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My 1st Mission - Air War

Posted: Thu Jul 11, 2013 1:57 pm
by wildbi111
(This is also my 1st post)

My first of three 16 +hour missions in the first 64 hours of the storm was to the western AOR. Several exciting things happened.

The first involved the E-2C's from the Red Sea and two Navy packages that hit the H-2 and H-3 complex of airfields. Both were supposed to be controlled by the E-2's with AWACS as backup. The 1st package generated some Mig activity as they ingressed and two Mig-21 got airborne. The E-2 controllers did not call them out until I initiated unknown tracks on them (E-2 radar over land really sucked). As soon as the E-2C's saw the data linked tracks they started calling out the boogies and two FA-18's engaged and shot them both down. Tracking friendlies over the target area was tough as they were attacking from all directions and thus egressing in all directions at high speed. This all set the scenario for the next strike package who as they approached the target area using the same tactic of attacking from different directions at once, they obviously knew that Migs had been launched against the previous package. As they ingressed to the target there were no Migs launched but the friendlies once again began to be difficult to track. An F-14 was capped about 20 miles south of H-2 and he picked up a radar only track departing H-2 at high speed and he called it out on the radio. The surprising response from the E-2 was "Sta-Sta-Standby"! I realized this wasn't going well so I took a mode-4 sweep of the radar only target that was about 8-10 miles south of H-2. A second later the F-14 pilot came back and said in an excited voice "Target nose 12 miles hot, am I cleared to engage?" and again the E-2 stuttered "Sta-Sta-Standby" just as my mode-4 sweep came back as friendly! The F-14's immediate response to the E-2's transmission was "Fox-1". I grabbed every frequency I had at my console and screamed "Cease Fire South of H-2, Friendlies only that area!". I have no idea what occurred after that and hoped that if the F-14 really had fired a Sparrow that he heard me and broke the radar lock. I know several Navy aircraft did not make it back from that attack but have never found out if they were lost to ground fire or fratricide. Though I recently found out from a book written Marvin Pokrant titled Desert Storm at Sea: What the Navy really did" where on page 21 he mentions "an F-14 Tomcat fired and AIM-7 air-to-air missile but immediately broke off guiding the missile when the AWACS declared the target to be a friendly aircraft".

The next event from that 1st mission was as the 2nd package was was egressing they had to hit a tanker on the way out. The E-2 was never able to get them to the tanker and four of the A-6's declared emergency fuel. So I picked them up on 243.0 (Guard) and started vectoring them to Al Jawf Airfield ( I was able to contact a US air traffic controller in the tower on guard and was able to brief him and the A-6's on the situation. At that point I split the A-6's up and gave them individual vectors to Al Jawf and set up a a nice little sequence. Meanwhile all my traffic on guard attracted a US F-111 with a hydraulic failure and an RSAF Jaguar with a generator out. Both were requesting vectors to Al Jawf. So now I had six emergency aircraft on guard and on vectors to land at Al Jawf.

Thankfully they all made it in safely. I did get a little ribbing the next couple of days for hogging guard that night and playing ATC.

William Richards, Captain USAF (Ret)

Re: My 1st Mission - Air War

Posted: Mon Jul 15, 2013 1:08 pm
by Dispacther
Welcome brother !

Re: My 1st Mission - Air War

Posted: Sun Feb 23, 2014 1:41 pm
by wildbi111
Year's later I found an excerpt from a book on the first night of Desert Storm and about the third Saratoga Strike. It said:

"During this attack an F-14 Tomcat fired an AIM-7 air-to-air missile but immediately broke off guiding the missile when the AWACS declared the target to be a friendly aircraft. At the time there was concern that this missile might have downed Wetzel and Zaun's aircraft. Vice Admiral Arthur demanded and thorough investigation. Every avenue was explored repeatedly until there remained no doubt whatsoever that the engagement had not been fratricide."

Nice to finally know I made a difference.

Re: My 1st Mission - Air War

Posted: Sun Feb 23, 2014 3:25 pm
by Dagger X-Ray
Welcome to the forums Captain Richards. Keep up the good writings and feel free to share pics.