Tag Archives: B-52

Two U.S. B-52 strategic bombers enter China’s new Air Defense Identification Zone over disputed islands

A flight of two U.S. B-52 bombers have reportedly entered the new Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over East China Sea on Nov. 25 without informing Beijing, according to a U.S. official who spoke to the Wall Street Journal.

The two aircraft departed from Guam airbase and flew close to the disputed islands without complying with any of the rules set by Beijing for the new ADIZ over Diaoyu Islands (known as Senkaku islands in Japan).

The question is: did China’s air defense detect them? Did they try to intercept the two B-52s?

The two bombers, unarmed and not escorted by any fighter plane, were involved in a previous planned exercise dubbed “Coral Lightening”.

Even if the U.S. has already flown “extended deterrence” missions in the Asia-Pacific region in the past, this is an unprecedented direct challenge to China and its threats to Washington’s local allies.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

Enhanced by Zemanta

In 1961 a U.S. Air Force B-52 almost detonated an atomic bomb over North Carolina

The UK Newspaper The Guardian has released details under the freedom of information act, which chronicle how on Jan. 23, 1961 one small frail fail safe switch averted a disaster of biblical proportions.

Earlier on that day, a B-52 had departed Seymour Johnson Air Force Base armed with two Mk39 Hydrogen bombs, both with a yield of 4 megatons or to put it another way, with bombs each 260 times more powerful than the weapon that had been dropped on Hiroshima during World War II.

The B-52 was to fly down the East Coast as an airborne alert aircraft, which would have been called upon should the need arise. The article doesn’t go into detail but the story is known: the B-52 got into difficulties and ended up breaking apart in the air. The rear of the aircraft began a tail spin at which point the bombs got separated from the aircraft, one of the bombs then did as it was designed to do and it deployed its parachute and armed itself as if descended towards the ground.

Eight years after the accident a secret report was written by Parker F Jones. That document was released under the freedom of information act, the Guardian found it and documented how close the incident brought Goldsboro in North Carolina, and the U.S. East Coast to a major catastrophe (whereas the U.S. government repeatedly denied that its nuclear arsenal had put American lives at risk).

As it went into a tailspin, the hydrogen bombs it was carrying became separated. One fell into a field near Faro, North Carolina, its parachute draped in the branches of a tree; the other plummeted into a meadow off Big Daddy’s Road.

Jones found that of the four safety mechanisms in the Faro bomb, designed to prevent unintended detonation, three failed to operate properly. When the bomb hit the ground, a firing signal was sent to the nuclear core of the device, and it was only that final, highly vulnerable switch that averted calamity.

It then said: “Had the device detonated, lethal fallout could have been deposited over Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and as far north as New York city – putting millions of lives at risk.

A low voltage switch saved the U.S. from a nuclear Armageddon.

Richard Clements for TheAviationist.com

 

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

Enhanced by Zemanta

In anticipation of an eventual U.S. attack on Syria military build-up in the Mediterranean slightly progresses

Even if it is eventually going to be a cruise missile, heavy bomber and then UAV-only war, with a very limited involvement of tactical aircraft, a future air war on Syria would require a considerable amount of support planes.

Among them, cargo aircraft needed to carry weapons, materials and replenishments for the various detached units and, obviously, many many tankers.

In fact, long range air strikes, as those launched in the beginning stages of the war, with strategic bombers flying from their bases in the Continental US, Diego Garcia or any base in the Middle East area (Thumrait, Al Udeid, Al Dhafra), would require a many tanker airplanes, one of the most important resources for Washington.

For instance, during the air strikes in Libya (that was located relatively close to the airbases in Southern Italy or Greece), each fighter sortie in support of Unified Protector averaged 8 hours and required five air-to-air refueling.

Each heavy bomber flying from the U.S. would require more or less five plugs with a tanker but this means several tankers (15 to 20, depending on how many bombers would take part in the raid) would have to be in the air along the route to support them. In

Some of them will be stationed in the U.S., others, probably, at Moron, in Spain, and more could be based in Greece or Turkey.

Incirlik, in southern Turkey, is among the airbases close to Syria. It already hosts a U.S. detachment supporting UAVs (Predator drones) and could be suitable to host a part of the tanker force required to support war sorties, even if it is within range of an eventual retaliatory attack.

Some U.S. cargo planes were monitored by local media arriving at the base in the last days. Even a RAF C-17 cargo plane arrived at Incirlik on Sept. 4.

In the previous days, few Air Force Special Operation aircraft and ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) were monitored crossing the Mediterranean sea where many warships are amassing.

Not only U.S. ones (4 destroyers and 1 Amphibious ship) but even Russia’s: the ELINT vessel SSV 201 crossed the Bosporus, heading South, towards the sea off Syria,  and the guided-missile cruiser Moskva that is passing the Straits of Gibraltar enroute to the eastern Mediterranean.

In such a tense situation, with aircraft and warships (neither under a unique command nor talking with each other) amassing in the same area, a risk of an incident, like the near engagement of the British Eurofighters with the Turkish Air Force F-16s over Cyprus, is higher.

By the way, talking about the Cyprus incident to journalist Andrew Potter, the British MoD spokeperson said: “The MOD can confirm that Typhoon Air Defence Aircraft were launched from RAF Akrotiri yesterday to  investigate unidentified aircraft over the Eastern Mediterranean; the aircraft were flying legally in international airspace; no intercept was required.”

Image credit: Kokpit.aero

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

B-52 bombers deployed to Europe (for an exercise) using a special radio callsign: the name of a Libyan city

Even if, during peacetime operations, radio callsigns used to identify military flights in radio communications with the ATC (Air Traffic Control) agencies are usually squadron standards (Ghost Rider xxx, Panther xx, Bogey xx, Weasel xx, etc.) or picked among specific “patterns” (car types, animals, currencies, etc. – as done during exercises) under certain circumstances they can be chosen so as to celebrate specific events.

Last night, two U.S. B-52 Stratofortress aircraft from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, crossing the Atlantic Ocean on their way to the Czech Republic, where they will take part to the NATO Exercise Ramstein Rover, used a very special, never heard before, callsign: the two strategic bombers flew to Ostrava, where they landed on Sept. 18, using callsign “Tobruk 41″ and “Tobruk 42”.

I’m pretty sure that most of the readers of this blog don’t know that Tobruk is actually the name of a port city located on eastern Libya, near the border with Egypt. Tobruk is located slightly less than 400 km from Benghazi.

The two planes were not involved in any combat mission in response to the attack at the U.S. consulate that cost the life of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three American officials. Nor they will if Washington decides to launch a strike against the Libyan jidahists whose camps are believed to be located in the desert of East Libya (since other assets would be used).

Still, I can’t believe that the 307th Bomb Wing/93rd Bomb Squadron used that callsign in place of the usual “Scalp”, by coincidence only.

Maybe the U.S. Air Force just wanted to send an indirect message to those listening the planes crossing the Pond on HF and UHF frequencies, that what has happened in Libya, will not be forgotten.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

Most probably this is just a speculation, however the communication power of military radio callsigns should not be underestimated.

Anyway, AlertNewEngland has recorded a part of the radio comms and you can clearly hear “Tobruk 41″ calling.

[gigya src=”http://boos.audioboo.fm/swf/fullsize_player.swf” flashvars=”mp3=http%3A%2F%2Faudioboo.fm%2Fboos%2F964973-60-0003.mp3%3Fsource%3Dwordpress&mp3Author=AlertNewEngland&mp3LinkURL=http%3A%2F%2Faudioboo.fm%2Fboos%2F964973-60-0003&mp3Time=05.29am+18+Sep+2012&mp3Title=60-0003″ width=”400″ height=”160″ allowFullScreen=”true” wmode=”transparent”]

Wings over Atlanta: the Dobbins Air Reserve Base airshow

In the last few weeks readers of this blog have had the opportunity to read articles and watch pictures taken at airshows all around the world: in September, with a series of posts, I described the 50th Anniversary of the Frecce Tricolori airshow in Rivolto; then, I reported about the RAAF Williamtown airshow thanks to the pictures and report provided by Ed Armstrong and a few days ago, I wrote a post about the famous Axalp airshow, attended this year by Simone Bovi. The “world airshow tour” completes with another interesting report, this time by Moreno Aguiari, a former Italian commercial and Cropduster pilot living in the USA, who attended the Wings over Atlanta airshow, at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, that among the others, featured the interesting displays of the US Navy Blue Angels and Canadian Snowbirds, a rare sight outside America. Moreno sent me the following pictures and wrote an interesting detailed report of the Dobbins airshow for the readers of this site:

In the Oct. 16-17 weekend, like previous years, the skies over Dobbins ARB in Atlanta were filled with aerobatics during the 2010 “Wings over Atlanta” airshow. Aerial feats were performed by noted military teams like the Navy’s own Blue Angels and the Air Force Academy’s Wings of Blue elite parachute team. International guests, like the Canadian Snowbirds were also in attendance, offering thrilling examples of advanced aerial skills and tricky formations. Along with the performers, the audience enjoyed static displays, food, and opportunities to talk to pilots, civilian and military personnel about their professions. After the 2008 air show became a traffic issue for many visitors, this year’s organizers reached out to area transit providers and lot owners for help. In response, 127 busses were contracted and used to transport nearly 200,000 spectators, free of charge, who arrived for the show both on Saturday and on Sunday. Parking space was provided by Lockheed Martin, located on the Dobbins base. Organizers were pleased with the results as crowds gasped and applauded at the many thrilling aerial exercises provided by the experienced pilots and their support teams. Other performances by Red Eagle, Dan Buchanan, Gary Rower, Bill Braak and his Smoke-N-Thunder Jet Car, F/A -18 Hornet Demo, Kent Pietsch Jelly Belly, Dobbins C-130 Airdrop, “Otto” The Helicopter (a favorite, especially among children), Georgia State Patrol Helo Demo, Viper East F-16 Demo, Sean D. Tucker/Oracle and others provided even more excitement for the day.
The organization of the air show was handled by the 94th Airlift Wing, that is organized into a headquarters element, three groups, and a medical element containing 11 Squadrons and 4 Flights (1,800 personnel) and whose mission is threefold. The primary mission is to train C-130H aircrews for the United States Air Force — active duty, guard and reserve components. The second mission is to maintain combat ready units to deploy on short notice to support contingencies anywhere in the world. The third mission is to support all agencies and tenants at Dobbins Air Reserve Base.

The highlight of the show was, without a doubt, the performance of the US Navy Blue Angels F/A-18s and their support plane, the C-130, affectionately known as “Fat Albert”. The aerial demonstration begun by exhibiting the jet’s maximum performance capabilities during a ten-minute performance. Shortly thereafter, it was the time for the graceful aerobatic maneuvers of the four-jet Diamond Formation, in concert with the fast-paced, high-performance maneuvers of its two solo pilots. Finally, the team illustrated the pinnacle of precision flying, performing maneuvers locked as a unit in the renowned, six-jet Delta Formation.

The Blue Angels, although less aerobatic from a pure jet handling point of view than the USAF counterparts, the Thunderbirds, showed off some incredible precision flying, considering the size of Hornet.
The Blue Angels were scheduled to fly 68 performances at 35 airshow sites in the United States during the 2010 season as the team celebrates its 23rd year of flying the F-18. The Dobbins Airshow was the 66th of the season, and the Angels still have one more show in Homestead, FL before of the Homecoming show in Pensacola, Florida on November 11th and 13th.
This year’s show also hosted the Canadian Snowbirds. Officially known as the Canadian Forces 431 Air Demonstration Squadron, they fly the CT-114 Tutors that were designed and built by Canadair. The Canadians are well known for their precise flight program that includes different formations composed by 9 or 7 planes, as well as solo flights.
Another amazing show was performed by flying legend Sean D. Tucker, flying his custom built Oracle Challenger III biplane which produces more than 400 horsepower, weighs only 1,200 pounds, and is considered the most high-performance aerobatic aircraft in the world. The Challenger III is equipped with a unique set of wings that use 8 ailerons instead of 4. The tail on the airplane is modeled after the tail used on high-performance radio control airplanes. What Sean does with his plane seems beyond the all laws of aerodynamics.

The power of the Oracle’s engine allows Sean to “hang” vertically in the skies without losing altitude. Sean D. Tucker’s “Sky Dance” daytime performance begins with an unbelievable sequence of events. One second he’s tumbling the 330 HP Randolph Sunglass Challenger end-over-end, and then all the sudden flying it tail-first, straight towards the earth for 500 feet at negative airspeeds of up to 90 MPH while rolling his aircraft counter-clockwise! Before the first spiral of smoke begins to fade, Tucker plunges into a powerful and complex aerobatics sequence that demonstrates the talent that won him the coveted U.S. National Advanced Aerobatics Trophy in 1988. Tucker’s spectacular sequence includes original, adrenaline-pumping maneuvers like “The Centrifuge,” “The Son of Edwin,” “The Spiraling Tower,” “The Tucker Upper,” “The Harrier Pass” and the heart-stopping finale “The Triple ribbon Cut.”

The static display, whose centerpiece was the F-22 Raptor with its incredible engines strictly covered, was very impressive this year with some of the greatest warbirds, such as P-51 Mustangs, the P-40, the mammoth Grumman TBF Avenger and many more. As usual the planes were open cockpit and from the giant planes like the C-5, C-17, and KC-135 it was possible to enter in the cargo bay and climb up into the cockpit.
Delta Airlines flew one of its B-757’s to Dobbins, promoting the fight against cancer.

Without a doubt this year’s Wings over Atlanta was another successful airshow for the 94th AW.