Military AircrewA forum for the professionals who fly the non-civilian hardware, and the backroom boys and girls without whom nothing would leave the ground. Army, Navy and Airforces of the World, all equally welcome here.
I am hoping that the members of PPRuNe can help me please. I am ex RAF WO who served 32yeras in the RAF, quite a lot of it in the Lincolnshire Air Force. During 1999 I was detached as an SNCO Ops Officer with the Waddington AEW Component to Aviano when we were conducting Operation Allied Force. As usual I went out there worked in the Ops HAS and got on with my job, which although tiring with very long shifts with very long drives to the digs at Azarno Decimo afterwards was the most exciting time in my whole RAF career. Sadly I didn't take a great deal of notice who and what was going on around me as we were just too busy!
Now I have been in Civvy street for 5 years and I am writing a book on the (true) History of AEW&C aircraft. Part of which of course will include Op Allied Force and Waddo's AWACs part in it. I have applied to the Media PR folks at Waddington nearly 3 months ago for an opportunity for a day at Waddo to speak to the Air and Ground Crews and collate some background material for the book that my co-author and I have just found a publisher for. It would have been no fuss for the Waddington CRO folks as I would have been escorted by a good mate who is a FS there now doing my old job. Sadly there has been no response apart from a prompted email stating that my request had been passed up the chain to HQSTC for assessment!
I am not writing the book to make money in fact I will get coppers for each copy sold, I'm not bothered about that as I just want to tell the real story iaw the Official Secrets Act. It can be seen by the length of my membership of PPRuNe that I am no recently registered Troll so please don't think I am a Professional Journo or the like.
What I am trying to established (for graphics in the book) are where were our normal orbit areas, I should Know as I used to file the Flight Plans with Base Ops but I can't remeber apart from that they were somewhere in the Adriatic!
Also I remember a momentous day when a E-3D crew returned from a Magic mission during which they had just vectored their Dutch F-16 CAP onto a MiG29 that came at them from the weeds when the F-16's announced they had to go to the Tanker to refuel and had turned away Cold. A female WO Fighter Controller saw the MiG coming for them and asked the Cloggies to turn back in Hot and engage before the E-3D was shot down, fortunately for the crew they did and they splashed the MiG. The Ops Room in the HAS on their return was like a scene from Top Gun, I remember there was a lot of emotion all round and the WO spoke to the Cloggie pilots on the phone straight away and thanked them, phew what a day.
But, when was it? Can some one please tell me the date? Any other gen e.g who the ace WO was and which was Sqn the F-16's came from? Any gen at all (not classified ) that we can put into the E-3D chapter of our book would be very gratefully recieved. Fingers crossed someone can help.
Thanks for reading
Last edited by It's Life Jim 208; 27th Jan 2012 at 21:11.
Spent many an enjoyable evening in various haunts in and around the delights of Pordenone, 93 - 99. I remember the rather tall lady WO in question and can put a name to your question, but my boots were very firmly on the ground, so as for the details of the night in question I am at a loss. PM me for a name.
I think (and please be aware that it was a long time ago, I was in Holland and was very very drunk) but I think that the F-16's were one of the Leewarden squadrons. Maybe a call to aforesaid base might ellicit the Sqn , if not the name of the pilots? 320 Sqn maybe? Dunno.
Good luck with the book - found this on google if it helps
April 21, 1999 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Four F-16AMs of the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNlAF) were among the first NATO aircraft to enter Serbian airspace on the night of 24 March. Within minutes, the Dutch had achieved their first air-to-air victory since World War II, shooting down a Serbian MiG-29.
The engagement also marked the combat debut for the F-16AM, the most advanced F-16 in operational service.
In an interview with Jane's Defence Weekly, Lt Col Jon Abma, RNlAF, commanding officer of the Belgian-Netherlands Deployed Air Task Force (DATF) described the events that happened during the first moments of Operation Allied Force.
"At 19.30hr local time four F-16AMs took off from here for a fighter escort mission to protect one of the first NATO strike packages. After an in-flight refuelling over the Adriatic Sea, the flight crossed over Albania into Serbia. Upon entering Serbian airspace, they were informed by AWACS that three MiG-29 aircraft had taken off from an air base near Belgrade," Col Abma said.
That base is understood to have been Batajnica, home of the Yugoslav Air Force's only MiG-29 unit, the 127th Fighter Aviation Squadron 'Knights'. Col Abma said: "The four F-16AMs headed out toward the threat, working to detect the MiGs on their own radars. Subsequently, one of the MiGs was picked up by all four F-16s. When within range, our flight leader fired one AMRAAM against the MiG. It was an instant hit, after a flight of 30 seconds."
The AMRAAM, credited with a speed of over 4,000km/h,would be capable of covering a distance of more than 33km in 30s econds. According to RNLAF personnel at Amendola, the head-on missile intercept took place 18km from the lead F-16.
"The pilot involved visually saw a fiery explosion. At the same time, the AWACS recorded that the MiG disappeared from the scope," Col Abma said. "We have never seen the other MiG-29s, but around the same time two US F-15s shot down two of those aircraft."
Col Abma said that the rules of engagement (ROEs) for air-to-air engagements require that the target has been tracked by AWACS throughout its flight, and that four other parameters also must be met. Other RNLAF officers said that among those are a positive IFF identification and an approval from the mission commander.
Flying in the air defence role, the F-16AMs at Amendola each carried four AMRAAMs, two external fuel tanks and a Northrop Grumman ALQ-131 ECM pod. In addition four of the eight aircraft also carried two Raytheon AGM-65G Maverick air-to-ground missiles each.
"This is so that they can react instantly when a ground target needs to be attacked urgently," said Col Abma, adding that this 'swing role' capability was much appreciated by NATO's Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC) in Vicenza, Italy, which plans and leads the air campaign."
An E-3D crew from 23 Sqn did order the engagement of a Serbian Mig29. However, your account is highly inaccurate in many areas. I do hope you can get to Waddington and get to talk to someone who flew on that mission. Clearly, time has changed perceptions. PM me if you think I can help. I'd be very happy to help.
R&R - I agree that the account is inaccurate in many areas not least because we did not have any female WO Weapons Controllers (FCs) at the time. We did have a very capable female WO Links Manager and I would think that is who 'Jim' is talking about.
The visions of Top Gun are not as I recall either, yes there would have been emotion but not quite as inferred and definitely more likely to be subdued/massively relieved.
Jim, I would encourage you to contact the media peeps again and enquire as to the status of your request.
Hi again folks thanks for the replies so far they are much appreciated and a special thanks for the PM with the Female WO's name. Can I please point out that my name is Ian as I signed at the bottom of the original post.
As I said in the original post I was very busy and at the time did not know what job title the lady in question actually held on the crew so apologies for calling her a FC when she was actually a Links Manager, so I suppose the LM managed the SATCOM VHF and UHF Comms along with the Link 11 or 16. So I guess she would have been the person who spoke to the F-16 lead.
I'm afraid I am getting a bit exasperated with Waddington and the media people as I had to call them for a sitrep last time and had a very brief 1 line email reply saying my request had been referred to HQSTC. So to be absolutely honest I don't hold out very much hope of a visit especially when my ex colleague who still works on the base in Ops hinted that the CRO's Office think that Journalists and Authors make a lot of money from their writings, which believe me is not true. It's a bit galling when I think of the amount of visits that I arranged, did the VI's for and hosted around the Tower when I was there and we were much much busier with flying then with ACMI, Allied Force, Deny Flight etc.
As I said before I'm not asking anyone to contravien the OSA I never would. I think other posters have missed the point of my post. All I am trying to do is find out the date because as you can see the experts themselves contradict each other as we have had 24/03/99 and 21/04/99 posted above already !
Also the orbit areas I'm sure are not classified surely as this was 13 years ago and I don't think we'll be doing such an Air Campaign in that area again any time soon.
I apologise if I gave the wrong impression about the "Top Gun" comment all I can say was that the folks in the room were very emotional, tired, excited, relieved and very keen to speak to the F-16 jocks I won't mention the "MiG Killer" pictures that went around shortly afterwards (whoops just did !) and I can only recall what I remember of it at the time and the impression it made on us "Ground Support Staff" at the time and what we were told by the crew on their return as to what had happened about the F-16's being short of gas, how else would we know about it?
All I am trying to do here guys is try and write the story as truthfully as I can before someone perhaps from another country comes along and re-writes to their advantage it, like they did about the genesis of AEW the ACI Wellington from 1941/42 and how Project Cadillac was the instigator of AEW Ops not the RAF and TRE.
If the RAF don't want the true story out there about what happened on Allied Force and accept the version as touted by the NATO AEW Componant and the USAF's E-3C supporters then there's nothing I can do about it. But again I was there at Aviano in the midst of Allied Force, when the USAF E-3C bigwigs came over and had that big "discussion" with our Det Cdr and the NATO Cdr's about the relative performances of the various AWACS Componants and it wasn't a convivial meeting.
Yes, the D crews were at a disadvantage with fewer consoles - fewer frequencies and operators not being able to leave their consoles to go to the toilet they were so busy. The RAF Crews did a fantastic job, we used to get the calls in Ops from the other aircrew members of the packages saying how brilliant our crews were and how pleased they were that it was a D in the orbit and not a C or an F. Our missions launched and arrived on station on time and did a terrific job and went the extra mile with cool professionalism and as I said previously it was the best and proudest time of my 32 years. All I want to do is get it in print accurately and factually before the mists of time and memories fade it away. Finally by the way I remember after it was all finished the AOC promised that he would get more frequencies installed in the D's, did it ever happen?
Again thanks for reading, and thanks for the help so far it is appreciated and I don't mean to waffle on but I am very passionate about the subject.
Ahh, apologies they actually said "Air Command" is that the new name for STC ? I have been out for 5 years and freely admit I've lost touch with that sort of thing. I had the one liner e-mail from Media and Comms at Waddo on 19/09/11 over 4 months ago saying my request had been referred.
The major problem is we are working to our publisher's deadline on the book, so if we don't get to speak to the "horses mouth" then we won't be able to show how good the RAF E-3D Component is. Which is really sad as we got a very raw critical deal in Edward Leigh Armistead's AWACS & Hawkeyes book. We have quotes and annecdotes from most other AEW Operators from around the world including Russia and Brazil!
If anyone with any pull at Air Command is reading this can you help please.
Thanks 101 for the Date, the PPRuNe title is a play on the JATCC Course 208 catch phrase from way back.
Maybe the powers-that-be would prefer such information not to be made public? Thin end o the wedge - once the corner of the secrecy veil is lifted, one person publishes, and everyone else assumes carte blanche.to add their pennyworth and print their own I can't help feeling that the 50-year rule should be allowed to run its course. What does it matter if "the truth" isn't known? Its apparent from this thread that what Ian assumed was the truth, wasn't. So whats it matter? No-one gains from such details being published.
I was serving at the time, but don't remember the scenario that you posted involving a Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16. As already posted the only Dutch F-16 MiG-29 shoot down took place on the 24th March 1999.
Are you perhaps mixing up the USAF F-16 shoot down of a MiG-29 on the 4th May? This ties in with your recollection of F-16 having to be turned around to engage. The MiG-29 Pilot was Colonel Milenko Pavlovic.
It was later revealed by the Serbs that Colonel Pavlovic was unauthorised to fly and engaged on his own without support or clearance. It was also revealed by the Serbs that they fired SAMs at the MiG-29 as it was mistaken for a NATO aircraft.
From NATO press transcript
04th May 1999 - David Wilby, Air Commodore RAF
At approximately 12:41 pm local Kosovo time, the aircraft was detected. A flight of 2 NATO F-16s were leaving the area after completing their mission. By 12:43, the E-3 airborne early warning and control aircraft had identified the aircraft as a hostile MiG-29 and committed the F-16 flight against it. At 12:46, the F-16s fired air-to-air missiles. At approximately 12:47, the F-16s observed an explosion and the AWACS confirmed that the MiG-29 had been destroyed.
4th May 1999. Unidentified pilot, call sign 'Dog', of F-16CJ serial 91-0353 was interviewed during the conflict and stated the following. He was photographed in front of his aircraft 91-0353. 'Dog' was anonymous at the time, but was later identified as Lt. Col. Michael H. Geczy.
It didn't take but a few seconds; wasn't much of an engagement; one more MiG-29 gone." (The pilot, whose name cannot be released for security reasons, carries the call sign "Dog". He was part of a four-ship formation en route to an air refuelling when the warning of a Serbian MiG was received.) "We turned around and intercepted him," he said.” What the Serbians were thinking as far as tactics (when they launched the MiG), I can't speculate," Dog said, "but he was airborne so we engaged him." ."Frankly, if one of my fellow F-16 pilots hadn't made the first call stating he'd heard AWACS communications, I might not have turned around and gotten the successful engagement," he said. "Of course the AWACS controller got me there, so it was a team effort from start to finish.
Lieutenant Colonel Milenko Pavlovic was shot down and killed while flying his MiG-29. Some of his personal belongings are on display in the Belgrade Military Museum. These objects are his pistol, gun and notebook. The rear part of the AMRAAM which shot him down and recovered from the locality is also on display.
Pavlovic who was the commander of the 204th Fighter Regiment (127th Fighter Squadron) was posthumously promoted.
Aviation researcher Mark Nixon spent time in Yugoslavia researching the fate of the 16 MiG-29s. Nixon met with pilots of the 127th and ground personnel and was able to piece together their fate. At the time of the interviews the surviving MiG-29s were in storage.
18101 survived conflict - in storage 18102 survived conflcit - in storage 18103 stripped of spares and used as decoy - destroyed 18104 Major Illic's aircraft combat damaged A2A on 24 March 1999. Stripped and later pushed out as a decoy airframe. Destroyed 11th May by cluster munition. 18105 survived conflcit - in storage 18106 shot down by Major Tankink (Royal Netherlands Air Force) Yugoslav pilot Milutinovic ejected successfully. 18107 stripped of spares and used as decoy - destroyed 18108 survived conflict - in storage 18109 shot down by Lt Col Geczy - Lt Col Pavlovic killed 18110 was lost on the 26th March 1999 due to pilot error (stalled on approach to landing) admitted by Major Slobodan Tesanovic, 127th Fighter Squadron. 18111 shot down by Captain Showers - Major Nikolic ejected successfully 18112 shot down by Lt. Col. Rodriquez - Major Arizanov ejected successfully 18113 shot down by Capt. Hwang - Capt. Radosavljevic killed 18114 shot down by Capt Hwang - Major Peric ejected successfully.
18301 - survived conflict - in storage 18302 - damaged during NATO bombing raid and later pushed out as decoy - destroyed.
I was on 8 Sqn at the time. The very capable LM was 'Wendy'. She was a top WO, but no 'Top Gun' I think she'd agree. The MIG shoot down was controlled by a female FC (or rather WC), who, when clearing the engagement started by saying 'cleared, exercise engage' rather than 'cleared engage'....oops. Sorry but can't remember her name. Best of luck with the book.