Tag Archives: U.S. Air Force

First Italian pilot qualified as F-35A Instructor Pilot at Luke Air Force Base

Italian Air Force fighter jock becomes fully-qualified F-35A IP at Luke AFB.

An ItAF combat pilot has recently become the first Italian F-35A IP (Instructor Pilot) with the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke AFB, Arizona.

The Italian IP has got the qualification to train Italian and partner nations pilots on the Joint Strike Fighter through a 6-month syllabus made of two distinct classes respectively called “Transition” and “Intructor Pilot Upgrade” (IPUG).

During Transition the pilots train in various forms of flight: air-to-air combat, air-to-ground missions including SEAD/DEAD tasks (Suppression / Destruction of Enemy Air Defenses). At the end of this stage, the student IPs have gained skills to fly these missions in all-weather conditions.

During the subsequent IPUG class, the students are taught how to teach follow-on pilots to fly and fight in the F-35A. The IPUG course ends with a check ride required to achieve the IP qualification.

The syllabus has become more focused on full combat training last Spring, as the U.S. Air Force prepared to declare the F-35A Lightning II ready for war by the U.S. Air Force with the 34th Fighter Squadron based at Hill AFB in Utah (that eventually achieved the Initial Operational Capability on Aug. 2).

[For a detailed analysis of the IOC milestone, please read our report published here.]

The newly qualified Italian IP will serve in the multinational pilot training center at Luke AFB in Arizona, the world’s premier conventional F-35 training base where, under a pooling arrangement, USA, Australia, Norway and Italy, share IPs and aircraft to train new pilots and instructors within the same standardized framework.

Two Italian F-35As are already part of the “shared pool” at the airbase near Phoenix: the first one, dubbed AL-1 and serialled MM7332, the ItAF’s first F-35, the first JSF built outside the U.S., arrived in the U.S. at the end of the type’s first ever transatlantic flight on Feb. 5, 2016.F-35 ItAF IP 2Image credit: ItAF

B-52, B-1 and B-2 simultaneously conduct missions from Guam in unprecedented integrated bomber operation in Pacific

History was made when all the Air Force Global Strike Command’s strategic power projection bombers simultaneously launched from Guam for their first integrated bomber operation in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

On Aug. 17, the U.S. Air Force bomber trio (B-52 Stratofortress, B-1B Lancer and B-2 Spirit) conducted the first coordinated operation in the U.S Pacific Command AOR (Area Of Operations). The three aircraft launched in sequence from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, performed a flyover and then dispersed to conduct simultaneous operations in the South China Sea and Northeast Asia.

The B-52 is part of the latest Stratofortress CBP (Continuous Bomber Presence) detachment to Guam: the aircraft, belonging to the 69th Bomb Squadron from Minot AFB, ND, are about to return stateside after a 6-month deployment. They will be replaced by the “several” B-1B Lancers that have deployed to Andersen on Aug. 6 to undertake the CBP mission in the Pacific.

The B-2 is one of the three stealth bombers with the 509th Bomb Wing that have arrived in Guam on Aug. 9, to conduct extended deterrence operations in the Indo-Asia-Pacific theater, where China is continuing its colonization of the disputed islands in the East and South China Seas.

Bomber trio over Guam 3

Missions like the one carried out on Aug. 17 are regularly conducted by the U.S. Air Force, even if these rarely involve all three different types of bombers: for instance, in 2014, the USAF launched a long-range mission with two B-52 Stratofortresses from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., and two B-2 Spirit stealth bombers from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo.

The strategic bombers flew a non-stop for more than 20 hours and covered about 8,000 miles from their home stations to drop ordnance against target located inside Hawaii’s Pohakuloa military weapon range: a coordinated range operation which included low approach training that enabled the air force to put their strategic force’s capability to plan, coordinate and execute such a complex mission with “the right mix” of attack platforms.

The bomber trio mission “demonstrated the U.S. commitment to supporting global security and our ability to launch a credible strategic defense force,” said Brig. Gen. Douglas Cox, the 36th Wing commander in an official statement.

“By doing this, we showed the world we can expertly integrate three different platforms with unique capabilities, meeting (Andersen AFB’s) mission by providing the president of the United States sovereign options to decisively employ airpower across the entire spectrum of engagement, thus achieving our wing’s motto, we are ‘prepared to prevail,’” Cox said.

In simple words, whilst the Air Force Global Strike Command emphasized that the routine deployments to Andersen AFB provide opportunities to train, share experiences and strengthen regional alliances, the truth is that the U.S. Air Force exploited the presence of the tri-bomber force in Guam to get some cool shots (like those in this post) and flex the muscles in the Pacific.

 

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

Aggressors F-16 got a new “splinter” color scheme

The 64th Aggressor Squadron has unveiled the new “splinter” paint scheme for the F-16 Aggressors at Nellis Air Force Base during the 57th Adversary Tactics Group change of command.

On Aug. 5, the 64th AGRS unveiled a new “splinter” F-16.

According to a U.S. Air Force release:

“The paint scheme is a means of representing threats more accurately,” said Capt. Ken Spiro, 64th AGRS chief of intelligence. “There are real world threats that paint their jets in this way so we are changing over to make it more physically like their aircraft. Once a pilot who is training comes within visual range of the new Aggressor, they’ll be seeing a similar situation to what they would see with an actual threat aircraft.”

To represent these threats more accurately, the 64th AGRS looks for any and all ways to try to emulate the threats that are opposing combat air forces.

“The idea started at the 64th AGRS because we’re always looking for different ways to be more threat representative, and make the training more realistic,” said Spiro. “The 64th AGRS gets creative in extra ways, such as paint schemes to accurately and better represent threats. We act like, look like, or anything you can think of we try so we can be true to the threats. We’ve had some jets that are painted like a regular F-16, and then we’ve had some that have more of a tiger stripe pattern. Our F-16’s paint schemes have been similar to threats in the past and this new scheme is more representative of today’s threats.”

Noteworthy, a new F-16 with a new “shark” paint scheme is being prepared at Nellis. Inspired by the T-50?

“Splinter” paint schemes have become a distinguishing feature of U.S. Air Force Aggressors to make their fighter jets similar to a Russian 4th and 5th generation aircraft.

However, this kind color scheme was “inadvertently invented” for U.S. Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornets to aid the young pilots in target ID: it was not introduced to make the jets similar to their Russian adversaries, just to make them more visible.

Splinter scheme F-16

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

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This video lets you join F-22 pilots preparing for a night air strike on ISIS

Up close and personal with the Raptor pilots fighting Daesh in Iraq and Syria.

Filmed at Al Dhafra airbase in the UAE, this clip shows F-22 pilots with the 90th Fighter Squadron from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, preparing to launch at night for a mission in support of Operation Inherent Resolve against ISIS in the modernized U.S. Air Force Raptor multirole jets.

Each Raptor mission against Daesh usually involves multiple aerial refueling operations since the aircraft, to keep their stealthiness, do not carry external fuel tanks.

The Alaskan Raptors belong to the latest available Block and can drop 8 GBU-39 small diameter bombs; they also embed a radar upgrade that enhanced the capabilities of the aircraft in the realm of the so-called “kinetic situational awareness”: although they drop very few bombs against ground targets, the 5th generation stealth planes exploit their advanced onboard sensors, such as the AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar, to gather details about the enemy targets that they share with other attack planes, such as the F-15E Strike Eagles.

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Jaw-dropping NVG video of F-22 Raptors refueling at night during air strikes on Daesh

Here’s how the F-22s that take part in the air war on ISIS look at night through the Night Vision Goggles.

The clip in this post shows airmen assigned to the 908th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron prepare their aircraft and refuel U.S. F-22 Raptors using a KC-10 Extender tanker during an aerial refueling mission in support of Operation Inherent Resolve on Jul. 13, 2016.

The above image was posted by the  helicopter serving the South West of England.

Although we have recently posted an image taken from the thermal camera used by the EC-135 of the British National Police Air Service, based at Filton Aerodrome, of one of the U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor jets that deployed to RAF Fairford to take part in the Royal International Air Tattoo airshow, you don’t happen to see this kind of footage too often.

You can even spot the vapors of the fuel coming out of the dorsal refueling receptacle used by the Raptor multirole jet after the AAR (Air to Air Refueling) operation.

The F-22 refueled in the video are the most up-to-date Raptors in service with the U.S. Air Force. Assigned to the 90th Fighter Squadron from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, the modernized Raptors brought extended capabilities in the fight against Daesh since their arrival in theater back in April: 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.

Furthermore, among the other things, the aircraft were also given a radar upgrade that enhanced the capabilities of the aircraft in the realm of the so-called “kinetic situational awareness”: whilst they are rarely requested to attack ground targets, the Raptors 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.

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