Tag Archives: Typhoon

Anglo-French combat: Joint Warrior kicks off

RAF Typhoon ZJ803 during an earlier training (Image © Marcel Burger)
RAF Typhoon ZJ803 during an earlier exercise (Image © Marcel Burger)

Royal Air Force Tornados, Armée de l’Air (AdlA) Mirage 2000-5s, Orion maritime patrol aircraft and much more gets airborne on Sunday October 6 in the skies of the United Kingdom as the autumn edition of the joint Anglo-French combat exercise Joint Warrior kicks off.

About 60 to 80 aircraft will take part in the air, sea and ground operations, including 40 aircraft from the Royal Air Force. RAF Wing Commander Steve Boyle responsible for the planning explains: “Joint Warrior simulates a very broad range of evolving crisis and conflict scenarios that could be realistically experienced in current and recent operations. We do this to meet the participant nations training needs.”

Disciplines to display include so-called Composite Air Operations. Aircraft of different types, roles and units fly from varied locations in the UK and France and are combined into one package. When practicing Close Air Support sometimes aircraft will use live weapons. The same goes for the Joint Fires, when ships off the coast, land mortars and combat aircraft will engage targets on the Cape Wrath Weapons Range. Furthermore Joint Warrior will see intelligence gathering and dispatch of imagery and video through other forces, anti-submarine warfare and counter piracy.

Joint Warrior is held twice a year. During the current 11-day joint multinational 2013 autumn edition aircraft will fly from the following locations.

RAF Brize Norton, England
Air-to-air refueling tankers

RAF Lossiemouth, Scotland
RAF Tornado GR4s
US Navy P-3
Royal Canadian Air Force CP-140 Aurora
Aéronautique Navale (French Naval Aviation) Atlantique 2
Marine (German Navy) P-3C

RAF Marham, England
RAF Tornado GR4s

RAF Leeming, England
RAF Typhoons (normally based at RAF Leuchars)
RAF Hawks
AdlA KC-135
AdlA Mirage 2000Ns

BA116 Luxeuil/St.Sauveur, France
Mirage 2000-5Fs

Ships at sea
Corvette L16 Absalon (Denmark, flagship, capable of carrying 2 helicopters), HMS Monmouth, HMS Portland, HMS Somerset, HMS Sutherland, HMS Cattistock, HMS Brocklesby, HMS Bangor, Type 23 Frigate HMS Northumberland and undisclosed ships from the navies of Norway and France.

Source: RAF/RN/Danish Navy

More than 1200 sorties during Nordic ‘Red Flag’

The Finnish Air Force contributed with F-18Cs (Image © Dennis Spronk)
The Finnish Air Force contributed with F-18Cs (Image © Dennis Spronk)

A huge military air exercise in the skies of Scandinavia ended on Friday September 27, 2013. During this first ever edition of the Arctic Challenge Exercise (ACE13) about 70 aircraft of five nations flew an impressive number of 1200 sorties, accumulating more than 2,000 flying hours.

The Swedish Armed Forces even published a nice radar image of the angels and bogeys in the air at a certain time in the skies over Northern Scandinavia, with the epicentre of the air war northwest of Vidsel Airbase.

Up to 70 aircraft were in the air at a certain time, flying from Luleå-Kallax in Sweden, Rovaniemi in Finland and the Royal Norwegian Air Force main bases of Bodø and Ørland.

Two of NATO’s native English speaking nations contributed as well, but amazingly the Royal Danish Air Force didn’t participate with any of their F-16s in this somewhat Red Flag-styled Scandinavian exercise.

These are the aircraft, units and nations that did participate:

Operating from Bodø (Norway): 34 aircraft

  • 8 F-15C, USAFE, 493rd FS
  • 10 F-15E, USAFE, 494th FS
  • 8 F-16AM/BM, RNoAF, 132 AW
  • 2 F-18M2, FinAF, OT
  • 6 JAS 39C, SweAF, 212.sqn

Operating from Luleå-Kallax (Sweden): 17 aircraft

  • 8 Typhoon, RAF, 6 Sqn
  • 4 JAS 39C, SweAF, 211.sqn
  • 4 JAS 39C, SweAF, OT/E
  • 1 S 100 (ASC890) AEW&C, SweAF, 71.sqn

Operating from Rovaniemi (Finland): 14 aircraft

  • 8 F-18C/D, FinAF, FS11
  • 6 JAS 39C, SweAF, 171.sqn

Operating from Ørland (Norway): 4 aircraft

  • 2 KC-135, USAFE, 351st ARS
  • 2 E-3A, NATO, AWACS

Some supporting aircraft like the Saab TP 100 of the Swedish Air Force are not included in the sum-up, because they were not part of the air combat training itself.

© 2013 AIRheads’ Marcel Burger with source information Flygvapnet

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Red Flag Scandinavian style: Arctic Challenge 2013

Nice motion blur on this Swedish Saab JAS 39A, seen in June 2006 at Satenäs in Sweden. The model A Gripen have now been replaced by C models. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Nice motion blur on this Swedish Saab JAS 39 (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Three nations, 64 combat aircraft in the air at a time, the air forces of five countries and 2000 personnel. That is Arctic Challenge. Red Flag Scandinavian Style is being held for the first time from September 16 to September 27, 2013, in Sweden, Norway and Finland.

In total 90 aircraft will be deployed during ACE13 – nice abbreviation by the way – if one includes tanker and support aircraft. Pilots will train in co-ordinated combat tactics and procedures. The scenario is a peace enforcing operation with UN mandate.

The exercise is being conducted from four airbases: F21 Luleå-Kallax in Sweden, Bodø and Ørland in Norway and Lapin Lennosto i Rovaniemi, Finland. Operations are being directed from Bodø.

Every day two missions are flown. The morning ops are done in three different areas, one in Norway, one in Sweden and one in Finland. The afternoon program is solely executed in the vast training area of Northern Sweden, from Lycksele in the south to Kiruna in the north.

Contributing countries/units and airplanes are the 211, 212, 171 Air Combat divisions and 22 JAS 39 Gripen of the Swedish Air Force (Flygvapnet), F-16AM/BM Fighting Falcons of the Royal Norwegian Air Force, F-18C/D of the Finnish Air Force, Royal Air Force Typhoons and 30 F-15s of the US Air Force in Europe (USAFE; both F-15C Eagle and F-15E Strike Eagle).

Sweden deploys a Saab S 100 (ASC890) AEW&C and a Saab Tp 100 transport aircraft. The USAFE sends two KC-135s, NATO deploys a Boeing E-3C Sentry AWACS.

Images and a text in Swedish of the operations on September 20th here >>>

Source: Flygvapnet (Sverige) / Forsvaret Norge

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And the losers are …

The JAS 39 Gripen (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The JAS 39 Gripen (Image © Elmer van Hest)

As reported this week, the F-35A Lightning II has taken the final hurdle in the Netherlands. That leaves a few companies with empty hands, although it has to be said that Saab, Dassault and Eurofighter GmbH did just about everything they could. It’s however no major surprise that the F-35A will after all replace the Dutch F-16 in a few years time. Saab, Dassault, and Eurofighter GmbH were essentially the losers from the word ‘go’, as the Dutch MoD basically had only thing in mind. Here goes a tribute to losers!

The granddaddy of all; the first Rafale first flew on 4 July 1986, two months before the first Eurofighter technology demonstrater and two years before the first Saab Gripen. This is the same Rafale at the Le Bourget in 1991. Excuse the shitty picture, but the Rafale happens to be our favoruite loser. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Le grand-père of all; the first Rafale first flew on 4 July 1986, two months before the first Eurofighter technology demonstrator and two years before the first Saab Gripen. This is the same Rafale at the Le Bourget Airshow in 1991. Excuse the shitty picture, but Rafale happens to be our favourite loser. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

In 2001, Rafale, Gripen and Eurofighter went head to head at the Leeuwarden airshow in the Netherlands. The JSF – as the F-35 was known as back then – was nowhere to been seen, since the prototype X-35 only flew first in October 2000.

First up was this Saab JAS39A Gripen. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
First up was this Saab JAS 39A Gripen … (Image © Elmer van Hest)
... followed by this Italian pre production EF2000. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
… followed by this Italian pre-production EF2000. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Closing the curtains was the Rafale B. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Closing the curtains at Leeuwarden was this Rafale B. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

In the years that followed, all three competitors started appearing in European skies more and more, while the F-35 only really started testing in late 2006.

In 1997, Eurofighters started to appear in the UK, Germany, Spain and Italy. This Spanish twoseater was a unfortunate one, as it crashed in November 2002. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
In 1997, Eurofighters started to appear in the UK, Germany, Spain and Italy. This Spanish two-seater was an unfortunate one, as it crashed in November 2002. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Nice motion blur on this Swedish Saab JAS39A, seen in June 2006 at Satenäs in Sweden. The model A Gripen have now been replaced by C models. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Nice motion blur on this Swedish Saab JAS 39A, seen in June 2006 at Såtenäs in Sweden. The model A Gripen has now been replaced by C models. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
New type, new training. In the UK, RAF Coningsby was and is the place to be for Typhoons, as the Eurofighter EF2000 is now called. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
New type, new training. In the UK, RAF Coningsby was and is the place to be for Typhoons, as the Eurofighter EF2000 is now called. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Export
As production mounted, Saab, Dassault and Eurofighter started looking for export customers for their hardware in the hope that sells would really take off. All types saw action in the 2011 Libya war. Meanwhile, testing of the F-35 continues in the US. Some time between August 2016 and December 2016, the first USAF F-35 squadron will reach Initial Operational Capability.

A Rafale C takes off loaded with maximum fuel (Image © Elmer van Hest)
June 2008: an Armée de l’Air Rafale C takes off loaded with maximum fuel. Despite many efforts, the sky remains cloudy for Dassault. The company still hasn’t sold a single Rafale outside France. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Saab is actually not with empty hands. The company has exported the Gripen to the Czech Republic, Hungary, South Africa and Thailand. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Slightly clearer skies for Saab. The Swedish company exported the Gripen to the Czech Republic, Hungary, South Africa and Thailand. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The Eurofighter Typhoon was sold succesfully to Saudi Arabia. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The Eurofighter Typhoon was sold successfully to Saudi Arabia. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Show off
In recent years, Gripens, Rafales and Eurofighters were steady performers at airshows worldwide. It is unclear when the first F-35 will be seen outside the United States.

Stick 'm up! (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Light ‘m up! (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Stick 'm up again! (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Light ‘m up again! (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The Gripen design in true form. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The Gripen design in true form. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Spanish Typhoon rolling during an airshow. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A Spanish Typhoon rolling during an airshow. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A Rafale rolling as well. Rafale and Eurofighter went head to head during several bids. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A Rafale rolling as well. Rafale and Eurofighter went head to head during several bids. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Gripen on approach (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Landing time for this Gripen. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Landing time for this RAF Typhoon. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Typhoon on approach. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Rafale aims for a touchdown, and is still doing so in 2013. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Rafale aims for a touchdown, and is still doing so in 2013. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
As a matter of fact, older JAS39A Gripens are already used as museum pieces. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Forever touchdown: older JAS 39A Gripens are already used as museum pieces. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

The final loser
There is however one more loser in the well over a decade long debate about a Dutch F-16 replacement. It’s the F-35A Lightning II that in some years time will touch down on Dutch soil, but will have to do its very best to win the hearts and trust of Dutch taxpayers. Plus, we at AIRheads↑FLY simply think its not the sexiest thing in the sky. Go Rafale!

Dutch F-35A F-001 seen over Texas. (Image © Ministerie van Defensie)
Dutch F-35A F-001 seen over Texas. (Image © Ministerie van Defensie)

© 2013 AIRheads’ Elmer van Hest

War talk: RAF deploys 6 Typhoon fighters

RAF Typhoon ZJ803 during an earlier training (Image © Marcel Burger)
RAF Typhoon ZJ803 during an earlier training (Image © Marcel Burger)

The Royal Air Force deployed six Typhoon fighter jets to its Akrotiri base at Cyprus on Thursday morning August 29th.

,,This is part of ongoing contingency planning”, an RAF official writes in a press release. ,,This is a precautionary measure, specifically aimed at protecting UK interests and the defence of our Sovereign Base Areas at a time of heightened tension in the wider region. This is a movement of defensive assets operating in an air-to-air role only. They are not deploying to take part in any military action against Syria.”

But in case there will be action the Eurofighter Typhoons can quickly be retasked with other missions, although interdiction of Syrian airspace seems highly risky at first if one considers the country’s ground based air defences.

,,The Prime Minister has made clear no decision has been taken on the UK’s response to the situation in Syria and there will be a House of Commons vote before any direct military involvement”, according to the RAF press release.

Later on Thursday the British parliament voted against military actions against Syria, so the possible re-tasking of the Typhoons is out of the question.

Source: RAF