Five years later, little has changed and transponders remain turned on during real operations making the aircraft clearly visible to anyone with a browser and an Internet connection, thus breaking OPSEC and exposing aerial refueling tracks or clandestine operations, like those being flown on a daily basis in North Africa, Afghanistan, or Iraq.
For instance, last night as many as three Beech 300 Super King Air aircraft could be tracked while they circled over Mosul while hunting for Isis leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi during ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) missions.
These days, along with the tankers, several quasi-civilian U.S. Army-operated aircraft, including the Pilatus PC-12/45 N56EZ, the Super King Air 300 N80BZ and N166BA and several MC-12W Liberty (the military variant of the B350 King Air).
Like the one, registered N6351V that crash landed near Erbil, Iraq on Mar. 5. In that case, the mishap exposed the fact that the Liberty (just like many other special mission aircraft operating in the same area) sported a non-standard white color scheme to disguise itself as a light transport plane.
But in spite of its general aviation appearance the aircraft was actually an MC-12W EMARSS (Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System) variant used to perform ELINT (Electronic Intelligence), COMINT (Communication Intelligence), direction finding as well as Full Motion Video broadcasting to the tactical commanders on the ground, for day and night target detection, location, classification and tracking, as well as counter-IED operations.
All these modified aircraft are equipped with EO/IR (electro-optic/infra-red) sensors, aerial precision geolocation system, line-of-sight tactical and beyond line-of-sight communications suites, Distributed Common Ground System-Army (DCGS-A) workstations, and a self-protection suite: much more than a normal general aviation plane….
Another frequent visitors of the skies over Iraq is also a Bombardier Global 6000. According to some ADS-B experts it may be a RAF Sentinel R1, a quite advanced ISR platform that has been extensively used in Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq, or an E-11A, an advanced ultra long-range business jet that has been modified by the U.S. Air Force to accommodate Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) payload.
Whatever it is, needless to say, it can be tracked online on Flightradar24.com.
H/T to @CivilMilAir, Guglielmo Guglielmi, Guido Olimpio, Avi Scharf and Greg Anderson for contributing to this post. Top image credit: FR24.com via Greg Anderson. Image credit: Rudaw.
The attack consisted of suicide bombs and mass shootings like the one you can see in the following chilling footage.
The video shows a sustained attack on a restaurant in the 11th district by means of AK-47: according to the Daily Mail, that obtained the recordings of three CCTV cameras inside the pizzeria, at least 30 bullets came into the premises, where terrified diners immediately ran for cover behind counters and under tables.
None of them died during the attack, even though, as you can clearly see in the clip a young woman was quite close to it: she was saved by the assault rifle that either misfired or ran out of ammunition.
When I saw the clip for the very first time, it immediately thought of an interesting article by Brandon Webb, a former Navy SEAL, published by SOFREP in the aftermath of the Colorado shooting in Aurora, back in July 2012.
Among the tips to survive in case of attack by a gunman Webb shared with the “average citizen” I’ve picked those that probably apply to most scenarios (you can read them all here). As you will see, some of them have probably contributed to save the life of the diners in the Paris restaurant.
Don’t Make Yourself an Easy Target
According to the former Special Operator, at public events, cinemas or even at the restaurant (as in the Paris massacre…) you should always opt for seats that give you good and east vantage points and quick exit points. “It’s the reason I still combat park (back in to a space) and sit with my back to the wall when I’m eating,” Webb pointed out.
Active Shooter Scenario Advice
“Take cover and not concealment. Concealment hides, cover hides AND protects. It’s the difference between hiding behind a movie seat or a concrete wall.” Quite obvious, but you may not think to this when bullets are flying above your head. Webb says that it is better to keep the eyes wide open and to act instead of waiting for first responders: they may arrive too late. Furthermore, “a moving target is extremely hard to hit, even for the well-trained shooter.”
Alter Your Lifestyle, and it May Save Your Life
This is quite obvious. You should avoid large crowds that make rewarding targets for all kind of terrorists. In this case the target was a soft-one, almost randomly selected but, generally speaking, you should take some basic precautions. A few more tips to survive a terrorist attack are included in this more recent story written by former Navy SEAL and JSOC operator Clinton Emerson for SOFREP.
Top image credit: screenshot from the Daily Mail video
A U.S. Gray Eagle UAS has crashed in southern Iraq.
A photo posted on Jul. 21 on Twitter shows some people taking shots around a crashed (still largely intact) MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) sporting U.S. Army markings.
The Gray Eagle is an advanced derivative of the Predator specialized in providing direct operation control by Army field commanders. It can fly Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition (RSTA); convoy protection; Improvised Explosive Device (IED) detection as well as providing live aerial imagery to ground patrols carrying also PGMs (Precision Guided Munitions): in other words, it can support a wide variety of missions including attack, assault, reconnaissance, infiltration and exfiltration, and any kind of known or unknown special operations you may imagine.
The 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) is known to operate 12 Gray Eagle (along with a fleet of smaller RQ-11B Raven and RQ-7 Shadow drones, that are used for ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) task in support to Special Ops.
Gray Eagle is an advanced derivative of the Predator specialized in providing direct operation control by Army field commanders. It can fly Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition (RSTA); convoy protection; Improvised Explosive Device (IED) detection as well as providing live aerial imagery to ground patrols carrying also PGMs (Precision Guided Munitions).
160th SOAR recently formed E-Company will receive 12 Gray Eagle which will strengthen the U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command (ARSOAC) fleet of smaller RQ-11B Raven and RQ-7 Shadow UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) giving the Night Stalkers autonomous ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) and attack capabilities over a larger area of interest.
The exercise simulates the execution of a large-scale forcible entry into a hostile area; securing sufficient freedom of movement while facing the anti-access and area-denial capabilities of our enemy.
The photograph shows the warfighters parachuting on a field to set up a camp and how it would look like if you were not wearing any Night Vision device.