Author Archives: David Cenciotti

U.S. B-1B performs simulated attack mission on South Korean range. China issues radio warning as the bomber flies over East China Sea

A B-1 Lancer performing a mock attack on a range in South Korea amid raising tensions with North Korea caused the China’s Air Defense to radio a warning message as the bomber flew close to the Chinese airspace.

On Mar. 22, hours after the latest (failed) missile test by Pyongyang, a U.S. Air Force B-1 “Lancer” deployed to Guam flew a simulated attack run on the U.S. Force Korea’s bombing range on the island of Jikdo in the West Sea.

During part of the sortie the American heavy bomber was escorted by two South Korea’s F-15K and two KF-16 fighter jets as shown in the photo posted above.

Noteworthy, along with sending a deterrence message to North Korea amid raising tensions caused by the latest ballistic missile launches, the B-1 bomber caused some concern to the Chinese military that tracked the American as it flew over the East China Sea in bound to the Korean peninsula: Fox News reported that the “Bone” bomber (as the B-1 is dubbed by its aircrews) was issued a radio warning on the Guard Channel (the international U/VHF emergency frequency) because it was flying inside Chinese airspace according to the Chinese.

However, U.S. officials who spoke to Fox News said that the bomber was flying in international airspace 70 miles southwest of the South Korean island of Jeju.

Such incidents are not infrequent in that region.

U.S. B-52 and B-2 bombers routinely fly nuclear deterrence missions in the Asia-Pacific theater from both CONUS bases and Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. In November 2013, a flight of two U.S. B-52 bombers departed from Guam airbase entered the new Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over East China Sea close to the disputed islands without complying with any of the rules set by Beijing for the ADIZ. In that case, the mission intentionally skirted the disputed Diaoyu Islands (known as Senkaku islands in Japan).

Image credit: ROKAF


This is probably the last Italian Tornado ECR to wear the old fashioned camouflage color scheme

One of the last Italian tactical aircraft to wear a “camo” scheme is this Tornado ECR used by Leonardo for testing activities.

Taken by our contributor Alessandro Caglieri at Decimomannu airbase recently, the photo in this post shows a really rare aircraft: most probably (as there is someone who believes there might be another one, an IDS, not in airworthy conditions though) the only Italian Tornado still wearing a camouflage livery.

The aircraft, an ECR with serial MM7079, operated by Leonardo company, has deployed to “Deci”, where the Italian aerospace industry maintains a permanent detachment, to undertake some unknown tests on Mar. 15, 2017.

As almost all the NATO combat planes (special colors aside) have turned to overall grey low visibility color schemes, the cool, flamboyant and old fashioned camouflaged liveries have become a rarity…

Image credit: Alessandro Caglieri



Watch the first solo display training of the new Su-30SM of the Russian Knights aerobatic team at LIMA 17. At dusk.

Sunset Supermaneuverability: Mesmerizing footage.

The “Russian Knights” aerobatic team have brought their new Su-30SM jets at the LIMA 17 exhibition currently underway in Malaysia.

The participation in Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition represents the world premiere of the “Russian Knights” flying the new supermaneuverable multirole combat aircraft delivered in Fall 2016.

The Su-30SM is a multirole derivative of the Su-27 Flanker. It’s a special variant of the thrust-vectoring Su-30MKI fighters equipping by the Indian Air Force and the Su-30MKM fighters flown by the Royal Malaysian Air Force produced by the Irkut Corporation for the Russian Air Force that has also extensively used the aircraft in the air war over Syria.

The Su-30SM a 4+ Generation twin-engine, two seat supermaneuverable multi-role aircraft equipped with improved avionics, the Bars-R radar and a wide-angle HUD (Head Up Display).

The new aircraft’s supermaneuverability has allowed the team, that previously flew the Su-27 and Su-27UB aircraft, to develop a new flying demo.

The following footage by Miezan Bohor shows one of the four aircraft practicing the solo display over Langkawi at desk. The almost constant use of afterburners lets you observe the thrust vectoring exhaust nozzles at work in the darkness.

And here is the solo display rehearsals on Mar. 20:




Here are the first photographs of the Italian Typhoons arriving in Iceland to provide NATO Air Policing duties

The Italian Typhoons have arrived in Keflavik.

On Mar. 17, supported by two KC-767A tanker of the 14° Stormo (Wing) from Pratica di Mare airbase, six Italian Air Force Typhoons have arrived in Iceland to undertake QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) and NATO Air Policing duties.

The Eurofighter F-2000A jets (this is the designation of the single-seaters in accordance with the Italian Mission Design Seies) belong to the three units that operate the Typhoon: the 4° Stormo, from Grosseto; the 36° Stormo, from Gioia del Colle; and the 37° Stormo, from Trapani.

A Typhoon of the 18° Gruppo sporting the typical checkered tail.

An F-2000A from the Gioia del Colle-based 36° Stormo. Two Gruppi depend from this Wing: the 10 and 12° Gruppo.

The aircraft will operate until mid-April as part of a Task Force where personnel and equipment are completely integrated and interchangeable thanks to fully standardized procedures and training.

The images in this post were taken by photographer Eggert Norðdahl as the Typhoons arrived at Keflavik airbase for their second tour of duty in Iceland: in June 2013, as part of Operation “Icy Skies”, six Italian Eurofighters securing the airspace on the ally in the “High North.”

One of the Typhoons of the 4° Stormo. The Italians deployed to Iceland with three drop tanks, one AIM-120 AMRAAM and one IRIS-T air-to-air missile.

Image credit: Eggert Norðdahl


A fighter pilot joins The Aviationist’s team: welcome on board “Gonzo”!

We have a new writer. A Fighter Jock, an Instructor Pilot, an Aggressor, with 3,000 flying hours and actual combat experience. Be ready for some really cool stories.

I met Alessandro “Gonzo” Olivares for the first time two years ago, at Lecce airbase. He was the Commander of the 212° Gruppo (Squadron), the first Italian Air Force Squadron to receive the world’s most advanced jet trainer, and one of the very first and few IPs (Instructor Pilots) on the M-346 “Master” (T-346A according to the Italian designation).

I had the unbelievable opportunity to become the very first journalist to fly in an ItAF Master and “Gonzo” sit in the front seat during a memorable training mission during which I discovered how modern LIFT (Lead-In Fighter Training) prepares young pilots for 4+ and 5 gen. aircraft. During that mission, not only did Alessandro (or “Alex” as he’s often dubbed by his friends) demonstrate to own the skills needed to teach other pilots how to fly and fight in a modern combat plane but he also proved to have an outstanding ability to transfer knowledge to other aviation geeks. Needless to say, we became friends and I immediately thought he could be a perfect addition to our editorial team.

“Gonzo” has about 3,000 FH. He has taken part in real operations in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Libya flying the Tornado.

Alex has some 3,000 FH. He’s flown the Tornado in the fighter bomber role for more than a decade, becoming also a “Tonka” IP, taking part in several exercises such the Red Flag, the Alaskan Flag, the Joint Maritime Course, the Anatolian Eagle and the TLP (Tactical Leadership Programme) that he’s attended also as part of the Aggressors team with the T-346.

He has taken part in real operations as well, flying over Kosovo and Afghanistan, and over Libya during the 2011’s Air War.

“I was lucky enough to fly high-performance aircraft, to take part in real operations and, above all, to train other pilots on the Tornado as an OCU (Operational Conversion Unit) IP and, later in my career, on the futuristic T-346 trainer.”

Alex during a mock dogfight. Notice The Aviationist patch on his shoulder!

As you may imagine, with such a background, “Gonzo” brings some really unique know-how to this site.

“I was a long time reader of The Aviationist, one of the world’s most read and reputable military aviation blogs. But I didn’t think I would ever become part of the team! For sure, it all started once I met David at Lecce: I was struck by his competency  and, in a matter of a few hours, I forgot he was a journalist and talked to him as I did with my colleagues and soon discovered that we shared the same passion. And now I’m here to share my stories and experience with the readers of The Aviationist from all around the world.”

In his spare time, Alex loves skiing, mountain bike riding, scuba diving, sailing and cooking.

Please join me in welcoming Alessandro “Gonzo” Olivares to The Aviationist and wishing him every success in his new role as a writer.

The Author and Alessandro Olivares after the flight aboard the T-346 Master in April 2015.