Tag Archives: Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor

Analysis: Russian Air Strike in Syria Results in Turkish Casualties

A Russian Tactical Air Strike in Al-Bab, Syria Kills Three Turkish Soldiers: What May Have Gone Wrong?

Wire services report that a Russian tactical air strike in Al-Bab, Syria, 40 kilometers northeast of Aleppo, has resulted in a “fratricide” (“friendly fire”) incident that took the lives of three Turkish ground troops and wounded another eleven personnel on the ground.

It is inherently dangerous for ground troops to operate in close proximity to airstrike targets. Minor miscalculations in aircraft weapon release point, malfunction of weapon release equipment on the aircraft, weather conditions such as wind and poor visibility, guidance malfunctions on precision guided weapons and problems with communications and coordination between ground troops and attack aircraft can all contribute to incidents of fratricide from air strikes.

Google Earth screengrab of the target area.

During the intense ground battles that have characterized much of the insurgent war in Syria troops have often been in close contact in urban areas. The overhead cover of buildings, the narrow streets and nearly identical appearance of many buildings in urban areas make accurate targeting of air strikes increasingly difficult on the urban battlefield.

Russia has most frequently employed non-precision guided weapons in tactical strikes in Syria. If this is the case in today’s Al-Bab incident it may have been a contributing factor.

While technical details of the strike were not released media photos from Khmeimim Air Base (also called Hmeimim Air Base) frequently show the Russian Su-25 Frogfoot used in a similar role as the U.S. A-10 Thunderbolt II for ground attack and close air support. Although unconfirmed, it may have been an Su-25 that launched today’s mistaken strike.

Su-25 pilot at Latakia airbase (Ru MoD via RT)

One factor that may have contributed to the incident is possible communication problems between Turkish ground forces and Russian close air support assets. U.S. forces traditionally employ specially trained and equipped personnel called “Forward Air Controllers” or “Tactical Air Control Parties” (TACPs) to coordinate air strikes in support of ground troops. It is possible the Russians may have assigned their own personnel, in some cases attack pilots with airstrike experience in the region, to help with targeting and coordination. But if there were no Russian air strike coordinators on the ground with Turkish troops, this could have been a contributing factor.

Russia’s precision-guided weapons have traditionally been larger munitions, while smaller bombs such as the 100kg and 250kg have not been guided. This is contrary to the U.S. development of small precision-guided weapons like the recent GBU-53/B small diameter bomb, a GPS/INS guided 250lb (approx. 113kg) bomb that has been employed by the F-22 in strikes in Syria. Russian precision guided munitions appear to be larger than 500kg including the FAB-500 high-explosive bomb and the “bunker busting” AB-500 bomb used on reinforced concrete targets.

Russian guided weapons relying on satellite targeting may be inherently less accurate than their U.S. counterparts since they update targeting and guidance data from the GLONASS GPS satellite constellation. According to Russia Insider the GLONASS satellite constellation “is fractionally less accurate in low latitudes than [western] GPS”. This suggests the Russian systems may be optimized for striking targets in northern areas.

Analyst for the Japan Times, Robert Burns, wrote, “The skies over Syria are increasingly crowded — and increasingly dangerous. The air forces of multiple countries are on the attack, often at cross-purposes in Syria’s civil war, sometimes without coordination. And now, it seems, they are at risk of unintended conflict.”

Former U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter expressed early concern over a year ago about the possibility of “inadvertent incidents and lack of communication” with Russian aircrews. Part of then-Secretary Ash’s concern stemmed from a relative lack of sophistication with Russian communications systems and their use of non-precision, unguided air delivered weapons.

Russian-Turkish cooperation in the Syrian campaign has been improving prior to this incident from a low point on Nov. 24, 2015 when Turkish F-16s shot down a Russian SU-24 over the Syrian border.

 

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32 F-22 Raptors moved to Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base to escape Hurricane Matthew

F-22 Raptors and T-38 Talons from Langley were “Hurrevaced” to Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base.

The top image is quite impressive.

It shows 32 F-22 Raptors from Joint Base Langley-Eustis on the ramp of the 121st Air Refueling Wing, at Rickenbacker ANGB, Ohio.

The stealth multirole jets have arrived at the base south of Columbus, along with 10 – 12 T-38 Talons, on Oct. 5, to escape from Hurricane Matthews.

Many airbases located on the East Coast (and in Florida) have been “Hurrevaced” (from HurrEvac – Hurricane Evacuation) with their aircraft moved across the country.

During Hurricane Hermine in late August, Rickenbacker hosted several A-10s from Moody AFB, Georgia, whereas as many as 13 F-22 Raptors from Langley were squeezed inside a giant NASA Langley Research Center hangar, rated for Cat. 2 hurricanes.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

 

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Video of live fire tests of the Russian T-50 stealth fighter’s 30 mm gun appears online

A new video showing the tests of the T-50 PAK FA’s 9-A1-4071K cannon has appeared on Youtube.

The Sukhoi T-50 PAK FA, Russia’s 5th generation radar-evading jet, has undertaken live testing of its 30 mm cannon.

Footage reportedly filmed at a range outside Moscow shows a test platform fire the 9-A1-4071K cannon, an upgraded version of the GSh-30-1 30 mm automatic cannon developed by the Instrument Design Bureau for High Precision Weapons in 2014.

Based on the data released so far, the gun (that complements a wide array of weapons that the aircraft will be able to carry), 50 kg in weight, can fire at a rate of 1,800 rounds per minute, “the best such performance for this type of weapon around.”

According to the state-run Sputnik news media outlet “another thing that makes the 9-A1-4071K so special is its autonomous water cooling system where the water inside the barrel jacket vaporizes as it heats up during operation. The 9-A1-4071K cannon can fire blast-fragmentation, incendiary and armor-piercing tracer rounds and is effective against even lightly armored ground, sea and aerial targets. The cannon can hit ground targets up to 1,800 meters away and aerial targets at a maximum distance of 1,200 meters. Flight tests of the 9A1-4071K modernized rapid-aircraft cannon were earlier conducted on the Sukhoi SU-27SM multirole jet fighter.”

The T-50 is a stealth equipped with a front, side and rear AESA radar, as well as L Band radars. It features TVC (Thrust Vectoring Control), a top speed exceeding Mach 2 and a supermaneuverability that makes the stealth plane able to perform, among the others, even the famous Cobra maneuver.

Expected to enter mass production next year, the Russian Defense Ministry plans to buy at least one squadron of T-50 aircraft in 2018.

Theoretically, exports should start in 2020: Sukhoi is working on T-50 variant (that will embed Indian hardware) for the Indian Air Force, even though the latter in 2014 complained in a report that was given wide publicity, that the stealth jet is too expensive, poorly engineered, equipped with inadequate radar.

And, above all, the Indians criticized the unreliable engines.

The Russians have countered that a new, more powerful engine, expected to replace the old AL-41F engine used by the Su-27 family, is under development.

The brand-new motors, along with improved sensors (and more reliable radar – this, as well, planned), will probably make the T-50 a dangerous enemy for both the F-22 and the F-35, preventing embarrassing episodes like those occurred at MAKS 2011.

Back in the 2011, when PAK-FA debuted, both T-50 prototypes had technical problems. The first one, “51” had structural breaks, while second one, “52” suffered a quite embarrassing flameout at the beginning of its MAKS 2011 performance and was forced to abort take off and display.

H/T to @aldana_jp for sending the video over to us.

This photo shows 13 F-22 Raptors squeezed into the NASA Langley Research Center hangar for Hurricane protection

13 F-22 Raptors and 9 other aircraft found a shelter in the NASA hangar at Langley.

The image above was posted by the Commander of the 1st Fighter Wing at Joint Base Langley-Eustis.

It shows 13 F-22 Raptors along with 9 other aircraft for a collective 22 planes squeezed inside inside a giant NASA Langley Research Center hangar, rated for Cat. 2 hurricanes, where the multi-role stealth jets were recovered in preparation of the arrival of Hurricane Hermine.

When there is no enough space to accommodate all the aircraft, airbases about to be hit by Hurricanes evacuate their aprons temporarily moving the planes to other airfields: an operation dubbed “Hurrevacing” (from HurrEvac – Hurricane Evacuation).

Image credit: NASA

Take a look at the hovering F-35B through a high definition thermal imager

A FLIR 380-HDc thermal imager has captured this cool footage of the F-35B during the display at the Farnborough International Air Show.

Last month we published a screenshot taken by an IR camera of a crime fighting helicopter that filmed an F-22 Raptor on the ground at RAF Fairford where the radar-evading 5th generation aircraft had deployed to take part in the Royal International Air Tattoo airshow.

The footage in this post shows the heat signature of another stealthy (and quite controversial) aircraft, the Lockheed Martin F-35B, the STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) of the Joint Strike Fighter.

Pretty cool, isn’t it?

The video was filmed by Star SAFIRE 380-HDc a compact, high performance, stabilized, HD imaging systems specifically engineered for helicopter.

According to FLIR, the manufacturer of the Star SAFIRE 380-HDc and a leader in such systems, the camera “provides an unmatched SWaP-C advantage for airborne applications that demand high performance ISR [Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance] in a light-weight, compact package. Specifically tailored to excel at long range performance under extreme rotary aircraft conditions.”

Needless to say, the IR signature of the F-35B during hovering is impressive.

The heat signature of a LO (Low Observability) aircraft is also what IRST (Infra Red Search and Track) sensors of a “legacy” unstealthy aircraft will seek during an aerial engagement against a stealth plane.

Image credit: screenshot from FLIR footage

H/T Foxtrot Alpha

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