Tag Archives: Boeing F-15 Eagle

The U.S. Air Force is deploying 12 F-15 jets to Europe as first Air National Guard theater security package

Twelve F-15C jets will operate in the Netherlands before moving to Bulgaria.

It looks like the military build-up in eastern Europe continues.

The U.S. Air Force is deploying 12 F-15C belonging to the 125th Fighter Wing, Florida Air National Guard, Jacksonville, Fla., to Europe.

The Eagles, part of the first ANG TSP (Theater Security Package) will first operate from Leeuwarden airbase, in the Netherlands, where they will take part in the Frisian Flag mutinational exercise, then, they are expected to move east and be temporarily based at Graf Ignatievo, Bulgaria.

The Air National Guard F-15s are the second TSP to deploy to Europe in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, the mission aimed at showing Washington’s commitment to peace and stability in the region and reassure local allies amid growing tensions with Russia following the annexation of Crimea last year.

Last month, 12 A-10s of the 355th Fighter Wing at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, deployed to Germany as part of the first theater security rotation on the Continent. The unit first flew from Spangdahlem air base, and then moved to RAF Lakenheath, UK, and to Poland.

TSPs are not the only U.S. forces currently operating from Europe: 14 F-16s from Aviano airbase, have deployed to Estonia, to conduct joint training with local military forces.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

 

Cope India: when India’s Russian jets achieved a surprising 9:1 kill ratio against U.S. F-15s

According to Indian media an air exercise held ten years ago “highlighted the innovativeness of Indian fighter pilots, the impact of Russian jets and the potentially fatal limitations in USAF pilot training.”

Held at the Gwalior Indian Air Force range from Feb. 15 to 27, 2004, Cope India 04 exercise gained the headlines not only because it marked the beginning of a new chapter in bilateral relations between India and US, but also because Indian pilots were able to win more than 90 percent of the mock air engagements conducted against U.S. Air Force F-15C jets from 3rd Wing based at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska.

The results of this joint training was surprising, somehow shocking.

According to the Pentagon, several limitations reduced the chances of victory of the Eagle drivers against the Indian fighters.

First of all, the lack of the advanced active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar on their F-15s. Second, the air engagements typically involved six Eagles against up to eighteen IAF aircraft with no chance to simulate any beyond visual range (BVR) missile shot (due to the Indian request of not using the AMRAAM).

Furthermore, the Indians had sent their most experienced airmen to fight against the Americans whereas the latter belonged to a standard squadron (hence there was a mix of experienced and less experienced pilots).

Anyway, regardless of the Rules of Engagement, the outcome of the engagement proved the skills and level of preparedness of the Indians.

As highlighted by Rakesh Krishnan Simha in an article published in Feb. 2014 on Russia & India Report, David A. Fulghum in its Cope India report for Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine quoted Colonel Mike Snodgrass, commander of the 3rd Wing as saying: “The outcome of the exercise boils down to (the fact that) they ran tactics that were more advanced than we expected…They could come up with a game plan, but if it wasn’t working they would call an audible and change (tactics in flight).”

Moreover even the Indian jets faced several limitations during the exercise.

IAF jets weren’t equipped with the AESA radar either and they were Su-30MKs, less advanced than the MKIs that the Indians  did not want to dispatch to Cope India.

The Flanker wasn’t the only aircraft that the Eagle’s drivers faced in mock air-to-air combat: “The two most formidable IAF aircraft proved to be the MiG-21 Bison, an upgraded version of the Russian-made baseline MiG-21, and the Su-30MK Flanker, also made in Russia,” Snodgrass explained to AW&ST.

Low radar visibility, instantaneous turn rate, acceleration and the helmet mounted sight combined with high-off-boresight R-73 air-to-air missiles were among the factors that made the upgraded MiG-21 a deadly adversary for the U.S. F-15s.

Cope India 2005 saw the U.S. Air Force deploy several F-16s that operated also mixed up with IAF Su-30MKIs (and not only against them). Nevertheless the results of the drills were much similar to those of the previous year, with Indian pilots able to win most of the engagements.

However according to Simha, the poor performance of the US aircrews during the exercise was also due to the old tactics used by the Americans during the air engagements who relied on the static Cold War ground-controlled interceptions which limited the pilots during the mock air combats.

But the 9:1 kill ratio achieved by Indians pilots against USAF fighters during the Cope India 04, was also reached thanks to their skills as USAF Colonel Greg Newbech said: “What we’ve seen in the last two weeks is the IAF can stand toe-to-toe with the best air force in the world. I pity the pilot who has to face the IAF and chances the day to underestimate him; because he won’t be going home. They made good decisions about when to bring their strikers in. The MiG-21s would be embedded with a (MiG-27) Flogger for integral protection. There was a data link between the Flankers that was used to pass information. They built a very good (radar) picture of what we were doing and were able to make good decisions about when to roll (their aircraft) in and out.”

Cope India 2004 formation

As reported by Scott Baldauf for CSMonitor, the same opinion is shared by Vinod Patney, retired Indian Air Force Marshal, and former vice chief of staff who said that the skills of IAF pilots combined with those possessed by Indian ground crews have been the real game changer during the several Cope India exercise editions since “..We’re not talking about a single aircraft. We’re talking about the overall infrastructure, the command and control systems, the radar on the ground and in the air, the technical crew on the ground, and how do you maximize that infrastructure. This is where the learning curve takes place.”

So, provided that the it went exactly as reported, was poor training the reason of the bad results achieved by US aircrews during Cope India exercises? Did the U.S. underestimate the IAF before the first simulated dogfights?

Maybe.

For sure some lessons were learned.

When, in 2008, the Indians took part in Red Flag with Su-30MKI the results of the engagements leaked thanks to a video which surfaced on Youtube.

Footage showed a U.S. Air Force pilot, Col Terence Fornof, lecturing an audience about the Indian Flankers with plenty of details about the poor performance of the Indian jets.

During his interesting speech, the F-15 pilots highlighted several shortcomings of the Indian Su-30s, including problems with the engines, FOD (Foreign Object Damage) procedures requiring 60-second intervals between takeoffs, poor performance in 1 vs 1 dogfights with the U.S. F-15s, to such an extent, after a few days, Indian didn’t want “any more 1 vs 1 stuff.”

Obviously, Fornof comments, are strongly denied on Indian side. Rightly. The U.S. Colonel is mistaken on some of his claims, including the engine of the Flanker and the radar of the Mig-21 and there is a chance he was playing to the gallery.

Most probably the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Image credit: IAF

David Cenciotti has contributed to this article.

 

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Stunning Photo of U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle jets during Baltic Air Policing mission

48th Air Expeditionary Group has just handed over the task of Baltic Airspace air defense to the Polish and UK air policing detachments.

On Apr. 30, the U.S. Air Force in Europe handed over the Baltic Air Policing task to the Polish Air Force MiG-29s and UK’s Royal Air Force Typhoons that will provide air defense and safety to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, while preserving the security of NATO’s borders.

Before the RAF Lakenheath’s F-15 rotation came to an end (after several interesting close encounters with “Ivan”), during a mission flown over Lithuania, Rich Cooper took the stunning photo you can see in this post.

Image credit: RC-Pro Photography

 

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Pilot explains what taking off with an F-15 at night looks like: “it’s like being in a dark tunnel and going super fast”

The following video shows interesting footage of the 173rd Fighter Wing at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Oregon.

The Wing has done night flight training last week and the NBC has filmed the F-15s taking off in the dark in full afterburner and talked with Lt.Col. Jeffrey Edwards, an “Eagle driver”.

Edwards said his first night flight in an F-15 was “unbelievable” because “One, the sheer power of the airplane; two, you lack some of the daytime cues that you normally see.  So, it’s kind of like being in a dark tunnel at night, and going super fast.”

Night flight training with Night Vision Goggles is a key element in fighter training, because, “many times initial combat operations happen at night.”

173rd FW Eagles perform air-to-air training activity, including weapons employment and air-to-air refuel, in the airspace in southeast Oregon.