Tag: Troubled Areas

The Air Strike That Led To The Capture (And Subsequent Killing) Of Muammar Gaddafi 10 Years Ago Today

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gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - The Air Strike That Led To The Capture (And Subsequent Killing) Of Muammar Gaddafi 10 Years Ago Today
An image of Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi, commonly known as Colonel Gaddafi. In boxes, a FAF Mirage 2000D and an MQ-1 Predator, two aircraft that took part in the raid that contributed to his capture.

On this day in 2011, an air strike by aircraft contributed to the capture of Col. Gaddafi. Here’s how it went.

Although ’s Operation Unified Protector, as the multinational air campaign in Libya was officially named, ended on Oct. 31, 2011, the Air War in northern Africa came to a virtual end a couple of weeks earlier, on Oct. 20, when the killing of Muammar Gaddafi marked the completion of the air campaign that had started on Mar. 19, 2011.

Gaddafi and his family had escaped Tripoli when Libyan capital had fallen to forces of the opposition NTC (National Transitional Council) in August 2011. Since then, Libya’s formed leader was believed to be hidden and protected by several heavily armed loyalists in Sirte, east of Tripoli. Since attempts to convince him to flee the country and give up power were ignored, when the last loyalist district fell to the NTC forces, Gaddafi, his family and inner circle members attempted to flee Sirte on a large convoy made of around 75 vehicles.

The convoy was attacked at 08.30AM LT on Oct. 20, 2011, by a French Mirage 2000D that was called into action by an RAF E-3D AWACS. Gaddafi’s vehicle was intercepted by rebel fighters on the ground and he was killed (after being wounded) as he was being transferred.

- The Air Strike That Led To The Capture (And Subsequent Killing) Of Muammar Gaddafi 10 Years Ago TodayFile photo of a Mirage 2000D (Image credit: Rob Schleiffert via Wiki)

Most probably, his decision to escape using such a large convoy was his last mistake. It’s hard to understand how a convoy made of so many vehicles could move unnoticed from the many reconnaissance and intelligence gathering platforms still flying over Libya. Even if almost all the NATO and non-NATO contingents taking part to Unified Protector had been reduced the number of SIGINT (Signal Intelligence) assets had remained almost the same.

It was one of these extremely important platforms, for instance, to intercept a phone call made by Gaddafi in the days preceding the air strike on Sirte.

Even though the bombs dropped by the French combat jet didn’t destroy the whole convoy (as just two armed vehicles and several accompanying cars were damaged or destroyed), they were decisive to halt it.

Later on Oct. 20, the Pentagon disclosed that a US Predator took part in the attack, firing its Hellfire missiles. Here’s how the operation unfolded.

The air strike on the convoy

A Predator (Note: according to other sources it was an RAF Tornado GR4 on a recce mission) monitoring Sirte movements spotted a convoy fleeing the city.  The convoy, identified as being pro-Gaddafi, was attempting to force its way around the outskirts of the city. Since the vehicles had some mounted weapons and ammunitions, the US drone attacked it with Hellfire missiles.

- The Air Strike That Led To The Capture (And Subsequent Killing) Of Muammar Gaddafi 10 Years Ago TodayFile photo of an MQ-1 Predator (Image credit: U.S. Air Force)

As a result of the first attack, only one vehicle was destroyed but many others dispersed in different directions. Shortly after the disruption, about 20 vehicles regrouped and tried to proceed in a southerly direction. NATO again decided to engage these vehicles. Orbiting nearby there was a mixed flight of a Mirage F1CR and a Mirage 2000D that were immediately directed to strike the target. The Mirage 2000D dropped a GBU-12 on the convoy, destroying 11 vehicles.

According to the official statement issued by NATO, at the time of the strike, NATO did not know that Gaddafi was in the convoy and “NATO’s intervention was conducted solely to reduce the threat towards the civilian population, as required to do under our UN mandate. As a matter of policy, NATO does not target individuals.”

As a policy NATO does not divulge specific information on national assets involved in operations. However, as the above text shows, some commanders were more than happy to let the details about their service’s involvement in the “decisive strike” leak.

What happened after the air strike strike has never been completely clarified and there are several different versions. What is certain is that Gaddafi was captured along with some of his guardsmen and shot in his head and abdomen.

Several videos related to the assassination were broadcast by news channels and circulated via the Internet.

- The Air Strike That Led To The Capture (And Subsequent Killing) Of Muammar Gaddafi 10 Years Ago TodayA map of Gaddafi’s final movements on Oct. 20, 2011, was published by BBC (link no longer available).

By the way, as some of you will probably remember since we have published an article on this earlier this yearThe Aviationist, provided a constant coverage of the crisis that led to launch of the air campaign. From Mar. 19, 2011 to the end of the war, this site provided daily reports that not only were a reference for aviation enthusiasts and other journalists, but also for the officers involved in the air campaign. “For a daily account of operations, one of the best open sources throughout the war was Italian journalist David Cenciotti’s weblog The Aviationist”, said the Rand Corporation’s report “Precision and purpose: airpower in the Libyan Civil War” published in 2015. The whole archive of daily debriefs, you can click here. For the final report, you can read here

f5260c1a4f5417527329915544c2932f?s=125&d=mm&r=g - The Air Strike That Led To The Capture (And Subsequent Killing) Of Muammar Gaddafi 10 Years Ago Today
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.

Super Rare Royal Saudi Air Force Boeing RE-3A Spy Plane Makes Stopover At RAF Waddington

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gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - Super Rare Royal Saudi Air Force Boeing RE-3A Spy Plane Makes Stopover At RAF Waddington
The RSAF RE-3A TASS landing at RAF Waddington on Sept. 30, 2021. (All images: Martin Fox)

The Royal Saudi Air Force Boeing RE-3A TASS (Tactical Airborne Surveillance System) supported by a Saudi A330 MRTT is reportedly on its way to the U.S. for rework.

A Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) RE-3A signals intelligence (SIGINT) aircraft arrived at RAF Waddington, UK, on Sept. 30, 2021. Using radio callsign RSF1077, the aircraft, serial number 1901, arrived straight from Prince Sultan Air Base, in central Saudi Arabia, home of the RSAF’s 19th Squadron, with support tanker A330-MRTT, serial 2405, RSF 1078, which landed at East Midlands airport wearing the 89th anniversary scheme.

The photos of the Saudi SIGINT aircraft you can find in this post were taken by our friend and photographer Martin Fox.

The RE-3 is a super rare aircraft. Just three such aircraft are known to be in service. Two, including the airframe 1901, are RE-3A TASS (Tactical Airborne Surveillance System), while one is an RE-3B Improved Tactical Airborne Surveillance System (ITASS) aircraft, serialled 1902.

Although this has not been confirmed yet, the aircraft, that is quite similar to the Baseline 11 standard U.S. Air Force RC-135V/W Rivet Joint (and RAF RC-135W Airseeker), was on its way to the U.S. where it will probably undertake maintenance/upgrade works.

The RE-3A belongs to a batch of eight KE-3A tankers the RSAF received in 1986 and delivered, along with five E-3A Sentry AWACS (Airborne Warning And Control Systems), as part of the “Peace Sentinel” program.

- Super Rare Royal Saudi Air Force Boeing RE-3A Spy Plane Makes Stopover At RAF WaddingtonAnother image of the RSAF RE-3A TASS serial number 1901.

According to aerospace writer and journalist Jon Lake, the seventh tanker, was delivered to Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services (the former E-Systems) at Majors Field, Greenville, Texas, where it was converted to become an RE-3A SIGINT platform, equipped with the Raytheon TASS. After the conversion to the RE-3A standard, the aircraft flew again to the U.S. for additional upgrades in December 2001 and was finally re-delivered to the RSAF in January 2004.

The conversions were managed on the RSAF’s behalf by the U.S. Air Force 645th Aeronautical Systems Group, also known as Big Safari special projects office (responsible for most USAF SIGINT and ISR programmes). While missing the distinctive “hog nose” of the American Rivet Joint, the Saudi spyplane sported similar “cheek” fairings and ventral antennas.

In 2009, the U.S. approved the upgrade of the RE-3s as part of a program worth 530M USD with L-3 Communications Integrated Systems Company in Greenville, TX, as main contractor.

The upgrades included the “installation of 10 AN/ARC-230 High Frequency Secure Voice/Data Systems, 25 AN/ARC-231 or 25 AN/ARC-210 Very High Frequency/Ultra High Frequency (VHF/UHF) Secure Voice/Data Systems, four Multifunctional Information Distribution System-Low Volume Terminals (MIDS-LVT), four LN-100GT Inertial Reference Units, 25 SY-100 or functional equivalent Crypto Systems, seven SG-250 or functional equivalent Crypto Systems, six SG-50 or functional equivalent, 10 CYZ-10 Fill Devices, modification of existing ground stations, TASS equipment trainer, mission scenario generator (simulator), and maintenance test equipment; spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical documentation including flight/operator/maintenance manuals, modification/construction of facilities, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and support services and other related elements of logistics support.”

According to the U.S. DSCA (Defense Security Cooperation Agency) upgrades would enable the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) to sustain their capability, maintain interoperability with USAF and other coalition forces, and provide flexibility options for future growth. “The upgrade will enhance the RSAF’s ability to use a common architecture for efficiently communicating the gathered electronic data, within the RSAF and with other regional coalition forces.”

Images of the RE-3A taking part in a flypast at the end of the multi-national Gulf Shield military exercise in April 2018 revealed the new “look” of the Saudi SIGINT aircraft that was eventually given the “hog nose” along with revised dorsal and ventral antenna farms. Those antennas are used by the aircraft to eavesdrop enemy signals, transmissions, detect frequencies used by radio and radars and pinpoint sites of interest, mobile stations, SAM batteries, etc. In other words, the aircraft is an intelligence gathering platform that can help to “build” the enemy EOB (Electronic Order of Battle) so as to achieve the so-called Information Superiority. As done by the RSAF RE-3s in the war against Houthi rebels in Yemen.

- Super Rare Royal Saudi Air Force Boeing RE-3A Spy Plane Makes Stopover At RAF WaddingtonThe RE-3A was accompanied by this A330 MRTT wearing the 89th Anniversary markings.

f5260c1a4f5417527329915544c2932f?s=125&d=mm&r=g - Super Rare Royal Saudi Air Force Boeing RE-3A Spy Plane Makes Stopover At RAF Waddington
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.

Two Russian Tu-160 Bombers Escorted By Flankers Intercepted By Italian Typhoons, Danish F-16s Over The Baltic Sea

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gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - Two Russian Tu-160 Bombers Escorted By Flankers Intercepted By Italian Typhoons, Danish F-16s Over The Baltic Sea
Some screenshots from the Russian MOD video show the Tu-160s, accompanying Su-35S and an Italian Eurofighter Typhoon. In the bottom left hand box, a screenshot from FR24.com.

Two Tu-160s have flown over the Baltic region. NATO, Finnish and Swedish fighters shadowed the Russian Blackjacks which were escorted by Su-35s.

Two Russian Aerospace Forces Tu-160 Blackjacks carried out an 8-hour mission that brought the bombers off the Baltic States on Sept. 21, 2021. According to the Russian MOD, the two strategic missile carriers performed a planned flight in airspace over the neutral waters of the Baltic Sea.

The missile-carrier bombers were escorted by two Su-35S aircraft of the Aerospace Force and two Su-27 fighters of the Baltic Fleet’s naval aviation during their mission.

As happened last time the Tu-160s from Engels-2 Air Base in Saratov, Oblast, southwestern Russia, the Russian Long Range Aviation (LRA) trip in the Baltic region caused several NATO, Finnish and Swedish aircraft in QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) to support Baltic Air Policing (BAP) to scramble.

The video released by the Russian MOD shows some of the fighters that were dispatched to identify and shadow the Russian “package” as it operated in international airspace: you can clearly see an Italian Air Force Typhoon currently deployed to Amari for Baltic Eagle II where they replaced the F-35As (the Russian MOD press release did mention the Italian fighters but misidentified them as F-16s) and Royal Danish Air Force F-16s. Finnish Air Force F-18s and Swedish Air Force JAS 39 Gripens were also launched and intercepted the Tu-160s.

Interestingly, at least one Su-35S made an appearance on Flightradar24.com, marking (to our knowledge), the very first time a Russian Flanker could be tracked online.

The Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack, is the largest and heaviest combat aircraft, the fastest bomber in use and the largest and heaviest variable-sweep wing airplane ever flown. Its first flight dates back to 1981 and its induction into active service took place in 1987.

The Tu-160 took part in the Air War in the skies over Syria; at least one Tu-160 aircraft flew a strike mission on Nov. 17, 2015 that hit ISIL targets in Syria using Russian 3M-54 Kalibur cruise missiles launched at standoff range. As of 2016, the Russian Air Force’s LRA still had 16 aircraft in service. In other words it’s a rare bird.

The Russians are already working on its replacement. The new Tu-160M2s are not be rebuilt, upgraded existing Tu-160s, but rather new production aircraft coming from the Tupolev plant. The new Tu-160M2 version, includes a glass cockpit, weapons upgrades, new engines and the removal of obsolete equipment no longer relevant to the Tu-160’s mission. The first flight of the first Tu-160M2 took place on Feb. 2, 2020 and lasted 2 hours and 34 minutes.  The second Tu-160M, equipped with new engines NK-32 series 02 (NK-32-02), made its maiden flight a few days ago, on Sept. 17, 2021.

f5260c1a4f5417527329915544c2932f?s=125&d=mm&r=g - Two Russian Tu-160 Bombers Escorted By Flankers Intercepted By Italian Typhoons, Danish F-16s Over The Baltic Sea
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.

‘Greater Stability’ After Chaos At Kabul Airport as U.S. and Coalition Forces Continue Evacuation From Afghanistan

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gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - ‘Greater Stability’ After Chaos At Kabul Airport as U.S. and Coalition Forces Continue Evacuation From Afghanistan
One of the U.S. C-17A Globemaster III aircraft taxiing at Kabul. In the box the RC-135W operating around the airport.

U.S. spyplane operating around Kabul as the Afghanistan air bridge continues.

Media images from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan showing scenes of chaos as people try to crowd onboard departing aircraft in an attempt to escape approaching forces as Afghanistan comes under Taliban control have been in the news for more than 48 hours now.

You have probably already seen videos show what may be two people who hung onto the outside or tried to climb into the wheel well of a C-17A Globemaster III as it takes off while U.S. Army AH-64 Apache helicopters tried to clear people from the tarmac.

The persons reportedly fell off of the outside of the aircraft near the wheel well after takeoff. At least seven people have died in the airport, the Associated Press reported citing senior U.S. military officials. American troops killed two people who were carrying weapons, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.

Video released across international media showed a large crowd running alongside a taxiing C-17A with some riding on the aircraft at the main landing gear area. Some of the group was apparently celebrating the U.S. departure, others appear to be attempting to board the aircraft even as it taxis.

Additional images posted across social media show a U.S. C-17A Globemaster III interior packed with Afghans on a flight out of Kabul.

Satellite photos of Hamid Karzai International Airport also show large groups of people gathered on the tarmac between aircraft.

Reports have surfaced from the Russian embassy in Afghanistan that the officially recognized Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani, “Fled the country with four cars and a helicopter full of cash and had to leave some money behind as it would not all fit in.” The reports, that surfaced on Russian news media and were shared by Reuters, went on to quote Russian embassy spokesman Nikita Ishchenko as telling media that, “Four cars were full of money, they tried to stuff another part of the money into a helicopter, but not all of it fit. And some of the money was left lying on the tarmac”.

The remarkable events took place as Taliban forces advanced throughout Afghanistan ahead of any U.S. intelligence forecasts for the a Deobandi Islamist movement and military organization to retake control of the country after the U.S. announced its complete military withdrawal.

After total chaos, the situation would be more stable.

US, UK and other western forces have helped to secure Kabul’s international airport, allowing the RAF to begin mass airlifts out of the Afghan capital, the commander of Britain’s evacuation effort has said, according to Guardian.

“V-Adm Ben Key, the commander of joint operations, said there was now “considerably greater stability” on the ground, ending the “distressing scenes” of Monday when some desperate Afghans clung to military aircraft as they took off. […] But the British commander acknowledged that the Taliban could close the airport at any time, and said: “We may well find that the security situation on the ground may make it untenable to continue to evacuate other people.”

Indeed, the aircraft involved in the massive evacuation are in constant danger: along with people in the vicinity of the aircraft as they taxied there’s the danger posed by RPG or small arms fire from the vicinity of the airport. This is probably the reason why many ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) platform are still operating around Kabul, collecting signals on Taliban movements in the vicinity of the airport.

Flight tracking websites showed (and continue to show – although many have been operating with their Mode-S transponder turned off) a number of U.S. Air Force C-17A Globemaster III and KC-135R Stratotanker aircraft flying out of the region. The KC-135R tankers might be providing fuel once airborne to overloaded C-17As that may have been forced to take off with lighter than normal fuel loads to carry more people on board. The C-17A Globemaster III can be specially configured with sidewall and center seating with 9 seat pallets that will make room for, “up to 188 passengers”.

But what really made the news is the report about RCH871 (reg. 01-0186), a Boeing C-17A Globemaster from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, that took off from Kabul with what the crew thought to be around 800 people.

The number was later officially confirmed to be lower, 640 souls, among the most people ever flown in the airlifter.

The Kabul Airlift is still in progress, with several air arms from all around the world rushing to Kabul to evacuate embassy personnel, nationals and Afghans eligible for resettlement.

To that respect, Twitter and the various flight tracking/OSINT accounts you can find there is probably the best place to find interesting details about the movements.

Among all the aircraft involved in the operations in or around Kabul airport there was also a helicopter that went viral as being the famous Stealth Black Hawk. Actually, it was a standard UH-60M filmed from an odd angle.

f5260c1a4f5417527329915544c2932f?s=125&d=mm&r=g - ‘Greater Stability’ After Chaos At Kabul Airport as U.S. and Coalition Forces Continue Evacuation From Afghanistan
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.
837c2d9d6db24da308bea1fe1cf06f9a?s=125&d=mm&r=g - ‘Greater Stability’ After Chaos At Kabul Airport as U.S. and Coalition Forces Continue Evacuation From Afghanistan
Tom Demerly is a feature writer, journalist, photographer and editorialist who has written articles that are published around the world on TheAviationist.com, TACAIRNET.com, Outside magazine, Business Insider, We Are The Mighty, The Dearborn Press & Guide, National Interest, Russia’s government media outlet Sputnik, and many other publications. Demerly studied journalism at Henry Ford College in Dearborn, Michigan. Tom Demerly served in an intelligence gathering unit as a member of the U.S. Army and Michigan National Guard. His military experience includes being Honor Graduate from the U.S. Army Infantry School at Ft. Benning, Georgia (Cycle C-6-1) and as a Scout Observer in a reconnaissance unit, Company “F”, 425th INF (RANGER/AIRBORNE), Long Range Surveillance Unit (LRSU). Demerly is an experienced parachutist, holds advanced SCUBA certifications, has climbed the highest mountains on three continents and visited all seven continents and has flown several types of light aircraft.

Russian Beriev Be-200 Amphibious Firefighting Aircraft Has Crashed In Turkey

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gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - Russian Beriev Be-200 Amphibious Firefighting Aircraft Has Crashed In Turkey
The Beriev Be-200 of the Russian Federation Navy. (All images: Alex Snow)

The Russian Navy Be-200 was the first one ordered by RF Navy and crashed during a firefighting mission in southeastern Turkey.

A Russian Beriev Be-200 aircraft crashed near near Kahramanmaras, in southeastern Turkey, during a firefighting mission, to fight a fire that broke out during the day as a result of a lightning strike in the forest area on Aug. 14, 2021. According to the reports, five crew members (military, belonging to the Russian Federation) and three Turkish forest inspectors were killed in the incident (some sources say just 7 people were aboard).

Footage showing the aircraft operating in a mountainous region before crashing has already started circulating online, even though the first official Russian MOD statement about the incident claimed the Russian amphibious firefighting aircraft crashed “during landing” near Adana, where the aircraft was stationed.

The aircraft involved in the incident should be RF-88450/20 Yellow “Alexander Mamkin”, the first one ordered by the Russian Navy, that participated in the Navy parade last year, where the photos you can find in this article were taken by our contributor Alex Snow. The squadron is believed to be the Center for Combat Use and Retraining of Flight Personnel of the MA of the Russian Navy, from Yeysk, Russia.

In the future, the Russian Navy will operate the Be-200 in the Be-200P variant for anti-submarine warfare but it was initially assigned the firefighting version already operated by EMERCOM, the Ministry of the Russian Federation for Civil Defence, Emergencies and Elimination of Consequences of Natural Disasters.

- Russian Beriev Be-200 Amphibious Firefighting Aircraft Has Crashed In TurkeyRF-88450 / 20 Yellow “Alexander Mamkin”

Russian Be-200s, including those belonging to EMERCOM, regularly deploy abroad to support foreign nations’ firefighting activities. At the beginning of August, the Be-200 deployed to Greece, had flown more than 100 hours in 36 missions, worth 400 water discharges with a total volume of 2,500 tons, in 7 regions of the country, including the islands of Crete and Rhodes.

- Russian Beriev Be-200 Amphibious Firefighting Aircraft Has Crashed In TurkeyHead on view.

According to Beriev public data, the basic configuration of the Be-200 amphibious aircraft is intended for fighting the forest fires using the fire extinguishing fluids. While doing this, the aircraft can carry out the following tasks:

  • stop and restrain the spread of the big forest fires by developing the protecting strip due to multiple drops on the fire edge;
  • extinguishing the small fire and fire which only starts to develop;
  • delivery of fire brigades and fire extingushing equipment to the fire region by landing on preselected water area of airfield, and return to the base.

“A particular feature of the Be-200 aircraft, when compared with the other amphibians, is that it has fully pressurized fuselage, which allows to fullfil a lot of missions. The aircraft is fitted with flight/navigation and communication equipment allowing the navigation and flight control at all flight phases in adverse weather conditions at any season, day and night. The interior for the Be-200 amphibious aircraft firefighting configuration is developed by AIM Aviation Fliteform. Passenger and combi configurations are on the list as well. While designing the Be-200 amphibious aircraft, the designers took into account the design experience and test results of the biggest jet amphibian A-40 “Albatross” which set 148 records,” Beriev website reports.

- Russian Beriev Be-200 Amphibious Firefighting Aircraft Has Crashed In TurkeyBe-200 landing at dusk.

f5260c1a4f5417527329915544c2932f?s=125&d=mm&r=g - Russian Beriev Be-200 Amphibious Firefighting Aircraft Has Crashed In Turkey
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.

NATO Fighters Intercepted Two Rare Russian Il-22PP ‘Mute’ EW Aircraft Over The Baltics For The Very First Time

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gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - NATO Fighters Intercepted Two Rare Russian Il-22PP ‘Mute’ EW Aircraft Over The Baltics For The Very First Time
A file photo of the Il-22PP Mute. (All images: Alex Snow)

The Il-22PP Special Mission Aircraft were intercepted over the Baltic Sea for the very first time.

Some pretty interesting close encounters between NATO fighters supporting BAP (Baltic Air Policing) mission and Russian aircraft flying in international airspace close to the airspace of the Baltic States took place on Jul. 29, 2021: overall, two Il-22PP “Mute” Electronic Warfare Aircraft, one Su-24 Fencer and an Il-76 Candid transport were tracked, intercepted and identified in the same area as they were on their way to Russia from Kaliningrad Oblast.

According to NATO, NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre at Uedem in Germany launched the allied fighter aircraft to intercept and identify them. The Russian aircraft did not have flight plans nor transmit transponder codes, and thus posed a potential risk to civilian flights.

The intercept mission was carried out by Spanish Air Force Eurofighters and Italian Air Force F-35s, both on QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) duty in the Baltic region.

Noteworthy, it was the very first time NATO intercepted the Il-22PP Porubshchik (NATO designation “Mute”) in that region. The “electronic escort” aircraft made its first appearance in 2017, during the celebrations of the 105th anniversary of the Russian air force over Kubinka. According to Piotr Butowski, the aircraft is a SIGINT (Signal Intelligence) and stand-off jamming platform, based on a converted Il-22 “Coot-B” aircraft (a command post and radio relay aircraft based on the Il-18D airliner).

According to Mikhail Khodorenok, a retired colonel and military analyst of the Gazeta.ru online newspaper, the Il-22PP was a necessity for the military when no other options were available:

“At one time, a few more options were considered: AN-140 and AN-158 planes with turbojet engines as well as the Tu-214,” he told RBTH. “However, at the time of the formation of the ‘defense procurement’ in 2009, none of these models were not yet fully ready to be equipped with the latest electronic warfare [EW] systems.”

“Of course, this is not an ideal solution,” he added, explaining why the new weapon has been placed on a “trusty old horse.” “However, for lack of a better option, a choice had to be made – either to stay without the EW aircraft, or to mount the equipment on the tested wings.”

While it might be a gap filler until  it is replaced by a more modern aircraft in the future, the Il-22PP aircraft (also nicknamed “Fridge” by the Russians – because it’s large and white..), is equipped with antennas so that it scans radio signals in the area of its activity and selectively jam those on which enemy aircraft, drones or air defense systems work.

- NATO Fighters Intercepted Two Rare Russian Il-22PP ‘Mute’ EW Aircraft Over The Baltics For The Very First TimeAnother image of the Il-22P. Note all the bulges of this special mission aircraft.

f5260c1a4f5417527329915544c2932f?s=125&d=mm&r=g - NATO Fighters Intercepted Two Rare Russian Il-22PP ‘Mute’ EW Aircraft Over The Baltics For The Very First Time
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.

And Here’s Yet Another Image Of Russia’s New Fighter Concept That Will Be Officially Unveiled Tomorrow

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gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - And Here’s Yet Another Image Of Russia’s New Fighter Concept That Will Be Officially Unveiled Tomorrow
Another image of the “CheckMate”. (Image credit: Rostec)

Russia’s new stealthy fighter concept, the Sukhoi “CheckMate”, is expected to be unveiled on July 20, the opening day of MAKS.

Russia’s new 5th generation aircraft concept, the “CheckMate”, believed to be developed by the Sukhoi bureau for the export market, will be officially unveiled tomorrow, on the opening day of MAKS 2021 airshow. Yesterday we published the first image of the uncovered mock up but as we approach the official unveiling some more images are starting to leak.

The latter is particularly interesting as it shows the “CheckMate” from a different angle.

The quarter view image is actually a screenshot coming from a video that was posted on Youtube on Jul. 19, 2021, by Rostec on the company channel, where it remained public for a few hours before it was made private. Why it was pulled, it’s not clear, but it seems likely that the video (the last in a series of clips used by the Russian arms industry conglomerate social media channels to tease the new fighter concept) was not meant to be issued today and it was spoiled by mistake.

The new image (on top of the article), along with a video officially released late on Jul 18, 2021, (that you can find here below) provide additional details about the new single engine aircraft (whose designation, based on the registration RF-00075/75 Blue, could be Su-75): besides the ventral inlet (whose shape and position reminds the one of the X-32 prototype), we get a better view of the IRST (Infra-Red Search and Track) sensor in front of the slide-back bubble canopy.

Interestingly, the “CheckMate” also features some mysterious bulges at the base of the twin canted tails, possibly housing the tail actuators or something else (sensors?).

The new video also shows the circular exhaust nozzles in a bit more details.

One last detail. It looks like the CheckMate promotional video produced by Rostec has at least one scene (the ultra low altitude head-on approach while flying over the desert) that seems to have been inspired by the first official “Top Gun: Maverick” trailer. Take a look by yourself.

CheckMate video - And Here’s Yet Another Image Of Russia’s New Fighter Concept That Will Be Officially Unveiled Tomorrow
One of the scenes of the latest CheckMate videos. (Image credit: Rostec)
Top Gun Maverick video - And Here’s Yet Another Image Of Russia’s New Fighter Concept That Will Be Officially Unveiled Tomorrow
The opening scene of the “Top Gun: Maverick” trailer. (Image credit: Paramount)

Meanwhile, the Web is full of artworks featuring the CheckMate.

f5260c1a4f5417527329915544c2932f?s=125&d=mm&r=g - And Here’s Yet Another Image Of Russia’s New Fighter Concept That Will Be Officially Unveiled Tomorrow
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’s The First Clear Image Of The “CheckMate”, Russia’s New Stealth Fighter Design

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gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - Here’s The First Clear Image Of The “CheckMate”, Russia’s New Stealth Fighter Design
This is a digitally altered (to highlight the shape of the aircraft) composite image of the CheckMate. (The Aviationist/Alex Snow using shots by @Сообщений / Paralay-Forum via A. Rupprecht)

Markings suggest Russia’s new stealth fighter might be designated the Sukhoi Su-75 “CheckMate”.

Some new interesting images of the new Russian 5th generation aircraft, the “CheckMate” have started to appear online ahead of MAKS 2021 airshow which kicks off next week. As we reported on Jul. 15, 2021, the jet, covered by black canvas, was first spotted as it was moved to the static display fuelling various theories around the shape of the “CheckMate”, believed to be developed by the Sukhoi bureau with an eye to the international market.

We finally have a better idea of the “CheckMate” thanks to photos which started circulating online on Jul. 18, 2021, thanks to Chinese Aviation subject matter expert and author Andreas Rupprecht:

Our contributor Alex Snow worked on a composite image based on the photos Rupprecht found on a Forum and created a single, wide view of the “CheckMate”  that allows us to gather additional details about the mock-up and the design concepts it embeds.

Su 75 composite - Here’s The First Clear Image Of The “CheckMate”, Russia’s New Stealth Fighter Design
Composite image showing the CheckMate (Alex Snow via A. Rupprecht @Сообщений / Paralay-Forum)

We already knew it is going to be a single engine aircraft with canted tails; now we can clearly see that is going to be a single seater featuring a delta wing and a ventral inlet (whose shape and position reminds the one of the X-32 prototype). Interestingly, the aircraft seems to have a side bay that might be similar to the side weapons bay of the Su-57 Felon.

Besides the digitized camouflage, one interesting thing is the registration, RF-00075 with bort number 75 Blue, that seems to point towards the designation Su-75 for the new type. However, it’s worth remembering that for the moment, the aircraft is just what is is: a mock up.

As already explained in our first article on the type, the concept might be designed for the export market and this would be the reason why Rostec released an ad teasing the jet that clearly pointed to UAE, India, Vietnam and Argentina as potential customers.

We will have two correspondents at MAKS 2021 and we will provide multiple updates from the airshow on this and other interesting projects.

f5260c1a4f5417527329915544c2932f?s=125&d=mm&r=g - Here’s The First Clear Image Of The “CheckMate”, Russia’s New Stealth Fighter Design
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’s Our First Look At Russia’s New Stealth Fighter Jet

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gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - Here’s Our First Look At Russia’s New Stealth Fighter Jet
The new Russian aircraft. (Image via Rostec)

Rostec published some photos of a new design (or mock up) of a 5th generation fighter jet ahead of MAKS 2021 airshow next week.

Photos started circulating on Twitter on Jul. 15, 2021, of an aircraft believed to be a new Russian 5th generation design. The jet, covered by black canvas, was rolled to the static display at the MAKS 2021 show, that starts next week. 

The appearance of the mysterious aircraft did not come completely unexpected. On Jul. 11, Rostec posted a mysterious tweet that teased an announcement.

On Jul. 13, TASS, did a short report on what is expected to be the new Russian aircraft. TASS directly stated that the new jet would compete with the F-35, quoting Executive Director of Aviaport Aviation News Agency Oleg Panteleyev.  Panteleyev said that this is also the main reason why the teaser of the new design, released by Rostec, has been published in English. Rosoboronexport, as Panteleyev said, has invited over 120 delegations from 65 countries of the world to the aerospace show. This suggests that this year’s edition of MAKS may be export-focused, with a significant emphasis placed on the promotion of the new aircraft.

It remains unclear whether the airframe is a prototype or just a mock-up.

The characteristics of the jet are also somewhat cryptic. TASS claims the jet would feature low RCS, high thrust to weight ratio, advanced weapons and significant payload – these are somewhat generic descriptors, usually assigned to most of the 5th generation, or wannabe-5th-generation multirole combat aircraft. The premiere is scheduled to take place on the first day of the MAKS show in Zhukovskiy – July 20, 2021. The Aviationist will have two correspondents on site and will probably be able to provide additional details on the new stealthy aircraft.

The shape seems to be (loosely) similar to the one of the YF-23.

According to some analysts, the new aircraft has been developed by the Sukhoi bureau. Based on the hashtags used on social media and images released so far the new type could be named “Checkmate”.

As noted Stephen Trimble on his Twitter account.

We may be dealing with an export product, modeled after the Su-57 Felon, but made cheaper to operate than the first of the Russian stealthy fighter aircraft.

Yesterday Rostec released an ad teasing the jet, also pointing to the export profile of the design, suggesting UAE, India, Vietnam and Argentina might be potential customers. We have also noted that one of the pilots, in the last shot of the video, is wearing an American flight suit.


Still, for now, we know little about the jet, hence everybody needs to wait for it to be officially unveiled during MAKS 2021.

It is symptomatic, however, that Russia follows the footsteps of the US, creating a tandem of fifth-generation platforms. This may be viewed as an analogy of the US F-22/F-35 duo, with the Raptor being a counterpart of the Su-57, and Lighting being a counterpart of the new, lighter, single-engine design. Panteleyev seemingly confirmed this, saying that the new, lighter design would be an answer to tactical problems.

40aa3850968f2c63b0e4b54329814324?s=125&d=mm&r=g - Here’s Our First Look At Russia’s New Stealth Fighter Jet
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.

NATO Conducts ADEX (Air Defense Exercise) In Black Sea

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gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - NATO Conducts ADEX (Air Defense Exercise) In Black Sea
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.

GAF Eurofighters at Costanta - NATO Conducts ADEX (Air Defense Exercise) In Black Sea
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.

HAF courtesy RoAF - NATO Conducts ADEX (Air Defense Exercise) In Black Sea
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.

C 27 Spartan intercept - NATO Conducts ADEX (Air Defense Exercise) In Black Sea
Romanian C-27 escorted by Romanian and Hellenic Air Force F-16s. (Image credit: HAF)

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