Tag Archives: Tornado

Cool video shows five RAF special painted Tornados flying together

Tonka Special Tails.

This video shows a historic event: a unique formation of four special colored Tornado GR4s from RAF Marham alongside a fifth machine from RAF Lossiemouth, flew in the skies over Great Britain, last week.

Four aircraft were adorned with a special centenary painted tail fin commemorating the 100th anniversary of each individual squadron with the fifth jet’s tail fin celebrating 40 years of the Tornado.

Established at St. Omer on Dec. 8, 1914 Number IX (B) Squadron has been the first unit to pass the 100-year mark. Being one of the pioneers of the night flying, hence their motto “Through the Night We Fly,” the unit’s special painted Tonka sported the famous green bat, which represented the night camo colour, on the tail fin.

The second Tornado was from Number 12 (B) Squadron that celebrated their centenary on Valentine’s Day this year. Made up at Netheravon on Feb. 14, 1915 the unit contributed in developing daylight bombing tactics (their motto “Lead the Field” reflects this expertise) and the fin of their jet was painted with the emblem of the fox, received from Fairey Fox aircraft that the squadron flew in 1926.

The third jet was from 31 Squadron, whose anniversary will be celebrated  on Oct. 11, 2015. Known as the Goldstars, their Tonka’s tail fin was painted with the Gold Star of India, in recognition of them being the first operational military unit in Indian skies supporting the army in dealing with tribal unrest, hence their motto “First in Indian Skies.”

The fourth Tornado from Marham was the one wearing the 40th Anniversary tail fin, commissioned in 2014 to mark 40 years of the European bomber.

The four Tonkas joined with a fifth special color from  XV Squadron, the Tornado operational conversion unit based at RAF Lossiemouth. XV Squadron was born in Farnborough on Mar. 1, 1915 and their tail fin features the Hind’s Head from their squadron emblem. The original emblem of a Hart’s head was changed to the Hind’s head in 1927 to represent the aircraft that was in service at that time.

RAF Tornados are actually taking part to Operation Shader against ISIS flying from Akrotiri airbase in Cyprus.

Image credit: RAF/Crown Copyright


[Photo] NATO Nuclear Exercise “Steadfast Noon 2014”

Here are some images of Steadfast Noon 2014, a NATO Nuclear exercise.

With news, AIP supplements, comments all over the Internet, and photographs published on aviation websites and spotters forums across Europe, it’s not a secret that, at the end of October, Ghedi airbase, in northern Italy, hosted Steadfast Noon 2014, a yearly exercise whose aim was to train NATO units employing “special weapons” (i.e. nuclear bombs).

Tornado IDS turn

Needless to say, such exercises are routinely conducted without the aircraft carrying any bomb, since their purpose is to train the crews to load and unload nukes and to assess the participating units’ ability to safely deal with this kind of ordnance.

Turkish AF F-16 landing

In other words, Steadfast Noon exercises and Strikeval (Strike Evaluation) inspections and certifications are extremely important to ensure nuclear weapons can be properly managed should the need arise.

F-16 AV

Among the various European air arms taking part in Steadfast Noon there was also the Polish Air Force, that deployed to Ghedi its F-16 Block 52+ jets from Lask air base, in western Poland, the same airbase where U.S. F-16 are being frequently rotated.

As highlighted by the Federation of American Scientists in an article by Hans M. Kristensen, the participation of the Polish F-16s is particularly interesting since they are not believed to be assigned a nuclear strike mission under NATO nuclear policy.

F-16 RNlAF

Anyway, in this post you can find some interesting photographs depicting the Steadfast Noon participants, from Poland, Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, and United States, taken by photographer Fabrizio Berni.

F-16 BAF

Tornado GAF

Image credit: Fabrizio Berni


RAF pilot draws what someone thought was a “giant penis” over UK base sparking complains

In what is just an unfortunate accident, a RAF jet on holding pattern for landing at a UK base drew what someone thought was a giant penis in the sky.

It is “not what it perhaps appears to be” said a spokesperson at RAF Lossiemouth airbase, in the UK, answering questions raised by contrails in the sky that allegedly drew a “giant penis” near the Scottish airbase.

Indeed, it looks like someone mistook the vapour contrails left by one the aircraft based at RAF Lossiemouth waiting for landing on a holding pattern, and thought that a rude shape was drawn on purpose by one of the British pilots.

However, as you can see in the photo below, much fantasy is needed to see something pervert in the so-called “racetrack” flown by the RAF jets at high altitude…

As RAF spokesman said: “people sometimes look into the sky and see all sorts of things.”

Contrail RAF Lossiemouth

Image credit: Cascade via Mirror.co.uk

The contrails (short for condensation trails) appear for the quick condensation of the water vapour that is contained in the exhaust of the engines and in the surrounding air (due to a quick decrease in pressure and temperature) and crystallization of it around the solid aerosol particles ejected by the aircraft’s engines. As temperatures where the change of state happens are extremely low (from -40° Celsius), contrails should appear from altitudes around 8.500 meters (in ISA, International Standard Atmosphere, that has a ground temperature of 15° C and a vertical temperature gradient of -6,5° C/1,000 meters).

RAF Lossiemouth is one of the main operating bases within UK, home to both Tornado and Typhoon squadrons.


German Tornado drops ordnance on bomb range in Sardinia sparking fire (and anti-militarist protest)

A limited fire inside a bomb range in Italy sparked anti-militarist protest in Sardinia, Italy. But, as usual, in spite of debate, many want the Armed Forces to remain on the island.

On Sept. 4, an inert bomb dropped by a German Tornado fighter bomber sparked a fire inside the Capo Frasca firing range, located in southwestern Sardinia island, in Italy.

The German “Tonka” was involved in a routine pre-planned firing training sortie from Decimomannu, the airbase that is home of the AWTI (Air Weapons Training Installation).

Established 55 years ago by the NATO partnership of Italy, Germany, Great Britain and Canada, the AWTI exploits various ranges located on the eastern and western coasts of Sardinia, including an ACMI (Air Combat Maneuvering Instrumentation) range where air-to-air missions and DACT (Dissimilar Air Combat Training) are remotely monitored and recorded, and an air-to-ground bombing range at Capo Frasca, where pilots can train dropping both dumb and smart weaponry.

Even if several countries’ air arms take advantage of the local facilities during training campaigns, national exercises (like Spring Flag) and multi-national drills, the base is mainly used by the Italian and German Air Force squadrons, which regularly deploy their planes to “Deci” to improve their air-to-air and air-to-surface skills and prepare for real operations.

As done a couple of months ago, when 40 Italian, Austrian and German Eurofighter Typhoon jets operated from the Sardinian airbase.

On Sept. 4 the rather exceptional fire, favored by the windy conditions, burned 30 hectares of Mediterranean scrub within the 1,314 hectares of the whole bomb range, enough to spark controversy.

The mishap was used by some politicians to fuel the protest against Sardinian military ranges, that are normally not used during the Summer period (the Capo Frasca range opened again on Sept. 2) to not damage tourism.

However, whilst part of the locals is against military installations and doesn’t want the Italian Armed Forces to use large areas of the island for their training activities, there is another large part of the local population who openly support the military and are thankful for their service against wildfires, that plague the island in the hot season, and for providing Search And Rescue at sea and in mountainous areas (981 missions flown alone by the Decimomannu-based 670 Squadriglia of the Italian Air Force since it was established).

Furthermore, there is a large and wise part of the population who believes that those servicemen that use Sardinian paradisiacal but deserted areas to train or test new weapons systems, are an extremely important resource for the whole territory as they bring much money to otherwise starving local businesses.

Anyway, the anti-military movement, who advocates (among all the other things) the closure of the range because of the danger of explosions and fires has achieved a little success: the Italian Ministry of Defense has temporarily suspended activities on the Capo Frasca training range until Sept. 15. Still, because of the importance of the range, one of the few remaining ones in Italy where live, inert weapons can be dropped, and considered that firing activities have already been halved in the last decade, it is quite unlikely they will obtain something more.

In the meanwhile, the Italian Air Force has strengthened its range’s firefighting equipment.

Capo Frasca

Image credit: Top: German Air Force; Bottom: Italian Air Force


New photo show moment two Italian Tornado jets collided mid-air sparking huge fireball

Two Italian Air Force Tornado jets have crashed after colliding midair in central east Italy. While search of the four missing pilots continues, here are two images taken moments after the aircraft collided.

On Aug. 19, two Tornado aircraft, belonging to the 6° Stormo (Wing) of the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force), crashed after colliding midair near Ascoli Piceno, in central east Italy. The fate of the four crew members (each aircraft is flown by a pilot and a navigator) is still unknown.

Two rescue helicopters of the Italian Air Force (an HH-3F and an HH-139) and reconnaissance planes are involved in the rescue efforts.

Very few details about the incident have been disclosed other than the two aircraft, had departed from Ghedi airbase for a pre-planned, low level training mission.

According to the Italian Air Force spokeperson, the four pilots ejected (since the locator beacon signals for both ejection seats have been received) but none has been found and rescued yet.

The Italian State TV RAI aired a couple of images obtained by a witness who took some shots of the fireball generated by the collision of the two fighter bombers. No parachute can be spotted in the low quality sequence (most probably taken with a smartphone’s camera).

TG1 screenshot 2

Mid-air collisions between military jets occur every now and then for various reasons. In 2012, two RAF Tornado GR4s were involved in a similar incident which cost the life of three British officers.

Last year, two U.S. F-16C of the D.C. Air National Guard collided during a night training mission.

As already explained on this blog, there is always the risk of a mid-air collision when two fast jets fly in a tactical formation or somehow close to each other.

Image credit: screenshots from TG1