Tag: Royal Air Force

Red Arrows In Trouble As Team Faces A Pilot Shortage

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Red Arrows In Trouble As Team Faces A Pilot Shortage

File image of the Red Arrows in trip.(Photo: Royal Air Force)RAF is exploring cases of poisonous society and also transgression amongst the staff member. The Red Arrows, the Royal Air Force’s aerobatic group, shed 2 pilots this year, with one being sacked after a claimed event and also one more having actually surrendered over the group’s”harmful society”. Participants of the group, according to The Sun, are claimed to

“despise each various other” in what is taken into consideration the most awful spirits situation considering that the Red Arrows were produced in 1964. Due to the continuous dramatization, the Red Arrows this year are flying with a seven-ship development, rather than the common 9 airplane. This additionally indicates that several maneuvers for the total development needed to be terminated from this year trip display screens. Meantime, substitutes for both pilots that left the group are being educated and also ought to await the 2023 airshow period.

Resources additionally state that, in order to provide a complete nine-ship development for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee flypast, the Red Arrows needed to prepare undefined emergency situation gets. According to The Telegraph, the gets were picked amongst the group’s manager Red 10, the commander as well as the second-in-command exec policeman. While they do not undertake the exact same training of the 9 screen pilots, they are qualified of signing up with the rankings of the development to do flypasts.

Allow’s see what occurred with the pilots. According to the records, while the Red Arrows remained in the center of their pre-season training in Croatia as well as Greece in April, Red 3, Squadron Leader Nick Critchell, faced the group leader Red 1, Squadron Leader Tom Bould, concerning the “hazardous society” throughout these training implementations. Sqn Ldr Critchell is claimed to have actually surrendered in disgust, while the RAF formally claimed he left “for individual factors to start a various profession chance”.

Simply a couple of days later on, Flight Lieutenant Will Cambridge was put on hold after one more pilot whined concerning a claimed event with a women coworker, which some resources state was a younger student pilot. An examination was apparently introduced to validate whether the reported event was actual as well as if the pilot’s conduct damaged the guidelines.

It is feasible that Flt Lt Cambridge coincided pilot that was sent out house in May while the Red Arrows remained in Greece. At the time, papers rapidly reported that the pilot was sent out house to be explored concerning being intoxicated and also for “believed improper actions”, while a RAF agent stated that he “has actually been briefly taken out and also has actually gone back to the UK for individual factors”.

File image of the Red Arrows in the complete nine-ship development.(Photo: Royal Air Force)A RAF representative launched a declaration to The Telegraph:”The RAF has a zero-tolerance technique to inappropriate behavior, as well as claims will certainly be extensively examined to make certain the highest possible criteria are promoted. We will certainly not be commenting better on the specific situations of these relocations, which have actually been made without bias as well as are an outcome of both specialist as well as individual factors. We will certainly nevertheless do something about it any place misbehavior is shown.”One more pilot left the group in January, when Red 8, Flt Lt Damon Green, left the Red Arrows for individual and also household factors, according to the declaration. Due to this, in order to keep the nine-ship development, Sqn Ldr Jon Bond needed to return for the 2022 display screen period and also fill up the area of Flt Lt Green,

after finishing his 4 years with the Red Arrows simply couple of months previously. Regardless of all that dramatization, the RAF validated that just 2 pilots transferred to various other duties, far from the Red Arrows, for individual factors. In fact, none of the pilots we stated are reported as component of the group on the RAF internet site, consisting of Flt Lt Cambridge which was just thought about put on hold as well as not out of the group. A previous pilot was additionally pointed out by the Daily Mail revealing his ideas concerning the scenario:”This is a calamity for the RAF. The Red Arrows are their public face and also the general public love them, yet they have no concept what is taking place behind the scenes. There is something truly rotten in this group. It needs to be the emphasize of pilots’ jobs to fly for the Red Arrows however they have actually shed 3 this year.

The power structure needs to ask itself why? There are great individuals there that are attempting to repair it however it is a miserable location.” About Stefano D’Urso Stefano D’Urso is an independent reporter as well as factor to TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. A grad in Industral Engineering he’s additionally researching to accomplish a Master Degree in Aerospace Engineering. Digital Warfare, Loitering Munitions and also

OSINT strategies put on the globe

of existing disputes and also armed forces procedures are amongst his locations of knowledge.

Draken Will Provide Red Air Services To The Royal Air Force

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Draken Will Provide Red Air Services To The Royal Air Force
Draken L-159s in formation in the United States. (Photo: Draken)

Draken’s L-159Es will take over the aggressor role of the recently retired Hawk T1 fleet.

The Royal Air Force awarded a six-year contract to Draken to provide aggressor aircraft to support the training of Typhoon and F-35B pilots, replicating the tactics, techniques and procedures of potential adversaries. This is the first such contract placed in the United Kingdom, although a similar service is currently being delivered by Draken International and other contractors to the United States Air Force.

“This exciting new capability increases the quality of operational training. By improving the currency, capability and survivability in combat of our Lightning and Typhoon fighter pilots we will enhance the potency of the UK’s Combat Air capability”, said Air Commodore Townsend, Senior Responsible Owner. “The Contract was delivered through competition, from inception to contract signature, in an exceptionally short timescale of only six months. It is timely, affordable, deliverable and provides Defence with excellent value for money.”

Beginning from the July, Draken Europe will use the L-159E Honey Badger to provide simulated airborne threat as part of the Interim Red Air Aggressor Training Service (IRAATS) program. This capability was previously provided by the recently retired Hawk T1. As mentioned by the RAF, the L-159E delivers a capability enhancement over the Hawk through increased endurance, an air-to-air radar and a radar warning receiver.

“Draken Europe has been trusted by the UK Government to deliver the world’s most technologically advanced operational readiness training to the RAF and the Royal Navy for many years. Our team takes very seriously the nationally significant role that they have training military personnel from the UK and its strategic allies, providing a range of multi-platform effects using next-generation technologies”, said Paul Armstrong, CEO at Draken Europe. “We’re proud to be bringing an entirely new capability to the UK defence sector – especially so at a time when geo-political events have brought into sharp relief the need for our armed forces personnel to be trained effectively to defend themselves from attack.”

<img data-attachment-id="79328" data-permalink="https://theaviationist.com/2022/04/12/draken-will-provide-red-air-to-raf/raf-hawk-t1-fast-jet-practices-aerobatics-over-north-wales/" data-orig-file="https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Draken_Red_Air_RAF_2.jpg" data-orig-size="1024,571" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"4.5","credit":"Crown Copyright","camera":"Canon EOS-1D Mark IV","caption":"A Royal Air Force Hawk T Mk1\/1A display fast jet takes to the skies over RAF Valley in Anglesey, North Wales. \r\n\r\nThe Hawk Display team is the public face of Number 4 Flying Training School (4FTS) based at RAF Valley on Anglesey and their full time mission is to train the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy combat pilots of the future.\r\n\r\nThe Hawk display exists to demonstrate the professional excellence of the RAF and promote recruitment to the RAF. Evidence shows that RAF displays have inspired a significant number of people to join the RAF, both as officers and airmen, and to all trades, not just aircrew.","created_timestamp":"1307026342","copyright":"Crown Copyright","focal_length":"70","iso":"100","shutter_speed":"0.00125","title":"RAF Hawk T1 Fast Jet Practices Aerobatics Over North Wales","orientation":"1"}" data-image-title="RAF Hawk T1 Fast Jet Practices Aerobatics Over North Wales" data-image-description data-image-caption="

File photo of a Hawk T1 conducting aerobatic maneuvers. (Photo: RAF)

” data-medium-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/draken-will-provide-red-air-services-to-the-royal-air-force-5.jpg” data-large-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/draken-will-provide-red-air-services-to-the-royal-air-force-2.jpg” class=”size-large wp-image-79328″ src=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/draken-will-provide-red-air-services-to-the-royal-air-force-2.jpg” alt width=”706″ height=”394″ srcset=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/draken-will-provide-red-air-services-to-the-royal-air-force-2.jpg 706w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/draken-will-provide-red-air-services-to-the-royal-air-force-5.jpg 460w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/draken-will-provide-red-air-services-to-the-royal-air-force-6.jpg 128w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/draken-will-provide-red-air-services-to-the-royal-air-force-7.jpg 768w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Draken_Red_Air_RAF_2.jpg 1024w” sizes=”(max-width: 706px) 100vw, 706px”>

File photo of a Hawk T1 conducting aerobatic maneuvers. (Photo: RAF)

The contract, announced last week, was placed on Mar. 28, 2022 and currently covers three years, with options for up to a further three years. The L-159Es will be based at Teesside International Airport, where Draken’s existing DA20 Falcon aircraft fleet (used for adversary air, electronic warfare training and target and banner towing) are currently located. The L-159s, formerly operated by the Czech Air Force and upgraded by the manufacturer Aero Vodochody, will be registered and regulated by the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

As already mentioned, the Red Air capability was provided by the Hawk T1 trainers assigned to 100 Squadron. The Hawk T1 was replaced in its flight training role by the Hawk T2, but it was kept in service as aggressor aircraft. Following the latest Defence Command Paper last year, it was decided to retire the older Hawk model by March 31, 2022, after more than 40 years of service. The only T1s that will remain in service until 2030 are the ones assigned to the Red Arrows.

About Stefano D’Urso
Stefano D’Urso is a freelance journalist and contributor to TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. A graduate in Industral Engineering he’s also studying to achieve a Master Degree in Aerospace Engineering. Electronic Warfare, Loitering Munitions and OSINT techniques applied to the world of military operations and current conflicts are among his areas of expertise.

Chile Might Purchase Three Former RAF E-3D Sentry AEW Mk.1 Aircraft

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The E-3D Sentry AEW Mk.1 of the Royal Air Force. (Photo: RAF)

The aircraft, retired from service last year, should replace the Boeing 707 Cóndor.

The Chilean Air Force (FACh) might get in the near future three of the E-3D Sentry AEW Mk.1 recently retired by the Royal Air Force. An unspecified source, reported by both the UK Defence Journal and Janes, said that Chile acquired three airframes, of which one will be used for spare parts, to replace the Boeing 707 Cóndor currently in service. Neither the British or the Chilean governments confirmed the deal yet.

The E-3D flew the last operational sortie with the RAF in July 2021, closing a 30 year-career in the UK earlier than expected to concentrate resources on the new E-7A Wedgetail that is scheduled to enter service in 2023. One of the remaining airframes has already been sold to the United States to be converted in an E-6B Mercury pilot training aircraft and already moved to Northrop Grumman’s Lake Charles Maintenance and Modification Center (Lake Charles Airport, Louisiana).

According to the source, negotiations started immediately after the E-3D’s retirement and Chilean crews and technicians were sent to the UK in late 2021 to inspect the aircraft and work on the conversion training courses. After the inspections, the FACh reportedly selected the airframes registered as ZH101 (c/n 24109/993), ZH103 (c/n 24111/1004), and ZH106 (c/n 24114/1011), which could possibly fly to Chile later this year.

The Chilean Air Force’s single Boeing 707 Cóndor is near the end of its operational life, being initially built as Boeing’s demonstrator and testbed in 1965 and later used as airliner by Chile’s flag carrier, before being modified in Israel for AEW (Airborne Early Warning) missions. The aircraft entered service in this new configuration, also known as IAI Phalcon, in 1994 and is becoming increasingly costly and complex to maintain, being one of just three being built. The engines contribute to this problem too, since they are the original 1950s-era Pratt & Whitney JT3D low-bypass turbofans.

The Chilean Air Force (FACh) Boeing 707 Cóndor. (Photo via vortexxmag.com)

The Cóndor carries an Israeli-made Elta EL/M-2075 Phalcon L-band active phased-array radar system, which consists of six separate antenna arrays. One of them is housed in the peculiar enlarged nosecone, while another pair can be found in two large cheek fairings on the sides of the fuselage and the last one under the tail. The radar is capable of tracking both aerial and maritime targets with a range of up to 200 nm with a total coverage of 360°.

According to some sources, the aircraft, that has been grounded for some time already, will never return to flight.

The E-3D that will take the Cóndor’s place features more recent CFM56 high-bypass turbofan engines, as well as some UK-specific modifications that differentiate the aircraft from the E-3 Sentry used by other operators. Among the modifications, a hose and drogue refueling probe was added next to the existing boom receptacle, as well as wingtip ESM (Electronic Support Measures) pods, an enhanced Maritime Surveillance Capability, JTIDS (Joint Tactical Information Distribution System) and Have Quick 2 encrypted radios. The Sentry features the AN/APY-2 passive electronically scanned array radar housed in the distinctive rotating radome on top of the fuselage.

Interestingly, in the same days the news about the deal was first reported, one of the retired E-3Ds was flying again over the UK and had to declare emergency. The aircraft was ZH103, one of the airframes selected by Chile, and declared emergency with both the international 7700 squawk and a pan-pan call flying with the callsign SOLEX01. The call was also reported on Twitter, providing more details about what happened: “PAN PAN PAN. Auxillary system loss. Dumping fuel in North Sea soon, then heading to Waddington.”

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.

Photo Of The Recovered Wreckage Of The British F-35B Leaked Online

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The wreck of the F-35B as seen in the leaked photo. (Photo: anonymous source)

The aircraft has been recovered last month and it looks like it is still pretty much intact.

An image, taken by an unknown photographer, showing the wreckage of the British F-35B that ditched in the Mediterranean Sea and was recovered by a chartered salvage ship, was leaked and started circulating online on Jan. 21, 2022. As we already extensively reported, the aircraft crashed while taking off from the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier on November 17, 2021, as it couldn’t achieve enough speed to lift off reportedly because the engine ingested a “cheap plastic rain cover” or an air intake cover.

The United Kingdom Ministry of Defence announced on December 7 the completion of the operations for the recovery of the aircraft, which happened with the support of the Italian Navy and U.S. Navy. It took two weeks to locate the wreck and another week to bring it up, according to defence sources mentioned by British newspapers. The recovery effort was complicated by the location where the F-35 ditched, as it happened in open water with depths that can exceed, in some areas, over 3,000 meters (about 10,000 feet), and by rough sea conditions while the operations were taking place.

Looking at the photo, which shows the wreck upside down on the deck of the salvage ship as it was being transported to an unspecified port, it seems that the F-35B is still partly intact. Some panels are broken or missing, with the engine nozzle and vertical tail fins possibly broken too (they can’t be seen clearly), but the airframe was not made in pieces by the crash. As the leaked video showed, the F-35 left the ski jump with a very low speed, so the impact forces on the surface of the sea were not enough to detach major sections of the airframe.

This also confirms the official statements about all the wreckage being recovered and “no danger or compromise to sensitive equipment on the aircraft”. Even if the chances of another country finding and exploiting any of the plane’s remains were small, the UK MoD didn’t want to take any chances for a good reason. National Security Adviser Sir Stephen Lovegrove, as reported by the UK Defence Journal, told the Commons Defence Committee on Dec. 6, 2021:

“The recovery of the flight data recorder and the wreckage are really vital for an accurate investigation to determine the causes of the crash. […] We are aware of Russian undersea capabilities, and you are quite right to identify them as being state of the art. The kinds of precautions and operations that we are undertaking at the moment are designed at least in part to ensure that the technology of the F-35B remains as confidential as you would like it to be. Those security aspects are very much at the top of our mind. My understanding is that the experts know where the aircraft is.”

Two F-35Bs during operations on the HMS Queen Elizabeth. (Photo: Royal Navy)

It is worth noting, however, that while the aircraft might appear somehow intact, the damage done by salt water while the aircraft was submerged for weeks might have made unusable most of the aircraft’s systems, reducing the risks of adversaries gathering useful data in the hypothetical event they managed to get to the wreck before the Royal Navy.

The lost F-35B was identified as ZM152, with modex 018 and construction number BK18, and the leaked photo appears to confirm this, as the serial can be seen near the tail despite the quality of the image. The aircraft was reportedly one of the most recently delivered British F-35B, with its first flight reported in June 2019. The same info was also found in the F-35 aircraft database hosted by the website F-16.net.

The photo was initially posted on Twitter by few users who later removed it claiming that they were not involved in taking the photo in the first place nor being the first to leak it online. The photo is however still being shared on Reddit, Facebook and other socials. The fact that many users later deleted the photo might be related to the consequences of the leak of the crash video, which led a male crew member of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s ship company to be arrested.

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.

No, Germany Did Not Deny RAF C-17s Bound For Ukraine Access to Its Airspace

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File photo of Royal Air Force 99 Squadron C17 aircraft taking off from RAF Brize Norton. (Image credit: RAF/Crown Copyright). In the boxes: the C-17s route on Jan. 17, 2022 (ADSBExchange via George Allison)

The decision to avoid the German airspace was made deliberately by the Royal Air Force C-17s and the British were not really forced to fly around the German territory.

Contrary to media reports published on Jan. 17, 2022, Germany did not deny British C-17 transport aircraft access to their airspace. RAF’s C-17s were supposedly carrying light anti-armor weapons to Ukraine, to beef up the local defences as a consequence of the Russian military buildup near the Ukrainian border.

British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace unveiled London’s plans to supply Ukraine with light anti-tank defense weapons during a speech in the UK Parliament.

“Tens of thousands of Russian troops are positioned close to the Ukrainian border. Their deployment is not routine, and they are equipped with tanks, armoured fighting vehicles, rocket artillery, and short-range ballistic missiles,” Wallace said in a statement to the House of Commons on the situation in Ukraine yesterday.

“We, and our Allies, have legitimate and real cause for concern that the configuration and scale of the force being assembled, supported by Russian air and maritime long-range strike capabilities stationed in the region, could be used for the purpose of conducting a multi-axis invasion of Ukraine.”

“We have taken the decision to supply Ukraine with light, anti-armour, defensive weapon systems. A small number of UK personnel will also provide early-stage training for a short period of time, within the framework of Operation ORBITAL, before then returning to the United Kingdom.”

Speculations that the delivery of the announced anti-armour weaponry could have taken a different route because of Berlin’s denial started to circulate observing the route followed by the RAF Globemaster III cargo aircraft  on flight tracking websites: the C-17s flew across the Danish and Polish airspaces instead of going “direct” through the German airspace.

While the actual route chosen for a military transport flight depends on several factors (time of the day, Diplomatic Clearances already available, flight restrictions, active NOTAMs, weather, etc.) the main theory on social media was that the aircraft were forced to fly outside of the German airspace because Berlin had denied the clearance to do so.

However, things got clarified on Jan. 18, 2022, when Julian Roepcke published a tweet today, stating that the German MoD did not deny the C-17s flying from  Brize Norton through the German Airspace.

In fact, it seems that the decision to avoid the German airspace was made deliberately by the RAF planners, and the British C-17s were not really forced to fly around the German territory: aircraft carrying specific kinds of cargo and/or weapons require a dedicated clearance that the UK did not apply for (for reasons yet to be disclosed – although time might have been a factor here); hence the route avoiding the German airspace.

At the same time, as noted by several reporters and analysts, while the nature of their mission is completely different, Germany has no problem in allowing NATO SIGINT/ELINT assets to fly through its airspace on their way to Ukraine, were several ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) aircraft are operating in these days, to keep an eye on the movement of forces near the borders.

Indeed, as a consequence of the reported military buildup of Russian forces in the region we have observed a spike in U.S. and NATO surveillance over northern and eastern Ukraine, with the involvement of RC-135s and E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS).

The E-8C J is a joint U.S. Air Force – Army program whose capabilities were described in a previous article we published here at The Aviationist:

The JSTARS is an airborne battle management, command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform. It uses a multi-mode side looking radar to detect, track, and classify moving ground vehicles deep behind enemy lines. Its primary mission is to provide theater ground and air commanders with ground surveillance to support attack operations and targeting: through an antenna that can be tilted to either side of the aircraft to develop a 120-degree field of view, the JSTARS can cover nearly 19,305 square miles (50,000 square kilometers) and detect targets from a distance of 250 kilometers. Although the E-8C’s role is to build and update the picture of the battlefield, focusing on ground and moving targets, the the radar has also limited AEW-like capabilities: it can also detect helicopters, rotating antennas and low, slow-moving fixed wing aircraft even though these are partially hidden in the ground clutter. Surveillance data can be relayed in near-real time to the Army and Marine Corps common ground stations and to other ground command, control, communications, computers and intelligence, or C4I, nodes.

The E-8C can be particularly useful to keep an eye on the Russian forces that have been moved to Ukraine’s northern neighbour Belarus for joint military exercises, in a move believed to increase fears in the west that Moscow is preparing for an invasion. An invasion that Ukraine prepares to face with the help of NATO weapon supplies, like those reportedly delivered by the British C-17s.

Standing contributor for TheAviationist. Aviation photojournalist. Co-Founder of DefensePhoto.com. Expert in linguistics, Cold War discourse, Cold War history and policy and media communications.
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.

Insane Video Of RAF Buccaneers Flying Ultra Low Level During Mock Attack On HMS Liverpool Off Gibraltar

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Screenshot from the video showing 12 Sqn Buccaneers attacking HMS Liverpool in the Med Sea.

This footage proves how low the RAF Buccaneers could fly during a maritime strike mission…

Blackburn Aircraft Company NA.39 was a carrier-borne, high-speed low-level strike aircraft which, in its production form, became famous as the “Buccaneer”. The first prototype, XK486, carried out its maiden flight from RAE Bedford on Apr. 30, 1958. Designed from the outset for low-level operation over land and sea, the first production Hawker Siddeley Buccaneer (as it was called after Blackburn & General Aircraft was absorbed into Hawker Siddeley Aviation in 1960), made its first flight on Jan. 23, 1962.

“The Hawker Siddeley Buccaneer made use of boundary layer control on wings and tailplane to allow operation from the relatively small British aircraft carriers,” says the BAE System website on the type. “The area-ruled fuselage (a design technique used to reduce an aircraft’s drag) featured a rotating bomb bay and two jet engines, integrated in the wing roots. The two crew were seated in-tandem, under a single sliding canopy, with a search radar mounted in the nose. Air brakes were incorporated into a bullet fairing at the rear of the fuselage, opening laterally to provide its braking action.”

The HS Buccaneer S Mk 1 entered service with the Royal Navy in 1963. A subsequent variant, designated the HS Buccaneer S Mk 2 (which is readily identified by its large elliptical engine air intakes) was re-engineered to accommodate the more powerful Rolls-Royce Spey engine, which was required for carrier take off.  All Royal Navy squadrons were converted to the improved S.2 variant by the end of 1966. After withdrawal from Royal Naval service (upon the retirement of their carriers in 1978), 62 x HS Buccaneer S Mk 2 were transferred to the RAF, with the fleet being augmented by another 49 ‘new-build’ HS Buccaneer S Mk 2B’s. These new aircraft featured an increased all-up weight, larger weapons bay, increased fuel capacity and 16,000 lb weapon load.

The first RAF unit to receive the Buccaneer was 12 Squadron at RAF Honington in October 1969, in the maritime strike role. At peak strength, at total of 6 squadrons were flying the Buccaneer: along with the 12 Squadron, the 15 Squadron, 16 Squadron, No. 237 OCU, 208 Squadron, and 216 Squadron.

Blackburn Buccaneer S Mk2 RAF (XV350) air to air late 1969( Copyright © 2021 BAE Systems)

The RAF Buccaneers were famous for carrying out training flights at ultra low level. This was required in the maritime strike mission before stand-off weapons were develop, to escape detection of enemy radars and get close to the target warships. The British jets often deployed from their homebases to RAF Gibraltar in the Mediterranean to carry out a low-level anti-shipping missions. The video in this post was filmed during one of those deployments, most probably towards the end of the service with the RAF, and gives an idea of how low the Buccaneers of the 12 Sqn flew during such over water missions.

The take off at 00:45 and the low level flying at the 2:25 mark are remarkable.

The last Buccaneers were withdrawn from RAF service in 1994, about three years after taking part in the First Gulf War in a role its designers hadn’t foreseen: the “buddy lasing”. In fact, as already explained in a story published earlier this year, back in 1991, a new role emerged when the RAF had started using Paveway LGBs (laser-guided bombs). Such bombs follow a laser signal towards the target. The Buccaneer was adapted to carry the Pave Spike laser designator pod, that could illuminate the target for bombs dropped by further Buccaneers, Jaguars or Tornados. This is also called “buddy lasing”: a laser-equipped aircraft provides the final guidance for a laser-guided weapon delivered by another aircraft, a way of conducting an air strike that the RAF used also 20 years after Desert Storm, in 2011, during the Air War in Libya, when Tornado GR4s flew joint sorties with Eurofighter Typhoons with “Tonka” navigators assisting Typhoon pilots with laser targeting.

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.

RAF Typhoon’s First Air-To-Air Kill: Terrorist Drone Shot Down In Syria

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A Typhoon FGR4 (Image credit: UK MOD/Crown Copyright)

A Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4 has shot down a “small hostile drone” in Syria.

In what the UK Ministry of Defence called an “unprecedented event”, an RAF Typhoon conducted the type’s first ever operational air-to-air engagement in Syria on Dec. 14, 2021. The event marked also the first RAF air-to-air missile firing during Operation SHADER, the UK’s contribution to the military campaign against ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant),

The kill was carried out using an Advanced Short Range Air to Air Missile (ASRAAM) that successfully hit and destroyed a small-sized drone.

“This strike is an impressive demonstration of the RAF’s ability to take out hostile targets in the air which pose a threat to our forces. We continue to do everything we can alongside our Coalition partners to stamp out the terrorist threat and protect our personnel and our partners,” Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said.

According to the few details released so far, the drone activity was detected above the Al Tanf Coalition base in Syria (note, the official UK MOD release referred to the base as “At Tanf” but it was probably Al-Tanf, also known as the Al-Tanf garrison, a United States military base within territory controlled by the Syrian opposition in Homs Governorate located 24 km west of the al-Tanf border crossing in the Syrian Desert). As the drone continued on its track, it became clear it posed a threat to Coalition forces.

RAF Typhoons conducting routine patrols (in swing role – carrying both air-to-ground and air-to-air weapons) in the area were tasked to investigate and, in the end, shot down the drone

Small (and larger) drones pose a constant threat to Al Tanf air base in southern Syria close to the Jordanian border that has served as a forward operating base for British and U.S. special operations teams in the region.

We will update this story as additional details emerge.

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.

Wreckage Of The British F-35B Ditched In the Mediterranean Sea Has Been Recovered

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A Royal Air Force F-35B prepares to depart from the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier during the CSG21 cruise. (Photo: Royal Navy). In the box: a screenshot of the video showing the crash that was leaked online.

The remains of the aircraft are now being transported to an allied port so it can then be airlifted back to the UK.

The United Kingdom Ministry of Defence announced on Dec. 7 the completion of the operations for the recovery of the Royal Air Force F-35B that crashed in the Mediterranean Sea. As we already extensively reported, the aircraft crashed while taking off from the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier on Nov. 17, 2021, as it couldn’t achieve enough speed to lift off reportedly because the engine ingested a “cheap plastic rain cover” or an air intake cover.

“Operations to recover the UK F-35 jet in the Mediterranean Sea have successfully concluded,” said the MoD in a statement. “We extend our thanks to our NATO allies Italy and the United States of America for their support during the recovery operation.” The U.S. Navy dispatched a specialized ship of the Emergency Ship Salvage Material (ESSM) System from its 6th Fleet HQ in Rota (Spain), while there are no details about the support provided by the Italian Navy.

It took two weeks to locate the wreck and another week to bring it up, according to defence sources mentioned by British newspapers. The recovery effort was complicated by the location where the F-35 ditched, as it happened in open water with depths that can exceed, in some areas, over 3,000 meters (about 10,000 feet), and by rough sea conditions while the operations were taking place.

The recovered wreck, or what remains of it, is being transported by a chartered salvage ship to an unspecified allied port so it can be later airlifted back to the UK. According to The Sun, officials insisted all the wreckage had been recovered and “there is no danger or compromise to sensitive equipment on the aircraft”. Even if the chances of another country finding and exploiting any of the plane’s remains were small, the UK MoD didn’t want to take any chances.

Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211 prepares to arm an active F-35B Lightning II aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth in the Indo-Pacific on August 05, 2021. A historical first for HMS Queen Elizabeth, rearming and refueling active aircraft allows Marines to increase sortie generation, providing commanders increased options. This training underscores the unique advantages and opportunities which Carrier Strike Group 21 provides the US Marine Corps, US Navy, and Royal Navy and our commitment to shared security. (Photo: 1st Lt. Zachary Bodner/ U.S. Marine Corps)

National Security Adviser Sir Stephen Lovegrove, as reported by the UK Defence Journal, told the Commons Defence Committee on December 6:

The pilot was recovered safely and is still undergoing medical checks. We are hopefully that he will be absolutely fine. It would be premature of me to comment on the reasons for the accident. The recovery of the flight data recorder and the wreckage are really vital for an accurate investigation to determine the causes of the crash. Clearly the swift recovery of the aircraft is what we would like to do and we are working closely with allies on the mechanics of that. We haven’t got the plane up yet.

We are aware of Russian undersea capabilities, and you are quite right to identify them as being state of the art. The kinds of precautions and operations that we are undertaking at the moment are designed at least in part to ensure that the technology of the F-35B remains as confidential as you would like it to be. Those security aspects are very much at the top of our mind. My understanding is that the experts know where the aircraft is.”

The UK Defence Journal was also the first to report another interesting piece of information about this incident. As we reported, a video from the HMS Queen Elizabeth’s video camera system, showing the moment of the crash and the ejection of the pilot, was leaked online about two weeks after the mishap. The video was recorded with a mobile phone from the ship computer’s screens and disseminated among the crew onboard, before being shared outboard without permission.

According to the source mentioned by the website, a male crew member of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s ship company was arrested in connection with the video leak and has been immediately flown back to the UK. The source was reportedly able to confirm the info directly with the HMS Queen Elizabeth’s ship company.

The lost F-35B was identified as ZM152, with modex 018 and construction number BK18. The aircraft was reportedly one of the most recently delivered British F-35B, with its first flight reported in June 2019. The same info was also found in the F-35 aircraft database hosted by the website F-16.net.

The aircraft carrier, together with the Carrier Strike Group, is about to return home in these days, with the U.S. Marine Corps F-35Bs already disembarked at NAS Rota and the UK aircraft disembarking as the HMS Queen Elizabeth gets near the UK shores.

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.

Alleged British F-35B Crash Video Leaked Online

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A screenshot of the F-35B crash video.

Provided it is genuine, the clip shows the British F-35B crashing in the sea during a failed take off from HMS Queen Elizabeth.

A video, supposedly showing the moment a British F-35B Lightning crashed off UK’s aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth has just emerged and doing the rounds. Although we can’t be 100 percent sure, the clip (probably filmed with a smartphone as the actual video possibly recorded by the aircraft’s camera system is displayed on a computer’s screen), appears to be genuine and shows the incident, that occurred on Nov. 17, 2021, as it has been described so far.

You can clearly see an F-35B, configured for short take off (with open LIFT fan door and rear nozzle pivoted downward), rolling on the ski jump at very low speed (much lower than normal), then literally falling off the carrier for lack of enough thrust/lift. The pilot manages to launch as the aircraft reaches the final part of the ski jump.

Here’s the video:

The UK MOD has not denied the authenticity of the video (although it hasn’t confirmed it either).

As already reported, the one that crashed crashed in the Mediterranean Sea launching from the British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is one of the eight British F-35Bs and ten U.S. Marine Corps F-35s embarked HMS Queen Elizabeth on her maiden operational cruise (dubbed CSG-21).

In an exclusive story published by The Sun on Nov. 23, the root cause of the crash was identified as a plastic, red rain cover, supposed to be removed before flight, but left on for the take off. While which “cheap plastic cover” was not removed before flight has not been explained, someone suggested it could be the one that is used to protect the dorsal air intake exposed when the LIFT fan door (the so called “toilet cover”) is opened.

Anyway, the fact that the flying activity was not halted after the incident, and that all the F-35Bs embarked aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth, including those of the U.S. Marine Corps, could take part in a cross deck exercise off Italy with the Italian Air Force and Navy’s F-35Bs was a clear sign that the root cause of the crash was immediately known and, importantly, not technical.

“If [the root cause being the rain cover left on is] confirmed, the crash of the F-35B would have been caused by a catastrophic chain of failures (by more than one person) in following the standard taxi and take off procedures, that will certainly include multiple visual checks of the actual removal of the air intake covers and safety pins (which are in red color and have the usual “Remove Before Flight” sign to attract the attention and prevent this kind of incidents),” this Author commented in a previous article on the incident.

Interestingly, the new video, provided is genuine, seems to show another interesting detail: as the aircraft is rolling, it seems like the pilot attempted to change the nozzle position and tilt it rearward, possibly in a final attempt to increase the thrust.

H/T Alex Snow for the heads-up.

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 Is What We Know About Yesterday’s British F-35B Crash

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A British F-35B prepares to takeoff from the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier. (Photo: UK MoD)

The aircraft went down soon after takeoff this morning while the HMS Queen Elizabeth was sailing in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. Probably, recovery operation underway.

As you may know by now, a British F-35B crashed in the Mediterranean Sea on Nov. 17, 2021, around 10AM GMT. The aircraft was one of the eight British F-35s and ten U.S. Marine Corps F-35s currently embarked aboard the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier. A very short statement by the UK Ministry of Defence Press Office, released this afternoon, stated that the pilot was rescued and returned to the ship following a successful ejection.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, as quoted by BBC’s Defence Correspondent Jonathan Beale, provided some further details, saying that the F-35 ditched soon after taking off from the aircraft carrier and that operational and training flights onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth are continuing despite the incident. Some reports mentioned the possibility of a British pilot flying on a US jet, however it has been later confirmed that both the pilot and the F-35B were indeed British.

The HMS Queen Elizabeth is currently on her way back to the UK from the maiden operational deployment with the recently established Carrier Strike Group. The 28-week deployment, which has been dubbed Carrier Strike Group 2021, brought the British aircraft carrier to the troubled waters of the Indo-Pacific region as the flagship of the largest naval and air task force under British command since the Falklands war. The CSG was planned to visit 40 nations during the 26,000-nautical-mile cruise.

Naval AIS (Automatic Identification Systems) data showed the HMS Queen Elizabeth CSG passing through the Suez Canal during yesterday’s afternoon, as seen on multiple ship tracking websites like MarineTraffic. The info was also confirmed by satellite imagery. This restricts the area where the mishap happened to the area between Egypt, Cyprus and Crete. If the ship was to make a port call in Cyprus like it did in July before moving to the Red Sea, this would restrict even more the area that needs to be considered.

In either case, the F-35 wreck on the Mediterranean seafloor is quite a sensitive matter, as the area where the mishap happened is relatively close to the Russian bases in Syria. This crash sparks concerns similar to the ones that followed the crash of a Japanese F-35 in 2019, when reports mentioned the risks of Russian and Chinese units trying to recover the missing fuselage in the attempt to exploit its remains to gather intelligence about the F-35’s low observable and sensor technology.

In that occasion, the F-35 crashed in an area about 130 km from Misawa AB where the water depth was deemed to be about 10,000 feet. This might also be similar to yesterday’s crash, as it happened in open water with depths that can exceed, in some areas, over 3,000 meters, which correspond to about 10,000 feet. The area is also highly trafficked, given the proximity to the Suez Canal, and combined with the extreme depth, this reduces the chances of another country finding and exploiting any of the plane’s remains.

Even if someone succeeded, it is unlikely to gather useful data, as we wrote in a previous article here at The Aviationist:

“It could present problems depending on what is recovered, when it is recovered and, above all, in which conditions, after impacting the surface of the water,” our own David Cenciotti told Fox News via email. “The F-35 is a system of systems and its Low Observability/stealthiness is a system itself. It is obtained with a particular shape of the aircraft, a certain engine and the use of peculiar materials and systems all those are managed and tightly integrated by million lines of software code: this means that it would be extremely difficult to reverse engineer the aircraft by recovering debris and broken pieces from the ocean bed. However, there are still lots of interesting parts that could be studied to get some interesting details: a particular onboard sensor or something that can’t be seen from the outside but could be gathered by putting your hands on chunks of the aircraft intakes or exhaust section, on the radar reflectors etc.”

Yesterday’s F-35 mishap should be the sixth where the aircraft has been lost since it entered service, and the first non-US B-model crash. As of today, the list counts two US and one Japanese F-35A and two US and one British F-35B. Before the crash, the UK had 24 F-35Bs delivered, of which three in the USA for testing, eight on the HMSQE and the remaining ones at RAF Marham.

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.