Tag Archives: Libya

The Italian Air Force Predator A+ Drones Appear With Brand New Markings At New Squadron Activation Ceremony

The Italian Air Force Predator A+ of the 32° Stormo (Wing) appear with new markings.

On Jul. 10, the Italian Air Force announced the reactivation of the 61° Gruppo (Squadron), disbanded in 1943, at Sigonella airbase, in Sicily, that will operate the MQ-1C Predator A+ UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) as a detached unit of the 32° Stormo, headquartered at Amendola, southeastern Italy.

The drones, piloted by aircrews coming from the 28° Gruppo and supported by ground crews of the 41° Stormo, based at Sigonella, will reinforce the Italian surveillance capabilities in southern Italy.

The new squadron will complement the other squadron of the 32nd Wing, the 28° Gruppo also based at Amendola, that already operates a mixed force of MQ-9 Reaper and MQ-1C Predator A+ drones that are used to undertake a wide variety of tasks: along with the standard ISR (intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) missions, the Italian Predators have supported MEDEVACs (Medical Evacuations), TIC (Troops In Contact) operations, IED (Improvised Explosive Devices) monitoring, Convoy Escort in Iraq and Afghanistan; they have supported Operation Unified Protector in Libya, Mare Nostrum operation in the Mediterranean Sea near Lampedusa (where they have monitored the migratory flows and consequent tragic ship wreckage off the island) and, from Djibouti, have monitored the seas off the coast of Somalia in anti-piracy missions. They are also currently deployed in Kuwait to support the US-led anti-ISIS operation in Syria and Iraq. Leveraging their persistence on the target area, the drones have also supported Police forces during major events.

Noteworthy, the photos of the 61° Gruppo reactivation ceremony posted by the Italian Air Force on social media exposed an interesting detail.

Indeed, for the very first time, the Predators belonging to the 32° Stormo appear to sport the standard Wing’s livery that includes the aircraft code 32-xx on the fuselage and the Wing’s emblem, the Hawk, on the the tails.

One of the Italian MQ-1C Predator A+ drones sporting the individual code 32-33.

With the addition of the new markings, the Predators of the 61° and 28 ° Gruppo will now feature the same kind of markings worn by the F-35A Lightning II aircraft of the 13° Gruppo of the 32° Stormo, Italy’s first JSF squadron that has recently celebrated its 100th anniversary (with special tail markings.)

Close up view of the Hawk applied to the tails of the Predator.

Image credit: ItAF

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Specially-configured Metroliner aircraft involved in surveillance operations in Libya crashes shortly after takeoff from Malta

Chilling dashcam video shows a Fairchild SA227-AT Expediter crashing after takeoff from Malta killing 5 people on board.

On Oct. 24, a twin-prop Fairchild Metroliner aircraft, in a special configuration required to undertake surveillance missions, crashed shortly after takeoff from Malta International Airport at 07.20AM LT.

The SA227-AT, painted overall grey and carrying civil registration N577MX, is one of two such aircraft (the other being N919CK, that carries a different surveillance suite) is operated by the Luxemburg-based CAE Aviation on behalf of the French government for missions in Africa.

A dashcam captured the last few seconds of the flight: the aircraft can be seen banking (seemingly to the left) before crashing into the ground in the video posted on Facebook (beware, it can be considered graphic content).

The French MoD confirmed the aircraft was involved in a surveillance operation and that three defense ministry officials and two private contractors were killed in the incident.

The aircraft was reportedly involved in tracing routes of illicit trafficking, both of humans and drugs, along the more than 1,200 km of Libyan coastline: indeed, N577MX was part of a fleet of sensor-filled planes involved in intelligence gathering missions in North Africa along with several other special missions aircraft in civil disguise (whose tracks are often exposed by their Mode-S transponders.)

Such para-military, unconventional spyplanes operate from airbases in the Mediterranean Sea (including Malta, that is one of the main operating bases considered the proximity to the area of operations) performing a wide variety of clandestine tasks, sometimes in support of special forces on the ground, including hunting ISIS terrorists.

Image credit: courtesy Ruben Zammit

 

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Take a ride in an EA-18G Growler with the awesome VAQ-140 cruise video

Footage is from deployment in 2015-2016 to the Arabian Gulf and the Eastern Mediterranean.

The video in this post comes from U.S. Navy’s Electronic Attack Squadron 140 (VAQ-140).

Based at NAS Whidbey Island, Washington, the squadron’s last deployment took the “Patriots” to the east coast on the USS Harry S Truman (CVN-75). This was the ship’s and Airwing 7’s first deployment supporting Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), with targeted airstrikes in Iraq and Syria as part of a comprehensive strategy to defeat the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The VAQ-140 “Patriots” fly the EA-18G Growler. Based off of the F/A-18F, the most noticeable difference with the Super Hornet are the wingtip pods housing the ALQ-218 signals receiver suite, which helps to detect and geolocate emitters and signals.

The aircraft carry the ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming System underneath the wings instead of bombs carried by conventional fighters. These jamming pods delay, degrade and deny the enemy’s use of the electromagnetic spectrum. Controlling what information and communication is available provides an immense tactical advantage on the battlefield and enables Coalition forces to carry out their missions with impunity.

The Growler is also capable of carrying the HARM (High speed Anti-Radiation Missile) and AARGM (Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile); these weapons are designed to seek out threat weapons systems and emitters, guiding on their energy, and destroy them.

Many thanks to Christian Long and the “Patriots” for sending this over to us!

 

Air Force Special OPS plane carrying US Commandos makes “surprise” landing in Libya

A U.S. Air Force C-146A Wolfhound with SOF made an unannounced landing at an airbase in Libya.

Early in the morning on Dec. 14, a C-146A Wolfhound (US military designation of the Do-328), serial number 13097, registration N307EF, operated by the 524th Special Operations Squadron of the 27th Special Operations Wing, U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command, landed at al-Watiyah airbase southwest of Tripoli, Libya.

Interestingly, the aircraft carried a team of armed people wearing civilian clothes: according to some sources they landed at 6 AM on December 14 without any coordination with the local authorities and that’s why they were asked to leave. Although it was later confirmed that they were US SOF (Special Ops Forces) the reason of their “trip” to Libya has yet to be explained.

Moreover, it’s at least weird they somehow posed for photos that appeared on Social Media.

The aircraft could be tracked online flying northbound after the trip, using callsign “Magma 30.”

The C-126A can be frequently tracked online as it flies between Stuttgard and airports in southern Italy, especially Pantelleria, a little Italian island off Tunisia, sometimes used by a U.S. Beechcraft King Air 350ER carrying registration N351DY, the civil version of the MC-12W ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) platform operated by the U.S. Air Force, flying missions over the western Tunisia regions (where jidahist terrorists behind the Bardo Museum attack have been hiding).

Noeworthy, the C-146A flew again towards Libya later on the same day from Pantelleria island.


Top image, screenshot from Flightradar24.com

Watch this video of a Libyan Mig-23 performing an insanely low flyby

The lowest and fastest flyby by a Libyan Mig-23 Flogger

We have already posted a cool shot showing FLAF (Free Libya Air Force) Mig-23 Flogger jets fly fast at ultra-low altitude on photographers at an airbase in Libya.

Here is the video filmed by a nearby cameraman.

Seven feet off the ground or more? Whatever, it’s a really a fast and low passage.

As already reported, the Libyan Air Force is currently believed to operate two MiG-23MLs (6472 based at Benina and 6132 based at al-Watiya) involved in the war of attrition against Libya Dawn forces.

H/T @Marguer_d for the heads up