Latest Articles Appearing On Classic Warbirds..

The USAF Wild Weasel Mission Surpasses Fifty Years

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Slightly more than half a century ago, a new U. S. Air Force mission - that of a high importance - was assigned to a handful of pilots and electronic warfare officers. Their mission was to offer a solution to the critical task of defeating the newest and very lethal Soviet Bloc SA-2 anti-aircraft missiles that had recently become a threat to aircraft involved in the Vietnam War. Looking back upon fifty-two years of defeating anti-aircraft missiles and other air defense weapons, the Wild Weasel mission successes have shaped air warfare tactics and weapons systems worldwide. During the early stages of the Vietnam War, American aviators met a new threat not encountered in previous conflicts. Radar-guided surface to air anti-aircraft missiles (SAMs) became a menace to aircraft as they flew missions against targets in North Vietnam. Missile sites had been detected earlier in the year, but on July 24, 1965, a Soviet-built SA-2 Guideline (NATO codename) missile shot down an Air Force F-4C Phantom II; the following day an unmanned aircraft was also lost. Read more »

A Grand Phinale at Holloman AFB

QF-4E_74-1638_Elvis_9778 Lt. Col. Ron “Elvis” King taxies QF-4E 74-1638 back to the ramp

The U.S. Air Force retired its final McDonnell Douglas/Boeing QF-4 Phantom IIs on December 21, 2016. The jets were the last of the line… more than four thousand airframes of various versions were manufactured for the Air Force. The first version flew in 1963, and for more than half a century, the jets and their crews performed air defense, attack, reconnaissance, Wild Weasel, and ultimately remote control drone service. The final QF-4Es in service were operated by Detachment 1, 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron, based at Holloman AFB in New Mexico. The 82 ATRS reports to the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group at Tyndall AFB, FL. Holloman AFB sits close to the White Sands Missile Range, where live fire exercises against unmanned drone aircraft are routinely accomplished. The final unmanned Full Scale Aerial Target (FSAT) mission was flown there on August 17, 2016, although manned missions, carrying various test payloads, lasted into December of that year.

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Classic Colors, RIAT Tiger Meet Participants 1997

f5 1Twenty years ago, the Royal International Air Tattoo was fortunate to assemble a quantity of NATO aircraft which were participants in that year's annual Tiger Meet.  The NATO Tiger Association is a group of squadrons which feature cats, usually the "big cat" family of tigers, panthers, cheetahs, etc. in their heraldry, crests, and/or unit names and logos. They gather to swap information about tactics and training, as well as to boost morale within the NATO ranks. Usually, one or two aircraft from each unit is emblazoned with some special color scheme to emulate the "big cat" prowess as hunters, or leaders of the pack. A motto of the group is "Hard to be Humble", and their aircraft markings sometimes make full use of the bravado it carries!

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There are some 24 squadrons worldwide who are full members, with a number of honorary members too. Other memberships have ended, normally when a squadron has been disbanded. The organization can trace its roots back to a 1960 meeting between a USAF and RAF squadron, although the official website of the NATO Tigers casts some doubt upon the early years' story. Read more »

On the Road to Oceana!


OK, it's September and you're planning to head down to NAS Oceana in Virginia Beach for their big Air Show. There must be more to do than just driving down US-13 on the DelMarVa peninsula to get to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge by 6 PM. Well, actually there is a lot of fun stuff to do along the way before you hit the bridge, and a lot of it is aviation stuff, if you leave a little early and allow some recon time! Read more »