Tag Archives: Royal Air Force

This is the effect of a Brimstone missile launched by a Reaper drone on a SUV

A series of images show the effects of Dual Mode Brimstone missiles fired by an MQ-9 Reaper drone. By the way, the trucks in the opening image are different ones.

With nine direct hits on high speed, maneuvering vehicles, MBDA has successfully demonstrated its Dual Mode Brimstone missile on an MQ-9 Reaper.

The tests were conducted in December 2013 and January 2014 at the U.S. Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, on behalf of UK Ministry of Defence by the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) Air Warfare Centre Unmanned Air Systems Test and Evaluation Squadron, Defence Equipment & Support Weapons Operating Centre, United States Air Force’s BIG SAFARI Organisation, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Incorporated and MBDA.

According to an MBDA release, “the firings were taken from realistic ‘middle of the envelope’ profiles; typically 20,000ft release altitude and 7km – 12km plan range, with the platform being remotely piloted in operationally representative beyond line of sight (SATCOM) conditions, with tracking and designation of targets being conducted in a mixture of manual-track and auto-track modes.”

Brimstone is a fire and forget anti-armour missile that had a starring role in the Air War over Libya, when RAF fired a good number of these advanced weapons with impressive results.

These small guided missiles have a range of 7.5 miles and use a millimeter wave (mmW) radar seeker with a semi-active laser (SAL) that enables final guidance to the target by either the launching platform or another plane, and are perfect for small targets, individuals, buildings and fast-moving vehicles.

With a warhead of 9 kg, capable of destroying a vehicle with very low collateral damage risk, and an accuracy of about 1 – 2 meters, the dual-mode (radar – laser) Brimstone missile proved to be the weapons of choice of the RAF Tornados when engaging ground vehicles, attracting the interest of other coalition partners.

As Brimstone is an extensive redevelopment of the AGM-114 Hellfire it can be used on fast jets, helicopters and UAV’s: the Dual Mode Brimstone can provide Reaper crews with a weapon that reduces collateral damage risk while preserving first pass, single shot lethality against high speed manoeuvring targets on land and at sea.


Image credit: MBDA


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The story of the first U-2 spy missions over Soviet Union

U-2 operations in Europe in 1950s.

According to documents released last year, the first four “Dragon Lady” planes destined to launch spy missions over Soviet Union were deployed to RAF Lakenheath on Apr. 29, 1956 under the cover story that a Lockheed-developed aircraft would be flown by the USAF Air Weather Service to study high-altitude weather phenomena such as the jet stream and cosmic ray effects up to 55,000 feet.

However, the first overflight missions were not launched from Lakenheath due to events outside.

Firstly an incident in Portsmouth harbour involving a frogman who was to look at the hulls of Soviet ships which had brought Soviet leaders to the UK  that soured Anglo-Soviet relations so much so that the then British Prime Minister Eden wrote to President Eisenhower asking for the overflights to be postponed until things had calmed down.

Then, two days later a U-2 on a training flight was spotted by the British radar network making the RAF scramble jets to intercept the “unknown” aircraft: as a result, the British air ministry announced that a special National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics (NACA) aircraft was conducting high-altitude research over the UK.

Due to the continued overt publicity and the fact that the US State Department had told Prime Minister Eden that there was only one U-2 example operating from Lakenheath, when in fact there were four, and not wanting to raise further reaction, the spyplanes were moved to Wiesbaden in West Germany.

The exposure continued as Wiesbaden was one of the busiest airfields in West Germany and the sight of strange looking aircraft with very long wings raised significant interest. Wiesbaden was a temporary home as after having more powerful J57/P-31 engines fitted, the U-2’s were later moved to Giebelstadt near the East German border.

The first overflight of “hostile” territory took place on Jun. 20, 1956 when a U-2 equipped with a A-2 camera flew over Poland and East Germany. The mission film was rushed back to the U.S immediately and the pictures were considered to be of good quality.

The spyplanes were not given permission from the President to fly over the Soviet Union until Jun. 21, 1956; however no flights were to be undertaken before the end of June 1956.

The first few days of July found the weather was not good over the target area therefore two more overflights were carried out, the first over Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Bulgaria and the second over East Germany, Poland, Hungary and Romania.

President Eiasenhower was briefed on the first of the two overflights and was anxious to know if the U-2s had been tracked on radar. The CIA admitted that the U-2 had been picked up on radar but had been misread.

The first overflight of the Soviet Union took place on Wednesday Jul. 4 1956 from Wiesbaden: the Dragon Lady flew over Poznan (Poland) then Belorussia and then north to Leningrad and finally back to Wiesbaden via the Soviet Baltic states. The main area of interest on this first flight were the naval ship yards in Leningrad.

The second U-2 overflight of the Soviet Union took place the very next day and brought the plane over the Soviet capital Moscow: this was to become the only time a U-2 ever flew over Moscow itself.

On both missions, U.S. black spyplanes went after several targets, including the new Myasishchev M-4 “Bison” bomber.

President Eisenhower was concerned that, although the Soviets could not intercept them, the U-2 overflights of Moscow and Leningrad could worsen the relations with USSR and eventually cause a war.

For this reason, he ordered that the U-2 missions stop if the spyplanes could be tracked.

The overflights were resumed in 1957 from Alaska and, beginning in 1959, British pilots were involved in U-2 flights after an agreement between CIA and MI6. But this is another story…..

Richard Clements for The Aviationist.com

U-2 new

Image credit: Lockheed Martin



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[Photo] First F-35B short take-off and vertical landing sortie by British pilot at Eglin

First STOVL sortie at Eglin for a RAF pilot

On Feb. 25, Royal Air Force pilot, Squadron Leader Hugh Nichols, flew in a U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II during the first short take-off and vertical landing sortie by a United Kingdom pilot at Eglin Air Force Base, in Florida, where British pilots and ground crews are undertaking training alongside their Marines counterparts.

The USMC began flying STOVL sorties at Eglin in October last year.

Beginning in 2018, the F-35B STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) should operate from Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth aircraft carriers.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force


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Eurofighter Typhoon cockpit as you’ve never seen it before

An unsual point of view.

This image was taken by world famous photographer Jamie Hunter during Red Flag 14-1 at Nellis Air Force Base.

It shows a pilot inside the cockpit of a Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 from the left hand console, most probably quite close to the engines throttle.

Typhoons from 1 and 6 Squadrons based at RAF Leuchars have flown swing role missions and been involved in both air-air and air-ground profiles in single sorties.

Image credit: Eurofighter / Jamie Hunter


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[Video] All kinds of planes recovering at Nellis Air Force Base after Red Flag mission

Landing pattern can become quite busy at Nellis when aircraft all types start recovery at the end of their Red Flag missions.

In order of appearance, the video shows the following aircraft returning to Nellis AFB at the end of a Red Flag 14-1 wave:

A Royal Australian Air Force E-7A Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft assigned to RAAF Williamtown.

A Royal Air Force Typhoon assigned to RAF Leuchars, UK, with the pilot using the rudder to compensate the crosswind on final.

Two U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors assigned to the 27th Fighter Squadron, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., passing overhead before performing a tactical break.

A KC-135 assigned to the 92nd Air Refueling Wing, Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash.

A U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor assigned to the 27th Fighter Squadron Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va.

A U.S. Navy EA-18G Growler; a U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit assigned to the 13th Bomb Squadron at Whiteman AFB, Mo..

An E-3 Sentry airborne warning and control system aircraft assigned to the 964th Airborne Air Control Squadron, Tinker AFB, Okla..

A U.S. Marine Corps EA-6B Prowler assigned to Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 4, Marine Corps Station Cherry Point, N.C..

An EC-130 from the 43rd Electronic Combat Squadron, Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz..

A Royal Air Force E-3 Sentry assigned to RAF Waddington, UK.



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