Monthly Archives: September 2015

Video released by Russian MoD seems to prove that Russia’s combat planes missed their targets in Syria!

Russia has launched its first air strikes in Syria. But they may have missed their targets!

On Sept. 30, the Russian Air Force contingent based at Latakia launched its first air strikes against targets in Syria following the approval from the Russian Duma.

According to the Russian MoD, that has been quite active on Social Media all day, the air strikes targeted 8 ISIS targets in Syria and involved 20 sorties flown by Russian aircraft and hit “military materiel,communication centres, ammunition and fuel depots of IS.”

Now take a look at the following video, that shows some of the targets being attacked by the Russian warplanes.

Although we are unable to ID the weapons used against these targets it looks like that either the targeting pod was aiming somewhere else or the attack missed its target: the first part of the footage (most probably filmed by a drone) shows shrapnels from a bomb possibly exploded south of the target; the second part shows the same target and other shrapnels, but you can also clearly see the blast of a bomb at the bottom of the scene; the third one shows bombs (2 or 3) seemigly missing their target by several meters.

According to some photographs on Twitter, Su-24M2 may have been involved in the first air strikes in the area of Homs. And, as shown by the footage released by the Russian MoD, they probably used unguided bombs….

Image credit: Russian MoD

 

US Navy bids farewell to the T-2 Buckeye trainer

On Sep. 25, the venerable T-2 took its final flight at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, ending a 56-year career.

Developed to be used from early flight training right on to carrier indoctrination, the first single engine North American T2J-1 (later designated T-2A) was delivered to the Navy in July 1959.

After 217 T-2As were produced, it was decided that a twin engine version of this trainer would have been more appropriate for the purpose and 97 T-2Bs equipped with two Pratt and Whitney J60 engines were delivered beginning in 1965. The final major version of the Buckeye, the T-2C powered by two General Electric J85s was introduced in 1968 and, overall 231 examples were produced since then. The Buckeye was also sold to Venezuela (that acquired 12 T-2Ds) and to Greece (which bought 40 T-2Es).

The T-2 served the Navy as a two-seat intermediate carrier-capable jet trainer from 1959 until 2008, when it was replaced by the T-45 Goshawk. Three T-2s were retained by Air Test & Evaluation Squadron 20 as chase aircraft for aircraft and weapons testing and they will now be replaced by C-38 Courier business jets.

In the following video you can see a T-2 performing an OFC (Out of Control Flight) training sortie, aimed to provide the student with the fundamental knowledge necessary to recognize, analyse and recover from the loss of aerodynamic control of the aircraft.

This footage leaves no doubts: the T-2 was a terrific spin trainer.

Polish F-16 Tiger Demo Display Premiere at Łask Air Base Open Day

Łask Air Base open day saw the first display of the Polish F-16 “Tiger” Demo Team.

On Sep. 26. 2015 we have attended the Łask Air Base open day.

Besides the Polish Air Force’s inventory (e.g. the F-16, MiG-29 or the C-130 airlifter) the static display  also featured the historic aircraft restored by the Grupa Archeo  – a group of enthusiasts gathered around the Łask base, restoring and maintaining historical aircraft, including the I-22 Iryda indigenous trainer, MiG-21 MiG-15 or the MiG-23 interceptor.

The dynamic part of the show was quite modest, even though it was the uniqueness of some displays to make the event extremely interesting.

The show began with the Artur Kielak’s display, flying the XA-41 aircraft. Being one of the best Polish aerobatic pilots, Kielak really pushed his propeller-driven airplane to the limit. However, it was not his display the most electrifying part of the show.

Next, a show of force was displayed by the F-16 jets stationed at the Łask base: a couple of jets performed took with full afterburner and then performed a “carousel” meaning that there was a series of touch-and-gos, each of which was finished or started – depending on the point of view – with an aggressive, high-g turn and climb. This was a very spectacular start for the military part of the show. It’s a pity that such element was not showcased e.g. during the Radom Air Show this year, because it really portrayed the power of the F-16 jets used by the Polish Air Force.

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Among the displayed aircraft, the Polish Su-22 role demo team also performed a spectacular show, showcasing the abilities of the aging, but still capable aircraft.

Su-22 Lask

The display program of the Fitter team features some interesting passes,  with varied wing geometry, with one airplane flying in the landing configuration, while the other passes, within the same formation, with its wings fully swept back. The maneuver is not that easy to perform, since the speed overlap between the settings is quite small.

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The third dynamic display, which took part during the show, was performed by the new Polish MiG-29 demo pilot – cpt. Bartek “Brawo” Kida. Adrian Rojek, famous for his vertical take-off during this year’s RIAT, did not fly on that day. The MiG display was spectacular, with a lot of flares launched throughout and a lot of afterburner used.

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Unfortunately, Bartek Kida did not perform the famous tailslide, which is one of the most characteristic capabilities within the MiG-29 Fulcrum’s flight envelope. This was probably because of the low cloud altitude on Saturday, preventing the jet from performing maneuvers high enough to make the tailslide safe.

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The Łask air show was also attended by the US Air Force C-17 Globemaster, belonging to the 105th Air Lift Wing of the New York  National Guard. The American airlifter performed a few majestic passes over the base, and it also showcased its rough field capabilities, by performing a short landing with the reversed thrust.

However, the most important and the most awaited highlight of the Łask Air Base open day was the long-awaited display of Polish F-16 demo team. The jet also flew during the Krzesiny Air Base celebrations two weeks earlier, however, that event was not open to the general public.

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The Polish F-16 demo programme is very much similar to the Greek “ZEUS” display – however, this is not a surprise, since Robert “Bluto” Gałązka, the Polish pilot flying the F-16 demo, was trained by Georgos Androlukais and Emmanuel Andriakanis, who are the members of the Greek “ZEUS” demo team.

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According to lotniczapolska.pl, the demo team prepared three variants of the display – high, low and flat. The flat display is the one  that is most difficult for the pilot, since during the 10-15 minutes of display his body has to cope with the g-load ranging from -3 to +9.5.

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The minimum speed during the display is 115 knots, while the top speed attained by the Polish fighter during the performance reaches Mach 0.95. The altitude range for the display is contained between 60 and 5,000 meters. The display is said to feature a lot of flares, however, due to  malfunction of the countermeasure system, no flares were released in Łask on Sept. 26.

Cpt. Robert “Bluto” Gałązka has accumulated 1800 flight-hours so far, with 1300 hours flying the F-16. Since 2009, he was involved in 14 international exercises, including the Red Flag, NATO Tiger Meet (five times) and Frisian Flag (attended twice), as well as the NATO Response Force operations and the Tactical Leadership Programme.

Image credit: Bartek Nogaj/EPRA Spotters and Jacek Siminski

Six Russian Su-34 Fullback bomber have just arrived in Syria. And this is the route they have likely flown to get there.

The Russian military build up continues as six Su-34 Fullback attack planes arrive in Syria.

Six Sukhoi Su-34 aircraft have eventually arrived at Latakia to join the Russian contingent already there.

Images allegedly shot around the al-Assad International Airport clearly show one Russian Fullback about to land at the airbase in western Syria where 28 Russian aircraft have arrived last week.

One of the photos taken from the ground shows the six aircraft trailing what seems to be an airliner over Idlib: the larger plane is probably a Russian Air Force Tu-154.

Interestingly, a Russian Air Force Tu-154 using callsign RFF7085 could be tracked online on Flightradar24 during its flight to Latakia on Sept. 28, likely exposing the route followed by the six Su-34s trailing their accompanying Tu-154.

As the below image shows, the aircraft flew in international airspace over the Caspian Sea, to Iran and entered Syrian airspace after flying over northern Iraq: did the Su-34s have all the required diplomatic clearances to fly north of Baghdad or did they simply “sneak” into Syria by hiding under the cover of the transport plane?

Hard to say.

Last week, US officials said that the first 28 Russian combat planes hid under the radar signature on the larger transport aircraft, in an attempt to avoid detection but there are chances that the flights had all the required clearances from the Iraqi Air Traffic Control agencies and were conducted as a standard long-range ferry flight: one tanker/airlifter, using radio and transponder, supporting multiple fast jets.

Tu-154 FR24

 

H/T to @LuftwaffeAS and @obretix. Image credit: Flightradar24.com.

Cool pictures show U.S. F-15Es flying in formation with Spitfires during Battle of Britain celebrations

The last airshow of the season at Duxford celebrated the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

Among the highlights of the Battle of Britain Anniversary Air Show that took place on Sep. 19-20,  there was a flypast made by two U.S. F-15E Strike Eagles of the 492nd Fighter Squadron from RAF Lakenheath, and two Spitfire Mk Is.

F-15E Spit 2

In fact, even if the airfield in Cambridgeshire is a very popular venue for warbirds enthusiasts, contemporary aircraft usually join classic aeroplanes, not only to commemorate historic events but also to boost the already spectacular flying display of the air show.

F-15E Spit 4

These cool photos, taken from the cockpit of one of the two F-15Es, give you a glimpse of what it is like to fly in formation with the iconic Spitfire.

F-15E Spit 5

Image credit: RAF Lakenheath/U.S. Air Force