Archive for February, 2010

E-6B TACAMO




E-6B TACAMO

Originally uploaded by Code20photog

I *think* I saw one of these yesterday afternoon.

I was waiting to board my return flight to Phoenix at Orlando (MCO), and I thought I saw one of these parked on the cargo ramp (the satcom hump on the top of the fuselage is the giveaway). Since boarding was about to start – and it was a full flight – I didn’t stop and get my camera out to snap even a crappy picture of it.

I actually had a window seat – so once I got seated I got my camera out and waiting for the plane to push back. Once we did – and I got a view of the cargo ramp – it was gone.

Let me explain a little about the E-6 Mercury. This is considered a strategic asset – in that it is responsible for relaying orders to the US Ballistic Missile Submarine fleet. Even though it is Boeing 707 airframe – it has a modern glass cockpit from the 737 next generation, and was only delivered to the Navy between 1989 and 1992.

There are 16 of these aircraft total – and at least one (and more likely two) are airborne at any time. So if you happen to see one of these outside of Offutt Air Force Base (in NE), stop what you are doing and take a picture of it.

 

Airborne Laser shoots and scores!

Last night – the US Air Force’s much maligned Airborne Laser project hit the jackpot with a successful in-flight engagement and destruction of a Scud-like ballistic missile shortly after it was launched.

In the video below, a timecode that could be used to evaluate how long the laser was on target before its destruction – is noticeably missing.

The Airborne Laser is a chemically charged laser mounted in a modified Boeing 747-400 Freighter. This was originally planned to go into Operational use, but due to cost and schedule overruns, (Defense) Secretary Gates decided last year to downgrade the project to a R&D project. Whether this successful test will change the Pentagon’s plans for this system – has yet to be seen.

It is unknown how long this test has been planned, but what is interesting is that the results of this test were publicized, while another successful test earlier this month was not (last sentence in press release). It is possible that publicizing this test was meant to show an uncooperative Middle East state that continued nuclear enrichment is not a good idea.

 

The SR-71 Blackbird




PC023-068

Originally uploaded by Lockheed Martin

I have been trying for it seems weeks to write a post to do this picture (and the Blackbird) justice, but I just haven’t had the time.

The picture dates from 1990 just after the Air Force had decided to retire the Blackbird from active service.

The current Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine included this same picture in their article about Lockheed’s famed designer Kelly Johnson where they also discussed the development of the Blackbird (but if you are a fan of the Blackbird, then you know that lots of books have already been written about its development and past glories).