Category Archives: Military Aviation

Dramatic Footage Shows Luftwaffe Typhoons Escorting Boeing 777 Gone Silent Over Germany.

Jet Airways Boeing 777-300 Gets German Fighter Escort After Communications Lost Due to Error.

Jet Airways flight 9W-118, a Boeing 777-300 registered as VT-JEX, was intercepted by a pair of German Luftwaffe Typhoons as a security precaution over Germany on Thursday, February 16, after radio communications with the airliner were briefly lost.

The Typhoons were diverted to the intercept mission while already airborne according to a report in The Aviation Herald by Simon Hradecky.

Dramatic video of the security intercept at 36,000 feet was captured from another airline aircraft, likely a British Airways flight according to unconfirmed information. The video shows the Jet Airways B777 flying normally as first one, then a second Typhoon fly up behind the aircraft. The first Luftwaffe pilot approaches the big Boeing 777 from the same altitude and offset to the airliner’s left, possibly enabling the Typhoon pilot to make an attempt at visual contact with the occupants of the cockpit as a precaution prior to any other contact attempt.

GAF Typhoons (Airbus)

At the 1:59 point in the video the first Typhoon can be seen to rock his wings, a universal aviation signal from International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) rules, Annex 2-Appendix A, 2.1:

“DAY-Rocking wings from a position slightly above and ahead of, and normally to the left of, the intercepted aircraft and, after acknowledgement, a slow level turn, normally to the left, on to the desired heading.”

Once the first German Typhoon arrives Jet Airways flight 9W-118 must have made a radio frequency change and established voice communications since he does not respond with a reciprocal wing rocking.

The reason for the incident was a perception and/or ergonomic error when the flight was handed off from air traffic controllers in Bratislava to Prague Center ATC. Normally controllers will tell an airline pilot “Contact Prague Center ATC on frequency 132 decimal 89. Good day.”

Then the crew makes the radio frequency change manually.

If the crew makes an error dialing in the frequency correctly, normally done on the center radio console by rotating an indexed knob with a corresponding digital display, or they mis-quote the radio frequency- or both- then they may inadvertently arrive on the incorrect radio channel.

An investigation today, Feb. 20, revealed that the correct radio frequency information for the flight was transmitted by air traffic controllers during the hand-off from Bratislava to Prague controllers at 15:53 Zulu time. The loss of communication lasted a total of 33 minutes according to the report from today’s investigation.

The Jet Airways flight was en route to London’s Heathrow Airport in the United Kingdom from Mumbai, India carrying 330 passengers and 15 crew members. Once the intercept incident shown in the video concluded the flight continued normally.

Air intercept incidents are not unusual.

Another similar incident, this one potentially more significant, occurred on Friday, Feb. 17 when U.S. Air Force F-15s from Homestead AFB were launched and went supersonic over Florida in response to an aircraft that approached U.S. President Donald Trump’s resort home Mar-a-Lago near Palm Beach Florida.

FAA restrictions and Notice to Airmen warn general aviation and airline aircraft away from a restricted airspace surrounding the President of the United States.

Salva

U.S. Air Force deploys WC-135 nuclear sniffer aircraft to UK as spike of radioactive Iodine levels is detected in Europe

The USAF WC-135C Constant Phoenix might be investigating a spike in radioactive levels in Norway. Someone speculates the release of this radionuclide could be the effect of a Russian nuclear test.

On Feb. 17, 2017, U.S. Air Force WC-135C Constant Phoenix Nuclear explosion “sniffer,” serial number 62-3582, using radio callsign “Cobra 55” deployed to RAF Mildenhall, UK.

As we have already reported the WC-135 is a derivative of the Boeing C-135 transport and support plane. Two of these aircraft are in service today out of the ten examples operated since 1963. The aircraft are flown by flight crews from the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron from Offutt Air Force Base while mission crews are staffed by Detachment 1 from the Air Force Technical Applications Center.

The WC-135, known as the “sniffer” or “weather bird” by its crews, can carry up to 33 personnel. However, crew compliments are kept to a minimum during mission flights in order to lessen levels of radioactive exposure.

Effluent gasses are gathered by two scoops on the sides of the fuselage, which in turn trap fallout particles on filters. The mission crews have the ability to analyze the fallout residue in real-time, helping to confirm the presence of nuclear fallout and possibly determine the characteristics of the warhead involved: that’s why the aircraft is important to confirm the type of explosion of today’s test.

Along with monitoring nuke testing, the WC-135 is used to track radioactive activity as happened after the Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster in the Soviet Union in 1986 and Fukushima incident back in 2011.

One of these aircraft was deployed near North Korea in anticipation of Kim Jong Un rocket launches then was spotted transiting the UK airspace in August 2013 raising speculations it was used in Syria thanks to the ability to detect chemical substances down wind from the attack area days, or weeks after they were dispersed.

Although they cross the European airspace every now and then, their deployment in the Old Continent is somehow rare. As of yet, there has been no official statement from the U.S. military about the reasons why such nuclear research aircraft was deployed there. However, many sources suggest the aircraft was tasked with investigating the spike in Iodine levels detected in northern Europe since the beginning of January.

Iodine-131 (131I), a radionuclide of anthropogenic origin, has recently been detected in tiny amounts in the ground-level atmosphere in Europe. The preliminary report states it was first found during week 2 of January 2017 in northern Norway. Iodine-131 was also detected in Finland, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, France and Spain, until the end of January.

However, no one seems to know the reason behind the released Iodine-131. Along with nuclear power plants, the isotope is also widely used in medicine and its presence in the air could be the effect of several different incidents.

Or, as someone speculates, it could have been the side effect of a test of a new nuclear warhead in Russia: an unlikely (considered the ability to detect nuke tests through satellites and seismic detectors) violation of Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

Maybe the WC-135 will help authorities find out the origin of the Iodine-131.

Salva

Check out this cool new video of the Russia’s supermaneuverable Sukhoi Su-35S doing some impressive (and probably worthless) stunts

Let’s have a look at the Su-35s 4++ generation jet through a really interesting footage.

The Su-35S “Flanker E” is the 4++ generation variant of the Su-27 Flanker aircraft, the Russian counterpart to the U.S. F-15 Eagle.

The multirole aircraft features thrust-vectoring, radar-absorbent paint, Irbis-E passive electronically scanned array radar, IRST (Infra-Red Search and Track) and the said ability to detect stealth planes like the F-35 at a distance of over 90 kilometers (…), the Khibiny radar jamming system along with the ability to use some interesting weapons, including the ultra-long range R-37M air-to-air missile that could target HVAA (High Value Air Assets) such as AWACS and tanker aircraft.

The aircraft were deployed to Hmeymim airbase, near Latakia, in February 2016 to undertake air superiority and escort missions over Syria.

The following video is a collection of clips showing the aircraft and its ability to freely maneuver to point the nose and weapons in any direction, to achieve the proper position for a kill: something useful in case of WVR (Within Visual Range) engagements; pretty worthless to fight against the U.S. 5th Gen. stealth aircraft that would engage the Su-35S from BVR (Beyond Visual Range) exploiting their radar-evading capabilities as well as their ability to share information within a highly-networked battle force.

H/T Miguelm Mendoza for the heads-up

 

Here is how F-35 pilots would dress in case of chemical and biological war

A suit designed to protect the pilot from chemical and biological agents has been recently tested by the U.S. Air Force.

The 461st Flight Test Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base, California, has recently tested a flight suit capable to keep F-35 Joint Strike Fighter pilots alive in case of operations in a scenario contaminated by CB (Chemical Biological) agents.

The test came after a decade of planning and flight gear system design and build-up testing.

According to the U.S. Air Force, “the chemical/biological ensemble consists of a special CB suit, a Joint Service Aircrew Mask used for the F-35, a pilot-mounted CB air filter, CB socks and gloves double taped at the wrists. The ensemble also features a filtered air blower that protects the pilot from CB contamination while walking to the jet. It provides both breathing air and demist air, which goes to the pilot’s mask and goggles. All components of the CB ensemble are in addition to the pilot’s sleeved flight jacket and G suit.”

The ensemble also includes a communication system that allows the pilot can speak to life support personnel while wearing the ensemble with helmet and mask.

“It is a conversational communication unit, which is a box that integrates with the communication system so that when he speaks into his mask it lets people hear the pilot talk… it makes him sound like Darth Vader,” said Darren Cole, 461st FLTS Human Systems Integration lead.

The suit is designed to keep the CB agents out when the 5th generation multi-role aircraft fights in Weapons of Mass Destruction-infested environment.

An F-35B on loan from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona was used for the tests, that started on Jan. 6 with Marine Corps test pilots Maj. Aaron Frey and Maj. Douglas Rosenstock from the 461st FLTS who donned the CB ensemble for the first tests.

They opted for the STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) variant of the JSF because it’s the most complex: “We purposely chose the Marine [short takeoff, vertical landing] version of the F-35 because the equipment is more complicated and basically has more nooks and crannies for the contaminant to hide in. This aircraft also has full-up mission systems. These tests will demonstrate that the U.S. and partner nations can fly, fight, and win in a CB threat environment and then quickly decontaminate the aircraft and return it to normal operation.”

Here’s how the tests were conducted:

“The first pilot stepped to a clean jet in the CB ensemble and we contaminated it using a simulated agent. The engine run pulls in the simulant so we need to make sure the air is filtered before it gets to the pilot. First, the air goes through the [On-Board Oxygen Generation System] and then the pilot-mounted CB filter to remove any remaining contaminants. There is another filtered air supply blower that provides cooling and demist air to the pilot’s hood and goggles. We also used three air sampling devices to be sure all the air provided to the pilot was clean.”

“After the ground test, a second pilot came out to simulate stepping to a “dirty jet.” He conducted an engine startup and then took off on a flight. Both pilots wore passive absorption devices on their bodies that the simulated contaminant would stick to if it made it through the CB ensemble. Data was taken from both pilots to see if anything was different from the separate startup scenarios.”

According to the flying branch, this was the only time this specific flight gear was flown in the JSF and is the first ever simulated contaminated aircraft flown for this kind of data collection.

“Among the data we’re collecting is how much thermal stress is added to the pilot with the CB ensemble on and the impact the additional gear may have on flying the aircraft,” Cole said

It would be interesting to know whether the flight suit for Chemical and Biological Warfare affects the pilot’s ability to see the aerial threats surrounding him, especially considering that the out-of-cockpit visibility in the F-35 is less than other Air Force fighter aircraft because of the large head rest that impede rear visibility and the ability of the pilot to check the aircraft’s 6 o’clock for incoming aerial or surface threats.

Actually, the F-35 pilots might not need to look around too thanks to the AN/AAQ-37 Distributed Aperture System (DAS) that combined to the AN/APG-81 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar provide them a 360-degree, spherical situational awareness that seems to have been more than enough to take care of the Aggressors’ 4th generation F-16s during the recent Red Flag exercise...

Anyway, NBC gear is usually cumbersome, difficult to dress and pretty uncomfortable. This Author has had the opportunity to take part in an NBC training with the Italian Air Force some years ago and what the drills highlighted is that operations with protective gear and gloves, with the body completely encapsulated and inherent communication difficulties, requires strict adherence with the procedures and much practice.

Otherwise, the risk is to be exposed to contamination.

Watch a 4K HD video of two B-1 Lancer bombers launching from Nellis AFB for Red Flag mission at night

B-1 Bone’s night take-offs are an impressive sight.

Filmed during the recent Red Flag 17-1, the following clip shows how cool two B-1 Lancer bombers blasting off of runway 21L at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, can be.

Using the radio callsign “Tiger 41”, the two “Bones” (as the B-1 is nicknamed by its aircrews), belonging to the 28th BW (Bomb Wing) from Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota, can be clearly seen in the darkness of the night by the flames generated by the four General Electric F101-GE-102 turbofan engines with afterburner generating 30,000-plus pounds of thrust each.

A truly impressive (and noisy) sight!

Whilst the Ellsworth’s B-1s were taking part in Red Flag 17-1, several Lancers with the 7th BW from Dyess AFB, Texas, deployed to Andersen AFB in support of U.S. Pacific Command’s Continuous Bomber Presence (CBP) mission: noteworthy, these aircraft were the first B-1Bs upgraded to the Block 16 standard.

“The Block 16 makes the B-1 an all-round more capable aircraft,” said Capt. Matt*, 9th Bomb Squadron member in a recent release. “With the upgrades, we are able to have a say in the fight and increase the connectivity between aircraft on a built-in network, making the B-1 more lethal, more deadly.”

This enhanced capability not only aids the crew of the B-1, but allows other military assets to be better prepared against enemy threats.