Author Archives: David Cenciotti

Watch an epic, deafening U.S. Air Force B-1B bomber’s (almost) head-on take off

A deafening late take off of a B-1B Lancer from RAF Fairford. Video is a bit shaky but cool.

The following clip was filmed a few weeks ago outside the perimeter fence at RAF Fairford, UK, where two B-1B “Bone” bombers belonging to the 7th Bomb Wing, Dyess Air Base, Texas, were deployed.

The two Lancers along with a B-52 took part in Exercise Ample Strike 2016, a yearly Czech Republic-led exercise with 300 participants from 18 countries.

The video is not very good in quality, a bit shaky, but it gives a rough idea of what a (almost) head-on take-off of a B-1 looks like.

“The heat and exhaust flow blew me off my feet. Apparently developed a hydraulic fault on take-off so required more runway than usual for a safe lift off, hence why it is SO LOW,” says the author of the clip, Jonathan Grainge, in a comment to the video on Youtube.

 

Salva

Salva

Ukrainian Air Force Su-27 Flankers rock Malta International Air Show

Two Ukrainian Air Force Su-27 Flankers and one accompanying Il-76 have been among the highlights of the Malta International Airshow. And here some really cool shots of such interesting aircraft.

Malta hosted the traditional airshow over the last weekend.

Even though bad weather conditions forced the organization to cancel the aerial display over Smart City on Sunday Sept. 25, the arrival of the participants as well as the Saturday’s show provided an opportunity to take some cool shots of the most interesting aircraft that visited Malta airport in Luqa for the event.

Surely, the most awaited guests of this year’s edition of the Malta International Airshow were the two Su-27 Flanker jets of the Ukrainian Air Force.

Indeed, a Su-27 and a Su-27UB (58 BLUE and 71 BLUE), supported by an Il-76 Candid landed at the Maltese airport on Sept. 22: the Ukrainian trio arrived in style, performing a low passage over the runway before coming to landing.

By the way, this once again proves that Ukrainian pilots do love low-level flying

malta-airshow-2016-4

On Friday Sept. 23, some photographers were given the opportunity to get some shots of the aircraft at night. Our contributor Estelle Calleja was among them and took the stunning shots you can find in this post.

malta-airshow-2016-14

malta-airshow-2016-11

The two-seater Su-27UB took part in the late afternoon flying segment over Smart City with a solo display that included release of flares. This was the first time the airshow took place over the area.

malta-airshow-2016-12

malta-airshow-2016-13

Both aircraft left Malta on Monday Sept. 26. The two Flankers performed a formation takeoff for runway 05, followed by a right hand turn and a low pass to bid farewell to Malta after an attendance that will be long remembered.

Stay tuned for a new article about all the other highlights of the air show that we will publish in the next few days!

Image credit: Estelle Calleja

Salva

North Korea hosts first air show ever

As U.S. B-1Bs fly south of the DMZ, the rather geriatric North Korean aircraft take part in the nation’s first-ever airshow in Wonsan.

Last weekend North Korea hosted its first-ever air show at the Kalma International Airport, in the eastern port city of Wonsan.

The event, attended by both civilian and military aircraft, has represented an unbelievable opportunity for aviation enthusiasts from all around the world to photograph some of the world’s rarest combat planes, including the North Korean Air Force Mig-29 Fulcrum, Su-25 Frogfoot, Mig-21Bis Fishbed, Mi-8T Hip and Y-5s.

Among the aircraft that took part in the air show, there was also a formation of four Hughes 500E helicopters: exposed in 2013 during the traditional flying parade over Pyongyang, the North Korean “Little Birs” have long been surrounded by mystery. There were no images that could prove their presence in DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) in spite the news that they had been illegally supplied to the regime had been unveiled in the ’80s.

Even the state airline Air Koryo took part in the air show with its Tu-134, Tu-154 and Il-62 aircraft.

Pyongyang’s first air show took place amid growing tensions with the U.S. over North Korea’s continued development of missiles and nuclear weapons.

Following the fifth nuclear test this month, U.S. Air Force B-1Bs bombers have conducted extended deterrence missions south of the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone).

Whilst international sanctions restrict the regime’s international trade, air shows like the one held this year are probably one of the ways to attract some tourists in a country almost inaccessible to foreigners (especially those keen on ultra-rare military hardware!) until a few days ago..

Image credit: Ed Jones/AFP

 

Salva

Salva

South Dakota ANG F-16C jets (including one in new F-35-like dark grey color scheme) arrive at RAF Mildenhall

Four SD ANG F-16Cs returning from Poland have arrived in the UK. One of them sports the brand new overall grey color scheme aimed at reducing the aircraft’s RCS (Radar Cross Section).

Four F-16Cs from the South Dakota ANG 175th Fighter Squadron of 114th Fighter Wing have taken part in a deployment to Lask airbase, Poland, where they arrived on Sept. 3.

The purpose of their visit was to participate in the bilateral training exercise “Aviation Detachment 16-4”. They were also accompanied by 100 associated members of unit.

On Sept. 24, the four Vipers arrived at RAF Mildenhall, UK, apparently due to problems with a KC-10 tanker. Interestingly, one of them 88-0428 sported fancy Tail Markings as the Commanders aircraft while another one (88-0422), was painted in a new F-35-like dark grey color scheme (the other two aircraft were 88-0932 and 88-0463.)

f-16-sd-ang-2

Actually, the paint job similar to the one of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has been applied to U.S. F-16s since at least 2012 when it started to appear on the F-16CM (formerly CJ) Block 50 Fighting Falcon aircraft.

Called “Have Glass 5th generation” or “Have Glass V” the paint scheme is the evolution of the standard Have Glass applied to 1,700 “Vipers”: all the F-16s are covered with RAM (Radar Absorbent Material) paint, made of microscopic metal grains that can degrade the radar signature of the aircraft.

Image credit: Tony Lovelock

Watch two F-117 stealth jets fly over Nevada together….8 years after “retirement”

It’s not a secret that some F-117s are still in airworthy conditions at the Tonopah Test Range, in Nevada. Still, it’s pretty unusual and cool to see two Black Jets flying together 8 years after their retirement. And look at photographs…

In the last couple of years we have documented the flights of some F-117 Nighthawk Stealth Jets over Nevada, spotted from the distant hills east of Tonopah Test Range.

In this post you can find some interesting photographs and a video filmed by The Aviationist’s contributor “Sammamishman” at the end of July 2016.

f-117-1

Back in 2014, once a few videos and photographs had already appeared online, the U.S. Air Force affirmed, that the Black Jet is kept in a “Type 1000” storage at TTR which means that the type is to be maintained until called into active service.

f117-2

Desert conditions of Nevada are beneficial for maintaining the stealth jets in pristine conditions (due to the low level of humidity and hence, lower probability of corrosion).

The aircraft are re-preserved in 4 year periods and due to the type of storage, they are to be capable of being brought back into operation within the period of 30-120 days.

Cool.

This means that the U.S. considers the F-117 somehow useful in a current or future scenario so much so, they continue to fly some of the preserved jets, every now and then, in plain sight, to keep the pilots current and the aircraft airworthy and ready. But ready for what?

f117-3

f117-5

Designed in the 1970s, subsonic, optimized for the evasion of the C, X and Ku-bands, and completely unable to dynamically map out threat emitters in real-time as the F-22 or the F-35 can do, the F-117 is *probably* still relevant in some low or medium-lethality scenarios but unable to keep pace with most modern threats.

The service is struggling to retire some active, possibly hard-to-replace aircraft (as the A-10 Thunderbolt) because they are not suitable to modern scenarios and to save money for more advanced weapons systems (such as the F-35).

f117-7

Thus, why is the Air Force spending money to keep the iconic, archaic aircraft in flyable conditions?

As we already reported in the past, there is someone who speculates the aircraft is also used for something else, possibly serving as a testbed for some new technologies: radar or Infra Red Search and Track systems, SAM (surface to air missiles) batteries, 6th generation fighter planes, next generation AEW (Airborne Early Warning) platforms or UAVs (unmanned Aerial Vehicles).

f117-8

There is someone who’s also suggested the aircraft may be actually “unmanned” and used as fast, combat capable, stealth UCAVs.

Here’s something “Sammamishman” wrote about the flying activities he observed and photographed.

“In examining the photos I sent to you, I noticed that when the two F-117’s were lined up on the runway, only one of them had what looked like a comms antenna extended on the dorsal spine. The other Nighthawk behind him did not have that.”

f117-9

“When observing the TTR airbase just at sun rise, a number of vehicles gathered around the hangars that the two F-117’s were photographed inside. They were then prepped and took off together as seen in the pics. They flew at low altitude making a couple runs at lower altitude through the test range airspace to the South of the base, then returned to the airbase [as seen in the other video below]. Total time in the air was about 45 minutes to an hour. I don’t believe that the flight of these two Nighthawks were standard post retirement flight due to the fact that the group of vehicles that gathered at the hangars returned early in the morning and went to one of the same hangars the Nighthawks that had flow from the previous day. It was also on that second day that they also opened another hanger adjacent and appeared to be prepping an unknown craft (as I couldn’t see into the hangar but presumably another F-117) for flight. In pictures of the Nighthawks it appears that one of the craft may have been modified but it is hard to tell,” said “Sammamishman” in an email.

Indeed, one of the two F-117 seems to have a slightly different shape but we can’t be 100 percent sure, as the photographs were taken from far away and heavily distorted by the high temperature and distance.

You judge.

Here below, the video.

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva

Salva