Tag Archives: RAF Fairford

Here Are The Highlights Of Royal International Air Tattoo 2017

Several Interesting Aircraft Took Part In This Year’s Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT).

Held at RAF Fairford, on Jul. 14-16, RIAT 2017 brought to the UK a wide variety of interesting aircraft from around the world. Among them, the Ukrainian Air Force Su-27 Flanker, the F-22 Raptor, the Italian special colored Tornado, the Thunderbirds demo team as well as the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, escorted by two F-15Cs, on a Global Power sortie.

The images in this post were taken by The Aviationist’s contributor Alessandro Fucito.

The Italian Air Force Tornado A-200A CSX7041/RS-01 of the air arm’s Reparto Sperimentale Volo (flight test centre) was awarded the prize for best livery.

The Boeing B-17F Flying Fortress G-BEDF (124485/DF-A) of the B-17 Preservation Trust.

Straight from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, the B-2 Spirit from Air Force Global Strike Command flew over RAF Fairford flanked by two F-15C Eagle jets.

A Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker of the 100th ARW from RAF Mildenhall flying with the extended “boom”.

The C-130J-30 Hercules 08-8602/RS from the 37th Airlift Squadron, 86th Airlift Wing, United States Air Forces in Europe, Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

A three-ship formation of 2x F-15Cs and 1x F-15E from RAF Lakenhath 48th FW.

Taking part in the 70th Anniversary flypast there were also these F-16CJs belonging to the 480th FS from Spangdahlem, Germany, temporarily deployed to RAF Lakenheath.

The F-22 flying alongside the P-51B Mustang. Maj Dan ‘Rock’ Dickinson of the US Air Force’s 1st Fighter Wing at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, was awarded the Paul Bowen Trophy, presented in memory of Royal International Air Tattoo co-founder Paul Bowen, for the best jet demonstration.

The Ukrainian Air Force brought a pair of Su-27 Flankers, supported by an Ilyushin Il-76 cargo aircraft. The single seater performed a stunning aerial display.

The Lockheed U-2 “Dragon Lady” took also part in RIAT 2017. Interestingly, the chase car used by the ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) aircraft was Tesla chase car instead of the Chevrolet Camaro typically used for this task.

The Thunderbirds performed a flyby along with the RAF Red Arrows. This year the USAF demo team, escorted by two F-22s, also took part in the Bastille Day flypast over Paris, France.

A U.S. Navy Boeing P-8A Poseidon. The aircraft will soon serve in the UK as next MPA (Maritime Patrol Aircraft).

Couteau Delta, made by two Mirage 2000Ds of the French Air Force was one of the highlights of this year’s RIAT. The team included a Mirage painted in a desert scheme presented at the Base Aérienne 133 Nancy-Ochey, home of the EC3/3 Ardennes, on Mar. 1, 2017, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the air raid against a Libyan air defense radar at Ouadi Doum, Chad.

The Thunderbirds over the skies of RAF Fairford. The team suffered an incident when a two-seater flipped over after landing at Dayton International Airport in Ohio on Jun. 23.

Image credit: Alessandro Fucito

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B-52, B-1, Typhoon and V-22 Among The assets Supporting A Spectacular Beach Landing Operation During BALTOPS 2017

This Is What A Modern Beach Landing Operation In The Baltic Region Would Look Like.

BALTOPS 2017 is the largest military exercise organized in the Baltic region this year.

The operation was held by the STRIKFORNATO (SFN) command, with Poland acting as the host nation. More than 40 vessels have entered the ports of Stettin and Świnoujście on Jun. 1, with some of them being accessible to the visitors.

Three days later, the aforesaid units sailed out, where the sailors perfected their interoperational abilities. The whole operation ended up on Jun. 18, in Germany.

The BALTOPS has taken place regularly, in the Baltic Sea region, since 1972. Initially, the operation only involved the NATO forces; beginning in 1993, members of the former Warsaw Pact were also invited to participate, Poland being no exception in that regard.

Since 1993 BALTOPS has become a part of the Partnership for Peace program. Currently the operation has a multinational profile and places a particular emphasis on training in the areas of gunnery, replenishment at sea, anti-submarine warfare (ASW), radar tracking & interception, mine countermeasures, seamanship, search and rescue, maritime interdiction operations and scenarios dealing with potential real world crises and maritime security.

AAV-7 amphibious carriers and LCAC hovercraft supporting the Beach Landing Ops

A USMC vehicle during the landing operation.

This year, the operation involved forces from Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Lithuania, Latvia, Norway, Poland, Sweden, the UK and the United States (here we are also referring to the vessels of the Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1).

The Polish Navy was involved in the BALTOPS operation for the 27th time this year. The main naval component of the Polish Navy detached to take part in the operation included five minesweepers (ORP Dąbie, ORP Mielno, ORP Wicko, ORP Mamry, ORP Wdzydze), Lublin-class minelayer-landing ships: ORP Gniezno and ORP Kraków; and a submarine, ORP Bielik.

A B-52 approaching the naval range.

The whole operation was staged in the Baltic Sea area, within the naval training ranges of the Polish Navy, as well as within the naval and land portion of the Central Air Force Training Range, also located in the coastal region of Ustka.

On Wednesday, Jun. 14 the beach in Ustka became an arena, within which one of the most important portions of the exercise took place – a landing operation carried out by the task force group involved in the event. The main forces landing on the Polish beach included the 1st Battalion of the 23rd US Marines regiment, utilizing AAV-7 amphibious carriers and LCAC hovercraft. The whole operation was supported by 8 vessels, including two Polish minelayer-landing ships hailing from the 8th Coastal Defense Flotilla.

One of the APCs involved in the BALTOPS beach landing event.

Nonetheless, the landing operation would not have been complete without involvement of the coalition’s air assets. The landing was preceded by a CAS (Close Air Support) simulation involving the USAF B-52 and B-1B bombers, two Polish F-16 jets, German Eurofighter Typhoons, as well as V-22 Osprey. Notably, due to the humid air over the Polish coast, clouds of condensation and vapor cones have been clearly visible on the surfaces of the participating aircraft.

A German Typhoon “sweeps” the beach landing area

A B-1B deployed to RAF Fairford during its attack run.

The B-1 overflies the beach landing area.

The red force simulation has been provided by a mechanized company of the Polish 7th Coastal Defense Brigade.

The whole operation was supervised by the commander of the 6th Fleet and STRIKFORNATO, Vice-Admiral Christopher Grady, along with Deputy Commander, Rear Admiral P. A. McAlpine. Poland was represented by the Deputy General Commander of the Armed Forces, Division General Jan Śliwka, and by Rear Admiral Jarosław Ziemiański – Deputy Inspector of the Navy, along with Brig. General Wojciech Grabowski.

A CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft was among the assets that supported BALTOPS 2017.

Image credit: Wojciech Mazurkiewicz

 

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Check Out This Really Unusual “Formation”: USAF B-1Bs, B-52H, KC-135R Escorted by Russian SU-27 Over Baltic.

Here are some extraordinary pictures of a really unsual “close encounter” over the Baltic Sea.

In yet another sensational encounter between U.S. and Russian aircraft, two B-1B Lancers from the 28th Bomb Wing, a B-52H Stratofortress from the 2nd Bomb Wing (both deployed to RAF Fairford, UK) and a KC-135R Stratotanker aerial refueling aircraft from the 459th Air Refueling Squadron were intercepted and observed by a Russian SU-27 Flanker on Friday, June 9 over the Baltic Sea.

The U.S. bomber and tanker formation was participating in BALTOPS, an aerial deployment exercise that rehearses and improves cooperation and interoperability between U.S. and international units and as a demonstration of U.S. capabilities in the region to reinforce the U.S. commitment to security.

U.S. Air Force photographer Staff Sgt. Jonathan Snyder shot these photos (from the boom position of a KC-135 tanker) during the Friday intercept. The U.S. Air Force said officially that, “Flight intercepts are regular occurrences, and the vast majority are conducted in a safe and professional manner.”

However the list of intercepts deemed “unsafe” or “unprofessional” from the U.S. DoD is pretty long… (read here or here for a couple of examples.)

A Russian Su-27 Flanker intercepts a formation of U.S. Air Force aircraft, two B-1B Lancers, 28th Bomb Wing, KC-135R Stratotanker, 459th Air Refueling Squadron and B-52H Stratofortress, 2nd Bomb Wing, while participating in BALTOPS over the Baltic Sea, June 9, 2017. The exercise is designed to enhance flexibility and interoperability, to strengthen combined response capabilities, as well as demonstrate resolve among Allied and Partner Nations’ forces to ensure stability in, and if necessary defend, the Baltic Sea region. Flight intercepts are regular occurrences, and the vast majority are conducted in a safe and professional manner.(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Snyder)

There has been an increase in intercepts between NATO, U.S. and Russian aircraft during the last 24 months in what seems like a slightly less-tense return to the Cold War era when intercepts had a distinctly more ominous message. The U.K. based news writer Lizzie Dearden wrote, “Around 780 deployments were made from European military bases last year in response to Russian aircraft, compared to just 410 in 2015.” This does not a string of intercepts in other regions that include a sensational set of four intercepts in a row by USAF F-22 Raptors of Russian maritime patrol aircraft off the Alaskan coast recently.

A Russian Su-27 Flanker intercepts a U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer, 28th Bomb Wing, while participating in BALTOPS over the Baltic Sea, June 9, 2017. The exercise is designed to enhance flexibility and interoperability, to strengthen combined response capabilities, as well as demonstrate resolve among Allied and Partner Nations’ forces to ensure stability in, and if necessary defend, the Baltic Sea region. Flight intercepts are regular occurrences, and the vast majority are conducted in a safe and professional manner. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Snyder)

While popular news media often adds a sensational spin to the intercepts suggesting some version of political brinkmanship a more relevant interpretation is that the air forces involved are conducting the intercepts for training and air traffic safety reasons. Some NATO aircraft including RAF Typhoons have escorted Russian aircraft that flew in moderate proximity to commonly used civilian air routes without common air traffic control transponders. When NATO aircraft rendezvous with the Russian aircraft they use their transponders to mark the location of the Russian aircraft as they transit the airspace.

Regardless of the motives the encounters often make for sensational photos and video.

A Russian Su-27 Flanker peels away from a U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer, 28th Bomb Wing, while participating in BALTOPS over the Baltic Sea, June 9, 2017. The exercise is designed to enhance flexibility and interoperability, to strengthen combined response capabilities, as well as demonstrate resolve among Allied and Partner Nations’ forces to ensure stability in, and if necessary defend, the Baltic Sea region. Flight intercepts are regular occurrences, and the vast majority are conducted in a safe and professional manner. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Snyder)

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Watch Two B-2 Stealth Bombers Recover Into RAF Fairford (With Radio Comms)

Take a look at this cool clip of two Spirit bombers arriving in the UK.

On Jun. 9, 2017, two B-2s deployed to RAF Fairford, UK.

Interestingly, the two aircraft, 82-1068 Spirit Of New York (using radio callsign “Mytee 21”) and 88-0329 Spirit Of Missouri (“Mytee 22), launched from their homebase at Whiteman AFB, Missouri, visited a bombing range in the UK before recovering into RAF Fairford.

The following video, filmed by our friend Ben Ramsay, shows the two stealth bombers approaching runway 27 at Fairford, where the Spirits joined the three B-52 Stratofortress and three B-1 Lancer bombers already deployed there to take part in exercise BALTOPS.

Although the U.S. Air Force deploys its bombers to RAF Fairford regularly, it’s quite rare to have the three types on the British base at the same time.

Indeed B-2s don’t move from Whiteman AFB, in Missouri, too often: they are able to hit their target with very long round-trip missions from their homebase in CONUS (Continental U.S.), as happened during recent training missions, extended nuclear deterrence sorties in the Korean Peninsula, as well as during real conflicts, such as the Libya Air War in 2011, Allied Force in Serbia in 1999 or the more recent air strike on ISIS in Libya. A capability that is common to both the B-52s and the B-1s that, unlike the stealth bombers, are more frequently deployed abroad.

However, the deployment of the “bomber trio” has already taken place last year at Andersen Air Force Base when the three different platforms simultaneously launched from Guam for their first integrated bomber operation in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. Is the current deployment to the UK a sign that the trio-bomber force is becoming a routine in the way the strategic assets are operated by USAF?

H/T UK Aviation Movies

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Check Out This Cool Video Of Two B-52H Stratofortress Bombers Landing At RAF Fairford For Their European Deployment

B-52H Stratofortresses from Barksdale Air Force Base have touched down on the runway at RAF Fairford, UK. The bombers will participate in exercises Saber Strike, Arctic Challenge and Baltic Operations (BALTOPS), in the European theatre.

On Jun. 1, two B-52H Stratofortresses belonging to the 2nd BW (Bomb Wing) from Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, and 800 Airmen, deployed to Royal Air Force Fairford, United Kingdom, to support various exercises throughout Europe during the month of June.

Actually, the two aircraft came from different bases: whilst one of the aircraft, callsign “MYTEE 51”, made its way to the UK via Northern Europe, the other one, “MYTEE 96”, arrived from Al Udeid, Qatar, where the aircraft was based to support Operation Inherent Resolve, against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

The long-range heavy bombers are a frequent presence in Europe:  B-52s from Barksdale or Minot AFB deploy at least once a year to Fairford or Morón Air Base, Spain, and regularly take part in the yearly Saber Strike and BALTOPS exercises in the U.S. European Command area of responsibility.

Although they mainly fly Close Air Support and Air Interdiction missions delivering a wide variety of PGMs (Precision Guided Munitions) on Daesh targets in Iraq, when deployed to Europe the Buffs conduct both land and maritime attack missions including naval mine drops during which the aircraft drops 500-pound dummy Mk-62 mines, that is to say Mk-82 500-lb general purpose bomb fitted with a Fin Mk 15, Fin BSU-86/B, or Tail Section Mk 16. Once in the water, the mine uses an MK57 Target Detection Device (TDD) to detect a ship passing above: it can detect the vessel by pressure of the ship on the water, by magnetism of the ship’s metal or vibration caused by the ship.

Generally speaking, the $84 million bombers can carry 312,197 pounds (141,610 kilograms) of fuel, a payload of 70,000 pounds (31,500 kilograms), can fly 650 miles per hour at 50,000 feet (15,151.5 meters) for more than 8,800 miles. With upgrades they over the years and future upgrades coming online the B-52H is an extremely capable platform and still a very viable asset to mission planners.

With a first flight in 1952 and an out-of-service date of 2040 it’s not inconceivable that we will see 80-year-old B-52s finally retiring to the desert.

In the meanwhile, take a look at yet another stunning video from Ben Ramsay showing the two Buffs touching down at RAF Fairford on Jun. 1, 2017.