Tag Archives: Japan

Interesting Photos Show U.S. Air Force F-35A Stealth Jets Deployed To Japan About To Launch Without Radar Reflectors

Some recent photos of the Hill AFB F-35s deployed to Kadena Okinawa, seem to suggest the 5th Generation fighters have started operating in “stealth mode”.

Stealth aircraft, such as the F-22 Raptor or the F-35 Lightning II 5th generation jets are equipped with Luneburg (or Luneberg) lenses: radar reflectors used to make the LO (Low Observable) aircraft (consciously) visible to radars. These devices are installed on the aircraft on the ground are used whenever the aircraft don’t need to evade the radars: during ferry flights when the aircraft use also the transponder in a cooperative way with the ATC (Air Traffic Control) agencies; during training or operative missions that do not require stealthiness; or, more importantly, when the aircraft operate close to the enemy whose ground or flying radars, intelligence gathering sensors.

This is what we explained explaining how the Israeli the heavy presence of Russian radars and ELINT platforms in Syria cause some concern to the Israeli F-35 Adir recently declared IOC:

[…] the Russians are currently able to identify takeoffs from Israeli bases in real-time and might use collected data to “characterize” the F-35’s signature at specific wavelengths as reportedly done with the U.S. F-22s.

In fact, tactical fighter-sized stealth aircraft are built to defeat radar operating at specific frequencies; usually high-frequency bands as C, X, Ku and S band where the radar accuracy is higher (in fact, the higher the frequency, the better is the accuracy of the radar system).

However, once the frequency wavelength exceeds a certain threshold and causes a resonant effect, LO aircraft become increasingly detectable. For instance, ATC radars, that operate at lower-frequency bands are theoretically able to detect a tactical fighter-sized stealth plane whose shape features parts that can cause resonance. Radars that operate at bands below 300 MHz (lower UHF, VHF and HF radars), such as the so-called Over The Horizon (OTH) radars, are believed to be particularly dangerous for stealth planes: although they are not much accurate (because lower frequency implies very large antenna and lower angle accuracy and angle resolution) they can spot stealth planes and be used to guide fighters equipped with IRST towards the direction the LO planes might be.

F-35s deployed abroad usually feature their typical four radar reflectors: to exaggerate their real RCS (Radar Cross Section) and negate the enemy the ability to collect any detail about their LO “signature”. As happened during the short mission to Estonia and then Bulgaria, carried out by the USAF F-35As involved in the type’s first overseas training deployment to Europe or when, on Aug. 30, 2017, four U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II joined two USAF B-1B Lancers for the JSF’s first show of force against North Korea: the F-35Bs flew with the radar reflectors, a sign they didn’t want their actual radar signature to be exposed to any intelligence gathering sensor in the area.

The two radar reflectors on the right side of the F-35A (the remaining two are located in the same positions on the left side). Image credit: LM (hightlight by Author)

Since they almost always fly with the radar reflectors, photographs of the aircraft without the four notches (two on the upper side and two on the lower side of the fuselage) are particularly interesting: for instance, some shots taken on Jan. 24, 2018 and just released by the U.S. Air Force show F-35As deployed to Kadena AB, Japan, in October as a part of the U.S. Pacific Command’s Theater Security Package program, preparing to launch without their Luneberg reflectors.

The lack of reflector on the top left position of this F-35 is pretty evident in the following photographs:

A U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, goes through pre-flight checks prior to taxiing Jan. 25, 2018, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The F-35A is a 5th-generation stealth fighter developed to safely penetrate areas while avoiding radar detection. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Quay Drawdy)

 

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Jacob Valdez, 34th Aircraft Maintenance unit crew chief, performs pre-flight checks prior to a training flight Jan. 25, 2018, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The F-35A is a 5th-generation stealth fighter developed to safely penetrate areas while avoiding radar detection. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Quay Drawdy)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Jacob Valdez, 34th Aircraft Maintenance unit crew chief, communicates with Maj. Matthew Olson, F-35A Lightning II pilot from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, before a training flight Jan. 25, 2018, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The F-35A is deployed under U.S. Pacific Command’s theater security package program, which has been in operation since 2004. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Quay Drawdy)

For comparison, the following photo shows one of the 388FW F-35A jets on the ground at Kadena in November 2017 with the radar reflector.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Patrick Charles, 34th Aircraft Maintenance Unit crew chief, goes through pre-flight procedures Nov. 16, 2017, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. Rotational forces are integral to increasing our military combat capabilities, which are essential to U.S. power projection and security obligations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Greg Erwin)

Obviously the lack of radar reflectors is not a big deal: during their deployment to RAF Lakenheath last year, F-35As of the 388th FW have flown without reflectors some local sorties with the 48th FW F-15E Strike Eagles (for example on Apr. 26, 2017). However, photographs of deployed F-35s without Luneburg Lenses are pretty rare and, for this reason, interesting and newsworthy.

 

 

U.S. Air Force deploys F-22 stealth jets to Japan as a deterrence to North Korea and as a show of force to China

American F-22 stealth aircraft have been deployed to Japan for a deterrence and security exercise in the region.

U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor stealth multi-role aircraft from 525th Fighter Squadron at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, deployed to Kadena Air Base, in Japan, to take part in exercise Keen Sword, underway from Nov. 8 through Nov. 19.

The deployment has a dual purpose: let U.S. aircrews fly and train with local Japan Air Self Defense Forces, and show the presence of Washington’s most advanced fighter plane in service in a region where tensions have risen over maritime disputes in the South China Sea.

Held biennially since 1986, Exercise Keen Sword includes anti-submarine warfare, surface warfare, air-to-air and air defense warfare scenarios. This year, the drills involve about 11,000 personnel from U.S. Forces Japan, 5th Air Force, U.S. Naval Forces Japan, U.S. Army Japan, and III Marine Expeditionary Force. Among the Air Force units taking part in the exercise there are also 33rd Rescue Squadron from Kadena and 212th Rescue Squadron from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, that are training with their Japanese colleagues at Komatsu Air Base.

According to the Air Force, F-22s, that have had their combat first against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, have recently been active in training exercises in the region, “serving as a deterrence to North Korea and as a show of force to China.”

Earlier this year Raptors operated out of Osan Air Base, South Korea as part of large-scale exercise Foal Eagle.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

 

Breathtaking photo as F/A-18E Super Hornet pilot seemingly activates “Hyperspace Drive”

An amazing shot from a Super Hornet fighter pilot

This photo was taken by an F/A-18E Super Hornet pilot with the U.S. Navy’s Strike-Fighter Squadron 27 (VFA-27) “Royal Maces” during a night gun strafe practice.

The visual effect of the 20mm bullets fired by the M61A2 Vulcan nose-mounted Gatling-style cannon is that of faster-than-light travel between stars (dubbed “hyperspace drive” or “warp drive”) of some famous science fiction movies.

Therefore, if you thought that traveling between stellar systems was something for spacecrafts out of Star Trek or Star Wars movies, you were (somehow) wrong.

Based at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, in Japan, VFA-27 is part of Carrier Air Wing 5 and is attached to the USS George Washington (CVN-73).

Image credit: LT Chris Nigus

H/T to @G_Steuer for the heads-up

 

Japan’s new stealth jet fighter has been officially unveiled

Mitsubishi ATD-X Shinshin stealth fighter has rolled out.

Last month, a leaked, blurry image provided an interesting preview of the first prototype of the Advanced Technology Demonstrator-X (ATD-X), the indigenous war plane that Japan Air Self-Defense Force will operate in the air defense role, replacing the ageing Mitsubishi F-2.

On Jul. 12, the first official photos of the ATD-X (serialled 51-0001) were released by the Japanese Ministry of Defense Technical Research and Development Institute (TRDI), the Ministry of Defense’s agency that has developed the Shinshin (“spirit of the heart”, an early codename within the Japan Self Defense Force) for research purposes.

Indeed, the ATD-X will be used for the development of the F-3, Japan’s next generation stealth jet.

Noteworthy, the “new” images were taken on May 8, 2014, when the painting of the canted vertical tails radar-evading air superiority fighter with enhanced maneuverability ended.

ATD-X first prototype side

Image credit: mod.go.jp via Alert 5 (H/T to Antonio Valencia for the heads-up).

 

Huge RQ-4 Global Hawk drone arrives in Japan for the first time ever

For the first time ever, a huge Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk drone touched down in Japan.

On May 4, the first U.S. Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk remotely piloted system arrived at Misawa Air Base, Japan, where it is scheduled to operate from May to October 2014.

The huge Northrop Grumman UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) was deployed to Japan to support ISR (Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance) missions in the Pacific theater, carried out by a team of a team of 40 personnel belonging to the 69th Reconnaissance Group, Detachment 1.

The detachment to Misawa, in Japan, is going to be a temporary replacement for the ISR missions launched for Guam, particularly affected by the inclement summer weather that usually leads to numerous sorties cancelled due to typhoons and thunderstorms.

Misawa Air Base was selected as an alternate base weighing a wide variety of factors, including seasonal weather patterns, facilities locally available, costs.

Even though the primary mission of the Global Hawk will be ISR (or “spying”), their presence could be useful to support humanitarian operations in the region, as already proved during Operation Tomodachi, a relief effort launched in 2011 when a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and accompanying tsunami struck northeastern Japan.

Launched just 9 hours after being requested to, the RQ-4’s sensors were used to pinpoint passable roads and territories for responders and to identify improvised landing zones.

Last year, Global Hawk UAS was also used to support Operation Damayan following after Super Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines. The large drone covered 100,000 kilometers of disaster area for more than 30 hours, collecting near real-time imagery that was used to look for locals in need of help and identify fires or partially submerged vessels.

Noteworthy, the detachment will be postured and ready to continue the mission at all times whether at Misawa Air Base or Andersen Air Force Base.

Enhanced by Zemanta