Behold This Somehow Funny Photo Of Three Italian Typhoon Jets Escorting a Danish Seahawk Helicopter

Three Italian Typhoons fly in formation with a Danish Seahawk helicopter (Image credit: Flyvevåbnet).

When you have to escort a Slow Mover you may need to fly at high AOA (Angle Of Attack).

The following photo was shared on social media by the Royal Danish Air Force (RDAF). It shows a Danish Seahawk helicopter flying in formation with three Italian Air Force F-2000A Typhoon jets over the North Atlantic ocean: the MH-60R from Esk 723 (based at Karup) is embarked aboard the Royal Danish Navy’s HDMS Hvidbjørnen, a Thetis-class ocean patrol vessel, while the Italian Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon jets are deployed to Keflavik, Iceland, to support NATO’s Air Policing operations.

What’s really interesting (and somehow funny/unusual) in this image is the fact that the three Eurofighters are flying at a really high AOA to match the Seahawk speed and somehow maintain the formation.

Some basic stuff: lift depends on wing surface, air density, airspeed and AOA. To make it simple, if an aircraft wants to fly slower without descending, it must increase the AOA. Obviously, the AOA has a limit, a critical angle of attack beyond which the wing begins to stall.

One of the strengths of the Typhoon (and other super-maneuverable aircraft) is the authority at high AOA and low airspeeds that gives the pilot the ability to intercept and shadow helicopters and light aircraft in a typical SMI (Slow Mover Intercept) mission, as well as to point the nose of the airplane where he desires (enabling him/her to deliver weapons against enemy aircraft too, if needed).

Low-speed high-AOA passes are indeed part of the standard aerial display of many modern fighters.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.