Tag Archives: NAS Lemoore

FLIR Footage Shows California Highway Patrol Chase Ending In Fatal Crash Into An F/A-18 at NAS Lemoore

Recently-released footage shows an unauthorized vehicle being pursued by California Highway Patrol inside Naval Air Station Lemoore, California, in 2016.

On the night of Mar. 30 – 31, 2016, a Jeep Grand Cherokee was able to intrude into NAS Lemoore where the vehicle, chased by California Highway Patrol vehicles crashed into the tail end of a parked F/A-18 Hornet jet.

The female passenger died at the scene, while the driver died at the Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno.

A CHP helicopter (“H40”, an Airbus AS350B3 – H125 – registration N975HP) chased the Jeep and filmed the whole scene using its FLIR camera. The footage is particularly interesting as it includes audio and flight data parameters, including the chopper altitude and speed, and also shows (at 05:52) a Hornet performing a touch and go.

You can hear from the radio comms that the helicopter aircrew are concerned of deconfliction with the Hornet in the traffic pattern. Then the Jeep enters the ramp where all the F/A-18s are parked, reaches the threshold of RWY32R before entering the taxiway that leads to the apron to the east of the runway. At 10:06 it hits the stabilizer of one of the Hornets parked there and comes to a stop in a field between the runway and the taxiway.

The H125 lands to take custody of the driver and coordinate ground units to the location.

The episode raised many questions, the most obvious of those is: how could a vehicle pass an armed U.S. Navy security checkpoint and then wander for several minutes inside an active airbase with flying activity in progress?

“What went wrong? Regardless of the security procedures, something went wrong,” said Cmdr. Monty Ashliman, the commanding officer of NAS Lemoore according to an article posted the day after the accident. “We have to figure out a way to prevent that from happening in the future. […] “There will be an intense effort to ensure that we not only take care of our assets and be good stewards of the tax payers dollars but that it’s absolutely safe before it goes flying again” he said.

Security protocols and procedures were updated after the review that followed the accident.



According to the report issued after the accident, hydraulic concrete barriers that raise up from the ground to stop such incursions were deployed only after the Jeep had already passed through. Moreover, the investigation highlighted that CHP officials were unable to notify NAS Lemoore personnel about the pursuit because they were calling an active number that had been provided to them for the base but it “was associated with an NASL building that had been demolished approximately 10 years prior.” Attempts to call on a back up number failed as well. The most concerning part of the report is that sailors at the “checkpoint didn’t know about the SUV until a CHP officer tracking the SUV drove up to the checkpoint booth and informed them.”

Contact between the NASL Regional Dispatch Center and CHP dispatchers was established only “six minutes after the Jeep Grand Cherokee hit the F-18 Hornet.” Furthermore, the report highlighted that the internal mobile radio system used by personnel at NAS Lemoore was not compatible with the equipment in use with the local law enforcement.

The conclusion of the U.S. Navy report recommended that NASL should maintain an updated phone contact list with “all federal, state and local law enforcement entities” and periodically test for two-way communications to verify accuracy, The Hanford Sentinel reported.

There might have been further security changes following the accident, but these have not been made public.

The extent of the damage to the Hornet is also unknown.

H/T David Ljung for sending this over

Here’s 2017 West Coast Strike Fighter Ball Video: No ATFLIR and No Gun Camera Footage. And It’s Probably Not By Accident.

This year’s West Coast Strike Fighter Ball Video does not feature the “real ops” stuff: bombs, ATFLIR footage, and aerial “gun camera” clips. It seems that someone was not happy when a recent cruise video included footage of a Syrian Su-22 being shot down by a Hornet….

“Hornet Ball” and “Rhino Ball” are the names of a famous yearly compilation of videos produced by LT Joseph “C-Rock” Stephens, an Instructor WSO with the VFA-122 Flying Eagles.

The “Ball” series is made of clips from squadrons based on the West Coast (as well as the 4 forward deployed squadrons in Japan) during their daily activities at home or deployed in support of real operations, such as Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Here you have the links to the previous editions: Rhino Ball 2016; Hornet Ball 2015; Hornet Ball 2014; Hornet Ball 2013.

This year’s edition has been dubbed “Strike Fighter Ball” as NAS Lemoore, along with the “legacy” F/A-18A-D Hornets and F/A-18E/F Super Hornets,  has started operating the F-35C Lightning II “Joint Strike Fighter” with the VFA-125 Rough Riders since Jan. 25, 2017.

Whilst the 2017 video remains extremely cool (and funny, considered the arcade game theme) with cats/traps, air-to-air merges, low levels, fly-bys, aerial refueling etc., it appears to be a bit watered-down: whereas previous years videos featured plenty of bomb, ATFLIR (Advanced Targeting Forward Looking Infra Red) pod, HUD (Head Up Display) and Gun Camera footage, this year’s compilation has just some AIM-9X Sidewinder and AGM-88 HARM (High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile) shots.

Indeed, according to multiple sources, the U.S. Navy was not too happy when the VFA-31 Tomcatters release their 2017 OIR cruise video that included footage of the aerial engagement between an F/A-18E Super Hornet belonging to the VFA-87 “Golden Warriors” and a Syrian Su-22 (that ended with the Fitter being shot down by an AIM-120 AMRAAM missile near Raqqa, Syria), filmed with an ATFLIR pod.

In order to prevent some sensitive footage from leaking to the public, the Navy has probably decided to put the kibosh on all footage taken on theater…

Anyway, enjoy!

U.S. Navy F-35C aircraft conduct first detachment visit at NAS Lemoore

Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 101, the “Grim Reapers,” based at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, deployed with its F-35s to NAS Lemoore, the future basing site for the F-35C.

VFA-101, the U.S. Navy newest F-35 unit based at Eglin AFB, Florida, deployed to NAS Lemoore, California, for a six-day visit to the future basing site for the F-35C (the Carrier Variant version of the Joint Strike Fighter), that is scheduled to receive 10 JSFs by 2017.

A former F-14 squadron, the VF-101 “Grim Reapers” was disbanded after the retirement of the Tomcat and was reactivated in 2012 to receive the controversial plane that is going to become the backbone of the U.S. carrier air wings strike capabilities: in fact, by 2025, the Navy’s aircraft carrier will operate a mix of F-35Cs, F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, EA-18G Growlers electronic attack aircraft, E-2D Hawkeye battle management and control aircraft, MH-60R/S helicopters and Osprey tilt-rotor Carrier Onboard Delivery aircraft.

During the six-day visit, two F-35C Lightning II jets flew in formation over the Sierra Nevada mountain range with an F/A-18E and an F/A-18F belonging to VFA-122 from Naval Air Station (NAS) Lemoore.

Image credit: U.S. Navy

 

If you suffer motion sickness this video is not for you: low level flying with a Super Hornet

Someone might find it a bit boring whereas others will suffer motion sickness symptoms.

Anyway, I think this video gives a clear idea what flying a U.S. Navy’s VFA-137 F/A-18E Super Hornet during a low level sortie through the Sierra Nevada in East California out of Naval Air Station Lemoore, Ca., looks like.

Since it does not feature any soundtrack, the footage let’s you literally hear the typical cockpit sounds as the pilot, wearing a JHMCS helmet, pulls some Gs on aggressive low level turns needed to avoid obstacles and take advantage of terrain masking (to prevent detection by enemy radar systems).

As already explained, in the age of stealth bombers, standoff weapons, drones, cyberwar, electronic warfare, etc. low-level high-speed flying is still one of the most important parts of both planes and helicopters combat pilot training.

H/T to @AeroSamm for the heads-up