Tag Archives: McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle

U.S. F-15E Downs Iranian-Built Syrian Drone After Airstrike on U.S. Led Forces

Syrian Drone Destroyed by Strike Eagle After It Engaged Anti-Assad Coalition Ground Forces. Second air-to-air kill for the Strike Eagle since Gulf War.

U.S. Special Operations advisors leading anti-Assad Syrian forces came under fire from an Iranian built Shahed 129 drone operated by Syrian pro-government forces on Thursday according to the U.S. Army.

A U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle shot the drone down.

The incident occurred outside Al-Tanf, southern Syria close to the Jordanian border. An installation in Al –Tanf serves as a forward operating base for British and U.S. special operations teams assisting the anti-ISIL Syrian guerilla group Maghawir al-Thawra or “Commandos of the Revolution”. Maghawir al-Thawra is regarded as an indigenous special operations group who have received training and support from coalition forces to fight the Assad regime.

The U.S. reacted to the drone attack by tasking an F-15E Strike Eagle to locate and destroy the Syrian drone. It was officially the first time U.S. forces had come under air attack by a hostile nation in nearly 20 years and the second air-to-air kill for the Strike Eagle since the downing of an Iraqi Gunship helicopter in 1991.

According to U.S. Army Colonel Ryan Dillon, spokesman of the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR), the Assad government Syrian drone strike on U.S. advisors and Syrian revolutionary commandos “did not have an effect on coalition forces,”

“The pro-regime UAV, similar in size to the U.S. MQ-1 predator, was shot down by U.S. aircraft after it dropped one of several weapons it was carrying near a position occupied by coalition personnel who are training and advising partner ground forces in the fight against ISIL,” CJTF-OIR’s public affairs office released in a statement. “The shoot down follows an earlier engagement in the day in which Coalition forces destroyed two pro-regime armed technical vehicles that advanced inside the well established de-confliction zone threatening Coalition and partner forces.”

Pentagon Correspondent Tara Copp was among the first to release the U.S. aircraft involved in the drone shoot-down incident (Twitter)

A 34-mile region around Al-Tanf has been declared a “de-confliction zone” by coalition forces for the past several weeks. This buffer was established to safeguard U.S. and British supported anti-Assad forces. Several incidents have taken place recently inside this de-confliction zone that have prompted a U.S. response. On Tuesday, a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornet dropped four bombs killing an estimated 10 pro-Assad combatants and destroyed several of their vehicles.

It is also likely the pro-Assad forces controlling the Iranian made Shahed 129 drone were in close proximity to the drone itself at the time it attacked U.S. advised anti-Assad forces. The Shahed 129 can be controlled by satellite guidance from a remote ground station, but this example was almost certainly controlled by a local ground controller with line-of-sight to the Syrian Shahed 129 when it was destroyed by the U.S. F-15E Strike Eagle.

The incident is significant since U.S. ground forces in the region and, in the entire history of the Global War of Terror, have been largely immune from air attacks. The Iranian-made Shahed 129 drone was also employed by Hezbollah in a 2012 operation over Israel. The Israelis downed the Iranian-made, Hezbollah-controlled drone but the incident marked a dangerous escalation in terrorist capabilities.

The Iranian-built Shahed 129 armed drone (Iranian News Media)

 

Meet The First Female F-35 Pilot

USAF Lt. Col. Christine Mau Is The First Woman to Fly the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. This Is Why It Does, And Doesn’t Matter.

It was May 7, 2015. Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. In a (today) seemingly minor event in aviation history deputy-commander of the U.S. Air Force 33rd Fighter Wing Operations Group, Lt. Col. Christine Mau, became the first female ever to fly the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The event marked several ongoing milestones, the first woman to fly an F-35 anywhere in the world, but also the increasing integration of female combat pilots into the most advanced flight operations in the world.

“Women have been flying fighters in combat for over 20 years” Lt. Col. Mau said in an interview with Air Force media.

Her remarks de-emphasized the gender topic and focused on the performance of the (then) new F-35A Lightning II. At the time Lt. Col. Mau flew the F-35A for the first time, there were only 86 other (male) pilots certified to fly the F-35A in the entire U.S. Air Force.

While there have been cultural gender-biased barriers to entry for women in combat roles in most armed services some of the barriers to entry for female- and male- combat pilots were technical. In October of 2015 the U.S. Air Force required that any pilot using the F-35 Lightning II’s Martin-Baker US16E ejection seat requires a minimum pilot weight of 136 pounds. Martin-Baker’s original specification for pilot weight in the US16E ejection seat was 103 pounds. The temporary change was implemented by the Air Force from concerns about ejection seat performance in specific areas of the aircraft’s flight performance envelope. The Air Force and Martin-Baker have subsequently published that the weight restriction will be lifted in April 2017 according to media outlet Defense News. The article went on to characterize the original weight restriction as be imposed as a result of “high risk of severe or potentially fatal neck injuries upon being ejected from the aircraft.”

“Flying is a great equalizer,” Mau told Air Force media in 2015. “The plane doesn’t know or care about your gender as a pilot, nor do the ground troops who need your support,” Lt. Col. Mau said. “You just have to perform. That’s all anyone cares about when you’re up there — that you can do your job, and that you do it exceptionally well.”

Being the first female to fly the F-35A was not Lt. Col. Mau’s first page in the aviation history book. She also flew the first all-female combat sortie conducted by the U.S. Air Force in 2011 when she and an all-female maintenance and planning crew launched an F-15E Strike Eagle combat operation against insurgents in Afghanistan’s Kunar Valley.

Lt. Col. Mau comes from a family of aviators. Her father was a C-130 pilot in the Air National Guard and a commercial pilot for Continental Airlines. She is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy in the class of 1997.

Her contributions to military aviation not only as an outstanding pilot and leader but also as a woman prove that physics and aerodynamics do not acknowledge gender, and that in the air, every pilot is equal on the basis of gender.

Image credit: Martin Baker and U.S. Air Force

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This video lets you join F-22 pilots preparing for a night air strike on ISIS

Up close and personal with the Raptor pilots fighting Daesh in Iraq and Syria.

Filmed at Al Dhafra airbase in the UAE, this clip shows F-22 pilots with the 90th Fighter Squadron from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, preparing to launch at night for a mission in support of Operation Inherent Resolve against ISIS in the modernized U.S. Air Force Raptor multirole jets.

Each Raptor mission against Daesh usually involves multiple aerial refueling operations since the aircraft, to keep their stealthiness, do not carry external fuel tanks.

The Alaskan Raptors belong to the latest available Block and can drop 8 GBU-39 small diameter bombs; they also embed a radar upgrade that enhanced the capabilities of the aircraft in the realm of the so-called “kinetic situational awareness”: although they drop very few bombs against ground targets, the 5th generation stealth planes exploit their advanced onboard sensors, such as the AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar, to gather details about the enemy targets that they share with other attack planes, such as the F-15E Strike Eagles.

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This video of an F-15E Strike Eagle refueling over Iraq exposes an unusual loadout of 2,000 lb bombs

This is a quite unusual loadout: at least three GBU-31 bunker buster bombs.

The footage below exposes something interesting.

It shows a KC- 135 from the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, refueling F-15E Strike Eagles over Iraq on Mar. 17.

Noteworthy, one of the Strike Eagles (from 391st FS from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho) taking fuel from the Stratotanker during a mission in support of Operation Inherent Resolve features a quite unusual loadout (compared to previous operations and OIR as well): at least 3x GBU-31(v)3/B 2,000-lb bombs.

The F-15E can carry as many as five GBU-31 JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition).

The JDAM is a GPS aided inertially guided bomb. The Guidance and Control Unit (GCU) containing a HG1700 RLG, GEM-III GPS receiver and computer package is installed inside the bomb tailkit. The GCU is used on the bunker busting 2,000-lb class BLU-109/B penetrator warhead.

On Apr. 30, 2011, an air strike conducted by a NATO jet against a bunker in Tripoli killed Gaddafi’s youngest son, Saif al-Arab Gaddafi, with three minor grandchildren. The images of an unexploded BL-109 warhead in the ruins of Gadhafi’s house later appeared on several media outlets, suggesting the raid had been carried out using a GBU-31.

The one filmed in the clip shows two GBU-31s on the left inboard CFT (Conformal Fuel Tank) weapons stations (dubbed LCT-1 and LCT-3) and one on the centerline station (STA-5). It’s not clear whether the remaining two stations on the right CFT (RCT-1 and RCT-3) are empty because the 2,000-lb bombs have already been dropped, possibly against some Daesh underground hideout.

The GBU-31s are assembled at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, by airmen from the 379th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron’s Munitions Flight. In December 2015, a team of nearly 60 Munitions airmen set a record, building almost 4,000 bombs since July 2015, surpassing the previous one by more than 1,600!

A dozen 2,000-pound joint direct attack munitions sit inside a warehouse at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, Dec. 17. The bombs were built by hand by airmen from the 379th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron’s Munitions Flight. The Munitions Flight has built nearly 4,000 bombs since July 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman/Released)

A dozen 2,000-pound joint direct attack munitions sit inside a warehouse at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, Dec. 17. The bombs were built by hand by airmen from the 379th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron’s Munitions Flight. The Munitions Flight has built nearly 4,000 bombs since July 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman/Released)

Take a look at this unique formation: F-15C, F-15E, F-22 and Typhoon

Raptors and Eagles and Typhoons flying together.

A four-ship formation consisting of a U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle from the 494th Fighter Squadron, an F-15 Eagle from the 493rd Fighter Squadron, an F-22A from the 95th Fighter Squadron, and a Royal Air Force Typhoon flew together during a training sortie on Apr. 26.

12 Raptors from the 95th FS are deployed from Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., and will be conducting air training exercises with other U.S. and Royal Air Force aircraft over the next several weeks.

On Apr. 25, two F-22s deployed to a Romanian airbase on the Black Sea coast.

On Apr. 26, two F-22s flew at low altitude through the famous Mach Loop training area in Wales.

On Apr. 27, two F-22s deployed at Siauliai airbase, Lithuania, where NATO BAP (Baltic Air Patrol) jets are based.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force/ Jim Haseltine