SPANGDAHLEM’S HUNTER KILLERS

For a period in the late 1980s and early 1990s different generations of USAF fast jets worked together in the suppression of enemy air defences role. Doug Gordon examines this unusual arrangement at Spangdahlem which saw the F-16 working with the F-4G as Wild Weasel hunter/killer teams.

F-4 PHANTOM TRIBUTE

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An F-4G of the 480th TFS with an F-16C wearing ‘sharkmouth’ nose art and the colours of the 52nd TFW commander. Both aircraft are armed with the AGM-88 HARM air-tosurface missile.
US National Archives

Following withdrawal from South Vietnam between 1973 and 1975, the armed forces of the United States entered a period of introspection concerning the conduct of the war and the lessons to be learnt. The USAF had been unexpectedly mauled by the North Vietnamese air defences throughout the conflict. Of the approximately 1,700 combat losses, the majority were due to radarguided anti-aircraft artillery (AAA), with the remainder shot down by other forms of ground fire, surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) or enemy aircraft.

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