Here’s what a high performance take off from the backseat of one of the world’s most advanced fighters looks like.
On Jan. 28, I had the opportunity to experience the thrill of a 4 vs 3 supersonic training mission of the 9th Gruppo (Squadron) of the Italian Air Force, from the backseat of a Eurofighter Typhoon of the 4th Stormo (Wing) based at Grosseto.
The mission was the final FCR (Full Combat Readiness) check for two pilots of the Squadron and included several scenarios, including BVR (Beyond Visual Range) intercepts, VIDs (Visual Identifications) of the “bogeys”, and some cool old-fashioned WVR (Within Visual Range) air combat.
Flying with Federico, the Commander of the 9th Gruppo, aboard the TF-2000A MM55132/“4-35” of the 9th Gruppo, I was part of the “Red Air,” a flight of three Typhoons that emulated the flying profile and tactics of the “super-maneuverable” Su-30 Flanker.
The mission, a 4 vs 3, was particularly long and demanding, with engagements past M1.0 up to FL460. However, one of the coolest part (at least for this Author) was the high-performance take-off.
We planned to perform a hi-perf take off followed by a RAT (Radar Assisted Trail) climb up to FL310 for the navigation, southbound, towards D115, the large airspace dedicated to this kind of activities located over the Tyrrhenian Sea.
The following footage show the departure of “Dardo 03” (our callsign for that mission): you’ll see the Typhoon accelerate under full afterburner thrust then reach in less than 10 seconds (in spite of the two full underwing drop tanks) the speed 120 knots and rotate. Immediately after retracting the landing gear Federico pulls the stick until reaching a nose-up pitch attitude of 50 degrees over the horizon that we maintained until we reported FL310 inside the Grosseto CTR (Control Zone): the rate of climb is truly impressive.
I’ll post more footage and photos of this flight, for the moment, enjoy the high-performance take off.
An-12PPS special mission aircraft among those met by the Belgian Air Force “Vipers” during their BAP (Baltic Air Patrol) rotation.
The images in this post were taken by the Belgian Air Force during their latest rotation of support to NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission.
Flying out of Amari Air Base, Estonia, the Belgian F-16 jets augmented the Lead Nation Spain’s Eurofighter Typhoon jets from January to April 2016.
The aircraft were often launched to intercept and escort Russian planes flying over the Baltics. Among them, Su-27 Flanker, Tu-134AK, Il-76, An-72 and also an An-12PPS.
The An-12PPS “Cub-D” is a jamming variant of the Antonov medium military transport.
According to “Russia’s Warplanes, Volume 1” by Piotr Butowski published by Harpia Publishing, one of the most authoritative sources on Russian-made military aircraft and helicopters today and set to become the standard reference work on the subject, the Russian Air Force operates several standoff ECM aircraft based on the standard An-12 airframe. Their task is to provide jamming cover to formation of transport aircraft carrying airborne troops by disguising the heading and composition of the formation during assault missions behind the front line.
Actually, the RF-90787 “19 Red” depicted in the photos taken by the BAF pilots lacks the most interesting equipment carried by the few An-12PPS aircraft: the Siren-D active jammer, usually mounted in four cigar-shaped pods, two under the forward fuselage and one on each side of the tailfin base. Still, it features another Cub-D’s distinctive feature: the SPS-100 Rezeda self-protection jammer built into the aircraft’s tail in lieu of the tail gunner’s turret.
Indeed, the aircraft is actually a former An-12PPS that was converted to the transport role back in 2001. Still, it’s a pretty rare bird!
The Italian HH-212 helicopter is sporting a flamboyant tiger livery.
From May 16, two HH-212 (AB.212ICO) helicopters with the 21° Gruppo (Squadron) “Tiger” from the 9° Stormo (Wing) based at Grazzanise, Italy, have deployed to Zaragoza, Spain, to take part in NTM (NATO Tiger Meet) 2016.
NATO Tiger Meet is a two-week multi-national mid-size exercise that includes all types of air-to-air and air-to-ground and a wide variety of support missions, comprising large COMAOs (Composite Air Operations). In particular, the Italian HH-212s are conducting PR (Personnel Recovery), CSAR (Combat Search And Rescue), NEO (Non-combatant Evacuation Operation), Special Forces support and tactical transports: the same kind of missions the squadron has flown during several tours of duty in Afghanistan.
It is attended by flying units, from 15 nations, sharing a Tiger (or feline) emblem.
One of the two helicopters that the 21° Gruppo brought to Spain is a new special colored HH-212 (MM81161/9-61) that celebrates also then 10 years since the squadron (formerly an F-104 and then Tornado F3 unit) reactivation on their current base. Noteworthy, the 21° has won the “Silver Tiger” trophy for the overall Best Squadron during last year’s Tiger Meet held at Konya, Turkey.
Along with the helicopters, the Italian Air Force has deployed to Zaragoza 6x Eurofighter Typhoons belonging to the 12° Gruppo from 36° Stormo based at Gioia del Colle.
In anticipation of NATO Tiger Meet 2016 at Saragoza, Spain, the Bavarian Tigers, founded on Mar. 18, 2013, by the 741 and 742 squadrons of the German Air Force’s Jagdgeschwader 74 in Neuburg, have painted one of theirEurofighters with a brand new tiger outfit.
Probably not as cool as the previous, amazing Tiger livery, prepared for the NTM2014, and that entirely covered one of the German Eurofighters, the Cyber Tiger color scheme is still quite impressive and cool.
NATO Tiger Meet (NTM) is an annual multinational exercise that gathers squadrons sporting Tiger (or feline) emblems. Among the highlights of the meeting, is the fact that combat planes and helicopters often sport spectacular color schemes, making the event a treat for all aviation enthusiasts.
The aircraft, 22 single seaters and 6 two-seaters will be produced in Italy.
The contract, worth about 8 billion Euro and the largest ever for Finmeccanica, is an intergovernmental agreement between the two countries and includes logistics, operational support s well training of both aircrews and ground personnel. The latter will be carried out in cooperation with the Italian Air Force, and in particular, with the 20th Gruppo, ItAF Typhoon OCU (Operational Conversion Unit) based at Grosseto airbase.
A memorandum of understanding was signed in September 2015 but the closing of the deal has been repeatedly postponed until today.
Kuwait (the 8th operator of the aircraft along with Austria, Italy, Germany, Oman, Spain, Saudi Arabia and UK) will get the Typhoon in its most advanced configuration: Tranche 3 planes equipped with the cutting-edge new E-Scan radar (Electronically Scanned array radar).