|Below from the book <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1846031699/threefournineA">F-15 Eagle Engaged: The world's most successful jet fighter</a>.
This isfrom the first day of the Desert Storm and what we can clearly see is the difficulties the F-15 pilots had with getting a positive IFF or VID on enemy(and friendlies) contacts.
The AWACS was there allright, but i think we can blame the poor weather condition for some of this, it was very poor light as well, but most important is the real fear from any F-15 pilots that they could shoot down a friendly.
Perhaps they was too carfull at some events, i'm not sure.
There are also some info on missile launch range.
It's a great book and I highly recomend it. I learned a lot of how these kind of huge operation really worked.
When Eagles fly, MiGs die
Day one of the ATO called for F-15s from Bitburg, Langley and Eglin to patrol discrete areas of responsibility as defined by lines of longitude:
There were eight F-15s from the 50th TFS at Tabuk assigned to patrol the western sector of Iraq; Bitsburg's 53rd TFS at PSAB was supplying eight airframes(F-15C) to patrol the central Zone, and the 1st FW at Dhahran was supplying four aircraft to cover the very east of Iraq.
We planned to march up the center of our area and clean out the Iraqi AF. If you take Bagdad and seperate it into east ans west, then we were taking the west sector, with particular attension given to the Iraqi airfields, H1, H2, Mudaysis, Al Assad and Al Taquaddum. Our job was to dispense with the air threat along that path while the Langley and Bitburg guys cleared the east of Bagdad.
"The Mig-29 'Fulcrum' was the cheif cause of concern to the Eagle Pilots tasked with securing air superiority over Iraq. In the visual arena, the 'Fulcrum' was smaller then the eagle and extremely agile, and was similar configured with twin vertical tails and twin engines, making VID problematic except at fairly close range. The Mig-25 'Foxbat' had similar configuration to our F-14 Navy guys and was also problematic to VID. (USAF)"
In the early hours of January 17, 1991, the 58th TFS launched two flights of four F-15Cs, callsigns CITGO 61-64 and PENNZOIL 61-64.
It was the No. 03 guy in PENNZOIL flight, with Rick Tollini at No.1, flight lead. We were a paired four-ship and the plan was that we would alternate the lead role every other night, so he would lead tonight and I would lead the next mission - both of us were FWS graduates so it made sense to alternate the Responsebility. At No.2 was LarryPitts and my No.4 was Mark Williams.
The broad plan was to use F-117s and F-15E Strike Eagles to make a suprise attack at 03:00 local.
This was to take place over Bagdad and over H2 and H3 airfields, where the Strike Eagles would engage in 'Scud' hunting activities at low level, undeteced. As they egressed, we were to take our aircraft and shoot down all the bad guys - a wall of our eight F-15Cs to mow down whoever took off from an Iraqi airfield. So, you had the suprise attack, then us, then a follow-on attack consisting of everyone else.
Despite the plan's simplicity, it all quicly came apart. Not withstanding horrendous weather conditions that presented some of the thoughest A2A refueling conditions the men had ever expirienced - towering cumulonimbus up to 30,000ft on a pitch-black, turbulent night and not without any external lights - the IRAF learned of the F-15Es 'suprise attack' through some rudimentary intel assets:
The problem was that there were listening posts along the border- physiacal listening post where guys listened for the sound of aircraft - and a flight of 18 F-15Es makes a lot of noise.
Shooting down one of your friends is a mortifying thought, and, even though we had our means of ID a contact and our AWACS was there to help, it's a much better plan to keep friendlies and hostile apart. The key component of the plan, therefore, was to let the F-117s and F-15Es clear out of the Area. That way, when we went North into Iraq we knew that anything in front of us was an enemy.
However at around 03:05, AWACS calls that it has detected Iraqis contact flying, which is a problem because we are marchalling 50 miles to the south of the Saudie-Iraq border and CITGO flight - which planned to marshal up with us before the push twards Iraq - was about 100 miles behaind us. We should have had plenty more time, but as soon as AWACS called, PENNZOIL flight pushed North regardless.
When the call came to push, Kelk was less than pleased at the prospect of friendlies and enemies together. I was thinking to myself, 'so much for our great eight-ship wall!' But we had no choice but to deal with the hand we were dealt. We got our formation set at our assigned altidue 30,000ft and headed north. CITGO flight was south of PENNZOIL because its lead, Rob Graeter, had decided to fly south of the poor weather. PENNZOIL, which cycled onto the tanker as CITGO departed to the south, may well have followed suit had the call not come from AWACS to push early.
As the PENNZOIL two-ships turned north the weather began to clear conciderably. The flight assumed a lateral separation of around 5 miles, with each wingman laterally displaced from his lead by another two miles. This 9-mile wall formation was about to initiate the first contact of the war with IRAF. From left to right were Pitts, Tollini, Kelk and Williams.
PENNZOIL was directed by AWACS to engage two groups of bandits located north-east of Khafi Highway Strip and southeast of MudaysisAB. Tollini and Pitts angeled off to engage the western group, while Kelk and Williams were 'Snapped' - given short notic radar vectors by AWACS - to the eastern enemy contact group. LarryPitts, flying as Tollini's wingman on the far left of the formation, recalled that their worst nightmare had materialized:
When I hit the IFF button to try and ID the Guys out in front of me, I had 40-50 friendly contacts return come up on the radar scope! I chased down a singel contact because it threatened a strike package, but he ran and eventually landed. Had i got into weapons firing parameters though, i'd really had a hard time deciding whether to shoot - we really did not want to kill a friendly.
Some 50 miles into Iraq, Kelk picked up the enemy contacts on his own radar:
I got a spike radar warning indication that someone had locked onto me at about the same time as I locked onto him(Mig-29). Our formation was now No.1 and No.2 in the west, No.3 and No.4 in the east. My contact range was about 35 miles and, to my knowledge, there was just one guy in front of me. As i pressed the attack, Williams is staying in radar sweep to check for other contacts. We had a thing called a Mode 4 rollover, where all the encrypted Mode 4 IFF codes changed right at the 03:00 in the morning.
But what if a guy is doing other things then?
What if he's trying to evade, is dropping bombs, forgets to change the codes or move the switch?
I did not want to shoot down our guy just because he forgot to flick a switch.
So i want to get an additional confirmation from AWACS. There was so much going on that the call is never completed(We was basicly jamming our own comunication with to much noise) and i have to use my own onboard systems to determine that he is not friendly. The bandit climbs from about 7,000 to 17,000ft, and is clearly manuvereing in relation to me. When I eventually take the shot. I'm in an advantageous position at 30,000ft because i can increase the range of my weapons(AIM-7M) against the lower-flying Mig-29.
As Kelk closed on his target, Tollini and Pitts saw their group turn away and depart the area, allowing them to head back east in support of Kelk and Williams. As they made the right turn, Tollini was also spiked momentarily by the lone MIG. As Kelk and the bandit hurtled towards each other at a combined speed of more than 1,400mph, he closed his eyes to protect his night vision and pressed the pickle putton on his control stick, unleashing one of his four AIM-7M Sparrow A2A missiles. Simultaneously he wrenched his F-15C into a high-g turn and entusiastically mashed a button on his throttle to release chaff.
I fired the missile from high-altitude and above the mach, which gave me a decided advantage. I distinctly remember feeling the missile coming off - a 500lb missile leaving the airplane is somewhat hard to miss- yet inside my cockpit, on the armament status panel, I have an indication saying that all four missiles are still remaining. I knew what i felt i've felt even though there were now cocpit cues, so i knew that it had come off. After I shoot I start dropping chaff, flying a defensive manuvers in case he's shooting at me.
I also want to get down low to cause him some look-down shoot-down problems - it's time to get lower and manuver away. In this case the chaff and maneuvering braks his lock, and with the spike gone, i turn in and point at the guy. I then see him blow up at co-altidude, approx 10 miles away. It was nothing like the red glowing fireballs that you hear about, it was a bright purplish-white color that lasted three or five seconds, then it was dark again.
The Mig-29 pilot went down with his aircraft and was killed. He is believed to have been Capt Omar Goben, who had previously flown in the Mig-21 and Mig-23 and had two confirmed Iranian F-5 kills.
During the engagment Kelk had maneuvered defencivly to the west, but Williams had to the east, separating them by some distance. To complicate matters, Tollini's reaction to his own spike had promted him to also maneuver to the east - putting him on a potencial collision course with Kelk to his right. Tollini locked up Williams and began the process of ID him, uncertain of whether he was Kelk's original target! Instead, he made a night visual ID as willy passed, "very close", directly underneath me: "I could recognize the cockpit lightning of an F-15C"
Williams had also flown a defensive maneuver because he had been spiked by the same MIG Kelk had just downed:
But we stuck to the game plan and flew our assigned flow. I was a little concerned I had ordered that external tanks be jettisoned after the engagment, but my jettison had failed and i was carrying this extra weight and drag around that i did not want anymore in the midst of the battle. I am trying to keep up and build up speed without using afterburner and i'm playing catch-up with Williams, trying to rejoin without give away my position(AB is highly visible at night).
We continued north towards Bagdad and, when I was no longer spiked, I did a radar sanitization and did not find anyone else in front of me. I eventually rejoined with Williams based on timings and a pre-assigned headings and altitudes - asked him to give me a quick flash of his beacons lights and i saw him about 1.5 miles ahead of me.
We got to about 30 to 40 miles south of Bagdad and then commenced a left turn to the west to clear out of H1 and H2 airfields. We did not see anyone, so we flowed to the south and across the border again. I had one unnerving spike as we headed southbound. It was at my six o'clock close, and lasted about 5 seconds before it went away. I never saw it again.
Kelk kill was verified the next morning by Intelligence as a Mig-29'Fulcrum'. He was the first American to score a kill in a F-15.
Source: <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1846031699/threefournineA">F-15 Eagle Engaged: The world's most successful jet fighter</a> by Steve Davies and Doug Dildy