Air International 2018-06
-
Main: Military
The MiG-31BM is the only specialised air defence type in the FA inventory. It is used to protect the vast territories without ground-based air defence infrastructure in the extreme northern and far eastern regions of Russia.
The Su-25SM is the mainstay of the FA's attack force, equipping six front-line squadrons, while the enhanced but long-delayed Su-25SM3 is now expected for service introduction this year.
Since the early part of this decade, the RuASF has sharply intensified aircrew training, including employment practice of air-to-surface weapons in attack and bomber regiments. The Su-25 Frogfoot fleet is easy to maintain and overhaul, and the type has ample life-extension reserves to remain in frontline service until the early 2030s. The Su-24M Fencer has been among the most problematic aircraft types in the FA fleet, with difficult maintenance and complex flight performance; the type has suffered from serious attrition in the past decade.
Currently the Su-25UB fleet is increasing, with plans for establishing one new regiment with two component squadrons, but pilot shortage is among the factors which prevented this taking place in 2017.
The Su-30SM (in the foreground) and Su-35S are the mainstays of the FA fighter fleet. Both are multi-role aircraft capable of delivering a wide range of precision-guided air-to-surface munitions.
The first Su-35S batch ordered for the RuASF in 2009 numbered 48 examples, the last of which were delivered in 2016. Deliveries of the second batch of 50 aircraft are expected to be completed in 2020.
The Su-30SM (in the foreground) and Su-35S are the mainstays of the FA fighter fleet. Both are multi-role aircraft capable of delivering a wide range of precision-guided air-to-surface munitions.
Merlin HC4 ZJ122/F on a test flight from Yeovil.
Tail folded on the first Merlin HC4; the photos show the articulation of the tail fold mechanism.
Four Merlin HC4 aircraft are in flight test programme, one of which was delivered to the Royal Navy on April 25, 2018. At the end of February, a further six aircraft had entered the modification programme.
F-15C Eagles taxi at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa during an exercise.
A 493rd Fighter Squadron F-15C Eagle taxis out of a hardened aircraft shelter at RAF Lakenheath, England.
F-15C Eagle 86-0158/MA assigned to Massachusetts Air National Guard's 104th Fighter Wing receives fuel from a US Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker. This image was shot during a recent deployment by the Air National Guard to Leeuwarden Air Base, Netherlands, as part of a Theater Security Package in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve.
An airman assigned to the 48th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron conducts a pre-flight inspection of an F-15C Eagle at RAF Lakenheath, England.
Lakenheath-based F-15C Eagles over Morocco during Exercise African Lion.
Two F-15C Eagles assigned to the 493rd Fighter Squadron prepare to receive fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker on April 20, 2018 during Exercise African Lion, a multilateral exercise staged to improve interoperability with the Royal Moroccan Air Force.
F-15C Eagle 86-0158/MA assigned to Massachusetts Air National Guard's 104th Fighter Wing receives fuel from a US Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker. This image was shot during a recent deployment by the Air National Guard to Leeuwarden Air Base, Netherlands, as part of a Theater Security Package in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve.
Two F-15C Eagles assigned to the 493rd Fighter Squadron prepare to receive fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker on April 20, 2018 during Exercise African Lion, a multilateral exercise staged to improve interoperability with the Royal Moroccan Air Force.
Around 180 French airmen deployed to Leeuwarden, many of them were maintenance and support personnel. In this photo technicians prepare a Rafale for flight.
Nine Rafales participated in this year's Frisian Flag, only the second time the type had taken part. The first time was in 2008.
Rafale C No.128/30-GG painted with a tiger tail to celebrate 100 years of SPA 162.
The single-seat Rafale Cs participating in Frisian Flag were configured with a single MICA captive training missile carried on the left hand wingtip station.
Fighters based at Leeuwarden Air Base for Frisian Flag were able to aerial refuel with tanker aircraft operating from Eindhoven Air Base as part of the European Air Refuelling Training exercise.
After hours of planning this Rafale pilot climbs aboard to start his next Frisian Flag mission.
SPA 162 operates the Rafale B and C models from BA118 Mont-de-Marsan in the South of France.
This MiG-29SMT is from the first batch of newly built MiG-29SMTs which were handed over to the RuASF in 2009 and serves with the 14th Guards IAP at Kursk-Khalino. The humpbacked Fulcrums serving with the regiment will be replaced by the Su-30SM in 2018 but it is not known where they will be based after that.
This early production Su-34 belonging to the 47th BAP Su-34 is armed with four ZB-500GD napalm bombs.
In addition to bomber missions, the Su-34 is expected to be made compatible with the Sych under-fuselage recce pod.
The Fencer-D is set to continue its service with the FA branch until the early 2020s, flying with only two front-line squadrons and one conversion and training and instruction-research unit.
The swing-wing Su-24M Fencer-D serves in dwindling numbers with the FA, equipping only four front-line squadrons, two of which will convert to the Su-34 in 2018. A handful of aircraft, including this machine, fly with the Lipetsk combat training centre. Most of the surviving Fencer-Ds are upgraded machines, featuring the SVP-24 navigation/attack avionics package.
Su-24MR reconnaissance aircraft are used to equip four independent recce squadrons - one in each of the four military districts.
While the MC-130J crew sets up for another series of plugs, the Caracals keep their distance. Note the Dune de Pila, the biggest sand dune in Europe, in the background.
Helicopters only move into the pre-plug position after the MC-130J crew has tested the two hoses to ensure they have extended correctly and are functioning properly.
The lead Caracal helicopter moves into position while a second Caracal waits for clearance from the MC-130J crew to move to the other side to commence a series of six aerial refuelling plugs.
The third and final sortie of the daily exercise schedule took place after dark, for which the Caracal crews fly the entire sortie with night-vision goggles.
This picture clearly shows the difference in height between the lead Caracal plugged into the basket and the second aircraft.
Typically, the Caracals unplug from the basket before turning within the oval-shaped HAAR track but maintain a close formation with the MC-130J.
All Caracal sorties were flown with a diver on board because the aerial refuelling track used was located over the ocean; the diver provides over watch and notifies the crew each time the other helicopter plugs and unplugs with the basket. The diver also notifies his crew of the positional changes of the other Caracal behind the MC-130J.
Production of the Su-57 is expected to begin in 2018, with the first two examples being delivered to the RuASF for so-called experimental operation and field trials in late 2019. Currently, there are ten T-50 prototypes involved in the exhaustive test and evaluation effort.
Never in the history of Frisian Flag did the Armee de I'Air deploy so many aircraft to the exercise. This year's French participants were nine Rafales and four Mirage 2000Ds.
A Mirage 2000D crew assigned to EC 3 from BA133 Nancy climb aboard their jet. The aircraft has mission markings applied from Operation Barkhane.
The Mirage 2000Ds at Frisian Flag were configured with a single GBU-49 precision-guided munition carried on the centreline pylon under the fuselage.
Nine Rafales participated in this year's Frisian Flag, only the second time the type had taken part. The first time was in 2008.
Final pre-flight checks for a Rafale B crew assigned to EC 01.004 'Gascogne'.
EC 01.004 'Gascogne' based at BA113 Saint Dizier is part of the Armee de I'Air's Strategic Forces Command, flying the Rafale B since 2010.
While the MC-130J crew sets up for another series of plugs, the Caracals keep their distance. Note the Dune de Pila, the biggest sand dune in Europe, in the background.
Helicopters only move into the pre-plug position after the MC-130J crew has tested the two hoses to ensure they have extended correctly and are functioning properly.
The lead Caracal helicopter moves into position while a second Caracal waits for clearance from the MC-130J crew to move to the other side to commence a series of six aerial refuelling plugs.
Typically, the Caracals unplug from the basket before turning within the oval-shaped HAAR track but maintain a close formation with the MC-130J.
All Caracal sorties were flown with a diver on board because the aerial refuelling track used was located over the ocean; the diver provides over watch and notifies the crew each time the other helicopter plugs and unplugs with the basket. The diver also notifies his crew of the positional changes of the other Caracal behind the MC-130J.
Loadmasters from the MC-130J crew observe and help to coordinate the aerial refuelling procedures from the aft cabin door positions.
This picture clearly shows the difference in height between the lead Caracal plugged into the basket and the second aircraft.
Exiting a turn within the HAAR track, the MC-130J leads the way before the Caracals return to their aerial refuelling positions.