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An article on the F-117 being shot down over Serbia

 
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An article on the F-117 being shot down over Serbia - 2/14/2021 7:42:33 AM   
DWReese

 

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Below is a link to an article on the F-117 being shot down over Serbia in 1999. In it, the pilot stated that the F-117 was usually escorted by F-16s with ARMs, and by jamming aircraft (like a Growler). I didn't know that. I always thought that the F-117 was stealthy enough to fly in on its own. It's interesting that it usually had to have these escorts with it on its missions. Certainly, those aircraft could be seen by radar, even if the F-117 wasn't.

In any case, it is an interesting read if you desire.

https://maternityweek.com/g/anthropology-and-history/military-history/how-stealth-jet-shot-down-serbia/?utm_source=Yahoo&utm_medium=search&utm_content=HOMEPAGE_US_--_yahoo.com&utm_campaign=Pop__Stealth_Jet_Was_Flying_Over_Serbia_Carousel_Ads_US_ALL_495301&utm_term=405258959

Doug
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RE: An article on the F-117 being shot down over Serbia - 2/14/2021 1:26:45 PM   
CV60


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I just noticed that this article is posted in "Maternity Week". I'm not quite sure what to make of that, but it is funny.

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RE: An article on the F-117 being shot down over Serbia - 2/14/2021 1:49:08 PM   
DWReese

 

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Funny indeed.

I got it from Yahoo, so who knows why they even posted it, or where they got it from. But, if it really was from there (and that wasn't just an accompanying ad), I too wonder why that story would be there. There were no women at all in that story. Yes, funny indeed.

You know, if the F-117 really did have to have an F-16 with ARMs, and a Growler for hamming, then it hardly seems that it was worth its price tag. Surely the enemy could see the F-16, so they would know that something was about to happen.

I haven't done any research on the F-117, but it seems to have an interesting past.

Doug

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RE: An article on the F-117 being shot down over Serbia - 2/14/2021 2:24:18 PM   
kevinkins


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There are several reports that some the F117s are being re-certified to pose as enemy LO stealth a/c. The certification involves refueling etc..

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RE: An article on the F-117 being shot down over Serbia - 2/14/2021 2:25:47 PM   
thewood1

 

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The OP actually participated in a discussion on this very subject last year. I think there were some good discussions and answers in that thread.

https://www.matrixgames.com/forums/tm.asp?m=4901387&mpage=1&key=f%2D117�

And this one from 2017.

https://www.matrixgames.com/forums/tm.asp?m=4307304&mpage=1&key=f%2D117�

There were sources listed that might be more authoritative than MaternityWeek.

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RE: An article on the F-117 being shot down over Serbia - 2/14/2021 2:44:56 PM   
SeaQueen


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quote:

ORIGINAL: DWReese
You know, if the F-117 really did have to have an F-16 with ARMs, and a Growler for hamming, then it hardly seems that it was worth its price tag. Surely the enemy could see the F-16, so they would know that something was about to happen.


It wouldn't have been a Growler because they didn't exist yet. EA-6, COMPASS CALL or EF-111 would have been more likely for jamming support. F-16s have a respectable radar cross section in certain frequency domains themselves, so don't discount them so quickly, although it's not an F-117s rcs. This stuff is complicated. Planning missions for LO aircraft is a deeply complicated and fascinating topic that is extremely technical and full of subtleties. F-117 was never intended to be widely used against every single target. It was a niche aircraft, that should be thought of almost as a special operations type of capability. It was intended to do surgical strikes against very specific, highly defended, hardened, high value targets located where other aircraft couldn't go safely. That's why the GBU-27 was developed, and you've got to get up close to use it. HARM allows you to stand off (60NM as modeled in CMO/CMANO), so the jets don't really need to go where the F-117 goes, they just need to be able to sit back and be able to reactively or pre-emptively fire HARMs into the target area as they reveal themselves. There's elements of military deception involved as well. Maybe, for example, the weasels or other escorts aren't on the same axis as the F-117? Maybe there's decoys involved as well? Maybe the LO technology allows the SEAD/DEAD flights to be focused on different things? It all depends. Each strike is unique in its challenges, and needs to be approached from a planning perspective with that in mind.

"Stealth" is a magic formula that demands many different components. Radar cross section reduction is just one, and an important one at that, but it isn't the only one. It also leverages other technologies and techniques as well. Maybe... a non-LO aircraft can be seen at 100NM but an LO aircraft can only be seen at 20NM (for example). If that's the case, then you only need to make a 40NM wide hole instead of a 200NM wide hole, to get the strikers to their target? A 200 NM wide hole is a lot harder to make than a 40NM wide hole. It all depends. Geography, radar physics, IR physics, acoustic physics, time of day, electronic warfare, all play a role in achieving stealth. To be successful with LO aircraft you need to take them all into account. They're not "superfighters," by any stretch of the imagination.


< Message edited by SeaQueen -- 2/14/2021 3:09:30 PM >

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RE: An article on the F-117 being shot down over Serbia - 2/14/2021 4:18:30 PM   
DWReese

 

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SeaQueen,

I hear you. But, doesn't it seem like a very high price tag for a "niche" aircraft?

I assume (from CMANO/CMO) that the Prowler would have had to stay pretty close to the F-117 in order for it to provide any kind of benefit. Those are hard to electronically see, and they do provide excellent cover.

Tell me, what don't they just install those jamming pods on a few strike aircraft rather than just having them on Prowlers and Growlers? Are those pods huge or something?

Regarding the cost, from the outside looking in, it appears that someone got a huge contract to build this plane that needs other planes to do some of its work for it. They certainly didn't stick around very long before being moth-balled.

Do you believe that the F-117 program was a waste of money?

On a side note, and I brought this up to Kushan the other day as he was playing El Dorado Canyon, don't you think that the F-111 was merely used on the attack on Benghazi in 1986 because it hadn't seen any action as of yet. It seemed to me that rather than make three refueling stops along the way with the F-111s, they could have just used two waves of A-6s from the two carriers. The A-6s carry more ordinance anyway.

It seems similar to the F-117. Neither it, or the F-111 ever really seemed like they delivered that much bang for the buck.

It's just an observation.

Doug


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RE: An article on the F-117 being shot down over Serbia - 2/14/2021 5:49:36 PM   
Gunner98

 

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Even if considered a 'niche' aircraft - if it could get in where others couldn't to take out a critical target (C3, radar, etc) then it could unlock the door to an IADS allowing the others in to do some real damage.

As for the pods on the EA-6B, I'm no expert but from a few things that I've read, I think a key element for the technology of the day were the three ECM Operators on board steering the electrons. I assume modern computing power has replaced them but the Prowlers crew of 4 was probably the real limitation.

You may have a point on using the F-111 vs the USN A-6 but there is probably a lot more to it than that. Tribal warfare between the USN & USAF may have been a factor, demonstrating resolve and capability another. Who knows.

The war that the F-117 was designed and built for, went away. As a technology testbed, I think they probably learned a few bits as well. CVs were considered by many to be a waste of $$ in the 1930s -pick a capability: someone will say its a waste of $$. If a nation wants to retain the ability to project military power, they need to experiment and deploy capabilities others don't have. The F-117 at the end of the 80s was certainly that.

B

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RE: An article on the F-117 being shot down over Serbia - 2/14/2021 6:48:02 PM   
DWReese

 

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Gunner,

That all makes sense. And, I do understand the USN vs USAF thing. But, I really do think that they said, "Hey, we haven't used this thing yet, so let's fly it from England, refuel three times, and fly back. Otherwise, what are we going to do with it?" It almost seems like a 'tweener-type of plane. It's almost this, and it's almost that.

I think I'll go and fly it around some and see how it does for me. <lol>

Doug

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RE: An article on the F-117 being shot down over Serbia - 2/14/2021 7:58:13 PM   
SeaQueen


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quote:

ORIGINAL: DWReese
I hear you. But, doesn't it seem like a very high price tag for a "niche" aircraft?


Well... they bought a small number of "expensive" aircraft to perform a niche HIGH PAYOFF mission that large numbers of expensive aircraft couldn't perform at an acceptable level of risk. The flip side of the coin is always how much are you willing to risk to do the same thing?

quote:


I assume (from CMANO/CMO) that the Prowler would have had to stay pretty close to the F-117 in order for it to provide any kind of benefit. Those are hard to electronically see, and they do provide excellent cover.


It depends. The power from the jammer received at the target goes as 1/R^2. The radar return at the target goes as 1/R^4. So... how far the jammer is from the target depends in part on balancing those factors. There's more, though. How far is the jamming target from the target area/ingress route? Is it off axis? What kind of radar is it? One of the biggest drivers of jamming effectiveness in CMO/CMANO is the combination of the jammer's "Generation" and the target's "Generation." They use that as a proxy for a variety of variables which they probably won't ever find data on the low side for. The reduced radar cross section of the F-117 means that the jamming aircraft maybe don't need to get as close in order to protect them. Detection range goes as the fourth root of the rcs. There isn't one single solution for jammers. You want to keep them close enough so that they can protect the thing they're supposed to protect but not so far away that they make themselves vulnerable. It's a balancing act, like so many of these things.


quote:


Tell me, what don't they just install those jamming pods on a few strike aircraft rather than just having them on Prowlers and Growlers? Are those pods huge or something?


There's lots of reasons. EW is one of the most complex aspects of warfare. It is EXTREMELY technical and requires a great deal of knowledge about how radars work in order to be successful. Basically, it's a full time job. Similarly, putting kinetic effects on target is also an extremely technical job, and is also a full time job. To get the full potential of EW, you need specialists. Growlers are a lot more automated than Prowlers, but they still have a back seater whose whole life is messing up electronics with other electronics. You'll never see that kind of specificity in single seat strike aircraft.

And they are huge and powerful. They run off their own power source, which includes an electric generator. They occupy a weapons station so it'd be less ordnance on target. Also, depending on the type of jamming involved, the jamming aircraft highlights itself, so it can't necessarily ingress as close as an aircraft without jamming. So one of the challenges of employing EW is coordinating the strikers with the EW aircraft. You want to keep them in alignment, and you want to take the jammer in far enough that it's effective but not so close that it's vulnerable. There's also such a thing as sidelobe jamming, so maybe you don't need to be in alignment. Of course with AESA/PESA radars there's less in the side lobe department, so that might not be the way to go. It all just depends. There's lots and lots of variables, and every case needs to be looked at as a different problem. Part of being a good tactician is understanding and balancing all the different variables to ensure mission success within a certain specified acceptable level of risk. Each platform has its job to play, and the mission commander (MC) is the conductor of an orchestra of different flights, each with their own targets and roles. The whole thing needs to be timed and spaced very accurately to ensure maximum effectiveness.

quote:


Regarding the cost, from the outside looking in, it appears that someone got a huge contract to build this plane that needs other planes to do some of its work for it. They certainly didn't stick around very long before being moth-balled.

Do you believe that the F-117 program was a waste of money?


No, I don't. Because if you'd given other aircraft the same job, it'd likely have been at enormous cost, assuming they could do it at all. All of air war is a team sport. There are no lone wolves out there.

It paved the way for future LO/VLO programs (e.g. B-2, F-35, F-22, JASSM, etc. ) and demonstrated the feasibility of a new technology. I actually think the biggest reason for the F-117s retirement was that it was shot down once. Regardless of why that happened, the wreck of that aircraft is now sitting in a museum in Serbia, displayed prominently. Someday I'd like to take a look at it. It has almost certainly been subject to exploitation by bad actors, which means that if the first shoot down was lucky, any subsequent shoot downs are less likely going to be about luck and more about being good.

quote:


On a side note, and I brought this up to Kushan the other day as he was playing El Dorado Canyon, don't you think that the F-111 was merely used on the attack on Benghazi in 1986 because it hadn't seen any action as of yet. It seemed to me that rather than make three refueling stops along the way with the F-111s, they could have just used two waves of A-6s from the two carriers. The A-6s carry more ordinance anyway.

It seems similar to the F-117. Neither it, or the F-111 ever really seemed like they delivered that much bang for the buck.

It's just an observation.


F-111s had plenty of action! They'd been in use since the Vietnam War and the Linebacker campaigns. They're great aircraft! In El Dorado Canyon the A-6s were tasked with other targets. The original plan wasn't to have to go around France and Spain, but unfortunately due to diplomatic issues they had to take the long way around. If other countries won't give you the overflight rights, it makes things more complicated. F-111s struck many targets through the first Gulf War as well. They were awesome.

Navy tactics and Air Force tactics are often very different. For the Air Force, the heavy hitters are bombers, that means B-1, B-52, and B-2. They can go lighter, but that's more of a surgical strike role, or a supporting strike. That means their requirements are different. Remember, this is a team sport, not everyone needs to be the quarter back. You need offensive linemen, kickers, defensive teams, and special teams as well. The Navy, on the other hand, uses tactical aircraft very much the same way they used cannons on battleships. To the Navy, strike aircraft are their big guns. For them, a carrier air wing is an integrated strike force of complimentary capabilities. While they can integrate with the Air Force, they really are intended to operate in support of a naval task force. Since they have no bombers, the A-6 filled that role. The Air Force, on the other hand, is structured to do multiple missions simultaneously. They bring bulk to the fight. On the one hand, they can act in support of a naval task force, or a ground offensive, they're also capable of conducting an independent air campaign, which is a little different focus from the Navy.

In the end it's all one fight one team.

(Go Air Force! Beat Navy!) ;-)

< Message edited by SeaQueen -- 2/14/2021 8:27:58 PM >

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RE: An article on the F-117 being shot down over Serbia - 2/14/2021 8:11:27 PM   
DWReese

 

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Thanks again for your expert analysis.

I will play around wit it some.

The distance on these jammer seems to vary quite a bit. You have to bounce back and forth in the Editor to see what detects it, when, and how. The distances don't ever seem to be the same. I suppose that actual pilots practice this quite a bit, but for game players like us, it's more about trial and error. They are tricky little devils.

Doug

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RE: An article on the F-117 being shot down over Serbia - 2/14/2021 8:21:39 PM   
SeaQueen


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quote:

ORIGINAL: DWReese
The distance on these jammer seems to vary quite a bit.


Absolutely. The distance you put a jammer when you're supporting a Gray Eagle is probably different from where you put it supporting an F-117 and is probably different from where you'd put it supporting Vipers, Harriers, Intruders or Strike Eagles. Being in alignment, and also having a radar line of sight matters a lot. This is one case where it makes a lot of sense to micromanage your aircraft in order to make sure they are where they need to be. Different generations of platforms are a big driver too, so if there's a mix of older equipment and newer equipment, then the older stuff might be affected where the newer stuff won't be.

One solution I've found is to spread the jammers out so that the strikers can approach from multiple axis without getting outside of the jamming beams.

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RE: An article on the F-117 being shot down over Serbia - 2/14/2021 10:56:20 PM   
DWReese

 

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If you try to set it up for the AI side you will pull your hair out. You can tie it to the strike as an escort, but that doesn't always work. You can send it on its own mission, but that requires knowing precisely when the strikers are going to take off. Plus, at some point, the strikers will go into attack profile, and the jammer has a hard time keeping up. It takes a lot of patience to properly set up an AI jammer on a strike mission.

Doug

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RE: An article on the F-117 being shot down over Serbia - 2/14/2021 11:33:42 PM   
SeaQueen


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On the AI side, the easiest thing to do is use LUA to make the necessary calculations so that everything arrives in the right order at the right place in order to achieve maximum effect. That's what I do. My scenarios tend to include a ton of LUA that just does things like setting mission start times and time triggers so that it all happens in the right order. It's complicated.

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RE: An article on the F-117 being shot down over Serbia - 2/15/2021 12:18:44 AM   
DWReese

 

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Well, that's where my journey ends.

Lua is not contained in my playbook. <lol> Other than the simplest of code, I'm completely Lua-deaf.

Thanks for the tips, though.

Doug

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RE: An article on the F-117 being shot down over Serbia - 2/15/2021 1:22:50 PM   
BDukes

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: DWReese

Well, that's where my journey ends.

Lua is not contained in my playbook. <lol> Other than the simplest of code, I'm completely Lua-deaf.

Thanks for the tips, though.

Doug


Doug Lua can't write good stories and drive player narratives but it's a useful tool to make things happen. Think about what you want to do and start tinkering with it. There are a couple of really good people on this forum (Knighthawk, Kushan, MichaelAU just to name a couple off the top of my head) who do help new players navigate it and produce help videos and things like that.

Mike

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RE: An article on the F-117 being shot down over Serbia - 2/15/2021 1:42:38 PM   
BDukes

 

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Thinking more about the F-117 thing and the info known.

Ok, many designers (Kushan) have been doing LUA work on the AI of SAM sites. There are some good ideas there. Doug, I know you're a regular on the streams, so you see it.

Serbs were really good at surviving the SEAD campaign. If you dig into this, you find that they were technically savvy (electrical engineers!), learned from the GW/Libya, and had a lot of help from their intelligence folks. My impression is that they generally knew when NATO aircraft would take off and used SIGINT/COMINT to hash out NATO flight plans, which gave them a good time frame of when to start behaving in certain ways with their systems. They also used emission target decoys, and things like that seemed to help from the BDA photos. Some of this logic is probably is doable in CMO using LUA from initiating behaviors on detection to building logic behind when to illuminate and that sort of things. Kushan's Libya video has a lot of good examples, I think.

Fast forward to now. Not sure how effective their methods would be now due to drones and a much faster kill chain. Complicated stuff!

Dating myself but anybody remember the Harpoon years forum poster (assumably Serbian) that repeatedly claimed to have shot down a AH-64 with his AK.Pretty sure even his icon has an Apache in crosshairs.. Point being, be careful to source what you find online too. Not saying he didn't do it but ya know.

Mike

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RE: An article on the F-117 being shot down over Serbia - 2/15/2021 4:52:21 PM   
DWReese

 

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As Dirty Harry (Clint Eastwood) repeatedly says in "magnum Force", "A man's got to know his limitations." <G>

Actually, Mike, all of those mentioned have helped me in the past. All are great, and all have spent time trying to get me to be able to get the scenario to do what I want it to do. It just doesn't work, so I have all but given up, except for super easy stuff. Good scenarios can still be made, and played without Lua. So, I'll stay outside of Lua coding for now before I wear out the patience of all of my CMO friend. <lol>

Thanks for trying.

Doug

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RE: An article on the F-117 being shot down over Serbia - 2/15/2021 8:26:28 PM   
BDukes

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: DWReese

As Dirty Harry (Clint Eastwood) repeatedly says in "magnum Force", "A man's got to know his limitations." <G>


Yeah got a life lesson myself on that not too long ago

quote:

Actually, Mike, all of those mentioned have helped me in the past. All are great, and all have spent time trying to get me to be able to get the scenario to do what I want it to do. It just doesn't work, so I have all but given up, except for super easy stuff. Good scenarios can still be made, and played without Lua. So, I'll stay outside of Lua coding for now before I wear out the patience of all of my CMO friend. <lol>

Thanks for trying.

Doug


Great! Yeah, probably the best approach.

Mike

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RE: An article on the F-117 being shot down over Serbia - 2/15/2021 11:56:50 PM   
SeaQueen


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I don't believe in driving player narratives or writing good stories. If you need to drive the player's narrative you probably didn't think of an interesting problem for them to solve. Wargames are a scenario, not a story. The story is what you tell your friends over drinks when you're done.

I use LUA for doing stuff that ordinarily I'd do manually, especially on the computer controlled side. For example, making radars blink according to some schedule, or making mobile SAMs relocate. I've also experimented with using LUA for "Yo Yo"-ing aircraft on the tanker and while it can be done, I don't think it's the best use of the software. I use it for backwards planning time-on-targets and for a little better control of ballistic and cruise missile launches than missions seem to allow for.

I also use LUA for making better victory conditions. I like being able to trap things like busting the acceptable level of risk in LUA. I've found it allows for a lot of nuance with that. One of my pet peeves is when the scenario's "win/lose" decisions are basically just a weighted exchange ratio. With LUA it's a lot easier to make something more meaningful.

< Message edited by SeaQueen -- 2/15/2021 11:58:26 PM >

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RE: An article on the F-117 being shot down over Serbia - 2/16/2021 3:01:17 AM   
BDukes

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: SeaQueen

I don't believe in driving player narratives or writing good stories. If you need to drive the player's narrative you probably didn't think of an interesting problem for them to solve. Wargames are a scenario, not a story. The story is what you tell your friends over drinks when you're done.


Seems like our goals and focus are different but that's ok. I liked the scenario you posted at some point

quote:

I use LUA for doing stuff that ordinarily I'd do manually, especially on the computer controlled side. For example, making radars blink according to some schedule, or making mobile SAMs relocate. I've also experimented with using LUA for "Yo Yo"-ing aircraft on the tanker and while it can be done, I don't think it's the best use of the software. I use it for backwards planning time-on-targets and for a little better control of ballistic and cruise missile launches than missions seem to allow for.

I also use LUA for making better victory conditions. I like being able to trap things like busting the acceptable level of risk in LUA. I've found it allows for a lot of nuance with that. One of my pet peeves is when the scenario's "win/lose" decisions are basically just a weighted exchange ratio. With LUA it's a lot easier to make something more meaningful.


We're not that far apart on how we use it. I'm still working on better detection based routines.

I supported and still support Lua in CMO but my only gripe is it requires a commitment to learning Lua code from people who may not have ever coded before, don't have much time to learn and play but have very good scenario development skills. It's a tough problem to solve but people here been helping out and it shows. The smartest and funnest scenarios I've seen with CMO are some of Bart and Kushan's where they have the Lua programming plus the ability to tell a story.

Mike

< Message edited by BDukes -- 2/16/2021 3:03:14 AM >

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RE: An article on the F-117 being shot down over Serbia - 2/16/2021 7:50:11 PM   
tylerblakebrandon

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: CV60

I just noticed that this article is posted in "Maternity Week". I'm not quite sure what to make of that, but it is funny.


Rather interesting they would have a military history subsection.

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RE: An article on the F-117 being shot down over Serbia - 2/16/2021 7:56:37 PM   
tylerblakebrandon

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: DWReese


On a side note, and I brought this up to Kushan the other day as he was playing El Dorado Canyon, don't you think that the F-111 was merely used on the attack on Benghazi in 1986 because it hadn't seen any action as of yet.


F-111's saw action in Vietnam. The improvements introduced on the C models were a result of that combat experience with the A models.

Edit: Gosh I should have read further....

< Message edited by tylerblakebrandon -- 2/16/2021 8:05:07 PM >

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