It has been a long time since I last saw some Spanish Air Force Hornets so I was glad to see them at Red Flag. They may not look very different to the Navy and Marine Hornets but still, some variety is worth it. It was the second week of the exercise so I would have expected everyone to be pretty familiar with the operations around the pattern. However, the Spanish guys seemed to have some different ideas.
They were certainly interested in keeping the patterns tight. I don’t know whether they convert to type with the Navy and are trained to fly tight or whether that is just their nature. However, on one occasion, the pilot came way inside the downwind line while another jet was flying that line and he was going to end up cutting them off. I guess he realized at the last moment because he turned left to get back out where he should have been. A bit strange to watch!
One of the big attractions of Red Flag 16-4 was the appearance of the F-16I jets of the Israeli Air Force. The Sufa is a variant of the F-16 that incorporates the conformal fuel tanks and a lot of local Israeli electronic equipment. In the days before I was there, the jets had been landing on the left runway which meant they broke away from the photographers and landed a fair distance away. When I was there, things changed.
They started to come in with a right break for the right runway. This was really good news. It makes getting shots of them a lot easier. They didn’t fly very tight patterns so they were a little far away on the final turn but it was still better than if they went left. The departures were mainly from the far runway so they were a bit far then but it was still a good result for me.