Tag Archives: Air Force

Warbirds – F-16 Fighting Falcon

Our latest edition of Warbirds brings us to the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon.  This storied Cold War veteran took its first flight on January 20, 1974.

f-16 fighting falcon thunderbird

Requests for proposals in the 1972 Lightweight Fighter (LWF)  initiative brought five companies into competition.  General Dynamics and Northrop were eventually awarded contracts for prototype production.  During a near disastrous taxi test the XF-16 was forced into an unscheduled first flight to avoid destroying the aircraft.  Despite this, the Falcon went on to win the joint U.S. and NATO Air Combat Fighter competition – outperforming the Saab 37E “Eurofighter”, the Dassault-Breguet Mirage F1M-53, the SEPECAT Jaguar, and the Northrop P-530 Cobra (similar to the XF-17).  Citing better maneuverability, greater range, and lower operating costs, the Secretary of the Air Force announced in 1975 its intent to order the first 650 F-16’s.

f-16 fighting falcon line drawing

The first delivery of an F-16A to the USAF occurred on January 6, 1979.  Operational deployment began on October 1, 1980 with the 34th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Hill AFB in Utah.  Since then, over 4500 units of a variety of models have been built.  Air forces of 25 nations have had the F-16 in their service.

f-16 fighting falcon weapons load display

The first combat experiences of the Falcon took place during the 1981 Lebanese Civil War.  F-16s of the Israeli Air Force (IAF) successfully downed in air-to-air combat a Syrian Mi-8 helicopter and a MiG-21.  Later that year, a combined flight of IAF F-16s and F-15s destroyed the nearly completed Iraqi nuclear plant at Osirak.

In the 1980s, NATO and US deployment of the F-16 provided an effective counter to the massive deployments of Warsaw Pact aircraft in Eastern Europe.  Innumerable aerial challenges occurred through the end of the Cold War, but no real combat.  The first action seen by US and NATO F-16s occurred during the 1991 Gulf War – Operation Desert Storm.  From January 16 to February 28, F-16s flew over 13,000 sorties with seven aircraft lost.  Of these losses, only three were due to enemy fire.  Despite their heavy operational tempo, it would be 1992 before the first USAF F-16 would get an air-to-air kill.  During enforcement of the US/UK no-fly zones over Iraq, an F-16D shot down a Mig-25 with an AIM-120 AMRAAM.  This event also marked the first kill by an AMRAAM missile.

f-16 fighting falcon burning iraqi oil wells

F-16s continued to provide vital service throughout the next two decades.  Action was seen in the Balkans in ’93,’94, and ’99 as well as Pakistan from ’86 to ’88 against  Afghan Air Forces.  Later, the Falcons saw combat in Operation Iraqi Freedom (’03-’10) and during operations of the IAF in Lebanon in ’06 as well as from ’08 to ’09.  Today, Japanese and South Korean F-16s routinely deal with aerial challenges from Russian, North Korean, and even Chinese threats.

f-16 fighting falcon show of force

With the ongoing upgrade scheme, the USAF plans to keep the F-16 in service through 2025.  However, with the delayed acquisitions of the F-35 Lightning II, the Fighting Falcon may see its US service extended well beyond that date.  You should expect to see them in the air forces of other nations quite a bit longer.

This is a great documentary on the USAF Thunderbirds, their history, and the F-16. Enjoy!

Warbirds – B-1B Lancer

Today’s installment of Warbirds brings us to the supersonic, swingwing marvel the B-1B Lancer.  Unofficially known as the “Bone” (from B-one), the development and deployment of this strategic bomber increased pressure on the Soviets and helped shorten the Cold War.  The B-1’s first flight took place on December 23, 1974.

b-1b lancer wireframe

Envisioned in the 60’s as a Mach 2 replacement for the B-52, it was hoped that the Lancer would have the range and payload capacity to meet or exceed her predecessor.  Actual development of the aircraft didn’t start until the 1970’s and the design changed many times as political views of what her mission would be were revised.  President Carter actually cancelled the B-1A program after 4 aircraft were built in another misguided attempt to placate the Soviet Union.  But, the Reagan administration resurrected the project in 1981 to counter mounting worldwide Soviet adventurism.  Subsequently, Rockwell received a contract in 1982 and B-1B became operational with the U.S. Air Force October 1st, 1986.

b-1b munitions layout

It was known early on that the Lancer would not be able to take the place of the Venerable B-52.  What was envisioned was a strategic bomber that had the ability to elude Soviet radar and strike without warning deep within enemy territory.  Many viewed this capability as destabilizing in a Nuclear world.  However, the necessity of countering the perceived threat of the B-1B forced the Soviets into ever more unsustainable research, development, and defense spending.   Without ever delivering a nuclear weapon, the Lancer helped shorten the war.

020419-F-6655M-021

In the 90’s, further development proceeded on the “Advanced Technology Bomber” (which became the B-2 Spirit), leading to a role change for the B-1B.  Part of the fleet was converted over to a fledgling conventional munitions capability.  However, engine issues prevented the Lancer’s participation in the Gulf War.  It would be 1998 before B-1Bs would take part in Operation Desert Fox and undertake conventional combat operations.  That successful mission against Saddam Hussein’s regime would presage deployments in Kosovo, the invasion of Iraq, Operation Enduring Freedom, and they continue to perform “armed overwatch” in support of ground forces in Afghanistan today.

B-1B Lancer bombing run

Of the original 100 built, only 93 remain in the inventory and a good portion of those are in reserve storage.  Without the refits and upgrades that the Obama administration has placed on hold, the aging B-1Bs are looking ahead to retirement in the 2030s.  Debate continues over the true effectiveness of the Lancer as further deployment of the B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber continues.

Further information on “Bone” can be found on the U.S. Air Force website on the B-1B Lancer Fact Sheet or in the Air Force documentary below.

 

b-1b bomber takes off over vegas at night

F-35 Lightning II Update

Found a cool video catching up on some of the latter developments with the F-35 Lightning II.  Cool stuff.

And first video of the F-35 at Yuma.

And a few pictures to go with it.

f-35b flight line

f-35 takeoff

F-35 flyover

f-35 preps for takeoff

F-35 Joint-Strike-Fighter demonstration team

Thanksgiving For The Troops – Part 2 (Repost)

Earlier I did a brief post on thanking our veterans this season.  I thought I’d continue the theme today with our serving soldiers.

Lost and Found – July 11th Edition

What to remember about July 11th…

  • 1765  Future 6th President John Quincy Adams born in Massachusetts
  • 1782  British officers surrender Savannah, effectively ending Georgia’s involvement in the American Revolution (H/T David)
  • 1798  United States Marine Corps is reestablished in preparation for Quasi-War with France; USMC originally formed November 10, 1775
  • 1804  Alexander Hamilton mortally wounded in duel with Vice President Aaron Burr at Weehawken, New Jersey
  • 1864  Confederate forces begin 2-day assault on Fort Stevens; President Lincoln attends as defenders repel invaders from Capitol
  • 1914  “Babe” Ruth plays his first game in the Major Leagues; pitches for the Boston Red Sox in victory over Cleveland Indians 4-3
  • 1921  Former 27th President William Howard Taft is sworn in as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; only person to hold both offices
  • 1945  Soviet Union announces that it will turn over civilian and military control of West Berlin to the Allies
  • 1947  Exodus 1947, former U.S. transport ship, departs France with 4515 Jewish passengers in attempt to run blockade and reach Palestine
  • 1955  1st class of cadets sworn is in at temporary site of the United States Air Force Academy, Lowery Air Force Base in Colorado
  • 1977  President Jimmy Carter presents posthumous award of Presidential Medal of Freedom to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • 1979  Skylab, the first successful U.S. space station, re-enters the atmosphere; debris falls in Australia and Indian Ocean
  • 2007  Former First Lady Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Taylor Johnson dies (b. 1912)
NASA Skylab, America’s First Space Station

Lost and Found – July 8th Edition

What to remember about July 8th…

  • 1654  Jacob Barsimson departs Holland for New Amsterdam (New York); first known Jewish settler to arrive in the colonies
  •  1776  Liberty Bell is rung at Pennsylvania State House (later Independence Hall) to announce the Declaration of Independence
  • 1853  Commodore Perry sails into Tokyo Bay with 4 Black Ships, ends 200 years of Japanese isolationism
  • 1863  Confederate forces surrender Port Hudson, Louisiana
  • 1876  Hamburg Massacre; 7 black Republicans murdered by white mob in Democrat campaign for South Carolina’s “Redemption”
  • 1891  Future President Warren G. Harding marries divorcee Florence Mabel King DeWolfe in Marion, Ohio
  • 1947  U.S. Air Force releases statement that a “flying disk” had crashed and was recovered near Roswell, New Mexico; opinions vary
  • 1960  U-2 Pilot Francis Gary Powers is charged with espionage after being shot down over the USSR
  • 1960  Havana Sugar Kings baseball team moves to New Jersey because of Cuban nationalization of all U.S.-owned enterprises
  • 2010  Solar Impulse piloted by André Borschberg completes 1st 24-hour flight by a solar-powered aircraft
  • 2011  NASA launches Atlantis on the final mission of the Space Shuttle program

D-day Photo Montage

Just a few quick photos of the preparations for, execution of, and aftermath of the D-Day invasion (Operation Overlord) June 6, 1944.  Thank you for your sacrifice.

Lost and Found – April 1st Edition

What to remember about April 1st…

April Fools Day

  • 1621  Wampanoag tribe signs defensive treaty with colonists at Plymouth in Massachusetts; lasts more than 50 years
  • 1700  Date becomes popularized as a pranksters holiday in England
  • 1789  In New York City, U.S. House of Representatives elects Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg (PA) as 1st Speaker of the House
  • 1865  Union forces cut supply lines for Lee’s army with victory at Battle of Five Forks; Confederates begin withdrawal from Petersburg and Richmond
  • 1924  Adolf Hitler is convicted and sentenced to 5 years for failed attempt to seize control of German government; writes Mein Kampf in prison
  • 1945  50,000 troops make landing unopposed during invasion of Japanese island of Okinawa; new tactic draws allies inland
  • 1946  Earthquake off Alaska spawns 30-foot tall tsunami that strikes Hawaii killing over 100; prompts creation of Seismic SeaWave Warning System
  • 1948  Soviet troops stop and attempt to search U.S. and British military trains en route to supply West Berlin; tensions over control city mount
  • 1954  United States Air Force Academy is founded at Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • 1970  President Nixon signs into law a total ban on cigarette advertizing by television or radio; adds Surgeon General’s warning to packaging
  • 1976  Apple Computer is founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne; Wayne sells his shares soon after for $2300
  • 2001  U.S. Navy EP-3E ARIES II collides with Chinese fighter and is forced to land in China; crew is detained after destroying their classified equipment; Chinese intelligence service dismantles and examines aircraft
  • 2010  Congress cuts Medicare reimbursements to physicians by 21%as part of Obama’s Affordable Care Act

Lost and Found – February 5th Edition

What to remember about February 5th…

  • 1631  Future founder of Rhode Island, Puritan minister Roger Williams arrives in America; will found 1st Baptist church in the Colonies
  • 1823  Future 13th President Millard Fillmore marries Abigail Powers
  • 1917  Congress passes Immigration Act that restricting Asiatic laborers except those from allied nations; requires literacy test for entry
  • 1918  Stephen W. Thompson becomes 1st American aviator to shoot down an enemy aircraft; after WWI he becomes high school mathematics teacher and inventor
  • 1919  United Artists film studio is founded by Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and D.W. Griffith
  • 1934  African-American baseball legend Henry Louis “Hank” Aaron Jr. is born in Mobile, Alabama; will beat Babe Ruth’s slugging record of 714
  • 1937  President Franklin Roosevelt announces plan to add 6 more Justices to the Supreme Court; this would guarantee him a friendly court
  • 1958  U.S. Air Force loses a hydrogen bomb when B-47 bomber and F-86 fighter collide over Tybee Island, Georgia; weapon never recovered
  • 1989  Soviets complete their withdrawal of all troops from Kabul, Afghanistan after almost 30 years of occupation
  • 1994  White supremacist Byron De La Beckwith is convicted after 30 years in the assassination of civil rights leader Medgar Evers
  • 1997  3 Swiss banks announce creation of fund to compensate Holocaust victims and their families for mishandling funds
  • 2011  Newspaper reveals that Obama administration provided inventory of British nuclear arsenal to Russia in exchange for their signing of the New START treaty

Warbirds – F-16 Fighting Falcon

Our latest edition of Warbirds brings us to the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon.  This storied Cold War veteran took its first flight on January 20, 1974.

f-16 fighting falcon thunderbird

Requests for proposals in the 1972 Lightweight Fighter (LWF)  initiative brought five companies into competition.  General Dynamics and Northrop were eventually awarded contracts for prototype production.  During a near disastrous taxi test the XF-16 was forced into an unscheduled first flight to avoid destroying the aircraft.  Despite this, the Falcon went on to win the joint U.S. and NATO Air Combat Fighter competition – outperforming the Saab 37E “Eurofighter”, the Dassault-Breguet Mirage F1M-53, the SEPECAT Jaguar, and the Northrop P-530 Cobra (similar to the XF-17).  Citing better maneuverability, greater range, and lower operating costs, the Secretary of the Air Force announced in 1975 its intent to order the first 650 F-16’s.

f-16 fighting falcon line drawing

The first delivery of an F-16A to the USAF occurred on January 6, 1979.  Operational deployment began on October 1, 1980 with the 34th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Hill AFB in Utah.  Since then, over 4500 units of a variety of models have been built.  Air forces of 25 nations have had the F-16 in their service.

f-16 fighting falcon weapons load display

The first combat experiences of the Falcon took place during the 1981 Lebanese Civil War.  F-16s of the Israeli Air Force (IAF) successfully downed in air-to-air combat a Syrian Mi-8 helicopter and a MiG-21.  Later that year, a combined flight of IAF F-16s and F-15s destroyed the nearly completed Iraqi nuclear plant at Osirak.

In the 1980s, NATO and US deployment of the F-16 provided an effective counter to the massive deployments of Warsaw Pact aircraft in Eastern Europe.  Innumerable aerial challenges occurred through the end of the Cold War, but no real combat.  The first action seen by US and NATO F-16s occurred during the 1991 Gulf War – Operation Desert Storm.  From January 16 to February 28, F-16s flew over 13,000 sorties with seven aircraft lost.  Of these losses, only three were due to enemy fire.  Despite their heavy operational tempo, it would be 1992 before the first USAF F-16 would get an air-to-air kill.  During enforcement of the US/UK no-fly zones over Iraq, an F-16D shot down a Mig-25 with an AIM-120 AMRAAM.  This event also marked the first kill by an AMRAAM missile.

f-16 fighting falcon burning iraqi oil wells

F-16s continued to provide vital service throughout the next two decades.  Action was seen in the Balkans in ’93,’94, and ’99 as well as Pakistan from ’86 to ’88 against  Afghan Air Forces.  Later, the Falcons saw combat in Operation Iraqi Freedom (’03-’10) and during operations of the IAF in Lebanon in ’06 as well as from ’08 to ’09.  Today, Japanese and South Korean F-16s routinely deal with aerial challenges from Russian, North Korean, and even Chinese threats.

f-16 fighting falcon show of force

With the ongoing upgrade scheme, the USAF plans to keep the F-16 in service through 2025.  However, with the delayed acquisitions of the F-35 Lightning II, the Fighting Falcon may see its US service extended well beyond that date.  You should expect to see them in the air forces of other nations quite a bit longer.

This is a great documentary on the USAF Thunderbirds, their history, and the F-16. Enjoy!