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Interesting post about USAFE in 1983

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Found this in F-16.net


The first author, is investigating about several things in order to create a wargame (boardgame I think), and he asks...


..what were you guys taught that Soviet fighter and ground attack aircraft profiles would be? Similar low altitude due to weather?


Your game is set up in 1983. It was a different world 34 years ago. There was no GPS. No computers in the squadron. No targeting pods (as we know them today). We did absolutely zero training for a Middle East desert scenario. Aside from the F-15A and the few F-16s available, there were no look-down radars. The E-3A was brand new, and there was no JSTARS. There were no NVGs or FLIRs. Very few aircraft had a reliable INS. Our tactics were closer to World War II than what is common today.

On the other hand, in Europe there were huge numbers of F-104s, G-91s, Mirage IIIs, A-7s, an incredible variety of F-4s, F-100s, A-10s, F-111s, Mirage F-1s, Buccaneers, Lightning's, Alpha Jets, F-5s, Tornados, F-15s, the new F-16s, Viggens, Yak-15s, MiG-19s, MiG-21s, MiG-23/27s, Su-17/22s, Su-25s....and that was just the fighters.

At Torrejon I spent a year working in Wing Weapons and Radar Strike. (We were the mission planning cell, among other things.) We knew that on average it would be dark (night) half of the time, and we would have lousy weather half of the time. Combined, we only expected to have decent air-to-ground weather 25% of every 24 hour period, and we knew that a Warsaw Pact armored invasion would not stop for night or weather. Many of our bases in Central Europe were within 150NM of the potential FEBA, and we expected the bad guy tanks and artillery to get that far fairly quickly. We expected Spetznaz units with SA-7s to be operating in and around our airfields. We expected to be operating under chemical warfare attack. We expected and planned for something like a 10% loss rate per 24 hour period. A big concern was "holding back" enough aircraft to accomplish the inevitable nuclear tasking that would be ordered as we were overrun.

It was a different world. 

How soon we forget.

I understand that you are making a game, not a retrospective real world training device. Games are supposed to be entertaining. Nobody is going to enjoy your game if they end up in a nuclear holocaust as they get overrun. You can do whatever you want in your game. You can have F-18s shooting Harpoon missiles at alien spaceships, or F-14s dogfighting Japanese Zeros, as a couple of (fun and entertaining) movies did back then. If you want to have napalm or a Hades bombs (as another really trashy F-16 movie had), go for it. If you want to have pilots with X-ray vision that can see tanks from 25,000' and AGM-65s that fly 12NM, that's okay.

It's a game!


Original http://www.f-16.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=52915&sid=da3095945d5fffe899676dd8ee6d96d0&start=15


Really interesting part about weapons employed and PK's

F-4 and AGM-65 in USAFE: JB, sorry to disagree, but we did use the AGM-65A/B on the F-4 in USAFE. Attached (I think) is a photo of my F-4D at TJ in 1982. Note the LAU-88 and TGM-65 on the right inboard station. Our combat loadout was 6xAGM-65.


WSOs: Agree with JB. I was fortunate to get to fly with Vietnam vet WSOs with several hundred combat missions "up north". Some of them were outstanding. I basically made sure that we didn't hit the ground. The WSO worked the (ancient) radar, the ALQ-119, the ALE-40, the radios, checked six, did the time-distance-heading on our low levels, and alternated between launching AIM-7s and the AGM-65. They were VERY good. On the other hand, there were some that (as JB says) were weight and ballast for the CG.

F-16A (Block 15) and AGM-65: I looked in my logbooks and don't find any Maverick missions in the F-16A at TJ before I left. I don't recall why TJ would have given up that tasking. However, we did employ the AGM-65A/B at Kunsan AB in 1985, and I launched a live AGM-65B at Nellis AFB in 1986.

"Standoff": A little history on the Maverick missile; The F-4 and F-105 were the primary USAF air-to-ground fighters in Vietnam. They were "red reticle" or "iron sight" or manual bombers. We were terribly inaccurate, especially in combat conditions. I don't recall the exact numbers (and they were classified anyway) but to kill a Soviet tank, you had to physically hit the topside with a MK82 to kill it, and you had to get within something like 8 feet with a MK84. I worked with JMEMs a lot, and recall that an F-4D dropping 12xMK82 on a single pass had something like a 10% PK on a Soviet main battle tank. The main concern for USAFE was trying to stop waves of thousands of Warsaw Pact tanks rolling through the Fulda Gap. The MK20 Rockeye was one attempt to solve the problem. While better than MK82 GP bombs, it still had a pretty low PK. Another solution was the AGM-65. As I recall the AGM-65 PK was around 50% once launched. Therefore, an F-4 carrying 6xAGM-65 had a good chance of taking out three tanks, whereas an F-4 armed with 12xMK82 had a 10% chance of taking out one tank. Clearly, the Maverick was a much better tank killer than a GP bomb. Note that there was no mention of "standoff" with the AGM-65. It was not a "standoff" weapon, but a precision guided anti-tank munition.

A little reality check on the "standoff" concept: When attacking a runway, the enemy defenses (ZSU-23-4, SA-6, etc) are not parked on the center of your target runway. They surround the airfield within a radius of 3-5 miles. Similarly, if you attack a bridge, the defenses are not located on the middle span of the bridge, they're on the hilltops surrounding the bridge. When you attack a tank on a battlefield, it is surrounded by 30,000 troops within 10 miles carrying SA-7s and six bazillion guns. When you say that you are employing a "standoff" weapon against a target, that does not "stand you off" from all the defenses that you have to fly over to reach said target. As JB said, in USAFE in the early 1980s, you had to get right in amongst them to deliver your weapons. There was no "standoff" as it is envisioned today.

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Yes that rings true with Sierra Hotel (c.r.anderegg)  https://www.amazon.com/SIERRA-HOTEL-Flying-Fighters-Vietnam/dp/1508674000

He described Europe (1975 to 1985) ceiling below 3000ft and visibility less than 3 miles more the 50% of the time which meant most of the guided stuff was totally useless in those conditions so you really needed an all weather fighter.

So radar pretty much the only useful sensor (less so near the deck) and for A-G you can see the logic in why the F-16 had dumb bombs and a very accurate low level bombing system.

The optical stuff like HOBOS, Walleye, Maverick A & B cant see through the haze/Dark (without going into finding targets in that environment) ..............there was another post on that website that explained why Maverick A/B were rarely used on the fast jets....assuming you could identify anything in those conditions the sensor would have real difficulty locking on...........and even in clear weather you were already flying into a hail of bullets by the time it had locked on. (different story for Iran in the ME perhaps)

The first Paveway 1's were fine in Vietnam with the Zot or Pave knife pod from medium altitude, but at low level Europe utterly useless.........this was improved somewhat with Pave Spike and Paveway II for low level delivery...........but Pave spike still couldn't see through haze.............but then there was Pave Tack with an IIR sensor but that was only practical on the F-111 (Too big)


25ft CEP required for a 500 lbs bomb to kill a truck......all bombs dropped in Vietnam by F-105s had a 323ft CEP according to one study.




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I'm wondering how they searched for the targets, below the clouds, flying a very fast jet in the dense envinroment of Europe, (forests, buildings, canals and rivers...). Anyone have an idea? Do they have all the targets analyzed by recon? Sattelite? Wish we had some kind of pre strike recon capabilities in SF.

About tanks, I think they mean a total kill, not maybe a mission damage, If that's true, our bombs are too powerful or the ground targets too weak.

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Finding targets low level with eyeballs and binoculars same as Nam with airborne FACs............extremely difficult to find non moving or camouflaged at the speeds F-4s needed to go in at....if there were a lot of moving tanks that might have been be easier.

Quote from Andy Bush

What lessons did my F-4 European CAS teach me? Only one. The best way to kill a tank was with another tank…or a helo. Fast movers were not the way to go.

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Thanks! What a mess TK did erasing the Snoopy FAC.

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The estimated loss rate for a WW3 scenario in Central Europe in early/mid 80th was around 80% per mission.

The lifetime of tanks was calculated in less than one hour after entering battle.


The area would have been full of Flak and SAM. Ground targets would have been mixed with lots of decoys.

Do you remember the Kosovo war 1999? NATO stated to have killed hundreds of serbian tanks. After the war only 13 destroyed tanks were found, but hundrets of destroyed decoys.

Here decoys of the NVA (east german army)

BTR-60 decoy


Torpedo boat Type KTS decoy



Cheap and easy to build. From fast moving plane difficult to distinguish  from real object. The only task of the decoys was to lure out the enemy to fire cost intensive precision weapons. A LGB costs perhaps 10.000 US$ in the late 80th. A decoy less that 100 $. I think we had more decoys, than the NATO had missiles.



Edited by Gepard

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