A buddy of mine posted this on Facebook, apparently he found it in the Key Publishing Forums. It is yet another dubious “spy photo” from China, still I think it is worthwhile to post regardless of if it is real or not because in the not so distant future such a machine will be exist. What you have here is a RQ-170 like design without the RQ-170’s miniaturized technology or advanced composite fabrication techniques. It appears to be a bit larger, and potentially a bit more crude, than it’s American counterpart, but none-the less the major components all appear to be there (if in fact this thing is real). I have contended that the loss of the CIA’s RQ-170 over Iran in December of 2011 has provided China with the leap in technological know-how they badly needed to accelerate their drone programs, and in doing so enable other systems to a large degree. This is especially relevant when it comes to over the horizon targeting for their DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile, a weapon system that could greatly benefit from a HALE or MALE Broad Area Maritime Surveillance asset, even more-so from a low observable one. Please read this piece for further explanation:











The F-15SA flies for the first time. This baby is fully fly by wire and has some of the “Silent Eagle’s” technology built into it. In many ways the F-15SA represents a 2.75 generation of the F-15 Eagle. The silent Eagle, if built, will be the full up next generation of F-15. Just the aircraft’s incredibly powerful AESA radar and electronic warfare suite are huge upgrades from “lagacy” Mudhens. Additionally, the F-15SA will see the two outboard wing stations activated to increase the aircraft’s weapons carrying capability. Of particular note visually on the newer Eagles (not new to the SA) are the small antenna fairings underneath the cockpit rail and the large tail “boom” extensions which houses some of the aircraft’s electronic warfare suite components.

The Saudis are true F-15 believers. Under the massive Washington-Riyadh weapons sale a few years back the Saudis purchased the following regarding their F-15 fleet:

84 F-15SA Aircraft 
170 APG-63(v)3 Active Electronically Scanned Array Radar (AESA) radar sets 
193 F-110-GE-129 Improved Performance Engines 
100 M61 Vulcan Cannons 
100 Link-16 Multifunctional Information Distribution System/Low Volume Terminal (MIDS/LVT) and spares 
193 LANTIRN Navigation Pods (3rd Generation-Tiger Eye) 
338 Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems (JHMCS) 
462 AN/AVS-9 Night Vision Goggles (NVGS) 
300 AIM-9X SIDEWINDER Missiles 
25 Captive Air Training Missiles (CATM-9X) 
25 Special Air Training Missiles (NATM-9X) 
500 AIM-120C/7 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) 
25 AIM-120 CATMs 
1,000 Dual Mode Laser/Global Positioning System (GPS) Guided Munitions (500 lb) 
1,000 Dual Mode Laser/GPS Guided Munitions (2000 lb) 
1,100 GBU-24 PAVEWAY III Laser Guided Bombs (2000 lb) 
1,000 GBU-31B V3 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) (2000 lb) 
1,300 CBU-105D/B Sensor Fuzed Weapons (SFW)/Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser (WCMD) 
50 CBU-105 Inert 
1,000 MK-82 500lb General Purpose Bombs 
6,000 MK-82 500lb Inert Training Bombs 
2,000 MK-84 2000lb General Purpose Bombs 
2,000 MK-84 2000lb Inert Training Bombs 
200,000 20mm Cartridges 
400,000 20mm Target Practice Cartridges 
400 AGM-84 Block II HARPOON Missiles 
600 AGM-88B HARM Missiles 
169 Digital Electronic Warfare Systems (DEWS) 
158 AN/AAQ-33 Sniper Targeting Systems 
169 AN/AAS-42 Infrared Search and Track (IRST) Systems 
10 DB-110 Reconnaissance Pods 
462 Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System Helmets 
40 Remotely Operated Video Enhanced Receivers (ROVER) 
80 Air Combat Maneuvering Instrumentation Pods 

Also included are the upgrade of the existing Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) fleet of seventy (70) F-15S multi-role fighters to the F-15SA configuration, the provision for CONUS-based fighter training operations for a twelve (12) F-15SA contingent, construction, refurbishments, and infrastructure improvements of several support facilities for the F-15SA in-Kingdom and/or CONUS operations, RR-188 Chaff, MJU-7/10 Flares, training munitions, Cartridge Actuated Devices/Propellant Actuated Devices, communication security, site surveys, trainers, simulators, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistical support services, and other related elements of logistical and program support. 
The estimated cost is $29.432 billion.












Chinese carrier based AWACs found? Our good friend Nico sent this little gem in…











“Fat Albert” before he put on the weight! Check out this Connie that was used as the Blues’ transport back in their early days. Fast forward to today and the Blue Angels will be effectively grounded at the end of the month by the disaster that is sequestration. I will be shooting the Blue Angel’s kickoff in El Centro for the Navy, stay tuned for pics to come. Hopefully it will not be my last chance to capture these American icons in action…











New toy for the JASDF? Check out the intense piece of hardware hanging off of this F-15Js wing. Clearly this thing uses both radar and electo-optical guidance  I would love to know more,  someone with the inside info shoot me an email. This could be some sort of experimental article but it looks like it could have fantastic potential as an operational weapon system.

Prototype F-117








Snooping around for an upcoming piece I found this awesome air to air shot of the YF-117 in its pastel color scheme. I would have loved to of seen something like this fly on the operational fleet…







This is another shot I found while researching that same piece. This RQ-170 pic was posted years ago in an aviation related forum thread. I found it strange that the thread was for “identify this aircraft” and this popped up, at the time the only flying and decent resolution shot of the “Beast of Kandahar” yet nobody really jumped on it and ran with it. In fact it is the only shot I have ever seen taken while the aircraft was in transition. It is also a nice study of the drone’s rear lines. I wonder who, how and where this shot was taken? Just another little piece of lost aviation photography now found!












Now for my favorite, “Cobra Commander” sent this brilliant photoshop creation to me and I laughed my ass off after I clicked the link! Well done. People sure like to hate on the Iranian’s F-313, I on the other hand had a different view of the little pseudo-fighter:

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  1. Nuno Gomes says:

    Nice post…keep up the good work…
    P.S.-Do you think that the USAF will bite the bait and buy new build F-15/F-16s?
    Do you think they are a good alternative to the late deliveries of the F-35?

  2. Todd Frohwirth says:

    ^ I know Ty has advocated that in the past.

    Can you even launch an AWACS without a catapult

  3. AspenTwoZero says:

    @Todd – I think if Doolittle was able to get all of those B-25’s off the deck of the Hornet, China can manage to get an AWACS off the deck of their carrier(s).

  4. Angad says:

    The JASDF Eagle is carrying what looks to be a J/AQM-6 recon UAV based on the Fuji (I think) J/AQM-1 target drone. The recon role explains the E/O apertures.

    The Chinese carrier-borne AEWC bird has been doing the rounds for a while, I am skeptical of their ability to get a Y-7 (An-24) size aircraft off a ski-jump carrier unless they use JATO, which has its own set of drawbacks. However, this could hint at an ambition to lay down a second carrier using experience from the Varyag, this time using catapults.

    China is ramping up scarily fast.


  5. David says:

    Your JASDF F-15 photo is for a developmental UAV. The program is a couple of years old. Here’s a couple short YouTube links:
    I seem to recall hearing rumor that this may be the platform to be a dual-role ISR/Strike asset.

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