Monthly Archives: January 2014

Israeli Air Force celebrates Space Week with eerie image of a Cosmic War

The image used by the Israel’s Air Force to advertise an article about the Israeli Space Week features a battle of spacecrafts: error or subliminal message?

It must have been a mistake but the image that the Israeli Air Force posted on Facebook, along with the link to the article on the IAF official website that celebrates the Israeli Space Week, shows a sort of cosmic battle.

IAF FB page

Actually, the related post published on the much informative IAF website has little to do with weaponization of space. It recounts the activities conducted by the Israeli Space Agency during 2013.

Still, the image (a very well known space wallpaper that you can download at different sizes from several websites, including this one) chosen for the Facebook post is a bit “aggressive”: maybe by accident, because an alien invasion is imminent or just because Israel knows very well where the future wars are going to be fought.

Image credit: Facebook page


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U-2 spyplane pilot wannabe? Be prepared to drive sport cars at top speeds

The TU-2S is the two-seater version of the legendary U-2 Dragon Lady used to train pilots destined to fly the legendary spyplane.

The U.S. Air Force operates five such planes, based at Beale Air Force Base, California, home of the 9th Reconnaissance Wing.

These trainers, can be often seen performing touch and gos on the local runway, a procedure that is particularly tricky, requiring some special assistance: a chase car.

Experienced pilots driving chase cars talk their colleagues aboard the U-2s during take off or landing. Indeed, the pilot’s view on a Dragon Lady is obstructed by the airframe and, for instance, there’s a risk of hitting any ground obstacle with a wingtip during taxi.

Actually, not only U-2s need chase cars. The U.S. Air Force’s fleet of cars is used to chase U-2 and RQ-4 Global Hawks spyplanes both at Beale and abroad: 20 automobiles used to support U.S. planes each time they launch and recover on any anywhere across the globe.

Pontiac G8 GTs, modified with U/VHF radios to communicate with both the aircraft and the Tower Control, are among those used as chase cars at Beale.

But the Australian cars are being replaced by new 400 HP V-8 Chevrolet Camaro SS cars. Since pilot chasing landing U-2s or Global Hawk may need to scramble to meet the plane as it overflies the runway threshold on landing, the training required to become a U-2 pilot, among all the other things, also include a course to maintain spot cars at high speeds!


Image credit: U.S. Air Force


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The astounding statistics of the Japanese Air Defense

According to the Japanese Ministry of Self-Defense, the Japanese Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) has scrambled its jets 138 times throughout the last quarter of 2013.

All that happened due to the alleged provocative behaviour of China’s Air Force.

The number is pretty high, second highest during 2013. Only first quarter of last year was more intense with 146 scrambles; in Q2 (second quarter of the year) there were 69 interventions with 80 in Q3.

Obviously, much of the activity is related to crisis around Senkaku/Diaoyu islands.

In the period of 1945 and 1972 it was governed by the USA. Had it not been for this period the archipelago has been under the Japanese jurisdiction since 1895.

After 1972 the ownership was disputed by China, that claimed the islands, as well as Taiwan. The strategic location of the islands, fish density and probable oil reserves make this area highly desirable.

Japanese stance, on the flipside, is that the islands were found terra nullius by Japan late in the 19th century. Chinese argue that there is evidence that the islands were posessed by China before the first Sino-Japanese war in 1894-1895. The argument Chinese state is that the islands, being a part of territories conquered by the Imperial Japan, should be henceforth returned.

Anyway, regardless of the validity of the claims by both sides, what is clear is that the amount of scrambles by the Japanese QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) cells can be used to measure the status of the (difficult) diplomatic relationships on the Beijing-Tokyo line.

Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist

Image Credit: U.S. Air Force


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This is the cockpit of the upgraded B-1B “Bone” bomber

On Jan. 21, Dyess Air Force Base, in Texas, saw the arrival of the first operational B-1B Lancer with the Integrated Battle Station upgrade which gave the “Bone” new screens and updated avionics in both the cockpit and battle stations.

The IBS is a package of three different upgrades that, in the words of Brig. Gen. Glen VanHerck, 7th Bomb Wing commander, who spoke at the ceremony held on Jan. 24 to celebrate the arrival of the first “new” plane, “will take [the fleet] to the next generation of long-range strike capability.”

The upgrade is aimed at increasing the situational awareness of the pilots and includes a Fully Integrated Data Link (FIDL), a Vertical Situation Display Upgrade (VSDU), and a Central Integrated System  (CITS) upgrade.

Within the VSDU two unsupportable, monochrome pilot and co-pilot displays were replaced by four multifunctional color displays, that provide the pilots more situational awareness data, in a user-friendly format.

The FIDL is a modern data link that allows the B-1 to interconnect and communicate in real-time, with other planes, ground stations, allied units.

The CITS is an upgrade of the old LED display computers used by ground maintainers to identify and troubleshoot system failures.

“Integration into the data link environment and the increased maintainability, as well as the new computers and displays are capable of showing a better picture of the battlespace with more advanced graphics will enable the B-1 to be a force for decades to come,” said Maj. Michael Jungquist, 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron software Block 16 project officer for the Dyess Air Force Base press release.

The IBS upgraded B-1 bombers will not only be based at Dyess: Ellsworth AFB is also scheduled to receive the upgraded aircraft within the upgrade program, that will be completed by 2019.

B-1 battle station

Image credit: U.S. Air Force


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Extremely rare: U.S. Navy plane lands on snow-covered aircraft carrier’s flight deck

Arrested landings on the moving flight deck on an aircraft carrier can be extremely tricky in several conditions.

At night, when the horizon is not clearly visible and pilots have almost no visual reference until they are on short final. In bad weather, especially when there are low clouds, thunderstorms, fog, etc. Or during a snow storm, when the flightdeck is covered and made slippery by snow.

The photograph in this post is one of the few you can find online showing an aircraft landing on a snow-covered flattop’s deck.

It was taken on Jan. 21, 1987, and it depicts an A-6E Intruder of Attack Squadron (VA) 52 on final approach for recovery on the snow-covered flight deck of USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) operating in the Bering Sea.

Image credit: U.S. Navy


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