Tag Archives: French Air Force

Libyan airspace most interesting movements of last week

At least two Internet resources have been providing a comprehensive set of tools to monitor on a 24 hours basis the traffic that has been operating in the airspaces between Malta and Tripoli FIR: Flightradar24 and LiveATC.net. The first gives you a sort of “radar picture” built thanks to the ADS-B messages broadcasted by the planes while the latter provides live air traffic control (ATC) broadcasts from air traffic control towers and radar facilities around the world and also from Malta. Information gathered by means of this two freely available resources are then spread by aircraft enthusiasts (and not only) using Twitter with the result that as soon as a particular aircraft appear above the Mediterranean sea, something strange happen or a particular communication is heard, almost instantly, the news reaches every place of the world. As an expert in military aviation I’ve been closely watching this “information flow” and, as I was often asked by Twitter followers, blog readers and journalists which was the most unexpect or unusual traffic that was heard or seen operating in the airspaces to the south of Malta, I think that it may be useful to summarize here some of the most interesting stuff that was monitored in the last week even if it has already been published on Twitter and on other online magazines and media which created Live Blogs (like Malta Today) or built up Twitter Live pages (like La Repubblica.it in Italy) by importing through the Twitter APIs those tweets containing a particular hashtag (i.e. #Libya or #Tripoli). In fact, those media don’t always give an explaination of the reasons why a traffic is interesting.
Anyway, don’t miss the chance to follow user FMCNL on Twitter if you want to be updated on latest movements.

Mar. 5, 2011

Before 09.30Z French Air Force Transall C-160G tail F216, call sign COTAM 2096
09.30Z a NATO AWACS controlling the Libyan airspace for any suspect activity using the front end callsign “NATO 07″ requested to Malta ACC if it had “any information on aircraft with squawk 2017, position about 85 miles east of our”. The answer from Malta was that “it should be a Falcon 900, at FL340, with destination Mitiga, according to Flight Plan”. A few minutes later, the Libyan Government 5A-DCN contacted Malta ACC on its way from Amman to Mitiga. The news was reported by all media that speculated of a “Libyan aircraft challenging a NATO AWACS”. Read here what was really weird in that episode….
14:35Z RA 519 EP 3 from Moron in contact with Malta
17:21Z Lion 491 US C-130 involved in the Tunis airlift with Malta
21:30Z SUM 9071 Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations Il-76TD RA-76429 showing on flightradar to Tunis FIR
23:46Z Apex 17 RAF Nimrod R1 returning to Akrotiri handed over to Athinai Cntrl. This kind of aircraft due to have been retired at the end of March are now to be kept in service for at least another three months, as it was reported by the BBC, most probably due to the need to use this strategic platform during the Libyan crisis.

Mar. 8, 2011

23.30Z AXIS 10 US EC-130H Compass Call with Malta ACC. The EC-130H performs electronic/information warfare tasks.

Mar. 9, 2011

Around 00:00z USAF EC-130J of the 193d Special Operations Wing (193 SOW) of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard using c/s RCH1024 was monitored using Mode-S most probably deploying to Souda Bay. The Commando Solo is a particular version of the EC-130 that is used for psychological operations (PSYOP) and is capable of broadcasting TV and radio on all bands. Last version should be able to provide WiFi access by dropping Access Points to the ground (has to be confirmed).
Around 00:20Z Malta ACC warned Air Malta 7489 that a previous flight reported an unknown traffic W of Gozo that didn’t show up on radar.
Beginning around 08:30Z three Libyan Government aircraft departed Tripoli for various destinations:

  • 5A-UAC Bombardier BD-700 went to Lisbon Purtugal (via Luqa Malta)
  • 5A-UAA Bombardier BD-100 Challenger 300 went to Paris Le Bourget Airport
  • 5A-DCN the Falcon DA-900 went to Cairo

Mar. 10, 2011

10:10Z Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A330 5A-ONF out of Tripoli east bound as AAW430 appeared shortly on FL390
13:45Z 5A-ONH AAW220 east bound from Tripoli. It was returning to Libya as AAW241 at 19:28Z
17:13Z USAF RC-135W Rivet Joint c/s OLIVE 24 in Maltese airspace
20:45Z Unusual comm heard on LiveATC. NATO 02 to Malta ACC: “we have a traffic behind us 9 miles. Can you confirm the level?”. Malta: “FL340”

Mar. 11, 2011

04:40Z Hellenic Air Force C-130 tail 743 flying as HAF356T arrived in Athens after departure from Tripoli with released crew of Dutch Navy helicopter NRN277 from frigate Tromp captured by the Army of Gaddafi on Feb. 27.

Musée de l'Air et de l'Espace, Le Bourget, Paris

Located mid way between downtown Paris and Charles De Gaulle-Roissy airport, the Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace Paris (Air and Space Museum), in the south eastern part of Le Bourget airport, is a must for any aviation enthusiast. The Museum stretches on 150,000 square meters of aprons and hangars and contains a collection of some 180 aircraft: from 16th century items tied to the Montgolfier brothers, to the parts of the Zeppelin LZ113, from biplanes of the beginning of the 20th century, to the ballistic missiles or the legendary Vietnam War veteran Republic F-105 Thunderchief “Thud”. The Museum’s collections are organized in different areas or collection halls, each representing a different period or theme.
Admittance is free, but you have to pay a ticket if you want to make a tour inside an Air France B747-128 (F-BPVJ, performing last commercial flight Beirut-Paris on Feb. 10, 2000), in an American DC-3 or in the two Concorde planes that you can find in the Concorde hall of the Museum (that, to me, alone, were worth the visit): the prototype 001 “F-WTSS”, that made its maiden flight on Mar. 2, 1969, piloted by André Turcat and Jacques Guignard and was retired from service after 397 test flights and 812 flight hours (255 supersonic ones); and the Concorde F-BTSD Sierra Delta, one of the last of such type to fly with Air France, that was retired to the Museum on Jun. 14, 2003, 13 days before the last flight of the Fox Charlie (F-BVFC) the last Air France Concorde that landed in Toulouse on Jun. 27, 2003. The two aircraft are parked side-by-side so you can easily esteem the different internal and external layouts. The F-WTSS prototype wears the “Eclipse Solaire 1973” badge that recalls the historic solar eclipse of Jun. 30, 1973, an event that seven scientists were able to follow for 74 minutes from inside a Concorde fitted as a flying laboratory that, taking off from Las Palmas, Canaries, for the special flight flew within the dark area at supersonic speed at 17.000 meters above Mauritania, before landing in Fort-Lamy (N’Djamena), Chad.
Other interesting aircraft are the German F-104G Starfighter, the Mirage IV, the DC-8 SARIGUE “F-RAFE” used for electronic warfare, the Dassault Super Etendard Modernisé SEM 64, the SAAB J-35A Draken, the Russian Mig-23ML “26” and all the prototypes displayed: the Super Mirage 4000, the Rafale A, the Griffon II and III,
the Mirage III V-01, the LEDUC 010 and the Mirage G8-01. Anyway, the collection is huge and there are so many interesting examples that I suggest you having a look at the following site for a complete list: http://www.aviationmuseum.eu/World/Europe/France/Paris-Le_Bourget/Musee_de_l_air.htm (beware, serials/codes are not correctly aligned with the aircraft type!).
I organized my trip to the museum during Aéropuces 2010, an annual event (hosted in the Concorde hall, as the pictures show) for buying, selling, trading aviation items: models, books, magazines, patches, aviation art, military and civil aircraft parts (control sticks, ejection seats, rudders, panels, cockpit instruments, blades, etc.), flight gear, and everything you might be interesting in collecting.
For more details about the collection, the Museum and the related events, I suggest you visiting the official Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace Paris website that cointains plenty of information (in French language only!).








































































The pictures above were taken by both me and Giovanni Maduli.

Aircraft and helicopters overflying Rome at the end of the G8 summit

With so many world leaders attending the G8 (G14) event in L’Aquila, Rome airports have been managing a large amount of visiting aircraft. For instance, the Air Force One, arrived in Pratica di Mare with an accompanying C-17,  Gordon Brown arrived in Ciampino with a British Airways A-319, while the Indian delegation landed in Fiumicino, with an Air India B747-400 (as far as I know the new French Air Force Falcon 7X which was named “Carla One” after Carla Bruni, was not used to carry Sarkozy and his wife: http://www.repubblica.it/2006/05/gallerie/esteri/aereo-sarkozy/1.html that were reported flying a Falcon 900). Then, many of the leaders reached L’Aquila Preturo Airport on board executive and military airplanes and helicopters (Obama was carried by a VH60N whose flight was monitored by a Predator of the Italian Air Force, as this video shows), some of which were deployed at Pratica di Mare or even Urbe airport (see here: http://cencio4.wordpress.com/2009/07/06/exclusive-pictures-three-us-army-ch-47ds-arrive-in-rome-urbe-airport/).

A few aircraft were spotted weeks before the G8, most probably during site surveys made to assess logistic details prior to the arrival of the delegations. For example, it was perhaps linked to the arrival of the POTUS, the C-17 I saw at Ciampino on Jun. 5, 2009:

So there has been much helicopter activity above downtown Rome these days and, especially on Jul. 10, at the end of the G8, when Obama moved for Urbe to Pratica di Mare, to board again on the Air Force One and depart to Ghana, not only the “Marine 1” and “Nighthawk 1” formations were flying, but also many Italian Police aircraft that I spotted from my house:

Spotter Day 90th Anniversary 23° Gruppo – Cervia 20.06.08

The following aircraft were noted during the Spotter Day held in Cervia on June 20, to watch the arrivals of the Italian and foreign squadrons invited by the 23° Gruppo to celebrate its 90th Anniversary.
Here’s the log of the activity:

AT-21 Alpha Jet BAF but flown by EC2/8 of the FAF crews
AT-23 Alpha Jet BAF but flown by EC2/8 of the FAF crews
135 Red L-39 2 Sqn HuAF
C.14-38 14-20 Mir F.1 Esc 141 SpAF
C.14-10 14-05 Mir F.1 Esc 141 SpAF
E-180 F-16A-MLU Esk 727
ET-199 F-16B-MLU Esk 727
XX285 Hawk 100 Sqn RAF Special markings 90th Anniversary
XX284/CA Hawk 100 Sqn RAF
89-2047 F-16CG 510FS
89-2018 F-16CG 510FS
MM54514 “61-64” MB.339A 213 Gr
MM7059 “50-47” Tornado ECR 155 Gr
MM7078 “36-30” Tornado 156 Gr
MM7080 “6-33” Tornado 102 Gr Special Colour
MM6940 “5-30” F-104ASA-M preserved
MM7169 “51-66” AMX 132Gr
MM7239 F-16ADF 23 Gr
MM7251 F-16ADF 23 Gr Special Colour
MM7252 F-16ADF 23 Gr
MM7259 F-16ADF 23 Gr
MM7262 F-16ADF 23 Gr
MM7269 F-16B 18 Gr
MM7273 “36-02” F-2000 12 Gr
MM61970 “5-55” S208M 605SC
MM81343 “15-31” HH-3F 83 CSAR