Tag Archives: Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21

Russian Video Of Captured U.S. F-5 Tiger Jet Dogfighting Against MiG-21 in Tests Raises Question: Do They Still Operate American Jets?

Russia Operated Captured U.S. Aircraft for “OPFOR” Evaluation.

As we have reported previously, it is no secret the U.S. has made and still make use of captured or otherwise acquired Russian aircraft for test, evaluation and training purposes including the development of U.S. radars, countermeasures and early warning systems (earlier this year we published some really rare images of a Russian Su-27 Flanker dogfighting with a U.S. F-16 inside Area 51…)

Has Russia done the same with U.S. aircraft? Absolutely.

The RT video below contains some quite famous footage of a Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighter formerly stationed at Bien Hoa Air Base in Vietnam being operated in Soviet markings against a MiG-21 (NATO codename “Fishbed”). The aircraft was seized along with “several US military aircraft”, taken to the USSR and used in a test and evaluation project to determine the capabilities of the F-5 series compared to Warsaw Pact aircraft.

Bien Hoa Air Base was overrun by Communist forces on Apr. 25, 1975 as the Vietnam War (referred to as the “American War” in Vietnam) neared its end.

A number of F-5A and F-5E aircraft attributed to the 522nd Fighter Squadron were left behind intact at the air base. Because the F-5E version of the aircraft had only flown for the first time three years earlier in 1973 and was being marketed to other Western user nations it was of significant interest to the Warsaw Pact.

Was the F-5 a threat to the Russian mainstay MiG-21? This video shows testing to answer that question in Russia.

At least one of the F-5s, in Soviet markings, was tested in opposing forces simulation with the MiG-21 as shown in this video.

Soviet pilots from Chkalov’s Russian Flight Test Center near the Volga River, a facility similar to the secret test ranges at Tonopah and Edwards AFB, were reportedly impressed by the performance of the F-5 against the MiG-21. Interestingly, Soviet engineers assumed the MiG-21 was more advanced but the F-5 won every time in the simulated air combat carried out in USSR. According to some reports the Russian pilots who flew the F-5 against the MiG-21 were named Vladimir Kandaurov, Alexander Bezhevets and Nikolay Stogov. The findings of these fly-offs and simulated combat were said to contribute to the development of the MiG-23 for the Russians, an aircraft that was imported to several Arab nations friendly with the USSR.

Noteworthy, the F-5 was so similar to the MiG-21, it was used as

Another curious development from behind the Iron Curtain was this photo of a what seems to be a McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom aircraft (or mock-up) under a tarp at the famous Zhukovskiy airfield near Moscow. The photo is allegedly from Aug. 11, 1971. It includes a French-built Mirage aircraft, also under cover, parked next to it. The massive Myasishchev M-4 Molot strategic bomber in front of the F-4 and the Mirage add some scale to the image.

An F-4 Phantom II and a French Mirage III sit under cover behind a Russian Myasishchev M-4 heavy bomber in Russia. (International Air Power Review Photo)

There have also been some interesting hoax aircraft flown in the Photoshop air force with Russian markings. The most famous is an F-14 Tomcat said to be taken from the Iranian Air Force following the fall of the Shah of Iran during the Iranian Revolution in 1978. While the photo looks convincing and the story is certainly plausible, most analysts agree it is faked.

A Photoshopped image of a Grumman F-14 with fake Russian Markings. Internet contributors contended the aircraft went to Russia from Iran for testing but the story proved to be untrue and the photo manipulated. (The Aviation Forum)

Perhaps the most interesting question is, does Russia own current frontline U.S. tactical aircraft as a part of its opposing forces unit? Are there Russian-marked F-16s or F-15s flying somewhere in Russia? The answer is, likely no.

The U.S. has been careful about the distribution of tactical aircraft to nations that may realign with Russia from the U.S. if their strategic alliances shift. And while relations with Russia and the U.S. have been much more open since the end of the Cold War there are still many reasons why the U.S. and Russia are vigorous about maintaining security about their respective combat aircraft.

Have you ever heard reports or rumors about American aircraft in the hands of the Russians? Let us know.

 

Nigerian Air Force Attack on Boko Haram Terrorists Leads to more than 100 Civilian Casualties.

Over 100 Civilians Killed in Accidental Nigerian Airstrike

Media and intelligence reports indicate that a Nigerian Air Force aircraft, likely either a Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet or an Aero L-39 Albatross light trainer/attack jet has been involved in a fratricide incident with “over 100 dead” according to first information.

The incident occurred Tuesday Jan. 17, when an airstrike by an undisclosed number and type of Nigerian military aircraft, likely only one aircraft, mistakenly targeted a “refugee camp” along the Nigerian-Cameroon border.

Reports indicate that aid workers have also been wounded in the attack. The border area is on the eastern edge of Nigeria in central Africa. According to a report by the BBC, “The Red Cross says six of its workers are confirmed dead.” The BBC report also cited casualty numbers lower than other news outlets, with a reported “50 killed and over 100 wounded”. The international aid agency Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) or “Doctors Without Borders” was named as the source for the casualty reports but did not specifically name MSF volunteers as victims in the incident. Médecins Sans Frontières staff and physicians have been involved in a number of fratricide or “friendly fire” incidents in the region during the last decade.

While no official reports have been released other than statements of regret from Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari over the incident, Nigerian Army spokesman Major-General Lucky Irabor told media the jet’s pilot mistakenly believed he was attacking insurgents.

Nigeria’s tactical aircraft are currently inventoried as the Alpha Jet and the Aero L-39, two light jet trainer/attack aircraft that usually lack modern, sophisticated precision targeting and navigation equipment. While Nigeria also fields a version of the MiG-21 built in China called the Chengdu F-7 Airguard, that aircraft has limited air-to-ground precision targeting capability with unguided rockets and bombs.

The original target for the airstrike was reported as Boko Haram terrorists, said Major-General Lucky Irabor, theater commander for counterinsurgency operations in northeast Nigeria. Major-General Irabor added that, “It was too early to say if a tactical error was made” according to a statement he made to the The Telegraph.

Major General Lucky Irabor (credit: The Telegraph)

Airstrikes in the region are a near-daily occurrence. With a large displaced refugee population in the area incidents of fratricide have been recorded before. This incident is remarkable not only for the tragic number of victims but also as the first time Nigeria has accepted some level of responsibility for the incident. It further emphasizes the risks of operating attack aircraft lacking precision targeting capabilities in close proximity to civilian populations.

Image credit: Kenneth Iwelumo

 

These Unique Photographs Show Some of The Coolest Radom Airshow 2015 Participants At Night

Have a look at these cool shots

The images in this post were taken at night after the Radom airshow 2015 had ended.

The author of the images, Wojciech Mazurkiewicz, working as a member of the Radom Airshow’s press team, told us that shooting the aircraft at night was extremely satisfying and quite exceptional: this is the first time in history such a photo shoot has been allowed.

Radom airshow night

Radom airshow night_02

After long negotiations with Lt. Col. Artur Goławski, the spokesperson for the event, Mazurkiewicz, along with the photographers of the press team, got the clearance to take the unique night photos. As it happens sometimes – not everything went smooth. In fact, due to a lack of communication within the chain of command, the guards securing the aircraft did not receive any information related to the photographers presence.

Radom airshow night_04

However, after 15 minutes, the issue was solved and the photographers were allowed to take the shots of the aircraft taking part in the Radom Air Show dynamic displays. Interestingly, only 3 photographers had a chance to take the night shots of the “sleeping” aircraft meaning that the images in this post are quite unique.

Radom airshow night_07

General public rarely gets up close and personal with the aircraft taking part in the flying display as these airframes are usually parked away from the audience area for safety reasons.

Radom airshow night_12

Radom airshow night_14

Radom airshow night_18

Radom airshow night_19

Radom airshow night_21

Radom airshow night_23

Radom airshow night_24

Radom airshow night_25

Image credit: Wojciech Mazurkiewicz

 

This may be the first video to show an ISIS jet in flight in Syria

A video, filmed in central Syria today allegedly shows the first ISIS jet in flight.

In the last few days, several media outlets reported the news that the Islamic State has started combat operations using “Mig” fighter jets from an airbase in Syria.

Indeed, in 2014, ISIS has captured two airbases in central Syria, Tabqa and Kshesh, where Islamic State fighters have seized some Syrian Arab Air Force airplanes. Among these aircraft, several Mig-21s and L-39s, some of those, if not airworthy, were probably at least in pretty good shape.

Photos of IS fighters posing next to intact L-39s at Kshesh, about 70 kilometers to the east of Aleppo, have been published on several websites and social media: some of them show the combat trainers in near operational conditions.

Obviously, the mere fact that some aircraft, with some missing parts were captured by ISIS, does not mean they now have an Air Force. Still, their capability to bring a few of those “Migs” to flight conditions should not be underestimated: with the help of the Iraqi personnel formerly serving with the Iraqi Air Force the three planes were reportedly brought back to operational status at Kshesh. Most probably piloted by Iraqi, IS supporters or mercenaries.

On Oct. 18, a video reportedly filmed near Kshesh emerged. It shows a jet landing at the airbase under IS control in central Syria.

Although it’s not easy to guess the type of aircraft, it may be an L-39.

As said, the fact that some aircraft have been brought to operational status is far from being surprising. What’s weird is that U.S. aircraft involved in Operation Inherent Resolve (as the U.S.-led campaign against ISIS was dubbed) have not yet targeted Kshesh airbase to wipe out the first three aircraft of the quite basic IS Air Force…

Top image is a file photo of a Syrian Arab Air Force L-39 during an air strike over Aleppo.

 

Photo proves Libyan Mig-21s (not Egyptian aircraft) have conducted air strikes in Benghazi recently

A photo, reportedly taken in Benghazi a couple of days ago, could prove it’s not the Egyptian Air Force but the Libyan Air Force conducting air strikes in the country.

On Oct. 16, some media outlets reported the news that airstrikes against jihadists in Libya were conducted by Egyptian Air Force aircraft piloted by Libyan officers.

Free Libya Air Force (as the Libyan Arab Air Force was dubbed in 2011), is equipped with a handful of front line fighter jets, most of which are obsolete, scarcely overhauled Soviet combat planes that have survived the uprising and the subsequent fierce struggle between militias. Among them, there are a handful of Mig-21 Fishbeds (some of those have crashed, including one in downtown Tobruk last month).

It’s hard to believe any Libyan pilot may have attained the required training and experience to carry out the attack using a modern Egyptian plane.  Libyan pilots are elderly officers who have flown little flight hours in the last decade or so and may have some experience with the aircraft they have flown for the last 30 years only.

Unless they used one of the Mig-21s still flown by the EAF, the chances that a Libyan pilot conducted an air strike on an Egyptian combat jet are really scarce. Furthermore, Egypt operates the fourth largest fleet of F-16s, American aircraft that can carry PGMs (Precision Guided Munitions) and F-4E Phantoms that would be better candidates for an air strike. Anyway, any war mission is likely to be conducted with a combat plane more modern than a Mig-21, flown by  experienced aircrews.

Indeed, a photo taken by Libyan photographer Maher Alawami shows a Mig-21 during an air strike over Benghazi on Oct. 15.  Therefore, provided it was really taken a couple of days ago, the image seems to suggest (at least some) attack missions in East Libya are actually conducted by Libyan pilots on Libyan aircraft.

On top of this article you can find a slightly edited version of the image taken by Alwami with the roundel of the FLAF highlighted and magnified (for those who don’t know it very well). The original photo can be found here.

It’s not the first time Libyan Migs are used to perform air strikes across the country. In December 2012, some Libyan Air Force combat planes hit a camp possibly used by suspected smugglers near the border with Chad and Sudan.

Image credit: Maher Alawami