Tag Archives: U.S. Navy

Video of the X-47B drone first autonomous aerial refueling

Someone said we are one step closer to Skynet..

On Apr. 16, one of the two Unmanned Carrier Air Vehicle demonstrator (UCAS-D) aircraft of the X-47B program performed the first autonomous drone air-to-air refueling (AAR) test taking fuel from an Omega Air KC-707 tanker.

Here is the video of the UCAS-D pluggin the retractable IFR (In-Flight Refueling) probe in the tanker hose basket.

The two X-47B technology demonstrators will be retired and probably donated to a museum or stored at the “boneyard”, the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) at Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, after these aerial refueling tests: Navy stealth killer drones are “just” a technology demonstrator, a testbed for the future planned Navy’s Unmanned Carrier Launched Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS).

 

U.S. Navy F-35C aircraft conduct first detachment visit at NAS Lemoore

Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 101, the “Grim Reapers,” based at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, deployed with its F-35s to NAS Lemoore, the future basing site for the F-35C.

VFA-101, the U.S. Navy newest F-35 unit based at Eglin AFB, Florida, deployed to NAS Lemoore, California, for a six-day visit to the future basing site for the F-35C (the Carrier Variant version of the Joint Strike Fighter), that is scheduled to receive 10 JSFs by 2017.

A former F-14 squadron, the VF-101 “Grim Reapers” was disbanded after the retirement of the Tomcat and was reactivated in 2012 to receive the controversial plane that is going to become the backbone of the U.S. carrier air wings strike capabilities: in fact, by 2025, the Navy’s aircraft carrier will operate a mix of F-35Cs, F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, EA-18G Growlers electronic attack aircraft, E-2D Hawkeye battle management and control aircraft, MH-60R/S helicopters and Osprey tilt-rotor Carrier Onboard Delivery aircraft.

During the six-day visit, two F-35C Lightning II jets flew in formation over the Sierra Nevada mountain range with an F/A-18E and an F/A-18F belonging to VFA-122 from Naval Air Station (NAS) Lemoore.

Image credit: U.S. Navy

 

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.

 

Cockpit video shows U.S. Navy C-2 COD trap land and launch from French aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf

VRC-30 DET 1 made a video of a trap/cat shot onboard the Charles de Gaulle.

Not only did French combat planes operate from the flight of USS Carl Vinson and were refueled by VFA-81 F/A-18E Super Hornets over the Arabian/Persian Gulf.

C-2A COD (Carrier On Board Delivery) planes flying from Manama, Bahrain, are conducting daily flights to supply the French nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle with logistics, a really rare opportunity for COD aircrews and U.S. Naval Aviators in general.

VRC-30 Det 1 pilots took the following video which shows the break, approach, arrested landing, and catapult shot of a US Navy Greyhound  onboard the Charles de Gaulle which is currently operating in support of coalition air strikes on ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

A Big “Thank you” to the VRC-30 for sharing the video with us

U.S. Navy Super Hornet refuels French Rafale and Super Etendard jets over USS Carl Vinson

F/A-18E Super Hornet serves as aerial refueler for French combat planes operating from Charles De Gaulle aircraft carrier.

The images in this post were taken on Mar. 9 over the Persian Gulf (or “Arabian Gulf” if you want to use the term used by the U.S. armed forces lately).

They show an F/A-18E Super Hornet from the Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 81 Sunliners refuel two French Super Étendard Marine and one Rafale Marine aircraft from French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle in the vicinity of U.S. aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70).

Operation Inherent Resolve

The French and American nuclear-powered aircraft carriers are currently deployed along with their battle groups to support strike operations in Iraq and Syria.

Last week a Rafale Marine “omnirole” aircraft belonging to the 11F operated aboard the USS Carl Vinson in the last of series of joint training events aimed at improving carrier integration.

Operation Inherent Resolve

Image credit: U.S. Navy