Tag Archives: Skrydstrup

Danish F-16 crashed in North Sea, pilot OK

UPDATED | A Lockheed Martin (General Dynamics) F-16AM fighting Falcon of the Royal Danish Air Force (RDAF) crashed in the North Sea near the Danish island of Rømø around 14:30 local time on Tuesday 27 October 2015. The pilot ejected OK and has been rescued by Danish military search-and-rescue helicopter.

The Danish Ministry of Defence says in a short statement they are currently collecting more information on the incident and officially do not know yet what caused the crash of the fighter jet from Skrydstrup Airbase. The male pilot is said to have ejected out of the aircraft in a “controlled” manner, after the pilot discovered a malfunction with the front landing gear. After circling around for an hour and in contact with air traffic control the fighter jock saw no other possibility than to ejectd. The pilot was fished out of the sea “immediately” by the SAR chopper and brought back to Skrydstrup Airbase.

The Danish Accident Investigation Board has already started its investigation in cooperation with the Danish armed forces.

Before today’s crash the RDAF had 17 F-16AM single-seaters and 13 F-16BM dual-seat multi-role fighters on strength. All operated out of Skrydstrup, which is the country’s only remaining combat air base.

Source: Forsvaret Danmark
Featured image: Royal Danish Air Force F-16AM (Image © Marcel Burger)

Danish and British join fight against ISIS

Nice and quiet inside its hardened aircraft shelter, this Danish F-16AM makes for a nice picture. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A Danish F-16AM sits nice and quiet inside its hardened aircraft shelter at Skrydstrup airbase. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Danish Lockheed Martin F-16s and British Panavia Tornado fighter aircraft are joining the air strikes against Islamic State ISIS (aka ISIL), according to statements from both countries on Friday 26 September. The deployment follows after the Netherlands and Belgium decided to send fighter aircraft earlier this week. 

Denmark is sending four F-16s plus three backup aircraft. They will take part in raids on targets in Iraq only, just like the Netherlands, Belgium and France said earlier. A final decision on Royal Air Force (RAF) offensive action fell on Friday.

The first real use of Tornado jets against ISIS is expected soon, as the aircraft have already been deployed to RAF Base Akrotiri on Cyprus. The Tornados were already there to support humanitarian operations following ISIS’s advance in Iraq. It is unclear if the Tornados are also set to operate over Syria.

Jordan is the destination for the Belgian F-16s and also seems a likely host for the Dutch and Danish Fighting Falcons.

© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest

See all our #iraqsyrialog coverage

There is a bit of a sound barrier going on here, as in 'not being able to hear'. So, for now just imagine the sound of these two RAF Tornado GR4s thundering by. We're working on sound based pictures. We don't know what those are either, but again, just use your imagination. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
There is a bit of a sound barrier going on here, as in ‘not being able to hear’. So, for now just imagine the sound of these two RAF Tornado GR4s thundering by. We’re working on sound based pictures. We don’t know what those are either, but again, just use your imagination. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Russian Backfires ignite loads of scrambles

A Tu-22M3 Backfire of the Russian Air Force (Image (CC) Alex Beltyukov)
A Tu-22M3 Backfire of the Russian Air Force (Image (CC) Alex Beltyukov)

LATEST UPDATE 5 OCTOBER 2014 (GERMAN AIR FORCE INTERCEPT) | Several air forces scrambled on Sunday 21 September to intercept a small but powerful Russian Air Force package cruising over the Baltic Sea, one of Sweden’s leading military experts, journalist Mikael Holmström, made public via his newspaper Svenska Dagbladet on 25 September 2014.

Two fast and heavy strategic Tu-22M bombers (NATO-name Backfire) escorted by a pair of Sukhoi Su-27 air-supiority fighters (NATO-name Flanker) had airbases all around the Baltic Sea on full alert.

Several sources confirmed that Finland directed at least a pair of McDonnell Douglas F-18C or D Hornets, normally based at Kuopio/Rissala, to the cruising Russian Air Force package. Sweden scrambled a pair of its SAAB JAS 39C Gripen jets from Ronneby Airbase near Karlskrona. Danish General Dynamics (Lockheed Martin) F-16s – with their home at Skrydstrup on the mainland – headed for the Russian bombers and escorts as well.

From Šiauliai in Lithuania NATO command launched at least two of the Portuguese F-16AMs based there as rotating Baltic Air Policing assets. It is unconfirmed if the Luftwaffe EF2000s at Laage in Germany reacted with their Eurofighter EF2000s, or that the Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16s or Polish Air Force MiG-29s from Malbork were scrambled. It is known that the Germans have huge issues with the availability of their EF2000s.

Portuguese Air Force (Força Aerea Portuguesa) F-16BM with serial 15139 takes off (Image © Marcel Burger)
A Portuguese Air Force (Força Aerea Portuguesa) F-16BM in ‘go’ mode. Archive photo.
(Image © Marcel Burger)

German Air Force
But on the same day the German Air Force at Ämari in Estonia did scramble a pair of its EF2000s to intercept two Russian Su-27s coming from the St. Petersburg area, which might have been the bomber escorts or a second flight of Russian Flankers. The German jets just made a quick circular flight clockwise around the Estonian capital of Tallinn intercepting the Russians while they were travelling westbound over the waters between Finland and the Baltics, according to Luftwaffe reports.

© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger

A German Air Force EF2000 photographed from an Estonian L-410 (Image © Eesti Kaitsevägi)
A German Air Force EF2000 photographed from an Estonian L-410 (Image © Eesti Kaitsevägi)

Ssshhh … there was a Red Flag 14-02

A USAF F-15E Strike Eagle pilot from the 336th Fighter Squadron from Seymour Johnson AFB goes through post-flight checks during Red Flag 14-2 3 March 2014 (Image © Airman 1st Class Thomas Spangler / USAF)
A USAF F-15E Strike Eagle pilot from the 336th Fighter Squadron from Seymour Johnson AFB goes through post-flight checks during Red Flag 14-2 3 March 2014 (Image © Airman 1st Class Thomas Spangler / USAF)

With the international community focusing on both the Russian-Ukrainian stand-off and the missing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, one almost forgets loads of other things happen in the world of aviation. Take the famous Red Flag exercises in the Nevada dessert. At AIRheads↑Fly we published a much viewed feature on edition 14-01, but the second Red Flag of the year went by largely unnoticed. Until now 🙂

Even the media units of the Belgian and Danish ministries of Defence hardly paid any attention to their men and women being deployed to literately the Vegas of aerial combat. Maybe they took the nickname of the host city a bit to seriously: What happens there, stays there. Only when Belgian Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Aviator Gerard Van Caelenberge visited the operations at Nellis AFB, a little bit of news coverage followed but without any Belgian F-16s to show. From the Danish side, it was as quiet as it normally is from the Saudis who were also there this time.

Good that the US Air Force press service and their photographers did notice they had Europeans flying combat sorties in American designed aircraft over the Nevada ranges. We selected the highlights – including footage released by the Belgian Defence of the their C-JCS visit. The Belgian Air Component F-16s and stunningly painted C-130H were caught by Dave Budd from from fellow online aviation magazine Photorecon.net. Steve Lewis followed with an astonishing photo series as well!

© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger

Royal Danish Air Force Lance Cpl. Robert Nielsen, crew chief of RDAF's Esk 730 marshals in a Skrydstrup F-16 Fighting Falcon upon arrival on Nellis AFB, 26 February 2014 (Image © Senior Airman Matthew Lancaster / USAF)
Royal Danish Air Force Lance Cpl. Robert Nielsen, crew chief of RDAF’s Esk 730 marshals in a Skrydstrup F-16 Fighting Falcon upon arrival on Nellis AFB, 26 February 2014 (Image © Senior Airman Matthew Lancaster / USAF)
RDAF Esk 727 and Esk 730 F-16s on the flightline of Nellis AFB on 26 February 2014 ahead of Red Flag 14-2 (Image © Senior Airman Matthew Lancaster / USAF)
RDAF Esk 727 and Esk 730 F-16s on the flight line of Nellis AFB on 26 February 2014 ahead of Red Flag 14-2
(Image © Senior Airman Matthew Lancaster / USAF)
A NATO E-3A Sentry AWACS takes off at Nellis AFB during Red Flag 14-2 (Image © Airman 1st Class Thomas Spangler / USAF)
A NATO E-3A Sentry AWACS takes off at Nellis AFB during Red Flag 14-2
(Image © Airman 1st Class Thomas Spangler / USAF)
A B-52 from the 96th Bomb Squadron takes off during Red Flag 14-2 on 4 March 2014  at Nellis AFB (Image © Airman 1st Class Thomas Spangler / USAF)
A B-52 from the 96th Bomb Squadron takes off during Red Flag 14-2 on 4 March 2014 at Nellis AFB
(Image © Airman 1st Class Thomas Spangler / USAF)

Participants of Red Flag 14-02 (Source: USAF)
Combat & Strike

  • USAF F-15C Eagles from the 123rd Fighter Squadron, Portland ANG Base, Oregon
  • USAF F-15C Eagles from the 40th Flight Test Squadron, Eglin AFB, Florida
  • Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) F-15S Strike Eagles, from either Dhahran or/and Khamis Mushayt (King Khalid Air Base) Airbases
  • USAF F-15E Strike Eagles from the 336th Fighter Squadron, Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina
  • USAF F-16CM Fighting Falcons from the 4th Fighter Squadron, Hill AFB, Utah
  • USAF F-16CJ Fighting Falcons (SEAD variant), 77th Fighter Squadron, Shaw AFB, South Carolina
  • Belgian Air Component F-16AM Fighting Falcons, 2 Tactical Wing, Florennes Airbase, Belgium
  • Belgian Air Component F-16AM Fighting Falcons, 10 Tactical Wing, Kleine Brogel Airbase, Belgium
  • Royal Danish Air Force F-16AM Fighting Falcons, Esk 727/Esk 730, Skrydstrup Airbase, Denmark
  • USAF B-52H Stratofortresses from the 96th Bomb Squadron, Barksdale AFB, Louisiana

Electronic Warfare & Control

  • USAF E-3C Sentry, 965th Airborne Air Control Squadron, Tinker AFB, Oklahoma
  • USN EA-18G Growlers, Electronic Attack Squadron 141 (CAW 5), Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan
  • NATO E-3A Sentries, NATO AWACS Unit, Geilenkirchen Airbase, Germany

(Combat) Search-and-Rescue

  • HH-60 Pave Hawks, 66th Rescue Squadron, Nellis AFB, Nevada
  • HC-130J Combat King IIs, 79th Rescue Squadron, Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona

Opposing Forces (OPFOR)

  • USAF F-16C Fighting Falcons, 64th Agressor Squadron, Nellis AFB, Nevada
  • USAF F-16C Fighting Falcons, 65th Agressor Squadron, Nellis AFB, Nevada
  • USAF F-15C Eagle, 65th Agressor Squadron, Nellis AFB, Nevada

Tactical airlift

  • Belgian Air Component C-130H Hercules, 15 Wing Air Transport, Brussels/Melsbroek Airbase, Belgium
Belgian C-JCS Gen. Aviator Gerard Van Caelenberge arriving on 10 March 2014 on the Belgian Air Component (BAC) Dassault Falcon 900B. Notice the BAC Airbus A330-300 in the background. (Image © Defensie / Belgian Ministry of Defence)
Belgian C-JCS Gen. Aviator Gerard Van Caelenberge arriving on 10 March 2014 on the Belgian Air Component (BAC) Dassault Falcon 900B. Notice the BAC Airbus A330-300 in the background.
(Image © Defensie / Belgian Ministry of Defence)
Belgian C-JCS Gen. Aviator Gerard Van Caelenberge went for a ride in the backseat of this USAF 65th Agressor Squadron F-15C Eagle. Taken on 10 or 11 March 2014. (Image © Defensie / Belgian Ministry of Defence)
Belgian C-JCS Gen. Aviator Gerard Van Caelenberge went for a ride in the backseat of this USAF 65th Agressor Squadron F-15D Eagle. Taken on 10 or 11 March 2014.
(Image © Defensie / Belgian Ministry of Defence)

Forty Viper Years

USAF_F16tbirdssolo
No article about forty years of F-16 Fighting Falcon is complete without one of these guys.
(Image © Elmer van Hest)

It’s extraordinary to think that back in the early seventies, an average computer was the size of an average refrigerator. But that probably wasn’t what was going on in the mind of test pilot Phil Oestricher when he – albeit unintended – took the YF-16 to the air for the first time forty years ago, on 20 January 1974. It was the soon to be first large scale mass produced fighter jet flying with microchips and fly-by-wire, and boy did it almost end in disaster. Eventually of course, it came out a winner – and the flying proof of a digital, computerized future.

Oestricher and the people at General Dynamics must have watched in horror as the prototype YF-16, stuffed with micro computer technology that was basically unheard of in those days, accidentally got airborne during a fast taxi test at Edwards Air Force Base. What followed was an almost comical struggle between a pilot – wanting not to fly – and his aircraft wanting to fly. In the end, Oestricher (read his story here) decided to take the aircraft up. He landed back at Edwards immediately after, safely ending what later became known as ‘flight zero’. Two weeks later, he took the YF-16 up for the official ‘first’ flight.

Phenomenal
That wobbly ‘flight zero’ in no way illustrates the phenomenal success the General Dynamics F-16 Fighter Falcon – or Electric Jet or Viper – became soon afterwards. As small as the aircraft is – 14.8 meters long and 9.8 meters wide – as big was and still is its commercial success. The USAF was of course the first user, but in ‘The Sale Of The Century’ the F-16 was also sold by the hundreds to Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway and Denmark. The deal was signed following the 1975 Paris Le Bourget airshow, where pilot Neil Anderson demonstrated the previously unseen manoeuverability of the YF-16.

A Belgian F-16BM, seen here pulling Gs in its natural element; the blue yonder. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The four European Participating Air Forces (EPAF) purchased no less then 524 F-16s altogether. First up: Belgium. A F-16BM is seen here pulling Gs in its natural element; the blue yonder. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Champions of the special paint, that's what the Belgians are. Number 31 'smaldeel' at Kleine Brogel airbase keeps up the tradition of painting aircraft in tiger colours. (Image © Robert van Zon)
Champions of the special paint, that’s what the Belgians are. Number 31 Smaldeel at Kleine Brogel Airbase keeps up the tradition of painting aircraft in tiger colours. (Image © Robert van Zon)
Denmark_F16AMshelter
Since the eighties, hardened aircraft shelters are as much of a natural habitat for F-16s as the sky is. It’s where a lot of European Vipers spend much of their time, like this Danish F-16AM at Skrydstrup airbase.
(Image © Elmer van Hest)
This Bravo is called Orange Jumper, because of its large orange badge. It belongs to the test unit of the KLu. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Another F-16 takes shelter. This time, it’s an F-16BM, used by the Royal Netherlands Air Force for test purposes. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
But the Dutch also have had their share of special paints. Here, two Vipers with special tails are seen at Volkel airbase. (Image © Robert van Zon)
The Dutch also have had their share of special paints. Here, two Vipers with unique tails at Volkel Airbase. (Image © Robert van Zon)
Whereas most F-16 users choose the standard 3-tone grey livery, the Norwegians opted for overall light grey... and they didn't do special paints very often. (Image © Robert van Zon)
Whereas most F-16 users choose the standard 3-tone grey livery, the Norwegians opted for overall light grey… and they didn’t do special paints very often. (Image © Robert van Zon)

Versions
Nowadays, 24 countries use the various further developed versions of the original YF-16. The two prototypes were followed by several pre-production aircraft, after which serial production started on three lines, which eventually became five lines in as many countries. The A/B versions were followed by the C/D versions. More recently E/F and I versions entered service. More obscure Fighting Falcons are the delta winged F-16XL and the General Electric J-79 equipped F-16/79. The US Navy’s (T)F-16N aggressor aircraft were also relatively short-lived.

Practice what you preach. It's no wonder the USAF equipped the Thunderbirds with F-16s in an early stage. Who needs marketeers? (Image © Robert van Zon)
Practice what you preach. It’s no wonder the USAF equipped the Thunderbirds with F-16s in an early stage. Who needs marketeers? (Image © Robert van Zon)
The F-16 has been used over hotspots for decades, one of those hotspots being the Korean peninsula. This USAF F-16C is based at Osan. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The F-16 has been used over hotspots for decades, one of those hotspots being the Korean peninsula. This USAF F-16C is part of the 51st Fighter Wing, based at Osan. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The US Air National Guard is by no means a stranger to the F-16.  (Image © Ralph Blok)
The US Air National Guard is by no means a stranger to the F-16. (Image © Ralph Blok)
US Navy F-16Ns weren't around for very long, although this specimen (serial 163576) remains preserved at NAS Fallon, NV. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
US Navy F-16Ns weren’t around for very long, although this specimen (serial 163576) remains preserved at NAS Fallon, Nevada (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Orders
More than 4,540 F-16s have been produced, mostly at the Lockheed Martin production line at Fort Worth. Apart from the four first European customers, Israel, Venezuela and Pakistan were among the early adopters as well, ordering aircraft in the early eighties. More recent customers include Chile, Morocco and Iraq. Lockheed Martin took over General Dynamics in 1993 and now has 48 aircraft remaining on order, according to a statement released on Thursday. Among the remaining orders are aircraft for Oman and Iraq. When asked, the company wouldn’t comment on any special activities relating to the Vipers’ 40th birthday.

Turning more oriental now with this Samsung built, Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) F-16D, seen on approach to Seosan airbase. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Turning more oriental now with this Samsung built, Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) F-16D, seen on approach to Seosan airbase. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Pakistan_F16Atakeoff
Pakistan was an early adopter and ordered the F-16 as early as 1981. The aircraft above was part of that order. More recently, Pakistan received brand spankin’ new F-16C/D fighters. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Pakistan_F16Atopside
Topside! (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Cruzex 2013 marks the first time forces from Venezuela and the US are training together, after years of political and ideological arguments between the two countries. The death of former Venezuela president Hugo Chávez in March this year, clearly changed the mood. (Image © Ralph Blok)
Cruzex 2013 offered a good opportunity to see some of those rare F-16s from Venezuela. (Image © Ralph Blok)
Strike a pose! Portugal operates a few dozen F-16s, of which 15108 was delivered in the mid-nineties. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Strike a pose! Portugal operates a few dozen F-16s, of which 15108 was delivered in the mid-nineties. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Blue skies and not a storm in sight. Or is there? The Lockheed Martin F-16I is actually called 'Sufa' (Storm) in Israeli service. A perfect storm which makes for a nice picture. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Blue skies and not a storm in sight. Or is there? The Lockheed Martin F-16I is actually called ‘Sufa’ (Storm) in Israeli service. A perfect storm which makes for a nice picture. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Turkey_F-16soloturk
Another topside, and this time it is the shiny upper surface of Solotürk, the demo aircraft of the Turkish Air Force. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Greece ordered several batches of Fighting Falcons over the years, totaling 170 aircraft. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Greece ordered several batches of Fighting Falcons over the years, totaling 170 aircraft.
(Image © Elmer van Hest)
Poland operates some of the most advanced F-16s in Europe. (Image © Robert van Zon)
Poland operates some of the most advanced F-16s in Europe. (Image © Robert van Zon)

Second hand
Many Vipers have changed ownership already, with the US selling or leasing lots of of their surplus aircraft to other countries. Early model F-16A and B aircraft soon found their way to Israel, and later on similar aircraft were also delivered to Jordan. A small number of US F-16Cs went to Indonesia.

Belgium and the Netherlands are also in the business of selling Vipers abroad, customers being Jordan and Chile. Some F-16s are third hand already, as Portugal sold second hand Vipers to Romania last year.

Italy used former US Vipers as a stop gap until enough Eurofighter EF2000 were delivered. These were of the F-16ADF kind, a specialized version for air defence. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Italy used former US Vipers as a stop gap until enough Eurofighter EF2000s were delivered. The AMI flew the F-16ADF, a specialized version for air defence. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Jordan flies former US Vipers as well, plus aircaft bought from the surplus inventories of Belgium and the Netherlands. This a former Belgian aircraft, now in Jordan service. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Jordan flies former US Vipers as well, plus aircraft bought from surplus inventories of Belgium and the Netherlands. This a former Belgian aircraft, now in Jordanian service. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Former Dutch F-16s also found their way to Chile although this aircraft is seen here on exercise in Brazil. (Image © Ralph Blok)
Former Dutch F-16s also found their way to Chile, although this Chilean aircraft is seen here on exercise in Brazil. (Image © Ralph Blok)

In the pocket
The whine of either the Pratt and Whitney PW220 or General Electric F110 that equips the F-16 will be heard for many years to come, as Vipers are started up at airfields around the world to fill and patrol the skies. The computerized F-16 paved the way for many military and commercial airplanes, and also for many technological applications that are now standard in every household, and possibly even in the pocket of your jeans – if that’s where you keep your cellphone.

It’s extraordinary to think what an impact this little agile fighter has had. It sure didn’t look that way on 20 January 1974. Cheers!

© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: No article about forty years of F-16 Fighting Falcon is complete without one of these guys.(Image © Elmer van Hest)

If there ever was a universal signal, it's thumbs up! This Turkish F-16 pilot shows his satisfaction after a successful mission. (Image
Thumbs up to the F-16! (Image © Elmer van Hest)