Monthly Archives: June 2015

Crazy Cool 360° video shot from inside an F-5 fighter jet over the Alps

360° movie from the cockpit of a Swiss Air Force F-5 jet with the Patrouille Suisse display team flying over the Swiss Alps.

This video is stunning.

It provides the immersive experience of a 360° view from inside the rear cockpit of an F-5F Tiger of the “Patrouille Suisse” display team during a flight over the Swiss Alps.

If you use one of the supported browsers or app, the camera will let you move around the 360 degree field of view of the spherical video. Otherwise, you’ll simply enjoy the fisheye point of view.

Cool, isn’t it?

H/T David Ljung for the heads up!

 

We have flown in a Mi-17 Hip during this year’s largest military helicopter exercise in Europe

Italian Blade 2015, the largest military rotary-wing exercise in Europe, underway at Viterbo, Italy.

More than 30 helicopters and 1000 military personnel from seven different countries are taking part in Italian Blade 2015, an exercise delivered by the Italian Army Aviation in Viterbo and supported by the EDA (European Defense Agency), about 80 km north of Rome.

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Taking place from Jun. 22 June to Jul. 3, Italian Blade 2015 (IB15), the largest helicopter drills in Europe this year is the 8th rotary-wing exercise supported by the European Defence Agency under the umbrella of the Helicopter Exercise Programme (HEP) whose aim is to maximise interoperability between all assets involved and share experience by flying and co-operating in conditions similar to those found in current and future operations.

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The exercise involves helicopters in a joint/combined Task Force deployed in a friendly and recent pro-democracy state for a CSO (Crisis Response Operation). The main threat is represented by opposition from insurgent forces (Illegal Armed Group): a scenario reflecting military operations other-than-war (MOOTW).

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The Helicopter Aviation Regiment Orbat (Order of battle) can count of the following assets:

Austria: 4x AB212
Belgium: 4x A109
Czech Republic: 3x Mi-24
Germany: 4x UH-1D, 4x NH90, 1x CH-53
Hungary: 1x Mi-17
Italy: 4x A129, 2x CH-47, 2x Merlin, 4x NH90, 4x AB212
Slovenia: 1x AS532

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Air Assault (AA), Special Operations Aviation (SOA), Combat Service Support (CSS), Close Air Support (CAS) including Urban CAS and Emergency CAS, Convoy/helicopter escorts, Reconnaissance and Security (R&S) operations, Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR), Personnel Recovery (PR), Military/Non Military extractions (NEO Ops), Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC) and Casualty Evacuation (CASEVAC) are the types of missions flown by the Air Regiment in the assigned area of responsibility under the authority of a Regional Command.

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Flying in the Hungarian Mi-17 Hip

On Jun. 25, The Aviationist had the opportunity to take part in an IB15 mission on board a Hungarian  Mi-17 Hip.

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The Hungarian Air Force operates a fleet of about 10 Russian-built Mil Mi-17 and Mi-8 Hip helicopters which the service plans to replace in the near future due to the lack of spare parts. While it finds a proper replacement, the Hip is still used for a variety of combat roles at home and abroad, and it is also used to support and assist the home station training of the airmen who are designated to perform air mentor duties in Afghanistan: the Afghan Air Force (AAF) flies the Mi-17 transport helicopters and Hungary supports them with an Mi-17 Air Mentoring Team (AMT), based at Shindand, Herat Province, that provides classroom instruction and on-the-job training for the Afghan helicopter aircrews as part of the Italian–Hungarian Mi-17 Air Advisory Team.

During the IB15, the Russian chopper, from 86th Szolnok Helicopter Base, was tasked with a high altitude Personnel Recovery mission along with two Austrian AB-212s.

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The area of operations was Monte Terminillo, a massif with the highest altitude of 2,217 metres, located about 100 km from Rome, where the Mi-17 performed several mountain landings.

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The 1,5 hour sortie gave our photographers Giovanni Maduli and Alessandro Borsetti the opportunity to take some interesting shots of the Hip and its old-styled cockpit.

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Interestingly, air conditioning in the Mi-17 is supplemented by mini-fans installed in front of the pilots.

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Although it is quite obsolete, the Mi-17 remains one of the most successful and interesting choppers in service with the air arms of several countries all around the world: for instance, Syria makes an extensive use of the Hip as a gunship or transport helicopter and one of the Syrian Arab Air Force Mi-17s made the news when it was shot down by a Turkish Air Force F-16 in September 2013.

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Here below is a short clip filmed during the sortie:

Image credit: Giovanni Maduli and Alessandro Borsetti.

 

Project Whale Tale: the story of how the U-2 became an embarked reconnaissance aircraft.

Designated as a utility type to disguise its primary mission, the Lockheed U-2 was born as high altitude reconnaissance aircraft.

Flying for about 8 hours, at 500 mph, at altitudes in excess of 70,000 feet, U-2 spyplanes launched from airbases in Turkey and Pakistan in the mid to late 1950s and early 1960s landed on the other side of the Soviet Union, at Bodo airfield in Norway, at the end of their reconnaissance missions, with fuel tanks virtually empty.

To extend the range of the aircraft and reach more remote targets, the CIA approached the Navy proposing to develop the ability to launch and land U-2s from carriers.

Project Whale Tale began on an August morning in 1963, when test pilot Bob Schumacher took off with his U-2 from the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier that sailed out of San Diego Harbor. After his successful launch, Schumacher performed several landing approaches, proving that the U-2’s performance made arrested landing and wave off (if needed) possible.

But while he was attempting his first landing, one wingtip struck the deck. Schumacher barely managed to take to the air again preventing the plane from crashing overboard.

In spite of the close call, the program continued and three U-2As were modified and got a stronger landing gear, an arresting hook, and wing spoilers that decreased lift during landing. While these modifications were taking place, Schumacher and several CIA pilots developed their carrier landing skills flying T-2 Buckeye trainers from USS Lexington aircraft carrier.

Schumacher landed the first U-2G (as the modified U-2 was designated) on the USS Ranger on Mar. 2, 1964, off the California coast, experiencing only one small problem when the engaged arrestor hook, forced the plane’s nose toward the deck and broke off the pitot tube. After quick repairs, he successfully took off again and in the following days, Schumacher and the CIA pilots received carrier qualifications from the Navy.

Even if the operational ability to take off from and land on a carrier was used only once, in May 1964, when a U-2G operating off the USS Ranger was used to monitor the French nuclear test range, at Mururoa Atoll, in the South Pacific Ocean, well out of range of any land-based U-2 aircraft, the program continued to advance in the following years.

In 1967 Lockheed introduced a new variant, designated U-2R, that was larger (by about 40 percent) and featured about twice the range and four times the payload of a standard U-2G. This plane was equipped with an integral arrestor hook, and with wings folding mechanism that reduced the aircraft’s footprint and made carrier operations easier.

Lockheed test pilot Bill Park and four CIA pilots conducted tests with the new type of U-2 in November 1969 , from the deck of USS America sailing off the Virginia coast: as part of the tests, a U-2R was successfully moved using one of the America’s elevators.

Still, none of these carrier-capable spyplane ever entered active service, being replaced by cheaper spy satellites.

In the impressive footage below you can see several U-2s perform carrier take offs, touch and gos and landings and even if today carrier-based U-2s are only a footnote to Cold War history, the last variant of this legendary aircraft,  designated U-2S, is still in service and it remains one of the best intelligence platform among those operated by the U.S. Air Force.

U.S. F-15s, Turkish and Pakistani F-16s among the highlights of Exercise Anatolian Eagle

Turkish, U.S. and NATO combat planes took part in the Anatolian Eagle exercise at Konya airbase.

Constantly attracting a significant amount of foreign air arms, Anatolian Eagle, a medium-scale exercise held at Konya airbase, in central Turkey, has become a high-tech exercise that gives participating units the opportunity to assess their capabilities and readiness for war, to improve multinational cooperation, and to test new weapons systems: some extremely important tasks, especially for nations such as Turkey which face increasing instability, pressure and threats along their borders.

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The exercise features the same war environment Turkish and allied (or simply “friendly”) pilots would encounter during the very first days of a modern conflict: many aircraft, complex missions, COMAO (Combined Air Operation) packages, numerous targets and numerous threats, including SAM (Surface to Air Missile) systems and dreadful aggressors.

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This year, from Jun. 7 to 18, Ex. Anatolian Eagle was attended by large U.S. Air Force contingent, made of 12 F-15C Eagle jets, belonging to the 493rd Fighter Squadron from RAF Lakenheath accompanied by approximately 250 personnel, Pakistani Air Force F-16s, Spanish Air Force F-18 Hornets and RAF Typhoons, along with Turkish F-16s, F-4s and Boeing 737 AEW&C Peace Eagle.

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The Aviationist’s contributor Alessandro Fucito flew to Konya to take the stunning images you can find in this post.

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Hordes of spotters have been allowed to take photographs during the Spotters Days on Jun. 17, 18 and 19.

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Satellite caught a U.S. RQ-170 Sentinel stealth drone on the ground at Creech AFB

One of our readers has spotted something interesting in a satellite image

Although Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) have operated from Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, for a long time, and some blurred videos and images are available on the Internet, you don’t easily find a satellite photo showing one of these stealthy drones, anywhere on the web.

That’s why the sat image we are talking about is particularly interesting.

Available on Terraserver website, it shows a “Beast of Kandahar” (as the RQ-170 was dubbed after being spotted for the first time at the U.S. airbase in Afghanistan) parked just in front of a shelter at Creech (click here for the sat image).

The date of the imagery is: Feb. 2, 2012.

The drone sits close to a Reaper drone and the proximity helps comparing the size of the two unmanned aircraft.

The RQ-170 is one of the most famous U.S. Air Force (and CIA) UAS.

Last year, Iran unveiled a copy of the Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) drone allegedly manufactured by reverse-engineering of U.S. Sentinel drone captured in December 2011 while remotely operated from Creech AFB.

The Iranian version of the Sentinel drone was displayed next to the one that crash landed in northeastern Iran about three years ago. Suspicious footage allegedly showing the copycat Sentinel flying in Iran can be found here.

Image credit: Terraserver

H/T to Joshua Nyhus for the heads up.