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."