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1989 Gulf of Sidra Incident

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This is reenactment of 1989 Gulf of Sidra Incident with some real footage

On 4 January 1989, two United States Navy F-14 Tomcats shot down two Soviet manufactured Libyan MiG-23 Floggers which the Americans believed were attempting to engage them, as had happened eight years prior during the Gulf of Sidra incident, in 1981. The engagement took place over the Mediterranean Sea about 40 miles (64 km) north of Tobruk, Libya.

 

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My recollection is that at least one Apex was fired during the engagement.  Whether IR or unguided was unknown.  Our understanding is that neither Libyan pilot was located and rescued.  

 

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The 1981 incident vs the 2 Fitters.. one of them fired an Atoll

Only the Tomcat pilots were shooting in '89, according to the incident audio/video (not the version shown above)

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There are several different tapes of the audio from the different cockpits and over the radio.

When it was going down as it happened, i did not hear the call about the Mig firing a possible Apex.  At that time during the engagement the 6th Fleet Commander (Vice Admiral Williams) asked his 6th Fleet TAO (me) whether or not the Migs had fired, to which I responded- don’t know.  That time corresponds to when on one of the cockpit tapes you can hear one of our guys call a possible Mig missile launch.

when I reviewed the cockpit tapes and audio after the fact, prior to release, that was not clear.  If you do an internet search there is one of the tapes out there where it sounds like one of our guys makes that call, but again not clear and might have referred to a visual on one of our missiles.

We do know now the Migs never activated their radar, although we did not know that as it went down.  The Migs flew a hostile profile consistent with a radar launch, but could also have been an IR launch which a version of the Apex could have done.

I’ve never heard in the later analysis for sure whether or not  the Migs fired.  I leave it out there from one who was on the scope and on the radio through the engagement, that maybe.  

 

Edited by Typhoid
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Audio/video from both incidents exists,  for the 1981 incident the audio recorded by USS Biddle (was on the now defunct USS Biddle website but its still on webarchive)

And for 1989, there are 2-3 slightly different (runtime) audio/video files on YT and elsewhere.

No use of radar by the MiGs in '89 - the F-14 crews never mentioned anything on the tapes referring to the RWR, right.. they surely would have done so in case of radar emissions by the MiGs.

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On 11/28/2019 at 12:32 PM, Crusader said:

thanks!

tape one at 5:13  "OK, he's got a missile off"  at 6:22 "good chutes"

tape two same thing at 5:15,  again at 12:30

in each of the tapes at that point at about 4 miles range you can hear the call "OK, he's got a missile off"

The Migs apparently fired an IR Apex in a head on situation.  

 

 

 

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7 hours ago, Typhoid said:

"OK, he's got a missile off"

Thats the lead F-14 RIO observing the wingman F-14 Sparrow shot

EDIT: or not.. see below..

EDIT 2: or yes it is .. see further below

Edited by Crusader

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But see in the comments on the site (by  Herman C. Cook III ) :

Quote

H C Cook

5 yearss ago

 

I believe that much of the “who said what” is incorrect, and also, I believe that your crew pairings are wrong. It should be Connelly/Enright, Cook/Collins, if memory serves. However, the transcript seems correct and so it doesn’t make too much difference.

 

The Sparrow missile kill (the first) was from Cook/Collins, while the Aim 9 kill from Connelly/Enright.

Thanks for the memories.

 I still believe that the "missile off" comment is by the Connelly/Enwright crew commenting on their wingman's Sparrow shot.

Edited by Crusader

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Found the pics in the Life mag archive some years ago. Probably hand-outs for the press. The three HUD pics, two of them were scanned/filed away upside down.

MiG-23 pics are not directly related to the 1989 HUD camera pics.

151581a2b7daefa7_large.jpg

58dfd24761054e1a_large.jpg

pic1(253843837586924c_large).jpg

pic2(6cd18b077afa6b4c_large)orientationcorrected.jpg

pic3(add20a9e57ec567b_large)orientationcorrected.jpg

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