Tag Archives: Spanish Air Force

Spanish Hornet Crashes During Take Off From Torrejon Air Base Killing Pilot

The Spanish Air Force has just suffered another deadly accident: an EF-18 Hornet from Ala 12.It’s The 12th Major Incident Involving A Hornet In The Last 17 Months.

Just five days after losing a Eurofighter Typhoon at Albacete, the Ejército del Aire (Spanish Air Force) has suffered another accident this morning, when an EF-18 Hornet belonging to the Ala 12 crashed during take off from its homebase at Torrejon Air Base, near Madrid.

According to the Spanish MoD, the pilot was killed in the crash.

Images emerging on social media show a column of smoke pouring from the crash site:

No further detail about the accident and its route causes has been released at the time of writing.

However, it’s worth of note that not only does the one at Torrejon is the second deadly accident in 5 days involving a Spanish combat aircraft but it is also the 12th incident involving an F/A-18 of any variant since May 2016.

Dealing with the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fleet, four aircraft were lost (fortunately resulting in 0 fatalities): two VFA-211 F/A-18F jets from NAS Oceana collided and crashed 25 miles E of the Oregon Inlet, Nags Head, NC on May 26, 2016; then, on Apr. 21, 2017, a VFA-137 F/A-18E crashed during a landing attempt on USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) in the Celebes sea, between Indonesia and the Philippines; whereas an F/A-18E of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 146 assigned to the USS Nimitz (CVN 68) departed the runway forcing the pilot to eject during an emergency landing at Bahrain International Airport on Aug. 12, 2017.

Legacy Hornets are crashing at an even more alarming rate: two U.S. Marine Corps F-18 Hornets from MCAS Miramar crashed on Nov. 9, 2016, near San Diego. Another F/A-18C crashed near USMC Air Ground Combat Cente, Twentynine Palms, on Oct. 25, 2016. A U.S. Navy F/A-18C belonging to the Strike Fighter Wing Pacific, Detachment Fallon, crashed on Aug. 2, 2016, 10NM to the south of NAS Fallon. On Jul. 27, 2016 a USMC F/A-18 belonging to the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing crashed during a night strafing run on a weapons range near Twentynine Palms (killing the pilot). On Jun. 2 a Blue Angels Hornet crashed after taking off from Smyrna/Rutherford County Airport (KMQY), Smyrna, Tennessee: the only pilot on board was killed in the incident. For what concerns the international accidents (both causing the death of the pilots), a Swiss Air Force Hornet was lost on Aug. 29, 2016, a Canadian CF-188 was lost on Nov. 28, 2016, and the Spanish Hornet on Oct. 17.

Spanish Eurofighter Typhoon Crashes Near Albacete After Performing In National Day Parade, Killing Pilot

It’s the third deadly crash of a Eurofighter in one month.

A Spanish Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon has crashed at Albacete, southeast on Madrid, Spain, while recovering to Los Lanos airbase after taking part in a National parade. The pilot did not manage to eject from the aircraft and was killed in the accident.

According to the Spanish MoD, the Eurofighter, one of four Typhoons that took part in the parade over Madrid, crashed, for unknown reasons, on approach to Albacete.

Albacete is the home base of the Eurofighter Typhoon C.16 jets from Ala 14 and the main operating base of NATO Tactical Leadership Programme.

This is the third deadly crash of a Typhoon in one month: a RSAF Typhoon combat aircraft involved in a mission against Houthi fighters over Yemen crashed into a mountain in Al Wade’a district on Sept. 13, 2017; then, on Sept. 24, an Italian Air Force Typhoon crashed into the sea while performing its solo display during the Terracina airshow.

File photo of a Spanish Typhoon from Albacete taking off during Anatolian Eagle exercise in Turkey in 2014.

Red Flag’s air combat maneuvering as seen from the Nevada Desert

Climb with us to the top of Coyote Summit to see some real Red Flag 17-2 action!

Red Flag is a major event in the military aviation community, known by both pilots, spotters and other fans. In a nutshell, it is the most important exercise in the world, both in terms of realistic training and participating units, and it’s held 4 times a year. It is staged from one of the world’s biggest and most famous airbases: Nellis Air Force Base, north of Las Vegas, Nevada.

Much has already been written about Red Flag so I won’t come back to the origins, dating back to the Vietnam War; nor will I describe the Nellis Test and Training Range (NTTR), where the wargame takes place, nor the 64th Aggressor Squadron whose involvement as a realistic opposition makes Red Flag what it is.

Aircraft parked on the apron at Nellis AFB during RF 17-2

Recently, I had the opportunity to spend a few days in Nevada, during Red Flag 17-2, and watch these machines around the base. The unit panel consisted mainly of F-16C squadrons :

  • the 55th FS from Shaw AFB with few jets from 77th and 79th FS;
  • the Alabama ANG 100th FS with two jets decorated with beautiful red Tuskegee tails;
  • the Colorado ANG 120th FS;
  • RNLAF 322nd sqn F-16s based in Leeuwarden, with some jets from Tucson (with mixed Arizona ANG and dutch markings).

The only other jet players were Spanish Ala 111 with their Eurofighters, supported by KC-130H from Ala 312, and 493rd FS Eagles from Lakenheath.

An Aggressor F-16 about to start “flexing” after take off

After two days of shooting tons of pictures (you can have a glimpse here), and wanting more than take-offs and landings at the base, I was looking for some more action. My plan was to go and see and hear the aerial war in the high desert of Nevada, the natural habitat of these metal birds.

The place is known as Coyote Summit and is a two hours drive from Sin City, heading north. Passing Hancok Summit on the E.T. Highway (also known as US 375), one can see the vastness of the USAF playground. On the left, there’s a trail leading to Area 51, invisible behind a small ridge. Thirty miles ahead is Rachel, and my plan is to stop at a small gap, up the road where most of the Blue players (Blue air are the participant units of Red Flag, while Red air with their Aggressor F-16s simulate the enemy) should fly by, low or high.

Around Coyote Summit

So here I am, on this clear Nevada weather morning, sitting on top of Coyote Summit, a 200 ft hill at the “gate” of the Range (aka the NTTR), and waiting.

This particular place is very well-known among spotters and by noon, we’re 5 people there, chatting about aviation, and catching in a hurry our cameras at every engine sound we hear above the wind.

At around 1PM, things start moving with 2 white pickups driving fast accross the desert south of our vantage point. They’re not going to set up a simulated Roland SAM as we initially believe. They just drop a guy alone in the bushes and carry on their drive and stay in a deep creek 2 miles away. Radio chatter begins, after a long silent morning, between the pickups and some range controller. We understand that they should have gone to “Red gate”, instead of “Blue gate”, but it seems to be a bit late to fix so the guy on the ground will stay there.

At 2:20PM, we hear some tactical comms on the radio: U.S. F-15Cs and Spanish Typhoons are setting up their Combat Air Patrol (CAP), well east of our position. Cylon flight will take New York CAP (should be above Hiko as we see the contrails) and Pulsar flight will go to Alaska CAP, above Worthington Peak.

F-15s contrailing above Coyote Summit

“Vul time” has been delayed because some players are still on the tarmac at Nellis, and now, according to “Words Bravo,” this Vul time is 2245Z (or 2:45PM). And that’s precisely then that we see “the Wall”, formed by 4 F-15Cs and their contrails, pushing west towards the Red players. The opposition is now just a pair of F-16Cs Aggressors. But soon, as the fight develops, more aircrafts from both sides will converge above Rachel and fight at high altitude.

To the merge!

An F-15 during the engagement

Shots are called on the radio, e.g. “Pulsar 1, Fox 3, bullseye 080 10 23 thousand!”
“Copy shot” says a controller, and a few seconds later some voice confirms the shots as kills (“Mig 3 dead”), or misses (“Pulsar 1, shot trashed).

A Spanish Typhoon contrailing at high altitude

The action never stops, some Aggressors come back (“Cylon 3, pop-up single, BRA 250, 15 miles, 26 thousand, regen”), some Blue players get shot, but mostly Red Air gets hurt and regens regularly. Spanish Typhoons and Dutch Vipers drop flares every now and then, calling out “Spike” or “SAM” based on what their RWR gear tells them.

Spanish Typhoons flaring

Plenty of flares were used during the mock air combat training we observed from Coyote Summit.

While these jets fight overhead, sometimes with an impressive double sonic boom, we can hear some choppers approaching low from the southeast.

MH-60 approaching

Two Navy MH-60S from HSC-21 turn for a few minutes before converging toward our lonely guy, not far from us.

I’m as close to the action as I’ll ever be and soon, we hear jets coming for help as the Sandy fighters used to fly in Vietnam. These are 2 F-16Cs from the 120th FS, with their Colorado ANG tails, circling about 1,000 feet above us and protecting what is now clearly a “downed pilot extraction.”

One of the choppers involved in the CSAR mission

Two F-16s circling above provided cover to the downed personnel extraction operation.

F-16 “Sandy”

This lasts for 10 minutes and the Vipers even simulate an attack on the hidden white pickups. The choppers take off with their precious cargo in and head to the southeast.

MH-60s egressing

The fighter jets activity now seems to subside a bit.

Some are already calling “RTB” (meaning Return to Base) and some sanitize the area while the strikers egress. I haven’t seen any striker as they must have flown through a route north of Rachel. It is also interesting to add that all the air combat seen today, at least the kills, were BVR (Beyond Visual Range) or nearly – no WVR (Within Visual Range) dogfights were spotted.

At about 4:15, two hours after the first thunderous noises, we hear on the frequency “All players, all players, knock it off, knock it off”: this is the end sign and everybody now RTB.

This was a long day and pretty intense afternoon which I’ll never forget. Hundreds of photos were taken. But what’s most important when coming here, is the possibility to listen to the air-to-air communications with a UHF scanner: the best way to be immersed into the action.

Thanks to Aviationist Todd Miller for all the precious info about aviation photography and Coyote Summit area.

Salva

Check out this fantastic video of an EF-18 Hornet during DACT 2017 exercise

Behind the scenes of the air-to-air photo session of a Spanish KC-130H with an ALA46 EF-18 Hornet.

Held at Gando Air Base, in Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, in the second half of January, Dissimilar Air Combat Training 2017 was the most important Air Defense exercise organized by the Ejercito del Aire (Spanish Air Force) this year.

During the Exercise’s Media Day, some aviation photographers went aboard a Spanish KC-130H for an air-to-air photo session with some of the combat planes involved in the drills, including the local-based ALA 46 (Wing) EF-18 Hornets.

We have published the stunning photos our contributor Remo Guidi took from the Hercules, here’s a cool video (produced by thefightercommunity.com) that includes footage from the cockpit of the Spanish Hornet.

As already explained, the ALA 46/Esc. 462 based at Gando flies the surplus U.S. Navy delivered to the SpAF between 1995 and 2000 whereas the ALA  12 from Torrejon and the ALA 15 from Zaragoza, that took part in DACT 2017 too, operate the EF-18A and EF-18B model Hornets (the “E” standing for “España”, Spain), named respectively as C.15 and CE.15 by Spanish AF, along with the upgraded EF-18A(M) (C.15-33) and EF-18B(M) (C.15-36).

H/T Giulio Cristante for the sending the link to the video over.

These are some of the greatest Spanish Air Force F/A-18 Hornet shots we have ever seen

Here are some really crazy cool shots of the Spanish “Legacy” Hornets.

As already reported, Dissimilar Air Combat Training 2017, the most important Air Defense drills organized by the Ejercito del Aire (Spanish Air Force), at Gando Air Base, in Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, gathered some Italian and Spanish Typhoon jets, along with several F/A-18 Hornets of the SpAF.

During the drills, some aviation photographers, including our contributor and friend Remo Guidi, had the opportunity to board a Spanish KC-130H for an air-to-air photo session with some of the aircraft taking part in the exercise.

In this post you can find some of the shot taken by Guidi from aboard the Hercules as well as on the ground at Gando.

The Spanish Hornets attending DACT belonged to various variants and units: the local-based ALA 46/Esc. 462 flies the surplus U.S. Navy delivered to the SpAF between 1995 and 2000 whereas the ALA  12 from Torrejon and the ALA 15 from Zaragoza operate the EF-18A and EF-18B model Hornets (the “E” standing for “España”, Spain), named respectively as C.15 and CE.15 by Spanish AF, along with the upgraded EF-18A(M) (C.15-33) and EF-18B(M) (C.15-36).

Image credit: Remo Guidi