Author Archives: David Cenciotti

Sharkmouths! U.S. A-10 Warthogs and Colombian Air Force A-29B Super Tucanos fly together

Colombian Air Force A-29B Super Tucanos are currently taking part in Ex. Green Flag East. Along with Moody AFB’s A-10s (and other U.S. combat planes.)

Four Colombian Air Force A-29B Super Tucanos are taking part in Exercise Green Flag East from Aug. 15 to 29, from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana.

The Colombian contingent, supported by 45 Colombian airmen, arrived at the base home of some of the American iconic B-52 strategic bombers on Aug. 13 and immediately started engaging with their U.S. Air Force counterparts in order to prepare for the two-week exercise.

Green Flag East is one of Air Combat Command’s premier close-air-support exercises, which rehearses close-air-support tactics, while enhancing interoperability with Air Force and Army forces: during GF pilots train in a simulated, high-threat environment, while maintenance and support personnel are provided an increased tempo in generating fully mission-capable combat aircraft.

In addition to the Colombian aircraft, U.S. Air Force A-10s from Moody Air Force Base, Ga.; F-16s from the Texas Air National Guard; KC-135s from McConnell AFB, Kans.; E-3s from Tinker AFB, Okla.; and E-8s from Robins AFB, Ga.; have taken part in the exercise.

As part of Green Flag East, two A-10 Thunderbolt IIs belonging to the 75th FS from  Moody flew a simulated close-air-support mission with two Colombian A-29B Super Tucanos.

Interestingly, the Embraer A-29 Super Tucano is among the most successful CAS platforms all around the world and one considered to be among the candidates to replace the A-1o Thunderbolt in the role of supporting the troops in contact with the enemy forces. Already in service with 10 air arms around the world, the propeller-driven aeroplane has the ability to carry a wide variety of bombs and machine guns; given the U.S. Air Force plan to retire its A-10 fleet in 2022, the Super Tucano has often been said to be a possible A-10 replacement in the close air support role.

U.S. IPs with the 81st FS from Moody AFB already fly the Afghan Air Force A-29B aircraft delivered earlier this year as part of the Train, Advice, Assist Command-Air (TAAC-Air): they advice and train Afghan pilots to operate the highly maneuverable fourth generation weapons system while developing close air support, aerial escort, armed overwatch and aerial interdiction.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

VAW-112 Golden Hawks E-2Cs Return Home to NBVC Point Mugu after 7-month deployment

The “Golden Hawks” of VAW-112 returned to Naval Base Ventura County Point Mugu following a seven month deployment to the Western Pacific and South China Sea.

On Aug. 9 four E-2C Hawkeye aircraft and their 19 aircrew members,belonging to the VAW-112 “Golden Hawks,” returned to NBVC Point Mugu on Aug. 9.

VAW-112 Golden Hawk 1

Launching from USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), the squadron flew 428 missions in support of Freedom of Navigation Operations in the South China Sea, the Foal Eagle, Balikatan and RIMPAC Exercises during which its Hawkeyes acted as airborne command and control platforms, positioning themselves between the ship and the 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.

Total flight hours for the deployment were 1,618.

VAW-112 Golden Hawk 2

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

VAW-112 Golden Hawk 3

VAW-112 Golden Hawk 4

VAW-112 Golden Hawk 5

All images: Matt Hartman

Salva

Watch this unique footage of Russia’s most advanced combat planes

This cool video features the stealthy PAK-FA next generation fighter along with other interesting Russian hardware.

To celebrate the Russian Aerospace Force Day, the Russian MoD has published an interesting clip showing some of its most advanced combat planes including the newest Sukhoi T-50 fifth generation fighter PAK FA – Perspektivny Aviatsionny Kompleks Frontovoy Aviatsii—Future Tactical Air System.

Along with the stealth aircraft equipped with a front, side and rear AESA radar, as well as L Band radars, TVC (Thrust Vectoring Control), a top speed exceeding Mach 2 and supermaneuverability, the footage shows the Tu-160 Blackjack, the Tu-95 Bear bombers, the MiG-29KUB naval fighter, Yak-130 advanced jet trainer, Su-35S fighter, Su-33 naval fighter (during Top Gun-like ops), as well as Fulcrums and Flankers of the Strizhi (The Swifts) and Russkiye Vityazi (The Russian Knights) aerobatic display teams.

According to TASS, the footage was recorded by Pavel Novikov from an Antonov An-12 military transport aircraft in south Russia this year.

Syrian Su-24s attempting to fly close to U.S. Special Forces in Syria get intercepted and “encouraged to leave” by F-22 Raptors

Two Syrian Su-24 Fencer attempting to fly over a Kurdish-held area in northeastern Syria where U.S. SOF (Special Operations Forces) are operating, get intercepted by U.S. F-22 and encouraged to depart the airspace.

Twice in the last few days, Syrian jets performing air strikes close to where U.S. SOF are operating in northeastern Syria caused coalition aircraft to scramble.

On Aug. 18, U.S. jets were dispatched to intercept the Syrian attack planes that were attacking targets near Hasakah supporting regime forces fighting the Syrian Kurdish forces. About 300 U.S. military operate in the same area, training Kurdish forces who are fighting Daesh.

Syrian pilots did not respond to the radio calls of the Kurdish on the general emergency frequency nor did they acknowledge calls attempted by the coalition on the air safety channel used for communication with the Russian aircraft operating over Syria.

Anyway, by the time U.S. fighters reached the area, the Syrian planes had already left.

Following the first “close encounter” the Pentagon warned Assad regime to not fly or conduct raids in the area where the American SOF are operating. However, on Aug. 19, two Su-24 Fencers, attempted again to penetrate the airspace near Hasakah.

This time, the two Syrian Arab Air Force attack planes were met by American F-22 Raptors (most probably already operating in the same area providing Combat Air Patrol).

As reported by ABC, a U.S. official said the presence of American F-22 aircraft “encouraged the Syrian aircraft to depart the airspace without further incident. No weapons were fired by the coalition fighters.”

This is not the first time the F-22 presence deters foreign military aircraft from harassing U.S. forces.

In March 2013, few months after two Sukhoi Su-25 attack planes operated by the Pasdaran (informal name of the IRGC – the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution) attempted to shoot down an American MQ-1 flying a routine surveillance flight in international airspace the Pentagon decided to escort the drones involved in ISR (intelligence surveillance reconnaissance) with fighter aircraft, including the Raptors.

In one very well-known episode, F-22 stealth jets providing HVAAE (High Value Air Asset Escort) to a U.S. Predator flew under the Iranian F-4E Phantoms that had intercepted the drone then pulled up on their left wing and then called them and radioed a famous “you really ought to go home” that allegedly scared the Iranian pilots off saving the drone.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

Watch Russian warships in the Mediterranean Sea launch cruise missiles against targets in Aleppo

Some interesting footage shows the Russians are not only launching air strikes from Iran…

On Aug. 19, at around 10:55LT in the morning, the Zeliony Dol and Serpukhov small-sized missile ships of the Black Sea Fleet, sailing in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, performed 3 launches of Kalibr cruise missiles  against facilities of the Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist grouping in Syria.

According to the information released by the Russian MoD, the cruise missiles targeted a command center and a terrorist base near the Dar-Taaza inhabited area as well as a plant manufacturing mortar munitions and a large depot with armament, in the Aleppo province.

The data collected by the Russians “confirmed the elimination of the planned targets.”

The Russian Defence Ministry published some footage of the launches, of the destruction of their targets and the subsequent Battle Damage Assessment (filmed from a UAV – Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) on their Youtube channel.

It was not the first time the Russian Navy hit targets in Syria from the Med: in December 2015, a Russian improved Kilo-class Rostov-on-Don submarine launched the Kalibr-PL cruise missile against targets in the area of Raqqa.

The Kalibr-PL is a submarine-variant of the 3M14TE Kalibr-NK cruise missile with a maximum range of 2,600 km, fired by the Russian small-sized missile ships earlier today.

Anyway, the cruise missiles attack shows the Russians continue to pound targets in Syria from different directions and with different weapons systems as it comes few days after at least four Tu-22M3 Backfire bombers conducted their first air strike in Syria departing from their temporary deployment airfield at Hamedan airbase in Iran.

Noteworthy, it seems that the deployment of the Backifres to Iran has already finished: the more recent imagery shows only four Su-34 Fullback bombers on the ground at the Iranian base.