Category Archives: Aircraft Carriers

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.

Check Out This Amazing F-14 Tomcat Carrier Landing Tutorial Video

This is pure Tomcat porn!

Using the very same words of the user who uploaded it to Youtube the one below is a “nostalgic video tutorial outlining US Naval Case 1 (VFR) Aircraft Carrier pattern and landing of the now retired F-14 Tomcat.” What makes it really cool is not only the fact that it features the mighty F-14 Tomcat, but also that the narration is word for word from official US Navy F-14 NATOPS flight manual.

The video (uploaded in 2012, 6 years after the type was retired from U.S. Navy service) includes a compilation of Pilot Landing Aid Television System (PLAT) video used by Landing Signal Officers (LSO) to monitor approaching aircraft position on the glideslope and centreline.

At min. 2:12 you can see an F-14 recoverying to the flight deck with the basket and part of the cable still plugged to the aircraft’s IFR (In Flight Refueling) probe in 2002, whereas at min. 2:35 a Tomcat catches the wire while still in the air with a subsequent touchdown on the nose wheel (dated 1999). These are just two examples of some interesting (or scary) approaches/landings you can see in the video!

Enjoy.

 

China’s New Video of Their Naval Aviation Blows “Top Gun” Away

New Video Screams “All Your Bases Are Belong to Us” With Awesome Music, Images.

China Peoples’ Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and the Chinese micro-blogging, social media outlet Sina Weibo are rocking the web with a new motivational video of Chinese naval air and sea power that is a pure adrenaline fix. You could say it’s the Chinese “Top Gun”, but even better. The soundtrack blows Kenny Loggins away and the choreography beats the beach volleyball scene. The only thing missing is a Chinese equivalent of Kelly McGillis, but there is still plenty here to take your breath away.

The video surfaced in mid-May on Chinese social media and made its way to Facebook via mostly the Chinese pages. Now it is trending across international social media aviation pages. It is sure to go big.

Shot on board the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning (CV-16), the video is brilliantly choreographed and composed. It is set to the soundtrack song “Black Blade” from the (ironically) U.S. based soundtrack artists “Two Steps from Hell” featuring musicians and composers Thomas J. Bergersen (originally of Trondheim, Norway) and Nick Thomas of Los Angeles. The two musicians have scored over 1,000 soundtracks and film trailers. They have also produced music for video and computer games. If you’ve seen the Hollywood films, “The Dark Knight”, “Tron: Legacy” or “No Country for Old Men” then you’ve already heard their masterful soundtrack music.

The video was filmed during major naval exercises earlier this year off Hainan island in the South China Sea. The region is the scene of minor disputes between Taiwan, mainland China and even Vietnam over some small outlying islands. The recent Chinese emphasis on sea power centers on their emerging aircraft carrier program and is likely a bid to maintain and expand control in this area and project Chinese military influence around the globe.

At the same time the Chinese were shooting this killer video, spy satellites in orbit overhead were doing a little photography of their own. James Pearson and Greg Torode of Reuters news agency published satellite spy photos likely taken at the exact same time the Chinese video was being shot. Satellite imagery published by Reuters on March 27, 2018 and likely taken the day before on Monday, March 26, 2018 were obtained from Planet Labs, Inc. According to their website, Planet Labs, Inc. is a private intelligence gathering company that, “Started as a small team of physicists and engineers, and now operates the world’s largest constellation of Earth-imaging satellites.”

Satellite imagery of the Chinese carrier task force appear to have been taken at the exact time the new video was being shot. (Photo: Planet Labs via Reuters).

The aircraft seen most prominently on deck of the Liaoning in this video are the Chinese J-15B “Flying Shark” multi-role fighters. The Chinese also operate a variant known as the J-11BH and J-11BSH. Based on the Sukhoi Su-27 family of tactical aircraft, the Chinese have been vigorous in testing and development of the J-15 and its minor variants since their carrier program began in earnest during 2002. While a highly capable aircraft, the J-15 Shark is currently limited in gross take-off weight from the Chinese carrier Liaoning because of their reliance on the ski-jump style Short Take-Off but Arrested Landing (STOBAR) technology. Future Chinese carriers like the recently launched Type 001A, rumored to be named Shandong, will likely be adapted to Catapult Assisted Take-Off but Arrested Landing (CATOBAR). This catapult system can launch heavier aircraft than the ski-jump system. China has even been testing electromagnetic aircraft catapults at a land-based facility for likely inclusion on future aircraft carriers.

Other aircraft showcased in the video are the Chinese H-6DU aerial tanker. The H-6DU is based on the former-Soviet Tu-16 Badger. Other versions of the H-6 carry air-launched cruise missiles for the anti-shipping role. The H-6DU, possibly from China’s 23rd Regiment, 8th Naval Aviation Division assigned to the Southern Theater Command, is refueling a pair of J-10AHs possibly of the 4th Naval Aviation Division.

Helicopters seen in the video include the Changhe Aircraft Industrial Corporation (CHAIC)
Z-8 land and ship based ASW/SAR helicopter that is based on the French SA-321Ja Super Frelon.

Despite the ongoing debate about the emerging Chinese aircraft carrier force you have to admit the production quality of this video is very good, and it suggests China is enthusiastic about the expansion of their naval air and sea power. It’s also just plain cool to watch!

China Launches First Domestically Built Aircraft Carrier

New Carrier Continues Expansion of Chinese Expeditionary Capability.

China launched its first domestically produced aircraft carrier earlier for sea trials this week at the northeastern port of Dalian, in the south of Liaoning Province, China. The new ship has not been named yet and carries the temporary designation “Type 001A”.

The new Type 001A is a slightly larger vessel than China’s previous aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, that was purchased from Ukraine in 1999 and originally built in 1985 in the then-Soviet Union as a Kuznetsov-class aircraft cruiser. Liaoning has had three names: first christened as the Riga under Soviet use, then renamed the Varyag and finally the Liaoning after the Chinese purchase in 1999. Analysts report the primary role of the Liaoning has been a training vessel for the development of Chinese carrier doctrine and operations.

The new Type 001A is 315 meters long and 75 meters wide as compared to the slightly smaller Liaoning that is 304 meters long and 70 meters wide. Both ships displace roughly 50,000 tons, significantly less than the Nimitz-class carriers with a loaded displacement of between 100,000–104,000 tons. The U.S. Nimitz-class carriers are also longer at 333 meters.

Like the older Soviet-era carriers and the existing Russian Kuznetsov carrier along with the United Kingdom’s new Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers, the new Chinese Type 001A uses a ski-jump style launch ramp. India is also building a new ski-jump aircraft carrier, the Vikrant class carrier, formerly known as the “Project 71 Air Defense Ship” (ADS) or Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) program.

Unlike the other carriers however, the UK’s Queen Elizabeth class uses two superstructures and may have a provision for the removal of the ski-jump launch structure in favor of an electromagnetic catapult in the future.

The Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) is an emerging technology in new aircraft carriers. The U.S. has already demonstrated and installed the EMALS launch capability on the new Gerald R. Ford class of aircraft carrier in service since 2017. China is considering the use of electromagnetic launch systems on their planned next generation aircraft carrier, the Type 002. China has reportedly already experimented with aircraft modified to be launched with an electromagnetic catapult in anticipation of the next-gen Type 002 development.

One reason China may be pursuing the EMALS launch system for future carriers could be an inherent limitation to their current launch system. According to intelligence outlet Southfront.org the Chinese are currently limited in launch weight with their existing Short Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (STOBAR) system. That means China’s J-15 tactical aircraft already tested on the carrier Liaoning are limited in take-off weight. The aircraft must sacrifice fuel and/or weapons load to get airborne from the short take-off ski jump ramp. China will develop a new combat aircraft to fly from the decks of their planned Catapult Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR) aircraft carrier.

China launched their first domestically produced aircraft carrier, the Type 001A, on Sunday. (Photo: AP/China)

Earlier this week an unnamed source told the Navy Times that the first trial of China’s new Type 001A, “May just involve turning a circle in Bohai Bay, making sure every deck under the water does not suffer leaks. Safety is still the top priority of the maiden trial. If no leaks are found, the carrier may sail farther to make it a longer voyage, probably two or three days.”

While China’s progress in aircraft carrier technology has been moving forward rapidly the testing protocols for the new Type 001A suggest a cautious approach to the program. One certainty is that China’s massive investment its aircraft carrier program confirms their ambitions to project security for its national interests and the interests of its allies well beyond its coastline.

Top image: China’s current flight operations onboard their carriers are limited in take-off weight by their deck design. (Photo: via Southfront.org)

That Time An F-14 Was Blown Off The Flight Deck By Another Tomcat

This is why aircraft carriers have JBD (Jet Blast Deflectors).

The videos below show an incident that occurred aboard USS Independence (CV-62) in 1995.

On Apr. 18, 1995 a VF-21 F-14 Tomcat was blown off the flight deck of “Indy” by another Tomcat that was about to depart. Interestingly, the aircraft carrier did have the JBD (Jet Blast Deflector – normally raised behind the catapult as the exhaust from a departing jet does not hit and endanger flight deck crew or other aircraft) behind Cat. 4 but it couldn’t be used when launching an afterburning jet: Cat. 4 aboard Forrestal class aircraft carriers was not water cooled hence it couldn’t be used for launching an F-14 (it could be used for A-6s, A-7, E-2s or C-2s).

The Tomcat pilot and RIO (Radar Intercept Officer) successfully ejected from the F-14 whose nose wheel slipped into the port-se catwalk: they were recovered from the water within 2 minutes by two HS-14 SH-60F Seahawk helicopters. The Tomcat, leaning 60 feet over the ocean, was recovered too, after the fuel was removed from the aircraft.

From another angle:

This incident somehow reminds another one that occurred on Sept. 14, 1976, during a cruise off the Orkney Islands. On that day the Tomcat BuNo 159588 went out of control while taxiing and rolled off the deck of the USS John F. Kennedy and fell into the sea. The crew safely ejected before the Tomcat went over the edge. Unlike the USS Independence incident, in this case the plane ended up intact on the ocean floor. Since they were concerned that the Soviets might recover the Tomcat and learn valuable secrets (especially about the Phoenix missile), the U.S. Navy launched a recovery operation: the lost F-14 was recovered two months later.