Tag Archives: RAF Coningsby

Special Colored RAF Typhoon FGR4 “GiNA” Returned to Operational Paint Scheme

Aviation Fans and Spotters Sad About Memorial Aircraft Being Repainted.

One of the most recognizable and popular demonstration aircraft in the world, a Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4 registration ZK349 of the 29(R) Squadron, painted in a striking Battle of Britain commemorative camouflage paint scheme, has been returned to its original operational low-visibility tactical paint scheme.

The aircraft memorialized the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain celebrated in 2015. It has flown numerous airshow flight demonstrations around Europe since then.

Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4 registration ZK349 of the 29(R) Squadron in its distinctive markings memorializing the WWII Hurricane of 249 Squadron’s Flt. Lt.James Brindley Nicolson. (Image credit: Paul Smith)

Typhoon ZK349, “GiNA” (from the G/NA designation around its roundel), was so popular she was voted the “Favourite Special Scheme” among airshow fans on the popular airshow forum “UK Airshow Review”. It won the vote by a large margin over other airshow performers. Fans of the aircraft started a “Save GiNA” campaign on Twitter with the hashtag “#SaveGina”.

News of the GiNA’s repainting was first seen in the Aviation Photographers closed group on Facebook.

A statement on the “Save GiNA” page read: “The campaign has been started with the intent of showing the RAF the weight of public opinion, so they can take that in to account when making any decisions to return the colour back to Grey or when deciding which aircraft to use. First and foremost the Typhoons are the UK’s most advanced fully operational Fighter Jets so we appreciate that priority must be given to their operational requirements which include defence of the Falkland Islands, their Quick Reaction Alert roles and current operations in the Middle East. However if the specific aircraft is available for the 2016 Display Season it is easy to see why the public would like to keep it in the unique colour scheme that little bit longer.”

News of GiNA’s repainting spread on Thursday around the world and was first seen in a post by Mr. Mike Grundy, a contributor in the closed Facebook group “Aviation Photographers”, a large international group of over 7,500 aviation photography fans.

The special colored Typhoon at RIAT 2015. (Paul Smith)

Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon ZK349 was originally repainted in 2015 to match the markings of a RAF WWII Hawker Hurricane belonging to 249 Squadron’s Flight Lieutenant James Brindley Nicolson. Nicolson was the winner of the Victoria Cross and the Distinguished Flying Cross. This was the only Victoria Cross awarded to Fighter Command on Aug. 16, 1940.

Flight Lieutenant Nicolson was shot down in August 1940 by German aircraft over Southampton. He was seriously wounded when his Hurricane fighter was hit by enemy aircraft fire. He was about to bail out of his damaged, burning aircraft, but just before jumping he saw another German aircraft. Choosing to remain inside his burning plane and ignoring his grievous wounds, Flt. Lt. Nicolson aggressively pressed home a new attack and shot the additional enemy plane down. He received more serious burns over much of his body. When he did finally parachute to the ground, now even more gravely wounded, Home Guard volunteers who mistook him for a German pilot under his parachute mistakenly shot him in the legs.

In recognition of this heroic action and to commemorate the Battle of Britain, the Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (RAFBBMF) was formed. The flight is based at RAF Coningsby, a very busy Typhoon and fighter base in Lincolnshire. RAF Coningsby is also a very popular location for aircraft spotters and photographers from around the world. The fans and historians have grown a unique and constructive relationship with the base.

Night shot of “GiNA” on the ground at RAF Coningsby. (Paul Smith).

Mr. Paul Smith, 43, of Stourpaine was kind enough to share some of his excellent photos of the Typhoon affectionately known as “Gina” from her markings commemorating Flt. Lt. Nicolson’s Hurricane that wore the same G/NA designation around its roundel.

Paul Smith has traveled to airshows around the world, and we met him in person last year at Nellis AFB in the U.S. He told us this about Typhoon ZK349’s significance:

“In the run up to the 2015 airshow season there was a lot of speculation around what the RAF would do to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Britain’s finest hour. When I saw the first pictures of the aircraft rolled out of the paint shop I wasn’t disappointed! The Typhoon looks magnificent in the classic early wartime scheme of dark earth and green and I was particularly happy that they had chosen to represent the markings of a hurricane; the backbone of fighter command during the battle. We will remember all of ‘The Few’ and their extraordinary effort during the battle, but Flt Lt James Nicolson VC DFC is a fine representative of the many aircrews from all over the world who bravely took on the Luftwaffe in the battle for freedom from tyranny. Seeing the Typhoon put on such an excellent display with the iconic Spitfire was an incredible experience and the obvious difficulty of the routine with two such dissimilar aircraft was made to look effortless. (Editor’s note: Airshow demonstrations with the Typhoon were flown with a Spitfire, not a Hurricane, as Paul correctly notes here) I hope this project bodes well for the centenary of the RAF in 2018.”

Thanks to Mr. Paul Smith for his excellent photos and to our friends in the Facebook group Aviation Photographers for their assistance with this feature.

 

RAF Typhoons to deploy to Romania to provide Air Policing in the Black Sea region

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.

The Italian Air Force covers Albania (sharing the task with the Hellenic Air Force) and Slovenia (with the Hungarian Air Force) and is currently supporting Icelandic Air Policing mission in Iceland; NATO’s BAP (Baltic Air Patrol) mission started in April 2004 and has been executed continuously ever since. It is supported by various air forces on a rotational basis and covers Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia.

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 mission of patrolling the skies along NATO’s eastern border was intensified following the Russia-Ukraine crisis. The arrival of the British Typhoons is the last of a series of measures “to deter a Russian aggression over the Black Sea.

Image credit: Eurofighter / Geoffrey Lee, Planefocus Ltd

Video shows British Typhoon combat plane performing a tailhook landing at RAF Coningsby following an emergency

Tailhook landings by land-based aircraft are used in emergency situations to arrest planes experiencing failures that could imply a braking or steering malfunction. Like the one shown in the video.

The following clip shows something quite unusual: a RAF Typhoon jet belonging to the 29 Sqn making an emergency landing and using the tailhook system to come to a very quick halt on Mar. 9, 2017.

According to Airshowvision, the popular channel that posted the interesting footage to Youtube, the procedure was required by a nosewheel problem: “A chap with a scanner informed me a few mins before this that a pilot 10 miles out had reported a “nosewheel issue” and requested an emergency landing with the arrester mechanism.”

The Author adds an interesting comment to the video description, speculating a bit as to which could have been the root cause of the issue: “Just a theory here but a Typhoon took off a few mins before that in a performance take-off which could have been this one, and it is possible that he over stressed the landing gear by not retracting the wheels quickly enough. Also could have just been a random fault?”

Land-based military airfields operating combat jets use arresting gear systems to slow the aircraft down in case of emergency: such systems feature arresting cables spanning the width of the runway. Cables are typically 1 to 1.25 inches (2.5 to 3.2 centimeters) in diameter and suspended 1.5 to 3 inches (3.8 to 7.6 centimeters) above the pavement surface by rubber donuts 6 inches (15.2 centimeters) in diameter. Overrun arresting gear consisting of hook cables and/or elastic nets known as barriers (or Safeland) are used as a backup system: they are raised by pilot’s request if needed to catch the planes before they reach the overrun area.

Temporary or deployment airbases may use expeditionary systems similar to the permanent ones; unlike the fixed systems these can be installed and removed in a matter of a few hours.

H/T Giulio Cristante for the heads-up

 

Salva

Salva

Take a look at these photographs of the Russian Tu-160 bombers intercepted by the RAF Typhoons

…an ordinary day for the British Typhoons in QRA (even though the photos show two French interceptors).

Social media went abuzz yesterday as two nuclear-capable Russian Air Force Tu-160 Blackjack bombers were intercepted by RAF Typhoons during a long-range sortie from their base in the Kola peninsula.

Although some British media reported that the Russian strategic bomber were heading into the UK airspace, as usual, the Tu-160s remained well outside the British sovereign airspace.

Two RAF Typhoons in QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) at RAF Coningsby were launched to intercept and escort the Blackjacks as they “skirted” the British Isles heading southwest, until they were handed over to the fighter jets launched by the French Air Force: noteworthy, a Rafale and maybe a Mirage 2000 appear in the photos released by the UK MoD today.

Tu160 intercepted UK 3

It’s not clear where the Tu-160s flew after their close encounter with the NATO fighters: according to some radiohams, they were heard northbound again a few hours later. If confirmed this would mean that this time the Blackjacks were not involved in a very long-range strike mission against IS targets in Syria as the one they flew in the night between Nov. 19 and 20, 2015, when two Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bombers from Olenegorsk airbase skirted the airspaces of Norway and the UK, flew over the Atlantic until Gibraltair, entered the Mediterranean sea, attacked targets in Syria with cruise missiles, and returned to Russia flying along the eastern corridor (over Iraq, Iran, Caspian Sea).

Nevertheless, the new mission proves Tu-160s are continuing flying long-range missions (for training or operative purposes) along the Atlantic route becoming more frequent visitors of airspaces near NATO countries in northern Europe than they were in the past few years.

Tu160 intercepted UK 2

Image credit: Crown Copyright

 

The Indian Air Force has deployed four Su-30MKI Flanker jets to the UK

The Flankers are involved in exercise Indradhanush 2015.

Delayed by one day, on Friday morning Jul. 17, four Indian Air Force Su-30MKI Flankers (SB-065, SB-138, SB-167 and SB-309), all believed to be from 2 Sqd, deployed to RAF Coningsby, UK, for  Indradhanush 2015, a joint training exercise with the Royal Air Force.

C-17

Imminent arrival of the multirole jets was preceded by a C-17A CB-8008 from 81 Sqd and a C-130J-30 KC-3801 from 77 Sqd, carrying the ground crews, and all handling gear required for the 21-day deployment.

C-130

The Il-78 Tanker had also accompanied the Flankers to Coningsby (via Greece), but over-flew, heading for Brize Norton, from where it will operate for the duration of the drills.

The pictures in this post were taken at RAF Coningsby by The Aviationist’s contributor Tony Lovelock on Jul. 17.

Su-30 2

This is not the first time the Indian Sukhois deploy to the UK: in 2007, some Su-30s deployed to RAF Waddington to undertake joint training with the RAF.

Su-30 3

The Su-30MK is a multirole Flanker variant fitted with both canard forewings and thrust-vectoring nozzles which have further improved its agility.

As reported in a previous article, the Indian Su-30 used its maneuverability to beat the F-15 in several simulated dogfights conducted at Boeing’s St. Louis facilities.

Indeed, according to an article for AW&ST by David A. Fulghum and Douglas Barrie an anonymous USAF officer said that in the case of a missed BVR (Beyond Visual Range) missile (like the AA-12 Adder) shot by the Flanker, the Su-30 could turn into the clutter notch of the F-15’s radar, where the Eagle’s Doppler was ineffective.

Although the report is still much debated (the Rules Of Engagement) are unknown, the Su-30 is considered an excellent challenger for many Western combat planes, including the Eurofighter Typhoon that will probably have a chance to fly air-to-air engagements against the Indian Flankers during their stay in the UK.

Su-30 IAF

Image credit: Tony Lovelock