Monthly Archives: August 2013

Stunning video shows C-130 pilot’s view of the California’s Rim Fire

Recorded from the cockpit of a 146th Airlift Wing’s C-130J on Aug. 22, 2013, at 5.50PM, the following video provides a stunning view of California’s Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park from the California Air National Guard‘s firefighter pilot’s point of view.

The C-130J equipped with MAFFS (Modular Airborne FireFighting System) hence the callsign MAFFS 6 is “vectored” by an operator on the ground to airdrop the fire retardant onto a specific place more or less in the same way an attack plane is described the target to hit with its bombs by a JTAC (Joint Terminal Air Controller).

Noteworthy, as MAFFS 6 slows down to 150 Kts to perform the drop of the retardant you can clearly hear the computer in the background warning about the landing gear: since the aircraft is flying at low altitude and speed, the system assumes that it is about to land and reminds the aircrew to extend the landing gear.

H/T to Bjorn Broten and Shawn Piess for the heads-up

 

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Turkish airbase has just raised its alert status for a possible attack from Syria

Diyarbakir airbase, one of the most important airbases in Turkey, located in the southeastern part of the country, is on alert status today for a possible Syrian attack.

Tolga Ozbek, aviation editor of Hurriyet Newspaper, informed us that on Aug. 30, the alert status was increased to “orange”, a level used when threat of attack is “high”.

It is not clear whether the Turkish authorities were informed of an imminent U.S. strike on Syria or the heightened alert status is caused by intelligence data suggesting Damascus is preparing to attack Ankara.

“Today is a holiday in Turkey but F-16s still on exercise,” Ozbek told us. “Also two squadrons from Merzifon Air Force Base (151-152nd both operating with Block 50 F-16s) and 171 Squadron from Malatya (operating F-4E 2020 Terminators) came to Diyarbakır.”

Some images taken recently at the base can be found here.

Diyarbakir is a large airbase hosting  181 and 182th Filo (Squadrons) and their F-16s since 1994. Base’s aircraft have been used in combat to attack PKK positions, to force a suspect Syrian airliner crossing the Turkish airspace to land, and were scrambled to intercept Syrian aircraft near the border.

Diyarbakir is also main comand center of Turkish Air Force’s 2nd Air Force Commands which controls the easth side of Turkey.

Image credit: via Kokpit.aero

 

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Two U-2s touch down in Cyprus: U.S. moving spyplanes closer to Syria

Journalist Andrew Potter based near the British air base at Akrotiri, Cyprus, reported (via Twitter) that two U-2 spyplanes arrived there in the afternoon of Aug. 29.

One U-2 had left RAF Fairford early in the morning and was plotted until it entered the French airspace: although its final destination is unknown, is safe to assume it went to Akrotiri.

Potter mentioned that the first U-2 to arrive made two attempts to land where as the second had no issues.

There are no reports of a second U-2 leaving Fairford before or after the reported departure, it must have come from elsewhere, possibly from a U.S. base in the Middle East, as Al Dhafra, in the UAE.

A further three U-2 examples are currently housed at RAF Fairford (UK); whether they stay there or move on to Akrotiri remains to be seen.

The arrival of the first two Dragon Lady aircraft amid growing tensions for the imminent U.S. attack and consequent build-up is a sort of mystery.

Media outlets reporting from Akrotiri highlighted the plane was to be stationed there for the imminent U.S. attack on Damascus’s Chemical Weapons.

Although this is not the first time the type has operated from the base (in the past for example they were used to monitor the Israeli Egyptian ceasefire in the 1970s) and several make routine stop, there would be no need to have them so close to Syria. On the other side, having these important ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) planes 200 km from the Syrian coastline would expose them to an eventual retaliatory attack.

U-2 Akrotiri

Image credit: Andrew Potter

As for RAF assets at the base it is thought there are two Tristars, a A-330 Voyager, an E-3 Sentry, the six Typhoons mentioned earlier and a BAE 146 that ferried out further crews and there must be C-130s also moving equipment.

Details as per the U.S hardware at the base is a little more scarce, although the two U-2’s have been confirmed and photographed.

Top Image: Air Force archive (U-2 landing at deployment airbase – possibly Al Dhafra).

Some of the most interesting “hardware” showcased at this year’s Radom Air Show in Poland

On Aug. 24. and 25 Radom Sadków Airfield in south-central Poland hosted one of the largest air shows in Eastern Europe.

This year’s Radom Air Show was somehow unique, as it marked the 95th anniversary of the Polish military aviation.

To celebrate the event, Polish Air Force aircraft performed a unique flypast, including some interesting formations, featuring MiG-29 and F-16 aircraft.

The air show was also an opportunity to have a close look at some candidates of the current Polish modernization programs.

For instance, when it comes to the Army chopper bid, every player did appear both on the static and dynamic displays. The company representatives and the pilots were open to the questions. Eurocopter brought in some French pilots who did fly the Cougar in the tough conditions of Afghanistan.

The Eurocopter’s dynamic display was particularly interesting due to the CSAR demo. The helo performed a combat pickup in  with special forces using the Fast Rope.

Image Credit: Jerzy Siminski

Poland also seeks to replace the old Iskra trainers.

The AJT programme deadline for accepting the offers was set on Jun. 7, 2013. Four companies proposed their designs. One resigned – it was the Czech company Aero Vodochody that opted out oficially due to the unclear bid conditions).

BAe Systems brought their full-sized airplane to the show, the newest version of the Hawk, that turned out to be the only jet training plane still eventually attending the air show.

The new Hawk is particularly interesting, due to its simulated radar system; tt does not carry a radar but the instructor may use an avionics system to simulate A2A and G2A engagements with an incredible fidelity.

The Hawk is also the sole out of the three competitors that has been used and checked quite thoroughly. RAF uses it to train the Typhoon pilots. It does not use fly-by-wire system like the Typhoon does. At the Air Show I had an opportunity to speak to one of the BAe engineers, who said that this was done deliberately to teach the pilot how to recognize the end of a flying envelope.

The Polish Air Force did a presentation of the most of their flying machines, both in dynamic and static displays, including the MiG-29 with Kościuszko sign on its back.

Image Credit: Andrzej Rogucki

All the helicopter types that fly in the Afghan theatre could also be spotted.

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Image Credit: Jerzy Siminski

The static display also featured some interesting Western aircraft, including RNLAF F-16 with a special color scheme, portraying Diana, the goddes of hunting on the vertical fin. Another special colored bird, a Czech Gripen in a NATO Tiger Meet paint scheme made its appearance in a dynamic display.

Image Credit Jerzy Siminski

One of the most spectacular displays featured tw0 F-16s and two Su-22M4 bombers simulating a CAS mission. The demonstration included explosions on the airfield surface.

Polish Air Force display teams did also have a dynamic display.

Firstly it was the Orlik Team, flying PZL-130 Orlik turboprop planes and Team White-Red Sparks, flying old Polish Jet Trainers, TS-11 Iskra (which means Spark in Polish). The Iskras have a long history, flying the same aircraft since 1991 and making several appearances on international air shows, including the last year’s anniversary MAKS show in Moscow.

Image Credit: Andrzej Rogucki

Out of the unique opportunities at Radom Air Show one could see a Su-27 and MiG-21 displays. The ex-Soviet aircraft are still a rare sight at any show outside the Russian borders.

Out of the aerobatic teams, two made noteworthy appearances. The Patrouille Suisse have shown an impressive skill in their formation flying. Moreover, the F-5  being so fast a jet made the display very spectacular.

And Wings of Storm from Croatian Air Force, flying on PC.9 airplane. The team has shown some unique maneuvers that are not performed by any aerobatic team worldwidely, including a formation tailslide.

Other teams that took part in the display were the Baltic Bees, flying L-159 ALCAs and Finland’s Midnight Hawks.

Contrary to the British RIAT rules, the safety regulations allow the pilots in Radom to use the flares during the displays. The flares were used by many machines, but one of the most spectacular application could be seen in RNLAF AH-64 Apache display with an unusual series of maneuvers, including a high barell roll and tailslide.

Image Credit: Andrzej Rogucki

There were many F-16s including RNLAF, Solo Turk and Hellenic AF display and Belgian team acts.

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Image Credit: Andrzej Rogucki

Another interesting display was the one of an Italian C-27J which performed loops and rolls.

Summing up, Radom was a successful event with several interesting attendees, nice weather and high clouds that offered incredible backgrounds to the photographers.

Static display photos credit: Jerzy Siminski

Dynamic display photos credit: Andrzej Rogucki

Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist

 

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Six RAF Typhoon fighter jets leave UK for Cyprus. Four of them deploying right now.

News agencies are reporting that six Typhoon aircraft are being deployed to RAF Akrotiri on the island of Cyprus only 120 miles off the Syrian coast.

The British Ministry of Defense released the following statement on their website.

“As part of ongoing contingency planning, six RAF Typhoon interceptor fast jets are deploying this morning to Akrotiri in Cyprus.

This is a precautionary measure, specifically aimed at protecting UK interests and the defence of our Sovereign Base Areas at a time of heightened tension in the wider region. This is a movement of defensive assets operating in an air-to-air role only. They are not deploying to take part in any military action against Syria.

The Prime Minister has made clear no decision has been taken on the UK’s response to the situation in Syria and there will be a Commons vote before any direct military involvement.”

A new Voyager tanker aircraft left with four of the six Typhoons at just gone 09.00 AM (Local) and headed south, it’s not known whether the other two Typhoons were with this small formation or will be deploying separately.

It’s thought the Typhoons may have come from XI Squadron based at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire although this hasn’t been confirmed.

Richard Clements for TheAviationist.com

 

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