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F-22 math


A U.S Air Force KC-10 Extender refuels an F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft prior to strike operations in Syria, Sept. 26, 2014. These aircraft were part of a strike package that was engaging ISIL targets in Syria. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Russ Scalf)

The Air Force originally wanted a bunch of F-22s– like 750 besides test airframes– but in the end, due to budgetary reasons, just 187 operational aircraft were purchased.

Of those, some 55 were stationed at Tyndall AFB outside of Panama City, Florida– right in the path of Hurricane Michael on Oct. 10th.

While each that was air-ready sortied for points North (to Langley AFB), 33 had to be left behind for one reason or another to be sheltered in place, most designated Non-Mission Capable.

Footage from the base shown immediately after exhibited destroyed hangars with F-22s in the rubble (along with CV-22s and QF-16s) and hands went up across the aviation and defense community.

Well, chill, because it only looked bad.

All of the F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets left behind when Michael hit Tyndall last month will be flown off the base for repairs by Monday, according to Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan.

Which is great news, because the line is closed for good and each of these Raptors is almost invaluable at this point.

50 years ago today: The last flight of the X-15

NASA research pilot William "Bill" Dana is seen standing next to the X-15 rocket-powered aircraft after a flight in 1967. (NASA)

NASA research pilot William “Bill” Dana is seen standing next to the X-15 rocket-powered aircraft after a flight in 1967. (NASA)

At the National Air and Space Administration test pilot Bill Dana was at the controls of the North American X-15 rocket-propelled research aircraft when it made the 199th–and what turned out to be the final–flight of the X-15 program. It was Dana’s 16th flight in X-15s. A 200th flight was planned but never carried out.

He was flying the X-15-1 (AF Ser. No. 56-6670), which had been the first of three aircraft to participate in a series of tests that spanned a decade and resulted in major advances for America’s space flight program.

In the course of that research, the X-15s spent 18 hours flying above Mach 1, 12 hours above Mach 2, nearly 9 hours above Mach 3, almost 6 hours above Mach 4, one hour above Mach 5 and a few short minutes above Mach 6. The X-15 was hailed by the scientific community as the most successful research aircraft of all time.

During the program, 13 flights by eight pilots met the Air Force spaceflight benchline by exceeding the altitude of 264,000 feet/50 miles (80 km), thus qualifying these pilots as being astronauts. Dana himself, who touched 3,897 mph and reached 307,000 feet in the X-15 program, was one of these men.

X-15A-1, Dana’s last bird, is on display in the National Air and Space Museum “Milestones of Flight” gallery, Washington, D.C.

X-15A-2, (AF Ser. No. 56-6671), is at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

X-15A-3, (AF Ser. No. 56-6672– shown above with Dana) crashed 15 Nov. 1967, taking pilot Michael J. Adams, USAF, with her.

Dana, USMA Class of ’52, was an Air Force officer chopped over to NASA in the early 1960s and retired in 1998 as Chief Engineer at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards Air Force Base, California. On 23 August 2005, NASA officially conferred on Dana his Astronaut Wings at age 75, almost 40 years after he earned them.

He died in 2014 at age 83.

B-17 Waist Gunner

The great Mel Blanc in “Position Firing” a 1944 USAAF Training Film on aerial gunnery, specifically using M2s from the chilly waist positions of a Flying Fortress.


Keeping acrobatic

ICYMI, check out these amazing images of the Canadian Forces 431 Air Demonstration Squadron (Snowbirds) along with the USAF’s Thunderbirds and the Navy’s Blue Angels. Some 151 years of friendship in one photo: three military jet teams from two countries sharing the skies over one common border. According to RCAF, it is the first time all three demonstration teams have flown together.

The oldest unit, the Pensacola-based Blues, formed in 1946 with F6F-5 Hellcats, are seen in their F-18C/Ds. Now the last Navy unit flying the older version of the Hornet (although the Marines will continue on) the Blues are expected to upgrade to the F-18E/F next year. They recently rocked Biloxi last month. I watched them from a kayak off Deer Island and they were great as usual.

The second oldest unit, the Nellis-based Thunderbirds, was formed in 1953 and have been rocking F-16C/Ds since 1993.

The Snowbirds, formed in 1971 as an evolution of the RCAF’s special Golden Centennaires group, has always flown the Canadair CT-114 Tutor, a downright cute two-place lead-in trainer produced in the 1960s. To put that into perspective, at the time the Snowbirds were formed, the Blues were flying the smoky Vietnam-era F-4J Phantom while the Thunderbirds were using the F-4E.

Everyone remembers where they were that day

Gil Cohen, “9/11”  National Guard Heritage Painting.

North Dakota Air Guard F-16 of the 119th Fighter Wing on a combat air patrol over the burning Pentagon on September 11, 2001, after the hijacked Flight 77 crashed into it.

Flying Tigers redux

“Barksdale Air Force Base – A Colombian Air Force A-29B Super Tucano flies alongside two U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt IIs from the 75th Fighter Squadron, Moody Air Force Base, Ga., during Exercise Green Flag East Aug. 21, 2016. Colombia and U.S. share a special relationship, and the joint training exercise provides a platform to strengthen those ties. Four Colombian A-29s and 45 Colombian Airmen are at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., through Aug. 29. (Photo courtesy Colombian Air Force)”

However, with the Air Force moving forward with the planned OA-X light-attack aircraft downselection (which laughably says is worth as many as 300 aircraft) Big Blue could actually get a handful of A-29s one day to augment their A-10s.


Probably not.

Of course, the Afghanistan Security Forces will be set with the announcement this week of a $1.8 billion contract by Colorado-based Sierra Nevada Corp. to supply potential “procurement, sustainment, modifications, ferry, and related equipment for the A-29” through 2024 in a contract run by the U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center. So there is that.

Hell for leather

You would be surprised by how much the U.S. military still uses horses these days. In the past few weeks, all of these pieces came out over the PAO wire for the Pentagon.

“Marines located in Barstow, California are part of the only mounted color guard in the Corps. They travel the country participating in ceremonies, continuing one of the oldest traditions of Marine Corps.”

The 30th Space Wing, Vandenberg AFB, has the only working horse patrol in the U.S. Air Force, used for law enforcement work across the huge base.

And, “Marines and soldiers attend a 15-day special operational forces horsemanship course from June 06, 2018 to June 21, 2018, at the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, Bridgeport, California. This course teaches its students the benefits of navigating through rough terrain with the aid of animals.”

Pulaski, Sheridan, Grierson, and Patton would surely be tickled.

And the U.S. aren’t the only ones. Behold, the Auftrag für den Reitzug der Bundeswehr.

The U.S. Navy and the Western Pacific

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