Tag Archives: drag chute

Watch this: Polish Su-22 Fitter Deploys Drag Chute Before Touching the Runway

This is something you don’t see too often: early deployment of the drag parachute.

Last Saturday something unusual took place at the Polish Air Force’s 21st Airbase in Świdwin, during the airbase’s open day. As a part of the display routine a Su-22 Fitter jet intentionally overshot the landing: the pilot deployed the drag chute prematurely, causing the aircraft to hit the runway very hard.

It was also an unusual sight to see the jet with the chute trailing behind it, still being up in the air. This also gave the photographers and spectators at the base to witness this unique sight.

Drag (or drogue) chutes are a quite common design trait of the Soviet-made jets. The system consists of a single or several parachutes placed in a special pod located in the rear section of the fuselage. The chute is ejected with the use of a smaller parachute, spring-driven or compressed air based system. After the aircraft comes to a halt, the chute is separated to prevent the aircraft from being dragged on the runway. Moreover, the chute often comes with a safety system, with a ring that breaks if the braking system is deployed at a speed which is too high. In the case above probably the speed was low enough to keep the said element intact and the chute stayed in its place.

Notably, the drag created by drogue chutes is lower than the one experienced in case of the conventional drop-parachutes in order to prevent damage to the aircraft.

The one in the video is one of the techniques used to land on a damaged runway: the chute is deployed about 7 feet above the runway and the aircraft only needs 350 meters to stop.

Norway Has Completed A Successful Verification Of The F-35 Drag Chute System, Unique To The Norwegian Aircraft.

The chute, housed under a small fairing on the upper rear fuselage between the vertical tails, is unique to the Norwegian aircraft.

On Feb. 16, the Royal Norwegian Air Force completed a successful verification of the F-35A drag chute system at Ørland Air Force Base.

The system, housed under a small fairing on the upper rear fuselage between the vertical tails, can be used to rapidly decelerate Norwegian F-35s after landing on the country’s icy runways under windy conditions.

Although the chute is unique to the Norwegian aircraft, other nations flying the F-35A may adopt it, if needed.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Air Force is completing another round of cold-weather testing of the F-35A at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska.

The RoNAF F-35 during the drag chute test (credit: RoNAF)

“Receiving the first three aircraft in November 2017 was a major milestone for Norway. The program delivers on all key criteria: Time, cost and performance. Through the verification of the production version of the drag chute on our production model of the F-35, the weapons system is expected to fully qualify for arctic conditions this spring,” says Major General Morten Klever, Program Director for the F-35 program in Norway’s Ministry of Defence.

The first three RoNAF F-35s have landed in Norway in November 2017. According to the Norwegian MoD, from 2018, Norway will receive six aircraft annually up until, and including, 2024.

Norway plans to procure up to 52 F-35A to replace its fleet of ageing F-16s, that will be replaced in 2021. The first two aircraft were delivered in 2015 followed by another two in 2016 and three more ones earlier in 2017, but these aircraft were based at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, where they are used for Norwegian and partner country pilot training.

Top image credit: Royal Norwegian Air Force

Early F-117 stealth jets used unusual black colored drag chutes

The image in this post is particularly interesting as it shows an F-117 Nighthawk pilot deploying an unsual black drag chute.

Since later photos show white chutes used by stealth jet’s pilots, according to Lockheed Martin’s Code One, this photo was likely taken in the early years (decades…) of the Nighthawk, when the plane secretly flew, mainly at night, using all kind of tricks to deceive indiscreet eyes.

Image credit: Code One magazine


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The F-104 (?) drag chute mistery

In 2005 I bought an item that was sold as an F-104 drag chute. The seller claimed it was a 1969 Starfighter drag chute but as soon as I received it I found it very strange because it hadn’t the characteristic air intakes that every drag chute has and had not the correct part number 794399-3M3.
The chute has the following label:
CONTRACT No. AF-33 ( 038 ) 5603
43 G 13344
Furthermore, there’s an Italian text printed next to the label: “verificato a vista Nov. 1969” that in English means “visually verified Nov. 1969”.

The chute diameter is 12 ft so it is larger than a pilot chute and smaller than a drag chute. The pilot chute is the little parachute that helps the drag chute to deploy. In the following sequence it is the smaller one, white colour.

The pilot chute it’s extremely important for the deployment: the F-104 landed very fast and without drag chute it need the safeland barrier or the arrestor gear to prevent overrun. The following pictures show the last XX Gruppo TF-104 special colour landing at Pratica di Mare during the F-104 reunion on May 30th 2004 without the drag chute (pictures by Giovanni Maduli).

In 1950, the F-104 was a project, so the chute was most probably used with another purpose and on another kind of aircraft (since ’50s aircraft use canopies with segmented panels not a solid one). I’m pretty sure it is not a drag chute simply because it is a solid canopy and not a slotted type with the characteristic segmented panels. Just look at the following pictures (some of which ItAF courtesy) to see how a Starfighter drag chute looked like.

The seller explained that her uncle, a former F-104 pilot, gave it to her and she had twice of them (I also saw a picture of the other one that was identical to the one I purchased) and for a short time I thought it could also be the pilot’s own parachute, the one used with the C-2 ejection seat, even if the previous and current C-9 canopies are white, green, orange, larger and most probably thinner than the Hoffman one.
I’ve tried to find on the internet some info about Contract No AF-33 ( 038 ) 5603 but haven’t found any detail. Furthermore, I think that 43G13344 could be either a P/N or a model type. I’ve tried also to look for HOFFMAN Radio Corp, and I found this company produced radios and many other interesting things, some of which in the military field.
At least in 1969 my drag chute was verified by someone in Italy meaning that it was still in use (even if there’s no way to know if it was in the Italian Air Force, Army or Navy). The strange thing is that the “owner” is the HOFFMAN Radio Corp. but there’s also a possibility that it was used as a recovery chute for an air- or rocket-launched radio equipment or special weapon.
Interestingly, I’ve discovered that the Hoffman Radio Corp. produced the TACAN used on the F-104 (at least on the American ones) and maybe some UHF radios. However I think this doesn’t mean that the parachute is surely somehow linked to the Starfighter.
By searching for more infos on the Internet I found some interesting things dealing with Hoffman Radio Co. The first is that the Hoffman was awarded a contract by the US Navy to design and build sonobuoys and accompanying aircraft radio equipment. This is an excerpt from the R. I. ‘Scibor-Marchocki’ website (http://www.rism.com/atribute.htm) that has plenty of information on the Hoffman sonobuoys: “In the mid-1950’s, I was an in-house consultant and technical supervisor of the Hoffman Laboratories. In that capacity, I had designed the Sonobuoy that we manufactured for the U. S. Navy. What is a Sonobuoy? A Sonobuoy is a cylindrical device, which was deployed dropped) from a low-flying airplane. The buoy portion, which contained a two-way radio and antenna, would float vertically on the surface of the ocean. Depending upon the model, either mounted directly on the bottom of the buoy or hung at the end of a cable, there was a hydrophone (the sono portion, from the word “sonic”), a piezo-electric transducer which either passively or actively would listen acoustically for submarines. By placing several (at least three, usually five or six) Sonobuoys in a specific pattern, one could triangulate the position of the submarine. The two-way radio communication between the airplanes that deployed and then controlled and listened to the Sonobuoys employed “frequency hopping””.
Between 1957 and 1979 the ItAF was equipped with the Grumman S-2 Tracker an antisom aircraft and it is possible that they were equipped with the Hoffman sonobuoys. Therefore, it is also possible that the Hoffman chute was used to drop them in the water.
The unexplained would be: why an F-104 pilot got it and why did he tell his relatives that it was a Starfighter drag chute?

Some members of the Starfighter yahoo mailing list tried to find out what the parachute could be used for. According to a former RCAF military my parachute could be a deployment chute for a Gibson Girl radio. As Gary Watson explained: “the Gibson Girl was an emergency radio, approximately 24″ x 24″, with a long wire antenna that was carried aloft by a kite. A large crank was attached to the unit and you held the radio between your legs and spun the crank to generate enough electricity to send out an SOS on 500KHZ which was the original marine distress frequency. I only saw them once back in the mid 60s when they were being phased out of our C47s and Bristol Freighters in Marville. They would give you one hell of a jolt if you were touching the antenna output and the other A-holes in the shop were spinning the crank (personal experience as the receiver). They were also used quite a bit in Europe during WWII being dropped to resistance groups in the Netherlands, France etc”.

If you have any information or idea about this misterious drag chute, contact me or leave a comment.