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Air-to-Air - 9/19/2020 6:30:20 PM   
1nutworld


Posts: 243
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Playing with the Desert Storm scenarios

I'm wondering why such a capable A/C such as the F-16 was limited so often in the air-to-air combat arena by carrying just the AIM-9 Sidewinder and it's VERY limited 10mn range.

I'm a Navy guy so of course I have a preference for the Tomcat and the AIM-54 missile, but I'm curious why anyone would purposely limit the F-16 to a loadout with only the AIM-9. I know the a/c can carry the AIM-7 & AIM-120 as well but in the Desert Storm scenarios, there are many times the default loadout for the F-16 was just the sidewinder.

Thanks in advance for helping me get information

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RE: Air-to-Air - 9/19/2020 7:23:06 PM   
stilesw


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From: Hansville, WA, USA
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quote:


I'm wondering why such a capable A/C such as the F-16 was limited so often in the air-to-air combat arena by carrying just the AIM-9 Sidewinder

Scott,

When I did the background research for the Desert Storm Scenarios I found that for that period, 1990-1991, the F-16 models were primarily equipped with the AIM-9. There were some exceptions with Sparrows but the vast majority had Sidewinders. I cannot say that the research was 100% exhaustive but that is what I found publicly available for the F-16 units assigned to Desert Shield/Storm.

-WS

_____________________________

“There is no limit to what a man can do so long as he does not care a straw who gets the credit for it.”

Charles Edward Montague, English novelist and essayist
~Disenchantment, ch. 15 (1922)

(in reply to 1nutworld)
Post #: 2
RE: Air-to-Air - 9/19/2020 7:59:41 PM   
1nutworld


Posts: 243
Joined: 4/13/2014
Status: offline

quote:

ORIGINAL: stilesw

quote:


I'm wondering why such a capable A/C such as the F-16 was limited so often in the air-to-air combat arena by carrying just the AIM-9 Sidewinder

Scott,

When I did the background research for the Desert Storm Scenarios I found that for that period, 1990-1991, the F-16 models were primarily equipped with the AIM-9. There were some exceptions with Sparrows but the vast majority had Sidewinders. I cannot say that the research was 100% exhaustive but that is what I found publicly available for the F-16 units assigned to Desert Shield/Storm.

-WS


I hope my question didn't come across as being a criticism, because that was FAR from the intent, just trying to figure out what the reasoning was behind giving such a capable a/c a limited capability by the Air Force in the first place.


_____________________________

USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) 1990-1994.

(in reply to stilesw)
Post #: 3
RE: Air-to-Air - 9/19/2020 9:01:52 PM   
stilesw


Posts: 1378
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From: Hansville, WA, USA
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quote:


I hope my question didn't come across as being a criticism

Scott,

No problem at all! Always happy to help clarify the reasoning behind things. Also, as you can probably tell through playing, the whole campaign is not meant to be a 100% historically accurate representation of the 1st Gulf War. I wanted to use the real world as a framework to introduce many "what if" ideas like the involvement of other countries and introducing hypothetical units like the USS Kentucky, BBG-1. That vessel was in fact contemplated in the 50's and 60's but like many other ideas never came to fruition. Even as an USAF veteran I'm sure that there was "black" stuff that may have been involved that may never be made public.

Let me know if you have other questions.

-Wayne

_____________________________

“There is no limit to what a man can do so long as he does not care a straw who gets the credit for it.”

Charles Edward Montague, English novelist and essayist
~Disenchantment, ch. 15 (1922)

(in reply to 1nutworld)
Post #: 4
RE: Air-to-Air - 9/19/2020 10:15:13 PM   
Dimitris


Posts: 12590
Joined: 7/31/2005
Status: offline
quote:

ORIGINAL: 1nutworld


quote:

ORIGINAL: stilesw

quote:


I'm wondering why such a capable A/C such as the F-16 was limited so often in the air-to-air combat arena by carrying just the AIM-9 Sidewinder

Scott,

When I did the background research for the Desert Storm Scenarios I found that for that period, 1990-1991, the F-16 models were primarily equipped with the AIM-9. There were some exceptions with Sparrows but the vast majority had Sidewinders. I cannot say that the research was 100% exhaustive but that is what I found publicly available for the F-16 units assigned to Desert Shield/Storm.

-WS


I hope my question didn't come across as being a criticism, because that was FAR from the intent, just trying to figure out what the reasoning was behind giving such a capable a/c a limited capability by the Air Force in the first place.



The only US-service F-16s able to fire the AIM-7 were the F-16ADFs of the ANG, and these stayed home during DS (in fact I don't think they were ever employed overseas). The F-16 was never meant to carry the AIM-7 as-designed, and the missile's much larger dimensions & weight compromised the aircraft's performance considerably (one comment I've read online went like this: "the F-15 with 4 Sparrows doesn't get bogged down at all, the F-16 with just two of them flies like a cement truck").

So why no hurry to hang Sparrows on each and every lawn dart? Some of the reasons:

* The USAF was in no rush to arm the F-16 with AIM-7s because it already had a great platform for them, the F-15, and one that they were busy actively protecting from criticism. It's easy to forget now that the Eagle had a rough first decade or so (acute shortage of spares & ground personnel and teething issues with the F100 engines mostly), and the service had to repeatedly stave off "suggestions" that it would be better off halting or even scrapping the Albino procurement altogether and instead turn to other solutions (e.g. super-upgraded Phantoms or even <gasp> land-optimized versions of the F-14 and F/A-18). Sticking Sparrows to the Viper would provide one more argument (flawed as it was) to the "so why do we need the F-15 again?" crowd, so you can understand why the AF was not hot on the concept, ADF notwithstanding.

* The F-16 in frontline USAF service was primarily employed as a fighter-bomber (ie. strike aircraft with good agility & WVR capability) and always as part of a larger package that would involve, among many other things, F-15s as dedicated escorts (or well forward, clearing the path). It was felt that even if a pop-up threat did penetrate the package and posed an immediate threat to the Viper elements, frontal AIM-9L/M quickdraws followed by rapid breakoff (while presumably at the same time the escorts show up to do their job) would be a better response than the drawn-out commitment demanded by the AIM-7. There was also a widely-held belief that "you give a strike or recon pilot any significant A2A armament and he'll run off chasing MiGs instead of doing his real job". (Plus of course, if the F-16s are able to BVR-defend themselves then this weakens the case for the F-15, which brings us back to the previous point.)

* "Better stuff on the way": Already from 1979 (ie. just as the F-16 was entering service) Hughes and Raytheon were selected as finalists for the AMRAAM program, a project that one of whose explicit tenets was to design a BVR missile small enough and light enough to be carried even at the F-16's wingtips. At the time of course nobody knew it would take another 12-13 years to actually reach the field, so with it being "just around the corner, honest!" it was felt that the Sparrow would be superfluous.

* The F-16 was initially designed as a lower-cost, lightweight day & clear-weather only fighter-bomber (in many ways it was Pierre Spey's dream "cheapfighter", though not his direct design as sometimes implied). Part of the initial design direction was a deliberately simple, lightweight, air-cooled APG-66 radar, pretty advanced technologically but deliberately much constrained in its functionality & capabilities, to keep weight & cost in check - and one of the "nice to haves" that was left out was the ability to illuminate for SARH missiles like the Sparrow. By the time the much more comprehensive APG-68 came along the AMRAAM was "entering service any day now, really!" so again Sparrow integration was not seen as priority.

< Message edited by Dimitris -- 9/19/2020 10:31:20 PM >


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RE: Air-to-Air - 9/19/2020 10:34:55 PM   
Primarchx


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Joined: 1/20/2013
Status: online
Let's also remember that prior to the '91 Gulf War the Sidewinder was the top MiG killing air-to-air missile in actual combat. While a radar-guided missile would be nice I doubt many Viper pilots felt overly underarmed against contemporary aircraft when wielding an all-aspect heat-seeking missile.

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Post #: 6
RE: Air-to-Air - 9/19/2020 10:38:11 PM   
kevinkins


Posts: 2094
Joined: 3/8/2006
Status: online
1nutworld

Wayne's research and scenario design assumptions are second to none. The AIM-54 was designed to hit Soviet bear bombers at extreme range over the North Atlantic. There was no reason to place their added weight on transports during the build up since the US knew they would gain air supremacy the second after the 1st Gulf War started. I suppose US carriers had the AIM-54 available to some degree. Your question is interesting historically. Thanks for posting it. Made me think back to the early 90's.

Kevin


< Message edited by kevinkins -- 9/20/2020 1:45:38 PM >


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Post #: 7
RE: Air-to-Air - 9/20/2020 1:50:51 AM   
KungPao


Posts: 258
Joined: 4/25/2016
From: Red China
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quote:

ORIGINAL: 1nutworld



I hope my question didn't come across as being a criticism, because that was FAR from the intent, just trying to figure out what the reasoning was behind giving such a capable a/c a limited capability by the Air Force in the first place.



The USAF was not interested in the F-16 LWF project at first . They saw this project as the competitor of F-15 project. Part of the reason the F-16 project can be kept alive is the potential export to other NATO countries, and they are not interested in the BVR capability. They believed that if cold war turn hot, the airspace over Germany will be crowded with hundreds of aircraft. They need a fighter that can rush into the fight, visual ID friends and foes. BVR capability is a bonus but not required (just think about West Germany's F-4

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RE: Air-to-Air - 9/20/2020 1:53:02 PM   
1nutworld


Posts: 243
Joined: 4/13/2014
Status: offline
quote:

ORIGINAL: stilesw

Scott,

No problem at all! Always happy to help clarify the reasoning behind things. Also, as you can probably tell through playing, the whole campaign is not meant to be a 100% historically accurate representation of the 1st Gulf War. I wanted to use the real world as a framework to introduce many "what if" ideas like the involvement of other countries and introducing hypothetical units like the USS Kentucky, BBG-1. That vessel was in fact contemplated in the 50's and 60's but like many other ideas never came to fruition. Even as an USAF veteran I'm sure that there was "black" stuff that may have been involved that may never be made public.

Let me know if you have other questions.

-Wayne


Wayne,

Thanks for all the research put in, and I am truly enjoying playing the DS scenarios, and they have certainly challenged me. Gotten my ass handed to me in a couple of different run through's.

As Primarch and Dimitris have pointed out, via their comments, my thought process from being a navy guy is different than what the Air Force was thinking with F-16 development compared to keeping the F-15 as the 'primary',if you will, for air-to-air capability.

By the way, Primarch, thanks for pointing out to me that the Sidewinder was the top MIG killer. That statement surprised me, having not done the investigating myself.

Other than potentially coming off as being directed as a criticism of the scenario designs, It was indeed asked because I didn't understand the concepts of the tactical thinking of the Air Force in usage of F-15 v F-16,(and their load out capabilities), and certainly not of the practical considerations of sales to foreign countries being a part of the development and usage processes.

I wanted to understand the thinking and I knew that by asking the question (despite the risk of being taken as a criticism) I would get the answer to my question with all the experts that contribute in scenario design, as well as forum discussion.

Thanks for the replies everyone!




< Message edited by 1nutworld -- 9/20/2020 2:38:15 PM >


_____________________________

USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) 1990-1994.

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Post #: 9
RE: Air-to-Air - 9/20/2020 2:52:36 PM   
1nutworld


Posts: 243
Joined: 4/13/2014
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quote:

ORIGINAL: kevinkins

1nutworld

Wayne's research and scenario design assumptions are second to none. The AIM-54 was designed to hit Soviet bear bombers at extreme range over the North Atlantic. There was no reason to place their added weight on transports during the build up since the US knew they would gain air supremacy the second after the 1st Gulf War started. I suppose US carriers had the AIM-54 available to some degree. Your question is interesting historically. Thanks for posting it. Made me think back to the early 90's.

Kevin



Hi Kevin,

Glad to try and help get people thinking of a different time.

As my signature indicates, I was on the Ike on Aug 2, 1990 when Saddam invaded Kuwait, so this group of scenarios "hits home" as I was a part of it.

Ike was in port in Naples, Italy when invasion started, and 72 hours later we and our battle group "did the ditch" and transited the Suez Canal and were on station in the Red Sea, to help, along with the Independence CBG in the Gulf, from the Indian Ocean, keep the invasion from continuing into Saudi Arabia.

I find it interesting that despite all the cross-decking of officers to spend time with those of other branches, that was implemented by the Pentagon, to encourage idea exchange of tactics, equipment usage, logistics and other ideas, that some of the possible tactics never really happened.

Let's use the Phoenix as an example: Once things went hot, and the coalition started it's "shock and awe" campaign wouldn't firing off some Phoenix missiles from land based a/c to prevent Iraqi Air Force aircraft to be shot down before approaching Saudi airspace and the location of coalition ground forces.

Same type of tactic used against the Bears and Badgers that the Soviets would use to probe or attack Carriers at sea - knock em out of the sky before they can get close. Why NOT transition that same tactic to over ground use, instead of leaving it as a naval tactic only?

To confirm your suspicions, ALL US carrier Tomcat Squadrons were well stocked with the AIM-54 and it was common sight when flight ops were being conducted to see a Tomcat at "ready-5" sitting on the catapults with Phoenix missiles on the pylons, "don't leave home without 'em"!




_____________________________

USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) 1990-1994.

(in reply to kevinkins)
Post #: 10
RE: Air-to-Air - 9/20/2020 8:43:48 PM   
Gunner98

 

Posts: 4697
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quote:

To confirm your suspicions, ALL US carrier Tomcat Squadrons were well stocked with the AIM-54 and it was common sight when flight ops were being conducted to see a Tomcat at "ready-5" sitting on the catapults with Phoenix missiles on the pylons, "don't leave home without 'em"!



There is tons of photo and video evidence of this but the real story is a bit more complex. In actual fact there were only ~2200 AiM-54C produced. ~5000 of all versions total. So in a real shooting war they would not have lasted long, weeks not months probably. And the peacetime production for each missile took almost 2 years.


http://www.designation-systems.info/dusrm/m-54.html

I've been working in restriction of their use in later Northern Fury scenarios. http://northernfury.us/blog/post25/

B

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RE: Air-to-Air - 9/20/2020 8:59:19 PM   
1nutworld


Posts: 243
Joined: 4/13/2014
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quote:

ORIGINAL: Gunner98

quote:

To confirm your suspicions, ALL US carrier Tomcat Squadrons were well stocked with the AIM-54 and it was common sight when flight ops were being conducted to see a Tomcat at "ready-5" sitting on the catapults with Phoenix missiles on the pylons, "don't leave home without 'em"!



There is tons of photo and video evidence of this but the real story is a bit more complex. In actual fact there were only ~2200 AiM-54C produced. ~5000 of all versions total. So in a real shooting war they would not have lasted long, weeks not months probably. And the peacetime production for each missile took almost 2 years.


http://www.designation-systems.info/dusrm/m-54.html

I've been working in restriction of their use in later Northern Fury scenarios. http://northernfury.us/blog/post25/

B


I was not a part of a squadron, I was ships company on the Eisenhower, so I had no first-hand knowledge of total amount of Phoenix stockpiles, so thanks for doing the research Gunner and pointing out the misconception that probably I am NOT the only person to have.

_____________________________

USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) 1990-1994.

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Post #: 12
RE: Air-to-Air - 9/20/2020 10:17:11 PM   
butch4343

 

Posts: 302
Joined: 3/26/2015
Status: online

quote:

ORIGINAL: Dimitris

quote:

ORIGINAL: 1nutworld


quote:

ORIGINAL: stilesw

quote:


I'm wondering why such a capable A/C such as the F-16 was limited so often in the air-to-air combat arena by carrying just the AIM-9 Sidewinder

Scott,

When I did the background research for the Desert Storm Scenarios I found that for that period, 1990-1991, the F-16 models were primarily equipped with the AIM-9. There were some exceptions with Sparrows but the vast majority had Sidewinders. I cannot say that the research was 100% exhaustive but that is what I found publicly available for the F-16 units assigned to Desert Shield/Storm.

-WS


I hope my question didn't come across as being a criticism, because that was FAR from the intent, just trying to figure out what the reasoning was behind giving such a capable a/c a limited capability by the Air Force in the first place.



The only US-service F-16s able to fire the AIM-7 were the F-16ADFs of the ANG, and these stayed home during DS (in fact I don't think they were ever employed overseas). The F-16 was never meant to carry the AIM-7 as-designed, and the missile's much larger dimensions & weight compromised the aircraft's performance considerably (one comment I've read online went like this: "the F-15 with 4 Sparrows doesn't get bogged down at all, the F-16 with just two of them flies like a cement truck").

So why no hurry to hang Sparrows on each and every lawn dart? Some of the reasons:

* The USAF was in no rush to arm the F-16 with AIM-7s because it already had a great platform for them, the F-15, and one that they were busy actively protecting from criticism. It's easy to forget now that the Eagle had a rough first decade or so (acute shortage of spares & ground personnel and teething issues with the F100 engines mostly), and the service had to repeatedly stave off "suggestions" that it would be better off halting or even scrapping the Albino procurement altogether and instead turn to other solutions (e.g. super-upgraded Phantoms or even <gasp> land-optimized versions of the F-14 and F/A-18). Sticking Sparrows to the Viper would provide one more argument (flawed as it was) to the "so why do we need the F-15 again?" crowd, so you can understand why the AF was not hot on the concept, ADF notwithstanding.

* The F-16 in frontline USAF service was primarily employed as a fighter-bomber (ie. strike aircraft with good agility & WVR capability) and always as part of a larger package that would involve, among many other things, F-15s as dedicated escorts (or well forward, clearing the path). It was felt that even if a pop-up threat did penetrate the package and posed an immediate threat to the Viper elements, frontal AIM-9L/M quickdraws followed by rapid breakoff (while presumably at the same time the escorts show up to do their job) would be a better response than the drawn-out commitment demanded by the AIM-7. There was also a widely-held belief that "you give a strike or recon pilot any significant A2A armament and he'll run off chasing MiGs instead of doing his real job". (Plus of course, if the F-16s are able to BVR-defend themselves then this weakens the case for the F-15, which brings us back to the previous point.)

* "Better stuff on the way": Already from 1979 (ie. just as the F-16 was entering service) Hughes and Raytheon were selected as finalists for the AMRAAM program, a project that one of whose explicit tenets was to design a BVR missile small enough and light enough to be carried even at the F-16's wingtips. At the time of course nobody knew it would take another 12-13 years to actually reach the field, so with it being "just around the corner, honest!" it was felt that the Sparrow would be superfluous.

* The F-16 was initially designed as a lower-cost, lightweight day & clear-weather only fighter-bomber (in many ways it was Pierre Spey's dream "cheapfighter", though not his direct design as sometimes implied). Part of the initial design direction was a deliberately simple, lightweight, air-cooled APG-66 radar, pretty advanced technologically but deliberately much constrained in its functionality & capabilities, to keep weight & cost in check - and one of the "nice to haves" that was left out was the ability to illuminate for SARH missiles like the Sparrow. By the time the much more comprehensive APG-68 came along the AMRAAM was "entering service any day now, really!" so again Sparrow integration was not seen as priority.


Great points, I wondered if the 1978 AIMEVAL exercise also swayed thinking as well on the Vipers armament. Those exercises showed that an IR equipped lightweight fighter would be able to fire off IR guided missiles against a foe with SARH guided missiles before the foes BVR missiles would reach the lightweight fighter. Remember in Vietnam that Sparrow shots were taken at a maximum of about 12-13 miles and Soviet AAMs such as the Apex had a real life range of not much better than Sparrow.

So imagine if your Viper is heading towards a Flogger, the closing rate will be what where around 1000 knots, the Flogger fires Apex at 12nm(I am being generous here, Sparrow has a range of 27nm and was fired typically at half that Apex I am assuming to be the same), the Flogger comes into AIM9 range at 10NM , roughly 5-7 secs after the Flogger fires, the Viper because the AIM9 is fire and forget can turn 90 degrees and get lost in the Doppler notch of the Floggers radar, the flogger driver has a dilema, turn away from the target and loose SARH guidance or eat an inbound AIM9.

What I hope the above shows is that a SARH equipped fighter might not always have the advantage that you first think it does.

My understanding is that the Sparrow and for that matter Skyflash in the UK was for intended primarily for larger heavier bomber targets that were limited in manouverability. Therefore the longer range of the Sparrow was an advantage in the ANG units based in the US where potentially the target carried nuclear payloads, over the central front the Sparrow would have been much less use.

Hope this helps and I await folk eminently more qualified than this armchair tactician to explain it better.

BTW have you created a scenario in Command to test out the problem? Thats one of the bueaties of Command :-)


Regards

Butch

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Post #: 13
RE: Air-to-Air - 9/21/2020 1:28:27 PM   
Gunner98

 

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quote:

The only US-service F-16s able to fire the AIM-7 were the F-16ADFs of the ANG, and these stayed home during DS (in fact I don't think they were ever employed overseas).


The furthest afield that I have found US AiM-7 equipped ANG fighters was Operation Coronet Nighthawk, a counter-drub operation through the '90s based in Panama, and then only part time to spell off ANG F-15s

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Coronet_Nighthawk

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RE: Air-to-Air - 9/21/2020 1:40:43 PM   
stilesw


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quote:

Operation Coronet Nighthawk, a counter-drub

Damn! No wonder my drub supply dried up in the 90's.





Attachment (2)

< Message edited by stilesw -- 9/21/2020 1:42:30 PM >

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RE: Air-to-Air - 9/21/2020 1:57:41 PM   
Gunner98

 

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I'm sure that reports such as this, done by the US Navy in 68, had an impact. In response to the problem of needed an average of 10 missile firing attempts for every A2A kill in Viet Nam, this report studied the issue and tried to find solutions.

https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a955142.pdf


The clip is quote from page 26 of the PDF and is telling: "...a virtual jungle of problems."

I think this is one of the reports that highlighted the need for advanced training like 'Top Gun' etc.






Attachment (1)

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Post #: 16
RE: Air-to-Air - 9/21/2020 2:03:49 PM   
Gunner98

 

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Check out our novel, Northern Fury: H-Hour!: http://northernfury.us/
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Post #: 17
RE: Air-to-Air - 9/21/2020 7:13:38 PM   
stilesw


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From: Hansville, WA, USA
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quote:

I'm sure that reports such as this, done by the US Navy in 68, had an impact

Thanks, added to the library.

-Wayne

_____________________________

“There is no limit to what a man can do so long as he does not care a straw who gets the credit for it.”

Charles Edward Montague, English novelist and essayist
~Disenchantment, ch. 15 (1922)

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Post #: 18
RE: Air-to-Air - 9/21/2020 8:59:38 PM   
Primarchx


Posts: 3088
Joined: 1/20/2013
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quote:

ORIGINAL: Gunner98
...

I think this is one of the reports that highlighted the need for advanced training like 'Top Gun' etc.

...


I think this bears out that you are indeed correct, Gunner.







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