Tag Archives: Italian Air Force

Mali Air War: Aerial Refueling Operations

Although it’s in French language, the following video released by the French MoD is quite interesting as it shows the FAF C-135FR refueling ops from N’Djamena, Chad.

The French tanker are quite similar to the U.S. KC-135s. Still, the refueling boom is attached to a basket since FAF planes use the hose and drogue system and get the fuel through a probe.

The footage lets you see the Mirage 2000s and Rafale Air supporting Operation Serval being refueled on their way to the target area in northern Mali.

Mirage 2000 refuel

As happened in Libya, the Mali Air War is suffering from tanker shortage. Even if only a few combat planes are involved in the air strikes, the French Air Force is not equipped with a tanker force capable to sustain a limited amount of attack sorties.

That’s why the U.S. has dispatched some of its KC-135 from RAF Mildenhall and other nations have offered aerial refuelers.

The Italian Air Force has qualified both the French Mirage 2000, Mirage F1CR and Rafale jets as receivers for its Boeing KC-767 during a certification campaign at Mont-de-Marsan: the brand new tanker can now be dispatched to West Africa to support the French air campaign against rebels.

KC-767 qual campaign

Image credit: FAF

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“No way an F-35 will ever match a Typhoon fighter jet in aerial combat” Eurofighter test pilot says

In an interesting piece by Flight’s Dave Majumdar, Bill Flynn, Lockheed test pilot responsible for flight envelope expansion activities for the F-35 claimed that all three variants of the Joint Strike Fighter will have better kinematic performance than any fourth-generation fighter plane with combat payload, including the Eurofighter Typhoon (that during last year’s Red Flag Alaska achieved several simulated kills against the F-22 Raptor) and the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

“In terms of instantaneous and sustained turn rates and just about every other performance metric, the F-35 variants match or considerably exceed the capabilities of every fourth-generation fighter,” Flynn said.

According to the Lockheed pilot, (besides its stealthiness) the F-35 features better transonic acceleration and high AOA (angle-of-attack) flight performance than an armed Typhoon or Super Hornet.

RNLAF

Image credit: Lockheed Martin

As Majumdar says in his article, such claims are strongly disputed by other sources. Among them an experienced Eurofighter Typhoon industry test pilot, who tried to debunk all Flynn’s “theories” about the alleged superior F-35 performance.

Here’s what he wrote to The Aviationist:

No doubt the F-35 will be, when available, a very capable aircraft: its stealth design, extended range, internal carriage of stores and a variety of integrated sensors are definitely the ingredients for success in modern air-to-ground operations.

However, when time comes for air dominance, some other ingredients like thrust to weight ratio and wing loading tend to regulate the sky. And in that nothing comes close to a Typhoon, except an F-22 which has very similar values. The F-35 thrust to weight ratio is way lower and its energy-manoeuvrability diagrams match those of the F/A-18, which is an excellent result for a single engine aircraft loaded with several thousand pounds of fuel and significant armament.

But it also means that starting from medium altitude and above, there is no story with a similarly loaded Typhoon.

Dealing with the transonic acceleration:

Transonic acceleration is excellent in the F-35, as it is for the Typhoon and better than in an F/A-18 or F-16, but mainly due to its low drag characteristics than to its powerplant. That means that immediately after the transonic regime, the F-35 would stop accelerating and struggle forever to reach a non operationally suitable Mach 1.6.

The Typhoon will continue to accelerate supersonic with an impressive steady pull, giving more range to its BVR (Beyond Visual Range) armament.

For what concerns AOA:

Angle-of-attack is remarkably high in the F-35, as it is for all the twin tailed aircraft, but of course it can not be exploited in the supersonic regime, where the limiting load factor is achieved at low values of AoA.

Also in the subsonic regime, the angle-of-attack itself doesn’t mean that much, especially if past a modest 12° AoA you are literally going to fall of the sky! Excessive energy bleeding rates would operationally limit the F-35 well before its ultimate AoA is reached.

Eurofighter superb engine-airframe matching, in combination with its High Off-Bore-Sight armament supported by Helmet Cueing, has already and consistently proven winning against any agile fighter.

Last, the F-35 is capable of supersonic carriage of bombs in the bomb bay, but the fuel penalty becomes almost unaffordable, while delivery is limited to subsonic speeds by the armament itself as is for the Typhoon.

Concluding (highlight mine):

[…] it is in the facts that while the Typhoon can do most of the F-35 air-to-ground mission, vice versa the F-35 remains way far from a true swing role capability, and not even talking of regulating the skies.

Provided that the F-35 will be able to solve all its problems, and that the raising costs will not lead to a death spiral of order cuts, both the British RAF and the Italian Air Force will be equipped with both the JSF and the Typhoon.

Mock aerial combat training will tell us who’s better in aerial combat.

MM7274_Typhoon

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Salva

Salva

Wargames in the Negev: Italian combat planes train with the Israeli Air Force. Again.

The news was kept confidential until the Israeli Air Force released some interesting details on its website but the Italian Air Force has just finished its third annual deployment in Israel, the last of a series of joint exercises between the two air forces.

AMX in Israel

Image credit: IAF

AMX and Tornado combat planes conducted joint drills with jets of the Israeli Air Force from Ovda airbase, southern Israel.

The two-week exercise saw the Italian planes fly in a simulated air war scenario: the training included sorties against aerial threats, live firing against ground targets, and very low level flying.

The Italian pilots enjoyed the oppotunity to share their experience with the combat proven Israeli crews and operate at much lower altitude than that allowed in Italy.

Along with the AMXs and Tornados, the F-16s of the 140 Sqn “Golden Eagle” from Nevatim and F-15s of the 133 Sqn “Knights of the Twin Tail” from Tel Nof.

The last of series of exercises that have seen planes of both nations cooperate during reciprocal visits reaffirms the strong ties between Rome and Tel Aviv in the defense field.

On Jul. 19, 2012, Israel’s Ministry of Defense signed a contract worth 1 billion USD for 30 Italian M-346 Master as replacement of the aging Air Force’s fleet of A-4 Skyhawks, used as advanced trainers for combat pilots designated for fighter jets.

On Jul. 20, it was announced that Israel’s IAI will supply the Italian Air Force with  two Gulfstream G550 Eitam conformal airborne early warning (CAEW) aircraft as part of “a larger Government-to-Government agreement between Israel and Italy [worth 1 billion USD] that includes aircraft, engines, maintenance, logistics, simulators and training, provided also by other Israeli and international companies.”

F-16 IAF

Image credit: IAF

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This is what looks like to fly an F-16 in close formation with two Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets

An impressive set of pictures (most probably taken with a GoPro camera) has been published by the  Royal Danish Air Force’s Fighter Wing Skrydstrup on Facebook.

Cockpit 1

The photos were taken during training sorties over Italy, where the Danish Fighter Wing is currently deployed for the exercise Winter Hide 2013.

Cockpit 2

In this post, you’ll find three stunning images, two of those show the Danish F-16s in close formation with a couple of Eurofighter Typhoons of the Italian Air Force.

For more, visit FWSKP Facebook page.

Cockpit 3

Image credit: RDAF /FWSKP

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Nigerian gunships, European airlifters (and weaponized U.S. drones) join Mali Air War

Here’s the latest (unofficial) Order of Battle of the Mali Air War.

Dealing with the French contingent of Operation Serval:

  • 4x Rafale Air, 5x C-135FR, 1x A310, 1x C130, 3x C-160 Transal, 3x Mirage 2000D, 1x CN235 at N’Djamena, Chad
  • 2x Mirage F1CR, 8x Gazelle, 3x Mirage 2000D, 4x Super Puma, 3x Tigre helos at Bamako, Mali
  • 2x Harfang drones at Niamey, Niger
  • 5x French Navy’s Atlantique II MPA (Maritime Patrol Aircraft) at Dakar, Senegal, performing ISR (intelligence surveillance reconnaissance)

After chartering a Volga Dnepr An-124 and an Il-76 with Belarus registration, the French have used an An-225 Mriya, world’s biggest airlifter, to carry troops and equipment from Istres, to Bamako. The first round trip saw the aircraft returning to Istres (possibly to be loaded again) on Jan. 24.

The U.S. DoD has been supporting the French operation with five C-17 Globemaster II cargo planes (the same kind of plane dispatched by the Royal Canadian Air Force and by the UK’s Royal Air Force). Actually, one of the American airlifters was spotted in Mauritania on Jan. 16, well before Washington officially stepped in.

Noteworthy, according to ACIG‘s Editor Tom Cooper, along with the unarmed RQ-1 and RQ-4B Global Hawk, the U.S. Air Force is currently flying weaponized MQ-1 Predator drones over Mali.

The Italian Air Force is sending two C-130J cargos, belonging to the 46^ Brigata Aerea from Pisa, and one Boeing KC-767A tanker, from the 14° Stormo at Pratica di Mare, to Mali as well. The latter can be used as a strategic airlifter too.

Other airlifters are being provided by Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Spain, Netherlands and UAE.

About 60 airlift missions have been flown so far to support the build-up phase of the Mali war by France and partner countries.

KC-767A

The Nigerian Air Force has deployed two Alpha Jet light attack planes (NAF 455 and NAF 452) from the domestic wing of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, to Niamey, in Niger, where they will be based during the Mali operations.

The Nigerians have deployed Mi-35 gunships from Nigeria to Mali in the last few days.

Nigerian_Air_Force_Mil_Mi-35P_Iwelumo-1

Image credit: Wiki

The Nigerian Army deployment to Mali was supported by NAF C-130 aircraft that have airlifted personnel and equipment.

Noteworthy, after conducting an attack on a camp possibly used by smugglers close to the border with Chad and Sudan on Dec. 18, the Free Libyan Air Force reportedly struck an alleged AQIM convoy of four vehicles originated from Mali, that had entered Libya from Niger.

In the meanwhile, the French Air Force has released the first videos of the air strikes in Mali.

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