They Used to Shoot at Us


This vid is a blast from the past, a Desert Storm-era classic that captures a flight of four F-16s targeted by a salvo of Iraqi SAMs. According to one of the seemingly erudite comment-adders the strike happened on January 19, 1991. The F-16s' targets were nuclear research facilities around Baghdad. Two of the F-16s were shot down. (You can hear Stroke 4 get hit.) Both pilots ejected and became POWs.

The HUD footage is grainy, but if you look closely you can make out the airspeed aligned vertically on the left and the altitude on the right. Heading is horizontally oriented along the top. The F-16 is headed south-ish most of the time, but as the pilot continues to "defend" he also remains over the SAM envelope longer - sort of a "rock and a hard place" situation.

Also, if you look closely you can see the contrails the SAMs leave as they fly toward the American jets. These guys got ambushed, big time.

The UHF comms between the airplanes in this video are intense (they get my heart racing, anyway). Adding to the confusion is the sound of the ALR-67 radar warning receiver. All of this should serve as a reminder to tactical jet aviators (and the procurement machine designed to support them) that while our enemy may not have an integrated air defense at the moment, future foes probably will.

-- Ward

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