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Mach-bustin’ Monday – Phabulous Phantoms Phorever – UPDATED! February 2, 2016

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, awesomeness, Flightline Friday, fun, history, non squitur, silliness, technology.

Eh…….lame.  Gotta think of a new name for relocated Flightline Friday’s.  Back in the 1990s, the Nevada Air National Guard 192nd Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (TRS) was one of the last Phantom operators in US service. In fact, they were the dead last to fly the RF-4C recon variant, right up until October 1995.  Only the F-4G defense suppression variant lasted longer in the Guard, and that only until the next year.

You don’t see flying like this in the Air Force much anymore.  You will see Phantoms at 20 feet off the deck, you will hear the sound barrier broken (twice), and you will see aircraft do tail stands over lakes, kicking up a huge amount of spray. This is the Air Force I loved and wanted so much to be a part of, but it hardly exists anymore, even in the Guard (which has always been a bit wilder and a bit less straight laced than the active duty and Air Force Reserve).

I don’t know anything about the guy who posted the videos, only that he had a close association with the 192nd TRS and may have been a pilot himself.  He posted some movies with lame-o music, but the ones I chose all have the beautiful sound of two roaring General Electric J79-GE-8 engines:

The Phantoms of the 192 TRS (and Alabama ANG, and active duty Phantoms out of Bergstrom) served in Desert Storm.  They joined F-4Gs out of George and Spangdahlem as the only Phantoms in the Gulf War (though Pave Tack equipped F-4Es of the 4th TFW at Seymour Johnson only missed the conflict by one day).

Mostly just taxi and takeoff in that one, BUT you do get to see up close the Sidewinder rails added to only the recce Phantoms that served in the Gulf War.  Reconnaissance aircraft always operated by the motto “Alone, Unarmed, and Scared Shitless Unafraid,” until someone figured out that was kind of dumb and why not hang a couple missiles for self defense.

Phantoms in the Gulf.  BA tail code means the former Bergstrom AFB near Austin.  Those jets caused me many a hangover with their 6 am wakeup calls on Saturday morning flying right over my apartment.  SH is really a cheeky tailcode.  That’s the Reno “High Rollers” of the 192nd.  “SH” in military parlance, derivating from the Vietnam era, meaning Sierra Hotel in the phonetic alphabet, or, more accurately, “Shit Hot.”  Meaning a truly excellent job.  I can’t believe they got away with that code on all their jets, because everyone knew what it meant.  Also see ALQ-119 ECM pods on some of the jets.

Some more low flying, often 100 ft or less.

One more video.  Red Flag 16-1 started just a few days ago.  This is the ultimate, most realistic air combat exercise in the world.  Featuring mixed forces of fighters, bombers, tankers, cargo aircraft, Brits, Israeli’s, Aussies, Germans, etc, (depending on the event), it is often viewed as more challenging than  much of the combat flying that has occurred over the empty, undefended deserts of the last 15  years.

Night launch:

I note that E-3 Sentry “AWACS” now have ESM pods on the wing tips, and they finally got the new engines.  For crying out loud.

Bones in full ‘burner.  Raptors venting and actuating.  Electroluminescent tape formation lights glowing an otherworldly green. Typhoon. Aggressor F-16s.  Las Vegas glowing like a barking carnival in the background.  What’s not to like?!?

It is scuttlebutted about that the French are barred from Red Flag for an indeterminate length of time.  The reason: they have behaved like jerks.  Red Flag is supposed to be a “bring your best, let it all hang out” kind of exercise.  Things like radar, ECM gear, ESM, and weapons operate in war reserve mode, meaning their best, fullest capabilities.  The informal rules are, everyone brings their best, does their best, and learns a great deal along the way.

But the French weren’t playing along.  They kept operating in limited training mode, not using WRM on their radars and other kit, but using advanced ESM (electronic support measures or electronic signals monitoring) to soak up everyone else’s emissions, the better to devise countermeasures against them, and thus make their aircraft – the Dassault Rafale – more saleable.  They did this once, got stern looks, twice, got warned, and three times, got kicked out.

Or such is what I hear.  This is not the kind of thing that gets published.


Update: OK, so I stumbled on this TERRIBLE 1981 made-for-TV movie called Red Flag: The Ultimate Game. It is filled with awful acting and even worse sappy melodrama, BUT, it has some great footage of F-4s and F-5s going at it at Nellis back in the early 80s.  Even more, it shows what was then totally state of the art air combat maneuvering instrumentation systems (basically, video screens displaying and recording the progress of each aircraft’s mission in the Nellis range, from takeoff to landing, including air combat, “kills,” and all the rest). They also get the O’ club and general fighter pilot camaraderie of that time fairly well (but I guess Jeremiah Weed, crud, and dead bug hadn’t been invented yet, or didn’t make the cut). The movie itself is trash, but some of the footage is awesome! (CONTENT WARNING FOR FREQUENT IMMODEST DRESS AND IMMORAL DEPICTIONS OF MARITAL BEHAVIOR):

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