Tag Archives: Portuguese Air Force

Jaw-dropping air-to-air photographs of the Romanian Air Force Mig-21 LanceRs and Portuguese F-16s

The latest variant of the legendary Mig 21 as you have never seen it before.

The MiG 21 LanceR is the upgraded avionics and weapons systems version of the MiG 21 Fishbed, developed by Elbit Systems and Aerostar Bacău for the Romanian Air Force. The first LanceR flew in 1996 and was a LanceR A version.

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The LanceR program saw the upgrade of a total of 114 MiG 21 airframes in three versions: the ground attack version (LanceR A), the two seater trainer version with ground attack capabilities (LanceR B) and the air superiority version (LanceR C).

The upgrade aimed at making the old Cold War planes capable to use both eastern and western weapons systems, mainly focused in the cockpit configuration with the introduction of modern avionics, HOTAS and NATO compatible weapon systems.

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One major upgrade of the RoAF MiG-21s was the DASH mounted displays, the LanceR being one of the first fighters to employ this type of technology.

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The MiG 21 LanceR fleet is split between the 71st Air Base Câmpia Turzii and the 86th Air Base Feteşti.The main mission of the MiG 21 LanceRs of the RoAF is providing QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) duties under the NATO control network by way of the Combined Air Operations Center in Torrejon.

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The awesome photographs in this post were shot by photographers Liviu Dnistran and Bogdan Pop during the Falcon Defence 2015, an exercise that saw the Portuguese Air Force training with the MiG 21 LanceR jets of the Romanian Air Force, 71st Air Base. The Portuguese AF deployed four F-16 fighter planes and support personnel for almost two months.

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In particular, Dnistran and Pop took part in one of the training missions during which 5 MiG 21s were joined by two F-16s: a great opportunity to see mixed formations of LanceRs and Vipers and some very nice angles of the MiG 21.

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The LancerRs at Câmpia Turzii had a busy 2015, training several times with external partners like the USAF F-16s and A-10s of the TSP (Theater Security Package), the Portuguese AF F-16s, ANG F-16s and F-15s.

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Image credit: Liviu DnistranBogdan Pop

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Unique HD video shows Russian Su-27 intercept P-3 Orion aircraft over the Baltic Sea

A clip just released shows a close encounter over the Baltics between a Russian Flanker and a NATO P-3 Orion.

The following footage is quite unique: it shows a single Russian Air Force Su-27 Flanker jet as it intercepts and shadows a P-3 Orion, reportedly flying over the Baltics.

According to the source who sent the link to us, the (unclassified) video was filmed in November 2014 by “one of the sensors carried by a Portuguese Air Force P-3 Orion MPA – Maritime Patrol Aircraft – during a mission over the Baltic Sea.”

The clip clearly shows the fully armed Su-27 approach the surveillance plane from the starboard side (at safe distance…), use the air brake to slow down speed and then break away.

According to our source, it’s pretty standard for the Russian Air Force to launch a single fighter jet to identify and escort NATO surveillance planes.

As reported a few weeks ago, Russian Air Force spyplanes skirting foreign airspaces are frequently intercepted by NATO planes providing Baltic Air Policing task. This video proves that even the Russians keep an eye on NATO and non-NATO’s surveillance and intelligence gathering activities in the region.

The Portuguese Air Force operates a fleet of P-3 Orion aircraft within the 601 Squadron “Lobos” (Esquadra 601), a maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare squadron based at Beja Air Base.

 

 

Why are two Russian Il-78 Midas tankers deployed to Egypt? Are Moscow’s bombers heading to the Mediterranean Sea?

The presence of two Il-78M Midas tankers in Egypt fuels theories about past and future Russian Air Force missions across the world.

A photo taken at Cairo International airport on Oct. 29 proves the Russian have deployed two Il-78M Midas tankers to Egypt. The reason behind their presence in North Africa is still unclear.

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Image credit: Flo Weiss

There are chances that the Russians deployed the tankers to Egypt in support of the long range missions flown across northern Europe as far as the Atlantic off Portugal on both Oct. 30 and 31: most probably they were using the tankers to support the trip of the Tu-95 Bear strategic bombers, intercepted and escorted by several air forces including the Portuguese along their way, to the southern Atlantic.

One radio enthusiast on Twitter noted a message being relayed to Bort 94290 (IL-78M) and passing (Heading Easterly) waypoint EVIRA (East of Malta).

Then, according to Tom Hill, a radio enthusiast and reader of The Aviationist, the Tu-95MS and IL-78Ms were active in Voice and Morse Code.

The Russians still use quite a lot of Morse and especially for these extended out of area missions. They send the same short 3 figure tactical messages back to their control in Russia using Morse and Voice. Radio enthusiasts were busy logging the activity last week.

“I just copied the Morse. You can’t really get any info from the Morse as it is short encoded three figure groups. They send the same in Voice. The only thing different here was the IL-78s using the Bort number in voice for the air route over the Mediterranean. Morse Key fit on Tu-95MS radio operators station. On the HF radios you can see 8909 KHz USB set up for the voice transmissions. This is the frequency they use during the Summer,” Hill explained in an email to us.

Even though at least one of the two IL-78Ms (RF-94920) was heard passing a waypoint in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, it’s still unclear whether it really refueled the Tu-95s that flew to the Atlantic Ocean in Portugal FIR (Flight Information Region), and back (remaining in international airspace).

Was it just a practice for future missions or perhaps the Russians are intending to route Tu-95MS Bear Hs into the Mediterranean?

If so, maybe we are going to see some shots of the Russian bombers as those taken by the Italian air force pilots during their Cold War intercepts.

The puzzle is also: how did the IL-78Ms get to Egypt? Did they deploy through the Gibraltar Straits or did they take the Iran, Iraq and Syria route? Possibly the Iranians were a bit twitchy about combat aircraft such as Tu-95s deploying but they allowed the tanker support?

Tom Hill has contributed to this article

Top Image: Vitaly Kuzmin

 

Even the Portuguese Air Force has intercepted and photographed Russian bombers wandering across Europe

The two Russian Bears that skirted European airspaces on Friday were also intercepted by the F-16s of the Portuguese Air Force.

On Oct. 31, two F-16 Fighting Falcon jets of the FAP (Portuguese Air Force) were scrambled to intercept two Russian Air Force Tu-95 Bear strategic bombers.

The Russian planes were detected by Portugal’s Air Defense System (DA) as they approached the nortwestern part of Portugal’s FIR flying southbound, not in contact with any Air Traffic Control agency.

The two F-16s on permanent alert at Monte Real Air Base were launched to perform a visual identification of the two “intruders”.

The QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) fighter jets performed a very similar mission to that they had flown on Oct. 29; however, this time the intercepted aircraft kept heading toward the south until they turned north.

The two Portuguese interceptors escorted the Bears until they departed the airspace of Portugal’s responsibility.

Another pair of F-16s was readied for take off just in case the Russian aircraft reversed their northboud route.

H/T Armando “Squid” Leitao for the heads-up

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Image credit: Portuguese Air Force

 

NATO jets, including Canadian Hornets, scrambled twice in two days to intercept Russian spyplane

NATO QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) jets scrambled twice in two days to intercept Russian military aircraft

The Il-20 is the most frequent Russian Air Force aircraft intercepted by NATO fighter jets in the Baltics.

Noteworthy, as the Swedish Air Force is hunting the foreign submarine in the Stockholm archipelago, the spyplane has been intercepted twice in two days, over the Baltics.

According to the Latvian military on Oct. 20, a Russian Il-20 was intercepted by Royal Canadian Air Force CF-188s scrambled from Siauliai Air Base in Lithuania. Then, on the following day, Portuguese AF F-16s, also deployed to Siauliai airbase for NATO Baltic Air Policing mission were scrambled to intercept and shadow an Il-20 Coot intelligence gathering aircraft.

Russian Air Force Il-20s regularly fly in the Scandinavian region causing alert scrambles by NATO planes providing QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) for the Baltic Air Policing mission. On Mar. 3, 2014 one the Russian ELINT (Electronic Intelligence) planes almost collided with SAS Boeing 737 with 132 people on board southwest of Malmö, Sweden.

Image credit: RCAF