B-61 inert nuclear gravity bomb has passed first F-16 flight test.
On Mar. 14, an F-16 from the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron at Nellis AFB, Nevada, dropped a B61-12 over the Nellis Test and Training Range Complex in the first test use of the upgraded B61 with the F-16 aircraft.
The B61-12 represent the latest LEP (Life-Extention Program) upgrade to the B61 line of nuclear weapons that has already been extensively tested with the F-15E Strike Eagles of the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron, back in 2015.
The Life Extension Program or LEP, will replace the B61 -3, -4, -7, and -10 mods, with the -12 that, along with the B83, will become the only remaining gravity delivered nukes in the inventory.
“The B61-12 gravity bomb ensures the current capability for the air-delivered leg of the U.S. strategic nuclear triad well into the future for both bombers and dual-capable aircraft supporting NATO,” said Paul Waugh, AFNWC’s Air-Delivered Capabilities director in a U.S. Air Force release dated Apr. 13 (more or less when the world learned about the first use of the famous MOAB in Afghanistan). The B61-12 will be compatible with the B-2A, B-21, F-15E, F-16C/D, F-16 MLU, F-35 and PA-200 aircraft.
The LEP increases the B61’s accuracy so much that it will have the same capability against hardened targets as the much more powerful weapons it is replacing.
Frisian Flag 2017 was a large scale exercise organised by the Royal Netherlands Air Force.
From Mar. 27 to Apr. 7, Leeuwarden Air Base in the Netherlands hosted the tactical aircraft taking part in Ex. Frisian Flag 2017.
The purpose of the drills was preparing the participating units for a modern conflict or crisis support operation by strengthening cooperation between air arms of multiple NATO countries called to undertake joint training missions twice a day.
Whilst Leeuwarden in the north of the Netherlands, hosted the “tacair”, the supporting tankers (French Air Force C-135FR, Italian Air Force KC-767A, German Air Force A-310MRTT and RNlAF KDC-10) were based at Eindhoven airport in the south, with a NATO E-3 AWACS flying from Geilenkirchen, Germany, and a French AF E-3D from Avord, France.
Special Viper BAF
Portuguese F-16 about to land
The two-week long drills saw the assets split into two teams: the “Red Force”, that included the RAF Tornado GR4s and the French Mirage 2000s, and the “Blue Force” made of the Florida ANG F-15s, the Eurofighter Typhoons, as well as F-16s from Portugal, Belgium and the Netherlands.
RNlAF F-16 on final
A 31 Sqn Tornado GR4
FAF Mirage 2000
According to the RAF 31 Sqn that posted a short debrief after returning from the drills, missions flown during Frisian Flag included air defense, protection of other aircraft and attacking of ground targets on land and sea in a high threat environment, which included opposing fighter aircraft and ground based Patriot and SA-6 missile batteries.
Four ship about to break for the downwind leg
GAF Typhoon special tail
Photographers at work at Leeuwarden
All the images in this post were taken at Leeuwarden airbase by photographer Estelle Calleja.
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.