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About gary1701

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    Step away from the computer!
  • Birthday 08/23/1969

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    Stowmarket, Suffolk, UK (Neighbour to the AAC Apache AH1).

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  1. Gents, Another run today, exactly a week after the last one, but another bright clear day so with nothing better to do over the holiday period it seemed like a good idea. I still had it in mind that the C-5M that came in on Saturday had not been noted leaving so I had hopes of getting my first shots of that variant, if he actually left and didn't go u/s obviously. Got him.. Not the best place to park a truck. Not a lot else going on, the usual local circuit work from the 67th SOS. Different aircraft to last week. CV-22 pair went off as well, first aircraft came back broke, but they swapped air frames quickly and went back out. Figured I'd try down by their pad today as I doubted I would get lucky up the Eastern end two trips running - wise precaution as they came in high. 'Knife 72' was '059', one from last week and went direct to the pad as I hoped. Looks like he'd been in a muddy field whilst out. 'Knife 71', on his second aircraft wouldn't play ball, coming around from the opposite end and behind me. Note, as spotted by bee above, this is a newer airframe (12-0063) but doesn't have the newer additions to the upper fuselage that some of the others have. That will certainly be it for 2019. Hopefully next year will provide a few opportunities. Gary
  2. Well spotted that man! 11-0059/60 are both long term residents with the 7th SOS here, and formed part of the initial establishment back in 2013/14. That dome has only recently started to appear on the airframes and this is the first time I've photographed it. I would guess it's a SATCOM antenna but don't know. The upper aerial array configuration has always varied to some degree but that is new. Note the new addition of the full serial on the upper rear fuselage - clearer on '59 than '60. Also first time I've shot them with a Browning in the back. Local rumour is of a fleet swap over in January, so some or all of these may well change with some different airframes coming in. Here's one addition, 'Knife 71' in the transition. Gary
  3. Hi gents, Big gap from the previous visit but having finished for Christmas I thought I'd pop over and see what was going on as it was a bright (but cold!) day. Lakenheath was NOTAMed as open but a drive past at 8 this morning and it was clear that nothing was going to happen so I turned for Mildenhall which ended up being surprisingly good on the last day before closing for Christmas. 'Mario 64' was on a early dawn launch to go snooping out East. This was more difficult to get than usual as some strange reflections were dancing around the forward fuselage and engines that ruined most of the shots. Never seen that before and I've shot plenty of glossy RC-135s at this exact spot at dawn. Maybe it's some new anti-photographer device! Strangely, the other RC-135V in came down the same taxiway an hour later, this time heading home as 'Hoover 55' with no photography problems. Local MC-130J went up for a little local circuit work. 'The Jester' from the 100th sitting down by the Folly Rd dispersal. No tankers moved all day. I hit the jackpot with the 7th SOS and 'Knife' section of CV-22s. Having gone off the other end earlier for a sightseeing Dover tour I waited for them to come back. 'Knife 71' just flew down the other side of the runway and headed for their usual 'Alpha' pad. 'Knife 72' was up for it though. Landing on the runway opposite my viewing spot, he then did a quick circuit before running down the runway very low and fast with an F-15 style break at the other end. Finally got a shot of one in the forward flight configuration. Not too bad for a day when I wasn't expecting much. If I don't post anything else before Christmas, which is unlikely, then Happy Christmas too all. Gary
  4. Hi again, That's the article I found when looking around the web. I was familiar with some of the article as the company that planned to base Su-27/30's out of Iceland was connected to a professional photographer who I know and around the time of the article he was quite keen on photographing them. I didn't for one moment think it would come to anything and obviously it never did. It still looks like a photoshop job on those two pics, an impression of what a adversary scheme could look like on a EF-2000. I doubt such a scheme on any of the airframes flying with the Eurofighter nations would have remained on the QT from that far back, even if applied for a short time. They wouldn't have painted the radome anyway. Gary
  5. Hi gents, A few more I've sorted out, all pretty standard fare. I missed the latest batch of Saudi F-15SAs transiting through by one day! One of my test shots during the afternoon that I take to keep a eye on the light, didn't see the CV-22 sneaking into the left side of the frame! Gary
  6. Hi, I had a look around the net and this appears to originate from a blog back in 2014. I've never seen or heard of a EF-2000 in that scheme, so I'm guessing it's a photoshop job. There is a possibility that some early RAF examples may end up in a aggressor type scheme in the future, but nothing yet. Gary
  7. Gents, It wasn't meant to take me until December but finally nailed the second heritage F-15 at Lakenheath this afternoon. I got the 492nd early on back in May, the 494th is a bust as their yellow tailed jet is now back stateside at Warner-Robins on rework so will come back clean. The dark painted F-15C of the 493rd was the one I was desperate to get and the 48th have already said they're going to be painted out soon I knew I was running out of time. Today was the first visit (weather has been awful - even by UK standards!) in blue skies since the AFRES F-16s back in May. Sure enough, second wave from the 493rd after midday included the heritage jet as the No2 man of a four ship flight, callsign 'Hitman'. The sun goes around quite quickly in December and is down the runway centreline by mid afternoon, plus Mildenhall had thoughtfully put a tanker up on the East coast towline (grrr!), so it was touch and go whenever these guys came back in good light. Thankfully, for once, fortune favoured me. 'The King'; Would have been nice if he'd have gone into the circuit, but nobody this afternoon wanted to play - the morning wave did. 492nd have another jet showing a green star, presumably another drone from their 2017 Middle East deployment. Some also retain their mission tallies from 2017, unlike the 494th's rather flamboyant markings from 2018. Finally, the 493rd also have a new flagship. Last one before I called it a day. Gary
  8. Thanks, glad they were okay. I must admit it was easier than I feared. A month or so before I was still considering not making the attempt as I feared it was going to be difficult, if not impossible to get pics of the IDF deployment. As it turned out it went pretty well. Hopefully they'll be back in 2020 - be nice if they brought F-15Is or F-16I's. Gary
  9. Hi Bee, Unlikely to be 48th FW jets. All three squadrons are at home, which is rare. They did fly missions direct from Lakenheath to Libya back in 2011, but there's no indication over here that has happened recently. As I've said previously, we wouldn't publicly monitor that in real time on the web, but the indications would be there and there's been nothing. Lakenheath has actually been closed and stood down for the last couple of days, not due to reopen until middle of next week. It usually goes very quiet in late September as I believe their fuel budget runs October to October and they normally cut back training at this time of year. There is a Seymour-Johnson F-15E squadron deployed and the six month swap over is imminent with them coming home - through Lakenheath - and it should be a Lakenheath squadron next in the rotation, probably the 492nd as the 494th went last time. Be interesting to see if there's any flamboyant art work on the nose of the transiting Seymour-Johnson jets. Gary
  10. Hi again gents, The other day I went back and did some research on this and this was the results. This only covers the jets that were deployed to the UK. F-15Ds 715 (90-0277), 706 (90-0276) and 733 (90-0275) come from the final batch of five new built D models delivered to Israel (and would have been built after the US started F-15E production). F-15D 980 (80-0055) is one of the ex-USAF batch delivered through Lakenheath in September 2016. Having read how much work goes into overhauling and upgrading these airframes, that's pretty quick to see it now operating to IAF standard. F-15Cs 810 (80-0123) and 818 (80-0125) are original IAF airframes. The odd one is C model 583, which carries US serial 83-0067 on the airframe. That's a mistake by the Israelis (83-0067 is a B-1B preserved at Ellesworth!), and the airframe is apparently 83-0062. Whilst I suppose the last one could be deliberate misinformation, what's the point? Hardly seems worth the effort so I would put money on somebody screwing up in the admin department. As one of my posts earlier this year showed with the 100th ARW at Mildenhall putting the wrong serial on a newly repainted KC-135 (since corrected), it happens. Gary
  11. Gents, Open Skies OC-135 arriving early this afternoon from the East. No CFM56's on these! Gary
  12. Hi Bee, Sure. They arrived on Wednesday the 28th August. They flew direct from Israel, three 707's in support, two returned and one came all way through with them, although he has gone back. They've had various transport types in, including a C-130 apparently bringing in a engine or two for some sick jets that departed whilst I was there Thursday morning. They flew six of the seven during Fridays sortie, so they must be in quite good condition for old jets, although one came back with a IFE due to a hydraulics failure early. Some of these are original jets, and some are apparently overhauled ex-USAF D models that were delivered through Lakenheath some years ago - they have been considerably modified since. They carry a USAF style fiscal serial in small type at the bottom of the fin, a list has been made somewhere, but according to the serial experts, they've put the wrong US serials on some of them! I have no idea how some of the guys know this, but if the choice is between military bookkeeping, even the IDF and military serial enthusiasts, I know who I would back... Gary
  13. Hi again gents, This is the big one, the results of yesterday and Thursday up at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire, although the majority of these were taken yesterday as the weather went bad quite quickly on Thursday. A few words on this exercise, it's normally held a few miles away at RAF Coningsby, one of my other regular haunts but this year all the visiting air arms went to Waddington instead, not sure if this was connected with the sensitive nature of the Israelis or not. Cobra Warrior started out as a RAF/Luftwaffe exercise at Coningsby, last year the Italians joined although they flew from Waddington then. Back in January it was quietly revealed that the Israelis were to participate in the 2019 event, which was a massive shock. Although F-15Is and C-130s attended the now defunct Waddington air show many years ago, this was the first time the Israelis were to operate in a UK exercise. As can be imagined the enthusiast community has been waiting in anticipation ever since, but this was tempered slightly when it was stated that all the visitors would operate from Waddington rather than Coningsby, with RAF assets working from their own bases. Waddington isn't anywhere as near as accessible as Coningsby, despite having a formal viewing area and car park called the WAVE at the Eastern by the main A15 road. This was built when Waddington hosted a lot of visitors for ACMI work off the coast in the 1990's, long since gone and aircraft wise the base has become something of a backwater. Most of the RAF's ISTAR assets are based here, and the security has become a lot less friendly since the RAF RC-135s arrived. Which is strange as the usually less photography friendly USAF at Mildenhall hasn't been bothered about photography of their RC-135s for years, as my pics on here show. So there was some concern as to what would happen, plus throw in some potential protesters as they already don't like Waddington because it is the RAF hub for UAV operations. For obvious reasons the Israeli Air Force isn't that popular with certain protest groups and elements of the media over here so there was some potential for a interesting couple of weeks. This wasn't helped by some of the usual 'outrage' articles in some of the left wing media when they finally found out about it - Morning Star for example. So whilst the idea of photographing Israeli jets had me and most of the community falling over ourselves, there was some worry that you just wouldn't be able to see anything or allowed anywhere near the base with the WAVE closed for the duration. F-15s were confirmed, initially a mix of both F-15I and F-15 'Baz' models, up to a dozen was suggested. A few weeks beforehand the 'I's cancelled so we were down to the 'Baz' model - still good news considering how much the IDF modify them, especially the two-seaters. Advance indications were mixed, the WAVE would be open, but step ladders by the fence and hedge would be banned and policed, although as a concession the hedge would be cut down so you could look over and hopefully photograph. That still allowed pics on the 20 approach which was good. I booked a weeks holiday and hoped that by the second week of the three week exercise any problems would have been resolved although my luck at Waddington in the past has been poor with the weather - Indian Su-30s for example in 2007. The final contingent was as below; 10x Luftwaffe EF-2000's, 4x ITAF EF-2000's, 4x IAF F-15Ds and 3x IAF F-15Cs. One Luftwaffe A310 tanker was working Brize Norton alongside RAF tankers. RAF Typhoons and F-35s would work from Coningsby and Marham respectively. This exercise does not involve the USAF, besides Mildenhall tankers refuelling the IAF F-15s on occasion as obviously they need the boom. The USAF B-2 deployment in at Fairford is not connected to Cobra Warrior. So Thursday was very nearly a total bust, as although they were departing and landing from the East, the better end the predicted afternoon clouds rolled in just before all the various aircraft recovered. Unfortunately, the Israelis had decided that they didn't like coming out on the Southern taxiway just a few feet in front of the hedge by the A15 and the waiting hordes so after a couple of days last week they were always taxiing around to the North side and were distant. Quite a lot of communication had been arranged in advance between the exercise organisers, the WAVE administrators and Israeli security and their main concern was not the jets but that they did not want any images of their personnel that were identifiable, which was obviously understandable. The Southern side taxiway we didn't understand - you can't id a pilot in a jet with helmet and mask on! However that was their call obviously. They had their own security and it was made clear that they had a detachment of security officers in the WAVE watching and reporting back, just like in the spy movies! I suppose you don't get this in Israel but they'd obviously been briefed well in advance as to what to expect. A few from Thursday. RAF Airseeker (RC-135V) coming out of 'Alpha' dispersal early morning. ZZ666 is the third and final airframe allocated to 51 Sqn to replace the old Nimrod R1s. Somebody in the serial allocation office has a sense of history as the three Airseekers are allocated ZZ664 through 6, the original Nimrod R1s were allocated XW664 to 6, although XW666 crashed and was replaced by a MR2 conversion. The Italians had no problem coming out Southside by the fence. 'Ferrari 1 and 2' on the South side hold. Interesting that the Italians don't have the newer 'Striker' helmet. This one shows the four ship of IDF F-15s ('Ace' flight) holding short on the North side behind. Only one of the IDF F-15s turning on as the angle and clutter isn't great, and I shot far better the following day. This shows the ELTA jamming pod carried on the forward CFT station. Returning, only the lead Luftwaffe EF-2000 was caught before the clouds came in - grr! So Thursday ended up being pretty bad, and although Fridays forecast was much better the wind indicated that they would swap ends, not so good as access down the other was a unknown quantity to me, and was only country lanes and fields and when talking to the locals I was told it was either pointless as they don't want you down there (the IDF were on the dispersal on the Southern corner) and it's coned off, or a couple of guys said you can do it if you prepared to walk a far bit ang get around the fields. So I decided to see the morning departures from the WAVE, hoping somebody came across low and played to the cameras - some had the previous week, even a couple of the F-15s had, and then before they came back investigate the 02 end and I had nothing to loose - I was reasonably confident that the IDF security couldn't shoot somebody on UK soil outside the fence! The worst I could see happening was to be told to go away, and that would be the RAF Regiment unit that is stationed here, not the Israelis. First off, one of the diminishing number of operational RAF E-3s for the forthcoming exercise. Originally numbering seven aircraft, one was reduced to a parts hulk some years ago and more recently another two have been withdrawn. Presumably the remainder will serve until the Wedgetail arrives. When I said to some of the locals that at least that leaves four airframes they laughed - apparently the best they can manage is to have two available at any one time! Surprise guest over the top whilst we waited, 'Scalp 99' is the BUFF in at Fairford alongside the B-2s. He's down for a few air show appearances in Europe and had launched for a French show but did a tour of the UK before heading South. He did ask the E-3 if anybody in Cobra Warrior wanted to intercept him! Don't know if they did. Then they all launched towards us but only the single Italian obliged, but it was a perfect angle - well done that man! So I decided to make an effort down the other end, not knowing what to expect. I found the coned off layby, strangely the one the other side of the road was fair game, and there was a lot of empty cars parked there - somebody seems to know where to go. So with camera and step ladder I headed down the track to the fence, found the Israeli dispersal just the other side but there was a bunch of guys there so it seemed okay. Walked further around the edge of the field to the runway and bingo! Found some more guys and also you had a clear elevated view over the runway and taxiway. Couldn't be better and amazed that so few people, including the hundreds down the other end of the WAVE had no idea you could go down here. First the Israelis. I still could not believe, that after all the security arrangements and rules that they would just taxi back across the runway in front of us without any problems, but even though we were watched by a couple of RAF regiment guys, no problem. Some of the others, looks like the Luftwaffe has the same problem with the refuelling probe! You have to hand it the Italians, even their recoveries are tighter, more flamboyant than anybody else, these guys really pulled them round tight. This final shot was taken on my mobile, as I didn't feel comfortable putting my main camera and lens towards the Israeli encampment, although others didn't seem to have a problem! having been in this game for over 30 years now, it never fails to amuse me how security rules and procedures are so contradictory! All the fuss down the well known public end about being close and photographing the Israelis and look at the fence at the other end! I hope this marathon session is okay, but this may well be the only time I ever Israeli aircraft in a operational setting. I imagine they're going to have some strange stories to tell when they go back home. Gary
  14. Hi gents, Here's a quick couple of highlights from my two day jaunt up to RAF Waddington and Exercise Cobra Warrior - including the first ever exercise in the UK involving IDF aircraft. Understandably very security conscious but if the weather co-operates and you get in the right places, it's still doable. Full post to come once I've sorted through 1400 images! Gary
  15. Hi, Very nice. I've just got back from two days up at Waddington earlier this afternoon. Yesterday was a near total bust due to weather but today more than made up for it. Pics to follow. I've got your PM and will get back to you later this evening. I did hear that one day for some reason the Luftwaffe A310 overflew Waddington (was it a day last week?) with the EF-2000s despite the aircraft working out of Brize Norton for the exercise. I reckon it must have been a photo shoot. I'm guessing these were last week as the IAF have pulled the tanks from the F-15's this week? Gary
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