Category Archives: Military Aviation

UK’s First Four F-35B Jets Currently On Their Way To The UK and Their New Home Of RAF Marham

The first F-35B aircraft are expected to land later today to join the RAF 617 Squadron “Dambusters”.

Earlier today four Lightning jets of 617 Squadron took of from Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina, where the famous “Dambusters” unit was reactivated on Apr. 17, 2018, to undertake the transatlantic crossing and arrive at RAF Marham, the new home of the UK’s Lightning Force.

The F-35Bs are being supported by three RAF Voyagers tankers: ZZ330 (RRR9101, radio callsign “Ascot 9101”), ZZ335 (RRR9102, “Ascot 9102”) and ZZ331 (RRR9103 “Ascot 9103”). ZZ330 departed Charleston and picked up the four  F-35Bs from MCAS Beaufort. That took the Lightning as far as ZZ331 and ZZ335 out from Gander that are towing the F-35 across the Atlantic. Supporting the transatlantic trip is also an A400M ZM401 (RRR4085).

The four jets are due to land at RAF Marham this evening, one day later than expected: their mission was delayed 24 hours by the bad weather along the planned route.

The Royal Air Force has also shared a video on social media showing one of the Lightnings during aerial refueling:

According to Air Forces Monthly, nine of the 11 UK F-35Bs currently on strength at MCAS Beaufort (where the British squadron operates under Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501) are expected to arrive in the UK for the RAF’s centenary celebrations this summer, including a flypast over London. And, above all, later this year, the UK F-35Bs will deploy aboard the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time.

“Lightning II has been designed from the outset to carry out a wide range of mission types, able to use its very low observable characteristics to penetrate Integrated Air Defence Systems and strike a number of types of targets. In a permissive environment, Lightning II is able to carry weapons on external pylons, as well as in the internal weapon bays. This will allow a maximum weapon payload of 6 Paveway IV, 2 AIM-120C AMRAAM, 2 AIM-132 ASRAAM (Advanced Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile) and a missionised 25mm gun pod,” says official RAF documentation.

“In 2019 we will also start our integration work for the new Meteor [beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile, BVRAAM] and SPEAR Cap 3 [Selective Precision Effects At Range Capability 3] weapon in order to deliver a phase one capability for those assets in 2021,” Martin Peters, BAE Systems’ F-35 flight test manager and test lead for STOVL (short take-off and landing), told AFM.

Top image credit: Crown Copyright

Italian Typhoons and Greek F-16s Take Over NATO Air Policing mission over Montenegro

With the symbolic intercept of a Montenegrin Government aircraft, Italian and Greek fighters have kicked off a new NATO Air Policing mission.

On Jun. 5, the day of the anniversary of Montenegro’s membership in NATO, the Italian and Hellenic Air Force have started protecting the airspace of Montenegro. The new NATO Air Policing mission kicked off with the simulated intercept of a Montenegrin government Learjet 45 (the aircraft registered 4O-MNE) by two Greek F-16s and two Italian Typhoons.

The Montenegrin Minister of Defence Predrag Boškovič, NATO’s representative, Brigadier General Roberto di Marco, Deputy Commander of NATO’s Depoyable Air Command and Control Centre, and the Italian Air Force representative, Major General Silvano Frigerio, watched the fighters flying up to Learjet, signal to the pilots and escort them to a safe landing to the military part of the Podgorica Airport.

An ItAF F-2000A escorts the Montenegrin Learjet 45 during Jun. 5 simulated intercept. Image credit: GOV.ME/S. Matić

The jets conducted a procedure in accordance with NATO’s QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) standard procedure: the Combined Air Operations Centre at Torrejon, Spain, commands the “scramble” (alert take-off) when the unidentified track flies close to or inside NATO Allies’ territories. This often happens when civilian aircraft lose two-way radio contact with civil ATC (Air Traffic Control) agencies or when flights lack the Diplo Clearance (diplomatic clearance) required to enter a nation’s airspace. Italian or Greek fighters will be launched to intercept, identify, escort and/or assist the corresponding aircraft.

Two HAF F-16s close on the LJ45 left wing. Image credit: GOV.ME/S. Matić

The Italian Air Force Typhoons that took part in the simulated intercept were launched from Gioia del Colle airbase, in southeastern Italy, home of the 36° Stormo (Wing) and its two squadrons: the X and XII Gruppo. Italy is the only NATO nation to support five interim Air Policing missions for nations that do not have an autonomous air defense capability: Slovenia, Albania, Iceland, Baltic States and Montenegro.

With four Italian F-2000 Typhoons deployed to Amari, Estonia, as part of the Enhanced Air Policing North Baltic Eagle, from January to April 2018, the Italian Air Force secured the airspaces of six nations [Italy, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovenia and Albania (on a rotational basis with effort shared with the Hellenic Air Force)]: a record among NATO allies.

Two Aeronautica Militare Eurofighter Typhoon jets took off from Gioia del Colle in southern Italy to simulate an intercept of a Montenegrin government plane marking the kick off for the NATO Air Policing over Montenegro. Photo: Aeronautica Militare,

Before Deploying To Latvia, Two USAF A-10s from 107th FS Flew Over Normandy For D-Day 74 Ceremonies

Before deploying to the Baltic region, two A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft flew over the beaches of Normandy, France, as part of the commemoration ceremonies for D-Day 74.

Eight A-10C attack aircraft from the 107th FS of the 124th Fighter Wing Michigan Air National Guard, from Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Michigan, arrived on stopover at RAF Mildenhall, UK, on Friday May 31, 2018. The Warthogs of the “Red Devils” were on their way to Latvia where they are scheduled to take part in Saber Strike, an annual exercise in the nations of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania along the Baltic Sea in northern Europe.

One of the aircraft, 81-0994/MI, is a “unique” special-colored A-10C unveiled at Air National Guard Paint Facility in Sioux City, Iowa, on Aug. 3, 2017. The aircraft is painted with a special livery that commemorates the 100th Anniversary of the Red Devils of the 107th Fighter Squadron, that is inspired to the P-51 (F-6A) of the 107th TRS, that flew the Mustang over Normandy during WWII.

The special colored A-10C lands in a cloudy RAF Mildenhall on May 31, 2018. Six aircraft continued to Latvia on Jun. 1, whereas two remained in the UK to take part in the D-Day 74 flyover. Image credit: Tony Lovelock

One of the eight A-10C with the 107th FS about to land in RAF Mildenhall on May 31, 2018. Image credit: Tony Lovelock

On Jun. 3, 2018, along with another 107th FS “Warthog”, the “full special color” A-10 flew over the French coastline and Omaha Beach, Normandy, as part of the commemoration ceremonies for D-Day 74 – the 74th anniversary of the D-Day invasion during World War II. The 107th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron flew multiple missions over Normandy during the lead up to D-Day and during the invasion itself. The flyover during the commemoration represents the first assigned mission for the 107th in France since World War II.

The shadows of two A-10 Thunderbolt II are seen on a French farm field during the D-Day 74 commemoration ceremony in Normandy, France, June 3, 2018. The A-10s are flown by the 107th Fighter Squadron, which participated in the D-Day invasion in 1944. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Dan Heaton)

Following the demonstration, the two aircraft continued to their destination in Latvia with the support of a KC-135 tanker.

A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft from the 107th Fighter Squadron, Michigan Air National Guard, fly over the beaches of Normandy, France, as part of the mo ceremonies for D-Day 74 — the 74th anniversary of the D-Day invasion during World War II. The 107th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron flew multiple missions over Normandy during the lead up to D-Day and during the invasion itself. The flight during the commemoration represents the first assigned mission for the 107th in France since World War II. The unit also served in France during World War I. The 107th is assigned to Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Dan Heaton)

Cockpit Video Of An A-10 Warthog Flying Over Miami Beach During Salute to American Heroes Air and Sea Show

This cool footage shows what it looks like to fly an A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft.

Filmed on May 26, the following footage shows Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Mike Schriever, a pilot in the 303rd Fighter Squadron, flying an A-10 Thunderbolt II alongside his wingman, Air Force 1st Lieutenant Tanner Rindels, over Miami Beach, Florida during the 2nd annual Salute to American Heroes Air and Sea Show, a two-day event showcases military fighter jets and other aircraft and equipment from all branches of the United States military in observance of Memorial Day.

The clip shows the two A-10s maneuvering close to an HC-130 “King” involved in a HAAR (Helicopter Air-to-Air Refueling) mission with two HH-60G Pave Hawks from the 920th Rescue Wing at Patrick Air Force Base in Cocoa Beach, Florida.

Dubbed Warthog, Hog or just Hawg, the A-10 Thunderbolt II, the “airplane built around the GAU-8 Avenger 30-mm hydraulically driven seven-barrel Gatling-type cannon” to fight the Soviet tanks in the European battlefields during the Cold War, is considered one of the most durable and lethal combat plane in the CAS (Close Air Support) mission. Interestingly, on May 25, 2018, the day before the video was shot, the U.S. Air Force released the official request for proposals for an A-10 Thunderbolt Advanced-Wing Continuation Kit (“ATTACK”) program under which it could buy as many as 112 sets of new wings for the service’s remaining, so-called “thin wing” A-10 Warthog attack aircraft.

Tom Cruise Teases “Top Gun 2” Movie With An F/A-18F Super Hornet Photo

Looks like Top Gun sequel may feature the Super Hornet instead of the F-35.

Tom Cruise has just teased the long-awaited Top Gun movie sequel (expected in July 2019) with an interesting photo posted on Twitter with the text “Feel the need” and #Day1. The image, that marks the beginning of filming and production work, shows U.S. Navy pilot Capt. Pete Mitchell, wearing the flight suit with a TOPGUN patch on his shoulder and what appears to be an F/A-18F Super Hornet in the background. This seems to suggest “Maverick” retains a pilot role (and possibly he’s still assigned to the U.S. Navy Naval Fighter Weapons School even though the patch may only mean he graduated there) and that he flies the Super Hornet and not an F-35C, the U.S. Navy’s most modern aircraft, as most had predicted.

Since the first movie was released back in the 1980s, TOPGUN has moved from Miramar to NAS Fallon, Nevada even though, according to our friends at Combat Aircraft  the trees in the shot suggest that the photo wasn’t taken at the base home of the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center, near Reno.

One thing worth noticing is the fact that “Mav” has his famous HGU-33 helmet in his hand even though that kind of old-fashioned helmet has long been replaced within the U.S. Navy and other air arms around the world by the more modern Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System or HGU-68/P helmets.

 

We will keep you updated as more details on Top Gun 2 emerge.