Tag Archives: Edwards Air Force Base

Thunderbird F-16D Ground Accident in Ohio, Global Hawk Drone Crashes in California.

RQ-4 Long Range RPV From Beale AFB Crashes in Mountains, Thunderbirds F-16D Crashes In Runway Rollover.

In two separate, unrelated incidents a U.S. Air Force F-16D Fighting Falcon of the Thunderbirds flight demonstration team flipped over after landing at Dayton International Airport in Ohio and a U.S. Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk long range surveillance drone has crashed on a ferry mission from Edwards Air Force Base back to its home base at Beale AFB in California.

The Thunderbird F-16D involved in the crash is a two-seat variant often used for orientation and public relations flights with two people on board, a Thunderbird pilot and guest of the team.

There is a report that the second person on the Thunderbird F-16D may have been an enlisted Thunderbird maintenance team member. Enlisted members of the Thunderbird team are sometimes flown for orientation and media purposes. Reports from the crash scene suggest one of the persons in the aircraft was waving to emergency personnel from inside the aircraft. Because the aircraft came to rest upside down the canopy could not immediately be opened. Rescue personnel were on scene immediately following the accident.

In an official release on the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds’ Facebook page, the team’s social media liaison wrote, “The United States Air Force Thunderbirds were conducting a single-ship familiarization flight on Friday June 23, 2017. Upon landing there was a mishap at the Dayton International Airport with an F-16D Fighting Falcon at approximately 12:20 p.m. Emergency services are on the scene. We will provide more information as it becomes available.”

Although no official cause of the accident has been released, weather may have been a factor. As of 1:00 p.m. local time weather websites for the area reported thunderstorms with heavy rain and lightning with wind gusts up to 23 M.P.H.

A Thunderbird F-16D two-seat aircraft flipped over while on the ground at Dayton International Airport today in preparation for an airshow there this weekend. (Photo: WHIO-TV via Facebook)

On Jun. 2, 2016, a U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds F-16 crashed shortly after the demo team had performed a flyover at the annual Air Force graduation ceremony in Colorado Springs. The pilot managed to eject before the aircraft crash landed in a field not far from Peterson AFB, Colorado. The cause of the F-16CM #6 crash was found in “a throttle trigger malfunction and inadvertent throttle rotation.”

In an unrelated incident a U.S. Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk long range surveillance drone had crashed on a ferry mission from Edwards Air Force Base back to its home base at Beale AFB in California on Jun. 21. Media reports said the remotely piloted vehicle was from the 12th Reconnaissance Squadron at Beale and was on a routine flight from Edwards Air Force Base. The aircraft went down near Mt. Whitney in the Sierra Nevada mountains at approximately 1:45 p.m. PST on Wednesday, June 21.

The Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk is a key strategic intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance asset for the U.S. Air Force. It is a long range, long duration surveillance asset. The RQ-4 uses synthetic aperture radar to “see through” overcast and nighttime conditions to provide precise imagery of terrain features. A series of infra-red and long-range electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensors provide imagery and spectrum analysis of targets from the RQ-4. Some analysts compare the mission and performance of the unmanned RQ-4 Global Hawk to the manned TR-2/U-2 long range, high altitude reconnaissance aircraft. There may be as few as four of the RQ-4s operating from Beale AFB.

A file photo of a U.S. Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk long range surveillance remotely piloted vehicle. (Photo: Northrop Grumman)

 

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.

 

Take a look at these photographs of the rare NASA DC-8 Airborne Laboratory visiting Lajes during global-scale sampling mission

A rare beauty flew into Lajes airfield, Azores.

Taking part in the Atmospheric Tomography Mission (ATom-1) to study the impact of human-produced air pollution on greenhouse gases and on chemically reactive gases in the atmosphere, the NASA /Armstrong Flight Research Center / Earth Science DC8-72 msn 46082/458 flew into Lajes air base, Terceira island, Azores, on Aug. 17.

Lajes is a strategic airfield located in the Atlantic Ocean frequently used as a stopover airfield by military (as well as NASA) aircraft crossing the Pond.

ATom deploys an extensive gas and aerosol payload on the NASA DC-8 aircraft for systematic, global-scale sampling of the atmosphere, profiling continuously from 0.2 to 12 km altitude.

NASA DC-8

According to the NASA website, the DC-8’s sampling activities occur in each of 4 seasons over a 4-year period covering the whole globe: NASA 817 flew to Lajes from Ascension Island and before that the aircraft flew from New Zealand all the way across the Pacific and Indian oceans.

NASA DC-8 2

With the Universidade dos Açores (Azores University Meteo department) as a prominent research partner, the classic aircraft was involved in several scientific local flights to better understand atlantic meteorological conditions as well as air particle analysis, before leaving bound for Greenland on Aug. 20.

Below you can see the last part of the route followed by NASA 817 (screenshot from Flightradar24.)

NASA FR24

Here are some images sent us by our friends at the APS (Associação Portugal Spotters) showing the DC-8 arriving at Lajes in the afternoon on Aug. 17.

Image credit: APS – Associação Portugal Spotters

Salva

The F-35A has started tailhook testing at Edwards AFB

Even the conventional variant of the Joint Strike Fighter must be prepared to use the tailhook to face directional control issues or braking failures.

Tailhook landings by land-based aircraft are used in emergency situations to arrest a plane experiencing a failure that could imply a braking malfunction.

That’s why almost all U.S. combat aircraft have a tailhook, including the U.S. Air Force’s new F-35A Joint Strike Fighter.

According to an Air Force release, the JSF Integrated Test Force have started the first set of tests for the F-35A’s tailhook at Edwards Air Force Base, California. Although F-35s have landed using a tailhook before, they did not catch the arresting wire at the speeds and weights being tested now.

F-35A tailhook tests

Since the tailhooks on the land-based aircraft are used rarely, they are designed as a one-time use device, as opposed to the Navy tailhooks. For this reason the F-35C (the carrier variant used by the Navy) has a significantly more robust tailhook that can be used for several thousands deploy-engage-retract-stow cycles.

The initial testing saw the F-35A AF-04 from the 461st FLTS (Flight Test Squadron) reach 180 knots over the ground, deploy the hook to catch an arresting cable in place and safely come to a stop.

The procedure was filmed by high-speed cameras for later review while telemetry data was collected.

“In the big picture, the F-35A tailhook is designed to stop the jet in an emergency primarily,” said Maj. Corey Florendo, 461st Flight Test Squadron project test pilot. “We have to make sure the system works as designed and as specified. We’re out there to verify the performance of the system, up to and including the worst case conditions we can possibly envision.”

According to the U.S. Air Force AF-04 had several successful engagements with the tailhook and arresting cable, which will clear the path for additional tests coming up, including different set ups (for instance with the plane not in the center of the runway).

F-35A tailhook emergency vehicles

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

 

Six U.S. Air Force F-35As have arrived at Mountain Home AFB for the type’s first simulated deployment

First simulated deployment for the U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning IIs.

Taken on Feb. 8, 2016 the following pictures feature six F-35A Lightning IIs belonging to the 31st Test and Evaluation Squadron (TES) from Edwards Air Force Base, California, arriving at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, for the fifth generation aircraft’s first simulated deployment test, that is expected to last about a month.

Three key initial operational capability mission sets will be tested by the 31st TES : suppression of enemy air defenses, close air support and air interdiction.

F-35As deployment

This test is conducted to assess the deployment capability of an F-35A squadron and its outcome will set the benchmark capability for the Air Force to declare F-35A IOC (initial operational capability) scheduled for this fall.

Noteworthy Mountain Home AFB has been selected to host the simulated deployment because it can provide a secure environment with ranges to employ fourth-generation aircraft as well: in fact during their stay in Idaho the six F-35As will integrate with F-15E Strike Eagles belonging to the 366th Fighter Wing from Mountain Home Air Force Base and A-10 Thunderbolt IIs belonging to the 124th Fighter Wing from Gowen Field, Idaho.

Mountain Home F-35As

Image credit: Senior Airman Jeremy L. Mosier and Tech. Sgt. Samuel Morse / U.S. Air Force