Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Strike Fighter Ball 2011

Very cool video commemorating the Atlantic Fleet's Strike Fighter Ball 2011. Has a very nice Centennial of Naval Aviation flavor to it, paying homage to the lineage of the participating squadrons. It's a shame that there are dozens of attack and fighter squadrons that have been previously disestablished because of budget cuts, and their heritage doesn't appear here. Oh well, that's for another video ...

The good humored stab at the Reservists of VFC-12 is pretty funny, even if they are considered some of the most professional and best trained aviators in the Fleet.

Thanks to Outlaw13 for the heads up ...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

We Remember

This is the song that plays during each and every USAF Heritage Flight.

F-35A First Flight - Fifth Anniversary

Five years ago today, the first F-35A Lightning II, designated AA-1, took to the air for the first time.

Photos credit Lockheed-Martin.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Navy Colors IX - Bugs and Superbugs

Navy did beat Army, by the way ...

VFA-113 Stinger's 164656, launching and then recovering on the USS John Stennis.

VFA-151 Vigilantes' NE-300, catching the wire on the USS Abraham Lincoln.

VFA-147 Argonauts CAG bird trapping on the USS Ronald Reagan.

VFA-27 Royal Maces' F-18E.

VFA-2 F-18F coming aboard.

VFA-115 F-18C celebrating 100 years of Naval Aviation.

VAQ-141 Shadowhawks' CAG EA-18G Growler.

VFA-195's latest 'Chippey Ho' CAG bird.

All photos credit US Navy.

Navy Colors VIII - More CAGs and such

MH-60S, HSC-8, USS John Stennis.

MH-60R 166536, HSM-70.

EA-6B 164402, VAQ-136, trapping aboard the USS George Washington.

EA-6B, VAQ-131.

E-2C 165649, VAW-116, USS Abraham Lincoln.

EA-6B 161245, VAQ-139. Preparing to launch from the USS Ronald Reagan.

All Photos Credit US Navy.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

70 Years Ago

70 years ago today, World War II started for the United States.

My family visited Pearl Harbor several years ago. It was a moving event, and I highly suggest it for anyone who has not been. I was surprised by the large number of Japanese tourists who were there. Turns out the majority of people who visit the Visitor Center and the Arizona Memorial are Japanese. We were there on a weekday, and there were hundreds of them. When we visited the Missouri, not a single one was to be seen. We asked one of the Park personnel about it, and he said it was normal - while the Japanese will pay their respects to where they started the war, they will not acknowledge or honor the place where the war ended. I guess that's to be expected.

I saw a 'Dan Rather Remembers' program last night about Pearl Harbor. He interviewed some members of a Japanese high school group who were touring. The leader of the group said that he was shocked by the story and photos of the attack. Their history textbooks devote one line to the attack. ONE LINE. That's all the youth of Japan are being taught about how their country started the war - and its been that way for decades. (I wish they had provided a translation of that one line, would like to know what it says.) Shamefully, our own school children aren't taught much more than that - take a look at a high school or junior high history text, and you'd think the war never happened.

On the starboard weatherdeck of the USS Missouri, looking forward. The commemorative plate in the deck is the exact spot where the surrender agreement ending WWII was signed.

The Pearl Harbor Survivors Group is disbanding at the end of this year. The few remaining vets who survived the attack are for the most part too frail to make the yearly trip, and in a few years they will all be gone.

Take a moment today to remember what our nation went through on that day and the four years that followed.

Looking forward from the Missouri's bridge, over the twin 16" main turrets, towards the Arizona Memorial.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Iran Scores With Stealth UAV

Drones strike again!

The USAF lost what is reported to be a RQ-170 stealth recon drone over Iran. There is debate as to whether it just went rogue, or was shot down. In any case, US officials confirm that it is in Iran's hands. Us officials have also stated that the drone may have went 'out of contact' while operating over Afghanistan last week, and wandered over the Iranian border. While I have no way of knowing for certain, I'd call Bullshit on that one - the Taliban has no radar that would require the stealth qualities of the RQ-170, while Iran does. Iran says the drone went down 120 miles inside of Iraq, and appeared to be monitoring one of their nuclear facilities.

Controlled by the 30th Reconnaissance Squadron based at Tonopah Test Range in Nevada, the drone is thought to have been operated out of Kandahar, Afghanistan, where it has been glimpsed occasionally over the past couple of years.

You can bet that the Chinese and Russians are lining up access to the robot right now, and they will have comparable ones in about 6 months. Hooray for drones!!!!

Lockheed-Martin builds the aircraft, which is intended to replace the manned U-2 spy plane. Quoted costs are around $6,000,000 per plane, but that seems awfully low to me.

UPDATE - Iran released a video, now on youtube, supposedly showing the captured drone. US officials have been quoted as confirming it. I have looked at this video several times, along with photos of the aircraft, and I think it is a fake. There is no damage visible at all, which is impossible, given that this thing's operating altitude is in the neighborhood of 50,000 feet., You can't seen under the drone. The lines of the drone look wrong - they are close to the pictures, but don't seem to be exact to me, and there are features that are certainly not stealthy. Also look at the droop of the wings outboard of what looks like an external seam - there are no such seams visible on any photo I've seen.

To me, this looks like a fabrication. I could be, and am probably, wrong - but too many things just don't look right about this. This think looks like a fiberglass copy. Why would Iran do this? Propaganda - showing off something intact is a lot more impressive for them than a pile of wreckage.

They might indeed have an RQ-170 - but I just don't think this video shows it.

Update II - I saw some recent photos of this particular drone operating recently out of Kandahar, Afghanistan. Based on those shots, I revise my opinion on the above video. It appears the wings either broke off, or have been removed in order to move it - resulting in the droop, and the apparent tape job to cover it up. The color of the drone is actually a flat neutral grey - the yellowish tint in this video has got to be because of the light it is seen in.

News reports are indicating that the military knew when and exactly where it went down, and had contingency plans to either retrieve it or destroy it in place. It was in a remote area, and it took the Iranians quite some time to get to it. President Obama vetoed those plans, and decided to let the Iranians take possession of one of the most sensitive pieces of intelligence gear we currently have, and by default hand that technology not only to the Iranians but to China and Russia as well. Way to go, Appeaser-in-Chief!!!

You know, what would happen to anyone else in America who willfully handed over top secret technology to our enemies? They'd be rung up on espionage and treason charges. If you're Barack Obama, or Bill Clinton for that matter, you get to explain it away as diplomacy, and you're put on a pedestal for the left wing kooks to look up to.

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Hero Passes

The last surviving original crew member of 'Thunderbird', B-17G 42-38050 assigned to the 303rd BG, passed away on Dec. 1.

S/SGT Walter E. Hein was the ball turret gunner on the aircraft's original crew during 24 missions over Europe.

'Thunderbird' is the subject of Keith Ferris' huge mural painting in the Smithsonian, and the namesake for Lone Star Flight Museum's B-17.

Thunderbird went on to fly 112 total missions over Europe with multiple crews, survivng the war only to be scrapped.

Godspeed SGT Hein ...