Tag Archives: UAE Air Force

Egypt and UAE Air Force jets behind mysterious airstrikes on Islamist militias in Libya

UAE and Egypt Air Force jets have conducted the mysterious series of airstrikes in Libya, a U.S. officials said earlier today.

The mysterious airstrikes that have hit Islamist militias in Tripoli at least twice during the last week were carried out by Egypt and United Arab Emirates warplanes.

This is what U.S. officials said, according to the New York Times.

Interestingly, the airstrikes were not coordinated with the U.S.: Washington was not even informed about the raids, even though some American planes have operated over Tripoli, supporting the recent evacuation of the US Embassy as well as performing surveillance missions in the area.

It looks like the aircraft (or most of them) launched from Egyptian airbases (although Cairo has always denied a direct involvement in Libya) with UAE Air Force providing aircrews, attack planes and aerial refuelers.

The first airstrikes hit various Islamist militias positions in Tripoli including an ammo depot. A second round of strikes concentrated in the southern part of the city where vehicles and rocket launchers were bombed.

Libyan authorities were unable to establish which was behind the mysterious airstrikes even if some debris, including a fin of the guidance kit for Mk 82s, pointed towards air forces equipped with aircraft capable to drop GBU-12 Paveway II 500-pound laser-guided bombs.

Now, American officials have unveiled the U.S. has collected enough evidence to determine UAE planes carried out the attacks.

Interestingly, UAE Air Force jets have already bombed Libya during 2011 Air War, when F-16s usually armed with 2 GBU-12s, 4 AIM-120 AMRAAMs and SNIPER pod (along with Mirage 2000s) took part in NATO’s Operation Unified Protector.

The airstrikes have failed to prevent militias from gaining control of Tripoli airport.

Image via anonymous source

Photo: Unexploded MBDA PGM-500 500-lb guided bomb "Hakim" blown at Zintan, Libya

An unexploded “Hakim” is blown up by MAG (Mines Advisory Group) at Zintan airfield during a demo last week.

Photo credit: MAG

The MBDA PGM-500 “Hakim” is a 500-lb guided bomb that was carried by the UAE Air Force Mirage 2000s during Operation Unified Protector in Libya.

If you wondered whether the UAE AF dropped any weapon during the NATO Air War, most probably, you have an answer now.

Photo: F-16 and F-15 pilots using sunshades attached to the canopy to keep the cockpit cooler during long range flights

The following pictures, were taken on Jul. 5 by Antonio Muñiz Zaragüeta.

They show the arrival at Morón airbase, Spain, of six UAE Air Force four F-16E and two F-16F fighter jets, enroute to Nellis AFB, Nevada, to take part to Red Flag 12-4.

The aircraft (3018, 3028, 3040, 3067, 3011 and 3068) used the radio callsign “Retro 51-56″.

Noteworthy, at least one of the pilots has what it’s like a car side sunshade attached to the canopy for heat/sun protection.

Fighter pilots on long range ferry flights sometimes use sunshades for UV protection and to keep the cockpit a bit cooler and more comfortable.

Here below, you can see sunhades (similar to those you use on your car) on the windshield of Saudi F-15Ss deploying to Nellis AFB, via Morón, to take part to Red Flag.

Image credit: Antonio Muñiz Zaragüeta

A330 MRTT (Multi-Role Tanker Transport) adds two new combat types: UAE Mirage 2000 and F-16 Block 60. And does it live on Flightradar24.com

Airbus Military has been very busy recently adding another two combat types able to be refueled from its A330 MRTT tanker aircraft, which has been ordered in three examples by the UAE Air Force.

The company, which is part of the EADS conglomerate, has performed several test flights out of Al Dhafra airbase near Abu Dhabi with the UAE AF F-16 Block 60 and the Mirage 2000 fighters. The tests, which included aerial refueling during climbs, descents, turns as well as straight and level flight were performed at a range of altitudes and speeds.

Even if the F-16 has already been qualified to be refueled from the A330 tanker this was the first time a Block 60 with the large conformal fuel tanks and a slightly different wake footprint than the older version of the F-16, has taken on fuel. Tests have involved aircraft in various loadouts.

The same tests were also performed on the Mirage 2000, including the two seat version with different loadouts as well as different fuel loads.

During the refueling tests of the Mirage the two underwing refuelling pods were used both to refuel a single jet and two jets at the same time. The F-16, that in the past were tested with a removable IFR (In-Flight Refueling) probe to take fuel from a hose-and-drogue tanker, used the Air Refuelling Boom System (ARBS).

For those interested in tracking some air-to-air refueling flights, please consider that they often appear on both Planefinder and Flightradar24 since the A330 MRTT broadcasts full ADS-B data from its Mode-S transponder.

For instance, using the radio callsign “CASA 013″ the A330 EC-339 could tracked on Mar. 20, 2012 performing a refueling mission between FL240 and FL280. Click here to see the route followed by the MRTT during that sortie.

The track flown on Mar. 19, 21, 22 and 25 can be found as well using the playback feature of FR24.com.

Antonio Caramazana, Vice President Programme Director Airbus Military Derivatives, said: “It is very satisfying to qualify another two aircraft type as receivers for the A330 MRTT and we look forward to entry into service with the UAE Air Force later this year.”

The air crew training for the A330 with UAE pilots is currently taking place in Spain with the first two MRTT’s due to be delivered before the end of the year. The training of the aircrew takes place at Airbus’ training facility near Madrid and included not just the pilots but the refuelling operators too all using state of the art simulators.

Written with The Aviationist’s Editor David Cenciotti

Image by Richard Clements

Following on India's MMRCA win, Rafale on the verge of winning UAE fighter deal?

Has Dassault won a 60 jet deal with the UAE?

French newspaper La Tribune reported on Feb. 2, 2012, that France could be on the verge of winning a long-awaited $10billion 60 jet deal with the United Arab Emerates which could be signed as soon as April.

Citing unidentified sources, the paper said on its website that President Nicolas Sarkozy would go to the UAE in March or early April when the contract is likely to be finalised.

The rumor comes only days after Dassalt virtually won the Indian MMRCA (Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft) deal and few months after Eurofighter consortium, beaten in the “mother of all tenders”, received  an RFP (Request For Proposal) by the UAE Air Force.

The deal has been in the pipeline since 2008 but negotiations stalled when the UAE described it as “uncompetitive and unworkable.” and had asked for information about the Typhoon. Althought how the deal was unlocked remains unclear a source told La Tribune that every issue has been solved.

If confirmed, this new order will unlock the possibility of further middle east deals for Dassault and Rafale in the Gulf, where countries could benefit of inter-operability that a common platform could offer. Qatar Emiri Air Force whose Mirage 2000s have taken part to the Air War in Libya  operating side to side with the French Air Force combat planes out of Souda Bay, Crete, could buy 24 to 36 Rafale to replace its ageing Mirages. Kuwait last year said it was also considering buying Rafales.

Richard Clements for TheAviationist

Photo by Alessandro Fucito