Friday, January 27, 2012

Slash Two

Me Wearing My Dress Uniform

First News Release By The Defense Department

This is the official letter entered into my military service record

U.S. LETTER, JAN. 4, 1989

In accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, and as discussed earlier today with you and the Secretary-General, I wish, on behalf of my Government, to report that United States forces have exercised their inherent right of self-defense under international law by taking defensive action in response to hostile actions constituting an armed attack by the military forces of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya against United States forces lawfully operating above international waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

The incident took place at 5:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (1000 GMT) on January 4, 1989, more than 40 miles off the coast of Libya, northeast of Darnah between Benghazi and the Libyan-Egyptian border United States aircraft were participating in a routine peaceful naval training operation over international waters in the Mediterranean Sea when two Libyan aircraft without provocation approached them in a hostile manner After repeatedly attempting to disengage by taking evasive measures, the American aircraft, acting in self-defense, fired upon and shot down the two Libyan aircraft.

 E-2C Hawkeye
This was part 2 of the Gulf of Sidra incident which occurred On the morning of  Wednesday January 4, 1989, while stationed aboard the USS Kennedy operating some 130 km north of Libya, with a group of A-6 Intruders on exercise south of Crete, escorted by two pairs of  F-14As from VF-14 and VF-32, and as well as an E-2C from VAW-126, when I shot down two Libyan MiG-23 Floggers that gave all appearances of attempting to engage us, as had happened eight years prior in the first Gulf of Sidra incident 1981.
A-6 Intruder

Later that morning the southernmost Combat Air Patrol station was taken by two F-14s from VF-32, (CDR. Joseph Bernard Connelly/CDR. Leo F. Enwright in BuNo 159610, 'AC207') and (LT. Bobby L. Greer Jr./LCDR. Steven Patrick Collins in BuNo 159437, 'AC202'). I was the junior officer on this mission.

We had been specially briefed for this mission due to the high tensions regarding the Carrier Group's presence; the pilots were advised to expect some kind of hostilities.
MiG-23 Floggers

At 11:50 hrs, after some time on patrol, the E-2 informed us that four Libyan MiG-23s had taken off from Al Bumbaw airfield, near Tobruk. We turned towards the first two MiG-23s some 50 km ahead of the second pair and acquired them on radar. At the time the Floggers were 72 nautical miles away at 10,000 ft and heading directly towards us and our carrier. We turned away from the head-on approach to indicate that we were not attempting to engage. The Migs changed course to intercept at a closing speed of about 870 knots (1,000 mph). We descended to 3,000 ft to give the E-2C a clear radar picture of the Floggers against the sky and leave the Floggers with sea clutter radar returns contend with. Four more times we turned away from the approaching MiGs. Each time the Libyan aircraft turned in to continue to close. At 11:59 the Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) of the lead Tomcat ordered the arming of the AIM-9 Sidewinder and AIM-7 Sparrow missiles were carrying. The E-2C had given us authority to fire if threatened; and we did not have to wait until after the Libyans opened fire, Article 51 had already given us that authority.

The video below is an animation to give you a clearer perspective of what it looked like that day and to fill in the gaps of me not turning on my FLIR camera until around four minutes into the engagement.

At almost 12:01 the lead Tomcat RIO said that "Bogeys have jinked back at me again for the fifth time. They're on my nose now, inside of 20 miles", followed shortly by "Master arm on" as he ordered arming of the weapons. At a range of 14 nmi the RIO of the lead F-14A fired the first AIM-7M Sparrow; he surprised his pilot, who did not expect to see a missile accelerate away from his Tomcat. The RIO reported "Fox 1. Fox 1." The Sparrow failed to track because of a wrong switch-setting. At 10 nmi , he launched a second Sparrow missile, but it also failed to track its target.

The Floggers accelerated and continued to approach. At 6 nmi range the I split off from the flight leader and  Floggers followed me, the wingman while the lead Tomcat circled to get a tail angle on them. I slammed my aicraft into a hard 11 G turn to port, which put me at 5 -o clock of the Floggers tail and I engaged with a Sparrow and downed one of the Libyan aircraft. I then went into an inverted 10 G dive for the sea surface and my warning radar cherps to indicate that  Mig  was now at my 3 o-clock position  and he was turning south.  I loaded  my aircraft to 12.4 G's and steered on a collision course the second Flogger, you will see the near collision as I came within 200 feet of him. I then deployed speed breaks and slowed to get a better firing angle. You will then hear my RIO say "There he is, Shot' And I respond "I don't have a fucking tone",  I turned my aicraft harder and rolled  my noes to intercept Flogger and the tone in the sidewider locked on. At 1.5 nmi I fired a Sidewinder, which hit its target. I proceeded north to return to the carrier group. The Libyan pilots were both seen to successfully eject and parachute into the sea, but the Libyan Air Force was unable to recover them.

At the request of the National Air and Space Museum, the Navy provided BuNo 159610 to its Udvar-Hazy location near Dulles International Airport. Although Tomcat BuNo 159610 downed the Libyan MiG-23 as a VF-32 F-14A model Tomcat, it returned from that deployment and was entered into the F-14D remanufacture program and served later in a precision strike role as a VF-31 F-14D(R). On September 30, 2006, it was formally unveiled to the public with now retired CAPTs Connelly and Enwright on the podium as honored guests.

As of March 2008, BuNo 159437 is still resting at the Aircraft Maintenance and Restoration Group (AMARG) facility just outside Davis-Monthan AFB. The aircraft is in poor condition (lacking a windscreen and a few other panels), but has been set aside for a future museum placement that has yet to be determined.

It is unknown why the two MiGs operated in this manner, and why the Libyans did not launch a successful rescue operation to recover the pilots. The following day, the Libyans accused the US of attacking two unarmed reconnaissance planes, but the footage, also called the gun-camera videos, showed that the Libyans had been armed with AA-7 Apex missiles. Depending on the model, this can be either a semi-active radar-homing missile or an infrared-homing (heat-seeking) missile. Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi reportedly threatened reprisal against the commanders of the NATO base at Lampedusa and the U.S. Naval Air Station at Sigonella.

In January 1986 Gaddafi proclaimed a "line of death" across the Gulf of Sidra, warning that if American ships or planes crossed that line they would be destroyed.  In March the U.S. responded with Operation Prairie Fire, consisting of 45 ships and 200 planes. 

Aircraft from the Sixth Fleet's three carriers, USS Saratoga, USS Coral Sea and USS America, made forays across the "line of death."  Then three surface vessels crossed the line, supported by planes overhead and Los Angeles-class attack submarines beneath the surface.  On Monday, March 24, the Libyans fired several SA-5 surface-to-air missiles, but none came close to hitting an American target because they were diverted by jamming devices carried by EA-6B Prowler aircraft.  Vice Admiral Frank Kelso, Sixth Fleet's commander, waited until dark to respond.  A pair of F-14's Intruders from the  USS Saratoga hit a Libyan attack boat with AIM-54 Phoenix.

 Several more Libyan vessels venturing near the fleet the following morning were struck, with one confirmed destroyed.  Reagan congratulated the airmen and sailors of the Sixth Fleet, some of whom wore "Terrorist Buster" t-shirts and buttons, for a job well done, and on Thursday, March 28, the naval "exercises" were concluded.  There were no American casualties; 56 Libyans had been killed.


  1. I'm so very very proud of you.OMG!! This is so exciting for me to see this... Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!! Trisha.. OMG!!

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.