Author Archives: David Cenciotti

Interesting Image Shows Saudi F-15S Strike Eagle With DB-110 Tactical Reconnaissance Pod Taking Off For OIR Mission

The Royal Saudi Air Force F-15S aircraft have used the tactical recon pod for missions over Yemen and Syria.

The photos in this post show a RSAF F-15S, belonging to the 92nd Sqn/3rd Flying Wing, taking off from King Abdulaziz AFB, reportedly for a mission in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, the US-led anti-ISIL campaign in Syria and Iraq. As you can see, the aircraft carry a Goodrich DB-110 reconnaissance pod.

As part of a contract awarded in 2012 to Goodrich (now UTC Aerospace Systems) from the U.S. Air Force for the RSAF F-15S modernisation program, the Saudi were supplied ten dual-band recce pods for real-time, long-range, high-resolution, video imagery reconnaissance as well as five fixed, transportable and mobile ground exploitation stations. Along with the hardware, the RSAF also got training and logistics support services for the start up and integration of the new equipment with the Saudi Eagle fleet.

RSAF F-15S departs for a recce mission in support of OIR. (Image credit: @RayanRashed0)

According to the vendor, the DB-110 is a dual-band 110-inch focal length reconnaissance system that is capable of producing high-resolution imagery from nadir to a stand-off range of 80-plus nautical miles, day or night.  Developed as a derivative of the strategic Senior Year Electro-optical Reconnaissance System (SYERS) sensor on the USAF U-2, the DB-110 can collect more than 10,000 square miles of high-resolution imagery per hour and serves as the cornerstone of many air forces’ tactical and strategic ISR capabilities. It is currently in service with 14 nations on multiple platforms, including the F-16, F-15, P-3, MQ-9, Tornado (RAPTOR) and modified Global Express aircraft. Earlier this year, UTC Aerospace Systems, was awarded an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract with an initial ceiling of $22.9 million from the U.S. Air Force (USAF) for the DB-110 Airborne Reconnaissance Systems destined to multiple countries via the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program.



The real-time segment of the pod is provided by a datalink capability that allows the aircraft, when it comes into line-of-sight range of the receiving
equipment, to transmit the acquired imagery. Obviously, when the aircraft is out of range, or if immediate download is not required, the collected imagery is stored internally using a highspeed solid-state recorder.

One may wonder why, in the age of UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), tactical jets still conduct reconnaissance mission. The answer is that the DB-110/F-15 duo may conduct peace time cross-border surveillance from international airspace, or during times of conflict, quickly transit through contested airspace to conduct time-sensitive tactical-reconnaissance missions that would require more time with a drone. Moreover, the integration of the pod on some platforms enable the DB-110 to cooperate with the aircraft’s other sensors, such as Synthetic Aperture Radar and signals intelligence, thereby producing multilayer intelligence products and a more holistic view of the battlespace.

DB-110 (UTC Aerospace Systems).

Although some photographs of the F-15S carrying the pod had already emerged, you won’t find many images of the Saudi Eagles with the DB-110 but according to our sources, there are plenty of unpublished shots with the pod awaiting to be cleared.

Noteworthy, an image that had appeared in June 2018 depicts the very same aircraft (#9203) carrying the pod allegedly during a mission over Yemen.

Image credit: @RayanRashed0. H/T to Mohamed Khaled (@MbKS15) for providing additional details about the shot.

Former Royal Air Force C-130J Appears in Royal Bahraini Air Force Colors

This is the first of two RAF Hercules C5 aircraft sold to Bahrain.

Taken at Cambridge airport on Friday Oct. 26, by The Aviationist’s contributor Tony Lovelock, the image in this post shows a RBAF Hercules C5 Amin Flight “702” lining up prior to take of for a 3 hour flight test from Marshall Aerospace Group facilities. The aircraft, that should be delivered to Bahrain this week, was previously Royal Air Force C5 ZH886, one of the ten C-130J Super Hercules Britain decided to withdraw from service after a major defense and security review in 2015.

Two former RAF C-130J cargo aircraft were sold to Bahrain as part of a 30M GBP contract inked in August 2017.  Indeed, there are two Hercules C5 now registered to the Bahrain Amin flight, the other being coded, Amin flight 701, formerly ZH880.

Personnel from the RBAF have completed training at RAF No. 24 Squadron at RAF Brize Norton, UK, earlier this year.



Actually, the export of the two C-130s has been under fire in the UK, since Bahrain is involved in the Saudi-led air campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen and the sale of these aircraft represents, according to Rights Groups an “unequivocal statement of political and military support for the Bahraini regime.”

Top image credit: Tony Lovelock

 

 

Dyess B-1 That Made Emergency Landing in Midland Flown To Tinker By Reserve Aircrew On 3 of 4 engines

The “Bone” at the Midland International Air & Space Port since May 1 was flown from Midland to Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma today. On Three Engines.

The B-1B Lancer that performed an emergency landing last May, was tranferred to Tinker AFB on Oct. 26, 2018.

The heavy bomber was on a training mission on May 1, 2018 when a serious engine fire erupted near the right wing root. There were fire warnings in three areas of the aircraft. All but one was extinguished by taking appropriate flight procedures, prompting the aircraft commander to heed technical orders and command a controlled manual ejection from their burning bomber over the Texas desert. When the first crew ejection seat failed to leave the plane successfully, the aircraft commander ordered the crew to immediately stop the escape procedure and managed to fly the damaged and burning aircraft with a crew hatch missing and the cockpit open to the surrounding wind blast to the Midland Air and Space Port near Odessa, Texas where the crew made a successful emergency landing.

Composite image made from FB/Time Fischer/Midland Reporter photographs that show the missing hatch on the aircraft that made the emergency landing on May 1, 2018.

For their heroism, the crew members were each presented the Distinguished Flying Cross in a ceremony July 13 at Dyess AFB.

“After undergoing a safety investigation board and maintenance to get the aircraft into a safely operable condition, an Air Force Reserve crew from the 10th Flight Test Squadron flew the aircraft to Tinker AFB. While at Tinker AFB, the B-1B will undergo depot maintenance and upgrades at the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex, be quality tested by the 10th FLTS, and be returned to the Dyess AFB B-1B Lancer fleet upon completion,” an official AFRC release said.

The 10th FLTS is a geographically separated unit of the 413th Flight Test Group that conducts functional check flights and acceptance check flights in B-1, B-52, E-3 and KC-135 aircraft.

Some more details about the unusual procedure to move the bomber to Tinker were provided by the always very well informed Air Force amn/nco/snco FB page that revealed that the aircraft was to be flown on 3 of 4 engines:

“OK flying on 3 of 4 engines, limited radar, and the landing gear must stay down for the entirety of flight due to possible hydro issues and the wings will not be able to sweep. One engine caught fire and spread to another engine, so they were removed. They replaced with one engine that cost between $2-3 million, hence flying back on 3 of 4 engines. The hatch that had blown off has been replaced and ejection seats work. They are currently doing Dash 1 checks.”



The following images show the 3-engine B-1 on the ground after its arrival in Tinker AFB.

Boeing B-1B Lancer, 86-0109, ‘Spectre’ taxis to park at the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex, Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, Oct. 26, 2018, after completing a ferry flight with the 10th Flight Test Squadron, Air Force Reserve Command. The jet was ferried from Midland International Air & Space Port to Tinker where it will undergo depot-level maintenance and upgrades with the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex today. During a routine training flight May 1, the Dyess AFB based B-1B had an in-flight emergency resulting in an attempted ejection. The first crewmembers seat failed to deploy and the aircraft commander halted the ejection sequence and heroically saved the aircraft and crew by landing at Midland International Air & Space Port. (U.S. Air Force photo/Greg L. Davis)

10th Flight Test Squadron flight crew for B-1B Lancer, 86-0109, pose for a group photo where the #3 engine has been removed after ferrying the aircraft from Midland International Air & Space Port to Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, on Oct. 26, 2018. Shown are: Maj. Ivan Vian; pilot and aircraft commander, Maj. Michael Griffin; copilot, Lt. Col. James Couch; Offensive Weapons System Officer and Lt. Col. Matthew Grimes; Defensive Weapons System Officer. The damaged B-1B will undergo depot-level maintenance and upgrades with the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex Oct. 26, 2018. During a routine training flight May 1, the Dyess AFB based B-1B had an in-flight emergency resulting in an attempted ejection. The first crewmembers seat failed to deploy and the aircraft commander halted the ejection sequence and heroically saved the aircraft and crew by landing at Midland International Air & Space Port. (U.S. Air Force photo/Greg L. Davis)

It looks like it’s not the first time a B-1 takes-off on three engines after an emergency landing. In the end, the General Electric F101 afterburning turbofan jet engine that powers the bomber dates back to the 1980s (first run the decade before) and you can’t easily find a replacement. According to some reports, in August 2007 a “Bone” (as the B-1 is nicknamed in the pilot community) made an emergency landing in Kandahar following an engine fire over Afghanistan. Since it was considered more practical to remove the engine and fly the bomber to another base where the complex engine change could be done, the Lancer was flown on three engines to the UK (most probably RAF Fairford) by a special crew who had rehearsed the mission in a simulator for one month.

Update on Oct. 29, 08.00 GMT.
We have received an interesting description by one of our readers who has had the opportunity to get a quick look at the aircraft. The following are his observations:

The #3 Engine is removed, along with the upper and lower cowlings, and a bracing bar is installed. (I’m assuming the same configuration used for previous engine out flights).
Heat damage is evident to the surrounding paint, and structure of the nacelle itself and minor areas on the bottom of the fuselage inboard of #3.
Structurally, there is no evidence of burn through, leading me to believe the fire itself remained contained within the #3 engine and bay.

Most of the fire retardant material in the engine bay is missing, and I am assuming it burned off as intended.

However, I only had a brief look and did not climb into the OWF so I can’t comment to any damages that may or may not be present there.

There were several components which were obviously new, and placed on the aircraft to facilitate the OTF to Tinker.

This is rumor, but a maintenance team will be formed to pull a nacelle off of an AMARG jet and used to replace the current right nacelle on 109.

 

H/T to our reader and friend Steve Fortson for the heads-up.

Top: A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer assigned to Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, takes off from Midland International Air & Space Port, Texas en route to Tinker AFB, Okla., Oct. 26, 2018. The B-1B has spent six months at Midland since the crew made an emergency landing there May 1, 2018. The aircraft will undergo complete depot maintenance, which includes a complete review, repair, restore and replacement of aircraft components, by experts at the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex before returning to Dyess. In addition, the aircraft will undergo Block 16 upgrade modifications. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Emily Copeland)

C-17 Globemaster III Cargo Aircraft Accidentally Drops Humvee Over North Carolina Neighborhood

The incident occurred during a test conducted by soldiers from the Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate.

At around 1 PM LT, a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III, belonging to the 437th airlift wing based at Joint Base Charleston dropped a Humvee over a neighborhood in Harnett County on Oct. 24, 2018.

No one was injured in the incident, caused by an early release of the palletized Humvee, one of the eight the U.S. Air Force cargo aircraft is able to carry and airdrop from its rear ramp, during a special operations training over Fort Bragg drop zone. The aircraft was flying at an altitude of 1,500 feet and the early release occurred about 1 mile from the drop zone.

The C-17 was involved in a heavy drop test conducted by the Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate that tests new equipment and procedures to support the aerial delivery and transportation of military equipment. Just two “items” were aboard the C-17 during the exercise: the Humvee that was prematurely dropped and a “new heavy drop platform”, ABC11 reported.

“Everything went as planned except for the early release,” said Fort Bragg spokesperson Tom McCollum.

Here below you can see how a Humvee airdrop over Fort Bragg looks like from the ramp of a Globemaster III.

Top image: file photo of a HMMWV “Humvee” parachuted to the ground while as C-17 Globemaster III aircraft preparing to drop additional vehicles fly past during an airborne training exercise conducted by the 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team Sept. 8, 2011, at Fort Bragg, N.C. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod)

Here Are The Photos Of The Surviving F-22s Being Flown Out Of Tyndall following the aftermath of Hurricane Michael

Recently released photographs show flyable Raptors departing Tyndall to Langley AFB after Hurricane ravaged the key airbase in Florida on Oct. 10, 2018.

Tyndall Air Force Base was heavily damaged earlier this month after the Category 4 storm tore through the base. As Hurricane Michael approached the base, mission capable F-22s assigned to the 325th Fighter Wing were “Hurrevaced” to Wright-Patterson AFB (and later relocated to Joint Base Langley-Eustis).  According the data emerged thus far, at that time 31 percent of 55 Raptors assigned to the unit  were NMC (non-mission capable) and could not be moved away. So they were sheltered in place and consequently damaged: photos of F-22s and QF-16s in Tyndall’s shredded hangars have already made the news after they started circulating social media.

After the first assessment the Air Force’s top leaders said the F-22s that had remained in Tyndall when Hurricane Michael struck were not as badly damaged as originally feared. According to the first reports, as many as 17 aircraft were possibly damaged by Michael. The Air Force has not disclosed yet how many Raptors were exactly damaged and the extent of such damages but the more recent figures point to 10 to 14 Raptors.

“Some F-22s that sustained minor damages will be moved to Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, early next week to join F-22s that were previously moved there,” Military.com’s Oriana Pawlyk reported today. However, photographs released by the DoD in the last few hours show Raptors being flown out of Tyndall by pilots from the 27th Fighter Wing, Joint Base Langly-Eustis, Virginia, on Oct. 21 and 22.

A Pilot from the 27th Fighter Wing, Joint Base Langly-Eustis, Virginia, flies an F-22 Raptor out of Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 21, 2018, following the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. Multiple major commands have mobilized relief assets in an effort to restore operations after the hurricane caused catastrophic damage to the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Keifer Bowes)

A Pilot from the 27th Fighter Wing, Joint Base Langly-Eustis, Virginia, flies an F-22 Raptor out of Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 21, 2018, following the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. Multiple major commands have mobilized relief assets in an effort to restore operations after the hurricane caused catastrophic damage to the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Keifer Bowes)

U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors flown by the 27th Fighter Squadron pilots from Langley Air Force Base take off Oct. 22, 2018 from Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. After Hurricane Michael swept the area, multiple major commands have mobilized relief assets in an effort to restore operations after the hurricane caused catastrophic damage to the base. (US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sean Carnes)

Additional photographs show surviving F-22s being towed to the runway on Oct. 24.

F-22 Raptors are towed to the runway at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 24, 2018. Since the Air Combat Command mobilized multiple relief assets, maintainers and crew chiefs have worked around the clock to ensure the Raptors are operational. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew Lotz)



This photograph shows five surviving F-22s and the tail numbers of three of these:

F-22 Raptors park on the runway at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 24, 2018. Since the Air Combat Command mobilized multiple relief assets, maintainers and crew chiefs have worked around the clock to ensure the Raptors are operational. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew Lotz)

Based on these images the following F-22A were in Tydall when Hurricane Michael hit and survived it: 01-4022, 02-4031, 02-4040, 03-4044 and 04-4083.