Tag Archives: Apache

[Photo] Giant Antonov AN-124 Ruslan low on final approach at Gilze Rijen airport

This is the kind of aircraft that could buzz your head if you are spotting at Gilze Rijen today.

In the 1980s, you could see U.S. F-4 Phantoms or RNlAF (Royal Netherlands Air Force) NF-5 low overhead the road just outside the airport fence at Gilze-Rijen airport.

Nowadays, if you are lucky, you can have a close encounter with a giant airlifter leased by the Dutch Government to support overseas deployments.

The image in this post was taken by Jimmy van Drunen in 2009 when an Antonov 124 of the “Antonov Design Bureau” (Ukraine’s state-owned company currently known as Antonov State Company), visited the base to bring some local Apache attack choppers back home from Afghanistan.

Image credit: Jimmy van Drunen


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Beware of EXIF when you upload images to Flickr: USAF photo caption says image was taken in 2012. Flickr says May 2009. USAF lied.

The following picture was uploaded few days ago on the official USAF Flickr photostream.

Here’s the caption (highlight mine):

An Alaska Air National Guard HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter practices high-altitude landing operations March 14, 2012. The primary mission of the Pave Hawk is to conduct day or night personnel recovery operations into hostile environments to recover isolated personnel during war. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Sean Mitchell)

By accident while was watching the image, my attention was caught by the date shown on the right hand column of the Flickr page, showing that the image was actually taken on May 5, 2009.

Since Flickr uses the EXIF data of the file to determine the date, I assumed that the image was taken in 2009, unless the camera date was set wrong.

Obviously, when I posted the following message to the The Aviationist Facebook page (and retweeted it on Twitter):

USAF caption says this photo was taken on Mar. 14, 2012. Flickr via Exif says May 2009. Who lied? http://bit.ly/GL1sZE

while many followers replied that Exifs are quite unreliable since date and time cand be mis-set on the camera, others affirmed that, although possible, it is quite uncommon that the date can be set wrong by professional photographers.

However the solution of this little mystery was given by Mark Brueschke, a follower of the FB page who lives in Alaska. Indeed, Mark noticed that the moon was in the wrong quarter for the period: on Mar. 14, 2012 the moon was in the last quarter, while the one depicted in the photo is between the first quarter and full moon, exactly how it should have been on May 5, 2009.

Furthermore the amount of show at elevation is not coherent with the one he saw in March on this year when there was snow on all elevations above 100 m.

So the image was really taken in 2009.

Ok, we’ve proved the USAF lied, but it’s no big deal. Maybe they just needed an image to be uploaded on Flickr and, since the one taken in May 2009 was not previously used, they uploaded it.

However this episode should remind everybody the risk of using digital technologies which embed so many information that can be exploited in various ways.

Few days ago Helihub published an article about four Apaches lost in 2007 thanks to the smartphone geotagging.

In few words, in Iraq, insurgents were able to determine the exact location of AH-64 Apache helicopters and successfully attack them because some soldiers had taken pictures on the flightline and uploaded them (including geotagging data) to the Internet.

Video: AH-64 Apache helicopter crashes in Afghanistan

Update Mar. 21 18.20 GMT

An AH-64 Apache helicopter crashes into the ground after performing a fiesler-like maneuver at low altitude over the troops in the mountains of Afghanistan. Maybe it’s not a “crazy” maneuver as someone judged it, but still dangerous.

According to the information released along with the video, both the pilot and co-pilot/gunner survived the crash and no one on the ground was injured.

A later statement confirmed the crash occurred on Feb. 6, 2012 in the Paktika province and involved a 1-227 AvCav Regiment from FOB Sharana.

This accident reminded me of the famous Italian NH-90 helicopter that crashed in the Bracciano Lake in 2008: more or less same maneuver and same outcome. In that case, the surface of the water played a role but at least the chopper was performing during an airshow and was flown by a crew of pilots qualified for aerobatics.

F-16I Sufa and the IAF deployments overseas

After reading my latest posts about the Israeli detachment to Decimomannu for the Vega 2010 exercise, Matteo Marianeschi sent me the following pictures of the two Israeli Air Force F-16I Sufa (the latest and most advanced version of the Lockheed Martin F-16 based on current Block 50/52 production aircraft, equipped with the characteristic Conformal Fuel Tanks) that attended the Kecskemét Air Force Day in Hungary on Aug. 7 – 8, 2010. Noteworthy, the deployment of the two fighters supported by a C-130, came a week after an IAF CH-53 had crashed in Romania killing 6 Israeli and 1 Romanian on board, on Jul. 26, 2010. After all, deploying overseas has become frequent for the IAF because, according to an IDF source: “during a war, a pilot will need to navigate in places he has never been before. Flying overseas in new terrain helps prepare pilots.” Indeed, the number of deployments overseas has grown significantly in recent years due to the growing tensions with Iran and Syria: the IAF flew to Romania, Italy (as shown by the detachments to Decimomannu taking place almost yearly since 2003; in October 2009 involving the F-16I Sufa of the 107 Sqn) and especially Greece, that Flight International has recently defined the “new foreign training zone for the Israeli Air Force”. According to FI, at least four joint exercises combining Greek and Israeli combat aircraft were performed in recent months: in October the IAF’s Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow and Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters completed a joint training exercise with the Greek Air Force, followed, in late November, by other unspecified Israeli aircraft involved in bilateral manoeuvres.

Dutch Apaches deployed to Frosinone

As usual, even in April 2010, 4 Dutch AH-64s of the 301 Sqn of the KLu (Koninklijke Luchtmacht), the Royal Netherlands Air Force, deployed to Frosinone airbase, home of the 72° Stormo of the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force), to perform training activities in mountain. The helos, (Q-14, Q-19, Q-23 and Q-25) using c/s Bat 71, arrived in Frosinone on Apr. 6 and Giovanni Maduli went there on Apr. 8, to take the following interesting pictures.
The reports about the previous Dutch detachments can be found here and here.