Category Archives: Helicopters

Incredible footage shows MH-60 Seahawk helicopter attempting to land on the pitching deck of a warship in rough seas

Watch this intense video of a new Danish MH-60R Seahawk landing on the small pitching and rolling helicopter deck of a patrol vessel.

The following video was released by the Danish Air Force on Facebook last week.

It was filmed during a recent test of the new Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk off the Faroe Islands, between Norway and Iceland.

The multi-mission naval chopper was involved in sea trials with a Danish and an Australian test pilots called to explore the aircraft’s flight envelope and landing restrictions in the very same extreme conditions Danish warships can find operating in the North Atlantic Ocean.

As you can see, landing a (modern) helo on the small, pitching deck of an ocean patrol vessel requires skills, coordination and some bravery.

The Danish Air Force has received three of eight MH-60R Seahawks ordered in 2012, last June.

H/T Lasse Holmstrom for the heads-up

 

U.S. Army National Guard AH-64D Apache flying in Utah’s Supermoon

“My wingman was about 1 mile out my right in perfect position when I grabbed the shot with a zoom lens.”

The stunning photo in this post depicts an AH-64D Longbow Apache with the 1-211th ARB (Army National Guard) returning to base in Salt Lake City after completing a training mission.

The 211th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion (ARB) is an Apache National Guard unit based out of West Jordan, Utah, that has performed the Attack and Scout mission for over 40 years and during three recent deployments: Operation Desert Spring (2001-02) in Kuwait, and OEF V (2004-05) and OEF XII (2012-13) in Afghanistan.

The photo was taken by Rob Williams during a night mission over Utah.

Here’s what Rob wrote to The Aviationist in an email:

“The moonshot represented a rare “target of opportunity”, so we took the shot! We were fortunate in having the timing work out so well. To get the scale right, the camera was positioned about a mile away from the inbound bird.”

The Supermoon on Nov. 14 was the closest a Full Moon has been to Earth since Jan. 26, 1948.

“My wingman was about 1 mile out my right in perfect position when I grabbed the shot with a zoom lens.”

So, take a look at the crazy cool shot in this post, taken with a bit of preparation on the aircrew’s side and then check out the one of an F-15E against the Supermoon we published few days ago taken by a photogrpaher from the ground in UK. Who wins? Leave a comment below and let us know.

Many thanks to Rob Williams for sharing the photo with us!

Here’s what U.S Marine Corps Urban Close Air Support at a fake town in the Arizona desert looks like

Some stunning photographs show U.S. Marine Corps UH-1Y Venoms engaging targets at “Yodaville” during an urban close air support exercise.

The shots in this post were taken on Sept. 30, 2016, during an Urban Close Air Support exercise held during the Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course (WTI) 1-7 hosted by Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1).

Urban Close Air Support Day & Night

The WTI is a seven-week course was held at “Yodaville” near Yuma, Arizona, within the Urban Target Complex or R-2013-West, a “fake” town surrounded by terrain similar to that you can find in the Middle East or Asia that provides the most realistic target environment for pilot and ground controllers to improve their skills in CAS conducted in urban area.

Urban Close Air Support Day & Night

As the images show, the layout of Yodaville was designed in such a way it appears to be similar to villages in Iraq, Syria or Afghanistan.

Urban CAS (UCAS) is a specific kind of mission flown by fixed- and rotary-wing assets with the aim to assist friendly ground forces in contested urban areas. UCAS sorties are also launched as part of MOOTW (Military Operations Other Than War) to assist civilians during NEOs (Non-combatant Evacuation Operations), as happened in the past, in Saigon or Tirana.

A U.S. Marine Corps UH-1Y Venom assigned to Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1) engages targets during an urban close air support exercise at Yodaville, Yuma, Ariz., Sept. 30, 2016. The urban close air support exercise was part of Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course (WTI) 1-17, a seven-week training event, hosted by MAWTS-1 cadre, which emphasizes operational integration of the six functions of Marine Corps aviation in support of a Marine Air Ground Task Force. MAWTS-1 provides standardized advanced tactical training and certification of unit instructor qualifications to support Marine Aviation Training and Readiness and assists in developing and employing aviation weapons and tactics. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Danny Gonzalez 1st MARDIV COMCAM)

Training like WTI prepares aircrews to operate at low altitude in a small, possibly highly lethal airspace while cooperating with JTACs (Joint Tactical Air Controllers) that provide guidance to the helicopters so that these can properly engage the enemies, preventing blue-on-blue incidents.

A U.S. Marine Corps UH-1Y Venom assigned to Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1) engages targets during an urban close air support exercise at Yodaville, Yuma, Ariz., Sept. 30, 2016. The urban close air support exercise was part of Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course (WTI) 1-17, a seven-week training event, hosted by MAWTS-1 cadre, which emphasizes operational integration of the six functions of Marine Corps aviation in support of a Marine Air Ground Task Force. MAWTS-1 provides standardized advanced tactical training and certification of unit instructor qualifications to support Marine Aviation Training and Readiness and assists in developing and employing aviation weapons and tactics. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Danny Gonzalez 1st MARDIV COMCAM)

A U.S. Marine Corps UH-1Y Venom assigned to Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1) deploys flares during an urban close air support exercise at Yodaville, Yuma, Ariz., Sept. 30, 2016. The urban close air support exercise was part of Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course (WTI) 1-17, a seven-week training event, hosted by MAWTS-1 cadre, which emphasizes operational integration of the six functions of Marine Corps aviation in support of a Marine Air Ground Task Force. MAWTS-1 provides standardized advanced tactical training and certification of unit instructor qualifications to support Marine Aviation Training and Readiness and assists in developing and employing aviation weapons and tactics. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Danny Gonzalez 1st MARDIV COMCAM)

U.S. Marine Corps UH-1Y Venoms assigned to Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1) engages targets during an urban close air support exercise at Yodaville, Yuma, Ariz., Sept. 30, 2016. The urban close air support exercise was part of Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course (WTI) 1-17, a seven-week training event, hosted by MAWTS-1 cadre, which emphasizes operational integration of the six functions of Marine Corps aviation in support of a Marine Air Ground Task Force. MAWTS-1 provides standardized advanced tactical training and certification of unit instructor qualifications to support Marine Aviation Training and Readiness and assists in developing and employing aviation weapons and tactics. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Danny Gonzalez 1st MARDIV COMCAM)

Those in the photographs are UH-1Y Venom choppers, a rebuilt and highly modified version of the famous UH-1 Huey. The UH-1Y, or “Yankee”, carries 12.7-mm or 7.62-mm machine guns, or 7.62-mm Gatling guns installed in the open doors on either side of the fuselage; it can also carry Hydra 70r rockets pods or APKWS laser guided anti-armor missiles, used for self-defense to soften-up enemy defenses before landing.

A U.S. Marine Corps UH-1Y Venom assigned to Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1) deploys flares during an urban close air support exercise at Yodaville, Yuma, Ariz., Sept. 30, 2016. The urban close air support exercise was part of Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course (WTI) 1-17, a seven-week training event, hosted by MAWTS-1 cadre, which emphasizes operational integration of the six functions of Marine Corps aviation in support of a Marine Air Ground Task Force. MAWTS-1 provides standardized advanced tactical training and certification of unit instructor qualifications to support Marine Aviation Training and Readiness and assists in developing and employing aviation weapons and tactics. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Danny Gonzalez 1st MARDIV COMCAM)

A U.S. Marine Corps UH-1Y Venom assigned to Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1) prepares to engage targets during an urban close air support exercise at Yodaville, Yuma, Ariz., Sept. 30, 2016. The urban close air support exercise was part of Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course (WTI) 1-17, a seven-week training event, hosted by MAWTS-1 cadre, which emphasizes operational integration of the six functions of Marine Corps aviation in support of a Marine Air Ground Task Force. MAWTS-1 provides standardized advanced tactical training and certification of unit instructor qualifications to support Marine Aviation Training and Readiness and assists in developing and employing aviation weapons and tactics. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Danny Gonzalez 1st MARDIV COMCAM)

A U.S. Marine Corps UH-1Y Venom assigned to Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1) engages targets during an urban close air support exercise at Yodaville, Yuma, Ariz., Sept. 30, 2016. The urban close air support exercise was part of Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course (WTI) 1-17, a seven-week training event, hosted by MAWTS-1 cadre, which emphasizes operational integration of the six functions of Marine Corps aviation in support of a Marine Air Ground Task Force. MAWTS-1 provides standardized advanced tactical training and certification of unit instructor qualifications to support Marine Aviation Training and Readiness and assists in developing and employing aviation weapons and tactics. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Danny Gonzalez 1st MARDIV COMCAM)

A U.S. Marine Corps UH-1Y Venom assigned to Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1) engages targets during an urban close air support exercise at Yodaville, Yuma, Ariz., Sept. 30, 2016. The urban close air support exercise was part of Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course (WTI) 1-17, a seven-week training event, hosted by MAWTS-1 cadre, which emphasizes operational integration of the six functions of Marine Corps aviation in support of a Marine Air Ground Task Force. MAWTS-1 provides standardized advanced tactical training and certification of unit instructor qualifications to support Marine Aviation Training and Readiness and assists in developing and employing aviation weapons and tactics. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Danny Gonzalez 1st MARDIV COMCAM)

A U.S. Marine Corps UH-1Y Venom assigned to Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1) engages targets during an urban close air support exercise at Yodaville, Yuma, Ariz., Sept. 30, 2016. The urban close air support exercise was part of Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course (WTI) 1-17, a seven-week training event, hosted by MAWTS-1 cadre, which emphasizes operational integration of the six functions of Marine Corps aviation in support of a Marine Air Ground Task Force. MAWTS-1 provides standardized advanced tactical training and certification of unit instructor qualifications to support Marine Aviation Training and Readiness and assists in developing and employing aviation weapons and tactics. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Danny Gonzalez 1st MARDIV COMCAM)

U.S. Marine Corps UH-1Y Venoms assigned to Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1) engage targets during an urban close air support exercise at Yodaville, Yuma, Ariz., Sept. 30, 2016. The urban close air support exercise was part of Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course (WTI) 1-17, a seven-week training event, hosted by MAWTS-1 cadre, which emphasizes operational integration of the six functions of Marine Corps aviation in support of a Marine Air Ground Task Force. MAWTS-1 provides standardized advanced tactical training and certification of unit instructor qualifications to support Marine Aviation Training and Readiness and assists in developing and employing aviation weapons and tactics. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Danny Gonzalez 1st MARDIV COMCAM)

Image credit: U.S. Marine Corps

 

Poland facing Maritime SAR capability gap after Helicopter Tender cancellation?

Maritime Search And Rescue in Poland at risk?

With Poland scrapping the helicopter deal with the Airbus Helicopters company and opening a new procurement procedure (the aim of which is to meet the “Urgent Operational Requirements” of the Polish Army, with most of the emphasis placed on acquisition of the S-70i Black Hawk helicopters for the special operations component) a close observation of the helicopter debate taking place in Poland may only lead to one grim conclusion: maritime SAR capabilities remaining at disposal of the Polish Navy, responsible for conducting the SAR operations in the Baltic are not going to last long.

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However, SAR issue has not been brought up in the general discourse, thus the public has no awareness whatsoever of the critical circumstances.

On Oct. 24, 2016 an additional release has been issued, suggesting that the Ministry of Defence of Poland decided to place the maritime SAR helicopters acquisition at a similar level of priority, as the one dealing with the rotorcraft for the Special Forces. Nonetheless, it is worth highlighting some interesting things.

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Even now, there is a burning need to prolong the lifetimes of the operated Mi-14 Haze airframes, which currently serve as the primary heavy SAR platform within the Polish Area of Responsibility in the Baltic region. The first of the such Russian helicopters, manufactured at the beginning of 1980s, is going to be withdrawn in two years.

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Typically, a military helicopter is capable of staying in active service for 30 years, as Paweł Malicki, a Polish freelance military journalist noted in a recent podcast. This means that prolonging the lifetime of the rotary-wing aircraft may no longer be feasible, in the light of the emerging structural problems.

This is amplified by the fact that Polish Mi-14PŁ Hazes, which are an ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) platform, primarily, have been adapted and converted to fit in the SAR role by widening the side door, to make it easier for the rescue crew to operate the hoist.

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This had a significant impact on the structure of the airframes; moreover, it is said that the helicopters in question face vibration problems. Remaining SAR sorties are flown by the W-3RM platform, which is lighter, but also has limited spatial capabilities and faces fuel and load constraints.

Until Sept. 30, 2015, the SAR duty and QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) was held at Babie Doły and Darlowo bases (with the former one located in Gdynia, in the region of the Gdansk Bay, while the latter one is placed in the very center of the Polish coastline). Since five W-3 helicopters were transferred to the PZL Świdnik facility for maintenance and overhaul, only a single airframe is used to fulfill the SAR commitments – and two helicopters are used for that purpose interchangeably: the W-3RM Anakonda and Mi-14PŁ/R. The W-3 helicopters from Świdnik were not returned, and the overhauls are significantly delayed.

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Moreover, Babie Doły base is no longer an active location from where QRA SAR sorties are being flown – the base is used solely for refueling, stopover and hospital transport purposes of the potential victims of accidents at sea. The aforesaid situation has critical ramifications, since the mission endurance time for the rotorcraft is significantly shortened, which also limits the options of providing effective help and assistance, should any incident occur.

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The above mentioned situation may not only affect those in need of help but also the SAR crews, flying the outdated aircraft. Potentially, solutions could be found in a single source procurement of new or second-hand specialized SAR helicopters.

The crisis, that would surely emerge should no steps be taken to acquire a capable maritime SAR platform, leads to emergence of a context, in which Poland would face condemnation on the part of the European Union, since provisioning of SAR services within the given AOR (Area Of Responsibility) and retention of the capability within that scope constitutes a political obligation, to say the least.

On a more mundane level, this creates a danger for anyone traveling using the Baltic Sea routes.

One of the possible solutions to the problem that could be applied to utilize Swedish or Danish, or German SAR fleet and assets, however this would require significant expenditure, paid in Euro or Swedish Krona. Secondly, Polish reputation in the international arena, already damaged by lack of serious approach towards the helicopter procurement (canceling the negotiation with Airbus and creating a single source procurement procedure involving the same contractors after one year, on grounds which are potentially of political nature), is going to face further deterioration, with Warsaw not being able to maintain its SAR assets.

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Finally, lack of the SAR assets would mean that shipowners will probably wonder whether they should use the Polish ports or sail towards their German counterparts instead, in order to avoid risking the lives of their sailors. Maritime traffic within the Polish ports has been on the rise recently, however, should any risk exist for the crew, the shipowners will become hesitant, especially in the autumn and winter seasons, when chances of surviving a longer period in the waters of the Baltic Sea are close to zero.

Still, the latest steps undertaken by the Polish government seem to suggest that the problem is not being disregarded, and that the authorities are aware of is.

As Dziennik Zbrojny recently noted, within the canceled tender, 8 helicopters were to be received by the Polish 7th Special Operations Squadron, and 13 were to come in SAR/CSAR variant which would be operated by both the CSAR component of the air force, as well as the SAR unit of the Polish Navy.

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Image Credit: Wojciech Mazurkiewicz

Salva

MQ-8B drone used as a laser designator platform for a MH-60S helicopter’s Hellfire missile shot

U.S. Navy MQ-8B UAS (unmanned air system) was used as a laser designator platform for a MH-60S Seahawk to fire a Hellfire missile.

Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 23 is a Coronado-based expeditionary squadron under Commander, Helicopter Sea Combat Wing Pacific. It is the first squadron to deploy a MH-60S Seahawk and MQ-8B Fire Scout composite detachment aboard Independence class littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4).

On Sept. 14, an MQ-8B Fire Scout launched from NAS Point Mugu performed “buddy lasing” for an MH-60S helicopter with HSC-23 launched from NAS North Island.

Indeed, during a test, the Fire Scout drone detected a dynamic target, moving at approximately 10-15 knots inside the live-fire range off the coast of Point Mugu and transmitted its location to the MH-60S.

Once all target requirements were met, the Fire Scout lased the target while the MH-60S moved forward and into position to successfully fire an AGM-114N Hellfire missile against the “slow mover.”

“It was awesome to see the MQ-8B and MH-60S tactics and procedures being used in conjunction with each other for the first time,” said Lt. Cdr. Thanh Nguyen, one of the MH-60S pilots who participated in the exercise, in a U.S. Navy release. “We were able to validate the Fire Scout’s ability to find and designate a target, which greatly expands the lethal range of the MH-60S while keeping air crews out of harm’s way.”

The U.S. Navy considers the use of the “hunter-killer” team in future deployments a game-changer as it greatly expands the range and effectiveness of the MH-60S while keeping the helicopter out of harm’s way.

The Fire Scout has been already used in Afghanistan, off Africa (during anti-piracy ops) and during the air war in Libya: one MQ-8B drone copter was shot down during an ISR mission in support of NATO’s Operation Unified Protector.

150501-N-VO234-059 SOUTH CHINA SEA (May 1, 2015) An MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aircraft system from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 35 performs ground turns aboard the littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3).  Fort Worth is on a 16-month rotational deployment in support of the Indo-Asia-Pacific Rebalance. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Conor Minto/Released)

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SOUTH CHINA SEA (May 1, 2015) An MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aircraft system from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 35 performs ground turns aboard the littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3). Fort Worth is on a 16-month rotational deployment in support of the Indo-Asia-Pacific Rebalance. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Conor Minto/Released)

Top image (showing an MH-60R) credit: U.S. Navy