Tag Archives: U.S. Navy

Video: First F-35 Carrier Variant night flight. With heavy afterburner usage.

After the first cool images, here’s the video of the F-35C test plane CF-2 during the first night flight on Jun. 13.

As seen when the F-35A made its first night sortie in January, note the green night formation lights, used by combat plane to make formation flying easier after dark.

If you suffer motion sickness this video is not for you: low level flying with a Super Hornet

Someone might find it a bit boring whereas others will suffer motion sickness symptoms.

Anyway, I think this video gives a clear idea what flying a U.S. Navy’s VFA-137 F/A-18E Super Hornet during a low level sortie through the Sierra Nevada in East California out of Naval Air Station Lemoore, Ca., looks like.

Since it does not feature any soundtrack, the footage let’s you literally hear the typical cockpit sounds as the pilot, wearing a JHMCS helmet, pulls some Gs on aggressive low level turns needed to avoid obstacles and take advantage of terrain masking (to prevent detection by enemy radar systems).

As already explained, in the age of stealth bombers, standoff weapons, drones, cyberwar, electronic warfare, etc. low-level high-speed flying is still one of the most important parts of both planes and helicopters combat pilot training.

H/T to @AeroSamm for the heads-up

Photo: Kamov Ka-31 helicopter landing on the deck of a U.S. Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser

During the Cold War, such type of helicopter would have been shot down by a U.S. warship.

However, on Apr. 11, 2012, as the following picture shows, a Kamov Ka-31 helicopter belonging to the Indian Navy landed on the flight deck of the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) during Malabar 2012, a regularly scheduled naval exercise conducted to advance multinational maritime relationships and mutual security issues.

120411-N-BC134-176

Image credit: U.S. Navy 

Vipers, Growlers, Prowlers, Eagles and Hogs: U.S. combat planes at Aviano airbase during Libya air war. With heart background.

Although the U.S. involvement in Libya was scaled down few days after NATO took control over the air campaign on Mar. 31, 2011, American tactical aircraft (“tacair”) played an important role during the opening stages of the Washington-led Operation Odyssey Dawn (for more details I suggest you reading the first debriefs of my Libya Air War series).

Even if U.S. planes also operated from other deployment base (RAF Mildenhall, Moron, Souda Bay, Istres), Aviano airbase, in northeast Italy, and Sigonella, in Sicily, were the two main hubs used by the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps assets. In particular, Aviano was mainly used by the tacair component, while “Saigon” was used by support planes (PSYOPS, tankers, etc.) and drones (both Reapers and Global Hawks).

Among the aircraft on temporary deployment to Aviano (that is the permanent base of the 31st FW’s F-16s) there were: VAQ-132 EA-18G Growlers, VAQ-140 and VMAQ-1 EA-6B Prowlers, 494FS F-15E, 81FS A-10s and 480FS F-16CJs. A Jordanian Air Force detachment operated from Aviano throughout the duration of Operation Unified Protector.

The following pictures, taken by Simone Gazzola, show some of the most interesting aircraft taking off or landing at Aviano.

Note also the “heart” shape on the background of some pictures. It’s a land-art project called Lumacuore (an Italian word formed by combining the words lumaca= snail and cuore = heart) and made between 2009 and 2010 on the side of Piancavallo mountain by the Italian artist Laura Trevisan with the aim of “spreading a cultural message on human rights, love and respect for nature as well as the environmentally friendly development of the territory.”