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 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!
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.
Some videos showing FLAF (Free Libya Air Force) Mig-23 Flogger jets have emerged recently: filmed from at an unknown airbase and posted on the official FB page of the Libyan Air Force they show the Soviet-era jets thundering at ultra-low altitude.
In this post you can find another image that has surfaced on the social network, reportedly released by the FLAF showing one of the flybys from a quite privileged standpoint.
According to the always very well informed Oryx Blog, the Libyan Air Force currently has two MiG-23MLs operational: 6472 based at Benina and 6132 based at al-Watiya. The two aircraft support the war of attrition against Libya Dawn forces that also operate one remaining Mig-23ML (the other one crashed after attacking the airstrip of al-Zintan on Mar. 23, 2015).
What was unknown is that at least one secretive U.S. Army Dash 7 surveillance aircraft, designated EO-5C, has operated in the skies of eastern Libya, the same region where the U.S. has recently identified camps hosting a couple hundred ISIS militants.
The presence of an Army aircraft packed with sensors, known as ARL (Airborne Reconnaissance Low), is usually kept obscure: the aircraft does not wear military markings and some of its sensors can be retracted making the airplane a regional liner rather than a special operations plane on clandestine mission.
But photos of the aircraft overflying Benghazi on Nov. 29 have appeared on Twitter.
The Navy’s ARIES II also seen operating over Benghazi is a highly modified version of the P-3C used to perform SIGINT (Signal Intelligence) missions. This variant of the Orion maritime patrol aircraft became famous on Apr. 1, 2001 when one such planes and its crew were detained for 11 days following a collision with a Chinese J-8IIM fighter (that crashed causing the death of the pilot) and the subsequent emergency landing at Ligshui airbase, in Hainan island.
One of these Navy aircraft was spotted over Libya in 2012 when there were rumors that it might be involved in operations aimed at detecting and tracking smuggled weapons travelling towards Egypt and destined to Gaza.
In this case, the U.S. Navy spyplane, along with the Army EO-5C was probably seeking ISIS militants.
Image credit: Stoah News Agency