Tag Archives: U.S. Navy

Europe’s largest military exercise marks first deployment of USN patrol squadron’s P-8A Poseidon in UK


UK Armed Forces and several partner nations arms battled each other in the air, at sea and on land in Europe’s largest military exercise this year.

From Mar. 31 to Apr. 12, Joint Warrior 14-1 saw over 35 warships, 25 types of aircraft and more than 13,000 military personnel focused on a realistic simulation of a live operation.

The core scenario of the Joint Warrior series of exercises (held twice a year in the UK) is based on the fragmentation of the fictional “Ryanian Empire” into its four constituent nations in the late 1960s, and the intervening period of “history” up to the present day.

RNZAF P-3 taxi

A different scenario is then re-written for each edition. The 14-1 one simulated the creation of a multinational task force to perform a peace enforcing operation following a civil war in the fictional country of “Pastonia” and to support the legitimate government.

Cobham Da20

The aviation segment of the exercise saw RAF Lossiemouth as the drill’s Main Operating Base and featured the U.S. P-8A Poseidon, from VP-5, NAS Jacksonville, at its first deployment in Europe with a front line squadron (the aircraft deployed to the UK with the VX-1 in 2012), along with several other Maritime Patrol Aircraft, including two Royal Canadian Air Force Lockheed CP-140 Aurora from 404 Maritime Patrol and Training Squadron, CFB Greenwood; a Royal New Zealand Air Force Lockheed P-3K Orion from 5 Squadron, Whenuapai Mil; and a Royal Norwegian Air Force Lockheed P-3C Orion from 333 skvadron, Andøya airbase.

Canadian P-3

Among the assets taking part in the exercise even some Royal Navy BAe Hawk T1 jets from 736 Naval Air Squadron RNAS Culdrose operating out of Lossiemouth.

RN Hawk

Aviation photographer Estelle Calleja visited RAF Lossiemouth during the Joint Warrior 14-1 and took the images that can be found in this article.


Image credit: Estelle Calleja


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Russian Su-24 Fencer attack plane performs multiple passes near U.S. warship in Black Sea

Russian Su-24

A Russian attack plane performed multiple passes near an American warship in the Black Sea.

The aircraft, reportedly a Russian Air Force Su-24 Fencer, flew within 1,000 yards of the USS Donald Cook, the U.S. Navy destroyer currently operating in the Black Sea. According to the Associated Press, the Fencer flew at 500 feet ASL (Above Sea Level) and performed passes that the ship commander considered “provocative and inconsistent with international agreements.”

The ship, that has been operating in the Black Sea since Apr. 10, issued several radio calls and warnings to the Fencer, that was unarmed and was never in real danger of coming in contact with the ship.

Noteworthy, the U.S. warship was also being shadowed by a Russian Navy frigate, but this is just routine during operations conducted in international waters east of Romania.

Such close encounters are quite frequent is seas around the world. Some years ago a pair of Tu-95 Bear flew quite close to USS Nimitz in the Pacific. For sure, when this happens in the Black Sea and amid raising tensions following the Russian invasion of Crimea, the episode assumes a completely different meaning.


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Helmet Camera lets you parachute into Baseball Stadium with Navy SEALs

Leap Frogs

The “Leap Frogs,” the Navy SEALs Parachute Team, jumped into Petco Park to celebrate the San Diego Padres’ home opening game. And here’s that jump from a special point of view.

On Mar. 30, the Navy Parachute Team jumped from a U.S. Navy C-2 Greyhound into the Padres’ stadium in San Diego to celebrate 2014 home opener. They were also able to participate in honoring baseball legend Jerry Coleman by flying a special flag with his initials and trademark star.

This video, which provides a stunning view of the entire jump, was filmed from a helmet mounted camera.

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Why the F-5 Tiger was the perfect plane to simulate Soviet “Bandits” in adversary missions


Developed as an advanced version of the F-5 fighter, the Northrop F-5E was selected to be the International Fighter Aircraft to follow the F-5A, and over 950 Tiger II were delivered to a wide variety of countries around the world. Moreover the F-5E demonstrated to be the perfect fighter to provide Dissimilar Air Combat Training (DACT), that’s why U.S. Navy and Marines still use it as adversary in mock air-to-air engagements.

U.S. Naval Aviation is the main Tiger II operator among the U.S. Armed Forces and it flies the N variant, a type of F-5E previously operated by the Swiss Air Force.

As pointed out by Chad Mingo, a pilot from Fighter Composite Squadron 13 (VFC-13) Saints (that with the VFC-111 Sundowners and with the VMFT-401, is one of the last three U.S. units to fly the F-5), in Rick Llinares book “Strike Beyond Top Gun”, the key advantage of the F-5 is to be relatively inexpensive to fly.

Nevertheless according to Mingo there are several differences between the E and N models: “The N model is a little heavier than the E and has several improvements, including RWR gear (radar warning receiver) and enhanced radars, as well as antiskid systems, which provide enhanced handling on wet runways.

The F-5N is distinguishable with its squashed, platypus nose and extended leading-edge extensions, which provide enhanced maneuverability.

The F-5 is a solid simulator of third-generation threats and has good speed, although it takes a while to get up to it. The IHQ (improved handling quality) upgrade has enhanced the jet’s ability.”

Michael “Physco” Picciano, another US Navy F-5 driver and a former F-14 pilot, explains to Llinares the main role and which are the main advantages of the Tiger in DACT engagements: “We represent third-generation aircraft of the former Soviet Union. One of the best things about the F-5 is that it is very hard to see. This one of the biggest learning objectives for the missions we fly – to show just how easily we can obtain unobserved entry onto the fighters. It is interesting for the FRS (Fleet Replacement Squadron), as well as the fleet pilots, because they often spend their time fighting against similar aircraft, and their eyes almost get trained to look for the same color and size aircraft. When you throw an F-5 into the mix, it makes it more difficult for them. We are so much smaller than what they are used to; we look different, and our paint schemes blend in, especially against the desert or against the overcast.”

As adversary aircraft the F-5 is becoming old, but in the right hands it can still be a serious threat for more modern fighters, as told by Physco: “Another interesting thing with the F-5 is that we are a simple, less advanced aircraft, and when you kill a fighter like an F/A-18 it definitely gets their attention. Losing against the F-16 (also used by the US Navy as adversary aircraft) seems less personal, as though they lost against a superb aircraft, whereas against the F-5, it’s against an older, less capable fighter.”

As explained in the first part of this post, the F-5 has been (and still is) in service with many air forces worldwide (including the U.S. Air Force, that employed them as Agressors) and maybe the Soviet Air Force has been the most “exotic” one.

In fact, in the video below, you can see a F-5E (alongside with an A-37 Dragonfly) wearing the Soviet colors, and this time is not an aggressor/adversary paint scheme. When North Vietnamese captured Bien Hoa Air Base, they also caught several US aircraft and provided several Warsaw Pact countries with U.S. airplanes for evaluations.

According to the description on Liveleak.com, the F-5 depicted in the video and two others were tested at Chkalov State Flight Tests Centre, which is similar to the US Air Force Test Centre at Edwards Air Force Base.

This F-5 was flown by several Soviet test pilots, such as Vladimir Kandaurov, Alexander Bezhevets and Nikolay Stogov, who conducted several engagements as bandit against the MiG-21 Fishbed, the aircraft which the Tiger II personified in the US exercises: according to Soviet pilots, the F-5 demonstrated to be able to outmaneuver the Fishbed most of the times, and the results of these test brought to the MiG-23 Flogger development.

Image credit: U.S. Navy


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These photos prove F-4 Phantom and F-14 Tomcat could take off and land with folded wings

F-14 asymmetric

You won’t believe it but U.S. Navy legendary planes (F-4, F-8 and F-14) could fly with folded wings, asymmetric configurations.

To save space aboard the deck of U.S. flattops, aircraft built for carrier operations can fold their wings making room for more planes.

Obviously wings must be extended tbefore catapult launch.

But what happens if the wings aren’t unfolded before take off?

Even if the pictures in this post show aircraft that were safely brought back without any trouble, for sure no aircraft can fly in those configurations.

One case in which the wings were forgotten folded occurred in August 1960, when a US Navy F-8 took off from Naples and climbed to 5,000 feet, when its pilot felt an amount of pressure on the stick: immediately, he started to look around to discover why its Crusader was facing the pressure amount and noticed that the wings were still folded.

Instantly he started to dump as much fuel as possible, and after 24 minutes of flight he was able to come back to Naples, landing safely.

He said that his Crusader faced no serious problems during the unusual kind of flight and the landing had been very fast but uneventful.

At least seven more times F-8s took off with wings folded, in several occasions at night, but without any mishap, proving Crusader strength and revealing the great job done by Vought engineers.

F-8 folded wings

Six years later was the turn of an F-4B (BuNo. 152327) aircrew belonging to VF-14 Tophatters to experience a “wings folded” flight: in fact, on May 10, 1966, LT JG Greg Scwalber and his RIO (Radar Intercept Officer) Bill Wood were launched from USS Roosevelt (CVA-42) and once airborne they discovered that their Phantom II was flying with outboard wings folded.


They immediately understood that the locking mechanism was not properly set before launch. They quickly dumped all external stores, dropped the flaps and after declaring an emergency they diverted to the nearest airport that was Navy airfield in Cuba.

After 59 miles of flight Scwalber and Wood were able to made a successful arrested landing at a speed of 170-180 knots. As happened with the Crusader the F-4B BuNo 152327 returned into service few days later.

At least one Air Force crew had the chance to experience this strange kind of flight with their F-4, but the Rhino revealed to be a very robust airframe and it always brought its aircrew back home even without its wings fully opened.

The last impressive picture depicts the third F-14 prototype (BuNo 157982) with its wings swept asymmetrically: with the starboard wing locked fully forward and the port wing swept fully aft.

To reduce deck spotting area its wings could be “overswept” to 75°, eliminating the need for the folding mechanism of the wings. However in this photo the wings position is the result of tests undertaken to explore how the Tomcat could return back to the carrier with this asymmetric configuration.

Six flights were made between Dec. 19 1985 and Feb. 28, 1986 in this unusual configuration and landings were conducted with the aft-swept wing at up to 60°. These trials were conducted after four fleet aircraft found themselves in this difficult situation.


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