Category Archives: Top Stories

U.S. aircraft carrier and part of its escort “sunk” by French submarine during drills off Florida

If you thought aircraft carriers were invincible you were wrong.

On Mar. 4, the French Ministry of Defense released some interesting details, about the activity conducted by one of its nuclear-powered attack submarine (SNA) in the waters of the North Atlantic Ocean.

According to French MoD website (that is no longer online, even if you can still find a cached version of the article titled “Le SNA Saphir en entraînement avec l’US Navy au large de la Floride”), the Saphir submarine has recently taken part in a major exercise with the U.S. Navy off Florida.

The aim of the exercise was joint training with U.S. Carrier Strike Group 12 made by the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, several Ticonderoga cruisers or Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and a Los Angeles-class submarine, ahead of their operational deployment.

The scenario of the drills saw some imaginary states assaulting American economic and territorial interests; threats faced by a naval force led by USS Theodore Roosevelt.

During the first phase of the exercise, the Saphir was integrated into the friendly force to support anti-submarine warfare (ASW) by cooperating with U.S. P-3C Orion P-8A Poseidon MPA (Maritime Patrol Aircraft): its role was to share all the underwater contacts with the other ASW assets.

In the second phase of the exercise, the Saphir was integrated with the enemy forces and its mission was to locate the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt and its accompanying warships and prepare to attack the strike group.

While the fictious political situation deteriorated, the Saphir quietly slipped in the heart of the multi-billion-dollar aircraft carrier’s defensive screen, while avoiding detection by ASW assets.

On the morning of the last day, the order to attack was finally given, allowing the Saphir to pretend-sinking the USS Theodore Roosevelt and most of its escort.

Although we don’t really know many more details about the attack and its outcome, the scripted exercise its RoE (Rules of Engagement), the simulated sinking of a U.S. supercarrier proves the flattop’s underwater defenses are not impenetrable.

This is the reason why modern subs often train with aircraft carriers: they pose a significant threat to powerful Carrier Strike Groups.

Obviously, this was not the first time a submarine scored a simulated carrier kill with torpedo attacks.

For instance, in 2007 HMCS Corner Brook, a Canadian diesel-electric submarine “sunk” UK’s Illustrious during an exercise in the Atlantic.

Image credit: U.S. Navy

 

German Typhoons have intercepted 7 Russian Air Force combat planes over the Baltic Sea today

NATO Baltic Air Policing mission is quite busy these days….

According to the Latvian military, on Oct. 28, the German Air Force Eurofighter jets on QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) at Amari, Estonia, to provide NATO Baltic Air Policing were scrambled to intercept seven Russian Air Force planes flying in international airspace over the Baltic Sea.

The German interceptors identified the Russian planes as a large package, made of attack planes and escort, which included 2x MiG-31 Foxhound, 2x Su-34 Fullback, 1x Su-27 Flanker and 2x Su-24 Fencer jets.

Regardless to whether the Russian aircraft were involved in one of the frequent training missions in the Baltics or were commuting to/from the Russian airfield in Kaliningrad oblast, the package on Oct 28 represents one of the largest “formations” intercepted by NATO fighter planes during the last couple of years.

Usually, close encounters involve Russian, Swedish or U.S. spyplanes intercepted before (or after) violating sovereign airspaces. Sometimes, scrambles are required to greet Moscow’s Tu-22 or Tu-95 bombers on long-range training patrols or strike packages involved in (alleged) simulated air strikes on one of North Europe’s states (usually, Sweden).

Anyway, Russian Air Force missions in the Baltic area have surged, to such an extent NATO presence has quadrupled in the last year: from one nation providing four aircraft in QRA at one base in Lithuania (Šiauliai), to four nations (currently Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal and Canada) at two airbases (the second being Amari, in Estonia).

Image credit: Eurofighter – Geoffrey Lee, Planefocus Ltd

 

Hornet Ball 2014: the best naval aviation video of the year

Once again, Hornet Ball is the best naval aviation video of the year.

The Hornet Ball (Strike Fighter Ball Pacific) is an annual event consisting of all the West coast Naval F/A-18C Legacy Hornet and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet squadrons, their pilots and guests.

Each year the event features a video, produced by “Wingnut”, a Hornet pilot himself, compiled from all the squadrons’ last year of flying in both combat and training missions: catapult launches, trap landings, aerobatics, dogfighting against Su-30s and Mig-29s, live firing of air-to-air missiles, HARM anti-radion missiles, LGBs (Laser Guided Bombs), cluster bombs, low level flying in the desert, ATFLIR  (Advanced Targeting Forward Looking Infrared) pod clips, and much more.

Here’s the Hornet Ball 2013.

H/T Tom Demerly and Al Clark for the heads-up

 

How an Israeli F-15 Eagle managed to land with one wing

The famous episode when an Israeli Air Force F-15 was able to land with one wing.

The F-15 is not only a famous MiG Killer.

The legendary Eagle is also a very robust aircraft, that can survive some serious damages. As shown by a very well-known incident which occurred in 1983, in the skies over Nahal Tzin in the Negev desert, in Israel, during a mock aerial combat between two Israeli Air Force F-15Ds and four A-4Ns, when one of the Eagles, the F-15D #957 nicknamed ‘Markia Shchakim’, 5 killmarks, used for conversion of a new pilot named Zivi Nedivi, collided mid-air with one of the Skyhawks.

As explained in No Wing F-15, an interesting piece written by John Easley, Zivi didn’t immediately realize what had happened: he felt a big jolt and saw a huge fireball caused by the A-4 explosion, followed by radio communications according to those the Skyhawk pilot had successfully ejected.

He realized that the F-15 was badly damaged when the aircraft fell in a very tight spiral after a huge fuel leak from its right wing.

After regaining the control of the aircraft Nedivi was ordered to eject but decided not to bail out since he was confident he could land the plane at the nearest airfield, 10 miles away, even thought the F-15 was flying on vapors: he began to reduce speed but the missing right wing (that the Israeli pilot was still unaware of) caused a new spin.

Then just before ejecting, Nedivi decided to light the afterburners, gaining speed and managing to somehow control the F-15 once again.

Once he reached the air base, he lowered the tail hook, touched down at about 260 knots, which was twice the speed recommended for a standard landing, and managed to stop the plane about 10 meters before it engaged the Safeland Airfield Arrester Barrier.

As told by Easley, it was only after he turned back to shake his instructor’s hand, that Zivi discovered that he had flown and landed without a wing!

After the mishap, McDonnell Douglas, inquired by the Israeli Air Force, affirmed that it was impossible for an F-15 to with one wing only, but once they received the photo of the Eagle flying without one wing, they said that, pilot skills aside, damaged aircraft had been able to return to the base thanks to the lift generated by both its engine intakes and its fuselage.

Nevertheless proving once again its tremendous strength, after two months the Eagle received a new wing and returned to fly, as you can see in the picture below.

F-15 957

Image credit: Wiki

In the following video you can hear Zivi Nedivi himself explaining how he was able to land without its right wing.

 Top Image credit: Israeli Defense Force

 

U.S. F-15 pilots with GoPro cameras: One of the Best Cockpit Videos Ever

Aerial combat, pattern activity, low level flying in Alaska and Middle East by U.S. Air Force F-15 pilots with GoPro cameras.

The 67th Fighter Squadron, known as the “Fighting Cocks”, operates from Kadena AB, Okinawa, and provides air defense and air superiority in the Asian-Western Pacific area of operations, flying the F-15C Eagle.

The Squadron won the Raytheon Trophy for air-to-air excellence for their 6th time in history in 2013, becoming the most-winning squadron in the U.S. Air Force.

Below you can watch the stunning video they produced to celebrate the award.

In 2012, the squadron celebrated the award with a video showing one year of operations of both the 67FS “Fighting Cocks” and the 44FS “Vampire Bats”, at Kadena. 2013’s video was not only filmed in Japan during aerial combat training: the footage brings you aboard the Cocks F-15s during aerial refueling operations and at low level over Alaska and the Middle East, where 67th FS deployed between Sept. 2012 and May 2013.

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