Gulf of Sidra incident (1981)

In the first Gulf of Sidra incident, 19 August 1981, two Russian made[1][2] Libyan Su-22 Fitter fired upon and were subsequently shot down by two U.S. F-14 Tomcats off the Libyan coast.

Gulf of Sidra incident (1981)
1981 Gulf of Sidra incident. F-14 Fast Eagle 107, from VF-41 about to shoot down a Libyan Su-22 with an AIM-9 Sidewinde

Artist's depiction of Fast Eagle 107's AIM-9 Sidewinder about to hit a Libyan Su-22
Date19 August 1981
Location
Result

Libyan victory

  • The extension of Libya's territorial water.
Belligerents
 United States  Libya
Commanders and leaders
United States Ronald Reagan Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Muammar Gaddafi
Strength
2 F-14A Tomcats
1 E-2C Hawkeye
1 aircraft carrier (Nimitz Class)
2 Su-22s
Casualties and losses
none 2 aircraft destroyed

Background

F-4J of VF-74 with Libyan MiG-23 over Gulf of Sidra 1981
A U.S. Navy McDonnell F-4J Phantom II of Fighter Squadron VF-74 "Be-Devilers" escorting a Libyan Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23 over Gulf of Sidra in August 1981.

In 1973, Libya claimed the Gulf of Sidra as a closed bay and part of its territorial waters.[3][4][5] This prompted the United States to conduct Freedom of Navigation (FON) operations in the area since the claim did not meet the criteria established by international law.[6][7] Libya often confronted U.S. forces in and near the gulf, and on two occasions its fighter jets opened fire on U.S. reconnaissance flights off the Libyan coast; once in the spring of 1973[4][8][9][10][11] and again in the fall of 1980.[3][8][12][13] FON operations intensified when Ronald Reagan came to office.

In August 1981, Reagan authoried a large naval force led by a pair of aircraft carriers, USS Forrestal and USS Nimitz, to deploy to the disputed area.[14] The two carriers had embarked a total of four interceptor squadrons: VF-74 "Be-Devilers" and VMFA-115 "Silver Eagles", flying F-4 Phantoms from Forrestal, and VF-41 "Black Aces" and VF-84 "Jolly Rogers", flying F-14 Tomcats from Nimitz. The Libyan Air Force responded by deploying a high number of interceptors and fighter-bombers. Early on the morning of 18 August, when the U.S. exercise began, at least three MiG-25 'Foxbats' approached the U.S. carrier groups, but were escorted away by American interceptors. The Libyans tried to establish the exact location of the U.S. naval force. Thirty-five pairs of MiG-23 'Floggers', MiG-25s, Sukhoi Su-20 'Fitter-Cs', Su-22M 'Fitter-Js' and Mirage F1s flew into the area, and were soon intercepted by seven pairs of F-14s and F-4s.[15][16] U.S. Naval Intelligence later assessed that a MiG-25 may have fired a missile from 18 miles away at U.S. fighter aircraft that day.[17]

Incident

Fast Eagle 102
Fast Eagle 102, one of the two F-14 Tomcats on the deck of the USS Nimitz immediately following the incident

On the morning of the 19 August, after having diverted a number of Libyan "mock" attacks on the battle group the previous day, two F-14s from VF-41 "Black Aces",[18] Fast Eagle 102 (CDR Henry 'Hank' Kleemann/LT David 'DJ' Venlet) (flying BuNo 160403)[19] and Fast Eagle 107 (LT Lawrence 'Music' Muczynski/LTJG James 'Luca'[20] Anderson) (in BuNo 160390),[19] were flying combat air patrol (CAP), ostensibly to cover aircraft engaged in a missile exercise.[21] However, U.S. Navy Commander Thompson S. Sanders wrote in Air & Space/Smithsonian that his S-3A Viking's mission was the real precursor to this incident. Sanders was ordered to fly his Viking in a racetrack orbit inside Qaddafi's claimed zone but outside the internationally recognized 12-mile territorial water limit to try to provoke the Libyans to react. An E-2C Hawkeye alerted Sanders that two Sukhoi Su-22 fighters had taken off from Ghurdabiyah Air Base near the city of Sirte.[22][23]

F14 Reagan Library
F-14 BuNo 162592, painted to depict the F-14 (BuNo 160403) flown by Kleemann and Venlet on display at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California

The Hawkeye directed the F-14s to intercept while Sanders dived to an altitude of 500 feet and flew north to evade the Libyan aircraft, an experience Sanders found stressful because the S-3A was not equipped with a threat warning receiver, nor with any countermeasures, a deficiency later remedied on the S-3B.[24]

The two F-14s set up for an intercept as the contacts headed north towards them.[22][25] Only a few seconds before the crossing, at an estimated distance of 300 m, one of the Libyans fired an AA-2 "Atoll" at one of the F-14s, which missed.[22][25] Then the two Sukhois split as they flew past the Americans; the leader turning to the northwest and the wingman turning southeast in the direction of the Libyan coast.[21][22][26] The Tomcats evaded the missile and were cleared to return fire by their rules of engagement, which mandated self-defense on the initiation of hostile action.[22][27] The Tomcats turned hard port and came behind the Libyan jets.[22] The Americans fired AIM-9L Sidewinders; the first kill is credited to Fast Eagle 102, the second to Fast Eagle 107.[22][28] Both Libyan pilots ejected.

Prior to the ejections, a U.S. electronic surveillance plane monitoring the event recorded the lead Libyan pilot report to his ground controller that he had fired a missile at one of the U.S. fighters and gave no indication that the missile shot was unintended.[29][30] The official U.S. Navy report states that both Libyan pilots ejected and were safely recovered, but in the official audio recording of the incident taken from USS Biddle, one of the F-14 pilots states that he saw a Libyan pilot eject, but his parachute failed to open.[31]

Less than an hour later, while the Libyans were conducting a search-and-rescue operation of their downed pilots, two MiG-25s entered the airspace over the Gulf and headed towards the U.S. carriers at Mach 1.5 and conducted a mock attack in the direction of USS Nimitz.[32] Two VF-41 Tomcats headed towards the Libyans, which then turned around. The Tomcats turned home, but had to turn around again when the Libyans headed towards the U.S. carriers once more.[32] After being tracked by the F-14s' radars, the MiGs finally headed home. One more Libyan formation ventured out into the Gulf towards the U.S. forces later that day.[33] Fast Eagle 102 (BuNo 160403) is now on display at the Commemorative Air Force Museum in Midland, Texas. The restored F-14 was unveiled in a ceremony on August 26, 2016. Vice Admiral Dave Venlet cut the first tape. Fast Eagle 107 (BuNo 160390) was destroyed in an accident on 25 October 1994.

See also

References

Citations

  1. ^ https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/russia/su-17.htm
  2. ^ https://www.militaryfactory.com/aircraft/detail.asp?aircraft_id=192
  3. ^ a b "Congressional Research Service Issue Brief for Congress: Libya". (2002, April 10). Foreign Press Centers, U.S. Department of State, Retrieved 20 January 2012.
  4. ^ a b St John, Ronald Bruce. (2002). Libya and the United States: Two Centuries of Strife. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 125. ISBN 0-8122-3672-6.
  5. ^ Davis, Brian L. (1990). Qaddafi, Terrorism, and the Origins of the U.S. Attack on Libya. Praeger Publishers. p. 14. ISBN 0-275-93302-4.
  6. ^ Lehman, John F. (2001) [1988]. Command of the Seas. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. p. 351. ISBN 978-1557505347.
  7. ^ Stanik, Joseph T. (2003). El Dorado Canyon: Reagan’s Undeclared War with Qaddafi. Naval Institute Press. p. 29. ISBN 978-1-55750-983-3.
  8. ^ a b Davis, Brian L. (1990). Qaddafi, Terrorism, and the Origins of the U.S. Attack on Libya. Praeger Publishers. p. 47. ISBN 0-275-93302-4.
  9. ^ Stanik, Joseph T. (2003). El Dorado Canyon: Reagan’s Undeclared War with Qaddafi. Naval Institute Press. p. 27. ISBN 978-1-55750-983-3.
  10. ^ Beecher, William. (1973, March 23). "U.S. Asserts Plane Fled Libyan Jets: 'Eavesdropping' Transport Ignored Arabs' Signal to Land, Officials Say". The New York Times.
  11. ^ Finney, John W. (1973, March 25). "Trouble Again Over The 'Elint'". The New York Times.
  12. ^ Martin, David C. and John Walcott. (1988). Best Laid Plans: The Inside Story of America’s War Against Terrorism. Harper and Row, Publishers Inc. p. 68 ISBN 0-06-015877-8.
  13. ^ Stanik, Joseph T. (2003). El Dorado Canyon: Reagan’s Undeclared War with Qaddafi. Naval Institute Press. p. 30. ISBN 978-1-55750-983-3.
  14. ^ Stanik, Joseph T. (2003). El Dorado Canyon: Reagan’s Undeclared War with Qaddafi. Naval Institute Press. p. 49. ISBN 978-1-55750-983-3.
  15. ^ Wilcox, Robert K. (1996). Wings of Fury: From Vietnam to the Gulf War – The Astonishing True Stories of America’s Elite Fighter Pilots. Pocket Books. p. 10. ISBN 0-671-74793-2.
  16. ^ Stanik, Joseph T. (2003). El Dorado Canyon: Reagan’s Undeclared War with Qaddafi. Naval Institute Press. p. 50. ISBN 978-1-55750-983-3.
  17. ^ Wilcox, Robert K. (1996). Wings of Fury: From Vietnam to the Gulf War – The Astonishing True Stories of America’s Elite Fighter Pilots. Pocket Books. pp. 10–11. ISBN 0-671-74793-2.
  18. ^ Brown, Craig. (2007). Debrief: A Complete History of U.S. Aerial Engagements 1981 to the Present. Schiffer Military History. pp. 13–14. ISBN 978-0-7643-2785-8.
  19. ^ a b Brown, David F. (1998). Tomcat Alley: A Photographic Roll Call of the Grumman F-14 Tomcat”'. Schiffer Military History. pp. 99, 104. ISBN 0-7643-0477-1.
  20. ^ Signed Lithograph while in VF-41 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-WpYnlo5Hk)
  21. ^ a b Wilcox, Robert K. (1996). Wings of Fury: From Vietnam to the Gulf War – The Astonishing True Stories of America’s Elite Fighter Pilots. Pocket Books. pp. 68–69. ISBN 0-671-74793-2.
  22. ^ a b c d e f g Brown, Craig (2007). Debrief: A Complete History of U.S. Aerial Engagements 1981 to the Present. Schiffer Military History. p. 15. ISBN 978-0-7643-2785-8.
  23. ^ Stanik, Joseph T. (2003). El Dorado Canyon: Reagan’s Undeclared War with Gaddafi. Naval Institute Press. p. 52. ISBN 978-1-55750-983-3.
  24. ^ Sanders, Thompson, Bait and switch, Air & Space, June/July 2012, pp. 18–19
  25. ^ a b Martin, David C. and John Walcott. (1988). Best Laid Plans: The Inside Story of America’s War Against Terrorism. Harper and Row, Publishers Inc. p. 69 ISBN 0-06-015877-8.
  26. ^ Martin, David C. and John Walcott. (1988). Best Laid Plans: The Inside Story of America’s War Against Terrorism. Harper and Row, Publishers Inc. p. 71 ISBN 0-06-015877-8.
  27. ^ Kimmitt, Robert M. (2006, August 20). "Reagan and Gadhafi". The Washington Times, Retrieved 20 January 2012.
  28. ^ Stanik, Joseph T. (2003). El Dorado Canyon: Reagan’s Undeclared War with Qaddafi. Naval Institute Press. pp. 54–55. ISBN 978-1-55750-983-3.
  29. ^ Martin, David C. and John Walcott. (1988). Best Laid Plans: The Inside Story of America’s War Against Terrorism. Harper and Row, Publishers Inc. p. 72 ISBN 0-06-015877-8.
  30. ^ Stanik, Joseph T. (2003). El Dorado Canyon: Reagan’s Undeclared War with Qaddafi. Naval Institute Press. pp. 54, 56. ISBN 978-1-55750-983-3.
  31. ^ "USS Biddle Ship's History 1967–1993 (Audio recording from the dogfight and a short text transcript)". United States Navy. 1981-08-18. Archived from the original on February 12, 2006.
  32. ^ a b Wilcox, Robert K. (1996). Wings of Fury: From Vietnam to the Gulf War – The Astonishing True Stories of America’s Elite Fighter Pilots. Pocket Books. pp. 26–28. ISBN 0-671-74793-2.
  33. ^ Libyan Wars, 1980–1989, Part 2 By Tom Cooper Archived August 23, 2006, at the Wayback Machine

External links

1981 in the United States

Events from the year 1981 in the United States.

1986 United States bombing of Libya

The 1986 United States bombing of Libya, code-named Operation El Dorado Canyon, comprised air strikes by the United States against Libya on Tuesday, the 15 April 1986. The attack was carried out by the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps via air strikes, in retaliation for the 1986 West Berlin discotheque bombing. There were 40 reported Libyan casualties, and one U.S. plane was shot down. One of the claimed Libyan deaths was of a baby girl, reported to be Muammar Gaddafi's daughter, Hana Gaddafi. However, there were doubts as to whether she was really killed, or whether she really even existed.

1986 West Berlin discotheque bombing

On 5 April 1986, 3 people were killed and 229 injured when La Belle discothèque was bombed in the Friedenau district of West Berlin. The entertainment venue was commonly frequented by United States soldiers, and two of the dead and 79 of the injured were Americans.A bomb placed under a table near the disc jockey's booth exploded at 01:45 CET, instantly killing Nermin Hannay, a Turkish woman, and US Army sergeant Kenneth T. Ford. A second US Army sergeant, James E. Goins, died from his injuries two months later. Some of the victims were left permanently disabled due to the injuries caused by the explosion.Libya was accused by the US government of sponsoring the bombing, and US President Ronald Reagan ordered retaliatory strikes on Tripoli and Benghazi in Libya ten days later. The operation was widely seen as an attempt to kill Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. A 2001 trial in the US found that the bombing had been "planned by the Libyan secret service and the Libyan Embassy".

1989 air battle near Tobruk

On the 4 January 1989, two United States Navy F-14 Tomcats shot down two Soviet-manufactured Libyan MiG-23 Floggers which the Americans believed were attempting to engage them, as had happened eight years prior during the Gulf of Sidra incident, in 1981. The engagement took place over the Mediterranean Sea about 40 miles (64 km) north of Tobruk, Libya.

Battle of Sirte

Battle of Sirte may refer to military events, either in the Gulf of Sidra or in the Libyan city of Sirte located on its shore.

during the Battle of the Mediterranean of World War II:

First Battle of Sirte, fought on 17 December 1941

Second Battle of Sirte, fought on 22 March 1942

as part of Libya–United States relations during Cold War

Gulf of Sidra incident (1981)

Gulf of Sidra incident (1989)

during Libyan Civil War of 2011 (fall of Muammar Gaddafi)

Second Gulf of Sidra offensive, fought from 22 August to 20 October 2011 during the Libyan civil war

Battle of Sirte (2011), fought from 15 September to 20 October 2011 during the Libyan civil war

during Second Libyan Civil War

Battle of Sirte (2015), fall of Sirte on ISIL

Battle of Sirte (2016), Government of National Accord effort to liberate Sirte from ISIL

Gulf of Sidra incident

Gulf of Sidra incident or Gulf of Sidra incidents may refer to:

Gulf of Sidra incident (1981), US-Libyan air engagement over territorial claim, two Libyan jets shot down by F-14 Tomcats from USS Nimitz

Gulf of Sidra incident (1989), US-Libyan air engagement over territorial claim, two Libyan jets shot down by F-14 Tomcats from USS John F. Kennedy

James E. Service

James Edward Service (January 20, 1931 – February 10, 2017) was a vice admiral of the United States Navy active during much of the Cold War. A naval aviator, he flew combat missions in the Korean War and Vietnam War, commanded aviation units and various ships including aircraft carriers, served as a test pilot, and was President of the Naval War College.

Libyan Air Force

The Libyan Air Force (Arabic: القوات الجوية الليبية‎) is the branch of the Libyan military responsible for aerial warfare. In 2010, before the Libyan Civil War, the Libyan Air Force personnel strength was estimated at 18,000, with an inventory of 374 combat capable aircraft operating from 13 military airbases in Libya. Since the 2011 civil war and the ongoing conflict, multiple factions fighting in Libya are in possession of military aircraft. As of 2019 the Libyan Air Force is nominally under the control of the internationally recognised Government of National Accord in Tripoli, though the rival Libyan National Army of Marshal Khalifa Haftar also has a significant air force.

The air force was first established as the Royal Libyan Air Force (Al Quwwat al Jawwiya al Malakiya al Libiyya) in September 1962 by a decision of the minister of defense Younis Bel Khayer, Lt. Col. Salim al-Hsoumi and Lt. Col. Mohamed Shennib were assigned to lead the new force. It was originally equipped with a small number of transports and trainers: Douglas C-47s and Lockheed T-33s. However, F-5 Freedom Fighters were delivered from 1967. In 1970 it changed its name to the Libyan Arab Republic Air Force. After U.S. forces left Libya in 1970, Wheelus Air Base, a previous U.S. facility about 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) from Tripoli, became a LAR Air Force installation and was renamed Okba Ben Nafi Air Base. The base housed the LARAF's headquarters and a large share of its major training facilities. From 1970 a significant expansion of the air force took place, with a large number of Soviet and some French combat aircraft being purchased.

List of aircraft shootdowns

This is a list of aircraft shootdowns, dogfights and other incidents during wars since World War II.

Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25

The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 (Russian: Микоян и Гуревич МиГ-25; NATO reporting name: Foxbat) is a supersonic interceptor and reconnaissance aircraft that was among the fastest military aircraft to enter service. It was designed by the Soviet Union's Mikoyan-Gurevich bureau and is one of the few combat aircraft built primarily using stainless steel. It was the last plane designed by Mikhail Gurevich before his retirement.The first prototype flew in 1964, and the aircraft entered service in 1970. It has an operational top speed of Mach 2.83 (Mach 3.2 is possible but at risk of significant damage to the engines) and features a powerful radar and four air-to-air missiles. When first seen in reconnaissance photography, the large wing suggested an enormous and highly maneuverable fighter, at a time when U.S. design theories were also evolving towards higher maneuverability due to combat performance in the Vietnam War. The appearance of the MiG-25 sparked serious concern in the West and prompted dramatic increases in performance for the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle then under development in the late 1960s. The capabilities of the MiG-25 were better understood in 1976 when Soviet pilot Viktor Belenko defected in a MiG-25 to the United States via Japan. It turned out that the aircraft's weight necessitated its large wings.

Production of the MiG-25 series ended in 1984 after completion of 1,186 aircraft. A symbol of the Cold War, the MiG-25 flew with Soviet allies and former Soviet republics, remaining in limited service in several export customers. It is one of the highest-flying military aircraft, one of the fastest serially produced interceptor aircraft, and the second-fastest serially produced aircraft after the SR-71 reconnaissance aircraft that was built in very small series compared to the MiG-25. As of 2018, the MiG-25 remains the fastest manned serially produced aircraft in operational use and the fastest plane that was offered for supersonic flights and edge-of-space flights to civilian customers.

Pan Am Flight 103

Pan Am Flight 103 was a regularly scheduled Pan Am transatlantic flight from Frankfurt to Detroit via London and New York. On 21 December 1988, N739PA, the aircraft operating the transatlantic leg of the route was destroyed by a bomb, killing all 243 passengers and 16 crew – a disaster known as the Lockerbie bombing. Large sections of the aircraft crashed onto residential areas of Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 11 people on the ground. With a total of 270 people killed, it was the deadliest terror attack in the history of the United Kingdom.

Following a three-year joint investigation by Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), arrest warrants were issued for two Libyan nationals in November 1991. In 1999, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi handed over the two men for trial at Camp Zeist, Netherlands, after protracted negotiations and UN sanctions. In 2001, Libyan intelligence officer Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was jailed for life after being found guilty of 270 counts of murder in connection with the bombing. In August 2009, he was released by the Scottish Government on compassionate grounds after being diagnosed with prostate cancer. He died in May 2012 as the only person to be convicted for the attack.

In 2003, Gaddafi accepted responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing and paid compensation to the families of the victims, although he maintained that he had never given the order for the attack. Acceptance of responsibility was part of a series of requirements laid out by a UN resolution in order for sanctions against Libya to be lifted. Libya said it had to accept responsibility because a Libyan agent, Abdelbaset Ali Mohammed al-Megrahi, convicted in 2000 of planting the bomb, was a government employee.During the Libyan Civil War in 2011, former Minister of Justice Mustafa Abdul Jalil claimed that the Libyan leader had personally ordered the bombing, though this was later denied.Investigators have long believed that Abdelbaset al-Megrahi did not act alone and have been reported as questioning retired Stasi agents about their possible role in the attack.

Some critics of Megrahi’s prosecution believe that the Lockerbie bombing was carried out by Palestinian terrorists on behalf of Iran, in retaliation for the US downing of an Iranian passenger jet in 1988. Some relatives of the dead, including the Lockerbie campaigner Dr Jim Swire, believe the bomb was planted at Heathrow airport and not sent via feeder flights from Malta, as the US and UK claim. A cell belonging to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (General Command) had been operating in West Germany in the months before the Pan Am bombing.

VAW-125

Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 125 (VAW-125), known as the "Torch Bearers" or "Tigertails", was established on 1 October 1968, at Naval Air Station Norfolk. The squadron's initial supporting command was Carrier Air Wing Three (CVW-3) deploying aboard USS Saratoga.The squadron is equipped with the E-2 Hawkeye. It was the first east coast squadron with E-2B's in 1968, among the first to operate the E-2C in 1975, receiving the E-2C 2000 in its first operational year in 2003, and the first unit to operate the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye in 2014.

VFA-41

Strike Fighter Squadron 41 (VFA-41) also known as the "Black Aces", is a United States Navy strike fighter squadron based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California, flying the F/A-18F Super Hornet. They are attached to Carrier Air Wing 9 (CVW-9). Their radio callsign is "Fast Eagle" and their tailcode is NG.

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