Monthly Archives: December 2013

This photo of AH-64 Apache helicopter salvoing flares in the dark is one of the best of 2013

Known as “Peten” (“Cobra” in Hebrew) in the Israeli Air Force, the Boeing AH-64A is an attack helicopter that Israel has extensively used in combat since 1990s.

Involved in Lebanon and, more recently, in Operation Cast Lead, the AH-64A and D have been frequently used to patrol the skies over Gaza and to launch air strikes against insurgents/terrorists. For this reason, they also carry countermeasures against MANPADS and IR guided surface-to-air missiles.

The “Peten” in the stunning image taken on Dec. 26 by xnir can be seen salvoing flares in the dark during a demonstration flight.

Flares, are high-temperature heat sources released by planes and helicopters to mislead surface-to-air or air-to-air missile’s heat-seeking targeting systems.

Cities around the world will celebrate New Year’s Eve with fireworks. The Israeli chopper had its pyrotechnic display few days earlier.

Image credit: Nir Ben-Yosef (xnir.com)

 

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Inverted over the enemy: Mirage 2000 intercepts F-16 upside down

The first thing the image in this post reminded us is the famous scene of Top Gun (when Maverick turns its F-14 Tomcat upside down to give the finger to a Soviet Mig pilot) and the subsequent talk with “Charlie”:

 

C: “So, where exactly were you?”

M: “We started up on his six when he pulled through the clouds. I went above him.”

C: “If you were directly above him, how could you see him?”

M: “Because I was inverted.”

 

The photo was taken by a pilot of a French Air Force Mirage 2000-5F pilot during a training intercept on a Belgian Air Force F-16AM.

Most probably, the Belgian “Viper” did not react at all to the simulated attack by the French fighter jet belonging to the Groupe de Chasse 1/2 Cigognes (that posted the image on their Facebook page): every now and then, NATO and allied air forces take the opportunity to practice interception on military traffic transiting through their airspace of responsibility that agrees to be intercepted for training purposes.

Such close encounters terminate with the identification of the “zombie” and no simulated dogfight takes place, as the “enemy” plane is not involved in any exercise but is simply flying as a General Air Traffic.

Image credit: EC 1/2 French Air Force

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Pentagon’s vision of future of military drones takes “man” out of “unmanned”

According to the roadmap just published, in the next 25 years Pentagon aims at fielding military unmanned systems that will be autonomous and able to perceive, analyzw, correlate and make decisions or react without human intervention.

An obvious move that, among all the other implications, will also reduce the amount of UAS (unmanned aerial system) mishaps, the majority of those are caused by the human factor.

DoD vision up to 2038 is quite clear: drones are the key for U.S. military. And will be even more in the future, when the U.S. will have to face several problems: Pressure for reductions in federal budgets; U.S. military rebalance; Nuclear Proliferation; Violent extremism at home and across the globe; Threats in the Cyberspace (as in land, sea or air and space); Enemy Unmanned Systems.

Noteworthy, the Pentagon has added a new domain to its battlefield: cyberspace.

Acknowledging the risk of drones being hacked or hijacked, the DoD envisages higher data rate cryptography, and open standards to enhance encryption of data links and protect communicated information.

In the future, drones will be increasingly used to fulfil different tasks, including those currently not assigned to unmanned systems: “Although currently prohibited by policy, future capabilities by unmanned systems could include casualty evacuation and care, human remains evacuation, and urban rescue. The unmanned vehicles are intended to mitigate risk to the maximum extent by reducing the requirement to operate manned vehicles when the weather, terrain, availability, and enemy pose an unsuitable level of risk.”

Roadmap

If the long term vision foresees squadrons of robots conduct different missions in the battlefield, there will be a point in the near future when manned and unmanned systems will have to team up. It’s what the report calls MUM-T [Manned-Unmanned System Teaming].

“A force of the smaller, more agile manned-unmanned systems of the near future will enable DoD to mobilize quickly to deter and defeat aggression by projecting power despite A2/AD challenges. MUM-T will provide the following key capabilities: Defeating explosive ground surface, sub-surface (tunnel), and sea hazards from greater standoff distances; Assuring mobility to support multiple points of entry; Enabling movement and maneuver for projecting offensive operations; Establishing and sustaining the shore lines of communications required to follow forces and logistics; Protecting austere combat outposts; Providing persistent surveillance to detect and neutralize threats and hazards within single- to triple-canopy and urban terrain.”

Here comes Skynet.

Image credit: DoD

 

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Impressive: F/A-18 Hornet jets recovering on aircraft carrier in bad weather

This video was recorded on USS Theodore Roosevelt on Sept. 14, 2003.

The flattop found itself in a extremely bad weather and heavy rainfall in the middle of a recovery: sevaral planes had to land but visibility was extremely poor and there were also problems with the Automatic Carrier Landing System (ACLS).

LSOs (Landing Signal Officers) assistance was paramount to help pilots land their planes safely.

The PLAT (Pilot Landing Aid Television) system gives a hint of the horizontal visibility on the flight deck. As pointed out in a comment of the Facebook page that posted the video, the “C” (or flashing “F”) in the upper screen of the PLAT is for “Clear” deck, or “Foul” deck, whereas the “W” in the bottom is for Waveoff.

Then, talking about the radio chatter, if you hear a pilot say “Clara”, it means that he can’t see the ball of the IFLOLS (Improved Fresnel Lens Optical Landing System).

Towards the end of the clip you can hear a pilot who asks the to take his wingman to the tanker and wait the for the ship to clear the weather “…so we don’t have to do a section approach.”

A section approach means that the lead would fly the ICLS (Instrumental Carrier Landing System) until about 3/4 mile from touchdown where it would leave the wingman to continue the approach on his own.

What the video shows is that under bad weather, naval aviators need calm, concentration and…huge balls, to land the plane on the deck.

 

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There is an Air War still going on in Syria

Syrian Arab Air Force bombers are constantly pounding rebel forces across Syria.

Sukhoi Su-24 Fencer, Mig-29 Fulcrum and Mig-23 Flogger bombers are those most frequently depicted in footage emerging on a daily basis from Damascus, Idlib and any other city or village where loyalist forces fight Free Syrian Army insurgents.

Noteworthy, clear blue skies and better cameras are providing some clearer shots of the Syrian planes usually operating at high altitude.

Furthermore, Assad planes are also continuing to threaten Turkey’s borders: according to a Turkish military statement, on Dec. 27, two Turkish Air Force F-16s were scrambled to intercept a Syrian Su-24 that approached the border.

The SyAAF Fencer moved away from the border when it was only 5 nautical miles from violating the Turkish airspace.

SyAAF Su-24 2013-12-23.jpg

Similar incidents have already taken place several times since a Turkish RF-4E was shot down in Syrian airspace in Jun. 2012. On Sept. 16, a Syrian Mi-17 Hip helicopter was shot down by a Turkish F-16 after flying into Ankara’s airspace for 2 km ignoring any warning.

SyAAF MiG-23MF Idleb-Kafrunbel 2013-12-21

 

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