Tag Archives: Syria

The most up-to-date F-22 Raptor jets are currently fighting Daesh

The Raptors of the latest Block can drop GBU-39 small diameter bombs on ISIS targets.

The Raptors deployed to Al Dhafra airbase, UAE, are the most up-to-date F-22As flown by the U.S. Air Force.

Assigned to the 90th Fighter Squadron from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, the modernized Raptors made their debut in Operation Inherent Resolve, the air war on the Islamic State, in April, bringing expanded capabilities in the fight against Daesh.

“What our squadron is bringing to the fight now versus some of the previous squadrons, is we have the most up to date software and hardware loads that an F-22 can carry,” said Lt. Col. David, 90th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron commander in a recent Air Force release. “There is a huge advancement in the capabilities of the avionics, the radar system, the sensors and certain electronic features on board the aircraft.”

Although they are rarely requested to attack ground targets, the Alaskan Raptors can now drop 8 GBU-39 small diameter bombs while previously they were limited to carry two 1,000-lb GBU-32 JDAMs (Joint Direct Attack Munitions) in the internal weapon bay: with the latest upgrade they can be tasked for missions which require greater precision.

An initial air-to-surface capability, including that of dropping the GBU-39 (a 250-lb multipurpose, insensitive, penetrating, blast-fragmentation warhead for stationary targets equipped with deployable wings for extended standoff range, whose integration testing started in 2007) had been introduced with the software increment 3.1 back in 2012.

Even though the odds of using an advanced air-to-air missiles over Syria are pretty low, another important addition to the F-22’s payload is the latest generation AIM-9X (already integrated in most of US combat planes since 2003): on Mar. 1, 2016 the 90th Fighter Squadron (FS) officially became the first combat-operational Raptor unit to equip an F-22 with the AIM-9X Sidewinder.

Noteworthy, the AIM-9X will not be coupled to a Helmet Mounted Display (HMD) as the F-22 is not equipped with such kind of helmet that provides the essential flight and weapon aiming information through line of sight imagery (the project to implement it was axed following 2013 budget cuts) but the Raptor will probably benefit of the AIM-9X Block II, that is expected to feature a Lock-on After Launch capability with a datalink, for Helmetless High Off-Boresight (HHOBS): the air-to-air missile will be launched first and then directed to its target afterwards even though it is behind the launching aircraft.

Interestingly, along with the ability to carry “new” weapons, the aircraft were also given a radar upgrade that enhanced the F-22 capabilities in the realm of air interdiction and the so-called “kinetic situational awareness”: as we have often explained in previous articles, the role that the Raptor plays in the campaign is to use advanced onboard sensors, such as the AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar, to gather valuable details about the enemy targets, then share the “picture” with attack planes as the F-15E Strike Eagles.

 

U.S. F/A-18 Hornets almost clashed with Russian fighter bombers over Syria

According to the Pentagon, U.S. and Russian combat planes have had some tense moments over Syria.

There have been several close encounters between Russian and U.S. and allied manned and unmanned aircraft over Syria since Moscow deployed a contingent of combat planes to Latakia, in northwestern Syria, at the end of September 2015.

On Oct. 10, 2015, a Russian Su-30SM had close encounter with an unspecified U.S. combat plane supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.

According to Russia’s Ministry of Defense, the Flanker-derivative 4++ Gen aircraft was providing air escort for a package of attack planes in Syria when it approached the American plane, to perform a VID (Visual Identification) even though some sources suggested it was the Russian aircraft to be intercepted by a U.S. plane.

Anyway, even before Oct. 10, Russian warplanes tailed U.S. Predator drones on at least three separate occasions and at least a couple of times American aircraft reportedly changed their routing to deconflict with Russian aircraft.

One of those incidents saw the involvement of U.S. F-16s from Incirlik, Turkey, and some RuAF Su-34s.

After the first incidents, Russia and the US agreed on coordinating their air activity in the skies over Syria. More or less.

Close encounters and provocations were still reported quite frequently even after Nov. 24, 2015 when a Turkish Air Force (TuAF) F-16 shot down a Russian Air Force (RuAF) Su-24 that had allegedly violated the Turkish airspace.

In February 2016 the German Air Force said that Russian Air Force (RuAF) jets, including the the 4++ generation Su-35S Flanker air superiority fighters, often shadowed their Tornados during reconnaissance missions in Syrian airspace out carried out from Incirlik airbase, Turkey.

A “near clash” between four Israeli F-15s and two Russian Su-30SMs allegedly occurred on Apr. 20, more than one month after Putin had ordered the withdrawal of part of the Russian combat planes from Hmeymim airbase: flying over the Mediterranean Sea, the Israeli jets approached Latakia forcing the Russians to scramble two of their Sukhoi jets. Several Israeli media outlets even said that Russians fired at least twice on Israeli military aircraft but no incident has ever been confirmed.

Another “near clash” occurred last week, on Jun. 16.

Indeed, as reported by the CNN, U.S. F/A-18s were somehow close to engage Russian Sukhois (still not clear whether Su-34s or Su-24s as there are conflicting reports on the type of aircraft involved) that bombed U.S.-backed Syrian rebels near the Jordan border.

Here’s what happened according to Theodore Schleifer and Barbara Starr:

“The strikes, which the U.S. says killed some New Syrian Army troops, occurred about six miles from the Jordanian border, according to a U.S. defense official.

The U.S. diverted armed FA-18s to the area after the first round of two strikes, and the pilots then tried to call the Russians on a previously agreed-upon pilot-to-pilot communications channel but did not receive an answer.

As soon as the U.S. jets left the area to refuel, the Russians came back for another round of bombing, the defense official said.

“Russian aircraft conducted a series of airstrikes near al-Tanf against Syrian counter-ISIL forces that included individuals who have received U.S. support. Russian aircraft have not been active in this area of Southern Syria for some time, and there were no Syrian regime or Russian ground forces in the vicinity,” a senior defense official said. “Russia’s latest actions raise serious concern about Russian intentions. We will seek an explanation from Russia on why it took this action and assurances this will not happen again.”

The first two bombing runs by the Russians were carried out by two SU-24 Russian jets coming out of their base near Latakia. The jets dropped what is believed to be the equivalent of U.S. 500-pound bombs and possibly cluster munitions, according to the U.S. defense official.”

So, it looks like the American Hornets were pretty close to intercepting the Sukhois (in other reports they were able to visually ID the Russians), tried to contact the Russian planes as these carried out an air strike, but these simply ignored the calls on a previously agreed radio frequency.

The question is what are the ROE (Rules Of Engagement) in place over Syria? Most probably there are strict ROE to prevent escalation and avoid direct confrontation but what would have happened if the U.S. F/A-18 had intercepted the Russian warplanes attacking the US-backed rebels ignoring the American calls?

Salva

Watch Russian Air Force Su-34s drop bombs on a huge ice-jam during unusual air strike in Russia

Attack aircraft used for a very unusual mission.

After taking part in the air war over Syria, Russian Air Force Su-34s have been involved in a domestic and rather unusual attack mission in mainland Russia.

In fact, on Apr. 18, two Fullbacks were deployed to drop bombs on thick ice that created a natural dam along the Sukhona River, in the Vologda region, putting over 4,500 people in danger.

According to RT, two Su-34 jets took off from the Voronezh region in southwestern Russian and dropped precision-guided explosives onto the frozen parts of the river in order to allow natural water flow to resume.

The warplanes were ordered to deploy explosives “every hour,” said the head of the Russian Emergencies Ministry, Vladimir Puchkov.

H/T Emiliano Guerra for the heads-up. Image credit: RuAF MoD

 

Syrian Su-22 Fitter shot down by rebels over Aleppo

A Su-22 Fitter was shot down by the Syrian opposition earlier today.

On Apr. 5, a SyAAF (Syrian Arab Air Force) Su-22 Fitter was allegedly shot down by the Syrian rebels while flying over al-Eis area in South Aleppo.

Parachuted pilot

As the following footage shows, the pilot ejected from the plane, to be captured and probably beaten by the militants. According to the latest news, the pilot is alive and in the hands of al-Nusra front militants.

It’s not clear who shoot the plane down and how;  unconfirmed reports claim the aircraft was hit by a MANPADS (Man Portable Air Defense System).

Some Twitter accounts have published the photos of the captured pilot (with an ID still to be confirmed).

 

H/T JeanLucTele for the heads-up. Image credit: via @green_lemonnn, Twitter.

First footage of Russian Air Force Ka-52s in combat in Syria emerges

The Russian “Hokum-B” helicopters provide close support to the Syrian Army.

Although some of Russia’s combat planes have left Syria to return home, part of the tactical aviation has been replaced with newly arrived Ka-52 and Mi-28N helicopters.

The role of these combat choppers is to provide close air support to Syrian forces, to protect the Russian Task Force deployed to Hmeymim airbase, near Latakia, as well as to conduct CSAR (Combat Search And Rescue) missions as the one launched to rescue the two pilots who ejected from the Su-24 Fencer shot down by a Turkish Air Force F-16 in November 2015 (during which, a Mi-8AMTSh Hip helicopter was hit by ground fire and later destroyed).

The first video showing Ka-52s at work at Syria has emerged on Apr. 3.

It allegedly shows the Russian combat helicopters supporting the Syrian forces in the outskirts of Homs.

H/T Babak Taghvaee for finding the video