Unusual jet movements above Portsmouth

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pompeyfan

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Hi all,

Well aware this is a rail forum, but was hoping someone might have an answer/explanation for the following.

The jet pictured in the attachment has made multiple passes over Portsmouth since about 1130. It passes over roughly every 10 minutes or so, although the track on the app breaks up every so often, possibly due to altitude. This isn't the first time either, it does it once or twice a year and has done for at least 10 years.

The jet in question is a dark blue Dassault Falcon according to the app on my phone.

Any explanation would be appreciated as to why and what it is, the fact it appears on FR24 app suggests it's not military or classified.
 

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randyrippley

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its one of the Cobham / Flight Refuelling Dassault Falcon 20's
They're on contract to the Royal Navy (and others) to emulate foreign aircraft to simulate attacks on ships and other targets. They usually carry radar jamming pods under the wings, and often fly in company with BAE Hawk trainers (whose role is to emulate sea-skimming missiles)
Used to be known as the FRADU flight - not sure what they're called now.
Plenty of photos turn up if you Google "Cobham Falcon 20", and there are some fairly spectacular videos on youtube of them being thrown around like fighter aircraft, in formation

heres one example (NOT my photo)
https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7297/13763008834_9b778ebc98_b.jpg

and heres a video giving an idea of just what they do (again, not mine)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1TPXpl1dWE


In your case, it wouldn't surprise me if they are checking mods to the prototype radar from the T45 frigate that's on the hillfort at the back of Portsmouth (Fort Southwick????)

and if you wonder why they fly in close formation - its so they produce just one target on the ships radar
 
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pompeyfan

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Ah thanks for the answer, that's pretty cool, it's odd that they don't use actual jets though? Perhaps they're cheaper?
 

randyrippley

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Ah thanks for the answer, that's pretty cool, it's odd that they don't use actual jets though? Perhaps they're cheaper?

They used to use civlian crewed Canberra bombers with Blue Parrot radars transplanted from Mk1 Buccaneers. When they got too old, the Navy wanted their Mk2 Buccaneers back from the RAF, but the light blue boys wouldn't release them. That meant there wasn't a suitable military multi-jet available. The HS125 Domines used as Nav trainers were a bit too unreliable to be safe at low level - and they weren't fast enough
In the end, the government went out to tender, and Flight Refueling (now renamed Cobham) got the job. Falcon 20's were specifically chosen because of their speed and performance: at the time the closest available performing civilian aircraft to a military jet. They are extensively modified with two strong points on each wing, for carrying jamming pods, targeting gear - and towed targets

Theres a dedicated website about the old Canberras and Hunters at
http://www.fradu-hunters.co.uk/
http://www.fradu-canberras.co.uk/


and an old tale told me by some of the maintainers at Yeovilton.....
allegedly the Blue Parrot radar was so sensitive that the Canberras at low level at sea followed the wave contours and the crew were liable to get seasick not airsick.
I can't comment on the truth - its just what they told me many times
 
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pompeyfan

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They used to use civlian crewed Canberra bombers with Blue Parrot radars transplanted from Mk1 Buccaneers. When they got too old, the Navy wanted their Mk2 Buccaneers back from the RAF, but the light blue boys wouldn't release them. That meant there wasn't a suitable military multi-jet available. The HS125 Domines used as Nav trainers were a bit too unreliable to be safe at low level - and they weren't fast enough
In the end, the government went out to tender, and Flight Refueling (now renamed Cobham) got the job. Falcon 20's were specifically chosen because of their speed and performance: at the time the closest available performing civilian aircraft to a military jet. They are extensively modified with two strong points on each wing, for carrying jamming pods, targeting gear - and towed targets

Theres a dedicated website about the old Canberras and Hunters at
http://www.fradu-hunters.co.uk/
http://www.fradu-canberras.co.uk/


and an old tale told me by some of the maintainers at Yeovilton.....
allegedly the Blue Parrot radar was so sensitive that the Canberras at low level at sea followed the wave contours and the crew were liable to get seasick not airsick.
I can't comment on the truth - its just what they told me many times

Thanks for the very detailed response, in the numerous times I've seen the flights, I've never actually seen the hawk so I assumed it was flying around solo.
 

randyrippley

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Thanks for the very detailed response, in the numerous times I've seen the flights, I've never actually seen the hawk so I assumed it was flying around solo.

If my guess about the flights being for development work associated with the T45 mockup radar on Portsdown Hill is correct, they may not need the Hawk for that. The Hawks tend to be used for ship workups and battle simulations such as during the Thursday Wars (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thursday_War for an explanation)

As to the mockup T45, its at one of the other Portsdown hill sites, not Fort Southwick. You can see it clearly from the M27 motorway. More comments about it at
http://www.navy-net.co.uk/community/threads/t45-sampson-on-a-hill-in-pompey.46015/
 
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