Category Archives: Aviation Safety / Air Crashes

Yemen’s Houthis Claim Saudi F-15 Kill with SAM Over Capital City of Santis

FLIR Images Show F-15 Shoot-Down, Weapon Used May Have Been Repurposed AAM.

Images and video have surfaced of what is claimed to be a Royal Saudi Air Force F-15 Eagle being shot down by an unspecified surface to air (SAM) missile over Yemen’s capital city of Sanaa. The video is alleged to have been obtained using a ground-mounted forward-looking infra-red sensor usually mounted on helicopters for surveillance and targeting: most probably a Flir Systems ULTRA 8500.

The clip appears to show an F-15 Eagle, version unknown.

The video is shot from the right side of the aircraft, and as the aircraft rolls right, the height of the starboard (right) vertical stabilizer/rudder appears to be shorter than normal on an F-15, as though part of it is already missing: someone suggested that may have already sustained damaged to at least one of its vertical stabilizers even though this seems to be a bit far-fetched based on the available clip.

The F-15 as seen from the FLIR Systems camera (the presence of the logo is weird/unusual).

Immediately after this right rolling maneuver two bright objects, glowing from their heat signature in the infra-red video, are separated from the aircraft that lit the afterburners (based on the glowing . These seem to be flares, countermeasures ejected against heat-seeking surface-to-air missiles.

The missile nears the F-15 seemingly flying with afterburners (YT screenshot)

The aircraft then rolls right again and the profile of the F-15’s canopy can be seen, appearing to be a single-seat version, but difficult to confirm from the poor quality infra-red video.

A large object enters the frame from below, presumably a surface-to-air missile, either impacts the F-15 (whose engine heat signature has increased, suggesting the use of afterburner) or possibly detonates a proximity warhead near it or against a flare. The video ends without showing what happened to the F-15 following the apparent missile hit. The aircraft seems to continue flying more or less unscathed.

The F-15 is hit by the missile (YT screenshot)

Text in the YouTube video caption reads in Arabic, “The first sight of the moment hit and shot down a Saudi F-15 aircraft in the atmosphere of the Yemeni capital Sanaa” (the image used as preview in the video below does not show the RSAF F-15 but the Russian Air Force Su-24 hit by a Turkish AF F-16 in November 2015..).

Information that surfaced on Twitter shortly after the video released suggested the aircraft may have been shot down by a S-75 Dvina surface-to-air missile, a version of the venerable SA-2 Guideline SAM missile. However several sources are increasingly suggesting the F-15 was targeted by a modified R-27T based on claims that Houthis have modified a number AAMs (air-to-air missiles) to be launched from pick-ups.

The R-27 (AA-10 Alamo-B), is an IR-homing, missile with a maximum range of 63 km and a theoretical maximum allowed vertical separation of 10 km meters altitude.

If the claim of the F-15 aircraft being shot down by Houthis is confirmed, this may be one of the few instances any version of the F-15 Eagle has been shot down. The U.S. suffered the loss of F-15E Strike Eagles to anti-aircraft fire during the Gulf War back in 1991.

The Royal Saudi Air Force is believed to have a fleet of 129 active single-seat F-15C Eagles and F-15S ground attack/multi-role aircraft along with the first 13 (of 84 ordered) new F-15SA attack aircraft,

File photo of Saudi F-15 Eagle. (Photo: via Yemeni Observer)

In October 2017, the Houthi rebels claimed to have shot down a Saudi Typhoon involved in a mission supporting Operation Decisive Storm, the Saudi-led air war on the Houthi rebels in the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula.

H/T @phxasc for providing many details about the alleged downing.

Polish Air Force MiG-29 Crashes in Minsk Mazowiecki. It’s The First Ever Crash Of A Polish Fulcrum

The pilot survived the first Polish MiG-29 crash since July 1989.

A Polish Air Force MiG-29 Fulcrum (“67” Blue, formerly known as “67” Red – the number was repainted after the overhaul) has crashed in the vicinity of the Minsk Mazowiecki airbase, while landing there on Dec. 18.

Police and Fire Department were dispatched to conduct the SAR operation. The pilot survived the accident, suffering minor injuries. Some sources suggested that the Fulcrum driver did not eject, contrary to the official statement from the Polish MoD, according to which the pilot successfully ejected from the aircraft.

Due to the fact that the crash took place in the middle of the forest, the SAR operation took some time, stated the commander of the 23rd Tactical Airbase, Col. Piotr Iwaszko. Iwaszko announced that at least 200 persons were involved in the SAR effort. After 90 minutes, the pilot was found. According to the report issued by Interia.pl the weather was too bad to use the SAR assets available at the Minsk airbase.

Contrary to some claims made by some journalists via Twitter, according to official sources, the MiG-29 involved in the accident was neither on QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) duty nor did it carry any missiles.

Polish National Commission for Aviation Accidents Investigation is bound to start the investigation of the event today.

Notably, this is the first ever crash of a Polish Air Force Fulcrum in history. The jets, have had a flawless track-record in the service, so far, flying with the Polish Air Force for nearly 3 decades. Along with the Soviet-era Su-22 Fitters, the MiG-29 Fulcrums will be replaced by the new multirole combat plane procured within the “Harpia” program, launched on Nov. 23, 2017.

Image Credit: Jacek Siminski

This Photo Shows A C-5A Galaxy After It Performed A Gear Up Landing At Travis AFB in 1983

A belly landing for a giant C-5 Galaxy.

The photo in this post was taken by one of our readers, Tyll Parker, at Travis Air Force Base, California, in July 1983.

Parker was a Lieutenant with the 1901st Comm Group at the time and the shot after he saw the C-5A 68-0216 just sitting there at the end of the runway, after a successful gear up landing.

“It was unusual to be there and I noticed one wing was low. So I drove along the perimeter road and took some pictures. I had heard a little about the landing from an ATC guy. (Air traffic control was under The 1901st) This was close to the 60 MAW ORI/MEI that year. Did nothing to help the CO…,” says Tyll in an email to The Aviationist.

The accident occurred as the Galaxy was performing touch-and-goes: during the final approach of the day, the crew did not lower the landing gear resulting in a belly landing and significant damage to the lower fuselage and main landing gear pods. Based on some articles published by newespaper at the time of the event, the crew had silenced the warning horns for the landing gear warning system by pulling the circuit breakers during the pattern work and forgot to reset the breakers on final approach.

According to the available details, the aircraft was flown to Marietta for repairs and, while there, was selected to become the first C-5A to be converted to the C-5C configuration.

As we have reported several times here, the C-5 Galaxy’s nose gear is part of a unique tricycle-type landing gear system consisting of a total of 28 wheels.

It is a fine piece of machinery made of four main units fitted in tandem pairs, each with a six-wheel bogie with two forward and four rear wheels: the MLG (Main Landing Gear) rotates 90 degrees horizontally to be accommodated inside the gear bays when retracted after take off; furthermore, it is steerable for a 20 degrees left or right for crosswind landings.

You can find several interesting videos online, not only showing the MLG at work but also a few gear up incidents.

The first is a video that dates back to August 1986, when a C-5A performed a nose gear up landing at Rhein Main Air Base, Germany:

The second incident occurred in May 2001 (we already posted a short story about it here), when a C-5 from Travis Air Force Base diverted to Rogers Dry Lake to perform a successful landing after the nose gear failed.

More recently, a U.S. Air Force C-5M Galaxy, registration 86-0020, performed a nose gear up landing at the Spanish airbase after experiencing an unknown failure that made it unable to extend its nose landing gear.

The C-5M that performed a nose gear up landing at Rota, Spain, in May 2017 (image via a reader who wishes to remain anonymous)

Top image credit: Tyll Parker

Rare Photo Shows F-4 Phantom Flying Inverted While Intercepting A Russian Tu-95 Bear Bomber

“Because I was….inverted!”: Top Gun stunt performed near a Russian strategic bomber.

In the last few years, we have often reported about “unsafe and unprofessional” intercepts conducted across the world by Russian (and Chinese) fighter jets scrambled to identify and escort U.S. spyplanes flying in international airspace.

Barrel rolls, aggressive turns that disturbed the controllability of the “zombie” (intercepted aircraft in fighter pilot’s jargon), inverted flight: if you use the search function on this site you can read of several such incidents that made the news on media all around the world.

The last episode involved a Russian Su-30 that crossed within 50 feet of a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon’s path over the Black Sea during an intercept mission, causing the American maritime patrol aircraft to endure violent turbulence, on Nov. 25, 2017.

However, as a former RC-135 aircraft commander who flew the S, U, V, W, and X models, told us a couple of years ago:

“Prior to the end of the Cold War interceptors from a variety of nations managed to get into tight formation with RC-135s and EP-3s. Smaller airplanes like MiG-21s made it easy. The challenge with the larger airplanes like the Su-27 and MiG-31 is the sheer size of the interceptor as it moves in front of any portion of the intercepted plane.

At least the Su-27 pilot has excellent all-around visibility to see where the back-end of his own airplane is as he maneuvers adjacent to the RC-135.

The U-Boat crew took video of the intercept, which has not been released but shows the precise extent of how close the FLANKER really was. Recent movies taken by a PRC aircraft that was intercepted by a JASDF F-15CJ suggests that the Eagle was very close—until the camera zooms out and shows the Eagle was 70-100 feet away from the wingtip….

Finally, although the number of Russian reactions to Western recon flights has been increasing recently, for 15-20 years (certainly from 1992 through 2010) there were almost no reactions on a regular basis. As such, what passes for dangerous and provocative today was ho-hum to recon crews of my generation (although we weren’t shot at like the early fliers from 1950-1960).”

Therefore, these close encounters were a sort of routine in the skies all around the world during the Cold War. And “reckless” behaviour did not only involve Russian pilots, as the top image seems to prove.

The blurry photograph (courtesy of our friends at the Global Military Strategy & Statistics FB page) shows an F-4 Phantom (probably from the U.S. Air Force, even though the quality of the shot does not help identifying the nationality), flying inverted during an intercept/escort mission on a Russian Tu-95 Bear: a stunt that may remind one of the most famous scenes in Top Gun movie.

We don’t know when nor where this photograph was taken (if you have some details or hints, please let us know), still a proof that some (dangerous) maneuvers have been part of such close encounters for decades and have seldom made the news. At least, until a few years ago…

H/T Global Military Strategy & Statistics for the interesting photograph.

U.S. Navy C-2A Aircraft Carrying 11 Crew And Passengers Crashed In The Ocean Southeast Of Okinawa

C-2 Greyhound COD confirmed involved in the crash.

According to the U.S. Navy 7th Fleet, a United States Navy C-2A aircraft belonging to VRC-30 “Providers” carrying 11 crew and passengers crashed into the ocean southeast of Okinawa at approximately 2:45 p.m. local time on Nov. 22.

“Personnel recovery is underway and their condition will be evaluated by USS Ronald Reagan medical staff. The aircraft was en-route to the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), which is currently operating in the Philippine Sea. USS Ronald Reagan is conducting search and rescue operations. The cause of the crash is not known at this time.”

160707-N-NF288-020 SOUTH CHINA SEA (July 7, 2016) Distinguished visitors from Cambodia land on the flight deck of the Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). Ronald Reagan, the Carrier Strike Group Five (CSG 5) flagship, is on patrol in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jamaal Liddell/Release

The official release did not initially specify the type nor the unit of the aircraft involved in the crash. However, it seemed immediately quite reasonable to believe it is a C-2 Greyhound involved in a COD (Carrier Onboard Delivery) mission. Indeed, the Grumman C-2A Greyhound is a twin-engine, high-wing cargo aircraft, designed perform the COD mission to carry equipment, passengers (including occasional distinguished visitors) supplies and mail to and from U.S. Navy aircraft carriers, “ensuring victory at sea through logistics.”

8 out 11 people on board have been found. SAR operation underway to find and rescue the missing ones.

According to the U.S. Navy:

Eight personnel were recovered by the “Golden Falcons” of U.S. Navy Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC 12). The eight personnel were transferred to USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) for medical evaluation and are in good condition at this time.

“Our entire focus is on finding all of our Sailors,” said Rear Adm. Marc H. Dalton, Commander, Task Force 70. “U.S. and Japanese ships and aircraft are searching the area of the crash, and we will be relentless in our efforts.”

USS Ronald Reagan is leading search and rescue efforts with the following ships and aircraft: U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63); MH-60R Seahawk helicopters of the “Saberhawks” from U.S. Navy Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM 77); P-8 aircraft from the “Fighting Tigers” of U.S. Navy Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Squadron (VP) 8; P-3 Orion aircraft of the “Red Hook” U.S. Navy Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Squadron (VP) 40; Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Helicopter Carrier Japan Ship (JS) Kaga (DDH 184); and JMSDF Hatakaze-class destroyer Japan Ship (JS) Shimakaze (DDG 172).

This is the 6th C-2 lost since the type entered active service (a prototype YC-2A was lost on Apr. 29, 1965, during a test flight resulting in 4 fatalities):

 

  • On Oct. 2, 1969, C-2A BuNo 152796 from VRC-50, carrying 6 crew members and 21 passengers crashed in the Gulf of Tonkin en route from Naval Air Station Cubi Point to USS Constellation in the Gulf of Tonkin. All the 27 POB were killed but since their bodies were never recovered, they are listed as MIA (Missing In Action).
  • On Dec. 15, 1970, C-2A BuNo 155120 from VRC-50 crashed shortly after launch from USS Ranger, killing all 9 POB (4 crew members and 5 passengers).
  • On Dec. 12 1971, C-2A BuNo 152793 crashed en route from Cubi Point to Tan Son Nhat International Airport, resulting in the death of all 4 crew members and 6 passengers.
  • On Jan. 29, C-2A BuNo 155122 crashed while attempting to land on the USS Independence in the Mediterranean Sea, killing both crewmen.
  • On 16 November 1973, C-2A BuNo 152787 crashed into the sea after takeoff from Souda Bay, Crete. 7 of 10 POB died in the incident.

 

We will update this story as new details are made available.

In 2000, the C-2 began Service Life-Extension Program (SLEP) installations, which included improvements such as structural enhancements, dual ARC-210 radios, the Terrain-Awareness Warning System, the Traffic Collision-Avoidance System and a rewire of the aircraft to remove older and potentially hazardous Kapton wiring. Eight-blade NP2000 propellers were installed in 2010-2011. The Communication, Navigation, Surveillance/Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) system features components that expanded the aircraft’s communications capability by increasing the number of usable radio frequencies, therefore reducing channel congestion. As part of the navigation upgrade, a system combining Global Positioning System (GPS) equipment and an inertial navigation system were integrated to provide accurate positioning and velocity, allowing flight crews to perform precise landing approaches.

Top image: file photo of a C-2 Greyhound