The five top stories of The Aviationist provide the readers the opportunity to virtually review the year that is coming to an end.
Ordered by pageviews, the following 5 posts got the most pageviews and comments among the articles published on the site, and can be used to review year 2016.
Needless to say, we covered many more topics during the past year, that saw us discussing F-35, Air War on ISIS, Russian campaign in Syria, Turkish Failed Coup, RC-135 spyplanes buzzed by Su-27s, Special Operations tracked online, A-10, North Korea, Eurofighter, and much more.
Please use the search feature or select the proper category/tag to read all what was written throughout the year.
Mar. 1, 2016
A Norwegian pilot shared his experience flying mock aerial combat with the F-35.
As we reported last year, the debate between F-35 supporters and critics became more harsh in July 2015, when War Is Boring got their hands on a brief according to which the JSF was outclassed by a two-seat F-16D Block 40 (one of the aircraft the U.S. Air Force intends to replace with the Lightning II) in mock aerial combat.
Although we debunked some theories about the alleged capabilities of all the F-35 variants to match or considerably exceed the maneuvering performance of some of the most famous fourth-generation fighter, and explained that there is probably no way a JSF will ever match a Eurofighter Typhoon in aerial combat, we also highlighted that the simulated dogfight mentioned in the unclassified report obtained by WIB involved one of the very first test aircraft that lacked some cool and useful features.
Kampflybloggen (The Combat Aircraft Blog), the official blog of the Norwegian F-35 Program Office within the Norwegian Ministry of Defence, has just published an interesting article, that we repost here below under permission, written by Major Morten “Dolby” Hanche, one of the Royal Norwegian Air Force experienced pilots and the first to fly the F-35.
“Dolby” has more than 2200 hours in the F-16, he is a U.S. Navy Test Pilot School graduate, and currently serves as an instructor and as the Assistant Weapons Officer with the 62nd Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona.
He provides a first-hand account of what dogfighting in the F-35 looks like to a pilot who has a significant experience with the F-16. His conclusions are worth a read.
Dec. 5, 2016
Less than three weeks after losing a MiG-29, it looks like the Russian Navy has lost another aircraft during Admiral Kuznetsov operations: a Su-33 Flanker.
Military sources close to The Aviationist report that a Russian Navy Su-33 Flanker carrier-based multirole aircraft has crashed during flight operations from Admiral Kuznetsov on Saturday, Dec. 3.
According to the report, the combat plane crashed at its second attempt to land on the aircraft carrier in good weather conditions (visibility +10 kilometers, Sea State 4, wind at 12 knots): it seems that it missed the wires and failed to go around* falling short of the bow of the warship.
The pilot successfully ejected and was picked up by a Russian Navy search and rescue helicopter.
Jun. 27, 2016
“0 losses in 8 dogfights against F-15E Red Air”
The U.S. Air Force F-35A fleet continues to work to declare the Lightning II IOC (initial operational capability) scheduled in the August – December timeframe.
Among the activities carried out in the past weeks, a simulated deployment provided important feedbacks about the goal of demonstrating the F-35’s ability to “penetrate areas with developed air defenses, provide close air support to ground troops and be readily deployable to conflict theaters.”
Seven F-35s deployed from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, to Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, to carry out a series of operational tests which involved local-based 4th Generation F-15E Strike Eagles belonging to the 366th Fighter Wing.
In a Q&A posted on the USAF website, Col. David Chace, the F-35 systems management office chief and lead for F-35 operational requirements at ACC, provided some insights about the activities carried out during the second simulated deployment to Mountain Home (the first was in February this year):
Jul. 18, 2016
F-16s, KC-135Rs, A400Ms: known and unknown details about the night of the Turkey military coup.
Here below is the account of what happened on Jul. 15, when a military takeover was attempted in Turkey. It is based on the information gathered by Turkish defense journalist Arda Mevlutoglu, by analysis of the Mode-S logs and reports that have been published by several media outlets in the aftermath of the coup.
Shortly after 22.00 local time on July 15th, air traffic control (ATC) operator in Akinci 4th Main Jet Base (MJB), an airbase located to the northwest of Ankara, contacted his counterpart at Esenboga Airport ATC. Akinci airbase is the homebase of 141, 142 and 143 Filo (Squadrons) of the Turkish Air Force (TuAF) equipped with F-16Cs.
4MJB operator informed that two local-based F-16s were going to take off, fly at 21-22,000 feet and coordination with Esenboga ATC could not be possible.
Shortly after, two F-16s calsign “Aslan 1” (“Lion 1”) and “Aslan 2” (“Lion 2”) from 141 Squadron took off from 4MJB.
Feb. 15, 2016
A Russian Air Force Tu-214R is about to land at Latakia, Syria.
The Tu-214R is a Russian ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) aircraft. In other words, a quite advanced spyplane.
As we have already explained here in the past, it is a special mission aircraft equipped with all-weather radar systems and electro optical sensors that produce photo-like imagery of a large parts of the ground: these images are then used to identify and map the position of the enemy forces, even if these are camouflaged or hidden.
The aircraft is known to carry sensor packages to perform ELINT (Electronic Intelligence) and SIGINT (Signal Intelligence) missions: the antennae of the Tu-214R can intercept the signals emitted by the enemy systems (radars, aircraft, radios, combat vehicles, mobile phones etc) so as it can build the EOB (Electronic Order of Battle) of the enemy forces: where the enemy forces are operating, what kind of equipment they are using and, by eavesdropping into their radio/phone communications, what they are doing and what will be their next move.
Note: the Tu-214R has carried out two deployments in Syria throughout the year, the first one lasting just a couple of weeks and ending on Feb. 29, the second one from Jul. 31 to Dec. 9, 2016.