Libyan MiG-23 Pilot Remembers Dogfights with U.S. Navy F-14’s and F-18’s

With total disclosure, I lifted these quotes from The Aviation Geek Club.

F-18

‘During the afternoon of 12 February 1986, three MiG-23MLDs from No. 1023 Squadron had engaged a pair of F/A-18 Hornets over the international waters, north-east Tripoli. They clearly outflew the Americans and ended advantageous position, at their “6 o’clock”. Hornets were forced to disengage and run away. After that we were all excited about our new mounts and looking forward for further engagements.’ -Abdelmajid Tayari, Libyan MiG-23 pilot

F-14

‘On 13 February 1986, I was scrambled as leader of a pair of MiG-23MLDs to intercept a pair of F-14s underway about 170 kilometres [92nm] north-west of Benina. Each of our aircraft was armed with one R-24R, one R-24T, four R-60MKs and a full load of ammunition for 23mm cannon. Prior to take-off, I was briefed to expect four Tomcats: two at medium altitude, clearly visible on our radar, and two at low altitude, invisible to our radars, and waiting to sandwich us. The GCI vectored us to intercept the pair flying at medium altitude, and we approached head-on.

‘My wingman and me were underway at an altitude of 3,000 meters [9,842ft]: Tomcats were slightly higher, at 4,000 meters [13123ft]. I obtained a radar contact from about 45 kilometers range [29nm] and requested a clearance to engage. The GCI took some time to react, but then cleared me when I was having a visual contact — at a range of about 25 kilometers [13.5nm]. At the moment, the bogies stopped closing in: I maintained radar contact with them, and had my R-24R missiles ready to fire, they were almost within the range of my R-24R, but they turned away. Suddenly, the GCI shouted on the radio: “Two bogies at your 6 o’clock!”

‘I turned my head around to check, and surely enough: two F-14s were zooming up, some 1.5-2 kilometres (0.8-1nm) behind us. I ordered my Number 2 into a full afterburner, and broke hard left. My speed was still high as I turned left, nose down, 800-900 km/h [431-495kts], pulling 5-6gs towards the target, intending to force them into failing to track at my 6 o’clock. My reverse maneuver was so hard that my Number 2 overshot, while I reduced the distance between the F-14s behind me to nil. No doubt, the Americans were surprised: they didn’t expect that hard a manoeuvre, and were not ready for my reaction. By the time they woke up, they lost their advantage while my Number 2 turned back and placed himself in an advantageous position behind the Tomcats and me. But, they were highly qualified: they knew what to do.

‘As I continued turning hard towards the two Tomcats, my eyes focused at their rears until I’ve got what I wanted! I noticed the Tomcats shifting outwards, and then I rolled out, pulled my nose hard up, pulling 7gs, with throttle on idle. I executed a high-g barrel roll, during which my speed decreased very fast, down to 350 km/h [189kts]. Then I pushed my throttle to full dry power while my aircraft went through the vertical and pointed at the Tomcats while still inverted. Both Tomcat crews were fantastic: they followed the manoeuvre and we met at the top, within 30 metres (30 yards/98ft) of each other, much too close for comfort!

‘I discontinued the barrel roll and went for scissor maneuver (or low speed yo-yo’): I knew I had the advantage because of MiG-23MLD’s better performance in this position. Thus we began the scissor turns towards each other, at very low speed: this was below 300km/h [160kts], still full dry power, maximum angle of attack. The `stick-shaker’ in my stick began to operate, informing me that my aircraft was at the edge of a stall and spin. I was between two F-14s, only two meters lower, almost line abreast. Our position was equal, except that my Number 2 was behind and above all of us, in a good position to hit the Americans if that would be necessary. Only our controller was screaming on the radio, ordering us to disengage and turn back to base. I replied, “not yet… not at this stage!

‘The F-14 pilots were certainly surprised by the low speed handling and high angle of attack of my MiG-23MLD. And, certainly enough, my speed was meanwhile down to 230 km/h [124kts]! Mind, according to the flight manual, the minimal maneuvering speed for MiG-23MLD with wing position 45 is 450km/h [242kts]!

‘During the second scissor, I noticed that the lead F-14 attempted to engage afterburners. That was a very dangerous undertaking at that speed and attitude: a big white balloon went out of one of his engine nozzles, meaning there was more fuel than air in his combustion chamber. That was a good sign for me: he was facing the risk of an engine surge just to get few extra knots of speed.

‘Now it was the question of one of us forcing the opponent to put his nose down first. At that point in time, I knew the MiG-23MLD had two advantages over the F-14: it is lighter, which means it has less inertia, and its thrust-to-weight ratio is higher. Thus, I continued through the third, and then the fourth scissors. The situation remained very critical: it was really a risky challenge between five men in three aircraft, and until now I have special respect for these F-14-pilots.

‘After the fourth scissor, I got what I want: the Tomcats couldn’t maintain their position anymore and decided to put their noses down. I was as happy as I was never before — but my happiness didn’t last for long. They both made an incredible manoeuvre, which remains in my memory until this very day. Imagine, they put the nose down, right bank with full rudder at very low speed, then turned almost in place, head-on towards me, barely 100 metres [109 yards] away and below my aircraft!

‘I did not take the risk of flying the same manoeuvre, but followed them nevertheless: I pushed my aircraft hard down, picked some speed, then smoothly banked right, and checked my fuel indicator for the first time since start of this engagement. My fuel was down to 1700 litres, which at this distance from Benina was too little. I was in serious trouble now. While still diving, I saw two other F-14s closing at very high speed, coming to support their other pair. They passed about 50 metres below my nose.

‘I called my wingman to rejoin, levelled my aircraft, put the wings into 16 degrees position and turned in direction of my base while maintaining the best cruise speed to extend my range. The Tomcats took the advantage to fly behind me at some distance. Then they turned back before we entered Libyan airspace again. I’ve just had the best dogfight of my life!”

THEN THERE’S THIS

Better luck next time.

THE F-14 IN COMBAT– The comments make this post Epic.Iranian and Iraqi pilots bitching at each other. Don’t flame them, you can’t read or write Farsi.

IRANIAN TOMCATS GET A NEW PAINT JOB.

IRAN VERSUS THE FLYING SAUCERS

FIRST LIVING IRAQ WAR VETERAN WILL RECIEVE THE MEDAL OF HONOR

The White House has announced that former Army Staff Sgt. David G. Bellavia will become the first living Iraq war veteran to be awarded the Medal of Honor. President Trump will present the medal to Bellavia on 25 JUNE in a White House ceremony.

On 10 November, 2004, Staff Sergeant David G. Bellavia was serving as a Platoon Leader in Task Force 2-2 of the 1st Infantry Division. While clearing houses in Fallujah, Iraq, his platoon was pinned down by insurgents in another room.

CITATION TO ACCOMPANY THE AWARD
OF
THE MEDAL OF HONOR
TO
STAFF SERGEANT DAVID G. BELLAVIA

Staff Sergeant David S. Bellavia distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving with Company A, Task Force 2-2, 1st Infantry Division, in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM during the battle for Al Fallujah, Iraq, on 10 November 2004. On that date Sergeant Bellavia’s platoon was ordered to clear a block of 12 buildings from which Jihadists were firing on American forces. The first nine buildings were unoccupied, but were found to be filled with enemy rockets, grenade launchers and other kinds of weapons. When Bellavia and four others entered the tenth building, they came under fire from insurgents in the house. Other soldiers came to reinforce the squad and a fierce battle at close quarters ensued. Many American soldiers were injured from the gunfire and flying debris. At this point, Sergeant Bellavia, armed with a M249 SAW gun, entered the room where the insurgents were located and sprayed the room with gunfire, forcing the Jihadists to take cover and allowing the squad to move out into the street. Jihadists on the roof began firing at the squad, forcing them to take cover in a nearby building. Sergeant Bellavia then went back to the street and called in a Bradley Fighting Vehicle to shell the houses. After this was done, he decided to re-enter the building to determine whether the enemy fighters were still active. Seeing a Jihadist loading an RPG launcher, Sergeant Bellavia gunned him down. A second Jihadist began firing as the soldier ran toward the kitchen and Bellavia fired back, wounding him in the shoulder. A third Jihadist began yelling from the second floor. Sergeant Bellavia then entered the uncleared master bedroom and emptied gunfire into all the corners, at which point the wounded insurgent entered the room, yelling and firing his weapon. Sergeant Bellavia fired back, killing the man. Sergeant Bellavia then came under fire from the insurgent upstairs and the staff sergeant returned the fire, killing the man. At that point, a Jihadist hiding in a wardrobe in a bedroom jumped out, firing wildly around the room and knocking over the wardrobe. As the man leaped over the bed he tripped and Sergeant Bellavia shot him several times, wounding but not killing him. Another insurgent was yelling from upstairs, and the wounded Jihadist escaped the bedroom and ran upstairs. Sergeant Bellavia pursued, but slipped on the blood-soaked stairs. The wounded insurgent fired at him but missed. He followed the bloody tracks up the stairs to a room to the left. Hearing the wounded insurgent inside, he threw a fragmentary grenade into the room, sending the wounded Jihadist onto the roof. The insurgent fired his weapon in all directions until he ran out of ammunition. He then started back into the bedroom, which was rapidly filling with smoke. Hearing two other insurgents screaming from the third story of the building, Sergeant Bellavia put a choke hold on the wounded insurgent to keep him from giving away their position. The wounded Jihadist then bit Sergeant Bellavia on the arm and smacked him in the face with the butt of his AK-47. In the wild scuffle that followed, Sergeant Bellavia took out his knife and slit the Jihadist’s throat. Two other insurgents who were trying to come to their comrade’s rescue, fired at Bellavia, but he had slipped out of the room, which was now full of smoke and fire. Without warning, another insurgent dropped from the third story to the second-story roof. Sergeant Bellavia fired at him, hitting him in the back and the legs and causing him to fall off the roof, dead. At this point, five members of 3d Platoon entered the house and took control of the first floor. Before they would finish off the remaining Jihadists, however, they were ordered to move out of the area because close air support had been called in by a nearby unit.