Tag Archives: F-2000

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.

 

Two pilots shocked to find German Typhoons hot on their tail

Two pilots flying what they thought was a routine flight to Germany for servicing of their Embraer Phenom executive jet had more than they bargained for when two Luftwaffe Typhoons appeared on their wing tip.

According to The Local website, the two German Eurofighters were scrambled from Norvenich airbase after British firm Hangar 8 had reported the jet stolen and had called German Police to tell them of the theft, even if it is unclear on why they went to the German Police in the first instance.

The risk of an illegal plane, being flown by unknown pilots with an unknown aim in German airspace prompted terror fears. German Police contacted NATO who in turn contacted the Luftwaffe, which launched two Eurofighters to intercept the jet and bring it down safely.

According to The Local, a Luftwaffe spokeman said: “We received the alarm via NATO at 19:48. Within six minutes two of our Eurfighters started from Norvenich” within 30 minutes the Phenom jet was on the ground at Cologne’s Cologne-Bonn airport, where Police welcomed the two bemused Austrian pilots.

The article does not say when the QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) was launched: most probably it happened on Mar. 31, 2012.

The two hapless pilots both Austrians, said that they had taken off from Nigeria, refueled in Algeria and were heading for Cologne to take the jet for servicing.

The plane will remain grounded until the ownership can be established.

Richard Clements for TheAviationist.com

Image credit: Stefan Gygas / Luftwaffe

Special feature: the most interesting pictures of the aircraft involved in Libya air war (Part 2)

After publishing the first Special Feature to celebrate the end of the war in Libya with the most interesting aircraft involved in Operation Unified Protector, many photographers sent me more images depicting some of the planes and helicopter that, for various reasons, visited Luqa airport as a consequence of the Libyan uprising and the subsequent air campaign.

Here you can find a gallery of images taken at Malta International Airport from February to October by Franco Debattista, Malcolm Bezzina, Mario Borg Olivier and Trafford Vella.

 

Special feature: the most interesting pictures of the aircraft involved in Libya air war

On Oct. 31, at 23.59 Libyan Time, exactly 7 months after it began, NATO Operation Unified Protector has come to an end. Since the beginning of the Uprising and especially from Mar. 19, the Day 1 of the war (then named Odyssey Dawn), this site has provided an unmatched analysis of the air campaign with special reports, previously unreleased information, detailed debriefings, infographics and pictures.

I’ve already written the first part of the Lessons Learned during the war in the post titled Operation Unified Protector (was Odyssey Dawn) explained: Final Report (part two will follow in the next days….so stay tuned, I’ve still something to say about the air war in Libya). However, to celebrate the official end of the air campaign, I’ve collected some of the most interesting pictures of the aircraft involved in the operations in Libya taken by unofficial sources (whose name are listed at the end of this post) since February 2011.

Most of them were taken at Malta International Airport that, although not being directly involved in the allied operations, was a hub for all the civil and military aircraft involved in the humanitarian airlift in the aftermath of the Uprising (when Libya was evacuated) and, during the war, was often the preferred alternate airfield for all the OUP aircraft experiencing mechanical failures or fuel shortage.

This post will not show you all the technologies that took out Gaddafi but will probably show most of those that played a critical role in the “victory”.

Each image’s filename contains where and when the picture was taken.

Images by: Estelle Calleja, Matthew Scerri, Trafford Vella, Brendon Attard, Roderick Agius, Giovanni Maduli, David Cenciotti and a couple of anonymous contributors.

Eurofighter Typhoon 9-ship formation to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the 4° Stormo at Grosseto airbase

On Sept. 16, 2011, the 4° Stormo, one of the most famous and glorious units of the Italian Air Force, celebrated its 80th anniversary with a reunion of personnel who has served with the Wing since it was established in 1931.

The event’s highlight was a Typhoon 9-ship formation (6 single seaters and 3 two seaters, not the largest Eurofighter formation ever) of the 9° Gruppo and 20° OCU (Operational Conversion Unit), that performed a series of flypasts before splitting into two sections (5+4) for landing.

A static display which included two special colored F-104s, two Eurofighters [one of which sported the “80 anni” text of both DASSs (Defensive Aids Sub Systems)] and dummy (blue labeled) AIM-9L, AIM-120B and IRIS-T missiles, was arranged too in the apron used by the 20° Gruppo when it flew the F-104 Starfighter.

During the day, the official book of the 80th anniversary titled “Al lupo, al lupo” was presented. I’m one of the authors of the new book (Hardcover, 224 pages, Italian – English text, ISBN 978-88-96723-01-2) an extremely detailed account of the recent and past history of the 4° Stormo. The book is mainly focused on the most recent years of the 80-year long history of the unit: as Col. Michele Morelli, commander of the Stormo, explained during his presentation’s introductiory speech, on the last year alone, the “Quarto” (Italian for “Fourth”) has hosted the Winter Hide 2011 exercise, has taken part in the most eastern operations of Italian tacair planes by deploying two F-2000s to Bangalore for Aero India 2011 air show, flew several sorties over Libya in support of Operation Unified Protector, and finally deployed to Iceland, for Exercise Northern Viking, where the squadron will provide air policing missions.

I’ve written the chapters about the 4° Stormo from 1990 to Dec. 31, 2010 (in other words, the F-104 ASA period and phase-out and the F-2000 history, from the delivery to the beginning of 2011); the 20° Gruppo with the TF-104; the 604^ Squadriglia Collegamenti involvement in Afghanistan to support the ISAF mission; and the Ferrari – Typhoon race.