Tag Archives: Phantom

A day in the life of the 9° Stormo of Grazzanise

A few months ago, my father-in-law gave me a nice book titled “A day in the life of Australia”. In a few words, on March 6 1981 at 00:01 hours, 100 of the World leading photojournalists (among them also some Pulitzer Prize winners) gathered in Australia, poised in different locations and for the next 24 hours took photographs of Red Continent. This book contains 367 pictures taken across Australia that draw a portrait of the country in a single day of 1981.
The book reminded me of the days I spent in Grazzanise (especially in 2003) when I not only took pictures of the local based F-104s, but captured moments with images of people, equipment, landscape, etc. So I decided to prepare a photostory of a day spent with the 9° Stormo in Grazzanise in 2003. I did not select only the most significant or interesting pictures: in order to let everyone see the images I shot I uploaded all of them, even in some cases they look similar one another. This article will provide a snapshot about the 9° Stormo and Grazzanise airbase in a day (actually the pictures were taken in 2 days, Aug. 12 and Sept 8 during a Sqn Exch with the Hellenic Air Force F-4 Phantoms) of 2003.

Tishreen War Panorama Museum, Damascus, Syria

Recently I had the opportunity to visit Damascus, in Syria, one of the most wonderful and interesting towns of the Middle East. Damascus is an ancient town (for some historical sources, it is the oldest of the World), absolutely safe for a foreign visitor (in spite of the supposed support to the international terrorists and the consequent US embargo), full welcoming people, sights, museums and places that are worth a visit. Among them, at least for aviation and military enthusiasts, the Tishereen War Panorama. Built to celebrate the Yom Kippur War that took place in the October 1973 (“Tishreen” means “October” in Arabic), during which Syria fought along Egypt against Israel to conquer the Sinai peninsula and the Golan Heights lost in the Six Days War in 1967, the Museum is located some 2 chilometers to the North East of the Old City of Damascus, along one of the most crowded local highways. Even if some tourist guides report that the Museum is open from 09.00 to 21.00, the “Panorama” (as it is widely known in Damascus) doesn’t open before 10.00 in the morning (actually, opening time should be from 10.00 to 12.00 and from 16.00 to 18.00 but I suggest to double check before planning a visit when arriving in Syria). What must be taken into account is that, opening hours aside, it could be not so easy to find a means of transportation to the Museum and a taxi driver willing to bring some tourist there and to leave them on the right side of the street. ticketTickets for tourists cost 10 USD and they provide access to the memorial. In fact, the Museum is made of a large cylindric-shaped building (that looks like a medieval “citadel”) surrounded by flowerbeds and by two areas, on the opposite sides of the main building where the most interesting part of the collection is displayed. The main building contains images, paintings and a room with a turning seating area that turns slowly to let you observe the entire panorama (hence the name of the museum) of the battle of Quneitra, the city in the Golan Heights conquered by the Israelis in “Six days war” that the Syrians were taking back. On the its right side (watching the “citadel”), Syrian equipment (aircraft, tanks, cannons) is exposed; on the left there’s an area dedicated to the Israeli “hardware” captured during the 1973 war and in 1982 war in Lebanon. In the middle, there’s a big statue of the former president Hafez al-Assad with a raised arm in the act of ordering an attack. Among the Syrian equipment the most interesting examples are the Mig-21 and the Mi-8 of the Quwwat al-Jawwiya al Arabiya as-Souriya (Syrian Arab Air Force). The fighter has no markings but the serial number “676” (in Arabic) on the left side of the tail and carries two AA-2 Atoll missiles and two UB16 pods for 16 57mm rockets. The Mi-8, coded “78” carries 4 UB16 pods. Unfortunately, both seem to have been repainted in the last years and wear colour schemes and roundels that are quite different from the original ones. Both aircraft are exposed next to the spacecraft used in 1967 by the only Syrian cosmonaut and are surrounded by all kinds of weapons systems: SA-3 and SA-6 SAMs (Surface to Air Missiles), lightly armored, radar guided anti-aircraft weapon system ZSU-23-4 “Shilka”, T-54, T-55 and T-62 tanks, BMP-1 amphibious tracked infantry fighting vehicle and various kinds of cannons and trucks. The Israeli side hosts the remains of a F-4 Phantom downed in Lebanon (unfortunately, there’s no way to identify it since no serial is readable), a SUU-30B/B dispencer, an underwing tank used by both F-4s and F-15s (since it is in almost perfect conditions it was possibly jettisoned by an F-4 during a low level attack) and the wreckage of a unknown aircraft (most probably a Mystére IV or a Vautour II). Noteworthy there are many tanks and trucks that were captured in Lebanon. Among them, an M-48 , a Centurion, an AMX VCI, and an M.113 Armoured Personnel Carrier.

Italian Eurofighters visiting Germany (again)

As happened twice in August, two Italian Air Force F-2000s (this time two F-2000A single seat) belonging to the 4° Stormo visited the German base of Neuburg on Sept. 10. This time the Typhoons involved in the cross country mission were MM7277 “4-1″ and MM7282 “4-15”. In the afternoon they flew a sortie with F-4F 37+81 from JG 71 and EF 30+29 from JG 74 and Dietmar Fenners was once again there to take pictures of the flying activity. The Italian F-2000s were scheduled to head back to Grosseto on Sept. 11.

Images of the previous visits are available here: Italian Eurofighters visiting Germany

According to an Alenia Aeronautica press release issued on Sept. 11, the 5 customers and the industrial test programme saw the Eurofighter Typhoon exceed the 50.000 flight hours milestone.
By the end of August, the airforces equipped with the F-2000 (GAF, ItAF, SpAF, RAF and Austrian AF) had amassed some 44.500 in-service flying hours which, with the 5,900 logged by the test fleet, easily surpass the 50.000 FH. Currently, 10 units across the operating nations are equipped with the Typhoon. Italian Air Force was the first to employ the aircraft in the QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) role and as of this Summer, all nations have been operating the Eurofighter in QRA and Air Surveillance responsibilities. The last nation to receive the aircraft, Austria, carried out high profile airspace protection sorties with fully-armed Eurofighter Typhoons over the host stadiums during the Euro2008 football championships.
As the frequent Italian cross country missions to Germany show, detachments to foreign airbases and multi-national exercises have become a regular occurrence. During the 2008, the first four-nation “Typhoon Meet” at Morón Air Base, Spain, was held. Furthermore, the Italian F-2000 attended the Exercise Spring Flag in Sardinia. The UK Royal Air Force, through their strong involvement in the US-led Exercise Green Flag West, declared Eurofighter Typhoon as multi-role capable in a ceremony at RAF Coningsby in July, following the highly successful deployment to Nevada, USA, to demonstrate the jet’s air-to-ground capability. What about the future?
148 aircraft have been delivered to five Air Forces, completing the Tranche 1 order. First deliveries of Tranche 2 aircraft are imminent, while the proposals for the 236 Eurofighter Typhoons that make up Tranche 3 have been submitted to NETMA. The consortium is awaiting the response with all efforts geared towards a contract signature by the end of 2008 or early 2009“.