Two such nuclear-capable bombers, flying in international airspace, were intercepted and escorted by RAF Typhoons in QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) during a long-range sortie on Sept. 22.
Two RAF Typhoons at RAF Lossiemouth (callsign Y5R11 and Y5R12) were launched to intercept and escort the Blackjacks as they “skirted” the British Isles heading southwest. The interceptors were supported by a Voyager tanker launched from RAF Brize Norton and E-3D AWACS from RAF Waddington. The “Lossie” Typhoons handed over the two “zombies” to the southern QRA from RAF Coningsby.
It’s not clear where the Tu-160s flew after they flew close to the British Isles but they were probably taken on charge by other interceptors scrambled from nearby NATO countries.
After 56 years, the German Air Force is leaving Decimomannu. Typhoons from Norvenich deployed there for what is probably the very last use of the Italian training facilities by Luftwaffe since 1960.
A dozen German Eurofighter Typhoons, including a couple of two-seaters, deployed to Decimomannu airbase, Italy, at the end of August for what is probably the last use of the German facilities in Sardinia, since the first detachment 56 years ago.
The aircraft, belonging to the TaktLwG 31 “Boelcke” were accompanied by 300 military and civilian employees, and around 60 tons of material in 16 containers flown from Germany by C-160 and A400M airlifters.
During their deployment to “Deci” (as the Sardinian airbase is dubbed) the air combat training of the German Typhoons, that launched as many as 20 daily sorties in the ACMI (Air Combat Maneuvering Installation) ranges, was supported by a Learjet, a target plane that acts as an electronic jammer operated by the “Gesellschaft für Flugzieldarstellung” (GFD), a civilian company cooperating with the German Air Force for air targeting exercises; and two A-4N Skyhawk of the Discovery Air Defense, a Canadian company that provides, among the others, target towing and “aggressors” services to the Luftwaffe.
The A-4Ns are usually based at Wittmund, homebase of the Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 71 “Richthofen” whose famous red “R” emblem appears on the tail of one of the Skyhawks.
Noteworthy, among the EF2000 Typhoons that TLG 31 deployed to Deci there was also a single seater in special color scheme: the 31+31 “Spirit of Oswald Boelke” that celebrates the 125th anniversary of Oswald Boelke, a German flying ace of the WWI.
The German Air Force is expected to leave Decimomannu by Dec. 31, 2016. Rumors of some 2-week deployments of other Luftwaffe units have not been confirmed yet.
The Taktische Luftwaffengeschwader 31 Eurofighters will leave Deci on Sept. 15, to be followed by the rest of the personnel on Sept. 16.
The images in this post were taken by Alessandro Caglieri and Gian Luca Onnis.
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.