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PLAAF Su-33 Sea Flanker in Niger Air Force markings!


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Hi guys, so this will eventually be the spot where you'll be able to follow-on with me while I build my Kinetic Su-33 + Quinta cockpit detail set. But that won't be for a couple of months as I have another "What if" in the pipeline atm (RAF Skyhawk).

The very basic background story to this build is, 20 ex-Russian Navy Su-33 fighters were bought cheap (engines and spares included) by the People's Liberation Army Air Force and put into service in Niger, Africa. Serving as part of a forward deployed unit (Su-33, J-20 and J-10) protecting precious mineral mining operations in the South of Niger. With the United States Government desperate to holt even more advancements in Chinese computer chip technology a U.S. Military Special Forces detachment (Delta Force) was forward deployed to Cameroon to try and get close to the mining operations to see if it could be sabotaged. In support of the Special Forces detachment was a mixed squadron of US Navy F-18E Super Hornets and one squadron of USAFA (United States Air Force Africa) F-16's. It was decided to camouflage the jets as Cameroon Air Force aircraft to alleviate any Chinese suspicions about their intentions in the region. With Cameroon politicians sufficiently convinced (bribed :wicked:) into believing this move would be a beneficial one for the country the way was set for the building of the base of operations in the north of the country.

Things turned hot one day as a hotshot Navy pilot got a bit too close and was shot down by a Chinese S-400 SAM system. The subsequent rescue operation for the ejected Hornet pilot was a complete failure with the Australian Army MRH-90 Taipan rescue helicopter being shot down along with its onboard SAS rescue team. Following SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) operations lead by USAF F-16's were neutralised by J-20's and Su-33's.

The camouflage scheme for the US Navy F-18E Super Hornets looks like this. (I intend building the Meng kit for this with a Reedoak sitting pilot figure in the cockpit, probably late 2022 :snail: :waiting: )

As I haven't drawn-up an Su-33 profile yet I'll be using top and eventually side views of an Su-35 so I can get an idea of what sort of camouflage scheme I'm going to settle on for this build, and I'll be bringing you along on this journey of discovery so you can see how things evolve as the project moves forward. For those of you that are familiar with my work you'll know that I love "What if?" desert schemes more than anything else. And this hypothetical story lends itself to a lot of possibilities, both now and in the future as I could include not only a Super Hornet as seen above, but also the other aircraft types involved in the story as it too evolves along with the project.

The PLAAF forward airbase at Kaadjia in Niger obviously doesn't actually exist. but looking on Google Earth the location does. The desert in this area looks very bizarre and has lots of variation in colour and texture. So, for me it's a Smörgåsbord of camouflage possibilities. I will spend some weeks messing about with various schemes until I decide on the definitive scheme. All of which I will share with you here.




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Note the kill markings, as displayed under the text, is an indication of the types flown by the US Navy and USAFA and the intensity of the limited air war over Niger, Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon during 2023.



Bomb log / mission markings for this jet include:

4 x Kh-59ME Russian TV-guided cruise missile strikes.

One AC-130J Ghostrider

One USAF F-16C

One USN F-18E Super Hornet


One USN F-18E Super Hornet kill


Two USAFA F-16C kills and one USN E-2D Hawkeye.

The US Navy F-18E Super Hornet seen in the initial post is shown with one PLAAF J-10C and one GJ-11 Sharp Sword kill and four AGM-84H SLAM-ER mission markings in support of SEAD operations in Southern Niger.



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USAFAC (United States Air Force Africa Command) decided to move a Squadron of A-10C+ aircraft to FOB (Forward Operating Base) Bousaya in Northern Cameroon to assist in possible strikes against SAM batteries and mining operations in Southern Niger.

A Chinese WZ-7 Soar Dragon, High-Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) type unmanned aerial vehicle detected this movement as soon as it began. CMHCA (Chinese Military High Command Africa) decided it prudent to eliminate this new threat before any American missions could be conducted.

The early morning mission consisted of five Su-33 and four J-10C strike aircraft both types carrying KAB-1500Kr Guided bombs and Kh-59ME TV-guided cruise missiles. All guided in by either designators on the attacking jets or by the WZ-7 Soar Dragon drone. Targeting both the new runway and the A-10 aircraft.

The mission was a complete success destroying six A-10's, the runway and taxi ways. Two USAFA F-16C CAP aircraft were also shot down. One by an Su-33, the other by a high flying J-20 Mighty Dragon, both using a PL-15 active radar-guided long range air-to-air missiles.

Two days later both Niger and US forces tried unsuccessfully to re-establish the FOB at Bousaya. As seen by the kill markings on this Su-33 both an actual Niger Air Force C-130H Hercules and a USAFA A-10C were shot down.


In a desperate attempt to disrupt the Chinese mining operations in Southern Niger USAFAC (United States Air Force Africa Command) decided to launch a combined US Army Delta Force and Australian Army Special Air Service Regiment force directly into Southern Niger. However the two MH-47G Chinook helicopters with the Special Forces troops onboard was detected by PLAAF drones flying very low over North Eastern Nigeria. Two Su-33's were dispatched. While one of the Su-33's flew high, the other dove down firing one PL-10 short-range, infrared-homing air-to-air missile, then another. Both tracked to their respective targets. Four J-20 Mighty Dragon stealth fighters flew high above the Su-33's as protection, but weren't needed as the two Chinook's had no escorts.




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