The Persian Tomcats, that the IRIAF plans to fly until 2030, are based at TFB.8 (Tactical Fighter Base 8) Baba’i near Eshahan, in central Iran.
“TFB.8 has three F-14 Squadrons with total 62 F-14As but only almost half are airworthy at this moment; just 35 according to the 2013 records” says Iranian Defense Journalist and writer Babak Taghvaee.
“During this three days exercise six of the best F-14As of the 82nd and 83rd Tactical Fighter Squadrons participated. Why the best? Because IRIAF has two types of F-14As: PMC (Partially Mission-Capable) ones, usually suitable for Training and can become FMC in case of war. And Fully Mission-Capable Tomcats with fully operable fire control system, armament system and INS. These FMC F-14As are usually used for 24/7 Quick Reaction Alert and other combat missions (Usually 70% of the airworthy Tomcats are FMC).”
According to Taghvaee at least six of these FMC Tomcats, including an F-14AM, took part to the exercise and for first time in ten years pilots had chance to renew their AIM-9 and AIM-7 AAM launch skills.
“The F-14s were used in simulated HVACAP, BARCAP and CAP. Escorted F-4Es in first night of exercise. Then engaged with MiG-29s in morning of second day. And launched missiles today morning (Last and third day). They also escorted the Tanker airplanes.”
Therefore, unless something different emerges (it’s not clear whether U.S. authorities are denying any loss or just the loss of a Thunderbolt), the call is bogus and all the A-10s deployed to the region are still in pretty good shape continuing their daily work in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. A support that has started about 2 years ago.
Indeed, during the week of Nov. 17-21, 2014, the U.S. Air Force moved a squadron-sized element of A-10C Thunderbolt aircraft from Bagram, Afghanistan, to Ahmed al Jaber airbase, in Kuwait, to join the fight against Daesh.
The aircraft belonged to the 163rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron “Blacksnakes”, part of the 122nd Fighter Wing of the Air National Guard, based at Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Shortly thereafter, videos showing Warthog aircraft attacking ground targets in Al Anbar region, in western Iraq, using its GAU-8 Avenger a 30 mm hydraulically driven seven-barrel Gatling-type cannon emerged. The footage proved that the A-10 was back where 25 years earlier it had fought against Saddam doing what it does better than many other assets: attacking hostile targets that threaten friendly forces or assets on the ground.
Since then, the Hog (from various USAF units) has played an important role supporting Operation Inherent Resolve: it has carried out about one-third of the overall air strikes attacking the IS militants causing great losses (as when A-10s joined with AC-130 gunships and destroyed 116 ISIS fuel tanker trucks) and by deterring them from above.
However, the mission has put it at risk of being shot at by Daesh, using MANPADS (Man Portable Air Defense Systems).
The Warthogs were targeted by the ISIS militants who attempted to shot down the A-10s flying at low altitude using9K32 Strela-2 (NATO reporting name SA-7 Grail) man-portable, shoulder-fired, low-altitude, IR (infra-red) guided, surface-to-air missile systems.
The A-10s were not hit but that episode just confirmed that Thunderbolts deployed to Kuwait could face MANPADS threat while flying at low and medium altitudes over Daesh positions.
Still, the “Hog” is a tough plane, that has already shown its special ability to bring the pilot back to the homebase in spite of heavy damages by ground fire.
If you want to read more about the A-10 involvement in the air war against Daesh, visit this link, register and download our exclusive ebook here.
Several aircraft flew over the advanced multi-mission guided-missile destroyer as it travelled to its new home port of Sand Diego.
In this post you can find the most interesting photos.
The top one (courtesy of Naval Air Systems Command) is particularly cool. It shows a Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton overflying USS Zumwalt.
U.S. Navy’s MQ-4C “Triton” Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) unmanned aircraft system (UAS), is an ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) platform under development that will complement the P-8A Poseidon within the Navy’s Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force family of systems.
With a 130.9-foot wingspan, the drone features an AN/ZPY-3 multi-function active-sensor (MFAS) radar system, that gives the Triton the ability to cover more than 2.7 million square miles in a single mission that can last as long as 24 hours at a time, at altitudes higher than 10 miles, with an operational range of 8,200 nautical miles.
The U.S. Navy plans to procure 68 aircraft and 2 prototypes. The program received Milestone C low-rate initial production approval after a successful Milestone Decision Authority review at the end of September 2016.
161017-N-UZ648-029 CHESAPEAKE BAY, Md. (Oct. 17, 2016) An E-2C Hawkeye and a C-2A Greyhound assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 20 fly over USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) as the ship travels to its new home port of San Diego, California. Zumwalt was commissioned in Baltimore, Maryland, Oct. 15 and is the first in a three-ship class of the Navy’s newest, most technologically advanced multi-mission guided-missile destroyers. (U.S. Navy photo by Erik Hildebrandt/Released)
161017-N-UZ648-054 CHESAPEAKE BAY, Md. (Oct. 17, 2016) A P-8A Poseidon assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 20 flies over USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) as the ship travels to its new home port of San Diego, California. Zumwalt was commissioned in Baltimore, Maryland, Oct. 15 and is the first in a three-ship class of the Navy’s newest, most technologically advanced multi-mission guided-missile destroyers. (U.S. Navy photo by Erik Hildebrandt/Released)
161017-N-CE233-334 CHESAPEAKE BAY, Md. (Oct. 17, 2016) An SH-60R assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (HX) 21 flies near USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) as the ship travels to its new home port of San Diego, California. Zumwalt was commissioned in Baltimore, Maryland, Oct. 15 and is the first in a three-ship class of the Navy’s newest, most technologically advanced multi-mission guided-missile destroyers. (U.S. Navy photo by Liz Wolter/Released)
An F-35 Lightning II Carrier Variant (CV) piloted by U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Robert “Champ” Guyette II, a test pilot from the F-35 Pax River Integrated Test Force (ITF) assigned to the Salty Dogs of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23, flies over the stealth guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) as the ship transits the Chesapeake Bay on Oct. 17, 2016. USS Zumwalt, the Navy’s newest and most technologically advanced surface ship, joined the fleet Oct. 15. The F-35C Lightning II — a next generation single-seat, single-engine strike fighter that incorporates stealth technologies, defensive avionics, internal and external weapons, and a revolutionary sensor fusion capability — is designed as the U.S. Navy’s first-day-of-war, survivable strike fighter. The U.S. Navy anticipates declaring the F-35C combat-ready in 2018. (U.S. Navy photo by Andy Wolfe/Released)
U.S. Air Force’s gigantic Global Hawk drones have been flying over Ukraine for about two years. However, they recently let everyone know they were there.
Reports of U.S. Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk UASs (Unmanned Aerial Systems) flying over Ukraine are nothing new. Back in April 2015, quoting Gen. Andrei Kartapolov, Chief of the Main Department for Operations at the Russian General Staff, ITAR TASS reported that American high-altitude long-range drone were regularly spotted over the Black Sea and, beginning in March 2015, they were also monitored flying over Ukraine.
According to the Russian high-rank officer, the use of such unmanned aircraft increased the depth of data gathering on the territory of Russia by 250 kilometers to 300 kilometers.
U.S. RQ-4Bs belonging to the 9th Operations Group/Detachment 4th of the U.S. Air Force deployed to Sigonella from Beale Air Force Base, California, have been flying ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) missions in support of EUCOM, AFRICOM and CENTCOM theater mission tasking since 2011.
The Global Hawks of the flying branch had their baptism of fire on Mar. 1, 2011, and were the first to fly over Libya to perform high altitude Battle Damage Assessment sorties on targets located in regions with a residual SAM (Surface-to-Air Missiles) and MANPADS threat after Operation Odyssey Dawn was launched on Mar. 19, 2011.
The Global Hawk (04-2021) popped up on the radars at 50,000 feet, east of Odessa, flying towards Mariupol. Then, the remotely piloted aircraft turned northwest bound before heading towards Sigonella where it arrived after overflying Moldova and Bulgaria. At a certain point the UAS was cruising at 54,000 feet.
The flight path the aircraft followed probably enabled its imagery intelligence (IMINT) sensors to take a look at Russian bases in Crimea as well as gather information about the pro-Russia forces on the ground in the Dombass region of Ukraine.
Screenshot from Global ADSB Exchange
Spyplanes (and drones) usually operate in “due regard” with transponder switched off, with no radio comms with the ATC control, using the concept of “see and avoid” where the pilot flying is responsible for avoiding all traffic conflicts, much like a VFR flight plan without flight following. Even if RC-135s can be regularly tracked online, it’s at least weird that a strategic ISR platform that has remained “invisible” thus far, has operated with the transponder turned on over a highly sensitive region.
We can’t completely rule out this happened by accident but considered that the risk of breaking OPSEC with an inaccurate use of ADS-B transponders is very well known it seems quite reasonable, in a period of raising tensions with Russia, to believe that the unmanned aircraft purposely broadcast its position for everyone to see, to let everyone know it was there.
Watch this Tornado perform a deafening low take-off instead of the usual noise abatement departure.
RAF Northolt is a Royal Air Force airport located in west London, 10 km to the north of London Heathrow airport.
The airport is the homebase of No. 32 (The Royal) Squadron of the Royal Air Force that operates VIP and general air transport roles and also handle a large number of general aviation flights.
According to aircraft spotters, fast jets visit the airport every now and then (unless they are deployed there as happened during the Olympic Games in 2012), usually adhering to strict noise abatement procedures that foresee a quick climb and are aimed to cause the least disturbance in the areas surrounding the airport in Greater London as well as proper deconfliction with the rest of air traffic.