Tag Archives: U.S. Navy

Maverick and Goose would not have had to bail out from their jet if they had flown a F110-powered F-14 Tomcat

Almost every aviation geek has seen the famous film Top Gun. But few of them know that if Maverick and Goose flew an F-14B they would not have had to eject during the flat spin they experienced in the movie.

Developed in the late 1960s as a multi-mission fighter, the F-14’s missions were to protect U.S. Navy Carrier Battle Groups (CBG – now CSG where “S” stands for Strike) from potential raids conducted by the Soviet bombers armed with long-range cruise missiles and to provide fighter cover for Navy attack aircraft.

The Tomcat was fitted with the potent AWG-9 radar which, supporting six AIM-54 missiles, gave the F-14 unprecedented and unparalleled mission capabilities.

Still, even though it was one of the most capable fighters in the aviation history, one problem that plagued the F-14A was the reliability of its TF30 engine. In fact, the fan blades of the Pratt & Whitney engine could break free, causing aircraft stalls and spins as a result of airflow induced engine stalls.

These problems were solved when the F-14B (former F-14A Plus), powered by a new engine, the General Electric F110-GE-400, began to enter in service in 1987.

As explained by Grumman’s Chief Test Pilot Kurt Schroeder to aviation artist and author Lou Drendel, in an interview released towards the end of the 1980s for his Squadron Signal Publications book Modern Military Aircraft: Tomcat:

“The TF30 engine’s highest stall margin, which means the difference between its operating line and where the engine will stall, occurs when it is stabilized at military power. If you would like to go to idle power when you are maneuvering, you stand a very good chance of stalling the engine. The F110 has tremendous stall margin everywhere and, at idle power, it’s higher than anywhere else. When you are maneuvering with the F110 engines, you can do whatever you want to do, whenever you want to do it.”

Moreover, with the new engine, the afterburner thrust went from 20,000 pounds per side up to 28,000 pounds per side, while dry power increased from 11,000 pounds per side to 16,000 pounds per side.

Thanks to the improved performances, Schroeder told Drendel that Maverick and Goose would not have had to bail out from their jet if they had flown a F110-powered Tomcat.

Indeed, Grumman’s Chief Test Pilot explained that the flat spin shown in the movie was “a very concern early in the F-14 program. When the aircraft is in a fully-developed flat spin, it’s going at a very high yaw rate and it is spinning down in a very small radius. In the ejection sequence, the canopy leaves first, then the back seat, then the front seat. […] The concern in a spin is that the canopy will be ejected straight up, followed shortly by the seats and the possibility exists for a collision. We have had several ejections in spins and I believe there was one case where the RIO brushed the canopy. So the scene (of the movie) was entirely possible.”

Some concern existed about the possibility of generating a stall or a spin even with the 110 engine in case its greatly increased thrust was applied asymmetrically, but Schroeder affirmed that “We deal with that easily in 110 powered aircraft. If the aircraft departs for any reason, we just pull the throttles back to idle, which just takes all the thrust effects out of the equation and you recover the aircraft. Since the 110 loves to run at idle, there is no problem. Unfortunately the TF30 does not love to run at idle and you can’t apply this solution.”

According to Schroeder the enhanced maneuverability of the 110 powered Tomcat was able to make the F-14B and F-14D superior to its adversaries in the Air Combat Maneuvering (ACM) arena.

Then, as the experienced F-14 driver said to Drendel, alongside with the new engine, the digital flight control system improved the handling qualities of the aircraft making of the Tomcat airframe the perfect platform for air to ground missions:

“The F-14 was designed to carry bombs. The Navy, however, chose not to develop that capability. There is now more and more emphasis on carrier deck loading and development of multi-mission aircraft, with the F/A-18 as the primary example of that. The F-14 is very capable of performing the air-to-ground mission, mainly because of our range and the fact that we carry the weapons conformally on the fuselage between the engine nacelles, which results in much less of a drag penalty than carrying bombs on the wings. The technology to enhance the radar for this mission has already been developed in the form of the F-15E.”

The F-14 was retired on Sep. 22, 2006, but the last years spent as U.S. Navy’s premiere fighter bomber confirmed Schroeder claims and were a proof of the reliability reached by the Tomcat thanks to the improvements it had received, the most important of which was the F110 engine.

 

 

Strike Fighter Ball 2014: the new, stunning, East Coast naval F/A-18 Hornet squadrons video!

Badass video by the East Coast Hornet squadrons.

An F/A-18 pilot at NAS Oceana has produced the Strike Fighter Ball 2014, this year’s video with the most spectacular footage filmed by the East Coast Naval F/A-18C Legacy Hornet and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet squadrons.

As the West Coast’s Hornet Ball 2014, East’s Strike Fighter Ball 2014  features low level flying over the Desert, catapult launches, trap landings, flybys, aerobatics, formation flying, dogfighting against F-15s, plenty of live firing of air-to-air missiles, JDAMs (Joint Direct Attack Munitions), LGBs (Laser Guided Bombs) and ATFLIR  (Advanced Targeting Forward Looking Infrared) pod clips.

Strike Fighter 2014 back

The video shows also some International Space Station clips, most probably to honor NASA Astronaut Reid Wiseman, who spent 165 aboard ISS earlier this year with Exp. 41 and was previously assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 103, Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia, flying the FA-18F Super Hornet.

Last but not least, the Strike Fighter Ball video of the East Coast squadrons features much anti-ISIS air strike footage.

Strike Fighter Ball 2014 from NO, EVERYTHING on Vimeo.

Strike Fighter 2014

H/T to “Strobes” for the heads-up

 

U.S. Army Mysterious Sensor plane spotted over Libya. Along with a US Navy Spyplane

There are very few images of the U.S. Army EO-5C. Here’s one taken over Benghazi, Libya, few days ago.

The fact that U.S. Navy EP-3E ARIES II signal intelligence platforms were involved over North Africa was known, since images had already exposed the presence of the Navy spyplane over Libya during the evacuation of the U.S. embassy earlier this year.

What was unknown is that at least one secretive U.S. Army Dash 7 surveillance aircraft, designated EO-5C, has operated in the skies of eastern Libya, the same region where the U.S. has recently identified camps hosting a couple hundred ISIS militants.

The presence of an Army aircraft packed with sensors, known as ARL (Airborne Reconnaissance Low), is usually kept obscure: the aircraft does not wear military markings and some of its sensors can be retracted making the airplane a regional liner rather than a special operations plane on clandestine mission.

But photos of the aircraft overflying Benghazi on Nov. 29 have appeared on Twitter.

The EO-5C can detect and fix enemy transmissions on all the radio spectrum, collect both IR (Infrared) and visibile-light very high resolution imagery, track moving ground targets as well as monitor how footprints in the sand change over time.

The Navy’s ARIES II also seen operating over Benghazi is a highly modified version of the P-3C used to perform SIGINT (Signal Intelligence) missions. This variant of the Orion maritime patrol aircraft became famous on Apr. 1, 2001 when one such planes and its crew were detained for 11 days  following a collision with a Chinese J-8IIM fighter (that crashed causing the death of the pilot) and the subsequent emergency landing at Ligshui airbase, in Hainan island.

One of these Navy aircraft was spotted over Libya in 2012 when there were rumors that it might be involved in operations aimed at detecting and tracking smuggled weapons travelling towards Egypt and destined to Gaza.

In this case, the U.S. Navy spyplane, along with the Army EO-5C was probably seeking ISIS militants.

Image credit: Stoah News Agency

 

That’s a weird way to move a U.S. Navy drone copter: MQ-8B Fire Scout spotted on a trailer on Interstate 405

An MQ-8 Fire Scout was spotted on a trailer on I-405 at Newport Beach, California

Few months ago we published an image of an MQ-8C Fire Scout, the UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) obtained by giving autonomous controls to a Bell 407 helicopter, on a trailer moving northbound on Interstate 405 near Newport Beach, California.

Whilst some readers suggested the aircraft was a model/mock-up, others were pretty certain the MQ-8C was one of the 28 such drones the Navy plans to operate in support of  naval special operations forces.

Interestingly, the same reader who had taken the photograph of the MQ-8C was able to get a shot of an MQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff and Landing Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (VTUAV), a smaller “Fire Scout” drone copter capable to autonomously take-off and land from any aviation-capable warship and at unprepared landing zones and to find, identify, track and illuminate targets and to provide targeting data to other strike platform as well as perform BDA (Battle Damage Assessment).

The tiny drone was used during the air war in Libya; one MQ-8B drone copter was shot down during an ISR mission in support of NATO’s Operation Unified Protector.

Anyway, the new image of an (uncovered) MQ-8B on a trailer seems to prove this is Northrop Grumman’s standard way to move its unmanned aircraft. At least Sikorsky uses a protective cover when moving helicopters on a trailer….

Image credit: “Spencer”

 

Fascinating 50th Anniversary Behind the Scenes Video Brings You Aboard the C-2A Greyhound

The Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 30 (VRC-30) “Providers” has prepared a cool video to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the C-2A Greyhound, the workhorse of the U.S. Navy fleet.

On Nov. 18, 1964, the Grumman C-2 Greyhound twin-engine, high-wing cargo aircraft, designed perform the COD (Carrier Onboard Delivery) to carry equipment, supplies and mail to and from U.S. Navy aircraft carriers, made its first flight.

Since then, the aircraft and its crews have performed a vital role supplying the carrier fleet with over a million pounds of high priority logistics.

The video, produced by VRC-30, United States Navy Fleet Logistics Support squadron based at Naval Air Station North Island with detachments all around the world, provides some amazing insight into the mission of the COD as well as the challenge/thrill of flying the COD: take a look at the skills (and amount of inputs on the control yoke) required to perform an arrested landing on the flight deck of a nuclear aircraft carrier at sea.

By the way, this author has had the privilege to fly aboard a COD to visit the USS Nimitz off Pakistan in 2009.

H/T to VRC-30 for sending the link to us