Monday, April 28, 2014

And Me, An F-4 Guy!

Remember this bird from the other day? The one I misidentified as a Phantom (though there was a little voice in my head saying, "Are you sure?") but which alert reader emtgene pointed out was not a Phantom.

When I read the comment, I just sat there for a moment. Then this wee voice in my head said, "I told you it wasn't a Phantom!"

"Did not."

"Did too!"

"All you said was 'There's something funny about that picture...can't quite put my finger on it.'"

Well, it went something like that. Now look at the next picture, showing a couple of things which should have said "THIS ISN'T A PHANTOM YOU BLOODY NITWIT!"

Or words to that effect...

And of course the nose is completely wrong. The Phantom has a nicely rounded nose, whereas the underside of the Jaguar's nose is rather flat. Now here is a photo of a Phantom AND a Jaguar...

About the only thing that these two aircraft have somewhat in common is the downward angle on the stabilators.

Why yes, that is an 8th Fighter Wing F-16.
(Juvat's and my old outfit, when they flew F-4s. Not Jaguars.)

Which brings me to the real point of this post (other than I need to pay attention to my photos) and that is target recognition. And the difficulty of that task when under stress (not that I'm claiming that!)

Back in 1994 there was a major incident when two USAF F-15s shot down two US Army UH-60 Black Hawks. Here's what Wikipedia has (in part) on that:
The 1994 Black Hawk shoot down incident, sometimes referred to as the Black Hawk Incident, was a friendly fire incident over northern Iraq that occurred on 14 April 1994 during Operation Provide Comfort (OPC). The pilots of two United States Air Force (USAF) F-15 fighter aircraft, operating under the control of a USAF airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft, misidentified two United States Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters as Iraqi Mil Mi-24 "Hind" helicopters. The F-15 pilots fired on and destroyed both helicopters, killing all 26 military personnel aboard, along with civilians from the United States, United Kingdom, France, Turkey, and the Kurdish community.
At the time I was still on active duty, still in Germany and assigned to NATO. The general consensus at the time was that the two Eagle drivers had blown it big time. Splashing two friendlies. I remember a buddy of mine (fellow MSgt) exclaiming, "How the Hell do you mistake a Black Hawk for a Hind?"

First off, here are the plan views of the Black Hawk and the Hind -

Now try and look at the next two pictures quickly and tell me which is which.

Not too hard to tell apart looking at a computer monitor are they? Scroll back and forth between the two photos. What do you see?

I see a big rotor and a tail rotor with the tail canted back on both at nearly the same angle. Now put yourself in the cockpit of an F-15 flying at 400+ knots. And your IFF* doesn't indicate that it's a friendly helo.

When I was out on the Reagan a few weeks back the SH-60s were up and about. This is the Navy version (sort of) of the Black Hawk, the Navy calls it the Sea Hawk. In the glare of the hazy sunlight there were times that all I could see was a silhouette. And as the helo flew away from me, I would've been hard pressed to tell it from a Mi-24. A helo is a helo.

In hindsight, it's not that hard to mistake one for the other. Especially if you're in a fast mover, IFF doesn't respond properly and there are two helos, down low to the deck and camouflaged to make them hard to spot. Big Air Force's actions still rankle with me 20 years later, you can read all about that here.

There's a reason why air crew study the silhouettes of other aircraft (including their own!) In the heat of the moment, it's not that hard to see what you expect to see.

Google said Phantom, so I saw Phantom.

But the Jaguar is cool looking.

Even if it's not a Phantom.

Jaguars of No. 16 Squadron RAF
F-18s, Indian Harriers, Indian Jaguars and an Indian Carrier.
It was easy seeing the F/A-18E, d'ya know how long it took me to find the 
Me thinks I need new spectacles!

*IFF = Identification Friend or Foe


  1. F is the Tracor AN/ALE-40 Chaff/Flare Dispenser system.

    1. Excellent! (That was bugging the heck out of me. Is that you Spill?)

  2. Don't worry we won't hold it over your head......This time;)

    1. I'm my own harshest critic, besides you all deserve my best effort!

  3. That angle was a tad confusing Sarge, but I as I scanned it my eyes quickly stopped at the air intake - so all confirmed in a couple of seconds. Smug git, I am!
    Of course, as you inferred, it wasn't moving at a speed of 10 miles a minute and jinking, and I wasn't in an environment where a buzz in my ears kept telling me I was being `painted`, or worse, locked-up. But as for the flight of the chapati's......I never saw that Hornet until you told me to go back and check! That made me remember my own sniper lessons on camoflage and concealment...."Shape, Outline, Movement" - master those and someone WILL die, but it won't necessarily be you!

    1. It's that air intake that bugged me the most. I should have known better!

      That Hornet was tricky to pick out. The original caption for the photo indicates that there is an F/A-18F and an E in the photo. The first time through I thought, "Hhmm, that's odd, I only see one 18." Then I looked again (and one more time for effect) and there it was. Kind of blending in with the Viraat's flight deck it was.

      As for "Shape, Outline, Movement" - I need to remember those. Good stuff.

  4. PS: Tornado's are a bit easier tho' - as their tailfin is bigger than a Jaguars wing ;)

    1. I'll agree with you there. The Jaguars are kind of stubby looking aren't they?

  5. Imagine the consternation when the air search radar can't acquire a contact unless the IFF is in the ON position.
    Aircraft recognition is not anywhere on the list of my talents.
    That said, about the only thing I noticed in the image was a difference in air intakes.
    So I guess I'm not yet over the hill.

    1. Not yet you're not Skip. The difference in the intakes should have been a dead giveaway!

    2. I wouldn't even have looked except for the comment on the post.

    3. Neither would I, and I should know better!

  6. Boy, your posts are on subjects I know little about but I thank my lucky stars people like you DO! Thanks for your service, SO MUCH, and thanks very much for visiting GeeeeZ.
    Come tell me if there's a story that goes with the comment you left, will you?
    All the best! Z

    1. No, no story behind that comment. My faith tells me such things are true.

      Thanks for stopping by Z, I love your blog.

  7. Sarge/

    About that Blackhawk shootdown. I knew Lt Col Randy May when he was a young 1st Lt in the AAR Squadroon across the runway from us at RAF Woodbridge (among other things besides the NATO combat comittment they staged out of Iceland 30 days at a time for AS Rescue duty) and whose CO was Ltc Herb Zendher, one of the lead helo co-pilots in the Son Tay POW rescue raid. (Zendher was quite a character himself, walking around in black plastic wrap-around thoroughly "non-standard issue" sunglasses, custom-made German Hans Probst boots, w. his flt-suit, sporting a big ' stach, and a decidedly long, flying mane--long for that day or any other day, lol)

    Randy had the room directly across from mine on the 2nd floor of the BOQ at Woody across the parking lot from the Quonset-hut O'Club. In our conversations, Randy, who was a C-130 co-pilot, used to constantly bemoan the fact that we fighter-pilots "had all the fun" and that he was moving heaven & earth to get transfered into the fighter community. Years later when I read about the incident I thought to myself: "Well, Randy, looks like you made it to fighters, alright, but maybe you should have taken heed to that old admonition that goes: 'beware of getting what you wish for', lol"

    1. It's a small world sometimes.

      And you do need to be careful what you wish for.


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