F-16 Dodging 6 Iraqi SAM launches [Video]

It’s not often that hear about US Fighter Jets shot down during battle, most of the time it’s going to be a helicopter because of their horrible maneuverability, or enemy jets that get shot down as they are entering friendly territories, but this doesn’t mean it never happens. In 1990, a group of F-16C’s were heading out on a mission to destroy Iraqi refineries. On the way to the refinery, the group was detected by SAM Sites (Surface to Air Missile sites) and several missiles were shot towards their direction. Some missiles had tracking capabilities, others were direct shoot missiles, and even thought a couple of planes were shot down, the mission continued to be a success.

The video above comes from the cockpit of ET -one of the planes that managed to avoid getting hit by six SAM Missiles. According to the “Lucky Devils“ –  this incident took place on the third day of the mission, you can read the full statement there but here is what happened:

As the Group of F-16’s were flying towards the refinery, Multiple SAMs were launched at the package (the group of F-16’s), some ballistic and unguided and some tracking with a full system lock-on. In spite of this, some members of the package refused to jettison their bombs until clear of the city to avoid possible damage to civilian non-combatants.

ET The pilot in the video above, became separated from the package because of his missile defensive break turns. As he defeats the missiles coming off the target, additional missiles are fired, this time, from either side of the rear quadrants of his aircraft. Training for SAM launches up to this point had been more or less book learning, recommending a pull to an orthogonal flight path 4 seconds prior to missile impact to overshoot the missile and create sufficient miss distance to negate the effects of the detonating warhead. Well, it works. The hard part though, is to see the missile early enough to make all the mental calculations.

The energy required to execute these missile break turns forced Maj. Tullia’s jet to descend to 10,000ft (3,050ml, which put him in the heart of the AAA envelope. The only answer in this case was to select afterburner in order to increase airspeed and climb. However, being extremely low on fuel, and 700 nautical miles from home, afterburner must be used very judiciously. Before sufficient airspeed is increased, however, ET is faced with another multiple missile launch. In this case two separate SA-6 missile sites launch at his jet while he is climbing out of the AAA envelope. By continuing to unload his aircraft, ET watches the missiles as they close on his aircraft. The unloading and accelerating causes his aircraft to change its flight path, and a change in the missile flight path can be observed as well.

As the timed break turns are accomplished, one missile flies so close that ET can hear the roar of the rocket as it passes where, just a fraction of a second earlier, the right wing was. Two missiles are launched towards him from the front of his aircraft and can be easily seen on his HUD film. Finally, as he reaches the outskirts of the city an optically guided missile of unknown type is fired. There is no radar warning of the launch, but the track of the missile can easily be observed to be guiding towards his aircraft. A defensive turn overshoots the missile, and Maj. Tullia proceeds on his way, now searching for the rest of his Flight.