Monthly Archives: September 2018

Watch This: Ukrainian Air Force Su-24M Fencer Insane Low Pass

You can’t fly lower than this….

We have already posted quite a few videos of Ukrainian Air Force aircraft performing ultra-low level passes. The most famous ones are those of a MiG-29 performing a show of force onpro-Russia separatist blocking rails; a big Ilyushin Il-76 buzzing some Su-25s (and the Frogfoots returning the favor while buzzing the tower); a Su-25 flying low over the heads of a group of female soldiers posing for a photograph and then performing an aileron roll; a Su-27 Flanker performing a low pass right after take off; and a Su-24MR tactical reconnaissance aircraft flying low over the flight line at Starokostiantyniv.

The latest footage is really impressive. It shows what is probably a Su-24M Fencer, a supersonic, all-weather,  twin-engined, two-seater plane with a variable geometry wing, designed to perform ultra low level strike missions developed in the Soviet Union and serving, among the others, with the Syrian, Iranian and Libyan Air Force buzzing the flight line at an airbase in Ukraine, probably once again “Staro”, where the Fencers of the 7th Tactical Aviation Brigade are based.

Although Ukrainian Air Force pilots regularly fly at low altitude, this time the Su-24 appears to be lower than comfortable for the camera man, missing the other Fencers on the apron by a matter of a few meters (or maybe centimeters…).

Anyway, here’s the footage for you to judge:



H/T MilitaryAviation.in.UA

Here Are Some Photographs of the F-35B Lightning Jets Landing on (and Launching From) Britain’s Newest Carrier for the First Time

Royal Navy Commander Nathan Gray and RAF Squadron Leader Andy Edgell were the first pilots to land their F-35 Lightning stealth jets on the flight deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth.

In the last 24 hours we have commented two quite different F-35B Lightning II-related news: the first air strike in Afghanistan and the first crash in South Carolina. Both events involved U.S. Marine Corps STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) variant aircraft. However, these were not the only newsworthy events: on Tuesday Sept. 25, 2018, Royal Navy Cmdr. Nathan Gray and Royal Air Force Sq. Ldr. Andy Edgell, both test pilots at the F-35 Integrated Test Force at NAS Patuxent River, Md., were the first pilots to land the stealth F-35B on board HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The first landings and subsequent take-offs from HMS Queen Elizabeth “are the culmination of a British endeavor lasting more than a decade to bring an aircraft carrier back to the UK’s arsenal,” says an official U.S. DoD release.

Two F-35B Lightning II fighter jets successfully landed onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time this week, laying the foundations for the next 50 years of fixed wing aviation in support of the UK’s Carrier Strike Capability.
Royal Navy Cmdr. Nathan Gray made history by being the first to land on, followed by Royal Air Force Sq. Ldr. Andy Edgell, both test pilots at the Integrated Test Force (ITF) based at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland.
Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin

The landings on Britain’s newest aircraft carrier (able to accommodate up to 24 F-35Bs out of the planned 138 F-35 Lightning jets) kicked off the first of two First of Class Flight Trials (Fixed Wing) phases, held back-to-back this fall, where the ITF team plans to perform a variety of flight maneuvers and deck operations to develop the F-35B operating envelope for QEC carriers. According to the ITF, the tests “will evaluate jet performance on over 200 test points during different weather and sea conditions as well as the aircraft’s integration with the ship. A third FOCFT (FW) phase followed by operational testing is scheduled for 2019.”

Two F-35B Lightning II fighter jets successfully landed onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time this week, laying the foundations for the next 50 years of fixed wing aviation in support of the UK’s Carrier Strike Capability. Shortly afterwards, once a deck inspection has been conducted and the all-clear given, Royal Navy Cmdr. Nathan Gray, F-35 Integrated Test Force at NAS Patuxent River, Md., became the first pilot to take off using the ship’s ski-ramp.
Courtesy photo by Royal Navy

The first landings were performed as HMS Queen Elizabeth operated off the U.S. East Coast. The aircraft carrier left Portsmouth in August, crossing the Atlantic to conduct the flying trials and joint training with the US Navy. The flight trials are scheduled to take around 11 weeks and +500 take-off and landings. The target is to be ready for a deployment from 2021.

F-35B prepares to land. (LM)

In an official Royal Navy release, the Commanding Officer of HMS Queen Elizabeth, Captain Jerry Kyd, said: “I am quite emotional to be here in HMS Queen Elizabeth seeing the return of fixed-wing aviation, having been the captain of the aircraft carrier which launched the last Harrier at sea nearly eight years ago.

“The regeneration of big deck carriers able to operate globally, as we are proving here on this deployment, is a major step forward for the United Kingdom’s defence and our ability to match the increasing pace of our adversaries. The first touch-downs of these impressive stealth jets shows how the United Kingdom will continue to be world leaders at sea for generations to come.”

Two F-35B Lightning II fighter jets successfully landed onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time this week, laying the foundations for the next 50 years of fixed wing aviation in support of the UK’s Carrier Strike Capability.
Royal Navy Cmdr. Nathan Gray made history by being the first to land on, followed by Royal Air Force Sq. Ldr. Andy Edgell, both test pilots at the Integrated Test Force (ITF) based at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland.
Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin

Commodore Andrew Betton, the commander of the UK’s Carrier Strike Group, said: “The Queen Elizabeth-class carriers have been specifically designed and built to operate the F-35, offering an immensely flexible and potent combination to deliver military effect around the world.

F-35B on the ski jump. (LM)

“Conducting these trials is a critical and exciting step on this journey and I applaud the many thousands of civilian and military personnel who have played a part in bringing the strategic ambition to reality.”

Royal Navy Cmdr. Nathan Gray in his F35B following the first deck landing aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth. Gray and Royal Air Force Sq. Ldr. Andy Edgell, both test pilots at the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md, landed the first two jets on the new British aircraft carrier this week.
Courtesy photo by Royal Navy

 

 

USMC F-35B Lightning Crashes Near MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina: Pilot Ejects.

Details of First-Ever F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Crash Are Developing.

A U.S. Marine F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter has crashed near Beaufort Marine Corps Air Station outside of Beaufort, South Carolina on the U.S. East Coast. Reports indicate the pilot ejected from the aircraft. His condition is not known at this time.

MCAS Beaufort is home to Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 (VMFAT-501), the “Warlords”. The unit is a training squadron equipped with 20 F-35B Lightning II aircraft and serves as the Fleet Replacement Squadron.

This first-ever crash of an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter comes only one day after a U.S. Marine F-35B flew its first operational combat mission over Afghanistan.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

Update 17.55 GMT

Update 18.48 GMT

Video filmed at the crash site:

U.S. F-35B Joint Strike Fighters Perform Their First-Ever Air Strike On Targets in Afghanistan

U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightings Of VMFA-211 Hit Targets in Afghanistan From USS Essex.

For the first time in history U.S. F-35 Joint Strike Fighters flew in combat on Sept. 27, 2018. Official U.S military sources characterized the mission as “successful”.

U.S. Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211, the “Wake Island Avengers”, of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, used their F-35B Lighting II Joint Strike Fighters to hit insurgent targets in Afghanistan’s Kandahar Province early Thursday morning.

The long-range strikes were launched from the U.S. Navy Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD-2) on station in the Persian Gulf. The USS Essex recently transited the Gulf of Aden as it sailed through the North Arabian Sea and finally to combat stations in the Persian Gulf where today’s historic first-ever long range strikes were launched.

The Israeli Air Force was the first in the world to employ the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter in combat earlier this year when they used their F-35I Adir aircraft to hit undisclosed targets at least twice.

While the Joint Strike Fighter program has advanced since 2006 without a major in-flight mishap or loss of life and established numerous technical milestones it has been the focus of intense criticism due to costs and perceived delays.

Today’s U.S. Marine F-35B Lightning II strikes may either begin to temper criticism of the overall F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program or increase it even more. Indeed, while it represents the baptism of fire for the American 5th generation multirole aircraft in the STOVL variant, it also raises questions. Among them, the most obvious is: was a stealth aircraft, the most expensive defense program in history, required to hit Taliban targets in Afghanistan?

Thursday’s historic U.S. Marine F-35B Lightning II mission was “in support of ground clearance operations” according to a report in the Military Times by defense experts Tara Copp and Valerie Insinna released just hours ago.



The U.S. Marine Corps was the first military service in the world to integrate the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter into operational service during 2015. Of the three U.S. versions of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the U.S. Marine F-35B Lightning II is the most complex, using an innovative vectored thrust and lift-fan configuration to take off from a ship’s flight deck without a catapult in a short distance and land back on board vertically from a hover. U.S. Marine F-35Bs used in the strikes today were also equipped with the externally mounted GAU-22 25mm gun pod in addition to the weapons in the internal bays.

The photos released by the DoD, show the F-35B being prepared for the first air strike with what seems to be a GBU-32 1000-lb JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munitions) under the weapon bay.

viationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/VMFA-211-F-35-Essex-loading.jpg”> U.S. 5th FLEET AREA OF OPERATIONS – U.S. Marines with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), stage ordnance before loading it into an F-35B Lightning II aboard the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) in preparation for the F-35B’s first combat strike, Sept. 27, 2018. The Essex is the flagship for the Essex Amphibious Ready Group and, with the embarked 13th MEU, is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of naval operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region, connecting the Mediterranean and the Pacific through the western Indian Ocean and three strategic choke points. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. A. J. Van Fredenberg/Released)

By contra

[/caption]By contrast to the U.S. Marine  F-35B Lightning II, the U.S. Navy uses a version of the Joint Strike Fighter called the F-35C with wider wings and different landing gear to facilitate catapult launches and arrestor hook recoveries onboard U.S. Navy aircraft carriers. The U.S. Air Force flies the F-35A Lightning II, a conventional take-off and landing aircraft that flies from land based runways. While the U.S. Air Force has declared their F-35A Lightning IIs as operational the U.S. Navy is still in the final implementation phase of their wide-winged F-35C Lightning IIs.

U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Commander Vice Admiral Scott Stearney told reporters that, “The F-35B is a significant enhancement in theater amphibious and air warfighting capability, operational flexibility, and tactical supremacy,” The Vice Admiral went on to say, “As part of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group, this platform supports operations on the ground from international waters, all while enabling maritime superiority that enhances stability and security.”

Here Are Some Cool Air-to-Air Shots Of The Saudi Special Colored Aircraft During The National Day Celebrations

Take a look at these photographs of the five RSAF (Royal Saudi Air Force) jet in special livery for the 88th National Day Celebrations.

As already revealed in a previous post, on Sept. 23, 2018, Saudi Arabia celebrated the 88th Saudi National Day with five special colored aircraft: an F-15C belonging to the 13th Sqn; an F-15S from the 92nd Sqn; a Tornado from the 7th Sqn; a Eurofighter Typhoon from the 10th Sqn; and an A330 MRTT (Multi-Role Tanker Transport) belonging to the 24th Sqn.

The five “Greens” performed flyovers alongside the Saudi Hawks display team in three cities Jeddah, Riyadh and Dhahran and, with the help of our friend we are able to share some really impressive shots of the special painted aircraft in flight.

As you can see, the special colored MRTT, one of the 6 MRTT tankers operated by the RSAF, trailed the four fast jets and refueled these even though they are equipped with different IFR (In-Flight Refueling) systems: the MRTT is equipped with both the ARBS (advanced Air Refueling Boom System), used to refuel the F-15s, and a pair of underwing hose-and-drogue refueling pods suitable for use with the Saudis’ Tornado IDS and Eurofighter Typhoon jets.

Over the city of Riyadh on Sept. 24. (Image credit: Fahad Rihan)

Air to air refueling on the way to Taif on Sept. 22. (Image credit: Rami Al Omrani).

Over the Red Sea, Jeddah, with the Saudi Hawks team, Sept. 23. (Image credit: Rami Al Omrani).

Over Jeddah. Sept. 23. (Image credit: Rami Al Omrani).

Off Jeddah Corniche flying in formation with the Saudi Hawks and Al Fursan team on Sept. 23. (Image credit: Rami Al Omrani).

The following one is a bonus shot, not taken in flight, still interesting and worth publishing:

Taxiing at King Fahad AFB, Taif, on Sept. 22. (Image credit: Fahad Rihan).