Even if, during peacetime operations, radio callsigns used to identify military flights in radio communications with the ATC (Air Traffic Control) agencies are usually squadron standards (Ghost Rider xxx, Panther xx, Bogey xx, Weasel xx, etc.) or picked among specific “patterns” (car types, animals, currencies, etc. – as done during exercises) under certain circumstances they can be chosen so as to celebrate specific events.
Last night, two U.S. B-52 Stratofortress aircraft from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, crossing the Atlantic Ocean on their way to the Czech Republic, where they will take part to the NATO Exercise Ramstein Rover, used a very special, never heard before, callsign: the two strategic bombers flew to Ostrava, where they landed on Sept. 18, using callsign “Tobruk 41″ and “Tobruk 42”.
I’m pretty sure that most of the readers of this blog don’t know that Tobruk is actually the name of a port city located on eastern Libya, near the border with Egypt. Tobruk is located slightly less than 400 km from Benghazi.
The two planes were not involved in any combat mission in response to the attack at the U.S. consulate that cost the life of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three American officials. Nor they will if Washington decides to launch a strike against the Libyan jidahists whose camps are believed to be located in the desert of East Libya (since other assets would be used).
Still, I can’t believe that the 307th Bomb Wing/93rd Bomb Squadron used that callsign in place of the usual “Scalp”, by coincidence only.
Maybe the U.S. Air Force just wanted to send an indirect message to those listening the planes crossing the Pond on HF and UHF frequencies, that what has happened in Libya, will not be forgotten.
Image credit: U.S. Air Force
Most probably this is just a speculation, however the communication power of military radio callsigns should not be underestimated.
Anyway, AlertNewEngland has recorded a part of the radio comms and you can clearly hear “Tobruk 41″ calling.
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