British Typhoons heading to southeastern Europe to provide QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) from Romania.
On Mar. 27, the UK MoD (Ministry of Defence) has announced that four Typhoon combat planes, belonging to the 3 (Fighter) Squadron will fly from RAF Coningsby to Mihail Kogalniceanu Airbase in southeast Romania, to support NATO’s Southern Air Policing mission from May to September 2017.
During QRA tasks Typhoons typically fly with two 2,000-lt drop-tanks (although this option will likely not be needed for Romania, as noted by IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly), four Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missiles (ASRAAMs), four AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAMs), along with the internal Mauser 27 mm cannon.
With the deployment to Mihail Kogalniceanu Airbase, the Royal Air Force will become the first air arm to support NATO air policing mission to reassure local allies in the Black Sea region that is frequently “visited” by NATO intelligence gathering and maritime patrol aircraft as well as Russian combat planes, some of those buzz U.S. warships and spyplanes operating in the area.
Some NATO members provide air policing tasks for allies that lack aircraft and radars to do so autonomously (Albania, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovenia).
NATO has been protecting the Baltic skies since 2004, when Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania joined the Alliance. The Baltic air policing mission started in April 2004 and has been executed continuously ever since. Slovenia’s airspace is covered by Hungary and Italy. Albania is covered by Greece and Italy.
Allied Air Command (AIRCOM) headquartered at Ramstein, Germany oversees the NATO Air Policing mission with 24/7 command and control from two Combined Air Operations Centres (CAOCs); one in Torrejon, Spain, and one in Uedem, Germany. CAOC Uedem is responsible for NATO Air Policing north of the Alps and CAOC Torrejon for the south. The CAOC decides which interceptors will be scrambled according to the location of the incident.
The Eurofighter F-2000A jets (this is the designation of the single-seaters in accordance with the Italian Mission Design Seies) belong to the three units that operate the Typhoon: the 4° Stormo, from Grosseto; the 36° Stormo, from Gioia del Colle; and the 37° Stormo, from Trapani.
A Typhoon of the 18° Gruppo sporting the typical checkered tail.
An F-2000A from the Gioia del Colle-based 36° Stormo. Two Gruppi depend from this Wing: the 10 and 12° Gruppo.
The aircraft will operate until mid-April as part of a Task Force where personnel and equipment are completely integrated and interchangeable thanks to fully standardized procedures and training.
Two loud bangs were heard across central eastern UK on May 2, as two Typhoon jets from RAF Coningsby were scrambled to intercept a Cityjet Avro RJ-85 that was flying as Air France 1558 from Paris Charles de Gaulle, France, to Newcastle, UK.
The RJ-85 failed to reply to the ATC (Air Traffic Control) calls prompting the British Air Defense to scramble two Typhoons in QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) that intercepted the airliner and escorted it to landing.
To reach the “unresponsive civil plane” the two Typhoon fighters accelerated to supersonic speed causing the sonic booms that shocked several houses in parts of Yorkshire at around 21.50LT.
The following video was filmed by a surveillance camera in North Leeds. Turn your speakers on to hear the two loud bangs!
Image credit: BAE Systems (not a RAF Typhoon as it carries an IRIS-T)
Russian Tu-16os launch Syrian air strike from Kola Peninsula, in far northwest Russia, in a global strike show.
During the night between Nov. 19 and 20, the Russian Air Force conducted a very long-range strike mission against IS targets in Syria: two Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bombers departed from Olenegorsk airbase, in the Kola Peninsula around 21.00z but, instead of taking the usual route through the Caspian Sea and Iran, went westbound, skirted the airspaces of Norway and the UK, flew over the Atlantic until Gibraltair, entered the Mediterranean sea and flew eastbound towards Syria and then eastbound along the usual corridor, back to Russia.
This video, released by Russia’s MoD shows the Tu-160s (and Tu-95) being armed and launched for the night mission.
Interestingly, the Blackjacks launched their cruise missiles (most probably the new, stealthy KH-101s that they have been using since they launched the first air strike on ground targets in Syria) from the Mediterranean Sea for the very first time. Here’s an image (there are more available on Twitter) of the Tu-160 flying over Syria, with an escorting Su-30SMs.
During the first part of their 13,000 km long journey, the Russian strategic bombers remained in international airspace and were intercepted and visually identified by some NATO QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) fighters scrambled to escort the Tu-160s. Among them, the RAF Typhoons from RAF Lossiemouth.
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.
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.
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?
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?