iraq. Later, two Predator A+ (designated MQ-1C A+ a standard to which all the former RQ-1 were upgraded) were deployed to Herat, in Afghanistan, to perform a wide array of missions: mainly MEDEVAC (Medical Evacuation), support to TIC (Troops In Contact), IED (Improvised Explosive Devices) monitoring and Convoy Escort.
The Italian unarmed drones will probably be involved in High Value Target surveillance and Reconnaissance (and, maybe special ops support).
Although it was not disclosed, most probably Predators will be employed in Iraq as they were employed in Afghanistan: in accordance with the so-called Remote Split Operations (RSO). During RSO, aircraft is launched from a local, in theater airbase, under direct line-of-sight control of the local MGCS (Mobile Ground Control Station).
Then, by means of satellite data link, it is taken on charge and guided from Amendola. When the assigned mission is completed, it is once again handed over to a pilot in Afghanistan, who lands it back to Herat airbase. The 1-second delay introduced by the satellite link is not compatible with the most delicate phases of flight; hence, aircraft are launched and recovered in line-of-sight by the deployed MCGS (US drones use the same kind of remote control).
Video shows what happened to a hill near Kobane. Wiped out by an air strike conducted by US-led coalition bombers.
This is a striking video showing what happened to a hill near Kobane, where ISIS had just planted a flag. IS fighters are unware the position is going to be literally buried by bombs dropped by coalition jets.
A video, filmed in central Syria today allegedly shows the first ISIS jet in flight.
In the last few days, several media outlets reported the news that the Islamic State has started combat operations using “Mig” fighter jets from an airbase in Syria.
Indeed, in 2014, ISIS has captured two airbases in central Syria, Tabqa and Kshesh, where Islamic State fighters have seized some Syrian Arab Air Force airplanes. Among these aircraft, several Mig-21s and L-39s, some of those, if not airworthy, were probably at least in pretty good shape.
Photos of IS fighters posing next to intact L-39s at Kshesh, about 70 kilometers to the east of Aleppo, have been published on several websites and social media: some of them show the combat trainers in near operational conditions.
Obviously, the mere fact that some aircraft, with some missing parts were captured by ISIS, does not mean they now have an Air Force. Still, their capability to bring a few of those “Migs” to flight conditions should not be underestimated: with the help of the Iraqi personnel formerly serving with the Iraqi Air Force the three planes were reportedly brought back to operational status at Kshesh. Most probably piloted by Iraqi, IS supporters or mercenaries.
On Oct. 18, a video reportedly filmed near Kshesh emerged. It shows a jet landing at the airbase under IS control in central Syria.
Although it’s not easy to guess the type of aircraft, it may be an L-39.
As said, the fact that some aircraft have been brought to operational status is far from being surprising. What’s weird is that U.S. aircraft involved in Operation Inherent Resolve (as the U.S.-led campaign against ISIS was dubbed) have not yet targeted Kshesh airbase to wipe out the first three aircraft of the quite basic IS Air Force…
Several media outlets have filmed a U.S. B-1 circling over Kobane during the air strikes on ISIS. Footage shows flashing light come out of the plane: most probably nothing more than a strobe light.
On Oct. 8, a B-1B “Lancer” from Al Udeid took part in the air strikes against ISIS militants around Kobane, the Syrian town located close to the border with Turkey.
As happened on the previous day, the aircraft performed a BAI (Battlefield Air Interdiction) mission, circling at high altitude for more than one hour. Several media outlets, including the CNN, filmed the plane. Some people noticed a weird intermittent flashing light coming out of the B-1B. Although someone wondered whether the light was generated by some sort of targeting device, the light was probably one of the aircraft strobes.
Why were the strobe lights turned on during a war mission inside foreign airspace? Most probably U.S. aircrews are more concerned of deconfliction with other traffic rather than being targeted by the enemy ground fire (the latter being a risk that should be taken into consideration as ISIS get their hands on anti-aircraft weaponry).
On its way to the target area, the supersonic strategic bomber was refueled mid-air by a KC-135 Stratotanker, one of the aerial refuelers (also based at Al Udeid) that have supported the U.S. air campaign both in Iraq and Syria, refueling coalition planes, during both daylight sorties and at night.
Here is a sequence of images, taken from the boomer point of view, showing the “Bone” approach the tanker, be refueled and then break away enroute to its target.
Sometimes, aerial refueling is required to extend the aircraft range enabling persistent ops in a certain area of operation: on Oct. 7, a single B-1B was spotted circling for more than 1 hour over Kobane, in northern Syria close to the Turkish border, during air strikes against ISIS.