There I Wuz! Volume 3—Excerpt

There I Wuz! Volume 3 honors our military aviation heroes, and features stories told by the fighter jocks themselves . . .

Airborne Assassins

by F-22 Raptor Pilot Major Rob Burgon

“I have merged with a bandit, the F-22’s gun as my only remaining weapon. The crushing power of 9 g’s pushes me into the ejection seat. With both throttles parked in full afterburner, my attention is across the turn circle on the bandit who has picked up a lucky tally on me.”

Rob Cockpit

My wingman and I go to work, targeting and shooting the bandits as they seem to belt feed off the airfield.

It is only a matter of time before I’m out of AIM-120s, the only beyond-visual-range weapon I am carrying. With a closure rate in excess of 1,000 miles per hour, I am quickly approaching visual range with a two-ship of bandits. I push up on my Weapons Select Switch to put an AIM-9 missile in priority. My only two missiles left—the heat-seeking, short-range AIM-9 missile—is used in the visual area, which requires me to execute a close-range intercept.

In the F-22, performing a stern-conversion intercept to the six o’clock position of an unaware bandit is relatively easy. Undetected by the fire control radars of two F-16s simulating a Su-27 Flanker, I saddle up in a Weapon Engagement Zone (WEZ) and fire my last two missiles at the bandits. “Raptor 1, Kill two-ship off the South Regen, bullseye two-three-zero, fifty-four, eight thousand.” My radio call has notified our Range Training Officer (RTO) that I have employed ordnance against two airborne contacts and have met the criteria for a kill. Without live weapons on the jet, I must utilize the embedded training software to simulate missile shots and let the RTO make the decision if the bandits die or if they will continue for training. “Copy kill two-ship,” replies the RTO. “Southern alive.”

The RTO has let one of the bandits live. The live bandit is now a threat to our strike package. With only a few hundred rounds of 20MM bullets left, I push towards the enemy aircraft to attempt a gunshot. Suddenly, I see the bandit aggressively bank his aircraft into me; a maneuver called a break turn. I must time my execution of a similar maneuver just right to capture the bandit’s turn circle and remain offensive.

The dogfight is about to begin.

_TIW 3 Cover Lo“Raptor 1, anchored, bullseye two-four-five, forty-nine, Remington,” I say over the Blue Fight Frequency. The radio call is intended to let my flight mates know that I have merged with a bandit and have the F-22’s gun as my only remaining weapon.

The crushing power of 9 g’s (nine times the force of gravity) is all but imperceptible as my focus is on the bandit and not on the suffocating force pushing me into the ejection seat of my F-22. With both throttles parked in full afterburner and my jet sustaining over 400 knots in the downhill turn, I don’t have time to be grateful for the ATAGS (g-suit) helping to keep me conscious. I barely notice the stinging in my arms—a result of the capillaries in the skin bursting from the blood pushed to them by the force of the turn.

No, my attention is across the turn circle on the bandit who has picked up a lucky tally on me and continues breaking defensively. . . .

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