Saturday, June 21, 2014

Yugoslavia March 1999 Team Effort

Yugoslavia March 1999 Team Effort

Code One Magazine July 1999

SEAD aircraft are usually the first on the scene to provide force protection for subsequent strike packages. The Block 50 F-16s fly in both air-to-air and air-to-surface modes. Equipped with the AGM-88 High Speed Anti-Radiation Missile, these "Viper Weasels" have a unique capability to destroy enemy radar sites. The ultimate responsibility of the SEAD mission is to ensure that no allied aircraft is shot down by surface-to-air missiles. The Block 50 F-16s also carry HARM Targeting Systems, which provide sensor coverage over target areas for strike aircraft. They arrive early and build a picture before the strike aircraft get close so that the strikers can adjust routes accordingly.
A Block 50 F-16 pilot from Shaw’s 78th Fighter Squadron achieved the first USAF F-16 air-to-air kill of the Kosovo war when he shot down a Yugoslav MiG-29 near Belgrade on 4 May. The F-16 was one of four Block 50 aircraft heading for a tanker after a SEAD mission. The MiG-29 took off from Batajnica Air Base near Belgrade and was detected by a NATO E-3 AWACS. The F-16s were immediately vectored to engage the threat. Five minutes later, one of the F-16s locked onto the MiG and fired two AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles. A few seconds later, the MiG exploded.
A USAF press release quoted the Shaw pilot, identified as "Dog," after the flight: "We have the world’s finest multirole aircraft in this squadron, and we proved it," he said. "We took off with a primary mission of suppressing ground and air-to-air threats, and we showed the flexibility and the training of US and allied pilots."

The F-16 pilot also stressed the team effort involved with every mission. "My flight members and crew chief, and the weapons and munitions folks, make sure I have equipment that works," he said. "Frankly, if one of my fellow F-16 pilots hadn’t made the first call stating he’d heard the AWACS communications, I might not have turned around and gotten the successful engagement. Of course, the AWACS controller got me there, so it was a team effort from start to finish."

Shooting Fish In a Barrel

Bosnia February 24, 1994 "Like Shooting Fish In A Barrel"

It's not all Eagles and MiGs around here. F-16 Falcons..ahem... Vipers... have contributed plenty to the US's reputation of dangerous skies. The Following is from the UK's 1999 Air Force Year Book and was one of the first published accounts of the action in question.

I have other interviews of this account that I'll be adding over time. So keep coming back!

On February, the 86th Wing's 526th FS Black Knights arrived at Aviano with its Block 40 F-16s to take over NATO duty just as the alliance and the UN were locked in a stand-off with Serbian forces around Sarajevo, after a mortar round had killed a dozen people in a market.
Three weeks later the squadron played a key role in the shooting down of four Serb aircraft. As a result of that short engagement, Captain (now Major) Bob "Wilbur" Wright became the highest-scoring F-16 pilot. At the time, for operational security reasons, the USAF refused to identify Wright publicly because he was still flying missions over Bosnia as part of Operation Deny Flight. It was several months before he was named when the (then) Lockheed Fort Worth Company presented him with the Dryden Semper Viper Award, for "superior airmanship".


The engagement began just after 0530 hr on 24 February 1994, when a NATO Airborne Early Warning Force Boeing E-3A Sentry detected a flight of six fast jets heading southwards from Banja Luka towards central Bosnia. It later transpired that the Soko G-2 Galeb aircraft had taken off from Ubdina air base in the serb-held Krajina region of Croatia. Wright and his wingman, the then little known Captain Scott O'Grady, were on combat air patrol over Mostar in southeast Bosnia, using the callsign Black 04 and 04. They were serving with teh 526th FS, which had been detached for temporary duty to Aviano from Ramstein AB in Germany.
A fighter controller onthe AWACS vectored the two pilots to intercept the Serb aircraft. At the same time, the AWACS began issuing radio warnings to the Serbs, ordering them to land or exit the UN-mandated "No-Fly Zone" - otherwise they would be ngaged. They did not respond to the warnings.
At 0542, Wright and O'Grady issued their own warnings to the Serbs, which were also ignored. This was just after Wright had seen the serb aircraft make bombing runs on an arms factory in the Muslim-held town of Novi Tarvnik. Wright saw explosions on the ground and requested permission from NATO's Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC) at Vicenza to engage. Under the UN and NATO rules of engagement, NATO had a "single key" in such circumstances, so the CAOC was almost immediately able to clear Wright to react to the blatant breach of the "No-Fly Zone".
The Galebs were now heading northward, trying to drop to low level to use the mountainous terrain to hide from any NATO radar surveillance. Wright, however, was on their tail. At 0545 he launched his first AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-toAir Missile (AMRAAM) at the Galebs. The semi-active radar-guided missile easily found its mark on the first Galeb, which was flying at some 5,000 feet. The remaining Galebs had dropped to a few hundred feet ot make their escape back to Ubdina. Wright pressed on, closing into AIM-9 Sidewinder range. He launched two missiles, which were seen to impact and turn the Serb aircraft into fireballs. No parachutes were seen by the F-16 pilots.
With his missilesa ll but exhausted and his fuel running low, Wright now handed over the chase to O'Grady, who had been flying top cover for his flight lead. O'Grady dropped down to engage and fired Sidewinder but it did not lock-on, and missed. Black flight was now approaching "bingo fuel" so they pulled off to refuel from a KC-135R Stratotanker orbiting over the Adriatic Sea. Another pair of 526th FS F-16Cs, Knight 25 and 26, had been vectored by the AWACS to take over the intercept. At 0550 Knight 25 managed to get in behind teh remaining 2 Galebs. He got a good lock and downed one of the aircraft with a Sidewinder.
By this time, the Serb aircraft were close to the international border and the F-16s had to break off the pursuit because NATO was not empowered to engage aircraft outside of Bosnian airspace. The remaining Galebs were were able to return unharmed to Ubdina. Within minutes, news of the first offensive military action in teh history of the NATO alliance was flashed around the world. Wrighta nd a number of his colleagues later gave a number of media interviews about the incident, using their callsigns as identification, but they quickly returned to operational flying.

MiGs Should Avoid Showers

The following is from another F-15C MiG Kill, and was published in the Air Force Magazine, published by the United States Air Force.

Nellis hero receives Distinguished Flying Cross- Air Force Air Combat Command News Service Feb 29, 2000

By Staff Sgt. Ed Scott

Air Warfare Center Public Affairs

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. (ACCNS) -- An U.S. Air Force Weapons School captain recently received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his efforts in Operation Allied Force over the former Republic of Yugoslavia March 24 during the first offensive action in North Atlantic Treaty Organization's history.
Operation Allied Force was a 79-day air campaign carried out in response to what President Clinton called Yugoslavia President Slobodan Milosevic's "brutal repression in Kosovo."
Capt. Mike Shower, flying an F-15C, was escorting the first of two strike packages - one package flew into southern Serbia while Shower's package went north over Belgrade. The strike packages were made up of 10 F-117s and two B-2 bombers with escort coming from a total of eight F-15Cs and F-16CJs.
"It was (a) crystal clear and dark (night), with about a 50 percent moon," Shower said. "The Serbs left all their lights on - it looked like you were flying over Disneyland."
Shower said he was scared when the strike package first crossed the line, especially since his package was the first in and last out.
"I've been to Iraq on three different trips in the no fly zone," he said.
"But when we crossed that line it was like - wow - this is a real conflict, a full-up war," he said. "They're going to fight and try to defend themselves. This hit me pretty hard because I'd never been in this before."
Approximately four minutes into the mission, Shower said they heard a "Splash one MiG-29" (a MiG-29 has been shot down) call from Airborne Warning and Control System from the south strike package. We got a little excited at that point since there was no doubt the Serbians were going to launch their aircraft. Six minutes into the mission, the captain's radar picture was complicated by an unidentified aircraft taking off from Batajinica Airfield, a MiG-29 base in northern Belgrade.
"From that point I went from being afraid and looking outside the airplane for surface-to-air missiles launching to being physically afraid, something like paralysis," he said.
Shower said, once the aircraft call had been made training took over and the fear went away in just a few seconds.
"I went from being afraid to watching the radar and into more of an adrenaline mode and I have to protect the package," he said.
At that moment, the strike package faced another challenge - protecting aircraft the escorts could not see nor had any idea as to their location. The F-117s work independently and have their own flying lines and timing.
"It's not like a typical package that is all together and you can be a shepherd," he said. "You can't see them on radar. It's dark so you can't see them visibly. You really don't know where they're at, so altitude really becomes important."
Shower relayed the information stating the MiG-29 posed a serious threat. One minute later, after ensuring a clear field of fire and a positive identification, he launched two AIM-120C Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles. Missing with his first shots, he pressed that attack well within range of the MiG-29's own missile line of fire.
"Under normal circumstances I could have fired my missiles, turned and ran away," he said. "You don't know where they are (F-117s) so I didn't think I had a choice of turning around and running away. You've got a MiG-29 running around in the area and there is a chance he could get lucky and find a stealth."
The chance the MiG-29 could have found a friendly made the situation risk factor high so Shower said, "we had to get in there and get the guy."
While shooting at the MiG-29, there was a F-117 between Shower's F-15C and the MiG-29. The next night, the F-117 pilot told Shower the first time he knew he was in an engagement with the MiG-29 was when he saw the first two missiles come across the top of his aircraft.
"He (the MiG-29) was about six miles away and I'm up pretty high pointing at him when I took my last shot," Shower said.
The captain said the final shot illuminated his aircraft from the rocket plume so the F-117 pilot could tell the two aircraft were approximately 2,000 feet from each other. The missile went right across the front of his aircraft down to the MiG-29 which blew up about 7,000 feet underneath the F-117. The MiG-29 crashed within 25 nautical miles of Batajinica Airfield.
"If it had been daytime, there might have been a whole different ending to the story," Shower said.
Four minutes after this engagement another MiG-29 took off from the airfield and once again Shower committed his flight to the engagement.
"You're thinking you might get one of these (MiG-29) in a night and here we are getting another one 11 minutes into the mission," he said. The mission called for them to have an hour in-country.
"Here he is in the beam (radar missile sites) and I knew he was the bad guy, but we can't get a full ID (identification) on him," he said. "We were lacking one piece of information - there was no doubt, but I couldn't shoot."
Not being able to identify the aircraft, Shower had to break off the intercept turning away from the MiG-29. The MiG-29 continued north apparently chasing a part of the strike package, later turning back south. In the meantime, Shower turned his element south after AWACS called out three other MiGs south of his position.
"We're quite concerned and excited with the call of three MiGs south of us over Belgrade," he said.
"I drive over Belgrade to the edge of the SAM rings and there's nothing there," he said. About that time the other MiG-29 in the north turned around, called by the F-16's. Shower turned his element north and ran a final intercept, achieving a lock and ID as a hostile MiG-29. He took a single shot at 5 miles but observed no fireball and was unable to pull in behind the MiG-29 for a second shot due to the close range and nighttime considerations. After maneuvering his aircraft, he was able to achieve another lock on, but could not get close enough to the MiG-29 to fire before reaching the SAM rings around Belgrade.
"I'd had enough for one night and I was glad it was time to return home," he said.
During the 50-minute flight back, Shower said he started sitting down lower in his seat - "sorta becoming jello." Returning home, he started hearing the radio calls: "one kill, possibly two along with the other package possibly getting one." He said the adrenaline started kicking in again. By the time he landed, he said the parking area was filled with people wanting to see the aircraft and hear the stories.
"I had shot four missiles in one night and punched off the wing tanks, so I had the only plane that looked empty," he said. "Everybody was shaking hands."
Prior to the flight, a maintenance troop had approached Shower and handed him a baseball that had been designated as the squadron's "Grim Reaper Ball."
"The maintenance man told me he felt like I was going to do something tonight and asked me to take the ball up with me," Shower said. The captain stuck the ball in his helmet bag and loaded it into his map case.
"Sure enough, this reaper ball for the squadron is with me on the first mission when I get a kill," he said. "I thought that was pretty cool and when I held it up everybody started cheering."

Shower said everything was really exciting for the next few hours - "basically, I didn't sleep until the next day."

Hwang and Boomer, In for the Kill(s)

Ahh, yes. The famous Captain Jeff "Claw" Hwang Double MiG Kill e-mail.

I shared this on an older site I was involved with. It actually got me international recognition. But then some I lost a struggle over an ethics question over posting someone's personal e-mail on a public site. Then more and more web sites began doing it. Finally it appeared in some books, one of which substantiated it that it was, in fact, the real deal. And now that it's in the public domain, I'm posting it, with my 3-D rendering of the battle scene (which I've decided I am going to work some more on in the near future).

Also keep an eye out for another article (from an old Air Forces Monthly magazine) I'll be sharing here about this shoot-down from the enemy's point of view. It makes for some VERY interesting reading.

Not many good words for AWACS here. Ron/Byron, run this off for the
controllers this weekend. DA Bros, Well, I'm finally back in England
after being TDY since the end of
January, at least for two weeks anyway. Got sent direct to Cervia AB,
Operation Northern Watch in Trukey after being at the Incirlik AB for
over 7 weeks ("Luv the 'Lik" no 'mo ! ). My house and yard
is a total mess! There doesn't seem to be an end in sight in the Kosovo
situation, but the war is over for me for a while. Some of
you probably already heard throught the grapevine about what happened to
"Boomer" Mcmurry and I. Here's the proverbial "Rest
of the Story"...
Boomer and I were tasked as Bosnia-Herzgovinia DCA on 26 Mar, vul time
from 1500Z to 1900Z. We were established on CAP
over Tuzla for about an hour after initial refueling. At 1602Z, while
eastbound approaching the Bosnia/Yugoslavia border, I got a
radar contact 37 nm to the east, 6k', beaming south at over 600kts. Of
course AWACS had no clue and did not have any inkling of
someone was flying on the other side of border (although he was real
good at calling out every single friendly WEST of us!). I
called out the contact and Boomer was locked same. Without an ID and not
tactically sound to cross the border at the time, I
elected to pump our formation in a right hand turn through south and
called "PUSH IT UP, BURNER, TAPES ON!" (we were
initially flying .85M, 28K') and rolled out heading west/southwest. At
that time I didn't think anything much would happen. I figured
the contact would probably continue south or turn east and remain well
on the east side of the border. Nevertheless, I called the
flight lead of the south CAP over Sarajevo and gave him a craniums up on
the posit of contact, altitude, and the heading. This entire
time AWACS still had no radar contact, even after I called it out on the
radio. Man, running away with the contact at our six
o'clock with AWACS not having any clue was NOT comfortable! Boomer and I
continued west for a total of 60 sec (about 10 nm)
before I directed the formation to turn back hot, again turning through
south in an attempt to get some cut-off. Boomer was on the
northside of the formation (left side as we rolled out heading east). We
both got contact BRAA 070 for 37 nm, 23k', target now
heading west (hot towards us). AWACS finally woke up and starting seeing
the same thing. Now, I'm
Starting to think SHIT IS GONNA HAPPEN (evident with the increase of
about two octaves in
>>> my voice!). It was fairly obvious this guys originated from FRY, and
there were no OCA missions at the time. Checked AAI
for friendly squawk: nobody home! We still needed to get clearance from
AWACS to engage, so I requested (codeword) and got
no reply from the controller (pretty sure he had no 'freakin clue what
that codeword meant!) About this time both Boomer and I got
good ID on the target in our own cockpit and with threat hot towards us
inside 30 nm decided to blow off the AWACS/clearance to
engage restriction and go for it! Target was now inside 30 nm and I
directed Boomer to target the single group. I broke lock and
went back to search in 40nm scope and 120 sweep. The target check turn
towards north west (about 14L aspect) and descend to
high teens. Boomer and I checked about 30 deg
>left to northeast for cutoff. This check turn slung me aft in the
formation so I stroke it up to full AB to get more line abreast. I
called "COMBAT 1, ARM HOT" and saw Boomer's wing tanks come off with
bright flames under the wing. Pretty impressive! I
was well over the Mach when I punched my tanks off and
the jet jumped up abruptly (you can see it in the HUD). Took a quick
look back to check and see if my stabs were still intact... I
rolled my elevation coverage looking from about 5K' to 21K' and no
kidding stay
in search for at least one full frame (believe me, I wanted to go back
to single target track SO DAMN BAD !!!) AWACS started
calling out two contacts, lead trail. Sure enough, I was starting to see
the break
out on my scope! At about 20nm, Boomer called "FOX 3, 18K' !". I saw the
cons/smoke came from his jet and thought:
SONOFABITCH!!!! I gotta get me some!!! I commanded miniraster on the
leader and as soon as the radar lock (about 17nm),
immediately thumb forward to HDTWS. My first shot
>came off inside 16 nm from the leader. When I pressed the pickle
button, it seemed like an ETERNITY before the missile actually
launched, but when it did...WOW!!!! I have never shot an AMRAAM or AIM-7
before at WSEPand don't think I have a chance in
hell of shooting more missiles at WSEP
>>> after this!). The missile came off with such a loud roar/whoosh, I
not only heard it clearly in the cockpit above the wind noise,
radio comm, ear plug, and helmet, I actually FELT the rocket motor roar!
In the HUD, you can see the flames shooting out from
the tail end of the missile, and
the smoke and cons following it! Stepped immediately to the trailer in
HDTWS and press and held the pickle button for at least 3
seconds. Again, thinking: COME ON, DAMN IT! LAUNCH!!! The second missile
came off just as impressive as the first after
the same painful delay. I yelled "Dirk
1, Fox 6, lead trail!" ("Cricket" Renner later critique my comm as
incorrect 3-1 terminology... EAT ME!!!) Since Boomer was the
primary shooter, I assumed he was locked to the leader, so I kept the
as the PDT. Didn't want to screw with a good thing, I stayed in HDTWS
inside 10nm ("Dozer" Shower, our WIC dude, promptly
critic me for NOT going STT inside 10nm upon reviewing my VSD tape, thus
I still have to pass my IPUG Tac Intx ride!). Both
targets started a check turn to the southwest (14L
to H to 16R aspect) and continued to descent to low teens. Approaching
10nm, checking RWR to make sure we weren't targeted:
"Dirk 1 naked !" "Dirk 2 naked !" "Dirk, let's go pure!" From 30K', both
of us rolled our jets inverted and pointed nose low directly at
the TD box on the HUD, and pulled throttle to idle. I think my heart
rate at this time was reaching my aerobic limit for my age (you
know, that formula: 220 minus age...)! Against a broken cloud
background, I saw a tiny dot in the TD box about 7 to 8 nm out.
>>> "Dirk 1, tally ho nose 7 nm, low !" Realizing I saw the trailer, I
was praying Boomer would soon follow up with a tally call on
the leader. Approaching 5 nm, I'm scanning in front of the trailer for
the leader but no joy. Shit! The trailer continued his left turn to
southwest and I was looking at approx 14R aspect.
Inside of 5 nm, thumb aft to AIM-9 and tried twice to uncage but the
tone was not there. Just then, between the HUD and the
canopy bow (about right 12:30 to 1 o'clock position), I saw the leader
explode! The best visual description I can think of is if you
held a torch from one of those Hawaiian Luau party, and swing it through
the air. The flame with a extended tail trailling the torch is
exactly what I saw! Turning my
attention back to the trailer, the trailer exploded into a streaking
flame seconds later just as I tried to uncage the missile the third
time! Never mind!
B/E 360/35 !!!"
Heater, I'm ashamed... I was screaming like a woman! Didn't really
bothered to keep an eye on the fireballs, so I didn't see any
chutes. Later report confirmed both pilots ejected safely. Not that
Boomer nor I would've felt bad if they morted. Anyway, I called for
Boomer and I to reference 080 heading and short range radar.
Thumbed aft to AUTOGUNS and plug in full AB and accelerated to 460 kts
at 20K'. My cranium was on a swivel and breathing
like I just ran a full sprint! "Dirk 2, blind!"
Crap!!!! I looked north and it took me a few seconds to find Boomer
(about 3.5nm left and stacked high). Tried to talk his eyes
back to me, but Boomer called out to west in a right turn. I waited a
few seconds
to sanitize and turned west as well. During the turn, I immediately
pulled into double beeper due to airspeed and Gs (looking back, I
should've over G so the mission would've been more impressive... :-)
Rolling out, I was 3 nm in trail of Boomer, so I had him
shackled to the south to pick up line abreast. The fun wasn't over yet.
Boomer got an AUTOGUN snap lock less than 10 nm south
of us, low alt, with no ID. I told him to press for VID while I followed
him 3 nm in trail. We were diving back down to the
>>> low teens and I saw ABSOLUTELY NOTHING on my radar! Boomer all of a
sudden pulls up and yells "Dirk 2, unable ID!"
That's BAD!!! I just about shit in my pants! I saw nothing and after a
few seconds I asked Boomer if he saw ANYTHING at all.
Boomer said he didn't see anything, so we just stroke it up and separate
to the northwest for a while, then came back for a second
look. Nobody home! Boomer thought it may have been a bad radar lock. I
sure hope so! The rest of the sortie was one excitement
after another. While on the boom, AWACS controller started calling out
every single ground traffic as possible contact crossing the
border into Bosnia. For a while it sounded like a mass attack on Tuzla!
By now it was night time, and Boomer (in an offset 3~5 nm
trail) and I were still running around with our hair on fire! One time
AWACS called out contacts very low alt moving towards
Tuzla westbound. I didn't see squat on my tube, neither did Boomer. As
the position of group started getting closer to Tuzla, I
expected tosee a burst of explosion from the airfield underneath! Boomer
and I were gonna go from "heros to zeros" real soon!
Finally I turned the GMTR setting on my trusty APG-70 to low and
immediately saw the targets. Locked them up and show 80 kts
ground speed! I wanted to reach through the mic and strangle the shit
out the controller! AWACS later called out Mig CAPs just 15
nm northeast of the border! Boomer and I were ready to "Pop a cap in
their ass" across the border as soon as we got contact and
ID! Again, nothing on the radar. We even did two iterations of grinder
with a
two ship of Vipers and no one got a solid radar hit. That night we
committed and armed hot THREE MORE TIMES AFTER the
Mig kills based on ridiculous AWACS calls! No kidding, by the time our
replacement showed up (4 hours of vul time later), I was
totally exhausted and drained! The flight
across Adriatic was uneventful, and Boomer and I finally had a moment to
think about what happened.
After I landed and pulled into dearm, I saw a freak in flight suit and
wearing a reflective belt, jumping up and down. Sure enough, it
was "Freak" O'Laughlin welcoming us back! Taxi back to the chocks was
like having a bunch of kids following an ice cream truck! Everyone came
running out and waited at the parking spot for Boomer
and I. Boomer taxied in front of me as I pulled into my spot. Losing all

professionalism and radio discipline (yada yada...), I called out on Ops
freq: "Boomer, YOU're the SHIT!!!" Getting out of the jet
and greeting all the bros and maintainers was THE GREATEST MOMENT OF MY
CAREER!!! Our Ops Grp commander
"Wilbur" Eddy was first to shake my hand, followed by the mob! We were
laughing, shouting, hooting, high fiving, and hugging! It
was awesome! Couldn't wait to review the tapes, we all piled into the
"Turtle" and watched my HUD tapes. Thank God it recorded
everything clearly, including the fireball from the trailer. "Homer"
Samuel and "Bull" Mitchum almost knocked me over when they
came storming into the Turtle! We were all screaming and
jumping so hard in the Turtle I though it was going to tip over! Too bad
Boomer's VSD tape did not run, and his HUD tape was
washed out due to high aperature setting. Boomer and I were laughing and
high fiving entire car ride home! We weren't even
suppose to fly that day! Some afterthoughts: It no kidding took over a
day for this to finally sink in. It felt almost surreal that
day/night. "Fish" Bonita, our
MX officer, said it best when he saw me hours after I shut down engines:
"So, Claw, have you landed yet?" Only one word can
describe this event: FUCKING_UNBELIEVABLY_LUCKY!!! Not the fact we shot
them down, but that they were airborne
during our watch. Any Eagle driver could've easily done what Boomer and
I did, but as "Heater" Griffin said: "You guys won the
lottery!" The sequence of events happened in our favor like the planets
lining up. The jets, the missiles, the radar (well, at least
mine) performed marvelously! Our MX dudes deserve the bulk of the
credit. We had no spares that day. The crew chiefs and the
Pro Super, Jim Snyder, absolutely BUSTED THEIR ASS working red balls and
launched us on time! Boomer, my wingman, what
can I say? Regardless of whose missile hit
>which Mig, WE shot down two Fulcrums that afternoon. We succeed as a
team, and fail as a team (good thing it was the former)!
Boomer did an OUTSTANDING job of finding the group, working the ID
matrix, and target according to plan. If I didn't have faith
in him, I would not have broke lock and break out the lead trail
formation. Of course I'm proud of what we did, but there's one thing
I'll really stick out my chest for: To everyone who taught me and
influenced me on my tactical flying and gave me long
debriefs (though painful at times), especially "Razor" Johnson, "Elwood"
Amidon, "Heater" Griffin (even though he's a meat
gazer...), "Homer" Samuel, "Dozer" Shower, "Nuts" Destasio, and "Bear"
doesn't get much better than this guys! Well, maybe two more kills would
be pretty cool... That's all I have to say about that!
Claw, aka Po

Feel free to comment in the space below!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Thud Ridge F-105 Guns Kill

Here's another F-105 Thunderchief guns kill. For how big and non-nimble they were, in the right hands they sure got a lot of air-to-air action in!

If you haven't read this book, you need to. If you don't own a copy, you need to.

Thud Ridge
Col. Jack Broughton (ret.)
pp. 108 - 110

I spotted two MiG-17's [sic] in a very sloppy echelon that put them almost one behind the other. They were under me in a lazy turn to the west and south away from Phuc Yen. I still had a bag of speed and I had my cannon and a heat-seeking Sidewinder missile, which requires multiple switch actions to set up- it's not difficult, it's just time consuming and at the instant I did not have the time. The four separate switch options that you have to take to go from bombing mode to missile mode did not lend themselves to this situation. With one more hand I could have utliized the missile but I just could not fumble fast enough on this particular pass to get it set up. I closed on the two MiGs like mad and they stayed in and did not appear to see me. I thought, I'll go through my switching missile and set up my missile- but if I do, I'll have to wiggle around a bit and delay, and they may see me in the interim and initiate a break. If they do, I can't touch them as they can turn so much tighter than I Can. Or if I get the missile set up, the chances of it guiding are less than a hundred percent, and if it goes streaking across the sky,that will alert them and they will be off and running and I'll never get a crack at both of them. I thought I might get one of them with a missile, but I was greedy, I wanted them both. So I jammed the throttle forward and got inside their turn and was closing beautifully. It was an ideal gunnery pass, just as pretty as it could be.

I started to fire as I Pressed to within a thousand feet of the second MiG and I was doing pretty well on him and he started rolling over and to the right like a sick fish.  I figured, OK, I've got this guy, now I'll just keep pressing in and get the one up in front of him. About that time, the importance of the fact that I had no wingman to look around and protect me became painfully apparent. My element was now in pretty good position and John, my seeing-eye major flying number three, called me to break right immediately. It seems that another MiG had entered the scene from above and was about to have at me. I stayed as long asI figured I could, and ten rolled down and under to the right as I pulled through the maneuver, threw the third MiG off me and over the top of me.

While this was going on, all my other flights were active and Carl and Phil both managed to get a confirmed MiG out of their head-on hassles coming off target. My wingman pulled up off the deck after shaking the Sams and got himself a probable to go with my probable. Things then turned into a three-ring aerial circus as the Phantoms, who were in the area with us, wanted into the act and had come down to our altitude. They had managed to get two MiGs who had been on our tails on the way into the target and they wanted more.

About this time I spotted another MiG spinning down to earth that one of our guys had hammered. Rob got one with a missile, and it was a beautiful hit. The entire read end of the MiG was burning, and you could see the skeleton of the aircraft as it burned and went straight line all the way across the valley in a descent, never wiggling, and hitting at the base of the Ridge. (I have never seen any chutes from any of the MiGs we have hit.) Here we had Phantoms going round and round, MiGs going round and round, and Thuds going round and round. Our total bag for the effort, which took only a few minutes, was six MiGs destroyed and two MiGs damaged and probably destroyed.

The Phantom troops got a little concerned when our guys started hosing off those Sidewinders because form some angles the MiG and the Phantom look quite similar, and in a fast-moving fray, it is easy to ge a silhouette where they look very much alike. Once you fire that missile, it has no sense and just tries to do what it is supposed to do, look for a hot tail pipe. Once our Sidewinders started flailing through the airand MiGs started falling out of the sky and guns rattles all over the area, one of the Phantom drivers said, "Hey Chief, they're shooting Sidewinders. Let's get the hell outa here." whereupon they lit the burners and went back up to altitude and allowed us to finish up our work. We got a call from the Phantom wing boss that evening congratulating us  on the fine work but protesting that MiG-killing was supposed to be their business.

...That was quite a wild melee and I think, perhaps more than any other day, taught those MiG drivers some respect for the combined forces that were lined up against them.

All That Dogfights Does Not Die

The F-15 Eagle has an amazing record, 104+ kills, never killed. But that doesn't mean it has a 100% kill ratio of itself. Read this amazing dogfight with- of all planes, MiG-25 Foxbats- of the Iraqi Air Force in 1991. You won't find this one anywhere else!

Curiously, it's been MiG-25s that put up the best fights against F-15 Eagles, and not the nimble MiG-29s, -23s or -21s.

Risk Atkinson
pp. 230-231

In what had been a routine afternoon sortie, Bigum and his wingman, Captain Lynn Broome, had refueled down south and were returning to Cindy CAP to spell the other two Eagles when AWACS radioed a warning of enemy aircraft: "Xerex three-one. Snap, two seven zero. Bandits three zero zero. Ninety miles." Bigum rolled went ninety degrees, searching toward Baghdad with his radar. AWACS called again: "Skip it. Skip it. Bogus targets." Bigum and Broome steered back north, irritated at the false alarm.

 Eighty miles south of the CAP, AWACS Called a third time: "Bandits west, seventy miles. High. Fast." This time it was real. A pair of MiG-25 Foxbats, flying at 42,000 feet and at an astonishing one thousand knots- faster than the F-15's top speed- streaked from the Iraqi capitol toward Cindy CAP. The two Eagle pilots on CAP, flying under call signs Vegas and Giggles, turned to face the enemy fighters. Giggles, slightly in front of his wingman, fired two Sparrow air-to-air missiles a the lead Foxbat, which in turn fired at Vegas. The Foxbat banked north in a sweeping turn at twice the speed of sound, outrunning both Sparrows.

Vegas peeled south to avoid the enemy missile. He then re-entered the fight and fired three Sparrows at eh second Foxbat, but for reasons never determined, none of them left the Eagle's wings. Vegas, alarmed, broke south. Giggles fired a final, futile missile at the fleeing MiGs and turned to protect his wingman.

Randy Bigum watched this drama unfold on his radar scope. The Iraqis, he realized, had tried to ambush the planes patrolling Cindy CAP, they were not simply fleeing to Iran. Haviung failed, both Foxbats now curled back west with their afterburners lit, evidently heading toward Al Taqaddum Air Base on the far side of Baghdad. Bigum turned to give chase. If he and Broome angled south of the capitol, Bigum calculated, they might cut off the Iraqis.

The race began. Bigum kept his eyes on the radar scope; Broome was trailing by thirty miles over his left wing. In their war with Iran the Iraqis occasionally tricked enemy pilots into giving chase, only to destroy them with a sudden attack from below by Mirage F-1s. Bigum was so intent on avoiding such a trap and watching the Foxbats that he failed to note a 140-knot southwesterly wind pushing him far to the north. Only when he glanced out the cockpit hoping to spot the Iraqi contrails did he see his mistake. There lay the presidential palace, the sun-spanked Tigris, and the office buildings of downtown Baghdad. At the same time the Eagle's electronic warning gear detected emanations from SA-2 and SA-3 tracking radars. "Oh, my ***," Bigum muttered. From AWACs came a gratuitous radio call: "Heads up for SAMs."

But the SAM batteries failed to launch, probably afraid of hitting the Foxbats. Bigum again concentrated on the enemy fighters, now twenty miles away. Each performed a split S- an acrobatic half loop- and dropped almost to the ground. Broome fired two Sparrows at the trail Foxbat; neither hit Bigum angled down to twenty thousand feet and glanced up long enough to see the twin runways of Al Taqaddum ten miles dead ahead. The lead Iraqi had slowed from a thousand knots to under three hundred, drifting into his final approach to land from the northwest.

Now Bigum fired. The Sparrow darted from under his plane and climbed sharply before knifing back down toward the ground, a sign that the missile had locked onto its target. Bigum watched as the first Iraqi landed and rolled down the runway. "Come on, *****!" he urged the missile. "Come on *****!" But the Sparrow never made it. The Foxbat had slowed to a forty-knot taxi, and the radar-guided missile could no longer distinguish between aircraft and ground clutter.

Then the trail Foxbat floated into view from a mile from the western end of the runway, landing gear down. Bigum squeezed off another missile. Again the Sparrow climbed and dived. By this time Bigum had descended to eight thousand feet, directly over the airfield. Only concern of hitting the MiG, he guessed, had kept the Iraqi gunners from firing at such an easy target. As he banked left to escape, the second Foxbat touched down. Bigum saw the curve of the pilot's helmet and puffs of smoke spurt form the tires. Ten feet form the Foxbat's left wingtip, the Sparrow plunged into the runway and exploded. The Iraqi taxied unscathed toward the flight line.

The Eagle pilots had fired ten missiles to no effect. A week later Vegas and Giggles would destroy four Iraqi fighters fleeing toward Iran. But for Bigum, the chance had come and gone, never to return. If fortune had robbed him of two kills, it had also permitted him to fly without penalty across downtown Baghdad and Taqaddum at midday. The lesson was not lost. In the squadron ready room Bigum tacked up a sign: "Don't let your eagerness to get a MiG cause you to be our first casualty."

Apache Air-to-Air Kill, 1991 Iraq

It is a little known fact that an AH-64 Apache got an air-to-air kill in Iraq during Operation Desert Storm, and I've only seen it listed on 1 or two kill lists. Here is the story from Thomas Taylor's awesome book:

Lightning In the Storm
Thomas Taylor
pp. 363

Turbo is eager to take out more armored vehicles but Gabram is preoccupied with controlling his flight and listening to other action on the causeway. East of the Bearcats, 2-229 reports an enviable kill- an Iraqi helicopter in flight.

Some small chopper like a Kiowa darted up hell's highway, skimming over destroyed and derelict vehicles, apparently in search of a particular one. The Apache initially mistook it for an allied chopper, maybe Saudi, because Iraq had not put a plane over the front since the ground war began. Searching the radio frequencies for friendly aircraft, the Apache determined there was none in the vicinity matching his description. He also deduced the shopper's mission: some general was stuck in the deadly traffic jam and had ordered his own extraction.

Wisely the Apache trailed the chopper from afar, waiting till it set down in the teeming road. A figure sprinted from a BMP to the chopper. He jumped in quick as a pathfinder; the door was still open and the chopper beginning to climb when a Hellfire joined him. Still spinning, the tail rotor flew another half mile, returning like a boomerang in search for the vanished chopper of which it was once part.

"Four more and you're an ace!" someone kids the victor.

Friendly Fire Humor

The following is a tale from Alpha Strike Vietnam, an interview based history of Naval Air Combat over North Vietnam. Not all combat was squinted eyes, frantic callouts ending with the loud crunching of metal impacting a foreign hilltop. Sometimes, downright funny stuff happened:

Alpha Strike Vietnam
Jeffrey L. Levinson
pp. 99-100

The other incident took place between Bobby Kirkwood and Paul Dempewolf. I'm on top of these two when Kirkwood shoots a sidewinder and gets a MiG. Dempewolf also shoots s Sidewinder and it heads straight for Kirkwood's tailpipe. I'm look down on this incredulously, and I'm saying to myself, Self, I know what I'm going to tell Kirkwood as soon as he's hit. I'm going to say, "Hey Bobby, you've just been hit with a Sidewinder, that's your problem, better get ready to jump out of that thing." Just as the Sidewinder approaches his tailpipe, Kirkwood launches another one, and the Sidewinder headed for him goes after the one he just launched, lops off the starboard horizontal stabilizer of his airplane, and puts roller markers on the underside of the wing.

One of the missiles hits the MiG, and the other flies through the debris. Kirkwood keeps on going. Meanwhile, I've got my hands full and decide not to say about the whole thing because Kirkwood is still flying the airplane, and he doesn't have utility or hydraulic failure.

We got back, had this big debrief, and I said, "Okay, now I'm going to tell my story." They said, "Impossible," and I said, "Go out and look at the airplane." We went up on the deck and the [plane's] starboard stabilizer was sliced off and there's a big  line down the underside of the wing made by the stainless steel guidance and balance fin of the Sidewinder. Kirkwood about, and Dempewolf tried to claim half a kill. He's lucky he didn't get his ass kicked, but it was funnier than hell.