Tag Archives: Aviano AB

Let’s Have A Look At The Loadout Of The Two U.S. Air Force F-16s That Reportedly Operated Off Libya Last Saturday

Looks like two F-16s from Aviano were involved in a somehow “mysterious” mission over the Mediterranean Sea during last weekend.

As the overnight trilateral strike on Syria on Apr. 13 and 14 has proved, an OSINT (Open Sources Intelligence) analysis based on flight tracking websites ADS-B, Mode-S and MLAT and other information shared via social media, may provide a clear “picture” of the air asset involved in a raid as the operation unfolds and well before the involvement of this or that asset is officially confirmed.

Every day, aviation enthusiasts,  journalists and, generally speaking, anyone who has an Internet connection a computer, laptop or smartphone, can track flights in real-time via information in the public domain.

As happened on Saturday Sept. 8, 2018 when most of the flight tracking experts noticed something weird off the coasts of Northern Africa: an “eye catching” gathering of aircraft.

If the constant presence of an RQ-4 Global Hawk, an EP-3E ARIES II or another spyplane in the southern or eastern Med Sea is something normal considered the ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) missions flown in the region since 2011, the presence of a pair of F-16s from Aviano Air Base (supported by one or two KC-135 tankers) off Libya (at least based on the position of the accompanying aerial refueler) is something really unusual. Moreover, the 31st FW’s jets rarely fly on weekends if they are not deploying somewhere or returning from a deployment. And, above all, they don’t carry Live armament, unless they are involved in real combat operations.

KC-135 QID564 on final for landing at Aviano.

On Sept. 8, two F-16s belonging to the 555th Fighter Squadron/31st FW launched from Aviano, reportedly operated off Libya, where they were supported by KC-135R tankers with the 100th ARW from RAF Mildenhall, and then returned home.

As the photographs in this post (taken outside Aviano on that day by photographer Claudio Tramontin) show, the Vipers carried 3x AIM-120C AMRAAM and 1x AIM-9X air-to-air missiles (AAMs), 2x GBU-54 500-lb laser-guided JDAMs (Joint Direct Attack Munitions along with external fuel tanks, a AN/ALQ-131 ECM pod as well as the Sniper ATP (Advanced Targeting Pod): a configuration that gave the F-16s the ability to perform DCA (Defensive Counter Air) with AAMs as well as engage (moving) ground targets with precision and minimal collateral damage. Pilots worn the JHMCS (Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Sight).

The two F-16s returning to Aviano AB with their load of aam and JDAMs.

While the purpose of their mission is unknown (we can speculate they were “on call” or supporting other assets or after a target that eventually did not show up or could not be attacked, etc) what is sure is that they did not use any of their ordnance: the aircraft returned to Aviano with all the weapons they had on departure.

One of the two F-16s involved in the rather unusual mission on Sat. 8, 2018. All images credit: Claudio Tramontin.

The situation in Libya has dramatically deteriorated in recent weeks, due to heavy clashes in Tripoli. A rocket attack on Mitiga International Airport (reopened on Friday Sept. 7, following clashes between rival militias caused, flights to the Libya capital to be diverted on Tuesday.

Here Are The First Photos Of The U.S. Air Force F-16C And F-15C Jets And KC-135 Tankers Returning To Aviano After Tonight’s Mission

U.S. Air Force jets provided cover to both the bombers and the warships involved in the first wave of air strikes on Syria. Here are some interesting shots of the aircraft returning home after their “escort” mission.

As already explained, the “limited air strikes” launched early in the morning on Apr. 14 were supported by several tankers and also by fighter aircraft whose task was likely to cover the fighter bombers and the warships firing their Tomahawks from the eventual threat of Russian aircraft launched from Khmeimim air base, near Latakia, in western Syria.

The aircraft tasked with ensuring air superiority and DCA (Defensive Counter Air) were 31FW F-16Cs, from Aviano AB, Italy, and 48FW F-15Cs, based at RAF Lakenheath but deployed alongside the Vipers at Aviano. They were supported by KC-135R tankers with the 100th ARW from RAF Mildenhall. The shots in this post, taken by photographer Claudio Tramontin outside Aviano today, show the aircraft loaded with AIM-120C AMRAAM and AIM-9X air-to-air missiles along with external fuel tanks. Interestingly, the Vipers carried also a AN/ALQ-131 ECM pod as well as the Sniper ATP (Advanced Targeting Pod). Pilots worn the JHMCS (Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Sight) and NVG mounts.

An F-16C from 555th FS recovers to Aviano AB.

493rd FS F-15C about to land after taking part in the raids providing air cover.

The first package included 4x F-16Cs, 4x F-15Cs and 2x KC-135s (plus other tankers along the way); the second one included 3x F-16Cs and 4x F-15Cs.

Image credit: Claudio Tramontin

U.S. has just deployed 14 F-16s to Estonia

31st Fighter Wing F-16s have deployed to Estonia, to participate in bilateral training with the Estonian air force.

On Mar. 20, 14 F-16 Fighting Falcon jets, with the 510th Fighter Squadron of the 31st Fighter Wing, from Aviano Air Base, Italy, have deployed to Ämari Air Base, in Estonia, to take part in bilateral training with the local Air Force and perform simultaneous, unrelated training with the Finnish and Swedish air forces in their airspace.

F-16 AV refuel over Estonia 2

The aircraft will remain in northern Europe through April 17, and will conduct training on the Tapa Range with F-16 performing the Forward Air Controller (Airborne) role with Estonian JTACs (Joint Terminal Attack Controllers).

F-16 AV refuel over Estonia 3

The purpose of the deployment is to enhance interoperability with a NATO ally and with other regional air arms however, the deployment is above all, another step in the U.S. Air Force’s “Forward-Ready-Now!” posture in the European theater where the Pentagon has already strengthened its presence with the deployment of the first TSP (Theater Security Package) and the A-10 Warthog attack planes from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, to Spangdahlem, in Germany, and RAF Lakenheath, in the UK.

The images in this post were taken over Estonia, from a KC-135 during an air-to-air refueling mission.

F-16 AV refuel over Estonia 4

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

 

Jesolo Air Extreme 2011 airshow

After publishing a post about the Thunderbirds condensation clouds induced by high-G maneuvers and high-AOAs (Angle Of Attack) during and a post about the rehearsals, below you can find some more pictures about the Jesolo Air Extreme 2011 airshow, taken on Jun. 12, 2011.

Jesolo Air Extreme 2011 rehearsals (Jun. 10 and 11, 2011)

Yesterday I’ve published some pictures of the Thunderbirds performing a demo flight at Jesolo on Jun. 10 to explain the origin of condensation clouds generated by maneuvering aircraft.  Here’s a gallery of the most interesting pictures taken during Jun. 10 and 11 rehearsals of Jesolo Air Extreme 2011.

Even though to the eyes of a spectator a Frecce Tricolori or Thunderbirds display overhead an airfield does not change much from the one which takes place over the coast line of a beach resort, the way display teams or solos fly may differ significantly depending on the environment in which the aerobatic display is executed. The different topographic features of the place where the air show takes place, and the surrounding landscape may, in fact, require the adoption of specific solutions in order to maintain standard distances and to correctly evaluate the separation from the terrain under peculiar light conditions. Familiarisation with the landscape and evaluating the display arena are the purposes of the preparation flight which precedes every display of a display team. In the case of displays flown over land, the terrain usually offers a multitude of fixed references which assist in the perception of speed, travelled airspace and altitude, such as crop lines, fields, roads, railways, and water courses.

Over the water, as at Jesolo, it is necessary to utilise buoys or boats which, besides delineating the display area in respect to a crowd line which is frequently extremely extended, allow the accurate determination of the display line, i.e. the line on the ground that is at least 3 Km long (1,5 Km to the left and right of display crowd centre), which must be perfectly visible from the air and placed at a distance of 230 metres in front of the public. This line constitutes the reference for the pilots for the safe execution of all the manoeuvres.

Although usually free of significant obstacles, displays flown over water can hide several traps as I’ve explained here. In those flown over the sea, the sunlight reflected on the surface may reduce into sun visibility, a phenomenon which also occurs when snow glare is encountered when flying over the mountains.

During rehearsals display teams can fly a modified display to get familiar with the display area and its references. For instance, the diamond formation of the Thunderbirds did not perform the high bomb burst on Jun. 10 while solos repeated some opposing passes while, on Jun. 11, the Frecce Tricolori’s solo did not perform the famous “crazy flight”.