Tag Archives: Dissimilar Air Combat Training

Russian Video Of Captured U.S. F-5 Tiger Jet Dogfighting Against MiG-21 in Tests Raises Question: Do They Still Operate American Jets?

Russia Operated Captured U.S. Aircraft for “OPFOR” Evaluation.

As we have reported previously, it is no secret the U.S. has made and still make use of captured or otherwise acquired Russian aircraft for test, evaluation and training purposes including the development of U.S. radars, countermeasures and early warning systems (earlier this year we published some really rare images of a Russian Su-27 Flanker dogfighting with a U.S. F-16 inside Area 51…)

Has Russia done the same with U.S. aircraft? Absolutely.

The RT video below contains some quite famous footage of a Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighter formerly stationed at Bien Hoa Air Base in Vietnam being operated in Soviet markings against a MiG-21 (NATO codename “Fishbed”). The aircraft was seized along with “several US military aircraft”, taken to the USSR and used in a test and evaluation project to determine the capabilities of the F-5 series compared to Warsaw Pact aircraft.

Bien Hoa Air Base was overrun by Communist forces on Apr. 25, 1975 as the Vietnam War (referred to as the “American War” in Vietnam) neared its end.

A number of F-5A and F-5E aircraft attributed to the 522nd Fighter Squadron were left behind intact at the air base. Because the F-5E version of the aircraft had only flown for the first time three years earlier in 1973 and was being marketed to other Western user nations it was of significant interest to the Warsaw Pact.

Was the F-5 a threat to the Russian mainstay MiG-21? This video shows testing to answer that question in Russia.

At least one of the F-5s, in Soviet markings, was tested in opposing forces simulation with the MiG-21 as shown in this video.

Soviet pilots from Chkalov’s Russian Flight Test Center near the Volga River, a facility similar to the secret test ranges at Tonopah and Edwards AFB, were reportedly impressed by the performance of the F-5 against the MiG-21. Interestingly, Soviet engineers assumed the MiG-21 was more advanced but the F-5 won every time in the simulated air combat carried out in USSR. According to some reports the Russian pilots who flew the F-5 against the MiG-21 were named Vladimir Kandaurov, Alexander Bezhevets and Nikolay Stogov. The findings of these fly-offs and simulated combat were said to contribute to the development of the MiG-23 for the Russians, an aircraft that was imported to several Arab nations friendly with the USSR.

Noteworthy, the F-5 was so similar to the MiG-21, it was used as

Another curious development from behind the Iron Curtain was this photo of a what seems to be a McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom aircraft (or mock-up) under a tarp at the famous Zhukovskiy airfield near Moscow. The photo is allegedly from Aug. 11, 1971. It includes a French-built Mirage aircraft, also under cover, parked next to it. The massive Myasishchev M-4 Molot strategic bomber in front of the F-4 and the Mirage add some scale to the image.

An F-4 Phantom II and a French Mirage III sit under cover behind a Russian Myasishchev M-4 heavy bomber in Russia. (International Air Power Review Photo)

There have also been some interesting hoax aircraft flown in the Photoshop air force with Russian markings. The most famous is an F-14 Tomcat said to be taken from the Iranian Air Force following the fall of the Shah of Iran during the Iranian Revolution in 1978. While the photo looks convincing and the story is certainly plausible, most analysts agree it is faked.

A Photoshopped image of a Grumman F-14 with fake Russian Markings. Internet contributors contended the aircraft went to Russia from Iran for testing but the story proved to be untrue and the photo manipulated. (The Aviation Forum)

Perhaps the most interesting question is, does Russia own current frontline U.S. tactical aircraft as a part of its opposing forces unit? Are there Russian-marked F-16s or F-15s flying somewhere in Russia? The answer is, likely no.

The U.S. has been careful about the distribution of tactical aircraft to nations that may realign with Russia from the U.S. if their strategic alliances shift. And while relations with Russia and the U.S. have been much more open since the end of the Cold War there are still many reasons why the U.S. and Russia are vigorous about maintaining security about their respective combat aircraft.

Have you ever heard reports or rumors about American aircraft in the hands of the Russians? Let us know.


Check out this fantastic video of an EF-18 Hornet during DACT 2017 exercise

Behind the scenes of the air-to-air photo session of a Spanish KC-130H with an ALA46 EF-18 Hornet.

Held at Gando Air Base, in Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, in the second half of January, Dissimilar Air Combat Training 2017 was the most important Air Defense exercise organized by the Ejercito del Aire (Spanish Air Force) this year.

During the Exercise’s Media Day, some aviation photographers went aboard a Spanish KC-130H for an air-to-air photo session with some of the combat planes involved in the drills, including the local-based ALA 46 (Wing) EF-18 Hornets.

We have published the stunning photos our contributor Remo Guidi took from the Hercules, here’s a cool video (produced by thefightercommunity.com) that includes footage from the cockpit of the Spanish Hornet.

As already explained, the ALA 46/Esc. 462 based at Gando flies the surplus U.S. Navy delivered to the SpAF between 1995 and 2000 whereas the ALA  12 from Torrejon and the ALA 15 from Zaragoza, that took part in DACT 2017 too, operate the EF-18A and EF-18B model Hornets (the “E” standing for “España”, Spain), named respectively as C.15 and CE.15 by Spanish AF, along with the upgraded EF-18A(M) (C.15-33) and EF-18B(M) (C.15-36).

H/T Giulio Cristante for the sending the link to the video over.

These are some of the greatest Spanish Air Force F/A-18 Hornet shots we have ever seen

Here are some really crazy cool shots of the Spanish “Legacy” Hornets.

As already reported, Dissimilar Air Combat Training 2017, the most important Air Defense drills organized by the Ejercito del Aire (Spanish Air Force), at Gando Air Base, in Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, gathered some Italian and Spanish Typhoon jets, along with several F/A-18 Hornets of the SpAF.

During the drills, some aviation photographers, including our contributor and friend Remo Guidi, had the opportunity to board a Spanish KC-130H for an air-to-air photo session with some of the aircraft taking part in the exercise.

In this post you can find some of the shot taken by Guidi from aboard the Hercules as well as on the ground at Gando.

The Spanish Hornets attending DACT belonged to various variants and units: the local-based ALA 46/Esc. 462 flies the surplus U.S. Navy delivered to the SpAF between 1995 and 2000 whereas the ALA  12 from Torrejon and the ALA 15 from Zaragoza operate the EF-18A and EF-18B model Hornets (the “E” standing for “España”, Spain), named respectively as C.15 and CE.15 by Spanish AF, along with the upgraded EF-18A(M) (C.15-33) and EF-18B(M) (C.15-36).

Image credit: Remo Guidi

Italian Typhoons along with Spanish Hornets and Typhoons take part in DACT 2017 exercise in the Canary Islands

The Italian Air Force Eurofighters have attended the Dissimilar Air Combat Training 2017 exercise at Gando airbase for the first time to work alongside the Spanish Air Force Hornets and Typhoons.

From Jan. 17 to 26, three Italian Typhoon jets, belonging to the 4°, 36° and 37° Stormo (Wing), the three ItAF units that operate the Eurofighter, took part in the DACT 2017 exercise the most important Air Defense drills organized by the Ejercito del Aire (Spanish Air Force), at Gando Air Base, in Gran Canaria, Canary Islands.

The three Italian jets carried out 38 missions logging more than 75 flight hours, flying air-to-air sorties against the Spanish Hornets and Typhoons to validate the TTPS (Tactics Technics Procedures) in the air superiority role within the Canary Islands firing range, where combat aircraft can fly supersonic and employ EW (Electronic Warfare) countermeasures without restrictions.

DACT 17 featured “waves” of 25 aircraft flying at the same time operating under control of a NATO E-3 AWACS (Airborne Warning And Control System) from Geilenkirchen, Germany.

“Taking part in this exercise has been extremely important for the Italian Air Force and for its units and personnel tasked with the air defense of the national and NATO airspace,” said Lt. Col. Raffaele Catucci, chief of the Italian detachment, in a public statement.

“We have launched all the planned sorties, thanks to the valuable contribution of the technical personnel who ensured a 100% efficiency of the aircraft throughout the exercise period.”

From Oct. 18 to 21, four Italian Typhoons visited Gando on a pre-DACT 1,800-nautical mile journey supported by a KC-767A tanker with the 14° Stormo from Pratica di Mare.

Image credit: Remo Guidi



How two F/A-18s brought their pilots home after colliding mid-air during air combat training

The risky business of being an adversary pilot.

Dissimilar Air Combat Training (DACT) is one of the most important parts in the training of modern fighter pilots. At the same time, an air combat maneuvering (ACM) session, where friendly and (simulated) enemy fighters fly against each other, can be one of the most dangerous training environment.

Although quite rarely, mid-air collisions do occur, sometimes with fatal results.

The evidence DACT can be quite dangerous is in the following photos, taken after a mid air occurred on Apr. 22, 1996 between two F/A-18As (BuNo. 162454 and BuNo. 162475) from VFC-12 Fighting Omars.

The two Hornets, along with another F/A-18, were playing the MiG-29 role during a Strike Fighter Advanced Readiness Program (SFARP) sortie. Flown by the Flight Lead LCDR Greg “Stubby” Stubbs and his two wingmen, LCDR Greg “G.I” Anderson and LCDR Cal Worthington, the three F/A-18s engaged two VF-41 F-14s that were escorting an EA-6B Prowler.

Almost immediately the two Tomcats scored two kills with simulated missile shots at eight miles out against LCDR Stubbs and against LCDR Anderson.

The three Hornets remained in formation together until the merge point (where friendly fighters meet enemy fighters) and following the rules of engagement the two “MiGs” killed by simulated shots, executed aileron rolls to give the students a visual indication of which Bandits were killed and which one they should attack.

It was in the middle of the second aileron roll that Stubbs and Anderson collided, as explained by LCDR Stubbs himself to Rick Llinares and Chuck Lloyd for their book Adversary: America’s Aggressor Fighter Squadrons.

The nose of the Hornet flown by Anderson ripped through Stubbs F/A-18’s left wing and clipped off half of the vertical tail, while Anderson Hornet’s nose cone along with his canopy and his drop tank were lost. One of his engines was damaged as well.

The “Knock it off” (the signal given by the pilots to stop a training air engagement) of the furball was called and someone said on the radio that a mid-air had occurred. LCDR Worthington called Stubbs asking him if he could control his F/A-18. Stubbs applied right stick, right rudder and started pulling the power back a little bit and the nose came up. He answered to Worthington “yeah, I have it.” In the meantime also Anderson called to say he was fine, even if the sound of the wind filled his radio communications.

F/A-18A 1

Both the damaged Hornets headed towards the coastline, with Stubbs assisted by Worthington, while the F-14s were trying to communicate with Anderson. Since the Tomcats weren’t able to contact LCDR Anderson because of a radio problem, Stubbs said to Worthington that he had to join up with Anderson since he was facing more serious problems: in fact Anderson had lost his probes during the collision and his airspeed and altitude indicators didn’t work.

Even though the Coast Guard station in Elizabeth City was the nearest airfield, it lacked an arresting cable system and so Stubbs and Anderson decided to go to Oceana. Not only did the aircraft configuration make a standard approach almost impossible, but Stubbs also discovered that his Hornet entered in dangerous left rolls if the speed descended below 200 knots. So the long runway and the arresting cable system available at NAS Oceana were the best option for them.


After consulting with a McDonnel Douglas representative Stubbs decided to land without lowering his remaining flap. Two more Hornets, flown by LCDR Bertran and Bowman, joined up with him while he was preparing to lower his landing gear.

The damaged Hornet touched the runway at 200 knots, a speed that exceeded both the arresting gear engagement speed limit (175 knots) and the speed limit beyond which the hook might be ripped off (182 knots).

Few moments later also Anderson came to landing: his F/A-18 had lost the whole canopy aft of the windscreen (hence the sound of the wind that filled his radio communications) and wires were flapping out of the nose, beating against the side of the jet, but he was able to safely land.

midair 2

After two months, both pilots returned to flight status. Among the lessons learned in the mishap there was the need to put more emphasis on how pilots have to come out from the merge during the pre-flight briefing.

Conversely this accident was a significant testament to the sturdiness of the F/A-18: in fact although both the fighters were written off, the two Hornets were able to bring back home their pilots safely even after sustaining huge damages shown in the photos above.

Image credit: U.S. Navy via aircraftresourcecenter.com