Category Archives: Military Aviation

Japan Air Self-Defence Force Unveils New Special Colored F-4EJ Phantom at Hyakuri

Here’s a brand new special Phantom from JASDF.

Japan’s Air Force 302 Hikotai (Tactical Fighter Squadron) of the 7th Air Wing of the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force based at Hyakuri Air Base in the Ibaraki Prefecture of Japan plans to move to Misawa in February next year. At that time, the squadron, that has already started retiring its Phantoms, will start operations with the F-35A Lightning II 5th generation aircraft.

Until then, 302 Hikotai will continue to operate with the F-4EJ “Kai” (“extra”) variant, a modernized version of the original F-4EJ that features among the other things, the AN/APG-66J pulse-Doppler radar, a Kaiser HUD (Head Up Display), an AN/APZ-79 IFF system, as well as the ability to carry an AN/ALQ-131 advanced multimode electronic countermeasures pod and to launch the AIM-7E/F Sparrow and the AIM-9L/P Sidewinder AAMs (air-to-air missiles).

But before moving to Misawa, the unit has prepared a new special painted Phantom (07-8428) that was unveiled to the public with a post on Twitter on Jul. 3. The aircraft sports a large red bird on a white background as well as the traditional bird badge of the 302 on the tail (that is a very stylised representation of the Hikotai number: head and body being the ‘3’, the white tail ‘0’ and the blue wings the ‘2’)

On Dec. 2, 2018, Hyakuri Airbase will celebrate the end of the 302 Hikotai’s operations with the F-4 with an airshow.

Beginning next year, the JASDF will operate only two Phantom squadrons at Hyakuri: 301 Hikotai with F-4EJs and 501 Hikotai with a variety of RF-4E and RF4EJ used in the reconnaissance role. The last flight of a “Samurai” Phantom should be in March 2021.

Image credit: JASDF/302th TFS

Watch this: Polish Su-22 Fitter Deploys Drag Chute Before Touching the Runway

This is something you don’t see too often: early deployment of the drag parachute.

Last Saturday something unusual took place at the Polish Air Force’s 21st Airbase in Świdwin, during the airbase’s open day. As a part of the display routine a Su-22 Fitter jet intentionally overshot the landing: the pilot deployed the drag chute prematurely, causing the aircraft to hit the runway very hard.

It was also an unusual sight to see the jet with the chute trailing behind it, still being up in the air. This also gave the photographers and spectators at the base to witness this unique sight.

Drag (or drogue) chutes are a quite common design trait of the Soviet-made jets. The system consists of a single or several parachutes placed in a special pod located in the rear section of the fuselage. The chute is ejected with the use of a smaller parachute, spring-driven or compressed air based system. After the aircraft comes to a halt, the chute is separated to prevent the aircraft from being dragged on the runway. Moreover, the chute often comes with a safety system, with a ring that breaks if the braking system is deployed at a speed which is too high. In the case above probably the speed was low enough to keep the said element intact and the chute stayed in its place.

Notably, the drag created by drogue chutes is lower than the one experienced in case of the conventional drop-parachutes in order to prevent damage to the aircraft.

The one in the video is one of the techniques used to land on a damaged runway: the chute is deployed about 7 feet above the runway and the aircraft only needs 350 meters to stop.

B-52H Crew from Guam Locates Ocean Canoe Crew Gone Adrift in Pacific In A Bomber’s Rare Maritime SAR Mission

In a Dramatic Open Ocean Search an Air Force Crew Finds Paddlers Missing Six Days. The lost canoe was located by the crew from one of the B-52H after it was compared to a similar one that appeared in a Disney cartoon.

A U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress crew from the 20th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, stationed at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, and deployed to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam are being hailed as heroes. The B-52H located the lost crew of an open ocean Polynesian-style canoe after they were missing at sea for six days.

The traditional Pacific Island-style canoe carrying six paddlers had become lost after sailing from nearby Piagailoe Atoll on June 19. The journey from the atoll to Guam was only supposed to take one day — meaning the paddlers, who had minimal supplies had been missing at sea for nearly a week.

Following the location of the canoers from the USAF B-52H, the six-member crew of the ocean-going canoe rendezvoused with a merchant vessel in the area that was directed to their location to effect rescue. The merchant vessel provided the canoers with water, food and navigational assistance so they could safely return to land.

The eight-engine, long range B-52H bomber joined the search when the crew from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., was on a routine flight during a deployment to Guam. The heavy bomber crew responded to a call from the Coast Guard for assistance in the search on June 25.

“This was a unique situation for us,” Capt. Sean Simpson, one of the bomber’s crew, said in an Air Force statement. “It’s not every day the B-52 gets called for a search and rescue.”

Initially the crew of the B-52H was unfamiliar with the type of vessel they were searching for. Coast Guard personal compared the small, difficult to spot indigenous canoe with the boat from the Disney cartoon “Moana”. Capt. Simpson told media, “We asked for more details about the vessel and the dispatcher told us, ‘It’s just like the boat from [the Disney film] ‘Moana.’”

The B-52H crew were able to locate the canoe and its crew at sea only three hours after being called into the search and rescue operation.
“We spotted this vessel from about 19,000 feet,” 1st Lt. Jordan Allen told Air Force media in the statement. “It’s really a small miracle that we were able to see it, because there was quite a bit of clouds.”

Six passengers aboard a canoe were located in a joint search and rescue mission June 25, 2018, in the Pacific Ocean Southwest of Guam. Crew members flying a B-52H Stratofortress assigned to the 20th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron (EBS), stationed at Barksdale Air Force Base (AFB), La., and deployed to Andersen AFB, Guam, successfully located six passengers who had been missing for six days and relayed their location to the U.S. Coast Guard. (courtesy photo)

“Search and rescue isn’t something people typically think of when they talk about the B-52, but our training and adaptability really paid off,” Lt. Col. Jarred Prier, the bomb squadron’s director of operations, said in the statement. “Being a part of this successful search and rescue operation speaks to the diversity of our skill set and shows our importance here in the Pacific.”

The lost canoe was located by the crew from one of the B-52H after it was compared to a similar one that appeared in a Disney cartoon. (Photo: via Pinterest)

While the 63-year old Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, first flown in 1952 and accepted into the Air Force in 1955, is oddly well suited for the maritime search and rescue role even though it was introduced as a global reach strategic nuclear bomber. The aircraft has an extremely long combat radius of 4,480 miles, meaning it can search out in a straight line 4,480 miles and return the same distance without refueling. Given midair refueling availability, the B-52’s endurance is limited mostly by its crew’s physical endurance.

In January 1957 three USAF B-52s set an endurance record by becoming the first jet aircraft to circle the earth on a non-stop flight. The early version B-52Bs flew continuously for 45 hours and 19 minutes. In total the planes flew 24,345 miles without landing.

Top image: a file photo of a B-52H from the 2nd Operations Group, the parent unit of the 20th Bomb Squadron. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

USAF Light Attack Experiment Halted Following Fatal Crash

Overall Light Attack Acquisition Project Continues Despite Accident.

Military.com’s Oriana Pawlyk reports that the innovative U.S. Air Force Light Attack Experiment has been halted following last week’s fatal crash of an Embraer A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft within the Red Rio Bombing Range at the White Sands Test Facility in Las Cruces, New Mexico outside Alamogordo.

The Light Attack Experiment is intended to test both a new evaluation process for some USAF acquisition programs and simultaneously provide functional analysis of small, tactical light attack aircraft that can be operated economically and efficiently for close air support and reconnaissance in an insurgent conflict. Most of the participant aircraft are single engine turboprops. The program is said to potentially compliment and economize other Air Force programs including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter by offering a less expensive, more agile program architecture that is suggested to even include innovations in how the Air Force trains new pilots.

U.S. Navy pilot Lt. Christopher Carey Short, from Canandaigua, New York died in the crash on Friday, June 22, 2018 while flying the Embraer A-29 Super Tucano. Another crew member on board the two-seat light turboprop attack and trainer aircraft is being reported as injured after ejecting from the aircraft.

The Embraer A-29 Super Tucano that crashed is a successful, combat-proven light tactical trainer, strike and intelligence/surveillance/reconnaissance aircraft that is being evaluated in the Air Force Light Attack Experiment.

No cause for the accident has been reported and the cause of the accident is under investigation according to Air Force Public Affairs at Holloman AFB.

According to Pawlyk’s report, U.S. Air Force Air Combat Command commanding officer General Mike Holmes told reporters that, “The OA-X tests have been suspended amid the ongoing accident investigation, and will remain on hold until officials can decide if more testing is even needed.”

Gen. Holmes comments did not clarify specifically if the program will potentially move ahead to an acquisition phase without further testing, or, if the program may be suspended following this fatal accident.

Journalist Pawlyk reported in early December 2017 in a separate article for Military.com that Members of Congress were, at the time, eager to hear the findings of the Light Attack Experiment.

“During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on acquisition reform Thursday [in 2017], senators said they are hopeful the light attack aircraft, known as OA-X, procurement strategy may improve how future weapons systems are acquired,” Pawlyk reported.
General Holmes did go on to tell reporters, “I don’t think this will have a chilling effect on future experiments. Whenever you’re trying something new there are risks.”

The Light Attack Experiment is in Phase II of now, with evaluation flights being conducted mostly from Holloman AFB, New Mexico. The program was originally intended to run through July, 2018.

During a media event in 2017, journalists and observers were invited to Holloman AFB to see aircraft being evaluated in the Light Attack Experiment and gain insights into the Air Force’s potential concepts for acquisition. At the time, program leaders including General Holmes and Secretary of the Air Force Dr. Heather Wilson, emphasized that the program was not a “fly-off” competition, but an insight into potentially new processes for evaluating some new Air Force programs.

Secretary of the U.S. Air Force, Dr. Heather Wilson (left) and USAF General James M. “Mike” Holmes, Commander, Air Combat Command at the Light Attack Demo media day last year at Holloman AFB. (Photo: Tom Demerly/TheAviationist.com)

Reporters, including this writer, were scheduled to return to Holloman AFB in July to report on the Light Attack Experiment again as the program neared its completion.

“Top Gun: Maverick”: Son of “Goose” Arrives, Kenny Loggins Possibly Redoing Theme Song

Hollywood Has Been Rife with Top Gun Rumors. Here Are the Most Recent Ones.

Three actors have been tipped by Hollywood insiders as top choices to play the son of LTJG Nick “Goose” Bradshaw in the upcoming “Top Gun: Maverick” slated for release in July, 2019. Entertainment industry news outlet CinemaBlend.com writer Nick Evans, reported last night that, “The son of Goose is set to have a key role in the film and casting is underway for the part. The frontrunners are Nicholas Hoult, Glen Powell and Miles Teller.”

Actors Nicholas Hoult, Miles Teller and Glen Powell are tipped as favorites for the role of the son of “Goose” in Top Gun: Maverick”. (Photo:JohnShearer/Getty; Manny Crabel/WireImage; Santiago Felip/Getty)

As every Top Gun fan knows, “Goose” died in a tragic training accident in the original film when “Maverick” (Tom Cruise) flies his F-14 Tomcat through the wake vortex of “Iceman’s” Tomcat, flaming out both engines and being forced to eject. “Mav” gets out OK, but LTJG Nick “Goose” Bradshaw collides with the aircraft canopy as it is blown off the F-14 Tomcat during the ejection. Tragically, he does not survive.

Reporter Nick Evans went on to talk about the potential significance of the new character in “Top Gun: Maverick”:

“When we first heard about Goose’s son being in the sequel last year, it seemed that he might be named Wrigley and will immediately butt heads with his instructor Pete Mitchell at Top Gun class. This will potentially be an antagonistic relationship between teacher and student in the beginning, which makes sense considering Goose was killed while flying with Maverick.”

In other “Top Gun: Maverick” rumors flying fast and low around Hollywood and on the set at Naval Air Station North Island on Coronado Island, San Diego, entertainment reporter Ryan Scott of MovieWeb.com reported on June 6, 2018 that, “[Kenny] Loggins would return to help out with the movie’s soundtrack. It sounds like that’s going to happen, as he’s going to put a new twist on “Danger Zone” with a younger artist.”

Hollywood reports leak that Kenny Loggins may have a role in the new soundtrack for “Top Gun: Maverick” (Photo: via YouTube)

Musician Kenny Loggins told reporter Ryan Scott that, “I met Tom Cruise on Fallon and I asked him that question. He said ‘Of course we have to use Danger Zone.’ So, I’d probably do it maybe as a duet with a young act. I’d like to work with, well there’s young and then there’s young…we have some feelers out there. Some pretty cool rock acts. The rockers that I’m interested in are male.”

There have been no confirmations so far about the soundtrack from Paramount Pictures, the studio producing “Top Gun: Maverick”, or from Kenny Loggins’ agent, Michael Jensen of Jensen Communications.

As we reported previously on TheAviationist.com, the plot for “Top Gun: Maverick” will likely introduce dramatic conflict between the world of traditional manned-fighter aircraft like the F-14 Tomcats (made famous in the original film) and their more modern replacements and the emerging role of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) or “drones” like the U.S. Navy’s new X-47B experimental remotely piloted aircraft and the Navy’s giant MQ-4C Triton UAVs. Tin the real world, MQ-4C Tritons are to be deployed to Guam for surveillance missions in the region this summer, so the plot for “Top Gun: Maverick” has particular relevance. The first photos teased on social media from Tom Cruise show a Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, suggesting the Navy’s new F-35C Lightning II, the carrier-launched variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, may not have made it through auditions for the movie’s airplane cast.

Image credit: Paramount Pictures