BREAKING: US Air Force Approves Live-Fire Single-Ship Demonstrations Next Year

posted in: Military | 6

A-10 Thunderbolt II Warthog Strafe - Hawgsmoke 2016

The US Air Force has decided to add live munitions to its single-ship demonstrations starting next year. The change was announced in a surprise press release today, distributed by Air Combat Command. Not all show sites will be eligible for the new demonstrations; the list will be finalized and released at this year’s ICAS convention.

“We’ve been wanting to share this with the public since our conference back in February,” said ACC Commander General Mike Holmes. “We’ve been planning this since [Secretary of Defense James] “Mad Dog” Mattis was sworn in. All credit needs to go to him. He was the one that brought up the idea and paved the way for us to bring something truly exciting to the air show circuit next year.”

The aircraft that will incorporate the live rounds are the A-10 Thunderbolt II, F-22 Raptor, and F-16 Fighting Falcon (Viper). The F-35 will not be participating for unspecified reasons. The A-10 will be restored to full demonstration status as part of the move; it currently is only permitted to perform in Heritage Flights. Each aircraft will conduct two strafing passes using their cannons and one bombing run with several bombs during their performances.

F-22 Raptor Weapons Nellis AFB Red Flag 2015USAF F-16 Fighting Falcon

When asked about the new addition to show line-ups, Mattis said, “Our folks at home need to see we ain’t messin’ around. They need to harden up and get some. They need to hear the rumble of the guns and feel the motivation to drop and give our boys in blue fifty.”

The US Navy will not pursue live-fire passes until 2020, deciding instead to focus on the upcoming plan for the Blue Angels to transition to unmanned drones.

Until next year, here’s a dose of some BRRRRRRRrrrrrrt to tide you over!

Airpower Over Hampton Roads Thunders Back To Life With Excellent 2016 Show

posted in: Airshows, Event Recap | 1

F-22 Raptor with open bomb bays - Airpower Over Hampton Roads 2016

After a five year absence, airplanes and skydivers once again soared through the skies of Hampton, Virginia at Joint Base Langley-Eustis’ Airpower Over Hampton Roads airshow April 22nd-24th, 2016.

Langley, which was scheduled to hold an airshow in 2013 but had to cancel it due to sequestration. The return of Airpower Over Hampton Roads kicked off Langley’s 100th anniversary celebration, which will last through all of 2016.

Headlining Airpower Over Hampton Roads were the USAF Thunderbirds. Langley is unique because as far as airshows go, it’s one of the very few places where you can see the F-22 Raptor demonstration and the Thunderbirds at the same airshow. However, mother nature wasn’t too kind to the show. The Thunderbirds’ performance on Friday (practice day) had to be canceled due to thunderstorms which blew around objects on the field and brought dangerous lightning. The Friday night show and concert was canceled. Saturday, while starting off beautiful, also turned stormy right before the F-22 demo team was scheduled to begin their demonstration. The rest of the airshow was canceled out of an abundance of caution, leaving just Sunday to see the Thunderbirds fly.

Strike Eagle lands at Langley AFBRob Holland flies at Langley AFB

Sunday was bright and sunny, with the cold front that brought the stormy weather having moved through and to the south of the area. With cool temperatures, it was a perfect airshow day. All aircraft were able to fly, and the Thunderbirds finished off the day with their high show performance.

While the storms caused some trouble, they certainly provided for excellent photo opportunities. Check out what Randy Ball’s MiG-17 looked like against the stormy skies! We’ve also included a few preview pics. Our full album will be up soon.

Randy Ball at Airpower Over Hampton Roads 2016

Thunderbirds Taxi InUSAF Thunderbird Helmet - Airpower Over Hampton Roads

Static displays included a B-1 Bomber, C-17 Globemaster III, C-130 Hercules, F-15 Strike Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, A-10 Warthog, EF-2000 Typhoon, NASA Langley aircraft and Langley’s own F-22s and T-38s.

The airshow featured a rare treat – a 3-ship Heritage Flight including a P-51 Mustang, F-35 Lightning and the F-22 Raptor! Check out our video of the entire F-22 Raptor demonstration, including an F-35 afterburner takeoff and the Heritage Flight!

Also check out our other videos from the show in our Airpower OVer Hampton Roads 2016 playlist: