Category Archives: Military Aviation

The Polish Air Force Takes Delivery Of Its First Gulfstream G550 VIP Aircraft

The Polish Air Force has received its new G550, the first post-Soviet VIP aircraft.

The first of the new Polish Air Force’s G550 VIP jets (with the second one expected to be received in mid July, and with the first operational flights to take place in the autumn) has landed at the Warsaw Chopin International Airport on Jun. 21.

The delivery of the aircraft is a tangible effect of the effort made by the Polish government to replace the aging VIP transport fleet, until now consisting of Tu-154M and Yak-40 post-soviet jets.

The introduction of the G550 paves the way for this airframe being also considered in other applications in the Polish Air Force, such as MPA (Maritime Patrol Aircraft) or ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) platforms. The Polish MoD is currently pursuing Płomykówka (ISR) and Rybitwa (MPA/ASW aircraft) programmes, and G550 may seem to be a viable candidate in both cases.

The first Polish Air Force G550 is greeted after landing at the Warsaw Chopin International Airport on Jun. 21.

Alongside the procurement of G550s, the Polish MoD also eyes the procurement of three Boeing 737 aircraft, which would act as the medium-sized platform.

Notably, the 737 has been selected without any tendering procedure, which has created major legal controversies in Poland and in the EU.

The MoD’s justification is that time had a critical relevance since the PLN 540 million, reserved in the FY2016 budget for that purpose, were only available until the end of March this year. This was the main argument supporting the single source procurement procedure: as the Polish MoD officials claimed, if the 737 aircraft were not contracted early this year, the potential acquisition would be delayed for several years. The opposition was not happy, as the MoD spent PLN 2 billion, without any tender, in 19 days, favoring a single manufacturer.

Coming back to the post-soviet VIP aircraft, the initiative to have the aforesaid aircraft replaced is someone an effect of the Smolensk incident in which a Polish Tupolev Tu-154M has crashed, killing the Polish President and numerous government officials. Following the tragedy, the 36th Special Airlift Regiment was disbanded and transformed into the 1st Airlift Base unit. Moreover, most official flights were served by two leased Embraer E-175 operated by the LOT Polish Airlines.

According to the official statements made by the Minister of National Defence Antoni Macierewicz during the reception ceremony, G550’s purpose would be to “provide safety for the people elected by the nation.”

The received aircraft has been named after the Polish Prince, Józef Poniatowski. During his speech Macierewicz additionally referred to the aircraft as if it was a sign of an ideological transition, from post-soviet, into western, modern chapter of the Polish history.

The head of the MoD is also known for making statements that may seem to be ridiculous. This time, it was no different, as Macierewicz publicly admitted that the Tu-154M aircraft that crashed in Smolensk could have been rigged and monitored by the Russians remotely, which seems to be a far-fetched claim.

Even though the official investigation of the Smolensk crash has ended a long time ago, pointing to erroneous training and recklessness as the reasons for the tragedy, the current Polish government claims that the crash was purposely caused by Putin, and it was a sort of attack/special forces operation to kill the Polish President.

The first G550 taxies at Warsaw Chopin International Airport.

Image credit: Wojciech Mazurkiewicz

Sweden Protests As Russian Fighter Buzzes Swedish Spyplane Over The Baltic Sea

A Russian fighter flies within 2 meters a Swedish Air Force spyplane, causing the Swedish minister of defence to condemn the behaviour as “unacceptable”.

In what is just the latest in a long series of close encounters over the Baltic Sea on Jun. 19, a Russian Su-27 Flanker flew dangerously close to a Swedish Air Force S102B flying an intelligence gathering mission over the Baltic Sea.

Most of times such intercepts, that have occurred in international airspace for decades, are just routine stuff: the fighter in QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) is launched to perform a VID (Visual IDentification) run on the spyplane; the interceptor reaches the ELINT (Electronic Intelligence) plane and follows it for a few minutes before returning to base.

However, according to the reports, the behaviour of the Russian Su-27 Flankers scrambled to intercept the Swedish or US spyplanes over the Baltic Sea off Kaliningrad Oblast is often a bit too aggressive and not compliant with the international procedures that would recommend the interceptor to keep a safe distance from the “zombie”: usually, 50 to 150 meters.

Indeed, according to the Swedish MoD, during the intercept on Jun. 19, the Russian Flanker allegedly flew within 2 meters (!) of the spyplane. Provided that was the distance between the two jets, the risk of collision was pretty high.

The Swedish Air Force operates a pair of Gulfstream IVSP aircraft, known in Swedish service as S102B Korpen, used for ELINT (Electronic Intelligence) purposes. The aircraft, based on the American Gulfstream business jet but equipped with eavesdropping sensors, routinely conduct surveillance missions in the Baltic Sea.

One of the Swedish Air Force S102B Korpen aircraft (credit: Johan Lundgren/Försvarsmakten)

According to Swedish Air Force officials, during those sorties, the Korpens fly in international airspace, with their transponders turned on, and regularly transmit their position to the relevant civilian air traffic control agency, both domestic and, if needed, foreign ones.

Reports of barrel rolls, aggressive maneuvers, etc. involving Russian interceptors and NATO/allied aircraft (or viceversa) have become a bit too frequent: there is a significant risk these close encounters may one day end with a midair collision, with the consequences that everyone can imagine.

Top image: file photo of a Su-27 over the Baltic Sea as seen from a Portuguese P-3 Orion

H/T Erik Arnberg for the heads up!

 

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Here’s The Video Of The First Aerobatic Flight Demo Of The F-35: Does It Showcase Exceptional Maneuverability Or Quite The Opposite?

Lockheed Martin Test Pilot Billie Flynn just performed his first F-35A Flight Demo At Paris Air Show. Did he “crush years of misinformation about what this aircraft is capable of doing” as promised?

Set against a brilliant French sky with puffy cumulus clouds Lockheed Martin’s star test pilot Billie Flynn thrilled the crowd at Le Bourget Airport outside Paris, France today as he wheeled and tumbled his F-35A Lightning II through an aerobatic demonstration some critics claimed was nearly impossible.

The performance included low speed, high angle of attack maneuvers, tight turning, numerous rolls and maximum performance climbs that would silence the critics who said the F-35 could not dogfight and “crush years of misinformation about what this aircraft is capable of doing“.

While the F-35’s advanced sensor and integration avionics are designed to win the fight long before the “merge” of aerial combat into visual dogfighting range, this demonstration aimed to show the controversial Joint Strike Fighter can hold its own in a knife-fight with the Sukhois, MiGs, Chengdus, Shenyangs and other likely adversaries.

At the 2:00 mark in the video test pilot Flynn positions the F-35A at show left and performs a high-alpha, ultra low speed pass, standing the Lightning II on her tail and dancing across the Paris sky as the aircraft’s twinkle-toed elevators maintain stable flight on a boiling cushion of thrust from her growling Pratt & Whitney F135 engine. It is a spectacular sight. Enough to silence the skeptics? Hard to say. Most probably not enough, considered what people are used to see when a 4th Gen. aircraft or the F-22 are able to do during an airshow routine.

Returning to lower altirude in the demonstration box, Flynn performs a maximum performance, high-G turn with afterburner similar to what we’ve seen with many other demos. This version of the flight demonstration does not feature the open weapon bay doors as with the F-22 demo we’ve seen many times. One of the F-35A demo routines does include a pass with the weapons bay doors opened.

Honestly speaking the new PAS 2017 routine seems to be more dynamic than expected. But in terms of instantaneous and sustained turn rates the F-35 does not seem to match the performance of the famous super-maneuverable Sukhois, Eurofighter Typhoon, Gripen or Rafale (to name but few).

Still, the unique features of the JSF are its stealth design, sensor fusion capabilities and unmatched SA (Situational Awareness): that is to say all the ingredients for success in modern air-to-ground operations. Comparing the F-35 to an F-22, Typhoon or even F/A-18 in terms of energy-maneuverability is probably wrong and misleading.

So, let us know what are you thoughts after watching this demo:

a) do you think it’s more than enough considered that the aircraft will probably never be engaged in a Within Visual Range dogfight?

b) it’s rather disappointing because super-maneuverability remains a key to succeed in modern scenarios?

You judge.

Top image: file photo of the F-35 Heritage Flight Team’s F-35A validation flights on July 5, 2016.

 

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Paris Demo Will “Crush Years Of Misinformation” Says Lockheed Martin Demo Pilot As New F-35A Aerobatic Routine for PAS 2017 Is Revealed

“We are going to crush years of misinformation about what this aircraft is capable of doing”

After we scooped the story about the F-35A’s new fully aerobatic flight demonstration to be performed at this week’s Paris Air Show at Le Bourget airport in France, Aviation Week reporter Lara Seligman wrote today in AW that Lockheed Martin company test and demo pilot Billie Flynn told her, “After 10 years since its first flight, with our first opportunity to demonstrate the capabilities and the maneuverability of the F-35, we are going to crush years of misinformation about what this aircraft is capable of doing,” during an interview for Aviation Week.

The flight demonstrations at the Paris Air Show will be flown by company pilot Billie Flynn, not U.S. Air Force crews.

The USAF F-35A demonstration aircraft to be flown in the flight demo and on static display at Paris were ferried to Europe by USAF crews even though the flying routing will be flown by a Lockheed Martin pilot.

Lockheed Martin is on an aggressive campaign to close sales for the F-35A among user-nations as confirmed by stories breaking this morning that report, “Lockheed Martin is in the final stages of negotiating a $37 billion-plus deal to sell 440 F-35 fighter jets to a group of 11 nations including the United States”, two people familiar with the deals told Reuters news agency.

Lara Seligman’s report for Aviation Week identifies both the “high show” F-35A flight demonstration routine and the “low show” routine performed at lower altitude in the event of overcast/cloudy weather conditions. A quick check of the weather forecast for the next five days in the skies above Le Bourget says conditions will be hot with high temperatures in the ‘90’s Fahrenheit and “Mostly Sunny” conditions with a small chance of rain.

The new, dynamic flight demo routine for F-35A at Paris beginning today. (Image: Lockheed Martin via Aviation Week)

Seligman quoted demo pilot Flynn as saying that, “The [Paris] flight demonstration is carefully scripted to highlight the kinematic capabilities of the F-35A, particularly its slow-speed handling qualities.” She reported that, “He will start with an afterburner takeoff, almost immediately pointing his nose to the sky and letting the aircraft climb away essentially vertically.” Flynn went on to mention tell reporter Seligman that, “This impressive move is unique to the F-22 and the F-35.”

Back in 2013, talking to Flight’s Dave Majumdar, the very same LM test pilot Bill Flynn claimed that all three variants of the Joint Strike Fighter were to have better kinematic performance than any fourth-generation fighter plane with combat payload, including the Eurofighter Typhoon, a statement that was somehow “busted” by a Typhoon pilot who clearly explained The Aviationist “No way an F-35 will ever match a Typhoon fighter jet in aerial combat.”

Anyway, along with everyone else in the aviation world, we’re looking forward to the new, dynamic F-35A show debuting this week in Paris. The first F-35A demo at Paris flies today at 3:30 PM local time in France.

Top image: Today in Paris will be the first time airshow crowds get to see what the F-35A is capable of in demonstration flight. (Inverted file photo by Tom Demerly)

 

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U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet Downs Syrian Su-22 Near Raqqa, Syria. And Here Is Everything We Know.

Navy Super Hornet from Carrier Air Wing 8 Scores Victory over Syrian Su-22.

Updated with the statement from the Russian MoD.

A U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet from Carrier Air Wing 8 on board the USS George Bush shot down a Syrian Air Force Su-22 ground attack aircraft near Raqqa, Syria after the aircraft struck ground troops in Ja-Din, south of Tabqah, near Raqqa.

According to most sources it is the first time a U.S. combat aircraft has shot down a manned enemy aircraft in aerial combat in nine years.

The pro-Assad regime Syrian Su-22 that was downed had attacked Syrian Democratic Forces aligned with the U.S. led coalition and inflicted casualties on the friendly forces as they were driving south of Tabqah before it was intercepted.

The action began at approximately 4:30 PM local time on Sunday, Jun. 18 when Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad launched a ground attack on anti-regime Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) aligned with the U.S. led Coalition and inflicted casualties on the anti-Assad fighters.

Coalition combat aircraft immediately conducted a low-altitude “show of force” pass on the pro-Assad attackers and were successful in de-conflicting the two sides and halting the advance of pro-Assad forces on Coalition-friendly SDF positions.

As a result of the contact unspecified Coalition assets utilized a secure communication “de-confliction line” to contact Russian assets with communications to both sides in an effort to compel a cease-fire for both sides.

The Russian attempt at de-confliction failed at 6:43 PM local time when a pro-Assad Syrian Air Force Su-22 ground attack aircraft appeared on scene and bombed Coalition-friendly SDF positions. The attacking Syrian Su-22 was “Immediately shot down by a U.S. F/A-18E Super Hornet” according to an official statement issued by the Combined Joint Task Force, Operation Inherent Resolve. The U.S. Navy F/A-18E was launched from the aircraft carrier USS George Bush (CVN-77) as it maintains patrol in the Mediterranean in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet aboard the USS George Bush (CVN-77). (Photo: US Navy)

In the official statement released from the Coalition about the incident the Combined Joint Task Force stated, “The Coalition’s mission is to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The Coalition does not seek to fight the Syrian regime, Russian, or pro-regime forces partnered with them, but will not hesitate to defend Coalition partner forces from any threat.”

Even though the air-to-air victory would be the first for the U.S. on a manned enemy combat aircraft since February 2008 according to some sources, the last confirmed U.S. kill dates back to 1999, during Operation Allied Force, when a U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon shot down a Serbian MiG-29 Fulcrum. A U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagle shot down an unmanned Iranian-made Shahed-129 armed drone on Thursday, June 8 this year.

The U.S. destroyed nine Syrian Air Force aircraft in a large Tomahawk cruise missile strike on the Shayrat Air Base earlier this year on April 7, 2017. Among the Syrian Air Force air craft destroyed by the cruise missile attack were five Su-22M3s, one Su-22M4, and three MiG-23ML aircraft. The attack was a Coalition response to the alleged Syrian chemical weapons strike on Khan Shaykhun on April 4. At least 74 people died in the chemical attack with hundreds more wounded, including children.

A fully armed Syrian Air Force SU-22 in a bombproof revetment. (Photo: RT)

A Syrian Air Force SU-22 taxis outside its bombproof revetment. (Photo: RT)

The action over Syria marks a significant escalation in the conflict and establishes the resolve of the Coalition to achieve its goals in the region in addition to sending a clear message that the control of the airspace rests with the Coalition and not with Assad’s remaining forces.

A Syrian Air Force SU-22. (Photo: RT)

And here’s the response to the downing from the Russian MoD:

Statement of the Russian Defence Ministry concerning downing of the Syrian Su-22 near the town of Resafa

On June 18, 2017 the American fighter F-18A belonging to the international coalition shot down the Su-22 aircraft of the Syrian Air Force, which was performing a combat mission supporting the government troops, which were conducting the offensive against the ISIS terrorists near the town of Resafa (40 km to the south-west of the city of Raqqa).

As a result of the attack, the Syrian aircraft was destroyed. The pilot baled out over an ISIS-controlled area, his status is unknown.

The destruction of the aircraft of the Syrian Air Force by the American aviation in the air space of Syria – is a cynical violation of the sovereignty of the Syrian Arab Republic.

Numerous combat activities of the US aviation carried out under the cover of “fight against terrorism” aimed against the legitimate Armed Forces of a UN-member is a blatant breach of the international law and is in fact an act of military aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic.

Moreover, at that time the aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces were also performing combat missions in the air space of Syria. However, the Command of the coalition forces did not use the existing channels of communication between the Command of the Al Udeid Air Base (Qatar) and the Hmeymim Air Base Command to prevent air incidents in the air space of Syria.

The Russian party considers those actions of the US Command as an intentional failure to fulfill its obligations within the Memorandum on prevention of incidents and providing of flight security during the operations in Syria dated October 20, 2015.

Since June 19, 2017, the Russian Defence Ministry has stopped the cooperation with the American party within the Memorandum on prevention of incidents and providing of flight security during the operations in Syria and demands a thorough investigation of the incident by the US Command with further providing of information on its results and the taken measures.

In the combat mission zones of the Russian aviation in the air space of Syria, all kinds of airborne vehicles, including aircraft and UAVs of the international coalition detected to the west of the Euphrates River will be tracked by the Russian SAM systems as air targets.

Therefore, the Russians will “track” as air targets the US-led coalition aircraft of all types: although this seems to suggest a unilateral NFZ established over Syria, the public release does not say they will “engage” the coaltion planes.

Let’s see what happens next.

 

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