Tag Archives: Typhoon

Top Guns over the Canary Islands: DACT 2012 photo report

Between Apr. 16 and 27, Gando airbase, Canary Islands, hosted the annual DACT (Dissimilar Air Combat Training) exercise. Organized by the Spanish Air Force, the 2012 edition was attended by about 40 aircraft, including the local F-18 Hornets of the Ala 46, the Typhoons of the Ala 11 from Moron, the F-18s of the Ala 12 and 15 from Torrejòn and Zaragoza, C101 of the 741 Esc. from Salamanca, and the Spanish Navy EAV-8 Harriers of the Escuadrilla 009, from Rota.

Supported by B707 and KC-130H tanker aircraft, the drill saw the participation of five Mirage 2000C of the EC 02.005, from Orange.

The following pictures were taken by The Aviationist’s contributor Tony Lovelock.

Tony Lovelock wishes to thank Gando Base Commander and Alejandro of Fightercommunity.com for making the photo-report possible.

Ready for a 9/11-type of attack: RAF Typhoons based in London will shoot down suspect aircraft to protect Olympics (if required)

Four RAF Typhoon fighter jets have landed at RAF Northolt airbase, in west London, on May 2, 2012, ahead of a nine-day military exercise aimed to test security for London Olympic Games.

The arrival of the RAF Typhoons marks the first time fighter planes have been deployed at the air base in London since the end of WWII.

Exercise Olympic Guardian features UK’s most advanced and combat proven plane training to practice QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) procedures and tactics in case of a 9/11-type of attack. However, the purpose of the series of exercises is also to “deter terrorists from making any threats to the Games”, said Air Vice-Marshal Stuart Atha, air component commander for Olympics air security.

The Typhoons will be constantly in Combat Air Patrol, ready to intercept any unauthorized or suspect plane into a restricted zone of 30 miles around the capital, including Gatwick, Stansted and Luton airports. Such airspace, whose shape is more or less circular, designated R-112 will encompass also a smaller No-Fly Zone, that will protect Heathrow Airport, London City Airpost and the Olympic Park. Within the prohibited airspace, designated P-111, only scheduled flights will be allowed.

Any aircraft violating the restricted or prohibited zone will be identified and contacted by radio. It will be asked to follow the interceptors instructions, broadcast via radio or by means of standard visual signs, and escorted. And if the intercepted aircraft does not comply with the fighters’ orders, it will be shot down, regardless to whether it is a commercial plane with civilian passengers.

Obviously, the decision to employ the force will be taken at the highest political level, but RAF pilots could be required to use it.

Along with the fast jets, Olympics security will be ensured by Puma helicopters, that will have to intercept smaller aircraft, balloons or even small drones, and by several support assets, as the E-3 AWACS (provided that they will be cleared to fly…) and the Royal Navy Sea King AEW.

Last month a sonic boom caused by two Typhoons responding to an emergency signal from a helicopter was reportedly heard across central Britain.

Image credit: REUTERS/Paul Hackett

Exclusive: F-16 gets killed by Typhoon during air combat training in first Eurofighter HUD capture ever.

The following screenshot comes from a video recorded by the HUD (Head Up Display) of a Eurofighter Typhoon and it is the first (and only) Typhoon HUD capture ever made public.

It shows an F-16 in the wrong place at the wrong time: in front of a high maneuvering plane capable to point its nose when it wants to.

During a dissimilar air combat training (DACT), the “Viper”, in clean configuration and maneuvering under high G-forces, is killed by a Typhoon with a gun shot scored while flying at 8,200 feet, less than 5 degrees AOA (Angle of Attack), Mach 0.46, pulling 1.8G.

According to the source who sent it to me, the rest of the video shows that the Typhoon, after downing the F-16, continues maneuvering vertically, accelerating a bit to climb and descend again for a second shot on the same target.

The video answers some articles published in 2011 about claims that Pakistan Air Force’s pilots scored Typhoon kills during DACT taking place in Turkey, during Ex.  Anatolian Eagle. According to such reports, Pakistani pilots on exchange with the Turkish Air Force, and flying TuAF F-16s, scored kills against RAF Typhoons in WVR (Within Visual Range) gun contests (even if no evidence was provided to support claims fueling the theory that the  of fighter pilot tall story).

Since I don’t think I need to explain once again why DACT WVR is important and why any simulated kill should be taken with grain of salt, let me just add (paraphrasing someone else’s words):

“The European Typhoon kicks butts!”

Have you ever seen a picture of a fighter plane towing a radar decoy? Here it is

Towed decoy systems are used to protect military aircraft from radar-guided missiles. These countermeasures are towed behind the host aircraft protecting it against both surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles. They provide a radiowave reflecting baid that attracts the RF-guided missiles away from the intended target.

Unlike the miniature air launch decoys (MALD) and decoy jammers (MALD Jammers) being tested by the U.S. Air Force for B-52H bombers and F-16 Fighting Falcons to deceive ground radars and anti-aircraft systems, such decoys have a defensive purpose.

Many aircraft are equipped with such towed decoys. The U.S. F-18s and B-1s are equipped with the ALE-50 system, while the Eurofighter Typhoon is equipped with a Towed Radar Decoy carried in the starboad side wingtip pod.

Image credit: Raytheon

According to the information released by Eurofighter, the TRD is attached to the pod using a Fibre Optic link used to send commands to the decoy radio frequency emitter to produce jamming signals required to lure the missile away from the “parent aircraft”.

Even if the Eurofighter website contains several diagrams showing the Typhoon’s towed decoy, no image can be found of the decoy being towed by a plane, except the following ones taken by Gian Luca Onnis (during an unclassified test – image released).

Image credit: Gian Luca Onnis (image released for use)

Typhoons sonic boom during terrorist hijack alarm causes chaos in UK

At 18.10LT on Thursday Apr. 12 emergency agency telephone switch boards started receiving reports of a large bang or explosion that could be heard all over the southern UK.

It took a couple of hours before the reason for the mysterious bang was made public.

As most countries do, the RAF maintains a number of armed fighter aircraft on alert for air sovereignty and security purposes. The pilots are dismounted but are at a heightened state of readiness and can be airborne within minutes.

Since 9/11 this alert status also includes the possibility of reacting to potential threats from terrorist organisations using civilian aircraft to carry out acts of terror by using the aircraft as weapons of mass destruction.

Image credit: Nicola Ruffino

The Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) pilots are managed by the RAF’s National Air Operations Centre (NAOC), a team of 12/13 members including an Air Defence Wing Commander located somewhere West of London in an underground facility.

The team is charged with air policing of the UK airspace and also areas that come under the NATO umbrella, however, it does not monitor the national sky continuously, a task done by RAF’s Control and Reporting Centres (CRCs). CRCs constantly monitor the UK airspace and work in conjunction with the civilian Air Traffic Control based at Swanwick (Hampshire) and Prestwick (Scotland).

What happens usually when a civilian aircraft starts to raise suspicion that it is acting in a manner that is unusual?

It will first be contacted on the international emergency frequency: 121.5 MHz. Pilots are supposed to monitor this frequency at all times, but sometimes pilots use their second radio to listen to weather reports and other more mundane transmissions.

Therefore they miss this initial contact, prompting the initial investigations on the FPL (Flight Plan) filled by the pilot, the planned route and so on.

If further attempts to contact the aircraft fail, the civilian ATC will contact the CRC who in turn contact NAOC who will probably contemplate a tactical response while the problem within the UK airspace will be possibly notified to other NATO countries.

At this point the QRA pilots may be ordered into their cockpits, power on and be ready for immediate start. When engine are started, interceptors can be airborne in around 3 minutes. If  the aircraft is still not responding to ATC or the airline on “company frequency” the QRA jets will be scrambled, along with a tanker aircraft.

Once airborne all civilian aircraft will be vectored out of the way of the QRA jets en-route to the target.

Whilst trying to contact the suspicious aircraft, the RAF jets will perform a very wide intercept (out of target pilots visual sight) and approach the target from astern (rear) with transponder switched off the mode C o so as not to alert TCAS (Traffic Collision Avoidance System).

As the jets gets to within visual sight of the target the pilots will “shadow” the plane while performing visual checks to see if there is any visual reason for the aircraft not responding (maybe electrical issues).

If there is nothing obvious, the first jet will approach the target on the left hand side and forward of the cockpit so that the flight crew on the target aircraft cannot fail to miss the jet. The jet will then use the international intercept procedure, including visual follow me signals. Obviously, if the target fails to co-operate then things will be taken to the next level which could mean, after some further attempts to contact the plane and to make it comply to the visual instruction, to shoot it down.

[Read also: Air Force One journey on September 11: no escort during the attacks, 11 fighters when the airspace was completely free of airliners]

There is a process where all of the above may not take place so quietly sparking an immediate reaction by the QRA cell, and that is if a pilot enters a certain squawk code into the transponder to indicate that the aircraft, has been hijacked.

That’s what happened on Apr. 12, when a hapless helicopter pilot accidently entered the 7500 squawk code that said he had been hijacked, sparking an immediate reaction by the British Air Defence.

At RAF Coningsby the two Eurofighter Typhoon QRA jets were scrambled immediately, call signs 5KG41 and 5KG42 screamed into the sky in full afterburner, and cleared supersonic. Since it is very unusual for combat plane to fly supersonic at low altitudes one of the fighter pilot was heard on the radio asking to confirm the instruction.

When the cleareance was confirmed the interceptors accelerated trough Mach 1.2. The sonic boom was heard by thousands of people who immediately called the police and fire services to report the unusual loud “bang”. Even the British Geological Survery was contacted to see if the UK had suffered an earthquake.

[Read also: Another supersonic scramble]

By the time the Typhoons were closing in on their target, the helicopter pilot had realized his mistake and had tuned his squawk to the correct code. A bit too late: the interceptors had already caused some concern throughout UK and their supporting tanker had also been in the air to support them.

Once everything checked out, the event which sent the British media into a frenzy, was all over.

Aviation enthusiasts in the UK noted that the VC-10 tanker was still airborne at 21.45LT  a full 3 hours after the intercept and the pair of jets had returned to base at around 21.35LT. The aircraft was also picked up using ADS-B flying circuits off the east coast of the UK over the North Sea. Did they exploit the opportunity to carry out a training mission after being involved in the scramble?

Richard Clements for TheAviationist.com

Image credit: Eurofighter – Geoffrey Lee, Planefocus Ltd