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Old Viper Tester

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About Old Viper Tester

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    Dayton OH USA
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    Military flight test, R&D, and prototype aircraft.

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  1. The pre-production T-38s were dedicated to early flight test, hence the single-seat configuration to allow installation of flight test instrumentation and recording equipment. The T-38, being such a trim design, had no extra space to install the bulky 1950's era instrumentation, so the rear seat was sacrificed on the assembly line. The blanked rear canopy still opened to access the instrumentation. Realizing that these birds were never going to training units, the cockpit fittings were not installed even when the instrumentation was removed - just some lead plates to simulate the seat weight. Sven
  2. Clear bright desert air at about 30,000 ft. Probably not the best thermal differential for detecting a relatively cool turbofan. Probably would have done a lot better looking for an SR-71 at operating altitude - even if we would be way below him! It was early days in our evaluation of the MiG-29 and Su-27 and we only talked about IRST capability. When I went to Rissala Finland to see the MiG-29, I admit I was surprised at the complex gimbaling and other equipment visible under the sensor ball. Looked a lot more complex than what I remember from the F-102/F-106 IRST. Sven
  3. I'm no expert, but here goes: lasers, infra-red, and television are all electro-optical by definition. In Western usage, EO typically only refers to visible spectrum sensors. Laser sensors go by two names but are similar capability: Laser Marked Target Seeker and Laser Spot Tracker. Both look for, and lock on, a laser spot generated by a target designator. Infra-red sensors have two distinct capabilities: FLIR and IRST. FLIR systems originally had little or no gimbal movement and were installed looking straight ahead - hence, "Forward Looking". They stare in a direction such that they create an image of the area in the field of view. As I mentioned above, the IRST merely looks for a heat source but is typically more agile than a FLIR sensor. IRST sensors fell out of favor in the US in the mid-1960s. The systems were often unreliable and often needed a very large thermal differential to be useful. When I evaluated the IRST in the F-106 while in Test Pilot School (1981), I had a lot of difficulty locating a Boeing 747 that was essentially right in front of us at about 15-20 miles! Since the IRST wasn't considered to be all that good, it was dropped from the later F-4s and didn't make it into the specifications for the F-15 or F-16. FLIR systems were getting better and began to be used in the US in the late 70s, but even then the system for the A-7E was in a pod almost as big as an external fuel tank. The A-7D did have an LMTS and the A-10 got the Pave Penny. FLIRs got better, and smaller, in the mid-80s as with LANTIRN development. In the mid-80s I was a technical intelligence analyst watching Sukhoi fighters. I'll admit that we were a bit surprised that the IRST was carried by the Su-27 and MiG-29. I didn't think the IRST in the MiG-23 was that good, but maybe that was Western parochialism. Western systems were finally getting a lot better and the IRST made it back into the latter F-14s. There was no place to put them in the F-15 or F-16 without costly internal redesign. With stealth technology making it harder to detect targets, new IRST systems finally became desirable again and the USAF starts playing with the pods: Litening, Sniper, Legion, and variations putting an IRST on the front of external fuel tanks. I assume that the F-22 never got an IRST because the original design came about when the USAF was still not fond of IRSTs and trying to retrofit it would be costly and possibly negate the stealth characteristics. IR systems have their own advantage in being passive, so there's no emission to be detected by an enemy. This is all off the top of my head, but I hope it helps, Sven
  4. F-16B 78-0096 should have either been transferred to a foreign Air Force, made a ground training airframe or sent to AMARG between 2005 and 2010, when most of the pre-block 30 airframes were removed from USAF flying units, so it wouldn't have been at this later evaluation. 78-0096 and a few A models - covered in the Caracal sheet - were used in an earlier CAS evaluation (ca. 1980?). I think that eval was run by AFOTEC. The results of that early evaluation found the F-16 wanting due to the lack of sensors (FLIR, IRST, LST) that would compensate for target detection at F-16 operating speeds. All of the Vipers in that evaluation came from the 388TFS at Hill AFB. The Shaw Viper on the Caracal sheet was from yet another evaluation, but I don't know the details on where or when. Sven
  5. Serge, FLIR is a staring array that produces an image. An IRST detects thermal differences and shows the hot spot on a display, either directly or after being processed by a computer, showing azimuth and elevation from the sensor boresight. Neither sensor gives distance to the target. As for the F-15 and F-16, both have been given the IRST and FLIR capability. The F-16C/D Block 40 and F-15E via the LANTIRN system targeting pod. The F-15C and F-16s are now integrated with the Litening and/or Legion pods for IR capability. Sven
  6. Vipers of the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron, 57th Fighter Weapons Wing, Tactical Fighter Weapons Center out of Nellis AFB, conducted an evaluation of the F-16's suitability in the close air support mission (as a potential replacement for the A-10?). They were accompanied in the exercise by an F-16B, 75-0752, technical development airframe with sensor modifications operated by General Dynamics. The 422nd Vipers were: 83-1128, 83-1129, 83-1130, 83-1131, 83-1144, and 84-0267. USAF images. 83-1128 83-1129 83-1131 83-1144. I don't think the two-seater in the background is '752 - there's no FLIR ball atop the nose, but I haven't found a record of a USAF B/D participating in the CAS Eval. Forward-Looking infra-Red/laser spot tracker (FLIR/LST) pod on F-16Cs Forward-Looking infra-Red (FLIR) sensor on F-16B 75-0752. The continuation of the aft fairing is on the canopy frame. GPU-5 (GEPOD-30) cannon pod on 83-1144. AGM-65 on LAU-117/A launcher Apologies if I've already posted these. I recently found two additional slides and couldn't find the original post (if it existed). Thanks for looking, Sven
  7. F-4Ds of the 178th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, 119th Fighter Interceptor Group, North Dakota Air National Guard out of Hector Airport. 64-0942, Edwards AFB transient ramp, October 1983. and 64-0975 64-0953, Edwards AFB transient ramp, November 1984 '953 again at Nellis AFB, early arrival for the open house static line, April 1989 Thanks for looking, Sven
  8. I caught the RAF Jaguars at Nellis in 1981, '83, and '84. Sven
  9. A pair of RF-4C Recce Rhinos of the 91st Tac Reconnaissance Squadron, 67th Tac Reconnaissance Wing out of Bergstrom AFB. Caught on the Edwards AFB transient ramp, February 1983. 68-0595 with LORAN "towel rack" antenna 72-0147 Thanks for looking, Sven
  10. F-4Es of the 68th Tac Fighter Squadron, 347th Tac Fighter Wing out of Moody AFB participating in the Red Flag 84-2 large-force exercise, Nellis AFB, February 1984. 68-0328 68-0363 68-0367 68-0373 A very blurry 68-0395 68-0495 68-0515 Thanks for looking, Sven
  11. Recce Rhinos of the 91st Tac Reconnaissance Squadron, 67th Tac Reconnaissance Wing out of Bergstrom AFB. At Nellis AFB for the Red Flag 84-3 large-force exercise, April 1984. 63-7753 67-0435 67-0440 68-0587 68-0591 72-0147 72-0149 Thanks for looking, Sven
  12. Recce Rhinos of the 12th Tac Reconnaissance Squadron, 67th Tac Reconnaissance Wing out of Bergstrom AFB. At Nellis AFB for the Red Flag 90-1 large-force exercise, October 1989. 68-0548 68-0553 68-0564 69-0376 Thanks for looking, Sven
  13. September 1991: The 163rd Tac Fighter Squadron, 122nd Tac Fighter Wing, Indiana Air National Guard at Baer Field is converting from F-4Es to F-16Cs. These images are of the F-4Es being prepared for transfer to other USAF units or to other air forces. 68-0305, was supposed to go to Turkey, but may not have been delivered. 68-0361, went to Greece. 68-0363, went to Greece. 68-0372, went to the 35th Fighter Wing at George AFB. 68-0377, went to South Korean AF. 68-0381, went to Greece. 68-0393, went to Greece. 68-0394, went to Greece. 68-0402, went to Greece. 68-0408, went to Greece. 68-0411, at St. Louis and a week later at Baer Field, went to the 20th Fighter Squadron at George AFB. 68-0438 at Lambert Field for the 110th Tac Fighter Squadron Phantom Pharewell as the 110th converted to F-15s. 68-0442, went to Greece. 68-0445, went to Greece. 68-0480 at St Louis. Went Greece. 68-0481, went to Greece. 68-0496 heading out for one last air-to-ground training mission. Eventually going to Greece. 68-0515 eventually going to the Hellenic AF. 68-0517 going to the Hellenic AF. 68-0529, stayed with USAF. 68-0531, went to the 20th Fighter Squadron at George AFB. Thanks for looking, Sven
  14. T-38A 70-1579, operated by the 6512th Test Squadron, 6510th Test Wing, Air Force Flight Test Center, Edwards AFB. On the Edwards AFB main ramp, May 1985. Loose formation while returning to Edwards AFB after playing targets for an F-15 radar test mission, May 1985. That's the Boron mine in the background. Power Approach configuration, May 1985. On the Edwards main ramp, October 1991. Baggage pod on the centerline. Name on the forward canopy rail is "Brig Gen Roy D. Bridges", commander of the AF Flight Test Center at the time. Name on the rear canopy rail is "Maj Brett Vance", the general's executive officer. On the Edwards main ramp, September 1992. The AF Systems Command shield replaced with the AF Materiel Command shield following the merger of Logistics and Systems Commands. Thanks for looking, Sven
  15. Recce Rhinos of the 153rd Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, 186th Tactical Reconnaissance Group, Mississippi Air National Guard out of Key Field. At Nellis AFB for a Red Flag large-force exercise, June 1991. 65-0935 66-0422 66-0425 66-0449 Thanks for looking, Sven
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