The Eurofighter F-2000A jets (this is the designation of the single-seaters in accordance with the Italian Mission Design Seies) belong to the three units that operate the Typhoon: the 4° Stormo, from Grosseto; the 36° Stormo, from Gioia del Colle; and the 37° Stormo, from Trapani.
A Typhoon of the 18° Gruppo sporting the typical checkered tail.
An F-2000A from the Gioia del Colle-based 36° Stormo. Two Gruppi depend from this Wing: the 10 and 12° Gruppo.
The aircraft will operate until mid-April as part of a Task Force where personnel and equipment are completely integrated and interchangeable thanks to fully standardized procedures and training.
The Italian Eurofighter Typhoons are deploying to Iceland to provide Iceland’s air defense duties.
From Mar. 16 to mid-April 2017, a detachment of six Eurofighter Typhoons belonging to all the Italian Air Force units that operate the Euro-canard aircraft will be based at Keflavik Air Base, Iceland, to support NATO’s mission that provide Airborne Surveillance and Interception Capabilities to meet the Northern European country’s Peacetime Preparedness Needs.
NATO has rotated fighter jets to Iceland since 2008, in an effort to provide QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) duties while strengthening cooperation between allied air arms with Iceland’s air surveillance integrated into NATO’s Integrated Air and Missile Defence System. Three times a year, allied combat planes operate over Iceland for several weeks “to ensure the Alliance can conduct full-scale peacetime air policing with minimum delay if required by real world events.”
This is the second time the Italian Air Force sends its Typhoons to Iceland: in June 2013, as part of Operation “Icy Skies”,Italian Eurofighters with 4°, 36° and 37° Stormo (Wings) deployed to Keflavik along with support personnel as well as air defense controllers from GRCDA (Air Surveillance Squadron), 21st and 22nd Radar Squadron, respectively, based in Poggio Renatico (Ferrara), Poggio Ballone (Grosseto) e Licola (Naples), that provided reporting and control services and airspace surveillance services within the Iceland AOR (Area Of Responsibility).
“We operate in many areas to mitigate threats and prevent risks,” said the Italian MoD Roberta Pinotti, in a statement on Rome’s participation in international missions. “We have to provide our contribution to make this world more peaceful.”
Tailhook landings by land-based aircraft are used in emergency situations to arrest planes experiencing failures that could imply a braking or steering malfunction. Like the one shown in the video.
The following clip shows something quite unusual: a RAF Typhoon jet belonging to the 29 Sqn making an emergency landing and using the tailhook system to come to a very quick halt on Mar. 9, 2017.
According to Airshowvision, the popular channel that posted the interesting footage to Youtube, the procedure was required by a nosewheel problem: “A chap with a scanner informed me a few mins before this that a pilot 10 miles out had reported a “nosewheel issue” and requested an emergency landing with the arrester mechanism.”
The Author adds an interesting comment to the video description, speculating a bit as to which could have been the root cause of the issue: “Just a theory here but a Typhoon took off a few mins before that in a performance take-off which could have been this one, and it is possible that he over stressed the landing gear by not retracting the wheels quickly enough. Also could have just been a random fault?”
Land-based military airfields operating combat jets use arresting gear systems to slow the aircraft down in case of emergency: such systems feature arresting cables spanning the width of the runway. Cables are typically 1 to 1.25 inches (2.5 to 3.2 centimeters) in diameter and suspended 1.5 to 3 inches (3.8 to 7.6 centimeters) above the pavement surface by rubber donuts 6 inches (15.2 centimeters) in diameter. Overrun arresting gear consisting of hook cables and/or elastic nets known as barriers (or Safeland) are used as a backup system: they are raised by pilot’s request if needed to catch the planes before they reach the overrun area.
Temporary or deployment airbases may use expeditionary systems similar to the permanent ones; unlike the fixed systems these can be installed and removed in a matter of a few hours.
Its superb engine-airframe matching and maneuverability, in combination with its High Off-Bore-Sight armament supported by Helmet Cueing “has already and consistently proven winning against any agile fighter.” Indeed, we have also widely reported about the outcome of some mock air combat engagements between the Euro-canard and the U.S. F-22 Raptor in a past Red Flag-Alaska during which the Eurofighters managed to score several kills (in a Within Visual Range scenario whose Rules Of Engagement are mostly unknown – please read the story we posted back then to put this in the right context.)
And here’s the first hand account of what it looks like to fly and fight in the Typhoon.
I’m attending the briefing of “Dardo 02-03”, the mission that I will have the opportunity to “observe” from the backseat of the TF-2000A (Italian’s two-seater designation) serialled MM55132/“4-35” and belonging to the 9th Gruppo (Squadron).
The mission is the final FCR (Full Combat Readiness) check for two pilots of the Squadron responsible for the air policing of all central and northern Italy, and Slovenia. For this reason, it’s going to be long, difficult and “crowded”, as it will involve as many as 7 Typhoons, in a 4 vs 3 scenario.
“This is the apex of the training carried out at the Squadron,” says Federico, 9th Gruppo Commander and pilot of the only two-seater in today’s mission. “No other training sortie is as complex as the one required to determine whether a LCR (Limited Combat Readiness) pilot is ready for combat: it includes multiple real-life scenarios that require the two examinees to successfully conduct BVR (Beyond Visual Range) intercepts, visual identifications on the “bogeys” as well as WVR (Within Visual Range) air combat against three Typhoons that will emulate the flying characteristics and tactics of the “super-maneuverable” Su-30 Flanker.”
We will play the role of one of those Flankers as part of the Red Air (“Dardo 03”) whereas the examinees will fly as wingmen (#2 and #4) to two experienced pilots in the 4-ship Blue Air (“Dardo 02”). Noteworthy, the “good guys” will also wear the HMSS Mk2, a futuristic helmet that provides the essential flight and weapon aiming information through line of sight imagery: information imagery (including aircraft’s airspeed, altitude, weapons status, aiming etc) are projected on the visor (the HEA – Helmet Equipment Assembly), enabling the pilot to look out in any direction with all the required data always in his field of vision. We will operate inside the D115, a large working area located over the Tyrrhenian Sea suitable for supersonic flying and for use of chaff and flares, under positive radio and radar control of a GCI (Ground Controlled Intercept) site. The Red Air will depart first and wait for the Blues inside the area.
After a common briefing that covered the basic details of the flight (weather, launch and recovery procedures, emergencies, radio channels, transponder codes, etc.), the Blue and Red team split for the (classified) tactical briefing while I’m introduced to the Typhoon’s peculiar flight gear, a mix of British and American-style equipment. The flight helmet I’ll wear is a Gentex ACS (Aircrew Combat System) a lightweight, dual visor HGU-53/P derivative, with the EFA/ACS oxygen mask and the typical inflatable bladder system that acts on the nape and whose aim is to prevent the G-induced Loss of Consciousness (GLOC). I’m also given a survival jacket, the anti-g pants and, since the water temperature is 13° C, I’m also assigned a Tacconi neoprene watertight suit. I’m ready. I join the rest of the Red Air as we step to the aircraft, parked in the apron next to the 9° Gruppo. In a few minutes I find myself strapped in, with Federico copying the ATC clearance on the radio while taxing to the active runway. The plan is to perform a high-performance take off followed by a RAT (Radar Assisted Trail) and subsequent southbound navigation towards D115.
We enter runway 03 and line up, waiting for the other two “bad guys” to reach us. We will take off in sequence, with 10 seconds separation between us. With the three Typhoons aligned on the tarmac we perform the engine checks. All is ok.
“Tower, Dardo 03, ready for take off,” Federico radios. The answer immediately arrives: “Dardo 03, Grosseto Tower, you are cleared to a high-performance take off, wind is calm.”
Let’s rock and roll. The throttle jerks to the full afterburner position and the Typhoon starts rolling. In spite of the two drop tanks that we carry on the underwing pylons, in less than 10 seconds we reach 120 knots and rotate.
“Number 1 is airborne!”.
Take off roll (courtesy: Giovanni Maduli)
High Performance take-off (courtesy: Iolanda Frisina)
Federico retracts the landing gear while gradually pulling the stick.
With a nose up pitch attitude of 50 degrees over the horizon, we continue to accelerate to report FL310 inside Grosseto CTR (Control Zone) following the assigned SID (Standard Instrumental Departure) that will soon bring us over Giglio Island. The rate of climb is impressive.
As we continue to climb followed by the other two Typhoons in radar-trail, I take a chance to get accustomed to the glass cockpit. The TF-2000’s backseat is quite large and comfortable. The most eye-catching thing is the wide-angle HUD (Head Up Display) with the typical green color over the whole screen. Fed by a camera in the front one, the HUD makes you fill like you are sitting at the front seat: not only does it show the same symbology but it also provides a video of the forward view (that otherwise would be obstructed by the front ejection seat). The front panel features three full colour multi-function head down displays (MHDDs) that can be arranged at will to show the system status, the nav menu, the weapons selection, as well as the moving map.
Heading to the Danger Zone!
We climb to FL360 in a fighting wing formation and after about 30 minutes, we reach D115. As planned, we proceed towards the southern part of the area. It’s time to perform the G check during which the low-breathing resistance of the mask along with the helmet’s inflatable bladder prove to be particularly useful: we accelerate to 480 knots, make a right 90-degree turn pulling 5 G, followed by a left 90-degree turn back on course, pulling another 5 G. I’ve survived this, hence we are ready to start with the first BVR exercise.
Pulling some 5-g in a turn
Approaching the southern border of the area we turn northbound to meet the “Blue Air” that has just entered D115. We split the formation spacing the planes by several miles, with altitudes from 5,000 to 50,000 feet, proceeding head-on against the hostile aircraft while the friendly GCI controller provides details about their position, speed and altitude. The first exercise is quite fast: the ability of the two young examinees to use the powerful Captor radar is assessed in a matter of few minutes: the simulated use of three radar-guided missiles ends the first engagement and we can move on to the second one. Once again we proceed southbound as the Blue Air heads north to achieve the required spacing. Before reaching the boundary of D115 we turn back again towards the furball.
The contrails of the other two Typhoons of the “Red Air”
We climb to FL460 and accelerate past Mach 1. Thanks to the supercruise capability of the Typhoon we keep a supersonic speed without using reheat. This time the exercise includes WVR (Within Visual Range) air combat, during which the examinees can exploit the HMSS Mk2 to achieve a good kill on the Aggressors in accordance with the ROE that were established for the mission.
Rolling inverted at FL460
“Although the future scenarios demand for stealth fighters capable to engage hostile aircraft from long distances, the real operations we have taken part so far still require the interceptors to come within visual range of the enemy plane to perform a VID (Visual Identification): this means that air combat at close range remains an eventuality and, as such, we have to train to exploit the aircraft and its sensor at best in WVR engagements.”
Ok, we can prepare for the last exercise during which the Red Air elements “pop up” from lower altitude as if they were just launched from a QRA base and are engaged by the Typhoons CAPping at higher altitude.
We’ve finished dogfighting, it’s time to head home.
Here’s the front office
The Aggressors will RTB (Return To Base) first, followed by the Blue Air: not only do we have less fuel but we also need to vacate the runway in time for them to practice some emergencies. We enter the Grosseto CTR at FL360 and start our descent in close formation in IMC (Instrumental Meteorological Conditions): “although this is randomly practiced, this kind of approach is useful in case of electrical failure,” says Federico as we break the overcast weather and get in sight with the ground. We cancel the IFR (Instrumental Flight Rules) flight plan and continue in VFR (Visual Flight Rules) to the Initial Point of the visual pattern for runway 03.
RTBing Grosseto airbase
The downwind leg, base turn and subsequent landing are extremely smooth. Maintaining the nose-up attitude after the touchdown Federico shows me the efficient aerodynamic braking ability of the Euro-canard. We clear the runway and reach the apron of the 9th Gruppo after 1h 50 minutes of flight.
As I’m greeted by the ground personnel of the squadron after my first hop in a Typhoon, the 4-ship Blue Air arrives overhead. Among them, two newly qualified FCR pilots.
Jet Airways Boeing 777-300 Gets German Fighter Escort After Communications Lost Due to Error.
Jet Airways flight 9W-118, a Boeing 777-300 registered as VT-JEX, was intercepted by a pair of German Luftwaffe Typhoons as a security precaution over Germany on Thursday, February 16, after radio communications with the airliner were briefly lost.
The Typhoons were diverted to the intercept mission while already airborne according to a report in The Aviation Herald by Simon Hradecky.
Dramatic video of the security intercept at 36,000 feet was captured from another airline aircraft, likely a British Airways flight according to unconfirmed information. The video shows the Jet Airways B777 flying normally as first one, then a second Typhoon fly up behind the aircraft. The first Luftwaffe pilot approaches the big Boeing 777 from the same altitude and offset to the airliner’s left, possibly enabling the Typhoon pilot to make an attempt at visual contact with the occupants of the cockpit as a precaution prior to any other contact attempt.
GAF Typhoons (Airbus)
At the 1:59 point in the video the first Typhoon can be seen to rock his wings, a universal aviation signal from International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) rules, Annex 2-Appendix A, 2.1:
“DAY-Rocking wings from a position slightly above and ahead of, and normally to the left of, the intercepted aircraft and, after acknowledgement, a slow level turn, normally to the left, on to the desired heading.”
Once the first German Typhoon arrives Jet Airways flight 9W-118 must have made a radio frequency change and established voice communications since he does not respond with a reciprocal wing rocking.
The reason for the incident was a perception and/or ergonomic error when the flight was handed off from air traffic controllers in Bratislava to Prague Center ATC. Normally controllers will tell an airline pilot “Contact Prague Center ATC on frequency 132 decimal 89. Good day.”
Then the crew makes the radio frequency change manually.
If the crew makes an error dialing in the frequency correctly, normally done on the center radio console by rotating an indexed knob with a corresponding digital display, or they mis-quote the radio frequency- or both- then they may inadvertently arrive on the incorrect radio channel.
An investigation today, Feb. 20, revealed that the correct radio frequency information for the flight was transmitted by air traffic controllers during the hand-off from Bratislava to Prague controllers at 15:53 Zulu time. The loss of communication lasted a total of 33 minutes according to the report from today’s investigation.
The Jet Airways flight was en route to London’s Heathrow Airport in the United Kingdom from Mumbai, India carrying 330 passengers and 15 crew members. Once the intercept incident shown in the video concluded the flight continued normally.
Air intercept incidents are not unusual.
Another similar incident, this one potentially more significant, occurred on Friday, Feb. 17 when U.S. Air Force F-15s from Homestead AFB were launched and went supersonic over Florida in response to an aircraft that approached U.S. President Donald Trump’s resort home Mar-a-Lago near Palm Beach Florida.
FAA restrictions and Notice to Airmen warn general aviation and airline aircraft away from a restricted airspace surrounding the President of the United States.