Impressive previously unreleased footage shows how two F-14 Tomcats shot down two Gaddafi’s MiG-23s

Watch the full declassified footage of the second Gulf of Sidra Incident.

After two F-14As from VF-41 Black Aces shot down two Su-22 Fitters on Aug. 19, 1981, the Tomcat faced again LARAF (Libyan Arab Republic Air Force) fighters on Jan. 4, 1989, when two jets from VF-32 Swordsmen shot down a pair of MiG-23 Floggers.

In the following video you can see, for the very first time, the whole dogfight, including previously unreleased (at least not available on the Web) footage.

The air-to-air combat occurred during a freedom of navigation exercise conducted by Sixth Fleet off the Libyan coastline.

The two VF-32 F-14s, BuNo. 159610, call sign “Gypsy 207” flown by Swordsmen skipper Commander Joseph B. Connelly and by Commander Leo F. Enwright as Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) and BuNo. 159437, call sign “Gypsy 202″ crewed by Lieutenant Hermon C. Cook III and Lieutenant Commander Steven P. Collins as RIO, were flying Combat Air Patrol (CAP) from USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67), when an E-2C detected the two MiGs taking off from Bumbah air base.

The Floggers, heading towards the U.S. Navy jets, were picked by the F-14s’ AN/AWG-9 radar at a distance of 72 miles.

As proved by the radio communications between the aircrews involved in the engagement, the VF-32 fighters performed avoidance maneuvers for five times to avoid confrontation, but the LARAF aircraft matched their turns every time.

Then at 6 minutes and 27 seconds in the footage, at a range of 12.9 miles you can hear Gypsy 207 calling for a “Fox One” shot, meaning that he has just fired a Sparrow which, probably because of a guidance problem, misssed the target. The F-14s and MiGs continued to move closer until, at 6 minutes and 37 seconds in the video, Gypsy 202 fired another Sparrow at a distance of about ten miles against the same Flogger, destroying it.

At 7 minutes and 21 seconds the clip shows that, with the remaining Flogger now in their eyeballs, Connelly and Enwright took advantage of their action to get back of the MiG-23 calling for a “Fox Two” shot  (referring to the launch of a Sidewinder) at 7 minutes and 36 seconds. Noteworthy at 7 minutes and 44 seconds the missile hit the second Flogger downing it.

The two Libyan pilots managed to eject at the last minute ending the engagement.

Here you find the full story of the aerial combat. Chunks of the footage were released by the DoD shortly after the incident.

Image credit: U.S. Navy

6 Comments

  1. 4 minutes audio against 9 minutes version of this one… this is the difference as stated in the article…

  2. The soundtrack was available for ages. The “newly”(?) released, heavily edited, “video” part is just a joke.
    Certain is the unprovoked shooting down in international airspace (where the LARAF had at least the same right to be) in violation of international law. It was plain murder.
    The trigger-happy RIO shitted his pants, and opened fire cowboy style – first shoot, then ask.
    Even after being fired at, the Migs didn’t respond in likeness. The further escalation, culminating in the shooting downs, was uncalled-for.
    Instead of facing a court-martial he was painted a hero, typical for the exceptionalists.
    Another blatant international law violation was the obvious refusal to rescue the pilots in distress:
    “Every master is bound, so far as he can do so without serious danger to his vessel, her crew and passengers, to render assistance to everybody, even though an enemy, found at sea in danger of being lost.” (Brussels Convention)

    • So, is repeatedly flying hot aspect to an aircraft standard during an intercept in international airspace? (In case you don’t know, hot aspect essentially means you’re flying in a collision course with whatever you’re intercepting and, also, what a fighter plane does to give a missile its best shot at hitting a target beyond visual range.)

  3. Yes they did.

    Unfortunately, they performed like most Hughes AAM’s…..

    AIM-4’s….AIM-54’s weren’t exactly stellar performers.

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