Tag Archives: United States Air Force

Awesome Air-to-Air Shots of Air Refueling Operations During Anakonda-16 Exercise in Poland

U.S. tankers refuel Polish F-16s.

Anakonda-16 and Baltops-16 exercises are currently underway in Poland, involving numerous air assets.

Several combat planes operating within a realistic modern air combat scenario over the Polish territory must be supported by AAR (Air-to-Air Refueling) operations.

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During the last week, Filip Modrzejewski visited the Powidz Air Base, near Gniezno, where 4 U.S. Air Force KC-135 tankers from the 434th Air Refueling Wing and 100th Air Refueling Wing are stationed.

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Cooperation between Foto Poork and USAF made it possible for Filip to obtain the unique shots, including photographs that depict the thirsty Polish Air Force F-16 jets getting refueled during the training operations.

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The task is not easy, since the photographer needs to take a laying position, in limited space and very limited visibility.

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The Polish F-16 jets are being refueled from both the 100th ARW and the 434th ARW tankers, while the presented shots have been taken from the tanker belonging to 100th ARW, operating from RAF Mildenhall.

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Besides the AAR operation, Anakonda-16 exercise also featured massive airdrop, near the Torun military training range. The airborne units were tasked with taking over a bridge. The operation is still in progress and we may see more unique material coming up in the next few days.

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Image Credit: Filip Modrzejewski/Foto Poork

Salva

U.S. F-15s have “dominated the skies” during Frisian Flag exercise in Central Europe

Air National Guard Eagles have taken part in one of the largest exercises in Europe before heading to Bulgaria.

Eight F-15C/D Eagle aircraft and supporting personnel from the 104th Fighter Wing, Barnes Air National Guard Base, and the 144th Fighter Wing, Fresno Air National Guard Base, California, have taken part to Frisian Flag exercise from Leeuwarden airbase, Netherlands, between Apr. 11 and 22.

The American air superiority aircraft belong to the contingent of a dozen F-15s (four were deployed to Iceland to provide air policing duties) that will remain in the European theater for a 6-month tour in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve as part of the latest iteration of a Theater Security Package (TSP), a temporary deployment from CONUS (Continental US) of a force whose aim is to augment the Air Force presence in a specific region, for deterrence purposes.

This TSP, in particular, “will […] demonstrate the U.S. commitment to a Europe that is whole, free, at peace, secure, and prosperous and to deter further Russian aggression

The 8 F-15s of the 131st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron that attended the 12-day Royal Netherlands Air Force Frisian Flag 2016 exercise “dominated the skies” according to a U.S. Air Force release.

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The F-15 proved to be the preeminent air superiority fighter, while the highly trained support staff and expert maintainers ensured 98% aircraft availability. “The jets and personnel have exceeded performance expectations and our international partners have repeatedly complimented the professional and lethal performance of the 131st,” said Lt. Col. David Halasi-Kun, 131st EFS detachment commander.

The aim of the exercise was to practice multination MFFO (mixed fighter force operations) against realistic airborne, ground and naval threats to validate tactics and improve cooperation.

F-16s belonging to the KLu, Polish Air Force, Belgian Air Force, Royal Danish Air Force, F/A-18 Hornet from the Finnish Air Force, RAF Tornados, German Typhoons, French Mirage 2000D and N jets took part in the exercise along with the U.S. F-15s.

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Interestingly, one of the F-15s can also be seen in the image below carrying a SNIPER ATP (Advanced Targeting Pod): the TGT pods are used by interceptors to watch the enemy from distance without using the radar to “paint” it.

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After the FF2016 came to an end, the 131st EFS redeployed to Bulgaria “to continue its overall mission to strengthen interoperability and demonstrate U.S. commitment to a Europe that is whole, free, at peace, secure, prosperous and able to deter aggression.”

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Image credit: Marco Ferrageau

 

What’s this new camera installed on a U-2 spyplane spotted at Palmdale?

While Lockheed Martin works on its  stealthy replacement, looks like the U-2 is still being modified.

Lockheed Martin has just revelead the “TR-X” a Skunk Works proposal for the next generation, all-new stealthy spyplane to replace the iconic U-2 Dragon Lady.

The new aircraft will combine the features of the U-2 and those of the RQ-4B Global Hawk UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) into a new ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) platform capable to operate at very high altitude and to penetrate contested airspace.

For the moment, the Air Force is not committed to the new design or any other U-2 replacement concept: addressing reporters earlier this week, Lt. Gen. Robert Otto, deputy chief of staff for ISR, said the U.S. Air Force can’t simply afford its two high-altitude ISR platforms (U-2 and RQ-4) as well as develop the new aircraft.

Indeed, even though it could continue to operate for other two or three decades, the U-2 is slated to be withdrawn from use in 2019 and when the upgraded Global Hawk will take over all the high-altitude ISR tasks.

Nevertheless, even the Dragon Lady is constantly being upgraded with new sensor packages, as the images in this post seem to suggest.

Taken by Kevin Joyce from Sidewinder Aviation Photography at Palmdale, California, widely known as “Skunk Works” LM’s Advanced Development Program Facility (that is to say, where some of the most futuristic “black projects” are developed), the photos show a new, big camera installed underneath the nose section of a Dragon Lady landing at Air Force Plant 42.

Any idea what it can be? Just a new wide-angle hi-rez camera?

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Image credit: Kevin Joyce / Sidewinder Aviation Photography  (H/T Matt Hartmann for the heads-up)

 

U.S. Air Force A-10 Close Air Support missions as seen through GoPro cameras

This is one of the coolest A-10C Thunderbolt videos ever.

GoPro cameras in the cockpit of U.S. Air Force A-10s while they fly at low altitude or through the mountains, refuel from a KC-135 tanker, fire AGM-65 Maverick missiles and GAU-8 Avenger 30 mm hydraulically driven seven-barrel Gatling-type gun.

It may be close to retirement (even though it is supporting Operation Inherent Resolve against ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq and strengthening U.S. presence across eastern Europe), but the “Hog” remains one of the most badass aircraft around.

The video was filmed by pilots of the 25 Fighter Squadron belonging to the 51st Fighter Wing at Osan Air Base, South Korea.

H/T to Tom Demerly for the YT link

 

U.S. F-15E goes supersonic over UK: ceiling tiles come down in local Supermarket

A sonic boom probably caused by U.S. F-15E Strike Eagles shook homes and businesses in Wales.

The sonic boom that caused several ceiling tiles come down in a supermarket in the Welsh town of Aberystwyth, UK, was caused by U.S. fighter planes.

Indeed, according to the statement issued by the Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft from RAF Lakenheath had been training in the area when something went wrong.

Initially, the exercise was to be carried out over the sea, but due to the fact that the airspace the exercise was planned in was lost, the jets were directed to RAF military training airspace over the southern part of Wales.

The Strike Eagle which went supersonic broke the “sound barrier” at the altitude of 18,000 feet inadvertently causing the sonic boom.

Here’s  how the last part of the USAFE statement reads:

We offer our sincerest apologies for any disturbance or concern that this may have caused. We continue to emphasise airspeed restrictions in our pre-flight briefings to minimise the possibility of inadvertently breaching the sound barrier.

Supersonic flight over the land is usually forbidden for the military aircraft in normal, peacetime conditions except for specific areas.

In CONUS (Continental US) one of these areas is the HASSC (High Altitude Supersonic Corridor), located in Southern California. HASSC is used for flight testing, and it passes over Edwards Air Force Base. It is not the sole corridor of this type, but it is one of the few controlled by the military.

Most of these are within the FAA jurisdiction.

According to the FAA regulations the controlled airspace extends up to 60,000 feet. Anything flying above may fly at “unlimited speeds.”

There is no risk of noise pollution at these altitudes. Supersonic flights are of course permitted in special conditions, for example in case fighter jets have to intercept hijacked liners.

Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

 

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