Tag: Black Sea

Aboard Moskva: That Time We Got An Unprecedented Tour Of The Russian Guided-Missile Cruiser

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Aboard Moskva: That Time We Got An Unprecedented Tour Of The Russian Guided-Missile Cruiser
The Russian Navy Moskva in February 2008. (All images: Giovanni Maduli/TheAviationist)

Years ago we had the unique chance to visit the Russian guided missile cruiser “Moskva”. And here are all the photographs we took during that unprecedented tour.

As explained in detail in a previous article, the Project 1164 Slava class cruiser Moskva, the flagship of the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet, suffered heavy damage and its 510-crew forced to evacuate. The guided missile cruiser, that eventually sank, was operating in the Black Sea when an explosion occurred: the Russians claim that a fire broke out on board causing ammunition to explode, whereas the Ukrainians claim the Moskva was hit by anti-ship missiles.

Moskva is considered one of the Russian Navy’s most important warships and a key asset to support the Odesa beach landing. That’s why the loss is a significant blow for Russia. Because of its armament, the warship is considered as a credible anti-access/area denial asset which essentially restricted the movements of Ukrainian forces in the south of the country. The Mosvka was previously deployed in the Syria conflict where it supplied Russian forces in the country with naval protection in exactly the same role, following the downing of a Russian Su-24 by the Turkish Air Force in 2015.

Moskva was built in Ukraine during the Soviet-era and entered service in the early 1980s with the name Slava, before being recommissioned in 2000 with the current name. The cruiserunderwent a major refit five years ago, and in its current configuration is armed with 16 P-1000 Vulkan anti-ship missiles, 64 S-300F (SA-N-6 Grumble) long-range surface-to-air missiles, 40 OSA-MA (SA-N-4 Gecko) short-range surface-to-air missiles, a twin AK-130 130mm dual purpose gun, as well as six AK-630 close-in weapon systems and electronic warfare systems and decoys to provide a high degree of protection.

Earlier, in 2008, the warship made a port visit to Civitavecchia in central Italy, on the Tyrrhenian Sea. Those were much different times: back then, the Russian warship made the port call along with the Italian Frigate Maestrale. They spent together a few days at the port located about 60 kilometers to the northwest of Rome before departing for a joint naval exercise in the Mediterranean Sea.

<img data-attachment-id="79351" data-permalink="https://theaviationist.com/2008/02/09/the-guided-missile-cruiser-moskva-at-civitavecchia/moskva-civitavecchia/" data-orig-file="https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-2.jpg" data-orig-size="683,630" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"10","credit":"","camera":"Canon EOS 5D","caption":"","created_timestamp":"1202471044","copyright":"","focal_length":"40","iso":"100","shutter_speed":"0.005","title":"","orientation":"1"}" data-image-title="Moskva Civitavecchia" data-image-description data-image-caption="

A look at the bow section of the Moskva.

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A look at the bow section of the Moskva.

The port visit of the Russian guided missile cruiser was announced by the Marina Militare (Italian Navy) on their official website: the ship arrived on Feb. 5 and could be visited on Feb. 7, 2008, the day before sailing away to take part in the drills. The Aviationist‘s Giovanni Maduli went aboard the ship and took the exclusive images you can find in this post, the wide majority of those were never released before.

These detailed shots provide an unprecedented look at the flagship of the Russian Navy Black Sea fleet before it was damaged.

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The stern of Moskva.

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The stern of Moskva.
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Boarding the cruiser.

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Boarding the cruiser.
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Fire control radar of the S300F system.

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Fire control radar of the S300F system.
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The radar mast.

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The radar mast.
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A look at the Long-range anti-ship missile launchers

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A look at the Long-range anti-ship missile launchers
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Flag at the bow.

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Flag at the bow.
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The Ka-27 helicopter.

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The Ka-27 helicopter.
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45-mm naval anti-aircraft gun.

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45-mm naval anti-aircraft gun.
<img data-attachment-id="79373" data-permalink="https://theaviationist.com/2022/04/14/aboard-moskva/moskva_civitavecchia_2008_12/" data-orig-file="https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-11.jpg" data-orig-size="683,1024" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"10","credit":"","camera":"Canon EOS 5D","caption":"","created_timestamp":"1202470050","copyright":"","focal_length":"24","iso":"100","shutter_speed":"0.005","title":"","orientation":"1"}" data-image-title="Moskva_Civitavecchia_2008_12" data-image-description data-image-caption="

Aboard the Moskva.

” data-medium-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-51.jpg” data-large-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-11.jpg” loading=”lazy” class=”size-full wp-image-79373″ src=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-11.jpg” alt width=”683″ height=”1024″ srcset=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-11.jpg 683w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-51.jpg 307w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Moskva_Civitavecchia_2008_12-64×96.jpg 64w” sizes=”(max-width: 683px) 100vw, 683px”>

Aboard the Moskva.
<img data-attachment-id="79374" data-permalink="https://theaviationist.com/2022/04/14/aboard-moskva/moskva_civitavecchia_2008_13/" data-orig-file="https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-12.jpg" data-orig-size="683,1024" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"7.1","credit":"","camera":"Canon EOS 5D","caption":"","created_timestamp":"1202470013","copyright":"","focal_length":"60","iso":"100","shutter_speed":"0.00625","title":"","orientation":"1"}" data-image-title="Moskva_Civitavecchia_2008_13" data-image-description data-image-caption="

Long range 3d mp-800 radar.

” data-medium-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-52.jpg” data-large-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-12.jpg” loading=”lazy” class=”size-full wp-image-79374″ src=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-12.jpg” alt width=”683″ height=”1024″ srcset=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-12.jpg 683w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-52.jpg 307w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Moskva_Civitavecchia_2008_13-64×96.jpg 64w” sizes=”(max-width: 683px) 100vw, 683px”>

Long range 3d mp-800 radar.
<img data-attachment-id="79376" data-permalink="https://theaviationist.com/2022/04/14/aboard-moskva/moskva_civitavecchia_2008_15/" data-orig-file="https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Moskva_Civitavecchia_2008_15.jpg" data-orig-size="1024,683" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"9","credit":"","camera":"Canon EOS 5D","caption":"","created_timestamp":"1202469942","copyright":"","focal_length":"24","iso":"100","shutter_speed":"0.00625","title":"","orientation":"1"}" data-image-title="Moskva_Civitavecchia_2008_15" data-image-description data-image-caption="

The multipurpose AK-130 130-mm gun.

” data-medium-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-53.jpg” data-large-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-13.jpg” loading=”lazy” class=”size-large wp-image-79376″ src=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-13.jpg” alt width=”706″ height=”471″ srcset=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-13.jpg 706w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-53.jpg 460w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-54.jpg 128w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-55.jpg 768w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Moskva_Civitavecchia_2008_15.jpg 1024w” sizes=”(max-width: 706px) 100vw, 706px”>

The multipurpose AK-130 130-mm gun.
<img data-attachment-id="79378" data-permalink="https://theaviationist.com/2022/04/14/aboard-moskva/moskva_civitavecchia_2008_17/" data-orig-file="https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Moskva_Civitavecchia_2008_17.jpg" data-orig-size="1024,683" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"7.1","credit":"","camera":"Canon EOS 5D","caption":"","created_timestamp":"1202469871","copyright":"","focal_length":"95","iso":"100","shutter_speed":"0.003125","title":"","orientation":"1"}" data-image-title="Moskva_Civitavecchia_2008_17" data-image-description data-image-caption="

Another look at the AK-130 cannon

” data-medium-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-56.jpg” data-large-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-14.jpg” loading=”lazy” class=”size-large wp-image-79378″ src=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-14.jpg” alt width=”706″ height=”471″ srcset=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-14.jpg 706w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-56.jpg 460w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-57.jpg 128w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-58.jpg 768w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Moskva_Civitavecchia_2008_17.jpg 1024w” sizes=”(max-width: 706px) 100vw, 706px”>

Another look at the AK-130 cannon
<img data-attachment-id="79379" data-permalink="https://theaviationist.com/2022/04/14/aboard-moskva/moskva_civitavecchia_2008_18/" data-orig-file="https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Moskva_Civitavecchia_2008_18.jpg" data-orig-size="1024,683" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"10","credit":"","camera":"Canon EOS 5D","caption":"","created_timestamp":"1202469859","copyright":"","focal_length":"24","iso":"100","shutter_speed":"0.005","title":"","orientation":"1"}" data-image-title="Moskva_Civitavecchia_2008_18" data-image-description data-image-caption="

The AK-130 from the pier.

” data-medium-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-59.jpg” data-large-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-15.jpg” loading=”lazy” class=”size-large wp-image-79379″ src=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-15.jpg” alt width=”706″ height=”471″ srcset=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-15.jpg 706w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-59.jpg 460w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-60.jpg 128w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-61.jpg 768w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Moskva_Civitavecchia_2008_18.jpg 1024w” sizes=”(max-width: 706px) 100vw, 706px”>

The AK-130 from the pier.
<img data-attachment-id="79380" data-permalink="https://theaviationist.com/2022/04/14/aboard-moskva/moskva_civitavecchia_2008_19/" data-orig-file="https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-16.jpg" data-orig-size="683,1024" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"8","credit":"","camera":"Canon EOS 5D","caption":"","created_timestamp":"1202469606","copyright":"","focal_length":"105","iso":"100","shutter_speed":"0.003125","title":"","orientation":"1"}" data-image-title="Moskva_Civitavecchia_2008_19" data-image-description data-image-caption="

One of the ship antennas.

” data-medium-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-62.jpg” data-large-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-16.jpg” loading=”lazy” class=”size-full wp-image-79380″ src=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-16.jpg” alt width=”683″ height=”1024″ srcset=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-16.jpg 683w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-62.jpg 307w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Moskva_Civitavecchia_2008_19-64×96.jpg 64w” sizes=”(max-width: 683px) 100vw, 683px”>

One of the ship antennas.
<img data-attachment-id="79382" data-permalink="https://theaviationist.com/2022/04/14/aboard-moskva/moskva_civitavecchia_2008_21/" data-orig-file="https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Moskva_Civitavecchia_2008_21.jpg" data-orig-size="1024,683" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"8","credit":"","camera":"Canon EOS 5D","caption":"","created_timestamp":"1202469512","copyright":"","focal_length":"60","iso":"100","shutter_speed":"0.005","title":"","orientation":"1"}" data-image-title="Moskva_Civitavecchia_2008_21" data-image-description data-image-caption="

Two Russian Navy sailors.

” data-medium-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-63.jpg” data-large-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-17.jpg” loading=”lazy” class=”size-large wp-image-79382″ src=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-17.jpg” alt width=”706″ height=”471″ srcset=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-17.jpg 706w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-63.jpg 460w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-64.jpg 128w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-65.jpg 768w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Moskva_Civitavecchia_2008_21.jpg 1024w” sizes=”(max-width: 706px) 100vw, 706px”>

Two Russian Navy sailors.
<img data-attachment-id="79385" data-permalink="https://theaviationist.com/2022/04/14/aboard-moskva/moskva_civitavecchia_2008_24/" data-orig-file="https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Moskva_Civitavecchia_2008_24.jpg" data-orig-size="1024,683" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"11","credit":"","camera":"Canon EOS 5D","caption":"","created_timestamp":"1202469422","copyright":"","focal_length":"40","iso":"100","shutter_speed":"0.004","title":"","orientation":"1"}" data-image-title="Moskva_Civitavecchia_2008_24" data-image-description data-image-caption="

Long-range anti-ship missile launchers marked 1 and 3.

” data-medium-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-66.jpg” data-large-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-18.jpg” loading=”lazy” class=”size-large wp-image-79385″ src=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-18.jpg” alt width=”706″ height=”471″ srcset=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-18.jpg 706w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-66.jpg 460w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-67.jpg 128w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-68.jpg 768w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Moskva_Civitavecchia_2008_24.jpg 1024w” sizes=”(max-width: 706px) 100vw, 706px”>

Long-range anti-ship missile launchers marked 1 and 3.
<img data-attachment-id="79387" data-permalink="https://theaviationist.com/2022/04/14/aboard-moskva/moskva_civitavecchia_2008_26/" data-orig-file="https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Moskva_Civitavecchia_2008_26.jpg" data-orig-size="1024,683" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"7.1","credit":"","camera":"Canon EOS 5D","caption":"","created_timestamp":"1202469254","copyright":"","focal_length":"28","iso":"100","shutter_speed":"0.01","title":"","orientation":"1"}" data-image-title="Moskva_Civitavecchia_2008_26" data-image-description data-image-caption="

We were unable to ID this.

” data-medium-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-69.jpg” data-large-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-19.jpg” loading=”lazy” class=”size-large wp-image-79387″ src=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-19.jpg” alt width=”706″ height=”471″ srcset=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-19.jpg 706w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-69.jpg 460w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-70.jpg 128w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-71.jpg 768w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Moskva_Civitavecchia_2008_26.jpg 1024w” sizes=”(max-width: 706px) 100vw, 706px”>

L140 mm PU PK-2 / ZIF-121 Tertsiya (KL-102) decoy launcher.
<img data-attachment-id="79393" data-permalink="https://theaviationist.com/2022/04/14/aboard-moskva/moskva_civitavecchia_2008_32/" data-orig-file="https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Moskva_Civitavecchia_2008_32.jpg" data-orig-size="1024,683" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"14","credit":"","camera":"Canon EOS 5D","caption":"","created_timestamp":"1202468250","copyright":"","focal_length":"24","iso":"100","shutter_speed":"0.0125","title":"","orientation":"1"}" data-image-title="Moskva_Civitavecchia_2008_32" data-image-description data-image-caption="

This image gives an idea of the size of Moskva.

” data-medium-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-72.jpg” data-large-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-20.jpg” loading=”lazy” class=”size-large wp-image-79393″ src=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-20.jpg” alt width=”706″ height=”471″ srcset=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-20.jpg 706w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-72.jpg 460w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-73.jpg 128w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-74.jpg 768w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Moskva_Civitavecchia_2008_32.jpg 1024w” sizes=”(max-width: 706px) 100vw, 706px”>

This image gives an idea of the size of Moskva.
<img data-attachment-id="79392" data-permalink="https://theaviationist.com/2022/04/14/aboard-moskva/moskva_civitavecchia_2008_31/" data-orig-file="https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Moskva_Civitavecchia_2008_31.jpg" data-orig-size="1024,683" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"14","credit":"","camera":"Canon EOS 5D","caption":"","created_timestamp":"1202468272","copyright":"","focal_length":"60","iso":"100","shutter_speed":"0.0125","title":"","orientation":"1"}" data-image-title="Moskva_Civitavecchia_2008_31" data-image-description data-image-caption="

The Kamov Ka-27 Helix

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The Kamov Ka-27 Helix
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Kamov Ka-27

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Kamov Ka-27
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3R41 Volna radar.

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3R41 Volna radar.
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Moskva coat of arms.

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Moskva coat of arms.
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A prancing horse “zapped” on the Ka-27

” data-medium-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-87.jpg” data-large-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-25.jpg” loading=”lazy” class=”size-large wp-image-79395″ src=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-25.jpg” alt width=”706″ height=”471″ srcset=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-25.jpg 706w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-87.jpg 460w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-88.jpg 128w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/aboard-moskva-that-time-we-got-an-unprecedented-tour-of-the-russian-guided-missile-cruiser-89.jpg 768w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Moskva_Civitavecchia_2008_34.jpg 1024w” sizes=”(max-width: 706px) 100vw, 706px”>

A prancing horse “zapped” on the Ka-27

About David Cenciotti
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 five books and contributed to many more ones.

NATO Conducts ADEX (Air Defense Exercise) In Black Sea

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A C-27J was intercepted today, 2nd July 2021, as part of a NATO multinational joint training activity to show NATO’s ability to integrate different Allied assets in the air and at sea.
F-16’s from Romanian Air Force and Hellenic Air Force took part in the NATO led Air Defence Exercise intercepting the Romanian C-27 whilst it transited from Otopeni Air Base to Mihail Kogălniceanu air base. (Image courtesy of RAF via NATO Allied Air Command)

NATO holds an ADEX (Air Defense Exercise) in the Black Sea region, where tension with Russia has increased following the recent close encounters between Russian fighters and NATO warships.

On Jul. 2, 2021, NATO Air and Maritime forces conducted an ADEX in the Black Sea area, “to improve Alliance cooperation, practise air-maritime communications and build stronger relationships between Allies.” 

Several fighters assets from the Greek, Romanian and Turkish air forces, a NATO AWACS, a Romanian C-27 transport aircraft, a Turkish Military Patrol Aircraft and three Allied frigates from the Standing Naval Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2), Italian Navy flagship Fasan, the Romanian Navy Regina Maria and the Turkish Navy Barbaros took part in the ADEX. SNMG 2 forces are transiting across the Black Sea and will take part in Exercise Sea Breeze 2021 after the ADEX. The German and British Eurofighters deployed to Mihail Kogalniceanu, Constanta, for NATO Enhanced Air Policing were initially scheduled to take part in the training but their sorties were cancelled because of bad weather.

A German Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon landed at Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base after a NATO Tango Scramble. (Image courtesy of NATO Allied Air Command)

The maritime game plan clearly replicated the scenario that saw Russian warplanes fly close to a British destroyer and simulate multiple attacks on a Dutch frigate. However, according to NATO, the organization of the drills took “some weeks”, suggesting that the exercise was not arrange in direct response to the Russian activity in the Black Sea.

ADEX
Hellenic Air Force F-16 (Image credit: Romanian Air Force)

While initially Turkish Air Force F-16 fighters simulated attacks on the NATO ships which trained defence drills against these attacks, the Greek and Romanian F-16s, in a separate event, conducted similar training maneuvers with the Greek fighters attacking the ships which responded in a joint manner with the Romanian fighters. Subsequently, the Greek and Romanian fighters conduct aerial combat drills.

This exercise shows how Allies use unique opportunities to train multiple Allied forces in a multi-domain environment. By exercising in international waters and airspace just off the Romanian coast, NATO is able to further develop our operational tactics and refine airspace coordination with our Black Sea Allies. Allied Air Command experts in cooperation with the Combined Air Operations Centre at Torrejón, Allied Maritime Command and the participating nations planned the event over a number of weeks.

“Overall the air-maritime integration training demonstrates NATO’s capabilities, readiness and resolve to protect Allied populations; with our ships and aircraft peacefully operating off the Romanian coast we also assure the Allies in the region,” said Allied Air Command Deputy Chief of Staff Brigadier General Andrew Hansen. “Our jets are unarmed to enable maximum training benefit and allowing for interoperability among the four Allies’ fighters,” he added.

“We have clear command and control arrangements and strict rules of engagement in place that every participant knows. These ensure that we conduct the training in a responsible and de-escalatory manner while still showing a credible and ready presence of NATO assets in the region,” said Combined Air Operations Centre Torrejon Commander, Lieutenant General Fernando de la Cruz.

For the moment, we have not heard about any Russian reaction (i.e. flying activity in the vicinity of the drills) to the NATO ADEX. We will update the story if some interesting detail emerges in the next hours/days.

ADEX
Romanian C-27 escorted by Romanian and Hellenic Air Force F-16s. (Image credit: HAF)

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.

Russian Su-30SM With Kh-31 Supersonic Missiles “Harassed” Dutch Frigate In Black Sea

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A Su-30SM with two Kh-31 missiles flying close to Zr.Ms. Evertsen in the Black Sea (Image credit: Dutch MOD). In the box the Kh-31 missile (Image credit: Panther/Wiki)

The Dutch MOD said the Russian jets carried out mock attacks on HNLMS Evertsen frigate in the Black Sea last week. Photos show at least one of the Su-30SM aircraft carried Kh-31 missiles.

Russian aircraft “repeatedly harassed” Royal Netherlands Navy frigate Zr.Ms. Evertsen (HNLMS Evertsen) in the Black Sea, the Dutch MOD claimed today. The Dutch frigate, that is part of the British HMS Queen Elizabeth Strike Group, was sailing some 70 nautical miles south-east of Crimea when armed Russian aircraft carried out mock attacks on Evertsen on Jun. 24, 2021.

The incident occurred the day after HMS Defender, a Type 45 destroyer also part of the UK’s Carrier Strike Group, was buzzed by Russian jets near Crimea: according to Moscow, a Russian Coast Guard patrol ship fired twice at the British vessel as it entered Russian territorial waters while a Russian Navy Su-24M jet dropped four bombs near the destroyer or “in its path”; according to the British MOD, the destroyer was conducting “innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters in accordance with international law” and “no shots were directed at HMS Defender” and no bombs were dropped in her path either.

While the British MOD downplayed the Jun. 23 incident involving HMS Defender, the Dutch MOD called the Jun. 24 incident involving HNLMS Evertsen “irresponsible”.

“The planes repeatedly harassed the Everts between about 3.30 pm and 8.30 pm local time. They flew dangerously low and close by, performing mock attacks. The fighters were armed with bombs and so-called air-to-surface missiles […]. After hours of intimidation, disruptions to electronic equipment of the Evertsen also took place,” says an official note of the Dutch MOD.

“The Russian actions violated the right to the free use of the sea. In addition, they go against mutual agreements, as laid down in the INCSEA treaty. The agreement must prevent unsafe situations at sea.”

Minister Ank Bijleveld-Schouten calls the Russian actions “irresponsible”. “Sr.Ms. Evertsen has every right to sail there. There is no justification whatsoever for this kind of aggressive action, which also unnecessarily increases the risk of accidents. The Netherlands will address Russia about this.”

By the way, yesterday we reported about an F-35B flying over a Russian Group in the east Mediterranean Sea here.

Images released by the Dutch MOD show Russian Naval Aviation Su-30SM flying close and low over Zr. Ms. Evertsen. At least one of the multirole aircraft appears to carry two Kh-31 missiles (NATO reporting name: AS-17 Krypton).

The Kh-31 is a Mach 3 anti-radar and anti-shipping missile, that has been produced since the 1980s. Several variants of the missile are available, with different warheads. According to “Russia’s Air Launched Weapons” by Piotr Butowski, “the most interesting element of the Kh-31 design is an integral rocket-ramjet propulsion system, the 31DPK (izdeliye 52), developed by the Soyuz engine design bureau in Turayevo outside Moscow and combining a solid-propellant 31DT-1 rocket booster made by Kartukov Iskra and a 31DP ramjet made by Soyuz. The  Kh-31 is accelerated to Mach 1.8 by means of the 31DT-1; when the solid fuel is expended, the engine is ejected and the inside of the missile body is transformed into a combustion chamber for the 31DP ramjet, which accelerates the missile to Mach 3.5 at an altitude of 16,000m (52,493ft), or Mach 1.8 at sea level.”

The Kh-31A (AS-17B) is the anti-shipping derivative of the missile that entered production in 1990. With an active radar seeker, it works in both lock-on before and after launch modes and also has a radio altimeter for precise low-altitude flight over water. Its maximum range is 50 km and the minimum launch distance is 7.5 km. The upgraded Kh-31AM is believed to have an extended range (120-160 km).

H/T @DutchSpace for the heads-up!

Russian Kh-31-missile (NATO-code: AS-17 Krypton) attached to the left wing of a russian fighter aircraft, displayed at the MAKS Airshow 2003. (Image credit: Panther/Wiki)

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.

Russia Claims It Fired Warning Shots, Dropped Bombs At British Warship In Black Sea. UK MOD Denies.

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A Russian Navy Su-24M. An OFAB-350 bomb. (Image credit: Alex Snow); the AIS track of HMS Defender (via Hans de Vreij); the Tweet of the UK MOD Press Office (via Twitter).

The tension is high in the Black Sea area, where Russia says it fired warning shots at British warship that had allegedly entered Russian territorial waters near Crimea. But the British MOD says no shots were directed at HMS Defender.

The details of the incident are still unclear but according to the Russian MOD, HMS Defender, a Type 45 destroyer part of the UK’s Carrier Strike Group, currently involved in a mission in the Black Sea, entered Russian territorial waters near Crimea today. As a consequence, a patrol ship fired twice at the British vessel and a Russian Navy Su-24M jet dropped four bombs near the destroyer or “in its path”, the Russian MOD was quoted to say.

The British embassy’s defence attaché has been summoned to the Russian defence ministry, Interfax news agency reported, according to BCC.

Russian Su-24 Black Sea incident
A Russian Navy Su-24M. (Image credit: Alex Snow)

The British MOD has a different version of the incident:

So, what has really happened? Hard to say.

According to AIS (Automatic Identification System) tracks, also is used to improve the maritime situational awareness Information by gathering signals by ashore AIS stations as well as by warships and patrol aircraft, both equipped with their own interrogation systems, HMS Defender skirted Crimea possibly entering waters that Russia views as its own (it’s worth noticing that most of the international community, including the UK, do not recognize Crimea as part of Russia). But AIS is prone to spoofing and the positions of two NATO warships, including HMS Defender, have been falsified in the last few days, showing that they sailed from Odessa to Sevastopol, approaching to within two nautical miles of the entrance of the strategic port that houses the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea fleet. However, it turns out the two warships hadn’t left Odessa.

The AIS logs show that HMS Defender actually skirted Crimea and waters that Russia views as its own.

Whatever, the Black Sea has become a region of growing tension, especially since Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. The Black Sea is considered strategic to the U.S. and NATO, as shown, for instance, by the amount of missions flown to the region by U.S. B-52s, B-1s (training on LRASM attack profiles) and F-16s (flying JASSM cruise missile tactics training). The Sea of Azov, a shallow sea bordered by Ukraine and Russia and divided from the Black Sea by the narrow Kerch Strait is also a region where tension between Moscow and Kiev remains high. Tensions have risen since Russia annexed Crimea and built a bridge across the Kerch Strait. Since then, Russia controls ships entering the Azov Sea, on the grounds that it tries to prevent a terrorist attack. In March 2018, Ukraine’s border guards detained a Russian fishing boat. Russia accused Ukraine or ‘state piracy’ and last week, Russia detained two Ukrainian fishermen accused of poaching, the Russian State-sponsored reported.

With growing military presence in the area, the risk of escalation is high. You will probably remember what happened last year, when a B-52 flying over the Black Sea was intercepted by two Russian Su-27 Flankers. The Pentagon called the interception of its B-52H “unprofessional and unsafe” and published a video showing the Russian combat aircraft aggressively maneuvering close to the bomber flying in international airspace. While aerial interceptions are quite common over the Black Sea as well as in other regions (including the Baltics), it’s quite rare that these close encounters involve one of the parties firing warning shots….

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.

U.S. Forces Conduct A New Multi-Domain Exercise With F-16s, KC-135s, P-8A And RQ-4B Over The Black Sea

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A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft assigned to the 555th Fighter Squadron, Aviano Air Base, Italy, approaches a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft assigned to the 100th Air Refueling Wing, Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England, before receiving fuel during a mission over the Black Sea, Jan. 14, 2021. U.S. military operations in the Black Sea enhance regional stability, combined readiness and capability with our NATO allies and partners. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Emerson Nuñez)

The new Multi-Domain exercise follows the lead of the last summer’s drills, while continuing to increase the presence of the United States in the Black Sea region.

The U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa led a Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) exercise, designed to train U.S. and ally forces to integrate, operate and communicate while executing all-domain targeting operations, over the Black Sea on January 14, 2020. The exercise, dubbed “Prime Accord”, saw the participation also of the U.S. Special Operations Command Europe, U.S Naval Forces Europe/U.S. 6th Fleet, U.S. Army Europe and Africa, U.S. Strategic Command and the Romanian Air Force.

“Our forward presence and strong bilateral relationship with our friend and ally, Romania, ensures our ability to respond to any threat with confidence,” said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, USAFE-AFAFRICA commander. “Enhancing our joint lethality is crucial to preparing Airmen to execute the mission.”

A number of aircraft were confirmed being involved in the drill, some of them visible on flight tracking websites through ADS-B and MLAT:

  • A P-8A Poseidon from NAS Sigonella assigned to either Patrol Squadrons VP-9 Golden Eagles or VP-46 Grey Knights (currently deployed there), reportedly Bu.No. 168760, transmitting with Mode-S hex code AE67F4;
  • Two KC-135R from RAF Mildenhall assigned to the 100th Aerial Refueling Wing, QID734, QID751, with AF Ser. No. 63-8878 and 61-0292, respectively;
  • Two U.S. Air Force F-16CM-40s from the 31st Fighter Wing at Aviano Air Base assigned to the 555th FS “Triple Nickel”, reportedly transmitting the callsigns NICKEL 61 and 62;
  • Four Romanian Air Force F-16A-MLU from the 86th Air Base in Borcea;
  • A RQ-4B Global Hawk from NAS Sigonella which was tracked with the usual callsign FORTE 10, reportedly AF Ser. No. 11-2049, transmitting with Mode-S hex code AE54B6. 

Some sources mentioned also the possible participation of a U-2S Dragon Lady forward deployed at RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus, but this has not been confirmed by neither the U.S. nor Romania. Available MLAT tracks show however that a U-2 did indeed depart from Akrotiri that day, but it was headed to the Middle East. U-2s deployed there can often be tracked while departing for their missions and, sometimes, while descending during the approach and landing back on the island.

The main protagonists of the exercise were the F-16 Fighting Falcons of the 31st Fighter Wing and the F-16s of the Romanian Air Force. The U.S. F-16s took off from Aviano Air Base, Italy, and, supported by the two KC-135 tankers, flew to the Black Sea where they conducted training scenarios utilizing AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Missile (JASSM) employment tactics, while the RoAF F-16s provided fighter escort. The drill took place in front of Romania’s and Bulgaria’s coasts, where the aircraft were tracked circling, possibly while performing Air-to-Air Refueling (AAR).

The Poseidon was flying its usual ISR patrol (Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance) west of the Crimean Peninsula, while the Global Hawk initially flew its usual ISR patrol around Crimea and then proceeded to establish a new patrol over Georgia. Similar patrols were tracked also in December, possibly in the aftermath of the recent Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The exercise was coordinated by a joint team at the Romanian Control and Reporting Center, where the 606th Air Control Squadron from the 31st FW and the 1st Combat Communications Squadron from the 435th Air Ground Operations Wing at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, were deployed to assist in providing tactical command and control together with the RoAF personnel.

“The Romanian CRC participation bloomed into additional U.S. personnel deploying to Romania to employ C2 with the Romanians,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Alex Riseborough, air attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest. “It was a U.S. first and a big step for our bilateral Air Force partnership with the Romanians.”

This exercise is highly similar to another one conducted last summer, when Aviano’s F-16s again simulated the usage of the JASSM during multi-domain operations. Even if just simulated, the employment of stand-off weapons like the JASSM in the Black Sea region is highly significant.

The AGM-158 JASSM (with a range in excess of 200 nautical miles) and its extended-range version, the AGM-158B Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile – Extended Range (JASSM-ER) with a standoff distance of over 500 nautical miles, are GPS-guided radar-evading cruise missiles with 2,250-lbs penetrator/blast fragmentation warhead. The JASSM cruise missile employs precision routing and guidance in adverse weather, day or night, using an infrared seeker in addition to the anti-jam GPS to find and destroy high-value, well-defended targets.

File photo of an F-16 Fighting Falcon piloted by Lt. Col. Mike May from the 85th Test and Evaluation squadron sits on the ramp at Eglin Air Force Base on October 2, 2019 with a JASSM-ER as Senior Airman Edward Figueroa Rodriguez, Crew Chief, prepares the jet. The JASSM-ER (Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile- Extend range) is a 2,000-pound extended range missile that is released from an aircraft like a bomb. The 85th TES released the extended range missile as part of an operational test sortie. (U.S. Air Force Photo by 1st Lt Savanah Bray)

In the same period, B-1B Lancers from the 28th Bomb Wing, based at Ellsworth Air Force Base, performed a Bomber Task Force Europe mission over the same area, focused on training on the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile capability with the AGM-158C LRASM against unspecified new emerging threats.

The AGM-158C LRASM, based on the AGM-158B JASSM-ER, is the new low-observable anti-ship cruise missile developed by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy. The missile, armed with a 1000 lb (454 kg) penetrator and blast fragmentation warhead, is capable of performing all-weather precision routing and guidance through pre-planned waypoints, before transitioning to mid-course guidance through its multimodal sensor and later to low altitude navigation for target identification and final approach. The LRASM is also equipped with Electronic Support Measure (ESM), Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) for threat avoidance and target recognition.

Back to last week’s exercise, the press release did not provide many details about the ground assets’ involvement. SOCEUR deployed conventional and Special Operations Forces to integrate training with Close Air Support (CAS) missions and simulated strikes on targets of interest. The Army deployed the 41st Field Artillery Brigade and the 10th Army Air Missile Defense Command, but their role was not specified.

In November, the 41st FAB deployed two M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) to Romania using an MC-130J Commando II and a C-130 Hercules, performing what is called as a HIMARS Rapid Infiltration (HIRAIN), and firing at targets in the Black Sea during a joint exercise with Romanian forces. It is not known if they performed in a similar role last week.

The United States are increasing their military presence in Romania, not only with joint exercises, but also with deployed forces. This month the U.S. Air Force announced that an unspecified number of MQ-9 Reaper drones, accompanied by approximately 90 Airmen, are now at the 71st Air Base in Campia Turzii Air Base, from where they will conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions in support of NATO operations in the region.

Russia MOD Says A Su-27 Intercepted An Italian Atlantic MPA Over The Black Sea. But The Italians Retired The Type in 2017.

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File photo of a Su-27 Flanker (photographed by a RAF Typhoon). (Image credit: RAF/Crown Copyright).

According to a spokesman for Russia’s National Defense Management Center, a Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker on QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) was scrambled to identify and escort an Italian Atlantic that was approaching Russia’s state border on Aug. 14, 2020.

“A Su-27 fighter plane from the Southern Military District’s air defense quick reaction alert forces was scrambled to identify the target. The Russian fighter’s crew consistently approached the aerial object at a safe distance and identified it as an Italian Atlantic maritime patrol aircraft. After the Italian plane moved away from Russia’s state border, the Russian fighter safely returned to its home airfield” the Center said according to the TASS News Agency.

Even before the Italian Ministry of Defense denied any Italian aircraft was operating in the area, the whole story sounded at least weird: in fact, while it has operated the BR-1150 Atlantic MPA (Maritime Patrol Aircraft) with ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) capabilities for some 45 years, logging 260,000 flight hours with a fleet of 18 aircraft, the Italian Air Force has retired the type once and for all in November 2017.

Here’s what we wrote about the BR-1150 when the Italian Air Force bid farewell to the type:

Throughout its career, the Atlantic flown by mixed Air Force/Navy crew of 13 people in missions lasting up to 12 hours (actually the record of the Italian BR-1150 is 19 hours and 20 minutes!), carried out thousand Maritime Patrol, ASW and ASuW (Anti-Surface Warfare – limited to the reconnaissance and surveillance part since the aircraft was not equipped with ASuW weapons) sorties as well as Maritime SAR (Search And Rescue) operations taking part also in hundreds exercises: from Dawn Patrol back in 1973 to the recent Dynamic Manta, the BR-1150 have played a role in the Display Determination, Dog Fish, Vento Caldo, Daily Double, Mare Aperto, Tridente, Deterrent Force, Passex, Storm Two, Fleetex, Sharp Guard, Destined Glory, Tapoon and many more ones. The aircraft has flown to the North Pole in 1997, landed at all the major European airports, including Iceland, and reached India, Morocco, Canada, Egypt, Lebanon, UAE and the U.S.

Two units operated the type within the Italian Air Force (each being assigned 9 aircraft): the 41° Stormo (Wing), with its 88° Gruppo (Squadron) at Sigonella, and the 30° Stormo with its 86° Gruppo at Cagliari Elmas. The latter was disbanded on Aug. 1, 2002 with all the Breguet Atlantic aircraft (“P-1150A” in accordance with the current Italian Ministry of Defense Mission Design Series) taken on charge by the 41th Wing.

Although to a far lesser extent than the French Atlantique 2 (ATL2), that have been upgraded to extend their operative life beyond 2030 adding further capabilities, the Italian Atlantic fleet has undertaken a limited operational update between 1987 and 1997, as part of the ALCO (Aggiornamento Limitato Componente Operativa) programme, that has included, among the others and in different times, new INS (Intertial Navigation System), IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) system, along with new Iguane radar and ESM (Electronic Support Measures) sensors to perform electronic reconnaissance/surveillance systems as well as AIS (Automatic Identification System).

While the Italian Atlantics have been retired to be (partially) replaced by the P-72, a multirole Maritime Patrol, Electronic Surveillance and C4I (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence) aircraft that lacks an ASW (Anti-Sub Warfare) capability, the French Navy still operates a fleet of Breguet Atlantique 2 (ATL2), one of those was in the region to take part in the Romanian Navy Day celebrations over the Black Sea on Aug. 15, 2020.

The Russian pilot must have confused the Marine Nationale roundel with the one used by the Italian Air Force, not noticing that the color of the innermost circle, instead of green, was blue, and that there was also an anchor.

The French Navy (left) and Italian (right) roundels.

The French Atlantique 2 (ATL2) fleet is being upgraded to the “standard 6” configuration to improve the MPA’s capability to support the Strategic Oceanic Force, to deal with modern threats (future nuclear or conventional submarines, naval forces at sea, etc.) and to support air-land missions, until 2030.

The “Standard 6” upgrade work includes:

  • A new radar: The Thales Search Master with active antenna,
  • A new acoustic subsystem by Thales: It gathers and processes signals from the latest-generation of sonobuoys for submarine detection,
  • A new navigation console designed by Dassault Aviation,
  • New consoles for the tactical display subsystem, developed by SIAé

Romanian Navy Days celebration aside, the French Navy ATL2 have already operated in the Black Sea region in the past, as happened in July 2019:

U.S. Air Force and Navy Perform Joint Exercise over the Black Sea (With Live Weapons)

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An F-16 Fighting Falcon, assigned to the 31st Fighter Wing, peels away from a KC-135 Stratotanker, assigned to the 100th Air Refueling Wing, after receiving fuel near the Black Sea, Aug. 2, 2020. The Stratotanker provided aerial refueling support to F-16s enabling them to integrate into training missions alongside the USS Porter in the Black Sea. These missions were designed to train U.S. forces to operate together while executing multi-domain operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Benjamin Cooper) Author’s note: the yellow and brown bands identifying the live missile are visible.

The U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy performed a joint exercise in the Black Sea on Aug. 2, 2020 focusing on realistic integration, operation and communication between surface and air assets to protect the maritime domain. The drill was not announced in advance, causing some curiosity among online flight trackers who started observing multiple military aircraft (somehow unusually flying a training sortie on a Sunday morning in Europe) on their way to the Black Sea.

The exercise, later confirmed by the U.S. Sixth Fleet, was centered around USS Porter DDG-78, an Aegis BMD-equipped (Ballistic Missile Defense) guided-missile destroyer of the Arleigh Burke class, permanently based at Naval Air Station Rota (Spain) together with other three destroyers as part of the U.S. Sixth Fleet. The ship, which also replaced its Phalanx Close-In Weapon System’s (CIWS) 20mm M61 gun with a SeaRAM (Rolling Airframe Missile) Anti-Ship Missile Defense System in response to the Russian naval threat, was one of the two destroyers that back in 2017 launched 59 Tomahawk missiles against Shayrat Airbase in Syria.

A number of aircraft were involved in the drill, almost all visible on flight tracking websites through ADS-B and MLAT:

Not many details were given about the exercise, except for the fact that it occurred in international waters and airspace and involved tactical maneuvering and communications, differently from the recent Exercise Sea Breeze 2020 where Aviano’s F-16 trained Joint Air-to-Surface Missile (JASSM) cruise missile tactics or the B-1B bombers that trained on Long Range Anti-Ship Missile capability in June.

Four F-16 Fighting Falcons, assigned to the 31st Fighter Wing, fly in formation behind a KC-135 Stratotanker, assigned to the 100th Air Refueling Wing, near the Black Sea Aug. 2, 2020. The Stratotanker provided aerial refueling support to F-16s enabling them to integrate into training missions alongside the USS Porter in the Black Sea. These missions were designed to train U.S. forces to operate together while executing multi-domain operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Benjamin Cooper)

What was really interesting is the fact that the F-16s were flying with live air-to-air ordnance, which is not usual during training. The live missiles could be identified in the photos by the yellow and brown bands, for the live warhead and the live rocket motor, respectively. More specifically, all four jets were each armed with two AIM-120C/D AMRAAMs, one AIM-9X Sidewinder, two 370-gallon external fuel tanks and the AN/AAQ-33 Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod (ATP).

Cmdr. Craig Trent, Commanding Officer of USS Porter, said in the official press release: “The purpose of this training event was to exercise command and control in a joint training environment with our U.S. Air Force brothers and sisters to increase our tactical proficiency, and Porter’s crew did just that. This training enabled us to continue to build on our combined capability to quickly and effectively respond to any threats in the complex maritime environment.”

From what we could gather through online flight tracking, two tankers, QID943 and QID944 departed from Morón Air Base in Spain (where they returned at the end of the drill), executed a Rendez-Vous with the F-16s, departed their homebase at Aviano AB, in the Speedy Area over the Adriatic Sea, then flew over Croatia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. The third tanker, QID945, departed from RAF Mildenhall and executed an RV with the other aircraft over the Black Sea.

The drill possibly took place in front of Romania’s and Bulgaria’s coasts, where the aircraft were tracked circling, possibly performing Air-to-Air Refueling (AAR). The Poseidon was flying its usual ISR patrol (Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance) west of the Crimean Peninsula, while the Reaper was not publicly visible.

As a side note, since we mentioned the Speedy Area, on July 22, 2020 a KC-46A Pegasus from McConnell AFB (which was deployed for a few days in Europe visiting Ramstein AB and RAF Mildenhall) conducted in that area the first AAR mission in support of the USAFE (U.S. Air Force in Europe) command with Aviano’s F-16s. Another similar mission followed a day later.

U.S. F-16s Involved in JASSM Cruise Missile Tactics Training Take Part In “All Domain Mission” Over The Black Sea

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File photo of a 31FW F-16 (Image credit: Author). In the left box, one of the HC-130J that took part in the exercise (Image credit: Claudio Tramontin); in the right box, a screenshot showing the ADS-B/Mode-S tracks of the aircraft involved in the exercise (via @GDarkconrad)

An interesting exercise was carried out in international airspace over the Black Sea, on July 22, 2020. Designed “to train U.S. forces to integrate, operate and communicate while executing all domain operations” the “all domain mission” was led by the U.S. Forces in Europe and involved assets from U.S. Naval Forces Europe, U.S. Special Operations Command Europe, and U.S. Space Command.

Among the assets taking part in the operation, there were U.S. Air Force F-16Cs from the 31st Fighter Wing, based at Aviano Air Base, Italy; KC-135 Stratotankers belonging to the 100th Aerial Refueling Wing, from RAF Mildenhall, UK; MQ-9 Reapers belonging to the 52nd Expeditionary Operations Group Detachment 2, Miroslawiec Air Base, Poland. U.S. Naval Forces Europe and U.S. 6th Fleet integrated the USS Porter (DDG 78), currently operating in the Black Sea for Exercise Sea Breeze, and Patrol Squadron (VP-4) P-8 Poseidon from CTF-67.

Interestingly, the mission saw the Aviano F-16s involved in training scenarios utilizing Joint Air-to-Surface Missile (JASSM) cruise missile tactics. The AGM-158 JASSM (with a range in excess of 200 nautical miles) and its extended-range version, the AGM-158B Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile – Extended Range (JASSM-ER) with a standoff distance of over 500 nautical miles, are GPS-guided radar-evading cruise missiles with 2,250-lbs penetrator/blast fragmentation warhead. The JASSM cruise missile employs precision routing and guidance in adverse weather, day or night, using an infrared seeker in addition to the anti-jam GPS to find and destroy high-value, well-defended targets. “Training to this capability enhances Air Force readiness and deterrence capabilities,” says the official U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Africa release.

Noteworthy, this is the second mission to the Black Sea region in the last few months to involve the simulated use of a standoff weapon: as we reported in details here, on May 29, 2020, two U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancers from the 28th Bomb Wing, based at Ellsworth Air Force Base, performed a Bomber Task Force Europe mission over Eastern Europe, flying along the way with Polish F-16s and MiG-29s, Romanian F-16s and MiG-21s, Ukrainian Su-27s and MiG-29s and were also intercepted by Russian Su-27s over the Black Sea. The focus of that mission was on the training on the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile capability. Based on the AGM-158B JASSM-ER, the AGM-158C LRASM is the new stealthy anti-ship cruise missile developed by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy already integrated on the B-1B Lancer and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

Back to the Jul. 22 mission, U.S. Air Force Intelligence, Reconnaissance and Surveillance assets integrated into the 20th iteration of Exercise Sea Breeze, an annual multinational exercise in the Black Sea co-led by the U.S. and Ukraine while U.S. Special Operations Command Europe integrated MC-130J Commando II aircraft from the 352nd Special Operations Wing, RAF Mildenhall, UK, within the training scenario to exercise special operations forces insertion capabilities that enable all-domain operations. The USAFE-AFAFRICA release does not mention them, but the Sea Breeze exercise also saw the involvement of two HC-130J Combat King II, whose role is to rapidly deploy to execute combatant commander directed recovery operations to austere airfields and denied territory for expeditionary, all weather personnel recovery operations to include airdrop, airland, helicopter air-to-air refueling, and forward area ground refueling missions. The two Combat King IIs, 16-5873/LI of the 102nd RQS/106th RQW (New York ANG) based at Westhampton Beach/The Francis S. Gabreski ANGB (NY, Long Island) and 14-5864 of the 130th RQS/129thRQW (California ANG) based at Moffett Field (CA), have arrived in Europe, to support Silver Arrow 2020 mission on Jul. 8, 2020. According to USAFE-AFAFRICA, Silver Arrow missions provide an augmenting force to increase tactical airlift capacity to U.S. Air Forces in Europe during the period of highest demand. The program also focuses on U.S. European Command engagements that support NATO.

HC-130J 16-5873/LI of the 102nd RQS/106th RQW (New York ANG) landing at Aviano AB on Jul. 21, 2020. (Image credit: Claudio Tramontin).

The two HC-130J redeployed to Aviano AB to take part in the Black Sea exercise on Jul. 21, 2020. On the following day, during the Black Sea exercise, at least one of them (14-5864) using callsign “JUNO 22” could be tracked online by means of its Mode-S/ADS-B transponder, along with many other participants (beware, the below tweet says JUNO 22 was an MC-130J but it was the HC-130J from Aviano):

Tanker support, NATO E-3 and U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon could be tracked as well:

“Conducting operations in the Black Sea ensures stability throughout the region. Our combined presence strengthens relationships with our allies and partners while sending a message to any adversary that we are committed to collective defense and ready to respond in a complex security environment,” said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa commander in the public release, a statement that highlight the growing importance of the region for the U.S. Air Force and NATO.

U.S. and NATO activity in the area almost often causes Russian Su-27s and Su-30SMs of the Southern Military District to scramble from their bases to intercept and identify the “targets”. For instance, last time the B-1s flew over the Black Sea for their LRASM training, they were escorted by at least one Flanker. A video of the intercept was later released by the Russian MoD.