Monthly Archives: January 2016

Watch the heat distortion and tip vortices generated by an EA-18G Growler landing at Nellis AFB

Red Flag 16-1 underway at Nellis Air Force Base, near Las Vegas.

With RF16-1 underway, cool images and footage showing Red Flag participants taking off and recovering to Nellis have started to pop up.

Here’s an interesting one, filmed by Dave Stein, showing a VAQ-138 EA-18G Growler on base turn for final: take a look at the heat distortion and wingtip vortices highlighted by the desert mountains in the background.

A Russian Su-34 Fullback bomber has violated the Turkish airspace yesterday

It looks like it has happened again….

Turkey has summoned the Russian envoy after a Russian Air Force Su-34 Fullback bomber allegedly violated the Turkish airspace during a mission from Hmeymim airbase, near Latakia, in northwestern Syria.

The incident, took place on Friday Jan. 29, and according to Ankara, several warnings in Russian and in English were radioed to aircraft: in other words, something similar to what happened little more than 2 month ago, on Nov. 24, 2015, when a Su-24 Fencer was shot down by a Turkish Air Force F-16 near the border with Syria.

However, unlike the last violation, that eventually led to the downing of the Fencer (and the death of one of the two crew members) this time, the Russian Su-34 was not shot down (even though we don’t really know if the Turkish Air Force attempted to…)

In a statement, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said: “We are making a clear call to the Russian Federation not to violate Turkish airspace, which is also NATO airspace.”

Perhaps, the Turkish authorities don’t want to further escalate the crisis with Russia caused by the Su-24 incident: following the Fencer shootdown, Russia equipped its planes flying in Syria with air-to-air missiles for self-defense, escorted the bombers with Su-30 Flankers, sent a S-400 missile system to Hmeymin airbase and moved the S-300F-equipped Moskva guided-missile destroyer off Latakia, enforcing a MEZ (Missile Engagement Zone) over Syria.

Anyway, what’s worth noticing is that the Russian planes continue to breach into the Turkish airspace every now and then, in spite of the warnings, onboard navigation systems and the risk of being engaged by the TuAF: it all started on Oct. 3 and 4, when a Russian Air Force Su-30SM and Su-24 aircraft reportedly violated the Turkish sovereign airspace in the Hatay region causing the NATO to protest. TuAF F-16s in QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) were scrambled to identify the intruders and according to Turkish sources a Russian Su-30SM maintained a radar lock on one or both the F-16s for a full 5 minutes and 40 seconds!

Following the incident Ankara said it would shot down any aircraft violating their sovereign airspace as done in the past with the Syrian Mig-23 and Mi-17 maintaining the promise on Nov. 24, 2015, when the doomed Su-24 entered its sovereign airspace for 17 seconds.

Image credit: Russia MoD

 

Polish Air Force about to receive the first new M-346 advanced jet trainers

Poland expands the Deblin training aviation base. The Initial M-346 Master Advanced Jet Trainers are in production.

According to the media buzz around the Polish defense-related outlets, Poland is going to receive the initial two examples of the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master AJT (Advanced Jet Trainer) quite soon. As Szczepan Głuszczak, Spokesman for the General Command of the Polish Armed Forces, stated, the first two aircraft wearing the Polish roundels are already in production.

This means that a revolution is taking place at the Polish aviation training facilities, since finally Poland is going to be capable of training the pilots for flying the fifth generation fighter aircraft, the acquisition of which is planned by the Polish Air Force in the upcoming years (probably until 2020).

The “Master,” the Italian cousin of the Russian Yak-130 trainer (both designs share a large portion of the genotype), is going to become the backbone of the training programs pursued by the Polish Air Force, replacing the obsolete Iskra trainers.

Nonetheless, it must be noted that not only are the Poles willing to modernize their pilots training, but they are also intending to create a fifth generation fighter training facility at the Dęblin Airbase: Alenia Aermacchi representatives stated that the Polish base, along with the Italian Lecce-Galatina air base, both operating the Master, may start offering services within the scope of training for the fifth generation fighter pilots for third parties that may not be able to afford establishing a full-scale training system in the first place.

Meanwhile, according to IHS Jane’s, Poland is willing to proceed with the initiative created by the Air Force Institute of Technology (Instytut Techniczny Wojsk Lotniczych, ITWL) – the “Grot 2” aircraft.

During the conference, related to the helicopter programs in the Polish Army, Colonel Ryszard Szczepanik working as the director of the institute stated that Grot-2 initiative is to be continued with the Motor-Sich company from Ukraine, providing the track-proven engine. Initially, the jet was to be equipped with the Honeywell/ITEC F124-GA-100 powerplant, as Jane’s states. Motor-Sich’s Director, as Jane’s reports, stated that Grot-2 jet could use “the AI-222-28F design” powerplant developed at the Ivchenko/Progress design bureau, destined to be applied in the Chinese Hongdu Aviation L-15 jet trainer.

However, even though the Grot’s airframe is similar to that of Master’s, Poland considers this design to become the successor of the Su-22 Fitter attack aircraft. Nonetheless, this role is being already taken by a UAV-dedicated airbase, and partially divided between the F-16 fighters and the M-346 acquisition.

Common sense would also make us point to lack of budget, needs, and finally, the export prospects, meaning that the Grot-2 project is probably not going to happen. Secondly, most of the Polish indigenous jet designs have been unsuccessful, mainly due to the lack of a proper know-how and potential which should be possessed by the Polish industry.

Moreover, one should take it into account that IHS Jane’s bases its report on information provided by the Polish NCSS think-tank, however, it must be noted that this organization is tied to “Law and Justice” party, which has just won the election in Poland, and which is driven towards consolidation and reinforcement of the Polish armament industry. Hence, the rumours pertaining the Grot-2 programme may be just another issue, fueling the political discussion in Poland.

Image Credit: Jacek Siminski

 

Stratospheric selfie in a Eurofighter Typhoon

Here’s what it looks like to fly at stratospheric altitudes in a modern combat plane.

Taken with a GoPro camera on Jan. 28, this photo shows what it is like when you are in a Eurofighter Typhoon of the Italian Air Force flying at about 46,000 feet during a 4 vs 3 supersonic training mission of the 9th Gruppo (Squadron) belonging to the 4th Stormo (Wing) from Grosseto.

I will soon write a detailed report, with plenty of pictures, about the mission I took part (in the lead aircraft of the “Red Air”), for the moment here’s just a shot from the backseat of the F-2000B about to “commit” for another air-to-air engagement!

 

Russian Su-27 buzzes U.S. RC-135U spyplane. Once again.

Tense moments in the skies over Black Sea.

On Jan. 25, 2016 a U.S. Air Force RC-135U electronic intelligence gathering aircraft was intercepted by a Russian Su-27 Flanker fighter jet while performing a routine sortie in international airspace over Black Sea.

As reported by Freebeacon.com, during the interception, the Su-27 made an aggressive turn that disturbed the controllability of the RC-135.

Navy Capt. Daniel Hernandez, chief spokesman for the U.S. European Command explained that the interception was conducted in an unsafe and unprofessional manner and that the U.S. are looking into this issue.

According to some defense officials, the RC-135 was flying 30 miles from the coast (well within international airspace and far way from any Russian territory) when the Su-27 flanked the intelligence gathering jet and then performed an aggressive turn to break-away from it.

On Apr. 7, 2015 another Su-27 flew within 20 feet of an RC-135U, that time over the Baltic Sea.

Noteworthy the Pentagon has recently concluded a flight safety memorandum with Russia after holding a video conference with Russian Defense Ministry Officials: as told by Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook the area of discussion included air safety over skies in Syria as well as “the means to avoid accidents and unitended confrontation between coalition and Russian forces whenever the two sides operate in close proximity.”

The Black Sea encounter was the latest in a series of aggressive Russian military activities aimed coercing or harassing U.S. military aircraft and ships in both Europe and Asia.

RC-135U

Top image: Sukhoi; Bottom image: U.S. Air Force