Author Topic: The Utter Aviation Randomness of Sentinel Chicken  (Read 60028 times)

Sentinel Chicken

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Re: The Utter Aviation Randomness of Sentinel Chicken
« Reply #25 on: December 27, 2011, 05:49:19 AM »


This print (same size as the Flying Razorbacks print) represents the Tigershark in the colors of the 150th Fighter Wing "The Tacos" (also nicknamed the Enchilada Air Force) based at Kirtland in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Again, one boss bird and one line bird, I've always thought the roadrunner tail markings of the 150th to be very striking, even in its low-viz version.

Offline Bladerunner

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Re: The Utter Aviation Randomness of Sentinel Chicken
« Reply #26 on: December 27, 2011, 06:40:04 AM »
Mmmm....  :in-love:
The F-20 is the prettiest of it's bloodline.

Sentinel Chicken

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Re: The Utter Aviation Randomness of Sentinel Chicken
« Reply #27 on: December 27, 2011, 07:10:38 AM »


Oh man, the boys in the 147th Fighter Wing got shafted. Well, sort of. They're flying UAVs now. I guess they could have been BRAC'd out of existence, but the 301st Fighter Wing with the AFRES in Fort Worth picked up a bunch of their guys, so did the F-16 unit in San Antonio. To quote the Dos Gringos song "Jeremiah Weed":

Now if you drive the Eagle then you drink it all for show
And if you drive the Hog then you gotta drink it slow
And if you drive the Viper then you gotta drink it fast
'Cause this ain't a time to loiter and we ain't got the gas.
Now if you drive the Stinkbug then drink it on your own
And if you drive the Mudhen then you can't drink it alone
And if you're stuck in UAVs then my advice to you
Is to drink the f**king bottle, man, there's nothing left to do!


Ever had a shot of Jeremiah Weed? Damns, I felt like I'd just swallowed a mouthful of Skydrol. But I digress.

I've always liked the Texas-styled lighting bolt on the tails of the 147th's aircraft through history. The F-101 Voodoos and the F-4C/Ds that the 147th operated had the same markings, not sure if any of the 147th's previous equipment had that same cool lightning flash.

This print shows the full-color boss bird on the bottom and a low-viz line bird above.

Sentinel Chicken

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Re: The Utter Aviation Randomness of Sentinel Chicken
« Reply #28 on: December 27, 2011, 07:11:24 AM »


This is my interpretation of the 120th Fighter Wing/Montana ANG Tigersharks. Compared with my other Tigershark prints, there are some features that depict these as earlier model Tigersharks- the most obvious one is that they're armed with AIM-7 Sparrow missiles instead of AIM-120s that I've had on the previous prints. In the real world, the Tigershark prototypes did fire the Sparrow. Secondly, the Advanced IFF "bird slicer" antennas for the AN/APX-113 system aren't present ahead of the windscreen. And last, the ejection seat triangles were pale pink instead of the low-viz gray used now.

It looks like there wasn't a full color version of the Rustler tail markings used on MTANG's F-16s (and now F-15s that they've been BRAC'd Missouri ANG's F-15s from KSTL) but I thought hey, since we're neck deep in my reality, why not create a Rustler boss bird in blue and white markings? BAM! So I did.

I never really cared much for the change from "Big Sky Country" to "Vigilantes" on their F-16s in the real world. I mean, yeah, I understand the history and significance of the term to Montana, but "Big Sky Country" just sounds cooler.

Offline Gekko1

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Re: The Utter Aviation Randomness of Sentinel Chicken
« Reply #29 on: December 27, 2011, 08:00:51 AM »
Love those Corsair's! :omg-:

More! More! More!

Cheers

Richard.

Sentinel Chicken

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Re: The Utter Aviation Randomness of Sentinel Chicken
« Reply #30 on: December 28, 2011, 10:22:29 AM »
I had done this Viggen illustration back in 2006:



And taking a break from some ongoing projects, decided to "retool" the illustration to reflect my current standards:



This Saab JA 37 Viggen is in the colors of the Austrian Air Arm (Oesterreichische Luftstreitkrafte) which is a division of the Bundesheer, or Federal Austrian Army. In 1991, during the Yugoslavian Civil War next door, it wasn't uncommon for Yugoslavian fighter and attack jets to repeatedly violate Austrian airspace during combat operations in Slovenia when that country seceded from the Yugoslav republic. At the time, Austria was equipped with Saab J 35OE Drakens (the OE suffix denoting a variant specific to Austria) which were purchased from Sweden in 1986, replacing the less-than-stellar Saab 105 jet trainers in the air interception role.

However, at the time, the Drakens were delivered without air-to-air missiles which at the time Austria didn't operate (due to post-WWII treaty restrictions). With the problem of border incursions by the JRV during the Yugoslav civil war, the necessary laws were modified so the Drakens could use AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles.

The amazing thing was that the first group of Austrian Draken pilots were crapped on by Austrian society and many of them had to live on base under security. Then when Yugoslavia imploded and Austrian airspace was being violated left and right, suddenly the enemy at the gates changed some pissy attitudes pretty damn quick.

The image I did above presumes that the border incursions were more serious (perhaps using the JRV's MiG-29 Fulcrums) and perhaps Austria wanted something more than just Sidewinder-equipped Drakens and turned to Sweden as a fellow European neutral for late model interceptor-optimized JA 37 Viggens- during the early 1990s, Sweden had experimented with various camouflage schemes for its JA 37s- one of them was an all-over light gray and I used that scheme on my original 2006 version for this hypothetical Austrian JA 37OE Viggen.

The newer version features the same three-tone gray camo scheme used on the Austrian Drakens that was derived from the USAF's three-tone scheme used on the F-16s. The canard surface of the Viggen did sort of throw off how I wanted the Dark Gunship Gray section to fall on the mid to aft fuselage.

(I can't remember who said it, but I think it was a senior Lockheed engineer that followed in Kelly Johnson's footsteps who said "The best location for a canard is on someone else's damn airplane.")

Markings are for both are the 2. Staffel of Fliegerregiment 2 based at Graz. The tail badge is the squadron emblem for 2. Staffel, a black panter above a variation of the Austrian flag. In reality, this unit currently operated ex-Swiss F-5E Tigers from Graz, aircraft which were leased 2004-2008 pending the arrival of Austria's first Eurofighter Typhoons. The fighter base at Graz closed in 2008 with the return of the Swiss Tigers and the Eurofighter Typhoons are now based at Zeltweg. Load out is for two AIM-9P Sidewinders which was the standard export version provided to Switzerland and also used on the Austrian Drakens in the real-world timeline.



This second Austrian Viggen what-if illustration is predicated on Austria getting Viggens in the late 1990s to supplement its original Draken order from several years earlier. At the time, Sweden was retiring its Drakens and Austria had a need for additional aircraft- Sweden offered Viggens in the real world historical timeline. Ultimately the Austrians took delivery of five additional Drakens in 1999 which really acted as spares sources than operational aircraft. But suppose the uncertainty of the time about replacing the Draken led to an "offer that can't be refused" from Sweden- the Swedish government at the time did in fact offer Austria a lease option on Viggens until the government decided on a replacement. In the event, the Austrians dragged their feet and eventually settled on the Typhoon but this left a gap in their air sovereignty coverage, which is why the Swiss Tigers were leased for four years.

This aircraft wears the standard Swedish JA 37 two-tone camouflage used by the Flygvapnet, my thoughts here being that Austria was looking for economy and decided to keep the Flygvapnet's scheme rather than do a repaint. Markings for this particular aircraft are for the other Staffel, 1. Staffel of Fliegerregiment 2 based at Graz. The tail badge is the squadron emblem for 1. Staffel, a black deer on a mountaintop with an edelweiss flower in the upper left hand side.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2011, 01:18:38 PM by Sentinel Chicken »

Offline lauhof52

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Re: The Utter Aviation Randomness of Sentinel Chicken
« Reply #31 on: December 28, 2011, 05:10:03 PM »
Top profile! :in-love:  Lauhof

Sentinel Chicken

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Re: The Utter Aviation Randomness of Sentinel Chicken
« Reply #32 on: December 29, 2011, 12:22:19 PM »


In 1976 the Swiss government orders 72 Northrop F-5E/F Tiger IIs as part of the Peace Alps program to upgrade its fighter aircraft capabilities. They are intended to replace the elderly De Havilland Venom, with the first Peace Alps Tigers arriving to allow initial operational capability in 1978 with the last Tigers arriving in 1984.

Suppose the Swiss government would have turned to a fellow European neutral state for a more politically palatable option to upgrade the fighter capabilities of the Swiss Air Force and selects the JA 37 Viggen? While my previous Swiss Viggen illustration in 2006 used a camo scheme of my own creating, this illustration uses a real-world scheme of Dark Ghost Gray and Light Ghost Gray as used on the F-5E/F Tiger II aircraft of the Schweizer Luftwaffe. In the mid-1970s there were concerns in Sweden about the funds being allocated to the development of the fighter interceptor version of the Viggen, the JA 37. The original planning for the Viggen in the 1960s was predicated on a production run of 831 aircraft (all variants) but in the end, only 329 were built. Selection of the Viggen by a fellow European neutral state in the 1970s would have lessened the economic impact on the Swedish defense budget and that's the diversion from the real world timeline that this what-if illustration is based.

Markings and serial numbers are Fliegerstaffel 11- the yellow on black tiger's head badge is just head of the intakes under the cockpit. Interestingly Fliegerstaffel 11 is a full member of the NATO Tiger Association since 2004 despite Switzerland not being a NATO member- this has given the pilots of this unit valuable training experience with other NATO air forces. In the real world, this unit operated the F-5E Tiger II until 1999 when it converted to the F/A-18 Hornet.

Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: The Utter Aviation Randomness of Sentinel Chicken
« Reply #33 on: December 29, 2011, 01:39:15 PM »
Mmmmm..... ;)
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

You can't outrun Death forever.
But you can make the Bastard work for it.

Sentinel Chicken

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Re: The Utter Aviation Randomness of Sentinel Chicken
« Reply #34 on: December 31, 2011, 11:57:05 AM »
Here's a variation on the Swiss Viggen theme:



I saw this test scheme on a Swiss F-5E Tiger II and appropriated it immediately for my JA 37 profile. If what I'm reading thanks to Professor Google is correct, "Gruppe für Rüstungsdienste" means something like "Armor Group Services" and is in charge of evaluation and procurement for the Swiss military. The markings I found for the F-5E Tiger II suggest they also do testing for the Swiss Air Force. Anyone know more?
« Last Edit: December 31, 2011, 11:58:56 AM by Sentinel Chicken »

Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: The Utter Aviation Randomness of Sentinel Chicken
« Reply #35 on: December 31, 2011, 12:02:48 PM »
What I know is that you could really convince someone these were real with that level of detail!
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

You can't outrun Death forever.
But you can make the Bastard work for it.

Re: The Utter Aviation Randomness of Sentinel Chicken
« Reply #36 on: January 01, 2012, 07:19:59 PM »
Lovin' these Viggens!

Offline Bladerunner

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Re: The Utter Aviation Randomness of Sentinel Chicken
« Reply #37 on: January 04, 2012, 02:50:59 AM »
I just love Viggens!!!  :in-love:

Stargazer2006

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Re: The Utter Aviation Randomness of Sentinel Chicken
« Reply #38 on: January 04, 2012, 09:45:24 PM »
I had done this Viggen illustration back in 2006 (...)
And taking a break from some ongoing projects, decided to "retool" the illustration to reflect my current standards:

Just wish I could be half the profiler now that you were five years ago!!!

Sentinel Chicken

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Re: The Utter Aviation Randomness of Sentinel Chicken
« Reply #39 on: January 14, 2012, 12:57:26 AM »
Repost of my Orion gunships (planning at some point to do one of these in 1/144):



In the summer of 2007, things had reached a boiling point in Iraq's sectarian war with US forces caught in the middle. Matters weren't helped by cross-border infiltration by agents of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps to further stoke the tensions between the Sunni and Shia populations of the country. Nearly every day the US forces in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities faced increasingly bold insurgent attacks with weapons coming primarily form the IRGC.

The US fleet of AC-130 Spectre gunships found themselves hard pressed to cover ongoing operations in Afghanistan and Somalia while meeting increased sortie rates over Iraq. The Spectres were the perfect form of air support to assist embattled US forces, loitering overhead and pouring on large torrents of gunfire onto targets as flying artillery. But the increased tempo of missions began to take its toll on the Spectre fleet and matters came to a head in June when an AC-130H went down during a mission over Somalia- not from enemy gunfire, but from structural fatigue of the main wing box. With the prospect of a whole-scale grounding of the Spectre fleet with the exception of the newest AC-130U versions, CENTCOM commanders pleaded with the Pentagon for something to augment the Spectre fleet.

It was then that the Pave Twister program was born. Named somewhat tongue-in-cheek for the cone-shaped fire paths from a gunship attacking a target in a pylon turn, Pave Twister began as a crash program at NAS Patuxent River with two engineers who had served during Vietnam with the Navy's VAH-21 when it operated attack versions of the Neptune maritime patrol aircraft over the Ho Chi Minh Trail. This time, the martime patrol aircraft in question would be the P-3 Orion.

The Orions weren't strangers to the overland mission. Beginning in 2000, the US Navy instituted the AIP program (Anti-surface warfare Improvement Program) to create in effective littoral warrior out of the venerable P-3 Orion. AIP made the Orion the perfect overland ISR asset (Intelligence, Strike, and Reconaissance) and it got used to its fullest in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and again in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The AIP avionics made this version of the Orion the perfect network centric combat aircraft, with a variety of unique electro-optical and ESM sensors to provide increased battlefield situational awareness for commanders fo the ground forces.

When NAVAIR launched Pave Twister in the summer of 2007, they specifically sought out AIP Orions and found ready assistance from Patrol and Reconaissance Wing 11 of NAS Jacksonville, Florida. Much of the conversion work of the AIP Orions into the Pave Twister configuration took place at NAS Jacksonville.

As the goal of Pave Twister was to provide a quick and effective P-3 gunship, the modifications were not as extensive as intially desired by the VAH-21 veterans among the engineers at Pax River. Those mods would eventually be incorporated later into what would become Pave Twister II and Pave Twister III (stay tuned for those). AIP Orions selected for conversion into Pave Twister had most of their ASW-specific equipment removed to lighten the aircraft. The forward AN/APS-137 radar set was kept and new inverse-sythetic aperture modes were added to the radar to aid in finding ground targets. The aft AN/APS-137 radar was removed and replaced with ESM gear to help home in on weak EM transmissions of insurgent units.

The spinning antenna of the ALR-66(V)5 and its associated radome just ahead of the sonobuoy chutes were kept, as was the ASX-4 IRDS/EO turret under the nose. AAR-47 IR warning antennas were also kept (on each side of the nose on on the aft fuselage radome) and the chaff/flare dispensers on the forward nose and inboard part of the inboard nacelles were also kept. To help reduce the IR signature from the engines, boxy-IR suppressors were added to each engine. A new iron-ball ferrite based gray paint that was slightly darker than the TPS colors were also applied over the entire aircraft.

The heart of Pave Twister was a new weapons bay module that was bulged to provide more interior room for two M197 20mm cannons firing out the left side of the weapons bay package. The ammunition for the two cannons is also carried in the weapons bay and the entire module can be swapped out and replaced with a new module in less than 30 minutes time. Although two 20mm M197s was a lot less firepower than what the AC-130s could provide, it was a quick modification and it still allowed the Pave Twister aircraft to operate in an ISR role over the battlefield.

The original VAH-21 (and its "SL" tail code) that was disbanded in 1970 was brought back specifically for the Pave Twister program. When the first Pave Twister aircraft was rolled out at NAS Jacksonville in late August 2007, in attendance were many veterans who had flown the attack Neptunes of the original VAH-21 in the late 1960s.

Pave Twister crews were actually joint-crews, with some of the pilots and crew coming from SOCOM's Spectre community. Most Pave Twister crews were split between Navy crew experienced with the AIP Orion and the ISR mission and USAF Special Operations Command crew experienced in gunship operations. With several weeks, testing was completed on an accelerated schedule and VAH-21 set up three detachments for Pave Twister combat operations: CENTCOM West at Ahmed Al-Jaber AB in Kuwait, CENTCOM East at Kabul International Airport in Afghanistan, and AFRICOM East at Djibouti International Airport for operations in the Horn of Africa.

First combat for the MP-3C Pave Twister came in late August of 2007 when the first two MP-3Cs which were based in Kuwait were called on provide fire support during an armed push into Baghdad's Sadr City quarter which resulted in the capture of radical Shia cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr and elimination of his Mahdi militia as the dominant insurgent force in the Iraqi capital. Although its twin M197 cannons didn't have the full-broadside hitting power of the AC-130, they were still useful for clearing the streets and keeping the enemy's head down.

Sentinel Chicken

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Re: The Utter Aviation Randomness of Sentinel Chicken
« Reply #40 on: January 14, 2012, 12:58:03 AM »


With US forces being pulled out of Afghanistan to meet the growing crisis in Iraq in the summer of 2007, ISAF commanders in Kabul faced a personnel crisis with not enough forces in the southern part of the country to battle a resurgent Taliban. Though British forces were gradually being reduced in Iraq, their numbers in Afghanistan were on the increase to compensate for withdrawn US personnel- as it was a more politically palatable option to stay in Afghanistan than it was in Iraq, the increased numbers of British forces participating in ISAF required more air support than what was available via the other NATO members of ISAF, not to mention the increased committments for the AC-130 fleet in Somalia and Iraq.

British commanders in the Afghan theater were pretty specific about their desire for a comparable replacement for the AC-130 gunships that had been providing fire support on a very fluid battlefield along the Pakistani border. With the US Navy fielding the first examples of the MP-3C Pave Twister gunship in late 2007 in a crash program, a deal was struck with the United States that would get the RAF several examples of the Pave Twister in exchange for providing a portion of the development funding for the program.

Considerable discussion surrounded the level of customization for the RAF's MP-3Cs (to be designated Orion GR.1) as the RAF wanted a greater degree of integration of unique British systems at the outset. The initial wish list for the RAF for their Pave Twister aircraft included replacing the M197 cannons with Mauser 27mm cannons (already in use on the RAF Tornado fleet), Loral EW-1017 ESM wingtip pods (similar to that used on the RAF's E-3D Sentry), and a DIRCM self-defense suite. But with funding by the Ministry of Defence an ongoing issue, the RAF settled on integration of the TIALD targeting pod for the delivery of precision munitions and the capability to fire the Brimstone missile.

An inflight refuelling probe was installed on the right upper hand side of the cockpit area to extend the Orion GR.1's on-station endurance. To limit development time, the installation was modelled closely on that used on the RAF's own E-3D Sentry fleet.

In February 2008 the RAF re-activated the numberplate for No. 35 Squadron which was a former Avro Vulcan unit that was disbanded at RAF Scampton in 1982. The choice of No. 35 was a bit nostalgiac for some in the RAF as the squadron's previous incarnation had a distinguished history as a bomber unit going back to 1929 having operated the Wellsley, Halifax, Lancaster, Washington, and Canberra in addition to the Vulcan bombers. Within a few weeks, the first Orion GR.1s were delivered from NAS Jacksonville where Lockheed and the US Navy performed the conversion work. Upon arrival in the UK, the refuelling probe as well as the TIALD and Brimstone-specific systems were added. By the end of March the first two Orion GR.1s were on their way to the Afghan theater where very shortly they would be called upon to provide fire support around Kandahar where a large Taliban force assaulted the city during a transition between American forces and the arrival of British units.

Sentinel Chicken

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Re: The Utter Aviation Randomness of Sentinel Chicken
« Reply #41 on: January 14, 2012, 01:02:22 AM »
12 March 2008
2140 Local
Mandali, Iraq, 5 miles west of the Iranian border


"Are you picking up anything on the ESM set?"

"Not quite, sir.....hold on.....no, the signal is too weak and intermittent. Can you back-track on a reciprocal course for about 5 minutes?"

"Can do. We'll have to turn to the west, though. We're too damn close to the Iranian border for my comfort zone."

"Works for me. Anything on the IR set?"

"Just some camel jockeys moving through the groves by that river."

"Long ass walk to Baghdad if you're a camel."

"Only about two hours if you have a truck, a load of weapons and some of Revolutionary Guard peckerheads."

"That's why we're here. Let's keep the chatter down, boys. ESM?"

"Somewhere between diddly-squat and jack-shit. Is this the right place, sir?"

"That's what they say. U-2 flights have been scouring this area with SAR passes every two days and they picked up some signal changes in this area suggesting an insurgent supply route. Predators sent out last night did detect some vehicular traffic out of that pass to our east towards the town below us."

"Those mountains on each side of that pass would offer some good hiding places. IR, where are you tracking right now?"

"I'm scanning up that ridge just north of that pass."

"Don't fall in love with the top of that ridge line. That's the Iranian border and the last thing CAOC wants is a cowboy operation taking out some lost Iranians who happen to be on the right side of their border."

"How close to the border are we allowed to engage, sir?"

"Ahhhh, they say one or two miles, depending upon what we find."

"Camels?"

"Two miles."

"Trucks?"

"One mile."

"Lost Iranians?"

"Ten feet!"

"Sir, I keep getting a fleeting signal bearing 088. It's never long enough to lock onto and triangulate let alone characterize, but I'd venture a guess maybe a satellite phone or a walkie-talkie. Whoever it is, they're good at EMCON."

"Lost Iranians. Definitely lost Iranians."

"Hey IR, how 'bout you get off that ridge line and see what's showing up at 088? Let's get the guns ready and warmed up just in case."

"Sir, can you know reverse course back towards Mandali? How low can you go?"

"I'll give you six thousand if that will help."

"Works for me."

"Crown Royal, Rambler 02. Sixty-five miles east of Baghdad, we may have something just east of Mandali in a mountain pass on the border."

"Rambler 02, Crown Royal. Do you want TACAIR overhead?"

"Crown Royal, Rambler 02. Send 'em in, but have them hold 20 clicks west of us and await the call."

"Rambler 02. Crown Royal. Affirmative. Inbound flight is Reno, F-15Es."

"Brave call, bringing in the shooters now."

"Hell, we shoot if we want. I just like having the back up in case it hits the fan."

"Right there, sir! Bearing 094. Some sort of com signal."

"IR?"

"I'm looking......looking.....hold it, two, no four trucks, moving through a grove of trees......same heading as ESM."

"Guns?"

"Ready."

"All right, guys. We're gonna come around in a left turn, it's gonna be tight. Let's have a targeting solution ready when we hit a reciprocal course. The trucks are the target. Stay sharp, we're practically up Ahmadinejad's ass-crack right now."

"Rambler 02, Reno Leader. Reporting in, what do you need from us?"

"Reno Leader, Rambler 02. We have four trucks coming across the border along a river in a grove of trees. No hostile fire yet. We'll pick off the trucks and call for you if we flush anything else out."

"Crown Royal, Rambler 02. Going in hot."

"Rambler 02, Crown Royal. Good hunting."

"Targets locked, guns ready."

"Firing!"

"Good guns, good guns. Big secondaries, maybe a weapons shipment."

"Firing!"

"Damn, look at that go up! That's a bunch of convoys that run quietly now."

"Good guns on that. Watch your turn, we're damn close to that border."

"Flashes! I got flashes! Aft starboard, off that ridgeline!"

"Dammit. Hang on!"

"Tracer fire off that other ridge, front starboard, break left! Hard left!"

"Hits on the wing! Hits on the wing! Number four on fire!"

"Godddammiittt, ZU-23s maybe. It's a damn ambush!"

"Tracer fire off the right abeam! Shit!"

"Reno Leader, get your ass in here now, we're taking hits from several 23mm sites!"

"Hits in the aft fuselage! Port aft observer's been hit, sir!"

"Feather Four, I think we lost Number Two!"

"Rambler 02, this is Reno Leader, we see the tracer fire. We're running in under you from 270. Hang in there."

"Two's still on fire! Taking hits still! Crown Royal, Rambler 02 taking heavy fire!"

"Reno 02, going in weapons hot!"

"Reno 03, I'm off to the south, weapons hot!"

"Fire's out on Two, we're losing fuel from the left wing fast!"

"Reno Leader, going in hot on the northern site!"

"Get her turned west!"

"Controls are mush. Must've taken hits on the hydraulics."

"Crown Royal, Rambler 02 is going down! All crew, brace for impact! All crew brace for impact!"

Sentinel Chicken

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Re: The Utter Aviation Randomness of Sentinel Chicken
« Reply #42 on: January 14, 2012, 01:02:52 AM »


The loss of Rambler 02 to ground fire the night of 12 March 2008 was a blow to the small but growing Pave Twister force. Subsequent investigation by CENTCOM revealed that what happened that night was part of an elaborate trap the insurgents, supported by the Iranians, had set for a Pave Twister gunship. For several weeks empty trucks were being driven back and forth on the road just east of Manadali but only on nights when the U-2 border runs were being made. Radar track data had been provided by the Iranians and was used to stage truck traffic those nights that the synthetic aperture radar of the U-2 would be sweeping the area.

Once regular patrols by Pave Twister gunships were established over the area, the ruse moved into its next step using spurious communications transmissions that were purposely fleeting but distinct enough to likely get picked up by the ESM equipment of the Pave Twister gunships. The area just inside the Iraqi side of the border had five extremely well-camoflauged sites for 23mm ZU-23 twin-barrelled anti-aircraft cannons. Each site was placed according to the observed tactics of a Pave Twister gunship when it had detected the spurious communications transmissions.

Remotely-controlled trucks were then used to move down the side of the river amongst a thick grove of trees. They were packed with explosives to generate large secondary explosions that would surely distract the Pave Twister crew.

Knowing where the trucks were, it was easy for the gun crews equipped with night vision equipment to track the gunship which was at a lower altitude due to it only having 20mm cannons.

In response, the US Navy pressed ahead with the weapons and systems upgrades originally planned for the Pave Twister I but were not proceeded with secondary to funding issues. With the British providing a portion of the funding, development could then proceed with Pave Twister II in response. Interestingly, the start of Pave Twister II was already underway when Rambler 02 was lost that night. The Australian Defence Forces saw some potential in having a gunship of their own, but given that their own AP-3C fleet was busy with anti-piracy work in the Strait of Malacca at the request of the Singaporeans and Malaysians, it was agreed that more Orions were going to be pulled with USN stocks with the anticipation of eventually replacing those aircraft with the Boeing P-8A Poseidon. With the US and UK funding augmented by the Australians, Pave Twister II began that February but took on added urgency after the ambush and loss of Rambler 02.

Designated the MP-3E, the first Pave Twister II aircraft were delivered to VAH-21 by May 2008. Incorporating the lessons of combat, the lessons learned from the loss of Rambler 02, and at the urging of the USAF's own AC-130U community, the hallmark of the Pave Twister II aircraft was heavier 30mm armament that would allow the gunship to fly higher and out of the range of most AAA. Three 30mm Bushmaster cannons were mounted, with one in the bulged weapons bay module, one in the forward fuselage and one in the aft fuselage, each displacing the fore and aft observation stations on the left side to avoid having to make any new structural cut outs on the fuselage.

An air-refuelling installation similar to the British unit was also added, allowing the Pave Twister II to have the same long endurance on station as the RAF's Orion GR.1 gunships. Northrop Grumman's AN/AAQ-24 NEMESIS DIRCM turrets were added on each side of the aft fuselage to enhance the self-protection suite of the gunship. In addition, some of the sonobuoy tubes were reactivated to fire flare and chaff packages.

The capability of Pave Twister II was also enhanced with the addition of an ultra-high bandwidth MILSTAR antenna on the dorsal fuselage. The improved high bandwidth satcom capability allowed operators on the gunship to control Predator and Fire Scout UAVs. Up to four such UAVs could be controlled by a Pave Twister II, but in practice two was usually sufficient.

Heavy 21 took their first Pave Twister IIs into combat shortly after delivery with the worsening situation in Iraq. Deciding to get some payback for the ambush of Rambler 02 several months earlier, VAH-21's crews decided to set a reverse trap for the Iranians and Iraqi insurgents who were unaware of the deployment of the upgunned Pave Twisters to the Middle East. Believing they had once again lured an American gunship into their trap, the Pave Twister II used stayed out of range of the 23mm ZU-23 guns in ambush zone- their gun flashes revealed their positions and instead of hitting the decoy trucks, three 30mm Bushmaster cannons opened up and destroyed the gun emplacements in short order.

Sentinel Chicken

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Re: The Utter Aviation Randomness of Sentinel Chicken
« Reply #43 on: January 14, 2012, 02:22:58 AM »


In March 2008 an intense one week battle raged around the Afghan city of Kandahar just as British forces were assuming control of the area as the departing American forces were being pulled to the worsening situation in Iraq. A large reconstituted Taliban force which had assembled to the south of the city in sanctuary areas around the Khojak Pass in Pashtun-controlled areas of Pakistan caught British Army units by surprise in the ferocity of their assault. Fortunately for the British, the first Orion GR.1 gunships based on the US Navy's Pave Twister had just deployed to Kabul and were soon on scene providing aerial fire support.

Instrumental in ultimately defeating the Taliban assault on Kandahar, the Orion GR.1s of No. 35 Squadron made full use of their overland recce capabilities in tracking the retreating forces and providing concentrated fire at several mountain chokepoints before the Taliban could make it across the border into Pakistan. They also successfully acted as airborne FACs, calling in airstrikes by RAF Harriers to supplement its own gunfire.

However, while not suffering the loss of a gunship as the Americans had that same month in Iraq, the RAF was keenly aware of the ad-hoc nature of the Orion GR.1 and its limited firepower of two 20mm cannon despite being able to drop precision weapons and fire the Brimstone missile.

Pave Twister II had just been initiated the month prior to the Battle of Kandahar and the loss of the American Pave Twister I in Iraq. With a renewed sense of urgency on the American side as they faced a more lethal adversary in Iraq and with a British desire for a harder hitting gunship, The first upgunned Orions designated GR.2 were delivered in the summer of 2008 to No. 35 Squadron.

Compared with the USN's MP-3E, the Orion GR.2 lacked the MILSTAR satcom hump on the dorsal fuselage but did keep the three 30mm Bushmaster cannons as laid out in the MP-3E Pave Twister II. Also different for the Orion GR.2 versus its American counterpart was the addition of the Loral 1917 Yellow Gate ESM pods to the wingtips. Housing passive electronic sensors, the 1917 Yellow Gate pods were also used on the RAF's E-3D Sentry fleet as well as the Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft which were also active in the overland recce role in the Afghan theater. Capability for dropping precision weapons with the TIALD pod and firing the Brimstone were retained, and like the MP-3E, Northrop Grumman's AN/AAQ-24 NEMESIS DIRCM turrets were mounted on the sides of the aft fuselage to protect against shoulder-fired missiles.

The new Orion GR.2s would prove their value that summer as British forces south of Kandahar faced increasing resistance from Taliban forces that were repeatedly crossing back and forth out of Pashtun sanctuary areas in Pakistan. Despite pressure on Pakistani president General Pervez Musharaff to rein in the border areas, British forces found little help by the Pakistani military in shutting down the Taliban sanctuaries in the area.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in July 2008 authorized secret cross-border missions by Orion GR.2s to conduct armed reconaissance of the Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan. Given that there was considerable evidence the the Pakistani military intelligence service, the ISI, was covertly supporting the resurgent Taliban as an indirect means of destablizing Musharaff, no word of the secret missions were given to the Pakistani military.

Low-observable Taranis UAVs carrying jamming payloads crossed into Pakistan jamming local surveillance radars each time an Orion GR.2 crossed the border to seek out Taliban bases. Upon confirmation of Taliban forces in the encampment, the Orion GR.2, orbiting much higher than was possible with the Orion GR.1, would fire several well-placed salvoes with its 30mm cannon and then cross back into Afghanistan.

The Taliban sympathizers within the ISI were loath to publicize the British cross-border raids as it would have brought attention to their covert activities in supporting the reconstituted Taliban forces. Initially livd upon learing about the raids after several weeks of operations, Musharaff grudgingly played along once British intelligence convinced him that the ISI was trying to destablize his regime by rebuilding the Tailban. Within six weeks, Taliban attacks on British forces south of Kandahar had decreased significantly.

Sentinel Chicken

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Re: The Utter Aviation Randomness of Sentinel Chicken
« Reply #44 on: January 14, 2012, 02:33:42 AM »


Despite the best efforts of the United Nations and the Australian military forces under Operation Astute since the 2006 East Timor crisis, periodic clashes still took place along East Timor's western border with the Indonesian West Timor. Ever mindful of the potentially vast oil and gas fields that were being developed by Australia in the Timor Gap that lay in the Timor Sea north of Australia, successive Indonesian government initiatives to quell insurgent activity on West Timor directed against East Timor were half-hearted at best as elements in the Indonesian government seeked a covert reversal of East Timor's independence.

Despite progress under the administration of Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in quelling the various separatist movements as well as the ongoing efforts to keep the radical Islamic group Jemaah Islamiah in check, long-simmering divisions within the government prevented an effective resolution to these ongoing issues.

Matters came to head in November 2007 when a Jemaah Islamiah suicide bomb attack in Jakarta struck an ASEAN conference. Present at the conference were several foreign leaders as well as Indonesian president Susilo and his vice president, Jusuf Kalla. Kalla himself was mortally wounded in the attack and Susilo incapacitated. In addition, the Philippine president as well as several ministers from Australia, the Philippines and Vietnam did not survive the blast. With the Indonesian government paralyzed in the crisis, the head of the Indonesian military assumed control of the government and imposed martial law in Jakarta. Ever resentful of the heavy-handed leadership of past Indonesian generals, full-blown riots and demonstrations broke out across Jakarta and eventually spread to the major population centers of the nation.

With the region plunged rapidly into crisis, various insurgent groups in West Timor took advantage of events and began large-scale attacks in East Timor. With less-than-covert support from elements of the Indonesian government and military, Australian forces found themselves beseiged by the sudden upsurge in violence.

Australia's participation in the Pave Twister II program came at a fortuitous time. Although the initial plans were for Australia's Pave Twister gunships to get their final fit-out in Australia, the urgency of the new crisis in Indonesia led to US Navy-standard gunships being diverted from the production line for the RAAF.

Rather than stand up a new squadron, the RAAF established a detachement within an existing Orion operator, No. 10 Squadron. Given that the deployment schedule had been pushed up, US Navy crews would augment the first Australian crews in manning No. 10 Squadron's first Pave Twister II gunships.

The first RAAF Pave Twister II arrived at Dili Airport in East Timor ahead of schedule and immediately began providing much-needed fire support to ADF forces in East Timor.

Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: The Utter Aviation Randomness of Sentinel Chicken
« Reply #45 on: January 14, 2012, 03:46:15 AM »
Evil.... >:(
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

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But you can make the Bastard work for it.

Offline BadersBusCompany

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Re: The Utter Aviation Randomness of Sentinel Chicken
« Reply #46 on: January 14, 2012, 04:24:21 AM »
Very.......very nice Orions  :)
Driving trains when I'd rather be drawing planes!!

Offline elmayerle

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Re: The Utter Aviation Randomness of Sentinel Chicken
« Reply #47 on: January 14, 2012, 02:07:14 PM »
Damn nice Orions, my friend.  Having worked on EP-3E variants (and related aircraft), I can appreciate what you've got here.  I'd love to see more.

My ultimate "Flying Fortress" Orion would combine the radome and equipment fit of the AEW one with the fighter radar nose used by some Customs Orions, but with an AN/APG-71 off the F-14D in the nose (add on the TCS and IRST pods if you want).  This one would carry AIM-54s in the weapons bay and on the underwing hardpoints.  If you want real nastiness, allow it to take missile handoffs from the ground when Nike-Phoenix (Nike-Hercules replacement proposed to Japan which mated a Phoenix seeker and improved rocket motors to their existing Nike-Hercules airframes) missiles are launched at intruders.

Offline Brian da Basher

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Re: The Utter Aviation Randomness of Sentinel Chicken
« Reply #48 on: January 14, 2012, 07:27:36 PM »
Your Orions are absolutely First Class, Mr Chicken!

Brian da Basher

Re: The Utter Aviation Randomness of Sentinel Chicken
« Reply #49 on: January 14, 2012, 08:42:03 PM »
The Orions are epic! Although the sound coming out of those IR suppressors would be unique.  :icon_music:
« Last Edit: January 14, 2012, 09:02:27 PM by Empty Handed »