Tag Archives: Operation Iraqi Freedom

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!

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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

Lost and Found – July 22nd Edition

What to remember about July 22nd…

  • 1864  Union General James McPherson killed by Confederate raiders during the Battle of Atlanta
  • 1916  Anti-war protestors bomb parade in San Francisco
  • 1933  American aviator Wiley Post completes first solo flight around the world
  • 1934  John Dillinger shot and killed leaving the Biograph Theater in Chicago by FBI agents
  • 1937  Senate rejects Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s plan to add six more justices to the Supreme Court
  • 1991  Cannibal and serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer arrested
  • 2003  Sons of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, Qusay and Uday, are killed in firefight with U.S. forces
  • 2011  Anders Behring Breivik sets off bomb and goes on shooting spree in Norway killing 76

(Click the photo to get an enlarged view)

Lost and Found – April 7th Edition

What to remember about April 7th…

  • 1776  For the 1st time, an American warship captures a British vessel; Captain John Barry’s Lexington take HMS Edward off coast of Virginia
  • 1805  After building a fort and wintering in North Dakota; Lewis and Clarke expedition resumes their westward trek; unexplored territory lies ahead
  • 1862  After 2 days of heavy fighting, Union forces win the Battle of Shiloh in western Tennessee; nearly 24,000 casualties suffered between them
  • 1945 U.S. bombers sink worlds most powerful battleship; Japanese flagship Yamato goes down off Okinawa with loss of 2055 crew
  • 1947  Automotive pioneer Henry Ford dies in Michigan(b. 1863)
  • 1954  In a news conference, President Eisenhower introduces “domino theory” of communist influence
  • 1978  President Carter orders development of neutron bomb put on hold as peace protestors decry “capitalist bomb”
  • 1983  U.S. astronauts perform 1st spacewalk taken from a space shuttle
  • 1994  Day after assassination of Presidents of Burundi and Rwanda, genocide of Tutsi’s and pygmies begins; Rwandan genocide kills at least 500,000 in next 100 days; U.N. is impotent in face of grotesque violence
  • 2003  U.S. troops capture Baghdad, Iraq

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

Lost and Found – October 10th Edition

What to remember about October 10th…

  • 0732  Coalition of Christian forces defeats Moorish army at Battle of Tours; ends Muslim expansion into Western Europe
  • 1845  United States Naval Academy opens at Annapolis, Maryland with a class of 50 midshipmen
  • 1944  Over 800 Gypsy children are gassed to death at Auschwitz
  • 1971  London Bridge reopens after it is dismantled, moved, and reassembled in Lake Havasu, Arizona
  • 1973  Vice President Spiro Agnew becomes 1st to resign in disgrace after pleading no-contest to tax evasion charges
  • 1985  U.S. fighter planes force plane carrying escaping terrorists from the Achille Lauro attack to land in Italy
  • 1985  American director, actor, and screenwriter Orson Welles dies in Hollywood, California
  • 2002 House of Representatives votes 296-133 to give President George W. Bush authority to use military force against Iraq (Senate follows suit the next day)

London Bridge Lake Havasu City Arizona

Lost and Found – July 22nd Edition

What to remember about July 22nd…

  • 1864  Union General James McPherson killed by Confederate raiders during the Battle of Atlanta
  • 1916  Anti-war protestors bomb parade in San Francisco
  • 1933  American aviator Wiley Post completes first solo flight around the world
  • 1934  John Dillinger shot and killed leaving the Biograph Theater in Chicago by FBI agents
  • 1937  Senate rejects Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s plan to add six more justices to the Supreme Court
  • 1991  Cannibal and serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer arrested
  • 2003  Sons of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, Qusay and Uday, are killed in firefight with U.S. forces
  • 2011  Anders Behring Breivik sets off bomb and goes on shooting spree in Norway killing 76

(Click the photo to get an enlarged view)

Lost and Found – May 15th Edition

What to remember about May 15th…

  • 1800  President John Adams orders the federal government to move from Philadelphia to the new capital in Washington, D.C.
  • 1864  Cadet volunteers from Virginia Military Institute join confederate forces in holding off Union offensive at Battle of New Market
  • 1869  Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton form the National Woman Suffrage Association in New York
  • 1928  Mickey Mouse premiers in his 1st motion picture, Plane Crazy
  • 1941  Gloster E.28/39 makes 1st flight; is 1st allied jet aircraft
  • 1942  Law establishing Women’s auxiliary Army Corps (WAACs)takes effect; females granted official military status
  • 1948  Egypt, Transjordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia invade Israel after withdrawal of British troops; Arab-Israeli War begins
  • 1963  NASA launches Faith 7; final mission of the Mercury program takes Gordon Cooper into orbit
  • 1972  Governor George Wallace, segregationist Democrat candidate for the presidency, is shot and paralyzed by Arthur Bremer
  • 1973  Nolan Ryan throws 1st of his 7 no-hitters as a Major League pitcher
  • 1988  Soviet forces begin their withdrawal from Afghanistan
  • 2004  In Iraq an artillery shell used in an improvised explosive device releases a nerve agent injuring 2 U.S. soldiers
  • 2007  Evangelical preacher, televangelist, and founder of Liberty University Jerry Lamon Falwell, Sr. dies of a heart attack (b. 1933)

Lost and Found – April 7th Edition

What to remember about April 7th…

  • 1776  For the 1st time, an American warship captures a British vessel; Captain John Barry’s Lexington take HMS Edward off coast of Virginia
  • 1805  After building a fort and wintering in North Dakota; Lewis and Clarke expedition resumes their westward trek; unexplored territory lies ahead
  • 1862  After 2 days of heavy fighting, Union forces win the Battle of Shiloh in western Tennessee; nearly 24,000 casualties suffered between them
  • 1945 U.S. bombers sink worlds most powerful battleship; Japanese flagship Yamato goes down off Okinawa with loss of 2055 crew
  • 1947  Automotive pioneer Henry Ford dies in Michigan(b. 1863)
  • 1954  In a news conference, President Eisenhower introduces “domino theory” of communist influence
  • 1978  President Carter orders development of neutron bomb put on hold as peace protestors decry “capitalist bomb”
  • 1983  U.S. astronauts perform 1st spacewalk taken from a space shuttle
  • 1994  Day after assassination of Presidents of Burundi and Rwanda, genocide of Tutsi’s and pygmies begins; Rwandan genocide kills at least 500,000 in next 100 days; U.N. is impotent in face of grotesque violence
  • 2003  U.S. troops capture Baghdad, Iraq