U.S. F-16 pilots flying on Dec. 25, celebrated Christmas Day wearing a Santa Hat.
It’s probably a tradition, still you won’t find too many pictures of fighter pilots wearing a Santa Hat on their flight helmet while joining the tanker for AAR (Air-to-Air Refueling) during a combat mission.
According to the U.S. Air Force, “many pilots wore a traditional red “Santa” hat while flying on Christmas Day,” in support of Operation Inherent Resolve against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
Those in this post were taken from a KC-10 Extender over Iraq on Dec. 25, 2016, and they show F-16 belonging to the 134th Fighter Squadron of the Vermont ANG (Air National Guard) based at Burlington, VT, known as “The Green Mountain Boys.”
This ANG squadron, flying F-16C/D Block 30s is part of the 158th Fighter Wing, and will be the first ANG group to operate the F-35.
The top image is noteworthy because it shows an interesting load out made of an air-to-air complement for air intercepts with tanks for extended range, as well as a LITENING targeting pod and SDB (Small Diameter Bombs.)
The GBU-39 SDB is a small 250-lb multipurpose, insensitive, penetrating bomb with a blast-fragmentation warhead for stationary targets. It is equipped with deployable wings for extended standoff range that open upon release allowing the GPS-guided bomb to glide for several miles before hitting the target with accuracy: launched at high-speed from high altitude it can travel for as much as 50 miles, allowing the attack plane (be it an F-16, F-15E or AC-130W, the largest aircraft to carry this kind of weapon) to remain outside the range of most SAM (Surface-to-Air Missile) batteries.
As we have already reported here, among the Lessons Learned of the Air War in Libya, there was the need to employ SDBs to improve accuracy from distance and reduce collateral damage.
Back to the Santa Hat, in August 2015, a post about a lace-trimmed ejection seat headrest cover in a North Korean MiG-29 Fulcrum generated a pretty interesting comment thread about non-standard/non-fire retardant things in the cockpit….
An F-16 Fighting Falcon receives fuel from a KC-10 Extender over Iraq, Dec. 25, 2016. Many pilots wore a traditional red “Santa” hat while flying on Christmas Day. F-16s are providing precision guided close air support during Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, a multinational effort to weaken and destroy Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant operations in the Middle East region and around the world. (U.S. Air Force photo | Senior Airman Tyler Woodward)
“A throttle trigger malfunction and inadvertent throttle rotation resulted in an F-16CM being destroyed upon impacting the ground south of Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado”
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, attended by President Barack Obama.
The pilot managed to eject before the aircraft crash landed in a field not far from Peterson AFB, Colorado.
On Dec. 14, the U.S. Air Force Air Combat Command released the Accident Investigation Board report about the incident according to which the F-16CM #6 crashed as a result of “a throttle trigger malfunction and inadvertent throttle rotation.”
Here’s a relevant excerpt from the report:
“After beginning landing procedures, the pilot inadvertently rotated the throttle, placing it into an engine cut-off position. Normally, this full rotation cannot occur unless a throttle trigger is affirmatively actuated or pressed. However, the throttle trigger was “stuck” in the “pressed” position. The accident investigation board observed debris accumulation in the throttle trigger, combined with wear on the trigger assembly.”
So, the pilot placed the throttle to the cut-off position instead of Idle because the trigger that would normally prevent it to reach that position was stuck in the pressed position.
The following video (H/T to our friends at Fromtheskies blog) clearly shows how the f-16’s throttle works.
Here below another video that shows how the throttle moves from Idle to the cut-off position using the trigger:
“Once the engine cut-off occurred, the aircraft immediately lost thrust. The pilot attempted engine restart procedures, but restart was impossible at the low altitude of the aircraft. The pilot safely delayed his ejection until he navigated the aircraft to a grass field.”
“The aircraft, valued at approximately $29 million, was destroyed. There was no known damage to civilian property. At the time of the accident, the pilot was a current and qualified air demonstration pilot, with more than 1,200 hours flying the F-16 and a total flight time of 1,447 hours. He resumed demonstrations with the team.”
This is something you don’t see every day: an F-16 flying alongside a C-130J Super Hercules.
In the last few days, the 148th Fighter Squadron, a unit of the Arizona Air National Guard, 162nd Fighter Wing, based at Tucson Air National Guard Base, Arizona, helped U.S. Air Force C-130 pilots train in developing self-defense tactics to avoid airborne threats by simulating enemy pilots.
For the first time ever, Polish F-16 jets deployed to Estonia to take part in the third edition of the Ramstein Alloy Exercise.
Ramstein Alloy is a two-day cyclic operation taking place in the Baltic region. The previous editions were hosted by Estonia and Latvia, this time, most of flying took place over Lithuania on Sept. 27-28.
The Polish Air Force took part in the drills with F-16 Block 52+ jets from the 31st AB in Krzesiny, near Poznan which were stationed at the Amari base in Estonia.
Finland and Sweden, NATO partner nations, were also involved in the exercise as well as Baltic States that also contributed to the exercise: Lithuania, with its C-27J Spartan airlifters, and Latvia, that provided a Mi-17 helicopter to carry out SAR/CSAR operations.
The whole exercise was focused on the air policing/interception sorties, reconnaissance and provision of assistance to civil planes within the scope of emergency situations even though there was space for something more: for instance, the Polish jets were also engaged in CAS (Close Air Support) activities.
Ramstein Alloy was just the latest one of a series of activities and operations involving the Polish F-16s. abroad. Not only have the F-16 been deployed to the Middle East to fight Daesh (in a recce role, the relevant detachment from the Łask AB is stationed in Kuwait), but now they are also being deployed along the whole NATO’s Eastern Flank.
This may be considered as a rebuttal of those rumors suggesting that the Vipers operated by the Polish Air Force are not combat ready.
So far, the Polish Air Force has supported the BAP rotation with the MiG-29 Fulcrum for various reasons: from the assumption that the Fulcrum is less sensitive to FOD, through financial reasons, finishing with ELINT threat posed by the Russians.
The fact that the Polish F-16 jets have been deployed to Estonia has a double meaning then. First, it puts an end to the rumors regarding the potential lack of readiness of the Polish jets; second, it might be the sign that the Polish Vipers are being prepared to support the Baltic Air Policing operation next year, eventually replacing the old MiG-29 Fulcrums.
Four SD ANG F-16Cs returning from Poland have arrived in the UK. One of them sports the brand new overall grey color scheme aimed at reducing the aircraft’s RCS (Radar Cross Section).
Four F-16Cs from the South Dakota ANG 175th Fighter Squadron of 114th Fighter Wing have taken part in a deployment to Lask airbase, Poland, where they arrived on Sept. 3.
The purpose of their visit was to participate in the bilateral training exercise “Aviation Detachment 16-4”. They were also accompanied by 100 associated members of unit.
On Sept. 24, the four Vipers arrived at RAF Mildenhall, UK, apparently due to problems with a KC-10 tanker. Interestingly, one of them 88-0428 sported fancy Tail Markings as the Commanders aircraft while another one (88-0422), was painted in a new F-35-like dark grey color scheme (the other two aircraft were 88-0932 and 88-0463.)
Called “Have Glass 5th generation” or “Have Glass V” the paint scheme is the evolution of the standard Have Glass applied to 1,700 “Vipers”: all the F-16s are covered with RAM (Radar Absorbent Material) paint, made of microscopic metal grains that can degrade the radar signature of the aircraft.