Tag Archives: U.S. Air Force

The U.S. Air Force is deploying 12 F-15 jets to Europe as first Air National Guard theater security package

Twelve F-15C jets will operate in the Netherlands before moving to Bulgaria.

It looks like the military build-up in eastern Europe continues.

The U.S. Air Force is deploying 12 F-15C belonging to the 125th Fighter Wing, Florida Air National Guard, Jacksonville, Fla., to Europe.

The Eagles, part of the first ANG TSP (Theater Security Package) will first operate from Leeuwarden airbase, in the Netherlands, where they will take part in the Frisian Flag mutinational exercise, then, they are expected to move east and be temporarily based at Graf Ignatievo, Bulgaria.

The Air National Guard F-15s are the second TSP to deploy to Europe in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, the mission aimed at showing Washington’s commitment to peace and stability in the region and reassure local allies amid growing tensions with Russia following the annexation of Crimea last year.

Last month, 12 A-10s of the 355th Fighter Wing at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, deployed to Germany as part of the first theater security rotation on the Continent. The unit first flew from Spangdahlem air base, and then moved to RAF Lakenheath, UK, and to Poland.

TSPs are not the only U.S. forces currently operating from Europe: 14 F-16s from Aviano airbase, have deployed to Estonia, to conduct joint training with local military forces.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

 

U.S. F-15E Strike Eagle jet supports PSYOPS in Syria, drops leaflets over Islamic State insurgents

A U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle has delivered leaflets over ISIS insurgents in Syria.

On Mar. 16, a U.S. F-15E Strike Eagle fighter jet deployed in the Gulf region has conducted an unusual mission: it has dropped some 60,000 leaflets over Raqqa region, the ISIS stronghold in Syria.

The leaflet depicts a gruesome drawing, showing 7 men being lined up for a meat grinder (labelled “Daesh”) by a “Daesh Recruiting Office” (Daesh is the Arabic acronym for ISIS).

The leaflets were released by means of a PDU-5B leaflet canister.

The purpose of the leaflet is to support PSYOPS (Psychological Operations) in Syria. The message of the leaflet is clear: those recruited by ISIS will find themselves in a meat grinder.

Leaflet Daesh

Image credit: U.S. DoD

During 2011 Air War in Libya, U.S. Air Force EC-130s broadcast radio messages to the Libyan military, to persuade them to return to their families before it was too late, whereas Italian C-130J aircraft dropped leaflets over Tripoli to counter Gaddafi’s regime propaganda in Libya’s capital city.

Air drop of leaflets in support of Information Operations have been conducted by the U.S. Army above Helmand province, Afghanistan, using U.S. Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft to deliver information to areas of Helmand province unreachable by conventional communication.

Leaflets have been also air dropped by Syrian Arab Air Force Mil Mi-8 helicopters over Aleppo in August 2012 to urge rebels to surrender to the Syrian Army.

Israeli A-4 dropped leaflets over Gaza in the past as well.

 

A quick look at why the F-16N was the best plane to simulate soviet “bandits” in adversary missions.

The Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon is the western world’s most prolific fighter of the last 40 years.

Even if medium and long-range air-to-air missiles, such as the AIM-7 Sparrow and the AIM-120 AMRAAM,  have been integrated in the F-16 since 1986 for BVR (Beyond Visual Range) engagements, the Viper (the universal F-16’s nickname) was born in response to LWF (Light Weight Fighter) program, for a small and agile fighter: the U.S. Air Force needed a small, cheap, maneuverable airplane to flank the F-15 Eagle, its air superiority fighter, and face the small Soviet fighters, such as the MiG-21 in close combat.

Indeed the Viper can maneuver against any opponent, proving to be the ideal adversary (or “aggressor” in the Air Force jargon) aircraft for both U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy training programs. Arguably the best version of the Fighting Falcon having played the bandit role has been the F-16N.

Born in response to the need of the Navy to replace its aging fleets of A-4 Skyhawks and F-5 Tigers adversary fighters, the F-16N was a basic F-16C Block 30 with the General Electric F110-GE-100 engine.

The F-16N was typically equipped with the Air Combat Maneuvering Instrumentation (ACMI) pod on the starboard wingtip and to completely simulate adversaries, the ALR-69 Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) and the ALE-40 chaff/flare were also incorporated.

To save weight the internal cannon was removed and the aircraft could not carry air-to-air missiles, even though it retained the APG-66 radar from the F-16A/B models.

Twenty two single seat F-16Ns along with four two seat TF-16Ns were delivered in the late 1980s to the Navy and four units flew the jet: the VF-126 Bandits and the Fighter Weapons School both based at Naval Air Station (NAS) Miramar, the VF-45 Blackbirds based at NAS Key West and the VF-43 Challengers based at NAS Oceana.

According to Rick Llinares & Chuck Lloyd book Adversary America’s Aggressor Fighter Squadrons, since the U.S. Navy didn’t own any Fulcrum or Flanker, the F-16N was the best fighter to replicate the then new fourth generation Russian fighters and finally F-14 and F/A-18 crews could fight against a real different aircraft. In particular, against the Tomcat, the nimble F-16N was a very challenging adversary, as by the video below.

Unfortunately the F-16N began to experience the wear and tear due to the excessive g’s sustained during many aerial engagements and in 1994 the Navy decided to retire the type since the costly repair to keep the Viper flying can’t be afforded. But even if as bandit the F-16N was replaced by the F-5 which was the fighter the Viper intended to replace, the F-16N still remains the best adversary fighter ever flown by the U.S. Navy.

The U.S. Navy Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center, at NAS Fallon, Nevada, currently operates some F-16A in the aggressor role, like the one in the image below.

F-16N Giovanni Colla

Image credit: Giovanni Colla. Top Image: National Naval Aviation Museum FB page.

 

U.S. A-10 Thunderbolt attack planes have arrived in Poland

Four U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft have arrived at Polish Powidz AB.

Last month, when the U.S. deployed 12 A-10s to Germany as part of the first TSP (Theater Security Package) we wrote that the aircraft might be temporarily stationed in Poland. Apparently, our assumptions turned out to be founded: on Mar. 24, four Thunderbolts have arrived at the 33rd Powidz Transport Air Base, near Gniezno, in the Greater Poland District.

The purpose of the visit is yet unknown. Most probably the Thunderbolts will be involved in the exercises related to Operation Atlantic Resolve, which is a NATO programme aimed at providing reassurance for the Mid-Eastern European countries (against the Russian threat).

The arrival of the attack aircraft was preceded by arrival of two USAF C-130 Hercules transports, one from the 86th Airlift Wing stationed at Ramstein AB and another one from the 302nd Airlift Wing from Colorado Springs, both part of the rotational USAF Aviation Detachment.

We do not have any information related to length or plan of the unexpected visit. Notably, one of the Warthogs was piloted by a female pilot.

Image Credit: 3rd Transport Aviation Wing, cpt. Włodzimierz Baran, Polish Air Force. More photos here.

 

U.S. has just deployed 14 F-16s to Estonia

31st Fighter Wing F-16s have deployed to Estonia, to participate in bilateral training with the Estonian air force.

On Mar. 20, 14 F-16 Fighting Falcon jets, with the 510th Fighter Squadron of the 31st Fighter Wing, from Aviano Air Base, Italy, have deployed to Ämari Air Base, in Estonia, to take part in bilateral training with the local Air Force and perform simultaneous, unrelated training with the Finnish and Swedish air forces in their airspace.

F-16 AV refuel over Estonia 2

The aircraft will remain in northern Europe through April 17, and will conduct training on the Tapa Range with F-16 performing the Forward Air Controller (Airborne) role with Estonian JTACs (Joint Terminal Attack Controllers).

F-16 AV refuel over Estonia 3

The purpose of the deployment is to enhance interoperability with a NATO ally and with other regional air arms however, the deployment is above all, another step in the U.S. Air Force’s “Forward-Ready-Now!” posture in the European theater where the Pentagon has already strengthened its presence with the deployment of the first TSP (Theater Security Package) and the A-10 Warthog attack planes from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, to Spangdahlem, in Germany, and RAF Lakenheath, in the UK.

The images in this post were taken over Estonia, from a KC-135 during an air-to-air refueling mission.

F-16 AV refuel over Estonia 4

Image credit: U.S. Air Force