Tag Archives: Hawk

Low level: looking out for red air

To be able to drop a laser guided bomb from 20,000 feet you must be reasonably certain that the enemy can not kill you before you drop your bombs. If you do not have control of the air, you are left with cold war tactics of flying in low and fast to take control of the air. These missions are difficult and dangerous and it is the focus for junior pilots as they are trained to become fighters. It involves looking out for turning points, red air and….. the colour of a cottage door.

My final low level flight on the Hawk course before the new T2 brought glass cockpits and advanced avionics, was such as flight and it the most difficult flight I had to pass in my RAF career. The day started as usual with a weather-brief before my instructor gave me a 1:25,000 map and on it was an old mill in a Welsh valley. He also gave me a set of black and white photographs and a description of the building complex stating how the target was built and how it worked. It was simulating a power station and my task was to stop it working for at least 24hrs.

The aircraft flown in this article: the BAE Systems Hawk. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The aircraft flown in this article: the BAE Systems Hawk. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

It was decided to attack the generator hall simulating the use of 500lb bombs. I set to work on the target attack, figuring out how we would find the target and what direction we would need to drop the bombs from to make sure we achieved the task.

Nick Graham is a former Royal Air Force Tornado and Typhoon pilot who also flew F-16s with the Royal Danish Air Force. He’s is currently an instructor pilot, training future jet pilots in the United Arab Emirates. This is his second blog on Airheadsfly.com. Interested in reading Nick's first? <a href="http://airheadsfly.com/2015/09/12/on-qra-thats-not-right/">Find it here</a>.
Nick Graham is a former Royal Air Force Tornado and Typhoon pilot who also flew F-16s with the Royal Danish Air Force. He’s is currently an instructor pilot, training future jet pilots in the United Arab Emirates. This is his second blog on Airheadsfly.com. Interested in reading Nick’s first? Find it here.

I found the another maps from the surrounding area and lay them out on the table to see if there was a really big feature within about 2 minutes’ flying time the I could use as an Initial Point or “IP”. Once I found this big feature, I worked out how long it would take us to fly the attack, the worked out what time I needed to get to the IP at. All that planning gave me a planned take off time, a time to walk to the jets and a time to brief. Which was about 5 minutes ago!

Navigation is taught using detailed planning techniques. Map reading at 120kts is a different skill from that used when hillwalking. The start of a route is planned to begin at a big feature on the ground which is easy to find, such as a lighthouse on a coast. Turn points are chosen for their ease of identification whilst flying towards them. A forest might stand out easily on a map, but from low level, a mast (sometimes overlooked on a map) is by far the better turn point if it is big enough and unique. Features need to be BIG, like a mountain or lake.

As I taxied out, I watched a another Hawk take off. It was red air, an instructor launching to be the air threat for our mission! We lined up on the runway as a pair, I gave the “wind it up” hand signal and we set full power against the brakes. We each checked our engines were operating normally then set a slightly reduced power. This reduced power would give my wingman the ability to use more power if he needed it to stay in position during the formation take off. I looked at the wingman, he was giving me a thumbs up, so I tapped my helmet three times and with a nod of the head, we both released our brakes.

As we began rolling down the runway I looked at my watch, we were late. With the landing gear up I pushed the flat of my hand against the canopy, signalling my wingman to deploy into a tactical formation. I directed the formation towards the start of the low level route only about 30nm away in north Wales. I was already looking at my map working out where I would cut short the route to make up the 3minutes and 23 seconds we were late.

I had a plan, and away we went, dropping into the countryside down to 250’ at 420kts. Where we could we used the natural roads (valleys) to get between turn points. This helps stay out of sight of eyes and radars, stays below the weather and helps with navigation.

A Hawk rushes over a snowy country side. (Image via Nick Graham)
A Hawk rushes over a snowy country side. (Image via Nick Graham)

By the third turnpoint we were on time, we had extra fuel and the weather had improved. The clouds were breaking up nicely and great big holes of blue could be seen in the white cloud sheet. I looked across at my wingman to check his formation and saw a very brief glint of something against the cloud. Red air! I commanded the formation to break towards the hostile fighter and directed my wingman’s eyes onto the threat until he told me he could see it too. We fought a brief turning fight at low level before the hostile hawk ran off. He had done his job and ruined my timing! And where was I? You can’t stop, so a rough direction towards the target area was a sensible move until I found a big enough feature to work out where I was.

Now I had to work out our timing again, decide if I could turn short anywhere, or if I had to speed up. I was lucky and the route was still long enough to have places left that I could cut short. The attack went as planned. As we got back together as a formation, my instructor pretended to be AWACS and told me to look in my map holder in the cockpit. He had drawn a second target map up and asked if we could attack it. I had to find out where it was, decide how to get there and back and brief the wingman.

The encounter with the other Hawk had used up most of our combat gas though and I didn’t think we had enough fuel to make it so I refused the mission and we flew home as planned via a second pre-planned target which was a recce task of finding out the colour of the front door on a remote welsh cottage.

After the mission I had to debrief the sortie and state what went well and what could have been done better. It turns out we could have just about made the late notice target but only just with no extra combat gas, so my decision was deemed acceptable.

What did I learn from that? I’d rather be red air! And of course: low level tactic continues to be important.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com contributor Nick Graham

“T-129 perfect outsider in Malaysian attack chopper deal”

The Turkish Aerospace Industries / AgustaWestland T-129 ATAK might be the unexpected outsider to win the Malaysian Army deal for six attack helicopters. While many experts bet on the AH-64D Apache, the Bell AH-1Z Viper or the Airbus Helicopters EC665 Tigre to make it to the Asian country, the T-129 might just be what Kuala Lumpur seeks to supplement its AgustaWestland AW109s it is currently arming.

Click here for more Airheadsfly.com news items from Malaysia

The TAI T-129 ATAK had the distinction of being the only helicopter in the air display during the 2014 Farnborough airshow.  (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Featured image: The TAI T-129 ATAK had the distinction of being the only helicopter in the air display during the 2014 Farnborough airshow. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

“The armed forces are to acquire six attack helicopters to reinforce operations in Esszone, as soon as possible,” Deputy Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Bakri announced on 19 December 2014. The Esszone is the Eastern Sabah Safety Zone (Esszone): an area covering the districts of Kudat, Kota Marudu, Pitas, Beluran, Sandakan, Kinabatangan, Lahad Datu, Kunak, Semporna and Tawau. It is located on the island of Kalimantan that Malaysia shares with Indonesia and Brunei. Armed rebel groups from the Sulu Archipelago invaded the eastern part of it in March 2013.

Miniguns
As an intermediate solution to beef up its fighting capabilities Malaysia’s Army Air Corps are mounting 10 newly purchased General Electric M134D Hybrid Miniguns on its ten AgustaWestland AW109s. By not ordering a 11th of these Gatling-type guns, the faith of the 11th AW109LOH the Army received might have been sealed. This chopper was badly damaged during a crash on 30 January 2014. The AW109s currently make up the complete air fleet of the army.

A pananoramic shot of the T-129 at Farnborough. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A pananoramic shot of the T-129 at Farnborough. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Labuan Airbase
Officially the AW109s are based at Kluang, but armed with the Miniguns some are or will operate out of Labuan Airbase at Sabah. The Royal Malaysian Air Force’s 15 Squadron “Panther” – flying Hawk Mk108 and Mk208s Hawk Mk208 – has already relocated from Butterworth Airbase to Labuan on 7 November. Moreover the Defence Ministry is aiming at basing its top F/A-18s and Su-30MKMs at Labuan as well, likely in smaller rotating detachments of 4 to 8 aircraft at a time. Labuan itself already was home to 5 Squadron flying the Agusta S61A-4 Nuri (licensed version of the Westland Sea King) helicopter and 14 Squadron with the C-130H30 Hercules tactical airlifter.

Best cards
Whether or not Malaysia will choose the T-129 will very much depends on the costs the manufacturer wishes to put on the invoice. With the current almost all European chopper fleet in the Malaysian armed forces, the Airbus Tigre initially seems to have the best cards on the table. But we at Airheadsfly.com won’t be surprised if Kuala Lumpur decides in favour of probably the perfect outsider in this bid: the Italian designed but Turkish redefined TAI T-129 ATAK.

© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger

>>> See our feature T-129 ATAK makes its mark

A pair of Turkish Army T129As during the development phase back in 2012 (Image © Turkish Aerospace Industries)
A pair of Turkish Army T129As during the development phase back in 2012 (Image © Turkish Aerospace Industries)

Joint Warrior Spring 2014 Participation

Two of the RNLAF AS532U2 Cougar Mk2s are deployed at sea on board the Hs. Ms. L801 Johan de Witt, a landing platform dock (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Two of the RNLAF AS532U2 Cougar Mk2s are deployed at sea on board the Hs. Ms. L801 Johan de Witt, a landing platform dock (Image © Dennis Spronk)

LATEST UPDATE 4 APRIL 2014 22:45 UTC | Kick off on 26 March 2014 for the very large NATO+ naval exercise Joint Warrior – Spring edition. Place of events: the North Sea and coastal areas of Scotland. More than 10,000 military personnel from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, France, the Netherlands, New-Zealand, Norway, Turkey, the United States and the United Kingdom participate. They put to sea 35 vessels, 35 helicopters and about 30 aircraft. The actual war games take place from 31 March to 10 April and marks the first deployment ever of the new Boeing P-8A Poseidon (US Navy) in Europe!

Footage of 40 Commando Royal Marines in helicopter assault, Joint Warrior 31 March 2014

RAF Lossiemouth will be the main air base of operations for the land based air assets, with RAF Leuchars as the secondary land base. The air assets confirmed to be involved in Joint Warrior Spring 2014 are these units and/or aircraft:

  • Marine (French Navy) Breguet Atlantique from SECBAT (tail nr. 18), operating out of RAF Lossiemouth
  • Royal Canadian Air Force Lockheed CP-140 Aurora, two aircraft (140115, 140113 (404 Maritime Patrol and Training Squadron, CFB Greenwood)), operating out of RAF Lossiemouth
  • Royal Navy/Fleet Air Arm Westland Wildcat maritime helicopters from 700W Naval Air Squadron, RNAS Yeovilton, UK
  • Royal Navy/Fleet Air Arm AgustaWestland Merlin Mk1 shipborne ASW helicopters from 829 Naval Air Squadron, operating from Type 23 frigates
  • Royal Navy/Fleet Air Arm AgustaWestland Merlin Mk2 maritime patrol & anti-piracy helicopters from 820 Naval Air Squadron, RNAS Culdrose, UK
  • Royal Navy/Fleet Air Arm Westland Sea King Mk4 (Commando Helicopter Force) from 845 Naval Air Squadron, operating from Helicopter Carrier HMS Illustrious
  • Royal Netherlands Air Force Eurocopter (Airbus Helicopters) AS532U2 Cougar Mk2 transport helicopters from 300 Squadron (Gilze Rijen AB), two embarked on the LPD L801 Johan de Witt
  • Royal New Zealand Air Force Lockheed P-3K Orion from 5 Squadron (NZ2403) (Whenuapai Mil), operating out of RAF Lossiemouth
  • Royal Navy/Fleet Air Arm BAe Hawk T1 advanced jet trainers from 736 Naval Air Squadron (RNAS Culdrose), at least 4 aircraft (incl. no. XX170, XX301, and XX316), operating out of RAF Lossiemouth
  • Royal Norwegian Air Force Lockheed P-3C Orion (3298 “Viking”) from 333 skvadron (Andøya AB), operating from RAF Lossiemouth
  • Royal Norwegian Air Force Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 Super Hercules (5629 “Nanna”) from 353 skvadron (Gardermoen IAP), flying in supplies to RAF Lossiemouth
  • Royal Air Force BAe Hawk T2 advanced jet trainers from 4(R) Squadron, RAF Valley
  • Royal Air Force BAe Hawk T1 advanced jet trainers from 100 Squadron, RAF Leeming
  • Royal Air Force Panavia Tornado GR4 interdicter strike aircraft from IX Squadron, RAF Marham
  • Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon multi-role fighters from XI Squadron, RAF Coningsby
  • Royal Air Force Boeing E-3D Sentry AWACS from 8 Squadron, RAF Waddington
  • Royal Air Force Airbus Voyager tanker (A330 MRTT) from 10 Squadron, RAF Brize Norton
  • Royal Air Force Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules from 47 Squadron, RAF Brize Norton
  • Royal Air Force BAe 125 CC3 (ZD703) liaison jet from RAF Northolt, flying in RAF Lossiemouth 29 March 2014
  • Royal Air Force Agusta Westland Merlin HC3 medium-lift helicopters from either 28(AC) Squadron and/or 78 Squadron, RAF Benson
  • Royal Air Force Boeing Chinook medium-lift helicopters from either 7 and/or 18 and/or 27 Squadron, RAF Odiham
  • Army Air Corps Boeing/Westland WAH-64 Apache attack helicopters
  • Army Air Corps Boeing Chinook transport helicopters, incl. from 27 Squadron, RAF Odiham
  • Army Air Corps Aérospatiale Puma transport helicopters
  • Army Air Corps Lynx Mk9A
  • US Navy Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol & surveillance aircraft, from VP-5 (436) (NAS Jacksonville), operating out of RAF Lossiemouth
  • US Navy Lockheed P-3C Orion MPA, two aircraft from VP-10 (161413, 885) (NAS Jacksonville), operating out of RAF Lossiemouth
  • US Navy Lockheed NP-3 Orion MPA test aircraft, from VX-20 (158204) (NAS Patuxent River), operating out of RAF Lossiemouth
  • US Navy Sikorsky SH-60 and MH-60 Seahawk shipborne maritime helicopters on board the cruisers USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55), USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) guided-missile destroyers USS James E. Williams (DDG 95), USS Cole (DDG 67), USS Ross (DDG 71), guided-missile frigate USS Samuel B Roberts (FFG 58), and fleet replenishment oiler USNS Kanawa (T-AO 196)
  • US Navy Lockheed C-130T-30 Hercules (no. 4598) from VR-55 (NAS Point Mugu) flying in supplies to RAF Lossiemouth

Sources: Koninklijke Marine / Royal Navy / US Navy and several aviation enthousiasts with the latest on-site confirmations.

RAF Typhoon ZJ803 during an earlier training (Image © Marcel Burger)
Britain is likely to give the Joint Warrior naval fleet simulated air threats with RAF Typhoons like this one
(Image © Marcel Burger)

The 12th USN P-8A Poseidon taking-off from Boeing Field, Seattle (Image © Boeing)
The 12th USN P-8A Poseidon taking-off from Boeing Field, Seattle (Image © Boeing)

Indian Navy: 2nd MiG-29K base on East Coast

The Indian Navy plans to set up a second air base for it Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29K fighters at the east coast, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Devendra Kumar Joshi said to The Times of India.

Naval Air Station INS Dega in Vizag will be the preferred location, the admiral said. Currently 20 to 29 MiG-29Ks (NATO-name Fulcrum) form a squadron in Goa on the west coast of the country and provide the Indian Navy’s aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya of its main air combat element. The vessel is due to be commissioned on November 16th, 2013.

With India having ordered 45 MiG-29Ks, a third unit will stand up at INS Dega. They will fly alongside 17 Hawk Mk 132 advanced jet trainers to be based there.

A fourth MiG-29K unit will be formed for the INS Vikrant, a new aircraft carrier that is set to start operations in 2017.

Apart from the newer MiG-29Ks of the Indian Navy, the Indian Air Force flies 66 older MiG-29s. Those aircraft are being upgraded to MiG-29UPG. Most significant change is a new non-Russian avionics suite, a new Zhuk-ME Radar, a better engine and better weapons delivery. However the upgrading process goes fairly slow and will likely take at least until the end of 2014, 2015 or even 2016 to be completed.

Last week a 67th IAF MiG-29 with registration KB739 crashed near Jamnagar Air Base.

Source: The Times of India with additional reporting by AIRhead’s Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): An Indian Navy MiG-29KUB during sea trials (Image © Mikoyan Gurevich)

Related posts

Goodbye to South Korean Hawks & Talons

The Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) is saying good bye to its Hawk Mk67s. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) is saying goodbye to its Hawk Mk67s. The aircraft above is one of ten now registered in the US. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

The Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) is getting rid of its twenty year old British Aerospace Hawk Mk67 aircraft, as ten of them showed up on the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) register last week. The aircraft are reportedly owned by AirUSA in Nevada. The ROKAF is replacing these Hawks with indigenous developed and built T-50 Golden Hawk aircraft. AIRheads↑FLY visited South Korea years ago, the faboulous dish of kimchi being our main target. Oh, and we saw some of those Hawks as well.

The ROKAF Hawk were based at Yecheon airbase in central South Korea. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The ROKAF Hawk were stationed at Yecheon airbase in central South Korea. Deliveries began in 1993. This aircraft is caught landing at its homebase in autumn 2004. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The camouflage on these aircraft was as striking as the dayglow parts. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The camouflage on these aircraft was as striking as the orange dayglow parts. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Talon
Not only did the Koreans say goodbye to the Hawks, they did the very same to the thirty Northrop T-38A Talons that were leased from the US. In South Korea, these trainers also used Yecheon as their homebase. Over the last few years, the Talons returned stateside, where they returned flying in USAF service. Most of them are now operating from Holloman AFB, NM.

The dayglow was also found on the T-38A Talons in South Korea. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The orange dayglow was also found on the T-38A Talons in South Korea. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The Hawks and T-38 shared the runway at Yecheon airbase. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The Hawks and T-38 shared the runway at Yecheon airbase. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
T-38s are gone from South Korean skies, but continue training pilots in many countries. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
T-38s are gone from South Korean skies, but continue to train pilots in many countries. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

And what replaces both the Hawks and Talons is the Korea Aircraft Industries (KAI) T-50; a state of the art two-seater that is capable of supersonic speeds. The T-50 is flying in substantial numbers in South Korea now, and recently the first aircraft were delivered to Indonesia.

Seen landing at Sacheon is the second KAI T-50 prototype. The installation over the exhaust houses an anti spin dragchute. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
This is the second KAI T-50 prototype, seen in October 2004. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

© 2013 AIRheads’ Elmer van Hest