Tag Archives: F-16

Here are some stunning photos of Israeli Air Force’s largest ever international exercise

Blue Flag exercise in Israel gathered combat planes from Poland, Greece and U.S.

Blue Flag 2015 is the biggest aerial exercise in the history of the Israeli Air Force.

Kicked off on Oct. 18 and continuing through Nov. 3, the Blue Flag drills gathered to Ovda airbase, near Eilat, in southern Israel, combat planes from the U.S., Poland and Greece involved in a series of missions that saw them fight a fictional enemy through nearly all the airspace over Israel (condensation trails of the aircraft taking place in the exercise could be seen even from Tel Aviv).

Top formation

The Hellenic Air Force took part in the exercise with five F-16C/D Block 52+ jets (from 337 Sq., based at Larissa), the same type of aircraft deployed to Israel by the Polish Air Force. The U.S. Air Force brought to Ovda six F-15C belonging to the 493 FS from RAF Lakenheath, UK. All these assets joined the local squadrons of F-15 Baz, F-16C/D Barak, F-16I Sufa and the about-to-be-retired F-16A Netz aggressors.

Over Dead Sea

Although little more is known about Blue Flag, the IAF has released some cool shots showing the aircraft flying over the Dead Sea and the Negev Desert as well as on the ground at Ovda airbase.

F-16I Israeli Air Force

F-15C 493FS

Polish Air Force F-16 landing

F-16I landing

Greek Air Force F-16

Image credit: Israeli Air Force

 

Largest NATO Exercise since 2002 has kicked off in Italy

Exercise Trident Juncture 2015 kicked off at Trapani airbase, Italy.

On Oct. 19, Trapani airbase, Sicily, Italy, home of the 37° Stormo (Wing) of the Italian Air Force, hosted the opening ceremony of Exercise Trident Juncture 2015, the largest NATO exercise in more than 10 years.

Preziosa and DV

Speech

Running from Oct. 3 to Nov. 6 (with the live exercise taking place from Oct. 19 onwards) at 16 different locations, Trident Juncture 2015 is an advanced and much realistic exercise involving around 36,000 troops from more than 30 nations (27 NATO Allies plus partners), more than 230 units, more than 140 aircraft and more than 60 ships.

F-16s apron

The aim of TJ 2015 is to train the troops of the NATO Response Force (NRF) and other Allied forces, to increase their readiness to respond to a wide range of challenges. In other words, with the Russian military build-up at the eastern and southern flank of the alliance, its goal is to send a clear message to any potential aggressor: “The exercise will show that we can protect all our allies from any kind of threat,” said Gen. Philip Breedlove, NATO’s top commander in Europe.

Polish F-16s

The opening ceremony included an air power demo featuring Italian Air Force KC-767 tanker and Typhoon, Tornado and AMX combat planes, Spanish F-18s, Polish, Greek, American and Portuguese F-16s.

Media day

Many other assets, including a T-346A advanced jet trainer and a Predator drone were on static display.

AMX and T-346

The Italian Air Force has deployed several assets to Trapani (MOB – Main Operating Base) of the exercise and will take part in the drills, with 6 Eurofighter Typhoon, 7 Tornado (IDS and ECR) and 4 Amx ACOL jets; 4 more Typhoons will operate from their homebase at Grosseto while a Predator drone will perform ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) missions from Amendola.

Tornado ECR

Also supporting TJ45 are a C130J and a C27J from Pisa, along with a KC-767 tanker from Pratica di Mare.

Image credit: NATO, The Aviationist’s photographers Alessandro Borsetti and Giovanni Maduli

 

The Turkish Air Force has shot down an unidentified drone in Turkish airspace. Known and unknown facts.

The Turkish Air Force has shot down an unidentified UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) over the Syria-Turkey border.

Turkish Air Force jets, most probably F-16s flying CAPs (Combat Air Patrols) along the Syria-Turkey border shot down an unidentified drone that had violated the Turkish airspace earlier today.

According to the information made available so far, the Turkish combat planes issued three warnings to the (unmanned) aircraft before shooting it down. Although this may seem a bit odd in this case, as the one shot down was a really small model (resembling a Russian-made Orlan 10) larger UAS (Unmanned Air Systems), controlled by a Ground Control Station usually have radios to talk with the ATC (Air Traffic Control) stations: for instance, the famous U.S. Predator and Global Hawk drones have U/VHF radios that pilots operating from the inside GCS use to talk with the air traffic control agencies along the route.

Therefore, Turkish jets may have radioed three warnings to the drone, in spite of its size, because the current RoE (Rules Of Engagement) require them to do so when intercepting an unidentified, manned or unmanned aircraft

The TuAF F-16s were on a heightened alert status since the violations of the Turkish airspace conducted by Russian Air Force Su-30SM and Su-24 aircraft in the Hatay region on Oct. 3 and 4, and subsequent  radar lock by an “unidentified” Mig-29 on Oct. 5.

Following these border skirmishes, the Turkish F-16s began responding to “MiG” radar locks by performing lock-ons on the aircraft “harassing” them. However, it’s quite likely considered the type of target, that the drone shot down today was hit with a gun strafe instead of a missile.

In Sept. 2013, a TuAF F-16 shot down a Syrian Mi-17 that had violated the Turkish airspace.

On Mar. 23, 2014 a SyAAF Mig-23 that violated the Turkish airspace by about 1 km was shot down by the F-16C 91-008 in CAP near the border.

 

No, the Turkish Air Force has not shot down a Russian aircraft near the Syrian border (at least, not yet)

The news of an alleged downing is doing the rounds. But no Russian plane has been shot down, yet.

In the last few days, several media outlets have reported the news that a Russian aircraft deployed to Syria to take part in the air war against the Islamic State was shot down by the Turkish Air Force, after violating Ankara’s sovereign airspace.

Actually, the rumors started after Twitter went abuzz following the reports that an explosion was witnessed in the sky over the Syrian city of Huraytan, where Russian planes were allegedly flying.

Shortly after the fake news started doing the rounds, some images of the alleged wreckage of the Russian plane downed near the border appeared on social media. However, these turned out to be photographs of an Afghan Air Force Mi-17 crashed in 2011.

On Oct. 3 and 4 October the Turkish airspace was violated by Russian Air Force Su-30SM and Su-24 aircraft in the Hatay region.

During the first incident, the Russian Su-30SM (initially referred to as a Mig-29 by the Turkish military) maintained a radar lock on one or both the F-16s for a full 5 minutes and 40 seconds before the aircraft departed the Turkish airspace. These incidents were followed by another one, on Oct. 5, when another aircraft, an “unidentified” Mig-29 locked on TuAF F-16s in CAP (Combat Air Patrol) for 4 minutes and 30 seconds.

Following this last episode, the Turkish F-16s began responding to “MiG” radar locks in the same way: by performing lock-ons on the mysterious aircraft flying a bit too close to the border.

Even thought Ankara has said it is not willing to have its aircraft harassed again and won’t accept other violations, nothing at the moment suggests any shot down occurred in the last few days.

The TuAF has never been too “shy” about its military operations air-to-air victories and losses. In Sept. 2013, a TuAF F-16 shot down a Syrian Mi-17 that had violated the Turkish airspace.

On Mar. 23, 2014 a SyAAF Mig-23 that had violated the Turkish airspace by about 1 km was hit by an AIM-120 AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile) fired by a TuAF F-16C in Combat Air Patrol near the border: a victory celebrated with the kill markings on the F-16C 91-008.

Considered that no wreckage has been found, no official protest’s been filed and that, unlike the past, there has been no official statement about any downing by the Turkish authorities, it’s safe to say that no aircraft was shot down, at least not so far.

H/T Arda Mevlutoglu for providing constant updates

Mystery deepens as “unidentified Mig-29 Fulcrum” locks on a Turkish F-16 again

It has happened again….a Turkish Air Force F-16 was locked on by an “unidentified” Mig-29.

As already reported, on Oct. 3 and 4 October the Turkish airspace was violated by Russian Air Force Su-30SM and Su-24 aircraft in the Hatay region.

During the first incident, the Russian Su-30SM (initially referred to as a Mig-29 by the Turkish military) maintained a radar lock on one or both the F-16s for a full 5 minutes and 40 seconds before the aircraft departed the Turkish airspace. As explained, this was a rather unusual incident: violations occur every now and then, but usually aircraft involved in the interception do not lock on the “target” in order to prevent dangerous situations.

Well it happened again on Oct. 5 and, to make the whole story more mysterious, it looks like the aircraft was identified as a Mig-29 from an unidentified nation/air force.

According to the Turkish General Staff, the Mig-29 locked on at least one of 8 TuAF F-16s performing CAP (Combat Air Patrol) on the border with Syria. What is more, the lock on lasted 4 minutes and 30 seconds.

Considered that the Russian Air Force has not deployed Mig-29s to Syria and assuming that the Turkish Air Force has properly identified the aircraft harassing its F-16s on border patrol, it’s is safe to believe the aircraft involved in the last incident was a Syrian Mig-29 “visiting” the TuAF aircraft in CAP station (as already done in the past).

In both the Oct. 3 and Oct. 5 incidents what is also quite surprising is the length of the lock on: both the Su-30SM and the Mig-29 (provided these were involved in the two close encounters) used their radars to paint the Turkish planes possibly exposing to several intelligence gathering platforms details about their systems. Indeed, if the Mig-29 is a very well-known weapons system, the emissions of the RuAF Su-30SM N011M Bars-R radar can be considered extremely interesting to both the TuAF, Israeli AF and NATO planes with ESM (Electronic Support Measures) capabilities.

Wedgetail

By the way, what is probably a Boeing 737 Peace Eagle airborne early warning & control (AEW&C) aircraft can be spotted every now and then on Flightradar24.com circling at high altitude over southern Turkey, most probably monitoring the movements of the Russian and Syrian planes while collecting some intelligence data as well.

EJDER1

That said, why are the Turkish unable to determine nationality of the Mig? With all the ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) aircraft focusing on the airspace of northwestern Syria it is at least weird that a positive identification of the aircraft was not achieved. And isn’t it strange that the one later IDed as a RuAF Su-30SM was initially referred to as an “unidentified Mig-29”? Maybe the Russian Su-30SMs (the only aircraft belonging to the Russian contingent that have not been repainted with the Red Star insignia yet) and the Syrian Mig-29s are flying missions along the border with Turkey together making identification more difficult? Unlikely, considering once again the amount of allied AEW (Airborne Early Warning) aircraft in the vicinity.

Anyway, close encounters do not only involve Turkish and Syrian/Russian aircraft.

In the last few days U.S. F-16s from Incirlik came within 20 miles of RuAF Su-34s: reminder that the airspace over Syria is becoming incresingly “hot.”

Many thanks to Guglielmo Guglielmi for discovering the Turkish E-7 on FR24 and to Arda Mevlutoglu for sending us some heads-up about this developing story.