Category Archives: Military Aviation

Swiss Hornets and Austrian Typhoons provide Davos World Economic Forum 2017 Air Cover

Swiss F-18 Hornets and Austrian Eurofighters provided Davos World Economic Forum 2017 Air Defense.

From Jan. 16 to 20, Swiss and Austrian Air Force jets contributed to the security of the WEF international conference at Davos, Switzerland.

This year’s Swiss Air Force MOB (Main Operating Base) was Sion airbase, in southwestern Switzerland, with Meiringen airfield being its alternate.

The Aviationist’s contributor Alessandro Fucito went to Sion and took the stunning photographs in this post.

The Hornet jets taking part in the air policing missions to enforce the NFZ (No Fly Zone) over Davos carried 2 live AIM-9X Sidewinders at the wingtips and either two live AIM-120 AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missiles) or one AIM-120 and the ATFLIR (Advanced Targeting Forward Looking Infra Red) pod, particularly useful to perform long-range visual IDs (as shown by the U.S. Navy in Syria…)

All the Hornets had the text “STBY 121.5” message on their 1,200 lt centerline external fuel tank: a message to any intercepted aircraft to switch their radio to the international VHF emergency frequency 121.5 MHz to get instructions from the interceptor and the air defense radar.

Although several F-5E Tigers from Fliegerstaffel 19 operated from Sion during WEF, unlike the past years, neither of these seemed to carry live AIM-9P Sidewinder IR-guided AAMs (Air-to-Air Missiles) at the wingtips meaning that they were either flying with their 20mm gun only or were not actively taking part in the air cover of the Davos conference.

Dealing with the Austrian Air Force, the Eurofighter Typhoons based at Zeltweg (and usually deployed to Innsbruck to fly air policing missions with a single IRIS-T missile and two fuel tanks), supported the WEF 2017 air cover as part of this year’s airspace security operation dubbed “Daedalus 17.”

Image credit: Alessandro Fucito

 

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U.S. B-2 Spirit Stealth Bombers from Whiteman AFB conduct precision airstrike in Libya. Drones perform scene “cleanup”

Two B-2 stealth bombers performed a round-trip mission from CONUS (Continental US) to perform airstrikes on Daesh training camps in Libya. Drones “cleaned-up” the operation firing Hellfires at fighters trying to run to safety.

Two B-2 Spirit stealth bombers from the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base carried out a precision air strike in Libya on Jan. 18, 2017.

According to the information released by the U.S. DoD, the raid was conducted in conjunction with the Libyan Government of National Accord, to wipe out four Daesh camps 45 kilometers southwest of Sirte.

The Spirit dropped 108 precision-guided bombs on the ISIS training camps: along with the Hellfires fired by U.S. drones (most probably MQ-9 Reapers or MQ-1 Predators often reported flying over northern Africa) immediately thereafter to “clean up” the operation, the air strike killed an estimated 85 terrorists according to Fox News who spoke with U.S. defense officials.

This is not the first time the B-2s conduct a Global Strike mission around the globe to attack ground targets in Libya: in March 2011, as happened during Operation Allied Force in 1999, the stealth bombers launched from Whiteman AFB, Missouri and with the support of many tankers along the route dropped 40 conventional bombs on the aircraft shelters at Ghardabiya airbase where no less of 7 LARAF units equipped with Mig-21s, Su-22s, Su-24s, J-21s, Mi-8s and Mi-24s were based.

A B-2 spirit stealth bomber from the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base takes off in support of operations In conjunction with the Libyan Government of National Accord, the U.S. military conducted precision airstrikes Jan. 18, 2017 destroying four Daesh camps 45 kilometers southwest of Sirte. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jovan Banks)

Nigerian Air Force Attack on Boko Haram Terrorists Leads to more than 100 Civilian Casualties.

Over 100 Civilians Killed in Accidental Nigerian Airstrike

Media and intelligence reports indicate that a Nigerian Air Force aircraft, likely either a Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet or an Aero L-39 Albatross light trainer/attack jet has been involved in a fratricide incident with “over 100 dead” according to first information.

The incident occurred Tuesday Jan. 17, when an airstrike by an undisclosed number and type of Nigerian military aircraft, likely only one aircraft, mistakenly targeted a “refugee camp” along the Nigerian-Cameroon border.

Reports indicate that aid workers have also been wounded in the attack. The border area is on the eastern edge of Nigeria in central Africa. According to a report by the BBC, “The Red Cross says six of its workers are confirmed dead.” The BBC report also cited casualty numbers lower than other news outlets, with a reported “50 killed and over 100 wounded”. The international aid agency Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) or “Doctors Without Borders” was named as the source for the casualty reports but did not specifically name MSF volunteers as victims in the incident. Médecins Sans Frontières staff and physicians have been involved in a number of fratricide or “friendly fire” incidents in the region during the last decade.

While no official reports have been released other than statements of regret from Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari over the incident, Nigerian Army spokesman Major-General Lucky Irabor told media the jet’s pilot mistakenly believed he was attacking insurgents.

Nigeria’s tactical aircraft are currently inventoried as the Alpha Jet and the Aero L-39, two light jet trainer/attack aircraft that usually lack modern, sophisticated precision targeting and navigation equipment. While Nigeria also fields a version of the MiG-21 built in China called the Chengdu F-7 Airguard, that aircraft has limited air-to-ground precision targeting capability with unguided rockets and bombs.

The original target for the airstrike was reported as Boko Haram terrorists, said Major-General Lucky Irabor, theater commander for counterinsurgency operations in northeast Nigeria. Major-General Irabor added that, “It was too early to say if a tactical error was made” according to a statement he made to the The Telegraph.

Major General Lucky Irabor (credit: The Telegraph)

Airstrikes in the region are a near-daily occurrence. With a large displaced refugee population in the area incidents of fratricide have been recorded before. This incident is remarkable not only for the tragic number of victims but also as the first time Nigeria has accepted some level of responsibility for the incident. It further emphasizes the risks of operating attack aircraft lacking precision targeting capabilities in close proximity to civilian populations.

Image credit: Kenneth Iwelumo

 

Need Your Own Private Air Force in a Hurry? Here’s One For Sale.

Listing Offers Twenty Complete Combat Aircraft For Sale, With Parts! For “only” 200K USD.

Ever wanted to command your own private air force? Here’s your chance, and the price seems reasonable.

Raptor Aviation of Port St. Lucie, Florida in the U.S has listed the sale of 20 jet trainer/light strike aircraft, an entire squadron, with spare parts and sundries. The aircraft are IAI Tzukits, the Israeli version of the Fouga CM.170 Magister.

The price? Only 200,000 USD takes the lot according to their advert.

“They’ll need about 20,000-25,000 USD in repairs before they can fly again,” Albert from Raptor Aviation told us in a phone interview, “They need some restoration.”

The detailed listing on Raptor Aviation’s website and Facebook page shows the aircraft have relatively high hours on them, with the remaining hours listed. All the avionics and other components are specified in the .pdf file on the listing. When we phoned Raptor Aviation to ask about the aircraft, they picked up on the third ring and were ready to answer any questions about the planes.

The Tzukit is a twin-engine, tandem two-seater with a mostly straight wing and unique “V” tail like a Beechcraft Bonanza. The aircraft are listed by independent sources as originally costing $75,000 USD as new in 1955 dollars.

While developed largely as a primary jet trainer, the Israelis used the somewhat lumbering Tzukit in the Arab-Israeli Six-Day War as a strike aircraft. It’s also been flown by the Belgian “Red Devils” and Irish “Silver Swallows” aerobatic teams- and 20 of your own aircraft would make an impressive private jet demo team!

Adding to the colorful history of this type, the Tzukit/Magister was flown by mercenaries in Congo-Léopoldville, Central Africa during the siege of Jadotville in early 1961. The hired-gun pilots reportedly destroyed two large, four-engine DC-4s and a smaller twin-engine DC-3 during a ground attack using its 7.62 guns and somewhat cobbled up locally made aerial bombs.

If you want to start your own air force in the United States, however, the FAA, FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) will need to have a chat with you.

Albert of Raptor Aviation told us “fleet” sales like this aren’t unusual, “I could list you a dozen fleets for sale right now, everything from these to other types of retired trainers. It’s just like anything else; air forces have to update their equipment. This is one place the old planes go.”

“One of two things will happen with the planes,” Albert told us in a phone interview, “Someone will buy them and sell them off as individual aircraft, we see that all the time, or, they’ll be sold as scrap.”

Considering a single aircraft ejector seat can fetch well over $20,000 USD as a cool-looking souvenir for a well-heeled aircraft enthusiast (see below…), this could be a good money-making venture.

Before you ring up Albert though, he reminded us that, “Whoever buys them has to get them back [to the United States] here though.” When I asked Albert where they are, he told me, “Israel”.

Image credit: Raptor Aviation

 

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This VFA-131 cruise video includes rare ATFLIR view of a Russian Flanker encountered during anti-ISIS mission

VFA-131 Operation Inherent Resolve Cruise Video includes rare footage of Russian Flanker (and Iranian F-4 Phantom) encountered by the U.S. Navy Hornets.

The footage below is not the usual USN Squadron cruise video.

Indeed, along with the standard carrier launch, recovery, air-to-air refueling, high-g maneuvering stuff that you can find in all these videos, this one from VFA-131 also contains some pretty rare footage filmed during the cruise aboard USS Eisenhower in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, in Syria and Iraq.

In particular, a close encounter with a RuAF Flanker, most probably a Su-35S Flanker-E from Hymeim airbase near Latakia. Filmed by the Hornet’s AN/ASQ-228 Advanced Targeting Forward-Looking Infrared (ATFLIR) pod, a multi-sensor, electro-optical targeting pod, incorporating thermographic camera, low-light television camera, target laser rangefinder/laser designator, the IR footage shows the Russian aircraft carrying only one R-77 RVV-SD (on the starboard wing’s inner pylon) and two R-27 air-to-air missiles.

Noteworthy, talking to the WSJ, a U.S. Air Force official has recently claimed that Russian planes regularly fly too close to U.S. fighter jets, risking collision in the crowded skies above Syria. According to Air Force Brig. Gen. Charles Corcoran, commander of the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing, Russian pilots fail to emit identifying signals on the agreed hotline during flights, adding to confusion in the air, an allegation that is refuted by the Russia’s Defense Ministry.

Moreover, there’s some interesting dogfight with a French Rafale (at 09:38 and 11:57) and (at 09:01) another close encounter, with an F-4 Phantom, most probably an Iranian one met over the Gulf.

Here below you can find a screenshot showing the Phantom.


And here’s the full video.

Enjoy!