Monthly Archives: June 2017

Watch An Argentine P-3 Orion Aircraft Perform A Low Pass Over Ushuaia “Argentine Malvinas International Airport”

Pretty cool low pass by a Lockheed P-3 Orion.

The following video shows the P-3B Orion “6-P-53”, belonging to the Escuadra Aeronaval N° 6 – Escuadrilla Aeronaval de Exploración of the Argentine Navy, as it performs a low pass over Ushuaia Malvinas Argentinas International Airport, located near the city of Ushuaia, on the island of Tierra del Fuego in the Tierra del Fuego Province of Argentina.

Interestingly, the airport, opened in 1995, was given a name that reflects Argentina’s claims of sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas): Aeropuerto Internacional de Ushuaia Malvinas Argentinas that could be translated as “Ushuaia – Argentine Malvinas International Airport”.

Anyway, Argentinian pilots have a good tradition of low-level flying: they conducted ultra low altitude attacks on British warships during the Falklands War (Malvinas) and, more recently, we’ve commented daredevil flybys of Argentine Air Force IA-63 Pampa, Mirage 5P or C-130 Hercules.

Not as low as other passes we have seen, still a pretty interesting footage of a rather unusual flyby.

Although in the majority of the current scenarios combat planes can quietly operate at medium or high altitude with stand-off weapons, military pilots still train low-level high-speed flying to face enemy threats they could face during attack, special operations, reconnaissance, Search And Rescue, troops or humanitarian airdrop missions in troubled spots around the world.

H/T Emiliano Guerra for the heads up

VAW-113 Homecoming And VAW-115 Re-location Brings A Formation Of Six E-2C Hawkeyes Over Naval Base Ventura County Point Mugu

Black Eagles return home from WESTPAC and Liberty Bells relocate to new home at Point Mugu. With some cool special markings.

On Jun. 21, 2017, NBVC Point Mugu saw the homecoming of the VAW-113 “Black Eagles” from a six month deployment from USS Carl Vinson and the re-location of the VAW-115 “Liberty Bells” from MCAS Iwakuni, Japan, to their new home in California.

Both squadrons flew off the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) with their E-2Cs acting as airborne command and control platforms, positioning themselves between the ship and other aircraft to relay communications, identify and track air traffic and surface traffic, coordinate air-to-air refueling, handle aircraft emergencies, and provide information from the battlefield to warfare commanders through data-link and satellite radio communications.

The Black Eagles returned with 2 E-2C Hawkeye aircraft and their 19 military crewmembers from a six month deployment to the Western Pacific and South China Sea in support of 7th fleet operations. The remainder of the 150 person, along with two more E-2Cs arrived later, as USS Carl Vinson sailed into San Diego.

The 6-ship formation flies over NBVC Point Mugu

The “Liberty Bells” arrived in California with four aircraft and 19 crew members after being forward deployed to Japan for 44 years.

Shorealone Films photographer Matt Hartman went to NBVC Point Mugu to meet the “Black Eagles” and “Liberty Bells” as they were welcomed home by family, friends and co-workers.

Breaking the visual pattern to report downwind.

Liberty Bells Flagship breaking for landing

VAW-113 NE-602 taxies after landing at NBVC Point Mugu.

 

The artwork on the tail and wing tips of the VAW-115 Modex 600.

The stunning artwork applied to the VAW-115 flagship

VAW-115 Modex 602 on the apron.

Black Eagles “NE-602” about to park.

The Hawkeyes parked on the apron right after landing at NBVC Point Mugu.

Liberty Bells 600-5812

Families greeted the VAW-113 aircrews returning from a 6-month WESTPAC cruise.

Aircrews got the warm welcome of their family members upon disembarking the aircraft.

All images credit: Matt Hartman

 

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U.S. Army Successful Test Of Weaponized Laser on AH-64 Helo May Suggest A New Application In The Anti-Insurgency War

High Energy Weapon Shows Potential in Effectiveness and Precision In Anti-insurgent Operations But May Be Vulnerable to Countermeasures.

U.S. defense contractor Raytheon conducted a successful, highly publicized, precision firing of a weaponized laser weapon from a U.S. Army AH-64 Apache attack helicopter on Jun. 26 at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, western United States.

The test firing was conducted in collaboration with the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM). This association may provide some insight into the intended operational role of High Energy Lasers in a tactical setting.

While the test itself is noteworthy since it is the first time a High Energy Weaponized laser has been fired from an attack helicopter to attack a target, the use of tactical lasers for range-finding, target designation and guidance are already commonplace in militaries around the world.

What makes Monday’s Raytheon test particularly interesting is the new ways a weaponized laser, not just a laser designator, could be used for precision attack and reduction of collateral damage.

Laser, or “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation” is effectively a narrow beam of powerful radiation that burns things. Think of it as a long-range, needle-nosed flame thrower but without visible fire, only heat (or light) energy. In fact, the Raytheon test was visibly quite unremarkable. There was no giant eruption of flames, no bright “death ray” and no explosions on glowing red targets. This invisible, silent, sinister quality may be what makes the laser Raytheon laser weapon fired from the Apache all the more menacing, especially to insurgencies that do not have effective technology to counter the weapon and can’t even tell when they are being targeted until it is too late.

Picture a lone insurgent trying to emplace an Improvised Explosive Device on a roadside. Without warning, the device simply incinerates before their eyes. No explosion unless the munitions are detonated by the laser energy, no sound, no trace of where the “weapon” came from. A mile away an attack helicopter or RPV (drone) silently hovers, firing its death-ray. The IED is simply rendered inoperable. Seconds later Special Operations personnel arrive to detain the insurgent bomber. There are no casualties and no collateral damage. Nearly all intelligence materials are preserved.

This high-precision capability is attractive to anti-insurgent operations that typically involve relatively close range engagements on very small targets, often as small as a brief case or even smart phone. If the targeting optics on the delivery vehicle, in this case an AH-64 Apache helicopter, can see a target, they can direct the laser weapon onto it precisely.

But laser weapons are not entirely infallible. Recall that laser is focused light, and that can be reflected or absorbed. The Chinese military has already devoted substantial research to both laser weapons and laser weapon countermeasures.

The Chinese developed and proven the capability of their own JD-3 and ZM-87 laser weapons. These weapons feature “less than lethal” capability at long ranges, and greater lethality at close range. The Chinese ZM-87 weaponized laser can permanently blind personnel at 2 to 3 kilometers and temporarily blind them out to 10 kilometers. Laser weapons specifically intended for blinding personnel were banned in a 1995 United Nations Protocol that may or may not be observed by nation-users in an armed conflict.

The Chinese JD-3 laser weapon is specifically intended to counter laser target designation and range finding from an enemy force- it fires a laser back at an attacking guidance laser to disrupt and destroy it. Both Chinese lasers have, according to recent intelligence, been ground vehicle mounted. But China is busy developing an indigenous attack helicopter capability with their new CAIC Z-10 and Z-19E Black Whirlwind aircraft, and it is reasonable to suggest both the ZM-87 and the JD-3 could be used from one of the new Chinese attack helicopters in a way similar to this week’s test in the U.S.

China has been particularly active in laser weapon development and deployment.
(Photo: Tiexue.Net)

Most recently the Chinese unveiled a promising new laser weapon at an arms trade show in Abu Dhabi in early March of this year. This new Chinese laser weapon follows their “Low Altitude Guard II” system deployed as an anti-drone weapon and is claimed to be able to intercept and destroy incoming mortar and rocket munitions in flight. These systems have been attributed to a combined research and development project of the Chinese Academy of Physics Engineering and the Jiuyuan Hi Tech Equipment Corporation.

In any conversation about laser weapons anti-laser defenses are among the greatest concerns, although likely not with insurgent adversaries who may lack resources to develop a fieldable anti-laser capability. Mirrors do little to reflect enough laser energy quickly enough to stop the weapons’ effects. Advanced composite material, heat and light absorbent coatings may provide additional protection but are expensive and difficult to field.

Beginning in 2014 Israel showed it developed and successfully tested the “Iron Beam” anti-missile laser weapon built by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. The system compliments the highly successful Iron Dome anti-missile system already operational. Iron Beam has a reported range of 7 kilometers and has been successful in destroying incoming mortar rounds and artillery projectiles, particularly difficult targets because of their small size and high speed. No information has been recently published about the operational deployment, if any, of Iron Beam.

Finally, while the new Raytheon/AH-64 Apache laser weapon test is noteworthy, it is far from a first.

In 2002 a militarized Boeing 747 called the YAL-1 was equipped with a massive airborne laser weapon intended to destroy ICBMs in flight. The ambitious anti-missile laser system was first fired in 2007 but the program was ended in 2011 for a number of reasons including the unfeasibility of the large aircraft operating safely in close proximity to enemy ICBM launch facilities. The system simply made too large and vulnerable of a target since it had to be relatively close to the missile it was trying to destroy. It remains one of the most expensive defense projects in history.

On Feb. 14, 2012, this writer got to see the YAL-1 make its final flight into Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, Arizona for storage and dismantling at the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG), the famous “Boneyard”.

The Boeing YAL-1 airborne laser weapons system was an early attempt at high power weaponized lasers that ended its life here in the Boneyard in Tucson, Arizona as an unsuccessful operational project.
(Photo: USAF)

While laser weapons are not new this more recent test by Raytheon and the U.S. Army in cooperation with SOCOM may suggest a new niche application for laser weapons in the continuing anti-insurgency war. Depending on how quickly the capability can be fielded this may be a promising test result for the U.S. as it enters yet another chapter in the continuing Global War on Terror.

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Check Out The Four Italian Eurofighter Typhoons In New, Stunning Special Color Schemes

Four F-2000A Typhoon jets, each wearing a unique special livery, were unveiled on Jun. 24 at Grosseto airbase.

As already reported, on Saturday Jun. 24, Grosseto airbase hosted the event that celebrated the 100th anniversary of five Italian Air Force squadrons: the IX Gruppo (9th Squadron, using the Roman numerals), belonging to the 4° Stormo (Wing), based at Grosseto; the X and XII Gruppo (10th and 12th Squadron), both belonging to the 36° Stormo, Gioia del Colle; the XIII Gruppo (13th Squadron), with the 32° Stormo from Amendola; and the XVIII Gruppo (18th Squadron), belonging to the 37° Stormo, based at Trapani.

Along with the world’s first ever F-35A with special tail markings presented by the XIII Gruppo, the IX, X, XII and XVIII, that fly the Eurofighter Typhoon, unveiled their special colored F-2000A jets.

The IX Gruppo special, MM7340/4-9, was designed by Silvano Mainini and Andrea Scomparin (who are also behind many other famous paint jobs including the special liveries of the last Grosseto F-104 Starfighters back in 2003). It sports the squadron’s white rearing horse and “9” squadron number on the left hand side of the tail and the horse and IX numeral on the right one.

The IX Gruppo special landing at Grosseto on Jun. 25, 2017. (image credit: The Aviationist’s Alessandro Fucito)

The left hand side of the MM7340/4-9 (image credit: The Aviaitonist’s Alessandro Borsetti)

The X Gruppo special, MM7341/36-10 was designed by Lt. Giovanni D’Antonio and features Francesco Baracca’s black rearing horse along with a red “Picca” (pike – from the unit’s radio callsign).

The X Gruppo special: MM7341/36-10 (credit: Alessandro Fucito)

The “Picca Special” prepares to land on Sunday Jun. 25 after taking part with all the other specials, including the F-35, in the Marina di Grosseto airshow (credit: Alessandro Fucito)

MM7318/36-12, the XII Gruppo special jet was designed by our friend Ugo Crisponi and features the rearing horse on a sand background, along with the silhouettes of all the aircraft flown by the squadron since 1917.

The special 36-12 about to land in Grosseto (credit: Alessandro Fucito)

Another view of the MM7318/36-12. This photo was taken as the aircraft arrived in Grosseto on Friday Jun. 23, 2017 (image credit: The Aviationist’s Giovanni Maduli).

The XVIII Gruppo special colored Typhoon MM7293/37-18, once again made by Mainini and Scomparin, has a different scheme on the right and left side of the tail: the right one shows the “Vespa Arrabbiata” (Italian for Angry Wasp) of the 3° Stormo to which the squadron belonged during WWII; the left side shows the XVIII numeral superimposed to the typical green and black checkerboard.

The MM7293/37-18 on the ground at Grosseto during the centenary celebrations (credit: Alessandro Borsetti)

This photo of the 37-18 shows the livery on the right hand side of the aircraft (credit: Alessandro Fucito)

As the photos in the post show, all the aircraft had the airbrake and canards painted as well.

In a world of military aviation dominated by overall grey paint schemes, some colour is much appreciated by enthusiasts, photographers and spotters!

 

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Hijacked Helicopter Launches Bizarre Attack on Venezuelan Government Installations In Alleged Coup Attempt

Helicopter Attack in Venezuela Mimics Failed 2016 Turkish Coup.

In a bizarre incident a man described as “rogue policeman Oscar Perez” allegedly led the commandeering of a Bolkow BO-105 police helicopter on Wednesday, June 28. The party used the aircraft to attack the Interior Ministry firing small arms at the building and then dropped grenades on the Supreme Court building in downtown Caracas, Venezuela.

The incident is reminiscent of the July 15, 2016 coup d’état attempt in Turkey when Turkish gunship helicopters attacked the police Special Forces headquarters and police air force headquarters in Golbasi, Turkey outside the city of Ankara. The Turkish attacks were more significant than the Venezuelan incident, at least so far. The Turkish incident escalated to an unsuccessful coup that accounted for many fatalities before it was stopped.

Rogue policeman Oscar Perez commandeered a Bolkow BO-105 police helicopter used to attack the Interior Ministry building and Supreme Court building in downtown Caracas, Venezuela (Photo: RT News)

The incident in Venezuela continues questions about the stability of the government and the security it exerts over its armed forces, particularly its air force.

Venezuela operates a small but modern air force consisting of a mix of light, counterinsurgency aircraft such as the Cessna 208 Caravan single-engine transport aircraft, Fairchild Metroliner twin-engine turboprops, Dornier DO-228 and Short 360 twin-engine box turboprops, both of which can be used for special operations and even gunship applications. They also operate the Russian built Mi-17 helicopter and French Eurocopter AS532. Both helicopters have gunship capability.

At the more regional level Venezuela has a potentially capable inventory of tactical jet combat aircraft that include twenty-three Sukhoi SU-30MK2 multi-role aircraft of unknown serviceability and sixteen U.S. manufactured F-16As. There have been persistent reports since 2004 of ongoing negotiations to purchase up to fifty MiG-29s from Russia, including two-seat trainer versions. In a report from intelligence think tank GlobalSecurity.org, Venezuela’s F-16A fleet was characterized as having “Only six of the 21 remaining F-16s in the Venezuelan fleet being fully mission capable, while a proposed US overhaul of the F-16 squadron remained on hold.”

One of Venezuela’s new Sukhoi SU-30MK2 aircraft. A coup attempt could leave these aircraft vulnerable to exploitation by revolutionaries.
(Photo: Venezuelan Air Force)

In the event of elevated instability in the region these aircraft could play a significant tactical role, in a similar way that commandeered aircraft influenced the failed Turkish revolt of 2016.

In any event this escalation of insurgent activity that includes highjacked aircraft will warrant increased monitoring of the military situation in Venezuela, especially its remaining air assets.

This undated file photo likely shows rogue Venezuelan policeman Oscar Perez in the pilot’s seat of a Bolkow BO-105 police helicopter painted differently than the one used in today’s attack on downtown Caracas, Venezuela (Photo: Harold Castro)