Author Archives: David Cenciotti

U.S. F-35A stealth fighters to move to Estonia tomorrow. Meanwhile, the British Typhoons have arrived in Romania.

Some of the F-35A Lightning II aircraft currently at RAF Lakenheath will forward deploy to Estonia tomorrow. Meanwhile, the first RAF Typhoons have arrived in Romania.

According to information available to the Estonia ERR media outlet, an unspecified number of F-35s will arrive at Ämari air base, Estonia, on Tuesday, Apr. 25.

“The jets will remain in Estonia for several weeks and conduct training flights with other aircraft of the U.S. and allied air forces.”

Eight F-35s and 250 airmen belonging to the 34th Fighter Squadron, 388th Fighter Wing and the Air Force Reserve’s 466th Fighter Squadron, 419th Fighter Wing, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, have deployed to RAF Lakenheath recently (beginning with the first section of 6 aircraft on Apr. 15).

The 5th generation multirole combat aircraft have deployed to Europe for the first time in support of the European Reassurance Initiative. As done by the preceding US jets operating in the old continent as part of the so-called Theater Security Packages (TSPs), including the F-22 Raptors and the A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, they will visit various Baltic and eastern Europe airbases “to maximize training opportunities, affirm enduring commitments to NATO allies, and deter any actions that destabilize regional security.”

Meanwhile, on Apr. 24, RAF Typhoons have arrived at Mihail Kogalniceanu (MK) airbase near Constanta, in Romania for the first time in support of the NATO air policing mission. The aircraft will provide air policing over the Black Sea from May to September 2017.

According to the UK MoD, 135 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW) consists of 150 personnel drawn from across the RAF, whose mission is to keep the fast jets flying during their four month deployment.

The mission of patrolling the skies along NATO’s eastern border was intensified following the Russia-Ukraine crisis. The arrival of the British Typhoons is the last of a series of measures “to deter a Russian aggression over the Black Sea.

RAF Typhoons arrive at Mihail Kogalniceanu (MK) airbase near Constanta, in Romania for the first time in support of the NATO air policing mission. (Image credit: Crown Copyright)

 

New Photos Of U.S. A-10 Thunderbolt II Refueling During Anti-ISIS Mission Show Interesting Weapons Loadout

Warthogs have started carrying 2,000 lb bombs. You won’t find many photographs of A-10s with GBU-31s.

The photographs in this post were taken from a 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker during an aerial refueling mission in support of Operation Inherent Resolve on Apr. 19, 2017.

Among that mission’s receivers, there was also a U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft.

Interestingly, the images of the “Hog” expose some changes in the weapons loadout of the A-10s involved in the fight against Daesh militants. Indeed, the aircraft depicted in the photos carries one GBU-12 Paveway LGBs (Laser Guided Bombs – on station 1 – the outmost one on the left wing), one AGM-65 Maverick missile (on station 3), one LAU-131 rocket launcher (station 2), three GBU-38 JDAMs (Joint Direct Attack Munitions – station 4, 5 and 8), one GBU-31(V)1/B with MK-84 warhead (station 7) and an AN/AAQ-28 Litening AT targeting pod (station 10).

Among the mix of missiles, guided bombs and rockets, that complement the A-10’s GAU-8 Avenger 30-mm hydraulically driven seven-barrel Gatling-type, the most interesting addition is the GBU-31, a pretty heavy (2,000-lb) general purpose bomb with JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) GPS guidance system intended for mobile and fixed hard (and soft) as well as maritime surface targets.

This A-10’s worn out nose proves the aircraft has used its Avenger gun a lot! (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Trevor T. McBride)

Although the GBU-31 is a type of weapon certified for use with the A-10 you won’t find many photographs showing other “Warthogs” carrying a 2,000-lb GBU-31: a sign that the coalition may also rely on Close Air Support platforms to hit targets which require a significant destructive power and blast radius.

A U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II departs after receiving fuel from a 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker during a flight in support of Operation Inherent Resolve April 19, 2017. The 340th EARS, part of U.S. Air Forces Central Command, is responsible for delivering fuel for U.S. and coalition forces, enabling a persistent 24/7 presence in the area of responsibility. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Trevor T. McBride)

Watch An A400M Atlas Tactical Airlifter Fly Through The Mach Loop Low Level Training Area

It’s always nice to see a large airlifter maneuver at low level.

Since they made their first appearance in the famous “Mach Loop” earlier this year, Royal Air Force A400M Atlas tactical airlifters are becoming a frequent sight in the valleys of the low level training area in Wales, UK.

Here’s a pass by one of the A400Ms from RAF Brize Norton on Apr. 10, 2017.

The RAF has received its first of 22 Atlas on Nov. 14, 2014 to replace the aging fleet of C-130 aircraft. The Atlas aircraft are assigned to the RAF 70 Sqn and the 24 Sqn, that is Air Mobility Operational Conversion Unit. The 206(R) Sqn, acting as the Heavy Aircraft Test and Evaluation Unit, based at MoD Boscombe Down but with a flight detachment at RAF Brize Norton flies the A400M on loan from other squadrons when required to undertake specific testing activities.

The A400M is capable of carrying a load of 25 tonnes over a range of 2,000NM at speeds comparable with pure-jet military transports. The aircraft is able to fly at high-level altitudes (up to 40,000ft) and at low-level (down to 150ft agl) and this the reason why the Atlas will often pay a visit to the Mach Loop.

Aircraft involved in special operations, reconnaissance, Search And Rescue, troops or humanitarian airdrops in troubled spots around the world may have to fly at low altitudes.

For this reason, in the age of stealth bombers, standoff weapons, drones, cyberwar, electronic warfare, etc. low-level high-speed flying is still important in both planes and helicopters’ combat pilot training.

Salva

North Korea Nukes San Francisco In Latest Propaganda Video

This is not the first time a North Korean propaganda video shows a U.S. city exploding into balls of flames following a nuclear attack.

The following clip shows the closing seconds of a concert that was part of North Korea’s celebration of President Kim Il Sung’s 105th birthday anniversary.

You can clearly see a video screen behind the orchestra with a computer generated video that shows a handful of strategic nuclear missiles hitting San Francisco.

Although Pyongyang regularly launches short-range missiles, it is testing mid-range and long-range missiles meant to reach regional targets and, eventually, the U.S. mainland with nuclear warheads. The latest test failed shortly after the missile was launched at 5:21 p.m. Eastern U.S. time zone on Apr. 17.

North Korea is currently not believed to be able to reach targets in the Continental U.S., however, Kim Jong Un has often threatened nuking American cities (as well as a US aircraft carrier….) in the last few years.

In 2013, the “U.S. Mainland Strike Plan” exposed the targets of a North Korean ICBM (Inter Continental Ballistic Missile) attack on the U.S, whereas a video released on Apr. 13, 2013, few days before the North Korea’s celebration of Kim Il Sung, showed San Diego, Washington DC, Austin and Honolulu exploding into balls of flames after a missile attack.

Few days after the video of the nuke attack on the U.S. cities was released, American artist Al Clark “responded” to the disturbing North Korean nuclear threat and propaganda videos with a provocative computer generated image showing a B-2 dropping a nuclear bomb over Pyongyang.

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New Photos Show The Rare Heavily Modified B-707 Operated By MIT as a Communications And Sensor Testbed For The U.S. Air Force

Dubbed “Hannah”, a heavily modified Boeing 707 is operated by MIT Lincoln Laboratory for the Air Force as a communications and sensor testbed used in the development of integrated networking and airborne sensing.

Taken on Apr. 14, 2017 at Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts, by photographer Rich Barnett, the images in this post show the pretty rare Boeing 707-321B carrying civil registration N404PA.

The aircraft, currently known as “Hannah” (previously “Paul Revere”), flew with Pan Am for many years since 1965 before being purchased by the Air Force. Currently, it is operated by a joint venture between the Air Force’s 350th Electronic Systems Wing and M.I.T.’s Lincoln Labs.

“Research November 4 Papa Alpha heavy” line up and wait runway 29 at Hanscom. This 707 from the US Air Force works on all kinds of research with MIT, Lincoln Labs.

Under the radio callsign “Research 4 Papa Alpha”, the aircraft is used for testing airborne battle management, command, control and communication technology and concepts. Back in 2004, a rare U.S. Air Force release on the somehow mysterious Boeing 707 provided some detail about its mission ahead of the participation to JFEX 04.

Here’s an excerpt:

“Paul Revere […] is the name given to a task force of Air Force, Department of Defense workers and government contractors flying in a contracted government Boeing 707, allowing warfighters to experiment with and test the latest communication technology.

[…]

Task Force Paul Revere, an airborne battle management command, control and communications application, helps makes testing machine-to-machine capabilities and global communication experiments possible by sending and receiving data between other airborne and space sensors and the Combined Air and Space Operations Center. This capability could allow United States and coalition warfighters from all services to simultaneously communicate from around the globe.

Currently, aircraft such as the Rivet Joint, Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, U-2 or Airborne Warning and Control System take in information that is saved on disks, analyzed and manually sent to warfighters and planners. Today’s output bandwidth from these aircraft is limited. Task Force Paul Revere experiments with the capability of taking in information from ground, space and air assets and simultaneously and instantly sending the information back out on a global network that includes the CAOC. ”

During JEFX, Task Force Paul Revere is connecting information to Washington and routing it back through the base here.

“In fact, it was suggested Task Force Paul Revere look at AWACS and JSTARS top issues and work them,” Colonel Painter said.

The Boeing 707 being used, formerly a commercial airliner, was pulled out of the aircraft bone yard in the 1980s and turned into a flying laboratory in 2001 by workers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory. […]

Though the plane is maintained and flown by lab workers, the aircraft and everything on it belongs to the U.S. government.

“It’s part of a contract we have,” said Dr. Joe Chapa, associate group leader at the lab. “Everything bought or developed for this aircraft belongs to the government. Our main mission is to be a learning organization and then transition the lessons learned to the government.”

The Paul Revere is just one application of the aircraft. Many initiatives are being, and have been, tested aboard the 707 with the help of Task Force Paul Revere.

“We like to think of this flying laboratory as a Mr. Potato Head,” Dr. Chapa said. “We can put a different nose or a different eye on.”

Task Force Paul Revere is a team made up of electronic specialists from the Electronic System Center at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., aircraft maintainers and operators from MIT’s Lincoln Lab, and operations experts from the Air Force Command and Control ISR Center, Air Combat Command and Air Force Space Command.”

Since then the problem has been partly solved (using solutions like the BACN platform) and the aircraft has been involved in other tests.

For instance, according to the MIT website, in the Summer of 2008, the N404PA carried out secure extremely high frequency (EHF) satellite communications tests whereas in June 2009, the flying laboratory was involved in demonstrating next-generation antenna for airborne communication with Milstar.

What the aircraft is currently testing is unknown. Any idea?

A big thank you to Rich Barnett for allowing us to use his photographs. Don’t forget to visit his Flickr photostream here.

 

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