Monday, December 27, 2010
Sunday, December 12, 2010
They have also released a video shot of the aircraft while it was doing its practice routine for the airshow. It cuts off just before the moment of impact. One has a morbid thought ... when did they realize they were going to go in?
This video looks pretty much like the official C-17 demos I have seen at airshows. Unless the pilot did something I'm not seeing, this is pretty much an indictment of the official USAF demo of that aircraft.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Thursday, December 2, 2010
The Ft. Worth is the third ship of the Littoral Combat Ship class. These ships are designed for close in fighting in coastal waters, closer to land than traditional Navy ships. The ships are modular, being able to switch mission specific equipment in and out depending upon its tasking.
The vessel is being constructed at Marionette Marine shipyard in Wisconsin. It was designed by Lockheed-Martin. In an odd twist, one of her first commanding officers will be a man who was born at Carswell AFB in Ft. Worth, and grew up near the city. The ship will be homeported in San Diego after is is completed in early 2012.
The LCS series of ships actually contains two very different platforms. LCS-1 and LCS-3 look like conventional ships, while LCS-2 is a tri-maran platform.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
A F-22A Raptor assigned to the 525th Fighter Squadron, 3rd Wing crashed about 100 miles north of Elmendorf AFB Tuesday evening. The aircraft, one of two out on a routine training mission, dropped off the radar screen at 7:40pm local time while returning to the base. There was no communication from the pilot indicating trouble.
Some of the wreckage was found on Wednesday morning. The rescue helo was not able to immediately land because the crash site was deemed to be a hazardous material area, requiring proper HAZMAT equipped personnel to secure the site.
The pilot has not been found. The ejection seat has so far not been found, so it is not known if he was able to eject or went down with the aircraft. The area is very rough terrain, difficult to get into, and the search efforts have been hampered by bad weather.
The pilot has been identified by the USAF, but I will not publish it here out of respect for him and his family.
This has been a tough year for the Alaska based 3rd Wing - they lost a C-17 near the base back in July, with four fatalities.
This is the second crash of an operational F-22. With production curtailed at 187 units by Obama, Gates, and the Democrat controlled Congress, that means that 1.07% of the Raptor fleet has been lost in two incidents.
Update - portions of the ejection seat and scraps of the pilot's flight suit were found at the crash site, indicating he did not eject and died in the crash. The site is in a marshy area, and the majority of the wreckage is submerged. It will take some time to get definitive confirmation, but it is pretty certain that the incident was fatal. The pilot left behind a wife and two young children.
Update II - Air Force officials confirmed that the pilot has been prounced dead. Evidence recovered at the crash site confirms that he did not eject prior to impact, and the crash was not survivable. The investigation and recovery efforts will continue for several weeks. The crash site is in a marshy area that reaches up to 20 below zero at night. The plane's impact created a large crater, which has swallowed up the wreckage and then filled in over it.
Update III - The aircraft involved was identified as 06-4125, assigned to the 525th Fighter Squadron. It was painted as the Squadron Commander's aircraft at the time of the accident.
Friday, September 10, 2010
Beautifully marked VMFA-312 F-18C Hornet launching off a waist catapult on board the USS Harry S. Truman. Note the live bomb under the right wing.
VMFA-232's CAG bird passing over the USS after a missed approach. The squadron was deployed aboard the USS Nimitz.
A VRC-30 C-2A Greyhound catching a wire about the USS Eisenhower. C-2s provide transporation to and from the ship for personnel and material while a carrier is deployed.
This incredible paint job was applied to a VRC-30 C-2 to commemorate the squadron's 50th Anniversary. The aircraft is hooked up to a forward catapult on the USS George H W Bush.
VFA-143's CAG F-18E launching from the waist catapult off the USS Eisenhower. Markings are in dark blue, as is the 'Pukin Dogs' squadron insignia on the tail. Officially a winged griffon, the motif looks like a dog with a hangover - hence the nickname.
This wildly painted VFA-137 bird is a tribute to the Navy's new Digi-blue BDUs. The odd blotches you see are actually representations of the block shaped camo patterns seen on the Navy's new working uniforms. Pretty cool. Aircraft is seen launching off the outer waist catapult on the USS Lincoln.
VFA-97 's CAG F-18C, NH-300 is seen here about to catch the 3 wire on the USS Nimitz.
VFA-94's F-18C 164227 , seen over Mt. Fuji. The Mighty Shrikes squadron was forward deployed to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan.
Two views of F-18F 166842. VFA-41 Black Aces' CAG bird, assigned to the USS Nimitz.
All Photos Credit US Navy
VAQ-129's first F-18G Growler. This two seat Hornet model is the replacement for the EA-6B Prowler, and is starting to enter front line squadron service.
A-7E 158021 of VA-195, seen at NAS Lemoore in 1978, is representative of the colorful markings carried in the late 60s and 70s.
In the late and early '80s, the brass decided to tone down the color quite a bit. Studies had indicated that the grey/white/color paint made the aircraft easy to see at long distances, a decided disadvantage in aerial combat. The first move was to overall gull grey, with toned down unit markings. Then, the advent of TPS (Tactical Paint Scheme) ushered in a new era in NAVAIR - dull grey.
TPS consisted of 2 or 3 shades of matte grey, applied in specific patterns to each individual aircraft type. The camoflage was very effective in cutting down the aircraft's visual signatures. In practice, the greys were very hard to maintain, and due to the dull finish, stained very easily. Unit markings were mandated to be painted in one of the 3 TPS greys, whichever contrasted with the base color under the squadron markings. While the camo worked tactically, it resulted in aircraft that pretty much looked like refugees from a junkyard.
By contrast, here is an A-7E from VA-205, seen in 1988. The mottled appearance of the TPS camoflage is just normal wear and tear, but see how badly it shows up? Much more effective as a camoflage, but not exactly pleasing to the eye - or the camera.
Fortunately, a few years after the advent of TPS, complaints from the squadrons about the dull nature of the aircraft led to the Navy allowing one aircraft per squadron to receive some limited colored markings. This aircraft was typically called the 'CAG Bird' - referring to the aircraft as one marked in tribute to the Commander of the Air Wing.
As the 90s ended and the 00s came upon us, the Navy relaxed the policy even further, and more colorful CAG birds surfaced. Since the threat of air to air combat has been greatly minimized, the Esprit de Corps experienced with a colored up CAG bird far outweighs any tactical risk.
This relaxation has been a wonderful change for those of us who follow military aviation, particularly if we photograph the aircraft. Though grey is still the norm, seeing a colored up aircraft now and then puts a thrill into aviation enthusiasts.
Here are some recent 'CAG' birds and other examples of colorful markings fielded by US Navy and Marine squadrons. There are others, and I'll post some more from time to time.
The Strike Directorate based at NAS Pax River has this F-18F, BuNo 165875, undergoing tests of alternative fuels. The aircraft has been unofficially dubbed 'The Green Hornet'.
Though not a CAG bird, this VAW-126 E-2C Hawkeye carries eye catching black and blue Seahawk markings. Seen launching from the USS Truman is AC-603, BuNo 165648.
The Stingers of VFA-113 have had some spectacular CAG birds over the years. This one is rather mundane, but still qualifies as a colored up CAG bird. BuNo 164668 is a late build F-18C, and was flying off the USS Ronald Reagan.
This EA-6B Prowler of VAQ-139 is seen launching off the USS Reagan. NK-500 was BuNo 163527. The Cougars are based at NAS Whidbey Island while not on cruise.
The patriotic Prowler belongs to VAQ-141, flying off the USS Eisenhower at the time. The flag markings leave no doubt as to who owns BuNo 163521.
Test and Development unit VX-23 used this F-18C, 163476, during flight deck certification tests on the USS George H W Bush.
The rotor heads are also into the CAG thing. SH-60B 163294 belongs to HS-2, and is seen approaching the USS Lincoln.
Photo Credits - top two A-7 photos - yours truly. All others are official US Navy images.