From the combat pilot’s point of view: mission over Afghanistan

The following video gives a hint of what a standard day of pilot deployed in Afghanistan looks like: high performance takeoff with an armed plane (in this case an F-16C belonging to the 177th Fighter Wing, New Jersey Air National Guard), rendez-vous with a KC-135 for an aerial refueling at dusk, combat air patrol before RTB (Return To Base) to Bagram.

Noteworthy: the beginning of the video doesn’t show the departure of the Viper from Bagram Air Field. Instead, it seems to show a fast low passage over the airport.

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About David Cenciotti 4451 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.


  1. Why AIM-120 Amraams on the wingtips using up hangtime over Afghanistan where the aerial threat is zero? Shouldn’t AIM-9s do the job?

  2. What’s really cool is you can see everything the pilot does in the cockpit from the visor reflection, including the heads up display.

  3. Why do these jets carry air-to-air missiles in uncontested airspace? Seems like a lot of wear on sensitive equipment.

  4. Departure looks like a normal takeoff. You wouldn’t do a low pass in a combat zone with live weapons loaded.

  5. They probably carry amraams in case there is an unplanned encounter with Pakistani JF17 (it would not be the first time our so called ally shoots at our troops) or Iranian F14 (in which case I do not know how an amraam will fare against older AIM54)?

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