Author Archives: David Cenciotti

Russian Air Force Su-34 Fullback Runway Excursion Incident

A Su-34 involved in a runway overrun at Khurba airbase, Russia.

On Jul. 31, a Russian Air Force Su-34 veered off the runway at Khurba airbase, near Komsomolsk-on-Amur, in the far east part of Russia.

The aircraft had just landed after a night training mission and the incident was caused, according to unofficial sources, because of a drag chute failure. The aircraft was not damaged by the excursion (500 meters into the grass).

Noteworthy, the bort number of the aircraft was blurred out in the photograph, something has never (at least to our knowledge) happened in the past.

Entered in active service with the Russian Aerospace Forces in 2014, the Sukhoi Su-34 Fullback is a two-seat strike fighter with a maximum range of 4,000 km, a payload of up to 12,000 kg on 12 hardpoints, the ability to carry R-77 and and R-73 missiles, a 30 mm GSh-30-1 cannon, and a Khibiny ECM suite.

The aircraft uses a drag (or drogue) chute to reduce the landing roll, a system used by many Soviet-era as well as Russian jets. Here’s how we described it some weeks ago:

The system consists of a single or several parachutes placed in a special pod located in the rear section of the fuselage. The chute is ejected with the use of a smaller parachute, spring-driven or compressed air based system. After the aircraft comes to a halt, the chute is separated to prevent the aircraft from being dragged on the runway. Moreover, the chute often comes with a safety system, with a ring that breaks if the braking system is deployed at a speed which is too high. In the case above probably the speed was low enough to keep the said element intact and the chute stayed in its place. Notably, the drag created by drogue chutes is lower than the one experienced in case of the conventional drop-parachutes in order to prevent damage to the aircraft.

Runway excursions can occur both on landing and take off. You may remember the incident (with video) to a Russian Tupolev Tu-22M3 “Backfire” on Sept. 15, 2017 when the heavy bomber, said to be near maximum take-off weight, ran off the end of the runway at Shaikavka Airbase during Zapad 2017 exercise.

Image credit: H/T Alert 5.


Slow Motion Videos Of The Bell V-280 Valor Prototype Provide Interesting Details About The Next-Generation Tilt-Rotor Aircraft

Take a look at these amazing clips filmed at 120 frames per second.

On Jul. 31, the first prototype of the V-280 Valor, registration N280BH, performed a flight demo for invited media and dignitariest at Bell Helicopter Amarillo Assembly Center.

The V-280 Valor is Bell’s submission for the U.S. Army’s Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR-TD) phase, the technology demonstration precursor to Future Vertical Lift (FVL), a replacement for the service’s Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk (that have just celebrated its 40th anniversary) and Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopters.

As we have already reported here at The Aviationist, the V-280 will have a crew of 4 (including two pilots) and be capable of transporting up to 14 troops. Its cruising speed will be 280 knots (hence the designation V-280) and its top speed will be around 300 kts. It’s designed for a range of 2,100 nautical miles and an effective combat range of 500 to 800 nmi although the Army’s requirements for the demonstrator call for hot and high hover performance (at 6,000 feet and 95 F), and the ability to self-deploy 2,100 nautical miles at a speed of at least 230 knots.

The flight demo on Jul. 31, was filmed by our friend, journalist and photographer Steve Douglass in slow motion, at 120 fps. The videos in this page provide an interesting look from all angles at the Bell Next-Generation Tilt-Rotor Aircraft, including its “famous” T64-GE-419 tilting gearbox design (whose details were blurred images and footage officially released by Bell Helicopter when the aircraft was rolled out and performed its maiden flight): unlike the V-22‘s engines that rotate along with the gearboxes, in the V-280, the gearbox is the only thing that rotates.

Actually the gearbox was clearly visible since August last year, when we published the very first images of the Valor. Here below you can find also two lower resolution videos (they should be fine for smartphone viewing) of taken during the same flight demo:

According to Douglass, the Valor is much quieter than an Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. During the demo, Bell program manager said they are working on an unmanned version – slightly smaller – same engine layout. They also hope to make gunship versions for the Marine Corp.

Here are a couple of interesting concept art works shared by Bell during the Amarillo event.

Concept art showing a possible future embarked V-280 derivative. (Bell Helicopter).

Concept Art showing the Valor supporting ground operations. (Bell Helicopter)

Bell Helicopter is also planning acoustic and RCS (Radar Cross Section) testing; the company believes the radar signature of the aircraft is going to be quite low.

H/T Steve Douglass for the heads-up and cool footage!

Take A Look At These Photos Of Luke Air Force Base F-35s Engulfed By Sand Storm

A monsoon hit Luke AFB, Arizona, yesterday. These shots show F-35s being moved to shelters.

Not only are airfields in Afghanistan (such as the former UK’s main strategic base in the southwest Camp Bastion, Helmand) or Niger affected by sandstorms. For instance, fast moving dust storms, able to darken large areas in a very short time, regularly hit Arizona quite regularly. As happened yesterday, when a monsoon hit Luke AFB, about 15 miles west of Phoenix, Arizona, home of the 56th Fighter Wing, the largest fighter wing in the U.S. Air Force.

A thunderstorm collapses and causes air and dust to move through the atmosphere and transform into a sand storm at Nigerien Air Base 201, Niger, June 24, 2018. Air Base 201 was hit by four sandstorms throughout the last two weeks. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Jamison)

Besides some 77 F-16s, Luke is home to 68 F-35s: the base is the training hub for Lightning II’s pilot and maintainers from Australia, Norway, Italy, the Netherlands, Japan and Israel. F-35 pilot training began at Luke just over a year after the 56th Fighter Wing received its first F-35A in 2014 and, according to LM, eventually, the 56th Fighter Wing will be home to 144 F-35s in the future!

The images in this post, first published by the 56th FW on their FB page, show Luke and its F-35s engulfed in dust: a pretty unique sight.

Personnel moved the F-35 to shelter.

An F-35 is secured by personnel at Luke AFB.

The sand storm provided an opportunity for 56th FW’s maintainers, airmen and partners from LM and partner nations to cope with a phenomena the 5th generation aircraft might find one day in theater.

5th generation aircraft engulfed in dust.

It would be interesting to understand the extent of damage (if any!) to the stealth aircraft’s coating, engines, avionics, etc. caused by sand.

BTW If you want to see what a similar scene looks like from inside a C-130J click here.

All images: U.S. Air Force

Watch This Crazy Unique Cockpit Video Filmed Inside an F-16 With A 360-degree Camera With 4K Spherical Stabilization

F-16 Viper Demo Team display at EAA AirVenture as you’ve never seen it before.

Piloted by Maj. John “Rain” Waters, an operational F-16 pilot assigned to the 20th Operations Group, Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina and the United States Air Force F-16 Viper Demonstration Team commander, the F-16 of the Viper Demo Teaam performs an aerobatic display whose aim is to demonstrate demonstrate the unique capabilities of the F-16 Fighting Falcon, better known as “Viper” in the pilot community.

The F-16 piloted by “Rain” was surely one of the highlights of EAA AirVenture 2018 airshow in Oshkosh, Winsconsin and the video below provides a pretty unique view of the amazing flying display. Indeed, the footage was captured by a VIRB 360, a 360-degree Camera with 5.7K/30fps Resolution and 4K Spherical Stabilization. The action camera captured a stabilized video regardless of camera movement along with accelerometer data to show the g-load sustained by the pilot while flying the display routine.

There is little more to add than these new action cameras will probably bring in-flight filming to a complete new level.


H/T @KingNeptune767 for the heads-up!

Italian Navy AV-8B+ Harrier Jet Deploys Aboard Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima

An Italian Navy “Jump Jet” landed aboard the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) in the Med Sea.

On Jul. 18, 2018, an AV-8B+ Harrier II belonging to the I GRUPAER (Gruppo Aerei Imbarcati) of the Marina Militare (Italian Navy), from Grottaglie, landed aboard USS Iwo Jima as the amphibious assault ship and its embarked 26th MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit) transited through the Mediterranean Sea on their way back home from their deployment “in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet.”

The Italian Navy Harrier will remain with the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group until it arrives in the U.S., then, the “Jump Jet” will head to MCAS (Marine Corps Air Station) Cherry Point, NC, for a scheduled PMI (Preventative Maintenance Inspection) that will take up to six months.

“Italy and America have an agreement where we will bring over our planes for maintenance,” said Italian pilot, Lt. Domenico Iovino, in a public statement released by the U.S. DoD. “After the maintenance is performed, we will come back to the U.S. and take the plane back to Italy.”

MEDITERRANEAN SEA (July 18, 2018) An Italian AV-8B Harrier lands aboard the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), in the Mediterranean Sea, July 18, 2018. The Harrier and its crew will return to the United States for scheduled maintenance at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jon Sosner/ Released)

This is not the first time the Italian Harriers operate from a U.S. unit: since many deployments pass through the Med Sea, the Italian Navy pilots have the opportunity to operate from the flight deck of Wasp-class amphibious assault ships every now and then.

“We have done this several times in the last few years,” said Italian Lt. Cosimo Manica, also a Harrier pilot. “We have taken approximately 10 planes from Italy to the United States for PMI, which can only be done in America.” Indeed, the deployment of Italian AV-8Bs has already happened with USS Bataan in 2017 and 2014 and USS Kearsarge in 2015.

Operating from a U.S. ship is not too different from operating aboard an Italian aircraft carrier, such as the ITS Cavour or Garibaldi. Whilst landing procedures are almost identical, what is probably different is the amount of traffic the units manage both in the air and on the apron, making the opportunity to operate on a U.S. amphibious assault ship relatively “low-stress” but also formative.

“The program that we go through to become a Harrier pilot is taught the exact same way as it is to Americans, and the planes are the same, so there is not much difference when landing on the American ships,” Manica said in the public release. “Our landing procedures are almost exactly the same as well, so there are no problems when we come in to land on U.S. Navy ships.”

MEDITERRANEAN SEA (July 18, 2018) A U.S. Marine assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 162 completes post flight maintenance on an Italian AV-8B Harrier aboard the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), in the Mediterranean Sea, July 18, 2018. The Harrier and its crew will return to the United States for scheduled maintenance at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jon Sosner/ Released)

The Italian Navy operates little more than a dozen Harriers that are planned to be replaced by the F-35B (probably 15, according to most sources). Italy’s first-built F-35B, aircraft BL-1, was delivered to the Italian Ministry of Defense and assigned to the Italian Navy at the Cameri, Italy, Final Assembly & Check-Out (FACO) facility, on Jan. 25, 2018. It completed its transatlantic crossing landing at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland on Jan. 31. At Pax River, the aircraft, serialled MM7451/4-01 will obtain the Electromagnetic Environmental Effects certification, before moving to MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina home of U.S. Marine Corps F-35B pilot training.