Monday, July 30, 2018

Air Spare

 Well.....They're Ba-ack





New teacher orientation is Wednesday and returning teachers start a week from today, students start on the 13th.  Installation of the connected classroom projectors and interactive boards starts today and already the "I don't have sound in my classroom" requests have started.

"Yes....we know.....the contractors have just begun the installation process.  I don't know....whenever they get to your room."

Which is usually followed by "I can't teach without a projector."

I generally stop listening after the third word in that sentence, because that's where the truth is.

However, as you probably undoubtedly don't want to hear about this, I thought I'd talk about a more exciting part of my life.

I ran across this video a month or two ago and stored it as a "just in case" post for use when Schmedlap decided not to whisper an idea in my ear.

She's good like that.

I've seen several Mach Loop vids before, but not one with C model Eagles.  For those unfamiliar with the term, the Mach Loop is a low altitude training area that covers most of Wales.  Aircraft are allowed to fly low and fast, but not supersonic despite the name.


While there are numerous areas like this in the states (there's a low level route that passes very near to Rancho Juvat) as well as in the Pacific, this one seems to be the most famous.  That's probably because the RAF posts the times it will be in use and aviation enthusiasts climb the hills along the route to photograph and film the aircraft.

Frequently from above.



But like I said, I've seen a lot of different videos both from within the cockpit and from the outside, but I'd not seen one with a 4 ship of Air to Air Eagles, so I spent a few (Ok quite a few) minutes watching it and noticed a few things.

The first thing I noticed is how difficult it is to see an Eagle when it's pointed directly at you.  I hadn't remembered that, but then realized that Air to Air tactics tend to minimize your closure after missile launch.

When you launch a missile, a large smoke plume follows the missile and points right to your aircraft.  You do not want to be there, you also don't want to follow the missile in as the adversary generally launches a heater in the hopes of a lockon, if he doesn't already have a Radar guided one on the way.

So to slow closure and increase the probability that your missile turns off the bad guy's radar (in a rather cataclysmic manner), you turn away from pointing directly at him, while still keeping him within the gimbal limit of the radar.

When I flew the Eagle, the standard configuration was a single external tank on the centerline.  It seems that now, the standard configuration is a wing tank on each inboard pylon.  I'm not sure why that decision was made and I don't remember whether there was a g-limit on the tank, but probably not after the fuel was gone.  But I thought it made the jet look a little "dowdy".

However, as I watched the video, I think that change may have made the jet a little harder to see.  The centerline bag made the jet bigger in the vertical direction, by tucking the tanks onto the wings, the vertical cross section is reduced while the horizontal cross section is not increased too drastically.

I could be wrong, maybe the schedulers are just trying to get more flying time.

You may ask why they roll inverted, or nearly so, as they come up and over the top of the hills.

Part of the answer is "Negative G's suck".  All the things in the cockpit start floating around, maps, dust, you, change in an unzipped flight suit pocket.  Besides, the jet's overstress limit for negative G's is significantly less than for positive G's.  IIRC (which is never a given) I think you had to bring the jet home if you went over 3 negative or 9 positive.

Also, the probability of killing yourself by hitting the ground is just ever so slightly under 100%.  I know of just two people who hit the ground while flying tactically and survived.  So knowing how high you are above the ground is critical.  When you "bunt" the aircraft by pushing negative g, the ground is below your nose, so judging the pull out is more difficult.  If you roll and pull, you can see the ground and your nose, so that helps with the pull out.

Yes, you can commit the nose too low and not have enough altitude to recover with both methods.

Finally, one is flying at low level to avoid detection as well as putting some granite between you and something that might have been shot at you.  So, we practiced coming as close to the terrain as possible, paralleling it if you could, then rolling into the terrain while pulling the nose up, so as to clear the top as close as you could and timing the roll so that you crested over the top inverted and immediately began the pull down so you were silhouetted against the sky for the absolute minimum time.

Yes...that took practice.  A lot of practice.  If you noticed, the Eagles made the loop several times.  Some of them did it better than others.  If I'd hazard a guess, the guys that did it right were the flight leads and may have even flown air to ground at one point, like someone you all know.  The ones that spent a lot of time with sky showing under them were less experienced.

But...Hey, we all get to learn.



I thought this was a cool photo. Mrs J saw this on FaceBook and sent it to me.  Unfortunately, I don't have any info on who to credit.  If anyone does, let me know in the comments and I'll fix it


While we're on the subject of Eagles, Instapundit cited an article in Popular Mechanics about the F-15X.  Supposedly the airplane will be able to carry up to 22 Air to Air Missiles and will be able to work in conjunction with the F-22 and F-35 as a "Missile Carrier".


Source
 Those tactics would be interesting to see.

And just because....well Eagles!


The Source article says they're "dated" and carrying 2 AIM-9 sidewinders and 4 AIM-120 AMRAAM.  Wadduino, but looks like 4 by 4 to me!  Photo by Getty Images


Finally, Sarge and I had a bit of fun with "If I won the Lottery" a while ago and I suggested this for my Bucket List.  Anybody out there want to hit the tip jar for about 20G each?

We'd certainly appreciate it.




33 comments:

  1. Teachers, and Eagles, and MiGs! Oh my!

    Nice way to start a Monday.

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  2. Got a kick seeing the size of the camera lenses used by the groundlings in the Mach Loop vid. Any flight areas like that in South Korea? I think I've seen video here from one in Japan. Somebody was heads up on that silhouette shot, very nice posting Juvat!

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    1. In 1980 when I first got to Korea, the whole country was a low fly area. Their President had just been assassinated and the proximate threat of invasion from the north was very real. So low flight practice was encouraged. When I got back in theater in 87, we still were focused on North Korea, but the ROK was prepping for the 88 Olympics. Low flight anywhere near an olympic venue was very restricted. That having been said.the mountains in the east and northeast were a lot of fun to fly in.

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    2. We may have been in country at about the same time. I was there for part of Team Spirit in '87. I was in the CalARNG at the time and went over as part of the FA liaison attached to a mech infantry battalion. Had a great time.

      Thanks for the post.
      Paul L. Quandt

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    3. Yep, we deployed to Kwan-ju AB for that exercise. I’d been there for about a month or so. Some good flying.

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  3. Saw that article on the 15x project. Very interesting. Sounds like a project that the Navy should have considered. Upgrading the ole 14. Strip ER down, new gear inside, a new outer cover to reduce signature, and wow. That was one pretty bird.

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    1. Given the sweeping wings, the F-14 might have had issues carrying a larger number of weapons. I don't know. I'll agree that it was a pretty bird especially on film. ;-)

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    2. I vaguely recall something in Aviation week back in the '80s suggesting a Bone carrying 120 Phoenix missiles as a "strategic interceptor"...

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    3. That's a pretty expensive interceptor. Also, it's not just how many weapons you can carry, it's also how many places you can be. Bones are a relatively limited resource numerically. There are considerably more F-15s around (not as many as I'd like, but what do I know). A 4 ship of F-15X with 88 missiles attached to a F-22 has a PK of .61 (as per the article). Were they to attack a 75 aircraft strike package, hypothetically the math says they would kill more than 50 of them. Not many air forces (including ours) would be able to sustain that loss rate.

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  4. “I generally stop listening after the third word...”
    Nice!

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    1. Unfortunately, it's very true. Many of our "Teachers" walk in to the classroom and turn on the projector and a movie. That suffices as their lesson for the day. Netflix is our biggest consumer of bandwidth....every stinkin' day. So when a bulb goes out or something's screwed up with the sound, it's (to quote our fearless leader) a fire truckin' emergency!

      Well, to them anyways.

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  5. Pretty planes, pretty pretty planes. The F-15 just looks like it should be in the air doing all sorts of aerobatics. Must be a fun plane to fly.

    I also came across the F-15X and previewed it yesterday in the comments section of the post about the crew chiefs. Interesting concept, especially about extending the airtime of the airframe.

    Too bad the Navy has no ability to do this with any of their current airframes. There is a need for long range/long endurance missile/bomb trucks, and as vunderbar as the F/A-18 family is, they ain't long range/long endurance without being followed by a fuel truck.

    I wonder what's broke in Naval Aviation procurement that seems to be alive in Air Force procurement? Unless the F-15X was driven by oversees procurement, because that's the only big difference between the two systems. AF planes have many much more potential purchasers, while Navy planes have basically the US and France (not including sales of the F-35B)

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    1. Ah Beans! You have no idea how much fun it was to fly.

      Interesting point you made about potential purchasers. It would be kinda pointless to offer them to China, wouldn't it?

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    2. Taiwan-China or Communist China? Taiwan would be better served by the Lawn Dart and Eagle rather than the Rhino or Bug.

      As to Communist China, after the way the Clintons got caught repeatedly selling secrets to them, without being prosecuted, I am sure they already have the plans and the plans for the tooling to make the planes. And I am sure the Lightbringer was no slacker at espionage, either. How exactly do you come out of an 8 year presidency significantly richer than when you go in? Maybe a little richer, but significantly richer?

      As to the Eagle, you are very fortunate to have flow one of America's best. And after seeing what the F-22 and the F-35 can do in the air, wow, crazy maneuverability out the wazoo. It actually looks like for all the trash-talk we got what we paid for in the F-35A (now, about that Navy program thingy? Haven't heard a lot of good about the C and B models, yet.)

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    3. Communist China.

      You ask good questions, Beans, be very careful.

      I certainly hope so vis a vis the F-35A.

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  6. Since I'm old and don't need them any more, I'd happily give up my gonads to be able to take that MIG flight!

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    1. That's some dedication, right there, Graham! Some Dedication!

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    2. Sigh. I find myself in the same boat from advancing age, diabetes, and an anti-depressant. Better an exciting memory (make it two!) than ... what it is now.

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  7. Always remember, you can only tie the low altitude flight record. And that, usually, only once.

    Thanks for the post.
    Paul L. Quandt

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    1. LTG Richard Swope and his WSO while exiting the target area at Cope Thunder in the PI impacted a hill at exactly the perfect angle ripping everything off the bottom of their jet pylons, tanks, belly skin, everything. Fortunately, they were pointed at Clark and had, for some reason, lost a considerable amount of speed. Gear came down, but not the flaps. Hook down, approach end engagement. Speed of snot to shut down in about a minute and a half. Two luckiest men alive..

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    2. I did write " usually ".

      Paul

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    3. Somewhere I've got a snapshot of an F-4E that came off the Crow Valley range low enough to hit a phone or power line and smash the radome and radar, wires flapping in the breeze. My roommate (ATC) was working in the tower that day and took the pic.

      Of course, there was the F-16 down from Korea or Japan that (I think) radar ATC had given bad info, and as the formation turned to enter the pattern, the lowest man smacked into the top of Mt. Pinatubo in the clouds about 40-50' from the top, IIRC. Most of the tiny bits of wreckage were recovered on the far side of the mountain, and as it was told to me, no one in the formation realized anything had happened right off the bat (he being below and behind the rest, at least as it was told to me). That was a real tragedy.

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    4. That F-4 was probably Batman's (LTG, then LTCol Swope's callsign).

      Not to cast aspersions on the dead. If the F-16 hit 40-50' from the top, and he was the only one lost, he was out of formation. 2 & 3 should have been about 5' lower than lead and 4 about 5' lower than 3. That having been said, ATC should have had them no lower than 1000' above the highest terrain in the area. Which would even though out of formation given him at least 900' of clearance. Yep that was a real tragedy.

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  8. The 'Mach' in 'Mach Loop' isn't for the speed of sound; it's for Machynlleth Loop - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mach_Loop

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    1. Yeah, I know, I meant to add that into the blurb and forgot.

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  9. I can remember "tail slides" whilst we taught about the AOA (new, to USAF guys, well, at least me). It was one of the harder things to live through with the B-52 folks upgrading so they'd have a "war zone" on their DD 214. The other - ? Laying down napalm and strafing. Talk about extremes in the altitude of things to learn.

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    1. Not meaning to demean those who stayed in the buff and did really brave stuff. Lost some friends, there.

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    2. Never liked them in the F-4. Being able to point the nose in the Eagle whilst doing that was kinda cool though.

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    3. Yeah, flying straight and level while SA-2's are coming up at you? Gonna require some cojones there!

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  10. Good post, and yeah, they're having 'fun' and calling it training...LOL

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)