Monthly Archives: January 2014

Arkansas Air National Guard’s A-10s fly last 4-ship before transitioning to drones

On Dec. 30, 2013, Arkansas Air National Guard’s 188th Fighter Wing at Ebbing Air National Guard Base, Fort Smith, Ark. flew one of the very last four-ship missions with the A-10C Thunderbolt (“Warthog”).

Indeed, the wing is currently transitioning from a fighter mission with the A-10C to an Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance mission with the Reaper drone.

The 188th has been equipped with the A-10s since April 2007 and has had assigned a manned aircraft on site since 1953. At a rate of two Warthogs per month since September 2013, the unit is planned to complete its 60-year history with military aircraft at Ebbing ANGB in June 2014.

Fearsome four-ship: 188th Warthogs train at Razorback Range

The four-ship formation included Col. Mark Anderson (Tail No. 188), 188th Fighter Wing commander; Maj. Doug Davis (Tail No. 639), 188th Detachment 1 commander; Col. Brian Burger (Tail No. 613), 188th Operations Group commander; and Capt. Wade Hendrickson (Tail No. 638).

The aircraft flew over Razorback Range, at Fort Chaffee Maneuver Training Center, Ark., along with a 189th Airlift Wing C-130 Hercules which took some impressive air-to-air photos as those in this post.

Currently, the 188th flies with nine remaining A-10s: the last pair of Thunderbolts departed for Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, to join the 75th Fighter Squadron on Jan. 15.

The U.S. Air Force plans to retire the A-10C aircraft, its best CAS (Close Air Support) asset, between 2015 and 2018, even if the deadline might be postponed until 2028.

Fearsome four-ship: 188th Warthogs train at Razorback Range

Image credit: 188th FW / U.S. Air Force


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U.S. Navy’s new surveillance plane is full of flaws and not yet effective

Although it has not been released yet, the outcome of the annual report on major weapons, by Michael Gilmore, chief of the Pentagon testing office, has already made the news.

Even if the report does not use the word “flop”,  it depicts the new Boeing P-8A Poseidon as just not yet effective in two of its main missions: anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and wide area reconnaissance.

Flaws in the multi-million program (actually, a 35 billion USD endeavour) are almost everywhere: radar, sensor integration, data transfer.

According to Bloomberg News, Gilmore said the new aircraft shows “all of the major deficiencies identified in earlier exercises when subjected to more stressful realistic combat testing from September 2012 to March 2013.”

For this reason the P-8A “is not effective for the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission and is not effective for wide area anti-submarine search.”

Obviously, at least “some” of the issues will soon be fixed, but the reports highlights that the B737-800 packed with sensors aren’t ready to be deployed and used in combat simply because they would fail in tracking Chinese subsmarines.

Still, the U.S. Navy has already deployed six P-8As (out of 13 delivered so far) to Japan to perform that mission.

So far Navy’s comments on the plane have always been positive and this is also the official stance of Boeing, that has also said it they will closely work with the service to solve any issues that come up.

Although the test office found that, currently, the P-8A provide the same small-area search capabilities of the older P-3C Orion it is slightly replacing, the Poseidon is a quite young weapons system, hence it is provides the U.S. Navy a higher reliability, maintainability and availability with an increased range, payload and speed.

The problem is not with the airframe, but with the costly sensors that should be the real added-value of the new aircraft: radar and ESM (Electronic Support Measures) that make both ASW and ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) missions possible.

These will be fixed in the next months.

The U.S. Navy plans to operate a fleet of 113 P-8A Poseidon next generation maritime patrol aircraft.

Image credit: U.S. Navy


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[Video] An inside look from the Air Force CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft

Taken from different POV (Pointsof View) the following video shows the CV-22 Osprey as it lands at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, in Dayton, Ohio, on Dec. 12, 2013.

The (somehow controversial) CV-22  will be one of the highlights of the museum’s new 224,000 square-foot building where the tilt-rotor aircraft will tell both the story of the Osprey in the Air Force Special Operations Command, and the culminations of decades of research and development, from the early tilt-rotor prototype, the Bell Helicopter Textron XV-3.

Two CV-22 Osprey of the AFSOC were hit by small arms fire during an evacuation mission from South Sudan last month.

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U.S. Air Force ramps up presence in the Horn of Africa

Between Jan 19 and 20, the U.S. Air Force’s 920th Rescue Wing from Patrick Air Force Base deployed several of its HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters and approximately 70 helicopter crew, maintenance, operations and support personnel to the Horn of Africa.

The group of Reserve Airmen and their combat choppers were ferried to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, by U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemasters from the 315th Airlift Wing from Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina,

As part of the air brigde, the airlifters made a stopover at Rota, in Spain.

The HH-60G of the only Air Force Reserve combat rescue unit will support Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa to provide “both conventional and unconventional combat-rescue operations”.

Even if some Air Force’s Pave Hawk helicopters, like the one which crashed in the UK some weeks ago, have been operating in the Horn of Africa for anti-piracy tasks for some time, and few helicopters were spotted at Camp Lemonnier in the past, the deployment marks a significant increase in the amount of CSAR assets in a region characterized by a drone-led Shadow War in Yemen and threated by the unstable ceasefire in South Sudan.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

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[Photo] Space Shuttle Atlantis at the Kennedy Space Center

In 2012 we reported about the Space Shuttle Orbiters being moved across the U.S. atop NASA’s modified Boeing 747 SCA (Shuttle Carrier Aircraft).

We followed Discovery’s trip over Washington DC on its way to the National Air & Space Museum, the Enterprise’s New York skyline flyover, and Endeavour’s California tour accompanied by two NASA’s F/A-18 Hornet.

Atlantis, the fourth orbiter built by Rockwell International and last one to be launched within the Shuttle program (as misison STS-135, launched on Jul. 8, 2011) did not move from Cape Canaveral, were it landed for the last time on Jul. 21, 2011 as it went to the Kennedy Space Center visitor complex, on Nov. 2, 2012.

You can see it at the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit, a new 90,000 square-foot, 100 million USD attraction of the KSC where, among all the other things, you can also experience the thrill of a Space Shuttle Launch simulator (quite funny!)


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