Tag Archives: Initial Operational Capability

F-15E Strike Eagles unable to shoot down the F-35s in 8 dogfights during simulated deployment

“0 losses in 8 dogfights against F-15E Red Air”

The U.S. Air Force F-35A fleet continues to work to declare the Lightning II IOC (initial operational capability) scheduled in the August – December timeframe.

Among the activities carried out in the past weeks, a simulated deployment provided important feedbacks about the goal of demonstrating the F-35’s ability to “penetrate areas with developed air defenses, provide close air support to ground troops and be readily deployable to conflict theaters.”

Seven F-35s deployed from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, to  Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, to carry out a series of operational tests which involved local-based 4th Generation F-15E Strike Eagles belonging to the 366th Fighter Wing.

In a Q&A posted on the USAF website, Col. David Chace, the F-35 systems management office chief and lead for F-35 operational requirements at ACC, provided some insights about the activities carried out during the second simulated deployment to Mountain Home (the first was in February this year):

“The F-35 recently deployed from Hill to Mountain Home where crews, maintenance and support personnel conducted a number of missions. During that deployment, crews attained a 100 percent sortie generation rate with 88 of 88 planned sorties and a 94 percent hit rate with 15 of 16 bombs on target.
These numbers provide a positive indication of where we are when it comes to stability and component performance.”

“Feedback from the events at Mountain Home will feed into the overall evaluation of F-35 capabilities. The second evaluation will take place in the operational test environment with F-35 mission sets the Air Force intends to execute after IOC. All reports will be delivered in July and feed into the overall F-35 capabilities report. The ultimate goal is to provide a needed capability to the warfighter to execute the mission. It is not calendar-based or event-based.”

“The feedback from unit operators in place today has been very positive for the F-35, not just concerning performance but the ability the aircraft has with other platforms. In particular at Hill, integration with the F-15E (Strike Eagle) has gone very well. We’ve also been demonstrating the ability to put bombs on target. All of that information will be provided to us in the formal IOC readiness assessments.”

The following interesting chart accompanies the Q&A.

It shows some stats about the deployment.

F-35 deployment

The fourth column shows something interesting: during the exercise, the F-35s were challenged by some F-15Es and suffered no losses.

Even though the graphic does not say whether the F-35s did shoot back at the F-15Es some analysts (noticing also the “pew pew pew” in the chart….) have suggested the JSFs achieved stunning 8:0 kill rate against the Strike Eagle.

However, the “zero losses” may simply mean that the F-35s were able to complete their assigned strikes without being shot down by the aggressors of the Red Air: considered that the F-15Es were probably equipped with the AN/APG-82 AESA radar and the Sniper ATP (Advanced Targeting Pod), the fact that the Strike Eagles performing DCA (Defensive Counter Air) were not able to “find” and/or “engage” the almost-IOC F-35s can be considered a huge achievement for the pricey, troubled 5th generation multirole combat plane.

Actually, this is not the first time the F-35 proves itself able to fly unscathed through a fighter-defended area: not a single Lightning II was shot down during Green Flag 15-08, the first major exercise conducted, more or less one year ago, on the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, during which the F-35 flew as main CAS (Close Air Support) provider.

At that time, several analysts claimed the participation of two test aircraft in the exercise was just a PR stunt, since the aircraft was still quite far from achieving a combat readiness required to really support the troops at war.

Let’s see what happens this time…

 

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Six U.S. Air Force F-35As have arrived at Mountain Home AFB for the type’s first simulated deployment

First simulated deployment for the U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning IIs.

Taken on Feb. 8, 2016 the following pictures feature six F-35A Lightning IIs belonging to the 31st Test and Evaluation Squadron (TES) from Edwards Air Force Base, California, arriving at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, for the fifth generation aircraft’s first simulated deployment test, that is expected to last about a month.

Three key initial operational capability mission sets will be tested by the 31st TES : suppression of enemy air defenses, close air support and air interdiction.

F-35As deployment

This test is conducted to assess the deployment capability of an F-35A squadron and its outcome will set the benchmark capability for the Air Force to declare F-35A IOC (initial operational capability) scheduled for this fall.

Noteworthy Mountain Home AFB has been selected to host the simulated deployment because it can provide a secure environment with ranges to employ fourth-generation aircraft as well: in fact during their stay in Idaho the six F-35As will integrate with F-15E Strike Eagles belonging to the 366th Fighter Wing from Mountain Home Air Force Base and A-10 Thunderbolt IIs belonging to the 124th Fighter Wing from Gowen Field, Idaho.

Mountain Home F-35As

Image credit: Senior Airman Jeremy L. Mosier and Tech. Sgt. Samuel Morse / U.S. Air Force

Italy is ready to use the new Predator B (MQ-9 Reaper) drones in Libya to improve NATO ISR capabilities

On Jun. 28, 2011, the ItAF officially presented its first two of 6 Predator B (MQ-9 Reaper) during an interesting ISR (Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance) Media Tour at Amendola, Italy’s UAV Main Operating Base (MOB).

During its initial briefing, Col. Fabio Giunchi, Cdr of the 32° Stormo (Wing), the parent unit of the 28° Gruppo (Sqn) which flies the Italian drones, affirmed that Italy’s has already achieved an IOC (Initial Operational Capability) with the Predator B and could employ it, if needed, in Libya, to strengthen the NATO ISR component by mid July.

According to Col. Giunchi, operating from Amendola, the UAS could reach Libya in 3 flying hours, with an “on station” time of about 12-14 hours.

The Italian new UAVs could soon be armed even if the final decision whether to equip the MQ-9 for instance with Hellfire missiles will have to be taken at political level. Joint commands have already agreed that, having the capability, the UAS (Unmmanned Aerial Systems) should carry weapons that “could help saving lives”, Giunchi says.

In the meanwhile, the Predator A+ have just logged more than 7.000 FH in theatre operating from Herat in missions lasting on average 8-9 hours. Two RQ-1 are currently in Afghanistan, while two are at Amendola airbase. Unfortunately, one of them crashed landed at 09.15Z on Jun. 27 on approach to Herat airbase.  Extent of damages to be evaluated.


A more detailed article about the Amendola Media Tour and about the Italian ISR component (Tornado and AMX comprised) will be soon published on this blog.

 

How to target an aircraft carrier

In a recent article about the USS Nimitz and the 5th Fleet, describing why an aircraft carrier is always on the move I explained: “…..upon reaching a specific area of operations, the ship tends to keep it for several days, “orbiting” in international waters so as unpredictable as possible to avoid exposure to unlikely, but not impossible, extremely difficult long-range ballistic shootings “. In fact, when I wrote that text, I knew that China was developing the first ASBM (Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile) with a range of 3.000 kilometers and speed in excess of Mach 10 but didn’t know they were close to deploy it. I actually thought and still believe that, although most probably achieving the IOC (Initial Operational Capability), the DF21D (Dong Feng) “carrier killer” missile still has years of tests needed to tune its guidance system before it can be considered a real threat. Indeed, no over-water tests, required to evaluate the accuracy of the missile to pinpoint moving targets, has been announced or unveiled by intelligence sources. However, the ASBM threat has to be taken in proper consideration if “mobility” and “power projection” will remain the two key concepts behind the U.S. naval doctrine in the next few years. In the meanwhile Popular Mechanics provides some info about how the ASBMs work.

How it Works ASBM – China’s Antiship Ballistic Missile – Popular Mechanics.

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