Monthly Archives: March 2013

U.S. moved its F-22 stealth fighter jets to South Korea. Here’s what they could do over there.

An unspecified number of F-22 stealth fighter jets arrived in South Korea on Sunday, Mar. 31, 2013.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the aircraft flew from Kadena air base, in Okinawa, Japan, to Osan in South Korea to take part to the Exercise Eagle Foal.

The arrival of the U.S. most advanced fighter planes follows the “show of force” by the B-52s bombers and the B-2 stealth batwing bombers, that conducted training missions in South Korea’s gunnery ranges in the past weeks.

Even if it is almost only symbolic, the presence of the Raptors in the Korean peninsula is just the latest U.S. deterrent to the Pyongyang’s alleged attack plan (threatening some U.S. towns) and the demonstration  by the Pentagon of the capabilities Washington is capable to put in place should the need to intervene arise.

F-22 FF Nellis

What’s the role the F-22 could play in case of attack on North Korean targets?

Although the Raptors would probably escort the big bombers during the opening stages of an eventual campaign (after the rain of cruise missiles that would wipe out most of North Korea’s air defenses…), their role could not be limited to providing air superiority (to be easily and quickly achieved considered the status of the geriatric North Korean Air Force and its obsolete Migs): as demonstrated in last year’s Exercise Chimichanga,the F-22 has the ability to play a dual role in the same mission: HVAAE (High Value Air Asset Escort) and air-to-surface.

Indeed, the F-22 can be tasked to escort bombers into a an anti-access target area (a superfluos task when air superiority has been already achieved) and then perform an immediate restrike on the same target attacked by the B-2, B-52 or B-1 bombers being accompanied, or attack another nearby ground target, if needed.

With the latest release of software and hardware upgrades being fielded within a 6.9 billion USD program, the fleet of radar evading 5th generation planes is being turned into multirole: Raptors are getting synthetic aperture radar (SAR) with ground mapping capability as well as the ability to carry eight 113kg (250lb) Small diameter bombs (SDBs), multipurpose, insensitive, penetrating blast-fragmentation warhead for stationary targets that can be equipped with deployable wings for extended standoff range.

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Here’s why North Korea’s attack plan on U.S. is a joke

As already explained, Kim Jong Un has approved an attack plan on targets located in the Pacific and mainland U.S. following the yesterday long range round robin mission over South Korea.

Photos published in KCNA state agency allegedly show the places threatened by the “U.S. Mainland Strike Plan”: San Diego, Washington DC, Austin and Honolulu.

Among the various reasons to doubt about North Korea’s capability to hit Continental U.S. with ballistic missiles, there is also the map deliberately exposed by the images of Kim Jon Un meeting with his military aides on Mar. 29.

Indeed, Pyongyang’s missiles would find it extremely difficult to reach their intended targets following the path drawn on that map, instead of a great circle route.

A great circle is the shortest path interconnecting two points on a sphere.

Since Earth is almost spherical, routes followed by aircraft (or ballistic missiles…) follow great circles between departure and destination (in case of commercial planes route depends also on ATC restrictions, diplomatic clearances required to overfly particular countries, the strong effect of the wind etc).

The following maps would have been a bit more credible.

NK attack plan

NK attack plan 2

Images generated with Great Circle Mapper. Top image credit: KCNA via Business Insider


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Photo shows targets of (impossible) North Korean attack plan on the US: Honolulu, San Diego, Washington DC and Austin

Following the yesterday B-2 Spirit “extended deterrence” mission over South Korea, Kim Jong Un has approved an attack plan on targets located in the Pacific and mainland U.S.

Photos published in KCNA state agency and other Korean and foreign websites, showing North Korea’s leader during a military meeting allegedly held early on Mar. 29, U.S. targets are deliberately visibile.

Provided North Korea has really the capability to reach those targets with its rockets (note: it hasn’t), the places threatened by the “U.S. Mainland Strike Plan” [미본토타격계획] should be: San Diego, Washington DC, Austin and Honolulu.

Considered that North Korea’s (geriatric) military is not believed to be capable to hit targets at intercontinental distances, it is safe to say that pictures showing attack plan maps were released for domestic propaganda purposes as a sort of retaliation for the Mar. 28 show of force by the stealth Batwing Bomber.

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RAF Typhoon fighter jets refueled by Italian Air Force Boeing KC-767A tanker on their way to LIMA 2013

Four Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets belonging to the UK’s Royal Air Force deployed to Malaysia (where they took part to LIMA – Langkawi International Maritime & Aerospace Exhibition) last week thanks to the support provided by the Italian Air Force Boeing KC-767A, the new aerial refueler on which the future U.S. KC-46 tanker is based.

An Italian 767, belonging to the 14° Stormo, deployed from Pratica di Mare airbase to Leuchars and then flew alongside the four British combat planes on their route to Malaysia via Akrotiri (Cyprus), Bahrain and Sri Lanka.

The RAF Typhoon jets of the 1 Sqn took their fuel from the two wing station, plugging their IFR (In Flight Refueling) probes in the baskets of the tanker’s hose and drogue system.

Interestingly, on the first and longest leg of the ferry flight the Italian KC-767A was supported by another aircraft of the same type that refueled it mid-air using the flying boom “piloted” by the “boomer” by means of an adveniristic Remote Vision System.

KC-767 buddy refueling

Image credit: Italian Air Force



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[Poster] B-2 stealth bomber over South Korea explained

On Mar. 28, B-2 Spirit stealth bombers performed an extended deterrence mission over South Korea.

Images of the batwing bomber, surrounded by F-16s, have emerged.

B-2 over Korea

Noteworthy, the image was taken as the B-2 had its landing gear extended even if the stealth bomber performed a round-robin mission from the Continental US.

On the previous day, the Republic of Korea Armed Forces had published some interesting images, including one showing South Korean Air Force personnel using powerful searchlights during night drills.

Now (bit of humor “on”), combine the images and here’s how the stealth bomber flyover can be explained.

Poster B-2 Korean flyover

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