Tag: Aircraft Carriers

Italian Air Force F-35B Lands On Italian Navy Aircraft Carrier For The First Time

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Italian Navy and Air Force F-35Bs together on the flight deck of ITS Cavour. (All images: Italian MOD)

During the joint drills, the Italian Air Force and Navy F-35B integrated aboard ITS Cavour for the very first time and also landed on HMS Queen Elizabeth.

A joint exercise, involving both the Italian Navy aircraft carrier Cavour and the Royal Navy HMS Queen Elizabeth, was carried out in the central Mediterranean Sea in the last few days. The drills, which officially ended on Nov. 21, 2021, saw several “firsts”: an F-35B of the Italian Air Force landed for the first time on the Italian Navy ; the Italian Air Force and Navy’s F-35Bs integrated for the first time aboard ITS Cavour before landing for the first time on HMS Queen Elizabeth; two operational U.S. Marine Corps F-35B deployed aboard HMSQE operated from the flight deck on the Italian for the first time.

The end of the international activity was closely observed by the recently appointed Chief of Defense Staff, Admiral Giuseppe Cavo Dragon, who was accompanied for the occasion by the Navy Chief of Staff, Admiral Enrico Credendino and by the Air Force Chief of Staff General Luca Goretti.

“The aerial activity aboard the Cavour aircraft carrier, carried out in full synergy between the Navy and the Air Force, represents a milestone in the development of the national ability to project the potential offered by the new fifth generation aircraft from the sea, the F-35B,” says a statement from the Italian MOD.

- Italian Air Force F-35B Lands On Italian Navy Aircraft Carrier For The First TimeThe Italian Navy F-35B next to the Italian Air Force F-35B aboard ITS Cavour.

Admiral Cavo Dragone, congratulating the Navy and Air Force personnel involved in the activity, highlighted how “in addition to the excellent skills already achieved by F-35A of the Air Force, both in the operational field and in real operations, today’s exercise represents a strong impetus in the process of developing the national air projection capacity from the sea, with the integration of fifth generation joint tactical multirole aircraft, allowing our country to be the only one able to guarantee this contribution within the European Union “.

As we have often commented in the past, the joint activity carried out in full synergy between the two Italian services was desirable as it paves the way for more integration: the Italian Government is currently procuring 90 F-35s, 60 of those are F-35As (that will be entirely operated by the Aeronautica Militare) and the remaining 30 ones are F-35Bs. Out of those 30 F-35Bs, 15 will go to the Marina Militare (Italian Navy) and 15 to the Air Force. The Lightning II will replace the Navy’s ageing AV-8B+ Harrier II and will be embarked on the Cavour aircraft carrier and the new LHD Trieste

As already explained in the past, the Gruppo Aerei Imbarcati “Wolves”, which will operate the F-35Bs within the Navy, is based in Grottaglie, close to the naval port of Taranto, home to the Cavour aircraft carrier [and to the Trieste landing helicopter dock (LHD), in the future] and not too far from Amendola, the Italian Air Force base that is the MOB (Main Operating Base) to both the F-35A and B of the Air Force. Although still far to become something real a joint Air Force/Navy flight line with common logistics and training, would make a lot of sense to make the best out of the whole Italian STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) fleet.

“The synergies between the Navy and the Air Force in the use of F-35Bs on board the aircraft carrier will also be achieved in use from the ground, operating jointly in operational situations where suitable landing strips for conventional aircraft are not available”.

- Italian Air Force F-35B Lands On Italian Navy Aircraft Carrier For The First TimeThe Chief Of Joint Staff Adm. Cavo Dragone greets the Italian Air Force F-35B pilot who have just landed on ITS Cavour.

Earlier this year, the Italian aircraft carrier ITS Cavour returned to Italy from the F-35B trials in the U.S. where it carried out an intense training activity with the U.S. Navy aimed at certifying its flight deck for new aircraft. After the successful Sea Trials, an Italian F-35B landed for the first time on the carrier in Italy. During the last days, as already mentioned, the carrier also interacted with the British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth on her way back to the UK after the maiden deployment dubbed CSG-21. Indeed, thanks to the high level of interoperability achieved, two Italian F-35Bs (one Navy and one Air Force) landed on HMSQE and at the same time two US Marine Corps F-35Bs, deployed aboard the British aircraft carrier, landed on the Italian aircraft carrier Cavour.

“In addition to the success of the joint activities carried out by the Italian Navy and Air Force aircraft on board Nave Cavour, today’s interaction with the British aircraft carrier group has made it possible to successfully test the joint technical-operational procedures aimed at achieving full interoperability between the two navies.

A few days ago, an F-35B of the RAF 617 Sqn embarked aboard HMSQE crashed for reasons currently being investigated.

f5260c1a4f5417527329915544c2932f?s=125&d=mm&r=g - Italian Air Force F-35B Lands On Italian Navy Aircraft Carrier For The First Time
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.

A 10-Meter Sailboat Collided With French Charles de Gaulle Aircraft Carrier Off Toulon

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gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - A 10-Meter Sailboat Collided With French Charles de Gaulle Aircraft Carrier Off Toulon
File photo of the Charles de Gaulle, the flagship of the French Navy. In the box, the sailboat involved in the collision with the aircraft carrier on Nov. 12, 2021. (Image credit: Marine Nationale)

No injuries were reported after a sailboat collided with the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier training off Toulon.

On Friday, Nov. 12, 2021, at around 7.30 AM LT, a 10-meter sailboat flying the Polish flag collided with the Marine Nationale (French Navy) aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle at around 40 nautical miles (70 km) to the southeast of the Hyères islands, the Maritime Prefecture of the Mediterranean announced. No injuries were reported, with material consequences only for the sailboat, that was dismasted.

The incident occurred as the flagship of the French Navy was conducting training activities off Toulon. “The Charles de Gaulle belatedly detected a sailboat of around ten meters at a very short distance, shortly before 07:30,” the report of the French authorities say. “Despite an emergency maneuver to avoid this sailboat and in the absence of its reaction, a collision occurred around 07:30 between the sailboat and the hull of the Charles de Gaulle.”

Immediately after the collision, the Charles de Gaulle started several actions to assess the status of the sailboat and its crew and to rescue them: radio contact was established with the skipper and an assistance team was launched.

The only person aboard the sailboat, the skipper, was unharmed; the sailboat’s hull was intact and the main damage to the small vessel was the loss of its mast.

Two Charles de Gaulle boats were used to secure the sailboat and prepare for towing, in difficult weather conditions (sea state 4, 25 knots of wind).

“At the same time, the Mediterranean operations center (COM) located at the maritime prefecture of the Mediterranean in Toulon, ordered the diversion of the chartered tug VN Rebel , in order to organize the towing of the sailboat to the port of Hyères. Carried out in conjunction with the Mediterranean Regional Operational Surveillance and Rescue Center (CROSS), the objective of this assistance operation, with the agreement of the owner of the sailboat, is to repatriate it to a port where it can deal with its damage. The actual towing of the sailboat began around 11:00 am, and its arrival at the port of Hyères is scheduled for around 6:00 PM.”

A technical investigation is underway, as always happens after a sea incident involving a French Navy vessel; however, the collision is not going to affect the training activities of the Charles de Gaulle, the Maritime Prefecture of the Mediterranean said.

The Charles de Gaulle and its carrier strike group returned to its homeport at Toulon after a nearly 4-month deployment last June.

Started on Feb. 21, 2021, the “Clemenceau 21” mission saw the French carrier strike group sail approximately 27,000 nautical miles between the Mediterranean, Red Sea, the Horn of Africa and Persian Gulf, support, under national command, also Operation Inherent Resolve and Chammal (the French military operation in Iraq and Syria launched in September 2014), and cooperate with several Allied and partner nations, including the British carrier strike group as part of the “Gallic Strike” Exercise in the Mediterranean Sea.

After returning from the deployment, the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle undertook a 3-month maintenance period and returned to service late in September. It will be involved in the high-intensity exercise Polaris in the next weeks.

f5260c1a4f5417527329915544c2932f?s=125&d=mm&r=g - A 10-Meter Sailboat Collided With French Charles de Gaulle Aircraft Carrier Off Toulon
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.

Watch This: Cockpit Video Of E-2 Hawkeye Landing On USS Theodore Roosevelt In Bad Weather

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gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - Watch This: Cockpit Video Of E-2 Hawkeye Landing On USS Theodore Roosevelt In Bad Weather
A screenshot of the E-2C trap landing video.

Did you know that the E-2 Hawkeye is considered one of the most difficult aircraft to land on a flattop?

Each airplane has its own peculiar features and needs to be handled differently while approaching the aircraft carrier for a trap landing. Because of its wingspan of 28 m (the largest among the aircraft that are assigned to an Air Wing), the E-2C Hawkeye is a particularly difficult aircraft to land on the flight deck. Even more so at night or in bad weather, as in the video you can find below.

The clip was filmed in December 2020, during USS Theodore Roosevelt’s SUSTEX (sustainment exercise) in preparation for deployment. SUSTEX is an integrated and comprehensive exercise designed to test the strike group’s ability to successfully carry out its mission, preserve freedom of the seas, deter aggression and, if needed, fight.

Last year, the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group consisted of Carrier Strike Group 9, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11, the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52), Destroyer Squadron 23, and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Russell (DDG 59) and USS John Finn (DDG 113).

Among the squadrons belonging to CVW-11 there were also the “Liberty Bells” of Airborne Command and Control Squadron (VAW) 115, equipped with the E-2C Hawkeye.

The footage gives an idea of the workload in the cockpit required to land the E-2 starting off “Clara” ship (unable to see glide slope, centerline, or the aircraft carrier itself) from the start (3/4 of a mile) until the in the middle (between 1/2 and 1/4 mile). At the end, as the Hawkeye approaches the fantail, below the cloud deck, the visibility improves and the flight deck becomes visible, despite some light rain.

As an E-2C NFO (Naval Flight Officer) told us when we published another clip showing a Hawkeye’s trap landing at night, “the E-2C has a spring loaded plate that, when engaged, prevents the power levers from being inadvertently retarded out of the flight range & into ground power range. During a CV landing/Touch & Go, SOP is to advance power smartly after touchdown so that the aircraft tries to fly itself off the flight deck in case of a ‘bolter’ (missed arresting wire) or a T&G. If the pilot were to retard the throttles into the ground range upon touchdown, power to sustain flight would not be available. The plane would dribble off the flight deck and end up ditching during a bolter/T&G. The power lever lock prevents this. Like a lot of aircraft mods, the power lever lock was added after a fatal E-2C CV landing mishap caused by exactly that mistake.”

Another thing that must be taken into consideration during the approach, is the aircraft’s rudder system.

“The E-2C has a complex rudder system since it needs full rudder authority at low speeds for landings and takeoffs, but at high IAS allowing the pilot to put in 20 degrees of rudder could easily cause the aircraft to exceed its max sideload capacity, with loss of control and/or aircraft failure the result. Above 150 IAS, the rudder authority is reduced from 20 to either 6 or 2 degrees by an automatic system. During the Climb checklist, the pilots will back up the Auto system by manually selecting 6-2 instead of 20. During the Approach checklist, the reverse occurs, with pilots selecting 20 again.”

Interestingly, each pilot has his own ditching hatch above his head, which is kept shut to reduce wind noise in the cockpit. The 3 NFOs share a single hatch and since they aren’t on the radios much during the approach, it’s deemed safer to remove the hatch rather than risk airframe deformation during a ditch preventing its removal after water impact.

This can be extremely important in case the cable snaps forcing the E-2 to ditch.

From the LSO (Landing Signal Officer) point of view the E-2C is also difficult to land: they consider it “an extremely tricky aircraft” which it’s better not to suggest any major adjustments to, because of the propeller-generated torque.

f5260c1a4f5417527329915544c2932f?s=125&d=mm&r=g - Watch This: Cockpit Video Of E-2 Hawkeye Landing On USS Theodore Roosevelt In Bad Weather
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.

US F-35Bs Board Japan’s Aircraft Carrier Becoming First Fixed-Wing Aircraft To Operate From Japanese Ship Since WWII

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gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - US F-35Bs Board Japan’s Aircraft Carrier Becoming First Fixed-Wing Aircraft To Operate From Japanese Ship Since WWII
A U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II aircraft with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 242 conducts a low pass next to the Japanese Ship Izumo off the coast of Japan, Oct. 3, 2021. U.S. Marines and Sailors embarked aboard the Japanese Ship Izumo in support of the first ever F-35B Lightning II operations aboard a Japanese vessel. The U.S. and Japan continue to work closely together to broaden their operational capabilities, support the Treaty of mutual Cooperation and Security, and maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tyler Harmon)

The U.S. Marine Corps F-35s are the first fixed-wing aircraft to operate from a Japanese ship since WW2, following the decision to convert the JS Izumo from helicopter carrier to light aircraft carrier and the plan to buy 42 F-35Bs.

The Japanese MInistry of Defense announced today the first landing of U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II jets on the JS Izumo, posting on Twitter photos and videos of the historic event. The JS Izumo completed the first part of the modifications required for the conversion from helicopter carrier to light aircraft carrier, becoming the first ship of this type in the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force since WW2. Also, the F-35s became the first fixed-wing aircraft to operate from a Japanese ship since WW2.

The JS Izumo is the lead ship of the Izumo class and, together with its sister ship JS Kaga, is the largest ship of the JMSDF. First launched in 2013, the Izumo already incorporated some design features to allow operations with fixed-wing wing aircraft, but the decision to finally convert it in an aircraft carrier only came in 2018. The first part of the modification works begun last year, with the ship receiving a new heat-resistant flight deck, new power supply equipment, lightning and deck markings.

The JMSDF then requested the collaboration of the United States for the testing, with the USMC deploying two F-35Bs of the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 242 “Bats” that landed on the Izumo for the first time on October 3, 2021. The two jets’ role is to verify that the F-35B can safely perform flight operations from the JS Izumo’s flight deck, before work resumes for the second round of modifications that will also involve the reshaping of the flight deck’s tapered ending to a squared surface.

For these trials, the JS Izumo was deployed to Iwakuni for a port visit before the beginning of the activities. MCAS Iwakuni is also home of VMFA-242, permanently stationed there together with VMFA-121 “Green Knights”. The unit declared the Initial Operational Capability last month, just 10 months after beginning the transition from the F/A-18 Hornet to the F-35B. During the trials, their F-35 also received the JS Izumo insignia on the tail, with a pilot showing a similar patch after landing.

“This trial has proved that the JS Izumo has the capability to support takeoffs and landings of STOVL aircraft at sea, which will allow us to provide an additional option for air defense in the Pacific Ocean in the near future”, said JMSDF Rear Admiral Shukaku Komuta, commander of Escort Flotilla One. “We still have work to do until the day the JSDF can regularly employ STOVL aircraft at sea, but I am confident that the strong partnership and mutual trust between our two counties will result in its realization.”

Following the decision to convert Izumo and Kaga from helicopter carriers to aircraft carriers, Japan decided to acquire an additional 100 F-35s, of which 42 are F-35Bs. The first 18 STOVL (Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing) aircraft are expected to be delivered in 2023, forming the first of two Japanese F-35B squadrons. It is estimated that about 12/14 F-35Bs can be embarked on the Izumo when operational.

“We have the utmost confidence in the Joint Strike Fighter and are eager for our Japanese allies to have the same capabilities in their hands, which ultimately contributes to our shared goal of maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific,” said Major General Brian W. Cavanaugh, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing Commanding General.

1c874047463801220adcba061ba371a3?s=125&d=mm&r=g - US F-35Bs Board Japan’s Aircraft Carrier Becoming First Fixed-Wing Aircraft To Operate From Japanese Ship Since WWII
Stefano D’Urso is a contributor for TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. He’s a full-time engineering student and aspiring pilot. In his spare time he’s also an amateur aviation photographer and flight simulation enthusiast.

The Royal Navy Is Operating Crewed And Uncrewed Aircraft From The HMS Prince Of Wales Aircraft Carrier

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A Banshee Jet 80+ target drone in the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm livery on the HMS Prince of Wales. (Photo: Royal Navy)

The aircraft carrier is testing the Banshee target drone as a training, testing and evaluation method for simulating airborne targets at sea ahead of the participation to Exercise Joint Warrior.

The HMS Prince of Wales is at sea again on the way to the Scottish coast, where she will take part to Exercise Joint Warrior, scheduled from Sept. 27 to Oct. 4, 2021. The Royal Navy is moving at a fast pace to get the second aircraft carrier of the Queen Elizabeth class fully operational and ready for deployment, after the F-35B Lightning II first landed on the ship in June 2021.

Earlier this summer, the HMS Prince of Wales was involved in the Sea Acceptance Trials, testing the ship’s capability to receive and launch aircraft and sustain continuous air operations. In addition to the Royal Navy Merlin and Wildcat helicopters and the Royal Air Force F-35B, the carrier also launched and recovered Chinook and Apache helicopters, before completing Basic Sea Training and sailing for a quick visit to Gibraltar.

More recently, at the beginning of September, the ship’s official Twitter account disclosed the beginning of a test campaign with the QinetiQ Banshee target drone, which is being evaluated for a training, testing and evaluation method for simulating airborne targets at sea. The post shows a twin-engine drone, mentioning that it can reach speeds up to 200 metres/second (about 388 knots) and thus allowing us to identify it as the Banshee Jet 80+. The Banshee is fitted with two gas turbine engines that provide 45 kg of thrust each, for a total of 90 kg of static thrust. Fitted with an auxiliary fuel tank, the drone can fly for more than 45 minutes with a range of more than 100 km.

The Banshee can be fitted with an IR Hot Nose to provide, together with the engines’ own IR signature, an all-aspect Infra-Red source to act as a realistic target for IR-guided weapons. Another possible payload is the Rattler Ground Air-Launched Supersonic Target, designed to realistically replicate air-launched Anti-Radiation Missiles (ARMs) and Supersonic High-Diver threats and capable of speeds of between Mach 1.8 to Mach 2.5. Neither of those payloads was tested aboard the HMS Prince of Wales, according to the photos published by the Royal Navy. We did however notice that the Banshee, after the first days onboard with the classic orange livery usually seen on target drones, is now wearing a Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm grey livery.

- The Royal Navy Is Operating Crewed And Uncrewed Aircraft From The HMS Prince Of Wales Aircraft CarrierAn F-35B Lightning II prepares to launch from the HMS Prince of Wales. (Photo: Royal Navy)

It is not known at this time if the tests with the Banshee are in some way related to Project Vixen, the project that aims to create an autonomous carrier-launched wingman. This program presents many similarities with the Royal Air Force Project Mosquito, part of the bigger Lightweight Affordable Novel Combat Aircraft (LANCA) concept that will offer increased protection, survivability and information for the manned aircraft. One of the focus points of the program is to create a drone costing approximately £ 10M or a tenth of the cost of an F-35B.

According to previous official statements, it is likely that Vixen will be a derivative of Mosquito which has been adapted for carrier operations: “The RAF envisions an aircraft derived from LANCA’s Mosquito phase being used on the Royal Navy’s aircraft carriers alongside F-35B Lightnings”, said last year Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston, Chief of the Air Staff of the Royal Air Force.

Some clues in a Request For Information (RFI) of the British government for aircraft launch and recovery equipment suggest that Vixen might be catapult-launched and recovered via arrestor cables, in what is commonly known as “cat and trap” system. The document mentions an electromagnetic catapult able to launch aircraft up to a maximum weight of 55,000 pounds (slightly less than the 60,000 pounds Maximum Take-Off Weight of the F-35B) and arrestor solutions for the recovery of aircraft between a maximum of 47,000 pounds and a minimum of 11,000 pounds.

Another interesting detail mentioned in the RFI is that the equipment could be used for both crewed and un-crewed air vehicles and should be ready for installation on the ship within three to five years. The latter detail would also fit the expected timeline for LANCA, which could be first deployed alongside the Typhoon and the F-35 by the end of the decade, before the entry into service of the new Tempest in 2035. As we already reported, the LANCA project was started to understand innovative combat air technologies and concepts under the Future Combat Air System Technology Initiative (FCAS TI), the same programme which generated the Tempest 6th generation aircraft.

1c874047463801220adcba061ba371a3?s=125&d=mm&r=g - The Royal Navy Is Operating Crewed And Uncrewed Aircraft From The HMS Prince Of Wales Aircraft Carrier
Stefano D’Urso is a contributor for TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. He’s a full-time engineering student and aspiring pilot. In his spare time he’s also an amateur aviation photographer and flight simulation enthusiast.

USMC F-35Bs Have Landed At RAF Lakenheath For Upcoming HMS Queen Elizabeth’s Indo-Pacific Deployment

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gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - USMC F-35Bs Have Landed At RAF Lakenheath For Upcoming HMS Queen Elizabeth’s Indo-Pacific Deployment
The CAG bird of VMFA-211 lands at RAF Lakenheath on Apr. 26, 2021. (All images credit: Stewart Jack)

USMC F-35Bs have arrived at RAF Lakenheath to deploy aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Split into two sections, each including 5 jets, a total of 10 USMC F-35Bs aircraft have arrived at RAF Lakenheath, UK. The first five jets landed on Apr. 26, 2021; the remaining ones arrived at the base in Suffolk, England, on Apr. 28, 2021.

The USMC F-35Bs aircraft belong to the VMFA-211 Wake Island Avengers, based at MCAS (Marine Corps Air Station) Yuma, Arizona, and, in the next weeks, they will depart RAF Lakenheath to head to the HMS Queen Elizabeth, for UK’s new aircraft carrier’s first operational deployment. The photographs in this article were taken by The Aviationist‘s contributor Stewart Jack as the first section of USMC F-35Bs landed at RAF Lakenheath on Monday.

“Moving the Marines, aircraft and equipment to the United Kingdom required coordinated planning, complex logistical effort, diligent maintenance and seamless execution,” said Lt. Col. Andrew D’Ambrogi, the commanding officer of VMFA-211 in a public release. “Now that we have arrived in the United Kingdom, we are reintegrating with our UK counterparts and focused on providing both the commodore of CSG-21 and US combatant commanders with ready, combat-capable, 5th-generation aircraft.”

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One of the F-35Bs of the first section lands at RAF Lankenheath at sunset.

As part of the Covid-19 mitigation measures, VMFA-211 pilots will complete a 14-day restriction-of-movement prior to boarding HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Heading to the danger zone

On her maiden operational cruise, HMS QE will travel to the Indo Pacific region leading the largest naval and air task force under British command since the Falklands war.

The naval line-up is going to include: Type 45 destroyers, HMS Defender and HMS Diamond; Type 23 anti-submarine frigates, HMS Kent and HMS Richmond; and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary’s logistics ships Fort Victoria and Tidespring; along with an Astute-class nuclear submarine will accompany the British aircraft carrier along with U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS The Sullivans and a Dutch frigate, HNLMS Evertse. During the 28-week deployment, the 10x VMFA-211 F-35Bs will operate alongside with 8x F-35Bs belonging to the Royal Air Force No. 617 Squadron “Dambusters”.

The two units have already carried out joint training last year, when 10x F-35Bs of the “Wake Island Avengers” landed at RAF Marham on Sept. 3, 2020 to prepare the 2021 deployment. After local area training sorties with the Dambusters, the USMC F-35Bs took part in Exercise Point Blank with the F-15s from RAF Lakenheath and other NATO nations, before going to sea aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth for carrier qualifications and Exercise Joint Warrior 20-2.

Along with the 18x STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) aircraft (10 USMC F-35Bs currently at Lakenheath and 8 RAF F-35Bs from RAF Marham), the air component of the Carrier Strike Group will include 4x AW159 Wildcat and 10x Merlin helicopters. It’s not clear whether the latter will carry the Crowsnest AEW (Airborne Early Warning) system, although it seems quite likely. Here’s what we wrote in the article covering the deployment of the VMFA-211 to RAF Marham in September last year, quoting Save the Royal Navy:

Crowsnest will not formally achieve Initial Operating Capability until September 2021 but 3 of the 9 Merlins are planned to be fitted with pre-IOC standard kits. At least the CGS will have some kind of Airborne Surveillance and Control capability, even if not properly certified and complete. In a significant change of plan, 849 Naval Air Squadron, which had been the ASaC squadron equipped with Sea Kings and was supposed to transition to Crowsnest, was disbanded in April 2020. The role will now be absorbed into 820 NAS. The squadron will have two streams of observers that specialise in either, anti-submarine warfare or ASaC. The RN has just 30 Merlin Mk2 helicopters, airframes are in short supply.

Merlin Mk4s will also be deployed and maybe ‘FOBed’ (Forward Operating Base) on RFA For Victoria or the tanker. For parts of the deployment, the RFAs and warships may detach and operate independently of the main CSG. USMC V-22 Ospreys will not be permanently embarked on the carrier but, together with CH-53E Stallions, may be used to provide Maritime Intra-Theatre Lift to the carrier group as it moves around the world, supported by the global US military logistic support footprint.

The CSG led by HMS Queen Elizabeth will set sail towards the troubled waters of the Indo-Pacific region, an area of rising tensions with China.

According to the Independent, “the UK Carrier Strike Group will carry out engagements with the navies of India and Japan, who are in dispute over land and sea borders respectively with Beijing, as well as the navies of South Korea and Singapore. All four countries being visited are considered the west’s allies in countering what is seen as China’s expansionist strategy in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.”

USMC F 35B to RAF Lakenheath 4 - USMC F-35Bs Have Landed At RAF Lakenheath For Upcoming HMS Queen Elizabeth’s Indo-Pacific Deployment
The F-35Bs that arrived in the UK on Apr. 26 were: 169621/CF-01; 169607/CF-06; 169416/CF-03; 169608/CF-07; 169589/CF-04.

f5260c1a4f5417527329915544c2932f?s=125&d=mm&r=g - USMC F-35Bs Have Landed At RAF Lakenheath For Upcoming HMS Queen Elizabeth’s Indo-Pacific Deployment
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.

Check Out This Cool New Video of Chinese Navy Carrier Ops the Week They Launched 3 New Warships

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gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - Check Out This Cool New Video of Chinese Navy Carrier Ops the Week They Launched 3 New Warships
A Chinese J-15 Flying Shark launches off the new Type 002 aircraft carrier Shandong- (Photo: CCTV via YouTube)

Chinese Navy on A Tear to Assert Global Reach with New Carriers and Warships.

While the Chinese military has been on a tear of introducing new weapons systems and platforms, this past week was remarkable even compared to their recent pace of rapid military expansion.

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy, or “PLAN”, launched three newly commissioned warships and released a fascinating new video showcasing operations on their newest and first domestically produced aircraft carrier, the Shandong Type 002 this past week.

The big week in Chinese Naval expansion raised eyebrows of military observers around the world as China exerts and expands influence in their own regional waters and also continues an effort to project power in the seas off Africa’s east coast.

ChinaUpdate 40 - Check Out This Cool New Video of Chinese Navy Carrier Ops the Week They Launched 3 New Warships
The three new Chinese naval vessels at their combined launch ceremony last week. (Photo: via China Update/Chinese State Media)

The three new ships launched last week by the Chinese Navy include the nuclear-powered fleet ballistic missile submarine “Changzheng-18”. The new Changzheng-18, a Type 094A Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile platform, is somewhat comparable to, although about 20% shorter than, the U.S. Navy’s current Ohio Class fleet ballistic missile submarine. The Changzheng-18 carries 12 of China’s highly capable JL-2 SLBMs (Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile). The JL-2 SLBM or “Giant Wave 2” is a second-generation intercontinental range nuclear missile with up to three independent warheads and a range of 7,200 kilometers.

Chinese state media covering the launch of the three new ships were careful to characterize the Changzheng-18 nuclear fleet ballistic missile submarine as a weapon meant for “second strike” in retaliation for an initial attack against China, not an offensive weapon for first-strike power projection. Conversely, the new Yussan-Class “Hainan” Type 075 amphibious assault ship is more specifically configured for power projection and, according to state media, is, “used to land on enemy territories”. This ship is roughly analogous the U.S. Navy’s “America” and “Wasp” class of amphibious assault ship or “gator freighter”.

ChinaUpdate 20 - Check Out This Cool New Video of Chinese Navy Carrier Ops the Week They Launched 3 New Warships
The new Chinese fleet ballistic missile submarine Changzheng-18 at its launch ceremony last week. (Photo: via China Update/Chinese State Media)

The mission of this ship is interesting given China’s recent military adventures in Africa, including the establishment of a military base in Djibouti in 2017. The Chinese military mission on the African continent is stated as including, “anti-piracy, intelligence collection, peacekeeping operations, counterterrorism and non-combat evacuation operations”.

The Chinese international counterterrorism and non-combatant evacuation missions in Africa were showcased in real life, and in popular Chinese action cinema during the March, 2015 rescue missions in Yemen. The Chinese military successfully rescued over 620 Chinese citizens and 270 foreign citizens in a series of daring operations conducted over 12 days in Djibouti by Chinese special forces and naval assets. In all, civilians from 15 different countries received rescue and aid from the Chinese military.

The daring real-world 2015 Chinese special operations rescue mission from local insurgents in Africa was dramatized (and embellished) in the wildly popular 2018 Chinese-Hong Kong action movie, “Operation Red Sea”. The movie was a smash-hit in China, grossing over 3.36 billion yuan ($531 million) at the box office in its opening weeks. “Operation Red Sea” became the third highest grossing Chinese film ever, according to the Chinese film database and ticketing platform Maoyan.

The third ship launched by the Chinese Navy last week was the new “Dalian” Type 055 destroyer. The Type 055 destroyer, also known as the “Renhai-Class Cruiser” by NATO, is an advanced, low-observable guided missile and air defense destroyer meant to accompany a carrier battle group. The ship also includes a significant anti-submarine warfare capability. The new Dalian and the previous two, and planned five more Renhai-Class/Type 055 ships are heavily armed with a 112-cell vertical launch missile system distributed on the fore and aft decks. The ship also packs an updated H/PJ-38 130mm naval gun and a Close-In Weapons System (CIWS) for missile and aircraft defense among other weapons.

ChinaUpdate 30 - Check Out This Cool New Video of Chinese Navy Carrier Ops the Week They Launched 3 New Warships
A Chinese H/PJ-38 130mm deck gun as seen on deck of a Renhai-Class Type 055 destroyer of the same type launched earlier this week. (Photo: Xianwen Lianbo via Twitter)

In addition to the three new ship launches, Chinese state media network CCTV released an excellent new video showing flight operations and an insider’s look at the beautiful new aircraft carrier Shandong. The Shandong, China’s first domestically-produced aircraft carrier, was launched on April 26, 2017. The ship’s design is updated from previous Chinese carriers that were acquired from Russia. Shandong, however, is greatly advanced over previous Chinese carriers.


The new video shows a well-drilled crew presenting the ship’s features and an interesting look at how clean and advanced the new vessel is. There is also some great video of flight operations with Chinese J-15 Flying Shark aircraft.

The new ship launches and media not only emphasize China’s more open attitude about showcasing their increasing military capabilities, they also give further reason for most western observers to reconsider underestimating Chinese military capabilities. The idea that China’s naval, air and land-based military assets are somehow second-rate to western peers has rapidly become outdated and ill-informed as China continues impressive growth of their global military capabilities.

837c2d9d6db24da308bea1fe1cf06f9a?s=125&d=mm&r=g - Check Out This Cool New Video of Chinese Navy Carrier Ops the Week They Launched 3 New Warships
Tom Demerly is a feature writer, journalist, photographer and editorialist who has written articles that are published around the world on TheAviationist.com, TACAIRNET.com, Outside magazine, Business Insider, We Are The Mighty, The Dearborn Press & Guide, National Interest, Russia’s government media outlet Sputnik, and many other publications. Demerly studied journalism at Henry Ford College in Dearborn, Michigan. Tom Demerly served in an intelligence gathering unit as a member of the U.S. Army and Michigan National Guard. His military experience includes being Honor Graduate from the U.S. Army Infantry School at Ft. Benning, Georgia (Cycle C-6-1) and as a Scout Observer in a reconnaissance unit, Company “F”, 425th INF (RANGER/AIRBORNE), Long Range Surveillance Unit (LRSU). Demerly is an experienced parachutist, holds advanced SCUBA certifications, has climbed the highest mountains on three continents and visited all seven continents and has flown several types of light aircraft.

U.S. Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey Conducts Qualifications Flights Aboard Italian Aircraft Carrier Cavour

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gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - U.S. Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey Conducts Qualifications Flights Aboard Italian Aircraft Carrier Cavour
USMC MV-22B Osprey pilots conduct night deck landing qualifications aboard the Italian Navy aircraft carrier Cavour, off the Maryland coast. (Image credit: USMC)

After completing the Sea Trials with the U.S. Marine Corps F-35B, the aircraft carrier Cavour conducted training with a USMC MV-22B Osprey.

As already reported, the Italian Navy has recently declared the successful completion of the “sea trials” for the operational use of the F-35B, the STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) variant of the Joint Strike Fighter that will replace the service’s AV-8B+ Harrier II jet.

The “Ready for Operation” campaign included various compatibility tests carried out with two specially-instrumented U.S. F-35Bs belonging to VX-23 (Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23) from Naval Air Station Patuxent River (NAS Pax River), Maryland. The “sea trials” lasted four weeks and ended on Mar. 26, 2021, with the return of the carrier to Norfolk.

Interestingly, the Italian Navy’s flagship was also involved in take-off and landing training with a U.S. Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.

The purpose of the activity was to verify the compatibility of the flight deck with the American tactical transport aircraft.

Back in 2015, Boeing considered the Italian Navy among the possible export customers for their V-22 platform, considered its ability to carry the F-35’s Pratt & Whitney F135 turbofan in its cargo bay (a capability required to support blue waters engine replacement) and to operate from the flight deck of the current and future aircraft carriers, including the new LHD Trieste.

While the interest in the Osprey has probably cooled now, the interoperability between the platform and the Italian Navy’s flagship is needed to “increase interoperability between the USMC and the Italian Navy, and increase the operational reach of Naval forces for crisis or contingency response or in the event of conflict.”

Moreover, Italy has shown interest in the U.S. Future Vertical Lift helicopter initiative, that sees the Bell V-280 Valor tilt-rotor aircraft, developed by Bell and Lockheed Martin, among the contenders. Tilt-rotor designs are also being developed as part of the unmanned V-247 Vigilant tiltrotor concept for the US Marine Corps (USMC) and might be considered for the US Navy’s (USN’s) Future Vertical Lift (FVL) Maritime Strike programme: this means that interoperability tests with tilt-rotors make perfect sense for the Italian Navy and ITS Cavour to prepare the future at-sea operations.

MV 22B Cavour - U.S. Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey Conducts Qualifications Flights Aboard Italian Aircraft Carrier Cavour
Interoperability tests aboard ITS Cavour. (Image credit: Italian Navy)

After completing the “Sea Trials”, the ITS Cavour will carry out carrier qualification of the six Italian Naval Aviators that completed their transition on the F-35B at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Beaufort, South Carolina, and then head back to Italy, where the Italian Navy is planning to perform the first flight activities with an Italian F-35B from the Cavour. The aircraft that should be used will be the fourth F-35B built in Italy and the third to be delivered to the Navy. As we mentioned in previous articles, the first two aircraft built went to the Navy and are now in Beaufort for pilot training, while the third one was delivered to the Air Force. Italy has plans to procure a total of 90 F-35s for the Italian Air Force and Navy: 60 F-35As and 30 F-35Bs (15 for the Marina Militare and 15 for the Aeronautica Militare).

f5260c1a4f5417527329915544c2932f?s=125&d=mm&r=g - U.S. Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey Conducts Qualifications Flights Aboard Italian Aircraft Carrier Cavour
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.

Here Are The First Photos Of The US F-35B (With Special Tail Marking) Operating Aboard Italy’s Aircraft Carrier Cavour

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gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - Here Are The First Photos Of The US F-35B (With Special Tail Marking) Operating Aboard Italy’s Aircraft Carrier Cavour
The first F-35B about to land aboard ITS Cavour. Highlighted is the special tail marking for the sea trials (Image credit: Italian Navy edit: The Aviationist)

The Italian Navy has just released the first shots of the VX-23 F-35B aircraft taking part in the certification of the compatibility between the 5th generation fighter aircraft and Italy’s aircraft carrier ITS Cavour. At least one, sports a new, special sea trials tail marking.

The Marina Militare (Italian Navy) has just released some interesting shots showing the U.S. F-35B from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23 (VX-23) at Naval Air Station Patuxent River (NAS Pax River), Maryland, operating aboard Italian aircraft carrier ITS Cavour, off the US East Coast.

The two specially instrumented U.S. F-35Bs of the Integrated Test Force (ITF) landed aboard the Italian Navy flagship to being the sea trials that will verify the compatibility between the 5th generation fighter aircraft and the ITS Cavour. The trials also represent an important step towards declaring the Initial Operation Capability (IOC) of the F-35B in the Italian Navy, expected by 2024.

As already explained in a previous article, the of the F-35Bs aboard Cavour was a significant milestone for the Italian naval service, as it prepares to operate the 5th gen. stealth jet from an aircraft carrier.

Primo appontaggio F35 LCH 30 - Here Are The First Photos Of The US F-35B (With Special Tail Marking) Operating Aboard Italy’s Aircraft Carrier Cavour
An F-35B landing aboard Italy’s aircraft carrier Cavour off the U.S. East Coast. (Italian Navy)

The photographs that the Italian Navy has released show the two F-35Bs during the first vertical landing aboard the aircraft carrier and operating on the flight deck of Cavour.

f35 MC 7 - Here Are The First Photos Of The US F-35B (With Special Tail Marking) Operating Aboard Italy’s Aircraft Carrier Cavour
One of the two F-35Bs about to perform a vertical landing aboard Cavour. (Italian Navy)
f35 MC 5 - Here Are The First Photos Of The US F-35B (With Special Tail Marking) Operating Aboard Italy’s Aircraft Carrier Cavour
An F-35B of VX-23 about to land. (Italian Navy)

Interestingly, one of the shots unveils the special tail marking applied to the right tail of the F-35B 168717/69 that celebrates the sea trials activity aboard Italy’s aircraft carrier. It’s not clear whether the other aircraft sports the same marking too.

Highlight markings - Here Are The First Photos Of The US F-35B (With Special Tail Marking) Operating Aboard Italy’s Aircraft Carrier Cavour
The F-35B with the special marking on the right hand tail. (Image credit: Italian Navy / edit: The Aviationist)

f5260c1a4f5417527329915544c2932f?s=125&d=mm&r=g - Here Are The First Photos Of The US F-35B (With Special Tail Marking) Operating Aboard Italy’s Aircraft Carrier Cavour
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.

This Is The Most Detailed Walkaround Tour Of A Blue Angels F/A-18C Hornet We’ve Ever Seen

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gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - This Is The Most Detailed Walkaround Tour Of A Blue Angels F/A-18C Hornet We’ve Ever Seen
A screenshot from the walkaround video of the F/A-18C Hornet. (Image via Erik Johnston)

Walkaround videos are great. This one, featuring a Legacy F/A-18C Hornet of the Blue Angels, is simply amazing.

Lcdr Jerry “JD” Deren is a former U.S. Navy pilot. He spent 13 years in the service, nine of those flying the Hornet, both the A/C and D “Legacy” variants as well as the current “E” and “F” Super Hornet variants totalling 2,000 flight hours and about 325 arrested landings. In the last three years of this active duty career, “JD” joined the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron flying #3 and #4 positions with the Blue Angels.

Therefore, there are few more qualified pilots than Lcdr Deren to provide a detailed walkaround tour of the F/A-18 Legacy Hornet, an airframe on loan from the National Naval Aviation Museum at Pensacola, Florida, and displayed at the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas Love Field, Texas.

The walkaround tour, filmed and produced by our friend Erik Jonhston provides a lot of interesting details, including some scarcely known ones. Among them, did you know that attached to the nose gear of the F/A-18 there are the angle of attack indicators? These lights are used by LSOs (Landing Signal Officers) who, from their station, have the ability to see these lights and have an indication whether or not the pilot is flying an on speed approach. USN pilots fly on speed angle of attack as opposed to indicated air speed. The reason is that in the F/A-18, 8.1 degrees is the optimum angle of attack. That AOA translates into the air speed that allows the pilot to better control the aircraft: “You’re not so slow that you’re close to stalling but you’re not so flat and fast that the hook has a good chance of skipping the arresting gear.”

Therefore, at 8.1 degree AOA, the center light, the amber one, is going to be lit up and the pilot has the same indication from the meatball on the left hand side of his peripheral vision.

Another little known detail mentioned in the video is that the max tire speed in the Hornet is 190 knots: while this is not a speed that a Hornet will reach with wheels down in carrier operations, it’s a limit that can be reached during high hot summer ops at NAS Fallon, Nevada, when the aircraft, with a significant payload, could reach 185 knots before nosewheel liftoff! BTW, 210 knots is the limit on the main mounts.

Ok, after an overview of the external probes, ladder, engine nozzles, wings, etc. you reach the 43 minute mark, where you start being introduced to the cockpit of the Bug!

“JD” provides a really interesting description of the primarily glass cockpit with multi-function displays of the F/A-18C that allow the pilot really to select and manage all modes everything from fuel transfer to systems troubleshooting to radar displays, ECM, all the stores and navigation pages. Interestingly, we learn that F-18 pilots are accused of being HUD cripples because there’s so much information available in the heads-up display, not only in instrument flight to approaches to the carrier but in air-to-air air-to-ground missions and what it allows the pilot to do is spend a lot more time with his head up and out of the cockpit: “we say you know get your head up out of the drill bucket and uh and get your eyeballs out because that’s where the threat is.”

The former Blue Angels fighter jock then explains the HOTAS (Hands On Throttle And Stick) switches on both the control stick and throttles, the various handles and also something that is missing from the airframe: a kind of an old school track and field stop watch mounted on the front panel that’s used by the solo pilots #5 and #6 along with visual checkpoints at 3, 2, 1 and 1/2 mile and specific Ground Speeds to try to get a perfect hit or cross right at the center of the display area.

Another interesting bit comes from a fun story “JD” recalls when showing the “grimes light” used for emergencies: in case the pilot experienced a dual generator failure some sort of total electrical failure the light is always able to be powered up so at least the pilot can turn it on, shine it on the standby gyro and at least he/she can have an attitude indicator and hopefully can get it back on deck. Typically US pilots will leave this stored and secured where it is, while in Australia they have a procedure for flying at night and that is to clip the grimes light in a position that if the pilot were to lose total electricity and turn it on it’s going to shine directly on the standby instrument so they’re not fumbling around and trying to get the light up there. Actually, that’s one thing that’s different about the RAAF Hornets and it’s their canopy switch which is guarded and sits right underneath the starboard rail, whereas the U.S. one is somewhat easy to access, because it’s not a guarded switch: if you for some reason reach it, you simply jettison the canopy.

One night, an Aussie exchange pilot was flying a bombing training run with some new F-18 pilots out in NAS Fallon. “As was his habit pattern, he rigged up the grimes light right where it’s supposed to be according to the Aussie standard operating procedures and we rolled in on the first dive and he dropped his bombs and per procedure did a real aggressive 4-5g pull out max power climbing away trying to get away from the frag pattern. But in doing so the grimes light was perfectly positioned in the wrong location: it rotated forward and the trailing edge edge clipped the canopy switch and as soon as that thing the seal broke and hit the wind stream it was gone. So he was in convertible mode very loud very dark couldn’t say anything hear anything. He was effectively NORDO [NO RADIO]. He did a great job of getting it back aboard but, uh needless to say, he had to alter his night flying uh procedures for the grimes light!”

f5260c1a4f5417527329915544c2932f?s=125&d=mm&r=g - This Is The Most Detailed Walkaround Tour Of A Blue Angels F/A-18C Hornet We’ve Ever Seen
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.
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