Tag Archives: Eurofighter Typhoon

Red Flag 16-2: Italian, Turkish and U.S. Forces Train to Fight Advanced Adversary

Red Flag 16-2 explained.

The second Red Flag of 2016 featured an international coalition training against a dynamic and integrated “Red Adversary” Force.

The exercise, running from Feb. 29 to Mar. 11 included some 23 units representing the US Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines and contingents from NATO partners: the Aeronautica Militare (AM – Italian Air Force) and the Turkish Air Force (TAF).

B-52H of the 2nd BW, 96th BS of Barksdale AFB, Louisiana on approach to Nellis AFB after Red Flag 16-2 sortie.

B-52H of the 2nd BW, 96th BS of Barksdale AFB, Louisiana on approach to Nellis AFB after Red Flag 16-2 sortie.

Participating units launched from Nellis AFB in Las Vegas, and trained over the 2.9 million acres of land, and 12,000 sq miles of airspace afforded by the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR).

All told, some 75 aircraft (and 1700 personnel) participated in the exercise including eight Italian Eurofighter Typhoons (or F-2000A, as the aircraft is designated in Italy) at their first Red Flag and the Turkish Air Force contingent made of six F-16s and two KC-135R tankers. The US team included the F-16CM, F-15E, F-15C, E-3G a variety of helicopters, drones (MQ-9), tankers (KC-135R) specialized aircraft and 2 of the 3 Global Strike Command bombers, the B-52H and B-1B. The wide variety of aircraft are typical of a coalition force should it be thrust into battle.

B-1B of the 28th BW, 34th BS of Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota from Nellis AFB for Red Flag 16-2 sortie.

B-1B of the 28th BW, 34th BS of Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota from Nellis AFB for Red Flag 16-2 sortie.

The Red Air units included dedicated F-16C Aggressor units supplemented by AT-38Cs from the 435th FTS of Randolph AFB and the 88th FTS of Sheppard AFB, participant in the Euro-NATO Joint Pilot Training Program.

Fast and exhibiting a very small radar cross section, the AT-38C is representative of the aircraft that many potential adversaries utilize today. Often overlooked, the Red Adversary Force includes ground assets that are very real threats.

T-38C from the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program of Sheppard AFB, TX ingress to the NTTR March 9, 2016.

T-38C from the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program of Sheppard AFB, TX ingress to the NTTR March 9, 2016.

Colonel A. Bernard AEW Commander for Red Flag 16-2 indicated that “the Red Adversary is an advanced, agile and integrated force that includes both air and surface threats, acts like a country, and the combined assets create the finest adversary that we could ever face.”

E-3 from the 552nd Air Control Wing, 963rd Airborne Air Control Squadron launches in support of Red Flag 16-2 sortie

E-3 from the 552nd Air Control Wing, 963rd Airborne Air Control Squadron launches in support of Red Flag 16-2 sortie

While never long on details, suffice it to say there are radar emitters, SAM (Surface to Air Missile) sites, and a number of other challenging weapon systems (the participation of a virtual Patriot battery implies involvement in neutralizing surface to surface missiles fired by the Red Adversary) that the Blue Force must either avoid, or neutralize during each of the approx. 10 night and day sorties of the exercise.

F-15E of the 4th FW and 336 FS of Seymour Johnson AFB climbing to crest N. Groom range on ingress to the NTTR during Red Flag 16-2.

F-15E of the 4th FW and 336 FS of Seymour Johnson AFB climbing to crest N. Groom range on ingress to the NTTR during Red Flag 16-2.

Mission sets flown by Blue Force include Close Air Support (CAS), Air to Ground (A2G), Air to Air (A2A), Suppression of Enemy Air Defense (SEAD), Dynamic Targeting, Personnel recovery and more.

One of three command and control (C2) groups, a Marine Air Control Squadron (MACS-1) coordinated aircraft movement and tasking within their designated area. C2 functions were also performed by the 726th Air Control Squadron and in the air by the 963rd Airborne Air Control Squadron flying the E-3B/C/G. The US Navy was represented by the HCS-21 “BlackJacks” flying the MH-60 in primarily a personnel recovery mission.

F-15E of the 4th FW and 336 FS of Seymour Johnson AFB launches from Nellis AFB for Red Flag 16-2 sortie.

F-15E of the 4th FW and 336 FS of Seymour Johnson AFB launches from Nellis AFB for Red Flag 16-2 sortie.

The Turkish Air Force utilized the multi-role F-16 to its full spectrum in the exercise, while the Italian AM primarily used the F-2000 in an Air to Air role, though a couple of F-2000s were utilized in a swing role, carrying Litening targeting pods and dropping inert GBU-16 Paveway IIs on designated range targets. Colonel M. Bertoli, the Italian AM detachment commander, indicated that this is not the primary role the AM plans for the F-2000, however they are validating the capability for select operations and to support the ongoing export initiatives of the Eurofighter Typhoon.

F-2000 Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force) of 4° Stormo (4th Wing), Grosseto, Italy with a pair of GBU-16 Paveway IIs and LITENING pod on ingress to the NTTR during Red Flag 16-2.

F-2000 Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force) of 4° Stormo (4th Wing), Grosseto, Italy with a pair of GBU-16 Paveway IIs and LITENING pod on ingress to the NTTR during Red Flag 16-2.

Col. Bertoli indicated that “we consider it [Red Flag] the best training, so we brought our young pilots so they can train our Typhoon force for years come. The AM thinks that this [Red Flag] is by far one of the best combat training environments our pilots can find all over the world. So we committed ourselves and the Typhoons to train our pilots and to integrate them with our NATO partners to give them the possibility to have a great training and be ready of course for future operations with our NATO partners.”

F-2000 Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force) of 36° Stormo (36 Wing), Gioia del Colle, Italy launches from Nellis AFB for a Red Flag 16-2 sortie.

F-2000 Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force) of 36° Stormo (36 Wing), Gioia del Colle, Italy launches from Nellis AFB for a Red Flag 16-2 sortie.

Over the NTTR, aircraft were observed in carefully choreographed missions. The F-2000s primarily took on the battle for air supremacy from the advantage of high altitude, working with F-16s on Combat Air Patrol. F-16CMs moved in from medium altitudes to perform SEAD, followed by F-15Es from medium altitudes along with additional F-15Es and F-2000s from low altitudes attacking designated targets.

B-1B bombers appeared from medium or low altitude to attack their targets, while B-52Hs made target runs, turned, loitered and then attacked again and again.

KC-135R of the Turkish Air Force 10 TU (Wing) 101 Filo (SQ) of Incirlik, Turkey launches in support of Turkish F-16Cs during Red Flag 16-2.

KC-135R of the Turkish Air Force 10 TU (Wing) 101 Filo (SQ) of Incirlik, Turkey launches in support of Turkish F-16Cs during Red Flag 16-2.

Red Air threats had multiple lives and regenerated when killed ensuring a constant adversarial threat. Attack, counter attack, identify targets and vector assets to kill or be killed. The intensity of the battle was noted in pilots and C2 voices as radio chatter flooded the airwaves during the 75 – 90 minute battle.

Captain R. Kearns, B-1B pilot from the 34th Bomb Squadron noted that while the missions were not typically different from what they normally train (medium and low altitude attack), it was unique to have so many diverse aircraft in the operating area and to look out on the B-1Bs wing and note the F-16 and F-15 escorts.

F-16C of the Turkish Air Force 4 AJU, 141 Filo (SQ) Akinci, Turkey in Solo Colors launches from Nellis AFB for a red Flag 16-2 sortie.

F-16C of the Turkish Air Force 4 AJU, 141 Filo (SQ) Akinci, Turkey in Solo Colors launches from Nellis AFB for a red Flag 16-2 sortie.

The exercise itself is only the beginning of learning. After the mission, a lengthy debriefing takes place. The briefing is aided by the enhanced capability on the Nellis Range and by the recently launched E-3G that features the ability to clearly reconstruct the C2 activity. Major C. Bulla of 414th Combat Training Squadron summarized succinctly, “better data, better learning, that’s why we are here.”

Col. Bernard defined the exercise well, “it is in fact putting together the team you have and use each strength to make 1+1 = 3.” Mathematically impossible, but attainable within the context of synergistic teamwork.

Todd Miller is an avid photographer and contributor to a number of Aviation media groups. Utilizing www.flyfastandlow.com as a personal “runway” it is Todd’s goal to reflect the intensity and realism of the military aviation mission, as well as the character and commitment of the military aviation professional.

 

Total air superiority with a bit of swing role: the Italian Typhoons have completed their first Red Flag

The Italian F-2000s have conducted 115 missions logging 180 flying hours in the Nevada Test and Training Range.

On Mar. 11, RF 16-2 came to an end.

Among the more than 70 combat planes that took part in the exercise at Nellis Air Force Base, there were, for the first time ever, also 8 Eurofighter Typhoons of the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force).

The F-2000s (as the aircraft are designated in Italy), belonging to the 4° Stormo, based at Grosseto, and 36° Stormo (Wing) based at Gioia del Colle – even though personnel taking part in the mission was from all the units flying the Typhoon, including the 37° Stormo, based at Trapani, had left Italy on Feb. 19, accompanied by two KC-767A tankers with the 14° Stormo from Pratica di Mare, and three C-130J Super Hercules with the 46^ Brigata Aerea (Air Brigade) from Pisa.

The Italians mainly focused in the air-to-air role taking part to the RF sorties with a typical configuration that saw the pilots wear the Helmet Mounted Symbology System (HMSS) and the aircraft carry the double 750 kilograms wing tanks and one Airborne Instrumentation Subsystem (AIS) pod used for ACMI (Air Combat Maneuvering Instrumentation) activities.

Typhoons Red Flag pilot

In the air-superiority mission, the Italians enjoyed the opportunity to train in a scenario made particularly deadly by the presence of F-15, F-16, AT-38 and A-4 playing the Aggressors role as part of “best Red Air in the world,” as well as some cutting edge anti-aircraft warfare.

Typhoons Red Flag night

Furthermore, the complex scenario foreseen by the Red Flag exercise provided an opportunity to further develop the swing-role capability of the aircraft: three of the Typhoons deployed at Nellis AFB were Tranche 2 examples that embedded the P1E(B) upgrades and were loaded with the latest SRP (Software Release Package).

Indeed, these Typhoons carried also two inert GBU-16 Paveway II LGBs (Laser Guided Bombs) and the Litening targeting pod in order to validate the tactics being developed since the aircraft started the OT&E (Operational Testing and Evaluation) last year.

Typhoons Red Flag taxi

However, as explained by the Italian detachment commander Col. Marco Bertoli, the Italian Air Force does not plan to employ the Typhoon is the air-to-surface role but in particular scenarios: the swing role is being primarily developed to support the platform’s export capabilities and help the industry promoting the aircraft in particular regions (like Kuwait).

This is the very first participation of the ItAF Typhoon fleet to the Red Flag exercise, even though the aircraft have taken part in real combat operations in Libya and have undertaken air defense duties in Iceland and the Baltic States.

Image credit: ItAF

Here are the photos of the Italian Eurofighter Typhoons departing for their first Red Flag exercise

Eight Italian Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon are about to attend Exercise Red Flag 16-2.

On Feb. 19, seven Italian Air Force Typhoon jets left Grosseto airbase, Italy,  for Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, where they will attend Ex. RF 16-2, their first ever Red Flag.

The Aviationist’s photographer Giovanni Maduli was there to take the images you can find in this post.

Red Flag departure 1

The aircraft, belonging to the 4° Stormo, based at Grosseto, and 36° Stormo (Wing) based at Gioia del Colle – even though personnel taking part in the mission come from all the units flying the Typhoon, including the 37° Stormo based at Trapani, will join the two-seater Eurofighter that took part in the “F-35 trail,” accompanying the first Italian JSF in the type’s first transatlantic crossing.

Red Flag departure 2

The aircraft, divided into two flights, are supported by two KC-767A tankers from the 14° Stormo and three C-130J Super Hercules with the 46^ Brigata Aerea (Air Brigade) from Pisa.

Red Flag departure 3

This is the very first participation of the ItAF Typhoon fleet to the Red Flag exercise, even though the aircraft have taken part in real combat operations in Libya and have undertaken air defense duties in Iceland and the Baltic States.

Red Flag departure 4

The F-2000s (as the aircraft are designated in Italy) will focus in the air-to-air role during RF 16-2, employing the Typhoon’s latest software package and the HMDS (Helment Mounted Display System).

Red Flag departure 5

Red Flag departure 6

Take a look at these fantastic air-to-air photographs of the F-35 during its first transatlantic crossing

Cool photographs of a historic achievement.

On Feb. 5, the an F-35A landed at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, marking the successful ending of JSF’s first ever transatlantic flight.

It was pretty much an Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force) achievement: the aircraft was the ItAF’s first F-35, the first JSF built outside the U.S., piloted by one of the two ItAF test pilots, belonging to the Reparto Sperimentale Volo (Test Wing) from Pratica di Mare, who successfully completed the training at Luke AFB in November last year, and supported by a formation made by 2x KC-767s, 2x C-130Js and 2x Typhoons, all belonging to the Italian Air Force.

F-35 crossing 2

11 flying hours, one stopover (in Lajes, Portugal) and 7 aerial refuelings made the crossing possible.

F-35 crossing 3

In this post you can find some cool photographs of the trip just released by the Italian Ministry of Defense. Noteworthy, the image below (the only one on the ground) shows the pilot performing the external checks on the F-35: you can clearly see the low-visibility 13th Gruppo (Squadron) emblem applied to the left air intake.

F-35 crossing checks

Image credit: Italy MoD

F-35 arrival at NAS Patuxent River after first transatlantic crossing B-roll and pilot interview

Interesting video with pilot interview provides some interesting details about the F-35’s first transatlantic crossing.

On Feb. 5, the Italian Air Force’s first F-35, dubbed AL-1 and serialled MM7332 (with code “32-01” and markings of the 32° Stormo – Wing)  landed at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Mariland, at the end of the JSF’s first ever transatlantic flight.

The aircraft was piloted by one of the two ItAF test pilots, belonging to the Reparto Sperimentale Volo (Test Wing) from Pratica di Mare, who successfully completed the training at Luke AFB in November last year.

The following B-roll (H/T to @JamesDrewNews) shows the aircraft, landing at Pax River along with one of the supporting KC-767s (the F-35 was supported by 2x KC-767s, 2x C-130Js and 2x Typhoons).

After chasing the F-35 for most of its transatlantic flight, the two-seater Typhoon and its own supporting KC-767 landed at Pease ANGB, in New Hampshire, from where they will fly to Nellis AFB, in Nevada, in anticipation of the first participation of the Italian Typhoons to a Red Flag exercise.

Interestingly, the F-35 refueled 7 times from Italy to the U.S. and most of the refueling took place in bad weather: nevertheless, there were no problems nor disconnection as the F-35 is extremely stable (so as the KC-767).