Tag Archives: U.S. Air Force

A B-52 has crashed after take off from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam

Buff down in Guam.

At 08.30AM LT on May 19, a B-52H Stratofortress bomber belonging to the 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, crashed on the flightline at Andersen AFB, in Guam.

All the 7 crew members egressed the plane safely.

The B-52 was deployed to Andersen from Minot AFB, North Dakota, as part of the Washington’s continuous bomber presence mission in the Pacific.

For the records, this is not the first time a B-52 (or a heavy bomber) crashes at the American bomber base in the Pacific.

On Jul. 21, 2008, a U.S Stratofortress belonging to the 20th Bomb Squadron from Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, callsign “Raidr 21” crashed while taking part in the flyover for the U.S. liberation of the island from Japanese occupation in 1944. The aircraft crashed into the Pacific Ocean approximately 30 nautical miles (56 km) northwest of Apra Harbor, Guam, 5 minutes before the scheduled flyover time, killing the 6 crew members.

The cause of the crash was a wrong horizontal stabilizer trim setting.

The aircraft was on a four-month tour to the Pacific to replace the B-2 Spirit bombers which had been grounded following the loss of one of them on the same base in February 2008.

In fact, on Feb. 23, 2008, a B-2 with the 393rd Bomb Squadron, 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman AFB, Missouri, crashed on the runway shortly after takeoff marking the first ever crash of a Spirit stealth bomber. The two pilots ejected safely from the aircraft even though one of them suffered a spinal compression fracture.

The crash was caused by moisture in the sensors that created bad readings to the flight control computer that consequently forced the aircraft to pitch up on takeoff.

Actually, between the two above mentioned incidents, on Mar. 8, 2008, there was another minor incident, involving a B-1 bomber that collided with two fire trucks after an emergency landing at Andersen AFB caused by a hydraulic leak experienced shortly after departure to Ellsworth AFB.

In February 2010, fire broke out in one of the engines of a B-2 stealth bomber preparing for take-off. The aircraft sustained substantial structural damage: 18 months of local repairs were required to make the B-2 able to take off again to fly to Northrop Grumman facility in Palmdale, California. The aircraft eventually returned to operative status 4 years after the incident.

Image credit: Kuan News

F-22 Raptor stealth fighter sports low-visibility bomb markings

For the first time bomb markings appear on the F-22s that took part in the air campaign against Daesh.

Everything is stealth in the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, even the bomb signs….

This is what the top image, taken by The Aviationist’s contributor Alessandro Fucito at RAF Lakenheath at the beginning of May, seems to suggest. Indeed, the photograph shows one of the 12x F-22s belonging to the 95th FS from Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, deployed to the UK until May 8,  with 15 barely visible bomb markings (and another square sign – even though the latter may be some sort of patch on the Radar Absorbing Material coating).

F-22 bomb marks

The bomb silhouettes (on the airframe serialled AF05-086) represent GBU-32 1,000-lb JDAMs (Joint Direct Attack Munitions), one of the two types of bombs the 5th generation aircraft is able to carry: indeed, for air-to-surface missions, the multirole stealth jet can carry either 2x GBU-32s or 8x GBU-39 small diameter bombs in the internal weapons bay.

Bomb and kill markings are very well-known tradition in military aviation. In Syria, Russian Su-34s  sported red star silhouettes to mark 10 air strikes, whilst EA-18G Growlers of VAQ-137 aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt got unique kill markings, showing Electronic Attack support as well as cellular jamming missions.

The Tyndall’s Raptor depicted in the photo has most probably been given the traditional bomb markings after taking part in the air war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria during a rotation last year.

The F-22s have had their baptism of fire during Operation Inherent Resolve in September 2014.

Since the beginning of the air campaign, the F-22 have accounted for only 2% of the sorties and 2% of the overall weapons released (that is why it is safe to assume every silhouette represents one JDAM): their role is indeed to use the advanced onboard sensors, as the AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar, to gather valuable details about the enemy targets and then  share the “picture” with attack planes, command and control assets, as well as Airborne Early Warning aircraft.

This mission has been given a fancy name: “kinetic situational awareness.”

Although its production was cancelled in 2009 with the production line closed in 2012, after 187 F-22s had been procured, the House Armed Services Committee has asked the Air Force to produce a study on what it would take to restart building the Raptor in order to keep up with the enemies until the next generation fighter arrives, something heavily debated recently, and opposed by the Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter.

Image credit: The Aviationist / Alessandro Fucito

This video of an F-15E Strike Eagle refueling over Iraq exposes an unusual loadout of 2,000 lb bombs

This is a quite unusual loadout: at least three GBU-31 bunker buster bombs.

The footage below exposes something interesting.

It shows a KC- 135 from the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, refueling F-15E Strike Eagles over Iraq on Mar. 17.

Noteworthy, one of the Strike Eagles (from 391st FS from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho) taking fuel from the Stratotanker during a mission in support of Operation Inherent Resolve features a quite unusual loadout (compared to previous operations and OIR as well): at least 3x GBU-31(v)3/B 2,000-lb bombs.

The F-15E can carry as many as five GBU-31 JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition).

The JDAM is a GPS aided inertially guided bomb. The Guidance and Control Unit (GCU) containing a HG1700 RLG, GEM-III GPS receiver and computer package is installed inside the bomb tailkit. The GCU is used on the bunker busting 2,000-lb class BLU-109/B penetrator warhead.

On Apr. 30, 2011, an air strike conducted by a NATO jet against a bunker in Tripoli killed Gaddafi’s youngest son, Saif al-Arab Gaddafi, with three minor grandchildren. The images of an unexploded BL-109 warhead in the ruins of Gadhafi’s house later appeared on several media outlets, suggesting the raid had been carried out using a GBU-31.

The one filmed in the clip shows two GBU-31s on the left inboard CFT (Conformal Fuel Tank) weapons stations (dubbed LCT-1 and LCT-3) and one on the centerline station (STA-5). It’s not clear whether the remaining two stations on the right CFT (RCT-1 and RCT-3) are empty because the 2,000-lb bombs have already been dropped, possibly against some Daesh underground hideout.

The GBU-31s are assembled at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, by airmen from the 379th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron’s Munitions Flight. In December 2015, a team of nearly 60 Munitions airmen set a record, building almost 4,000 bombs since July 2015, surpassing the previous one by more than 1,600!

A dozen 2,000-pound joint direct attack munitions sit inside a warehouse at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, Dec. 17. The bombs were built by hand by airmen from the 379th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron’s Munitions Flight. The Munitions Flight has built nearly 4,000 bombs since July 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman/Released)

A dozen 2,000-pound joint direct attack munitions sit inside a warehouse at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, Dec. 17. The bombs were built by hand by airmen from the 379th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron’s Munitions Flight. The Munitions Flight has built nearly 4,000 bombs since July 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman/Released)

Watch the video of the F-35 flying in formation (at high AOA) with the Thunderbirds

Short but interesting clip.

A couple of days ago we have commented an image that had appeared on Facebook showing a U.S. Air Force F-35A forming up with the Thunderbirds for a photo session in the skies over Ft. Lauderdale.

Even though it did not say anything special about the controversial stealth plane, some people bashed the F-35 over the cool image just because it showed the 5th generation fighter jet flying with a high AOA (Angle of Attack) close to the Thunderbirds.
The following video provides a different point of view over the same scene: taken from inside the cockpit of the F-16 #1 of the U.S. Air Force demo team, it show the F-35 keeping a “high alpha” on the Viper’s right wing, leveraging its well-known (or alleged, depending on the “party”) high AOA capabilities.Needless to say, this post is not pro or against the F-35, it’s just about an interesting footage showing two jets belonging to different generations flying together.



H/T Miguelm Mendoza for the heads-up

U.S. A-10s and F-16s take part in impressive Elephant Walk in South Korea

Wow! How many A-10s and F-16s can you count in these stunning photographs?

“Elephant walk” exercises are conducted quite regularly at airbases all around the world to test the squadrons ability to launch large formations of aircraft at short notice.

During this kind of drills, combat planes (including tankers) taxi in close formation in the same way they would do in case of a minimum interval takeoff; still, depending on the purpose of the training event, the aircraft can either take off or return back to their parking slots.

Since war time operational conditions are simulated, tactical aircraft that take part in “Elephant Walks” are usually armed.

“Elephant Walks” are particularly frequent in South Korea where local-based U.S. Air Force jets (often alongside Republic of Korea Air Force planes) frequently stage such “collective shows of force” in response to North Korea’s aggressive posture and threats.

The latest one was held on May 9 and involved more than 40 aircraft (looks like they are 43), including 15 A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft with the 25th Fighter Squadron “Draggins” and F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft from the 51st Fighter Wing, Osan Air Base, South Korea, with some additional F-16 aircraft with the 179th Fighter Squadron “Bulldogs” from the 148th Fighter Wing out of Duluth Air National Guard Base, Minnesota.

The “Elephant Walk” on the runway at Osan was one of the events of Exercise Beverly Herd 16-01 whose aim was to assess of U.S. Air Force capabilities and strength and showcases the wing’s ability to generate combat airpower in an expedient manner in order to respond to simulated contingency operations.

Click on the image below to open the high-rez panoramic photograph that shows all the aircraft!

Image credit: U.S. Air Force