Tag Archives: U.S. Navy

RAF Lakenheath Hosts Large-Force Dissimilar Air Combat Training with U.S. Air Force F-22, F-15C, F-15E and Navy F/A-18E/F jets

The 48th Fighter Wing hosts a big exercise, integrating joint service as well as 4th and 5th Generation capabilities.

One of the biggest military exercises the 48th Fighter Wing has ever hosted, began on Tuesday Oct. 9, 2018, at RAF Lakenheath, UK.

U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors assigned to the 1st Fighter Wing out of Langley Air Force Base, Virginia along with U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets assigned to Carrier Air Wing One and deployed from the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman, temporarily deployed to Suffolk to conduct large-force Dissimilar Air Combat Training (DACT) exercises with the local-based F-15E Strike Eagles and F-15C Eagles.

“This was a perfect opportunity, as this type of exercise is rarely carried out in England or Europe and to bring everyone together to RAF Lakenheath is a tremendous achievement” said Lt. Col. William Wooten, 492nd Fighter Squadron Commander.

LN AF 91-0318 F15E Strike Eagle departs RWY06 on full burners.

The USS Harry S Truman (CVN 75), anchored in Stokes Bay in the Solent off Portsmouth harbour on Saturday, sent eight F/A-18E/F Super Hornets. The carrier-based jets arrived at RAF Lakenheath on Thursday Oct. 4. Six F-22A Raptors, that supported Operation Inherent Resolve in Syria and Iraq arrived at  RAF Lakenheath on Oct. 5, on a brief re-deployment before returning home: they were due to fly back to the US but the 48th Fighter Wing contacted Langley AFB to request the Raptors take part in the joint exercise.

FF AF 09-0181 F-22A Raptor departs RWY06.

In the end, the 48FW was able to gather as many as 40 aircraft per sortie alongside KC-135R Stratotankers from the 100ARW at nearby RAF Mildenhall supporting the exercise above the North Sea.

The aim of the drills is to bring the U.S. Air Force and the Navy together to strengthen there air combat ability, especially in the current climate with Russia flexing its military muscles; the timing was good to put this in place as all components were in the region. So far it is showing to be a complete success.

The exercise will run for approximately two weeks, after which the F/A-18s will return to the USS Harry S Truman off the coast of Scotland and the F-22 Raptors will return back to Langley AFB.

Aircraft that flew during the Media Event we attended on Oct. 11, in order of departures:

Carrier Air Wing One

F/A-18F Super Hornet 166808 / 204 VFA-211 Checkmates

F/A-18E Super Hornet 166823 / 303 VFA-136 Knighthawks

F/A-18E Super Hornet 166840 / 412 VFA-81 Sunliners

F/A-18F Super Hornet 166665 / 210 VFA-211 Checkmates

F/A-18E Super Hornet 166840 / 412 VFA-81 Sunliners departs RAF Lakenheath.

493rd FS “Grim Reapers”

LN AF 84-010 F15C Eagle

LN AF 84-001 F15C Eagle

LN AF 86-0172 F15C Eagle

LN AF 86-0160 F15C Eagle

LN AF 84-001 F15C Eagle launching from RWY06.

27th Fighter Squadron

FF AF 09-0181 F-22A Raptor

FF AF 1st FW Boss Bird F-22A Raptor

FF AF 09-0181 F-22A Raptor lands at the end of its mission.

Strike Fighter Squadron 11

F/A-18F Super Hornet 166624 / 102 VFA-11 Red Rippers

F/A-18F Super Hornet 166631 / 106 VFA-11 Red Rippers

F/A-18F Super Hornet 166624 / 102 VFA-11 Red Rippers

492nd FS “Madhatters”

LN AF 91-0306 F15E Strike Eagle

LN AF 91-0315 F15E Strike Eagle

LN AF 91-0310 F15E Strike Eagle (This is a 494th FS Jet on loan to the 492nd)

LN AF 96-0202 F15E Strike Eagle

LN AF 91-0302 F15E Strike Eagle

LN AF 91-0318 F15E Strike Eagle

LN AF 91-0317 F15E Strike Eagle

LN AF 96-0205 F15E Strike Eagle

LN AF 91-315 F15E Strike Eagle 492nd Madhatters.

493rd Grim Reapers

LN AF 84-019 F15C Eagle

LN AF 86-0154 F15C Eagle

LN AF 86-0174 F15C Eagle

LN AF 86-0178 F15C Eagle

LN AF 86-0174 F15C Eagle taxis back with his air brake up.

27th Fighter Squadron

FF AF 94th FS F-22A Raptor

The Aviationist expresses gratitude to Capt. Elias J. Small and the entire 48FW Public Affairs team who were exceptional with their support during our visit at RAF Lakenheath.

All images credit: Stewart Jack

FLIR Footage Shows California Highway Patrol Chase Ending In Fatal Crash Into An F/A-18 at NAS Lemoore

Recently-released footage shows an unauthorized vehicle being pursued by California Highway Patrol inside Naval Air Station Lemoore, California, in 2016.

On the night of Mar. 30 – 31, 2016, a Jeep Grand Cherokee was able to intrude into NAS Lemoore where the vehicle, chased by California Highway Patrol vehicles crashed into the tail end of a parked F/A-18 Hornet jet.

The female passenger died at the scene, while the driver died at the Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno.

A CHP helicopter (“H40”, an Airbus AS350B3 – H125 – registration N975HP) chased the Jeep and filmed the whole scene using its FLIR camera. The footage is particularly interesting as it includes audio and flight data parameters, including the chopper altitude and speed, and also shows (at 05:52) a Hornet performing a touch and go.

You can hear from the radio comms that the helicopter aircrew are concerned of deconfliction with the Hornet in the traffic pattern. Then the Jeep enters the ramp where all the F/A-18s are parked, reaches the threshold of RWY32R before entering the taxiway that leads to the apron to the east of the runway. At 10:06 it hits the stabilizer of one of the Hornets parked there and comes to a stop in a field between the runway and the taxiway.

The H125 lands to take custody of the driver and coordinate ground units to the location.

The episode raised many questions, the most obvious of those is: how could a vehicle pass an armed U.S. Navy security checkpoint and then wander for several minutes inside an active airbase with flying activity in progress?

“What went wrong? Regardless of the security procedures, something went wrong,” said Cmdr. Monty Ashliman, the commanding officer of NAS Lemoore according to an article posted the day after the accident. “We have to figure out a way to prevent that from happening in the future. […] “There will be an intense effort to ensure that we not only take care of our assets and be good stewards of the tax payers dollars but that it’s absolutely safe before it goes flying again” he said.

Security protocols and procedures were updated after the review that followed the accident.

According to the report issued after the accident, hydraulic concrete barriers that raise up from the ground to stop such incursions were deployed only after the Jeep had already passed through. Moreover, the investigation highlighted that CHP officials were unable to notify NAS Lemoore personnel about the pursuit because they were calling an active number that had been provided to them for the base but it “was associated with an NASL building that had been demolished approximately 10 years prior.” Attempts to call on a back up number failed as well. The most concerning part of the report is that sailors at the “checkpoint didn’t know about the SUV until a CHP officer tracking the SUV drove up to the checkpoint booth and informed them.”

Contact between the NASL Regional Dispatch Center and CHP dispatchers was established only “six minutes after the Jeep Grand Cherokee hit the F-18 Hornet.” Furthermore, the report highlighted that the internal mobile radio system used by personnel at NAS Lemoore was not compatible with the equipment in use with the local law enforcement.

The conclusion of the U.S. Navy report recommended that NASL should maintain an updated phone contact list with “all federal, state and local law enforcement entities” and periodically test for two-way communications to verify accuracy, The Hanford Sentinel reported.

There might have been further security changes following the accident, but these have not been made public.

The extent of the damage to the Hornet is also unknown.

H/T David Ljung for sending this over

Here Are Some Photographs of the F-35B Lightning Jets Landing on (and Launching From) Britain’s Newest Carrier for the First Time

Royal Navy Commander Nathan Gray and RAF Squadron Leader Andy Edgell were the first pilots to land their F-35 Lightning stealth jets on the flight deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth.

In the last 24 hours we have commented two quite different F-35B Lightning II-related news: the first air strike in Afghanistan and the first crash in South Carolina. Both events involved U.S. Marine Corps STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) variant aircraft. However, these were not the only newsworthy events: on Tuesday Sept. 25, 2018, Royal Navy Cmdr. Nathan Gray and Royal Air Force Sq. Ldr. Andy Edgell, both test pilots at the F-35 Integrated Test Force at NAS Patuxent River, Md., were the first pilots to land the stealth F-35B on board HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The first landings and subsequent take-offs from HMS Queen Elizabeth “are the culmination of a British endeavor lasting more than a decade to bring an aircraft carrier back to the UK’s arsenal,” says an official U.S. DoD release.

Two F-35B Lightning II fighter jets successfully landed onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time this week, laying the foundations for the next 50 years of fixed wing aviation in support of the UK’s Carrier Strike Capability.
Royal Navy Cmdr. Nathan Gray made history by being the first to land on, followed by Royal Air Force Sq. Ldr. Andy Edgell, both test pilots at the Integrated Test Force (ITF) based at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland.
Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin

The landings on Britain’s newest aircraft carrier (able to accommodate up to 24 F-35Bs out of the planned 138 F-35 Lightning jets) kicked off the first of two First of Class Flight Trials (Fixed Wing) phases, held back-to-back this fall, where the ITF team plans to perform a variety of flight maneuvers and deck operations to develop the F-35B operating envelope for QEC carriers. According to the ITF, the tests “will evaluate jet performance on over 200 test points during different weather and sea conditions as well as the aircraft’s integration with the ship. A third FOCFT (FW) phase followed by operational testing is scheduled for 2019.”

Two F-35B Lightning II fighter jets successfully landed onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time this week, laying the foundations for the next 50 years of fixed wing aviation in support of the UK’s Carrier Strike Capability. Shortly afterwards, once a deck inspection has been conducted and the all-clear given, Royal Navy Cmdr. Nathan Gray, F-35 Integrated Test Force at NAS Patuxent River, Md., became the first pilot to take off using the ship’s ski-ramp.
Courtesy photo by Royal Navy

The first landings were performed as HMS Queen Elizabeth operated off the U.S. East Coast. The aircraft carrier left Portsmouth in August, crossing the Atlantic to conduct the flying trials and joint training with the US Navy. The flight trials are scheduled to take around 11 weeks and +500 take-off and landings. The target is to be ready for a deployment from 2021.

F-35B prepares to land. (LM)

In an official Royal Navy release, the Commanding Officer of HMS Queen Elizabeth, Captain Jerry Kyd, said: “I am quite emotional to be here in HMS Queen Elizabeth seeing the return of fixed-wing aviation, having been the captain of the aircraft carrier which launched the last Harrier at sea nearly eight years ago.

“The regeneration of big deck carriers able to operate globally, as we are proving here on this deployment, is a major step forward for the United Kingdom’s defence and our ability to match the increasing pace of our adversaries. The first touch-downs of these impressive stealth jets shows how the United Kingdom will continue to be world leaders at sea for generations to come.”

Two F-35B Lightning II fighter jets successfully landed onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time this week, laying the foundations for the next 50 years of fixed wing aviation in support of the UK’s Carrier Strike Capability.
Royal Navy Cmdr. Nathan Gray made history by being the first to land on, followed by Royal Air Force Sq. Ldr. Andy Edgell, both test pilots at the Integrated Test Force (ITF) based at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland.
Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin

Commodore Andrew Betton, the commander of the UK’s Carrier Strike Group, said: “The Queen Elizabeth-class carriers have been specifically designed and built to operate the F-35, offering an immensely flexible and potent combination to deliver military effect around the world.

F-35B on the ski jump. (LM)

“Conducting these trials is a critical and exciting step on this journey and I applaud the many thousands of civilian and military personnel who have played a part in bringing the strategic ambition to reality.”

Royal Navy Cmdr. Nathan Gray in his F35B following the first deck landing aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth. Gray and Royal Air Force Sq. Ldr. Andy Edgell, both test pilots at the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md, landed the first two jets on the new British aircraft carrier this week.
Courtesy photo by Royal Navy



In-Flight Emergency, New Kawasaki Motorcycle And More: All The “Top Gun: Maverick” News We Can Tell You, And Some We Can’t…

Among all the other things, Tom Cruise Has Emergency “Flap Caution” Landing During “Top Gun” Sequel Filming.

Hollywood action film star Tom Cruise had to cut short the filming of an aerial sequence for the upcoming “Top Gun: Maverick” after a “flap warning” indication appeared in the U.S. Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet he was flying in Monday afternoon, September 17, 2018. The aircraft diverted to an alternate airfield following the incident.

The 56-year old Golden Globe Award winning actor was photographed wearing U.S. Navy flight gear and a specially painted Gentex HGU-68/P lightweight flight helmet. The photos were said to have been taken at “an airbase in Nevada” and have circulated on Hollywood gossip and aviation fan blogs including TMZ.com. Our own David Cenciotti was the first to notice that Maverick used the modern flight helmet instead of the old HGU-33:

Other photos surfaced on the “Eggs, Bacon and Joey Morning Show” Facebook page that showed Tom Cruise dressed in a flight suit shaking hands with men and women also in military flight suits at Naval Air Station Lemoore in Kings County and Fresno County in Central California. F/A-18 aircraft appear in the background including the tips of the twin tails of one F/A-18 painted in colors that may be similar to the one we showed in a previous update that will be used in the filming of the upcoming “Top Gun: Maverick”.

A story on ABC30.com by columnist Jim Jakobs confirmed from the U.S. Navy that, “The Navy can’t tell us if Cruise is in Lemoore. But, the Navy can say that NAS Lemoore’s F/A-18 Super Hornets and F-35’s will play a big role in the movie.” The article mentioned our editor David Cenciotti as a source for new photos of the specially painted F/A-18F to be used by Tom Cruise in the movie. ABC30 writer Jim Jakobs went on to quote Cmdr. Ron Flanders, Public Affairs Officer, Naval Air Forces as saying, “A great deal of the flying in this film will be done by Lemoore based aviators.”

Enough rumors also flew fast and low earlier this week about the upcoming “Top Gun: Maverick” to make you spill your coffee in the tower. But just like any target rich environment, in a matter of minutes, the most interesting- and as it later turned out- accurate rumors, disappeared from social media like a MiG-28 on afterburner. We’d tell you more, but we’d have to… you know. Most of the rumors that were acknowledged as accurate mentioned locations for filming the low flying sequences of the film. TheAviationist.com was asked not to reveal these locations.

Photos of U.S. Navy aggressor aircraft never before photographed in specific western U.S. low flying areas began surfacing on social media. Similar or identical aircraft were used in the first “Top Gun” movie in 1986. The photos sparked rumors and speculation about set locations for the movie. After responses to our inquiry about the photos we were asked not to say anything more. Our post on social media inquiring about the location disappeared after the information was privately confirmed.

What we can report is that better photos have surfaced of the aircraft that is going to be used for Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell in the movie, as played by Tom Cruise. We first ran unattributed photos rumored to be “Maverick’s” plane on September 13 after they appeared in at least two Hollywood entertainment gossip blogs. Within hours the rumors were at least unofficially confirmed and more photos surfaced- the one shown here.

Then, more interesting news appeared online:

No “Top Gun” sequel would be complete without the need for speed, and photos have surfaced of Tom Cruise being filmed as Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell riding a new Kawasaki Ninja H2R motorcycle on a runway for a possible title sequence that reprises the original 1986 sequence. This new Kawasaki Ninja H2R replaces the Kawasaki GPZ900R that he rode in the original 1986 film. “Maverick”’s new Ninja H2R displaces 998cc’s and has a top speed of (seriously) Mach .327 or between 206 and 249 MPH.

Fox News and other Hollywood gossip sites have ran spy photos of Tom Cruise as “Maverick” filming a possible title sequence on a new 200 MPH Kawasaki Ninja H2R. (Photo: Via Fox News/Facebook/Kawasaki)

Raven-haired Hollywood hottie Monica Barbarow has been cast in the role of a pilot trainee in “Top Gun: Maverick” and will fill a major part of the female cast of the film as the love-interest of another pilot in the film, “Bradley Bradshaw” as played by actor Miles Teller. Barbarow is a formally trained ballerina who left dance to pursue acting full time. She has appeared in the NBC television legal drama “Chicago Justice”.

Filming for “Top Gun: Maverick” has also been taking place onboard the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) during August. Film crews from Paramount and Bruckheimer Films were aboard the carrier until Sunday, August 26.

Tom Cruise as Capt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell was spotted shaking hands at NAS Lemoore in California. (Photo: Via Facebook/Eggs, Bacon and Joey Morning Show)

The release date for the film has been pushed back nearly a year until June 26, 2020 from the original release date of July 2019. Entertainment writer Anthony D’Alessandro reported in Deadline.com that the film is being delayed to, “Work our all the complex flight sequences so that the pic can be great.”

The delay has led to speculation about the plot for “Top Gun: Maverick” that is already said to include remotely piloted aircraft and the Navy’s new F-35C Lightning II. The Navy has confirmed the F-35C will be included in the movie.

Top image: Several websites leaked photos of a U.S. Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet with special markings that could be for Tom Cruise’s character “Maverick” in the upcoming Top Gun sequel (Photo: Via RevengeOfTheFans.com courtesy of Mario-Francisco Robles)

U.S. Navy MQ-4C Triton Drone Performs Gear Up Landing At Point Mugu

The crash landing has caused some 2M USD damage to the UAVs (unmanned Aerial Vehicles).

An MQ-4C Triton experienced a technical failure that forced it to perform a gear up landing at Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC) at Point Mugu on Sept. 12, the U.S. Navy confirmed

“The Navy says as a precautionary measure, the pilots shut down the engine and tried to make a landing at Point Mugu but the aircraft’s landing gear failed to deploy and the aircraft landed on the runway with its gear up, causing some $2 million damage to the plane,” KVTA reported.

No further details about the unit have been disclosed so far, however, it’s worth noticing that two MQ-4C UAVs – #168460 and #168461 – have started operations with VUP-19 DET Point Mugu from NBVC on Jun. 27, 2018.

Here’s what we have written about that first flight back then:

The U.S. Navy’s MQ-4C “Triton” Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) is an ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) platform that will complement the P-8A Poseidon within the Navy’s Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force family of systems: for instance, testing has already proved the MQ-4C’s ability to pass FMV (Full Motion Video) to a Poseidon MPA (Maritime Patrol Aircraft). An advanced version than the first generation Global Hawk Block 10, the drone  it is believed to be a sort of Block 20 and Block 30 Global Hawk hybrid, carrying Navy payload including an AN/ZPY-3 multi-function active-sensor (MFAS) radar system, that gives the Triton the ability to cover more than 2.7 million square miles in a single mission that can last as long as 24 hours at a time, at altitudes higher than 10 miles, with an operational range of 8,200 nautical miles.

The U.S. Navy plans to procure 68 aircraft and 2 prototypes. VUP-19 DET PM has recently achieved an Early Operational Capability (EOC) and prepares for overseas operations:  as alreadt reported, Point Mugu’s MQ-4Cs are expected to deploy to Guam later in 2018, with an early set of capabilities, including basic ESM (Electronic Support Measures) to pick up ships radar signals, for maritime Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance mission.

The Triton is expected to reach an IOC (Initial Operational Capability) in 2021, when two additional MQ-4Cs will allow a 24/7/365 orbit out of Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

Image: file photo of an MQ-4C of VUP-19 Det PM during its first flight (U.S. Navy)