SU-22 Kill over the Persian Gulf

December 27th, 2005  

Topic: SU-22 Kill over the Persian Gulf

SU-22 Kill over the Persian Gulf

In late January 1981 two F-14's from Khatami Air Force Base were on combat
patrol over the southwest region of the Persian Gulf. At around noon, Iranian ground
radar picked up a target approximately 100 to 200 feet above sea level in the southern region of the Gulf, moving at a high rate of speed toward Bushehr. The ground radar operator directed the F-14's to the incoming object.

At this time the lead F-14 radar picked up the same aircraft and secured a radar lock on the target. After confirming the target was definitely hostile, and flying at a very low altitude and only a little over 30 miles away, the lead F-14 fired an AIM-54A Phoenix missile. The Phoenix hit the Iraqi SU-22 in the middle of the fuselage, cutting it in half.

Later the Radar Interception Officer in the lead F-14 reported seeing a fireball followed
by an immediate splash down in the ocean, confirming the very low altitude of the Iraqi SU-22. The RIO also observed a second SU-22 at this time, which was not picked up by radar earlier.

However the second SU-22 managed to evade the scene.

Submitted by F-14 RIO
March 2nd, 2006  
AIM-54 Phoenix Missile
The AIM-54 Phoenix Long-range air-to-air missile, carried in clusters of up to six missiles on the F-14 Tomcat. The Phoenix missile is the Navy's only long-range air-to-air missile. It is an airborne weapons control system with multiple-target handling capabilities, used to kill multiple air targets with conventional warheads. The weapon system consists of an AIM-54 guided missile, interface system, and a launch aircraft with an AN/AWG-9 weapon control system. The AIM-54 is a radar-guided, air-to-air, long-range missile consisting of a guidance, armament, propulsion, and control section, interconnecting cables, wings and fins. The total weapon system has the capability to launch as many as six AIM-54 missiles simultaneously from the F-14 aircraft against an equal number of targets in all weather and heavy jamming environments.
The AIM-54 Phoenix Missile was developed in the 1970s as the principle long-range, air-to-air, defense armament of the F-14 Aircraft. The AIM-54 Phoenix Missile is a fielded weapon currently in Phase III, the Production, Fielding/Deployment, and Operational Support Phase of the Weapon System Acquisition Process.
The three versions of the AIM-54 Phoenix Missile currently being used are the AIM-54A, AIM-54C, and the AIM-54 ECCM/Sealed. The AIM-54 is a radar-guided, air-to-air, long-range missile consisting of a guidance, armament, propulsion, and control section, interconnecting cables, wings and fins. The AIM-54A was the original version to become operational. The improved Phoenix, the AIM-54C, can better counter projected threats from tactical aircraft and cruise missiles. The AIM-54C (sealed) missile is the most recent version and contains improved electronic counter-countermeasure capabilities and does not require coolant conditioning during captive flight. The AIM-54C and AIM-54C (sealed) contains built-in self test and additional missile on-aircraft test capability. The AIM-54C missile has also been designed for greater reliability, longer serviceable in-service time, and a 15 percent reduction in parts.
Initial Operating Capability was attained in 1974 for the AIM-54A, 1986 for the AIM-54C, and 1988 for the AIM-54C ECCM/Sealed. The AIM-54C and AIM-54C ECCM/Sealed are replacing the AIM-54A. As AIM-54A inventories are depleted they will not be replenished. The AIM-54A Technical Evaluation (TECHEVAL) was completed in November 1973. Operational Evaluation (OPEVAL) was completed in November 1974. The AIM-54C TECHEVAL began in May 1982 and was completed in November 1982. The OPEVAL began in March 1983 and was completed in August 1983. AIM-54C ECCM/Sealed Missile TECHEVAL was completed in June 1985, and OPEVAL was completed in July 1988.
The AIM-54 Phoenix Missile, used exclusively on the F-14A/B/D Aircraft, is a radar guided, air-to-air missile consisting of a guidance section, armament section, propulsion section, control section, interconnecting surface cables, wings, and fins. The missile is designed for ejection launch using the LAU-93 or LAU-132 launchers. Semi-active and active homing radar and hydraulically operated fins direct and stabilize the missile on course to the target. Propulsion is provided by a solid propellant rocket motor, and lethality by a high explosive warhead. Performance modifications to the AIM-54A were incorporated during and after production. The Reject Image Device (RID), High Altitude Performance (HAP), and Extended Active Gate (EAG) were incorporated during production. The MK 11 MOD 3 Electronics Assembly (EA) modification was installed by retrofit after production. The AIM-54C and AIM-54C ECCM/Sealed Missile have a Built In Self Test (BIST) feature. BIST may be selected in conjunction with Missile On Aircraft Test (MOAT). The AIM-54C ECCM/Sealed Missile provides two major improvements over the AIM-54C. ECCM provides enhanced electronic protection and sealing the missile eliminates the requirement for aircraft supplied liquid thermal conditioning fluid during captive flight.
Guidance Section The AIM-54A RID modification offers improved capabilities against low altitude targets over water. The EAG modification improves capabilities against certain Electronic Counter Measure (ECM) threats. The AIM-54C Guidance Section has a new Solid-State Receiver-Transmitter Unit (SSRTU), Digital Electronics Unit (DEU), and Inertial Sensor Assembly (ISA) as well as a modified guidance section wiring harness. Design improvements reduce inherent oscillator drift, provide range discrimination, and improve reliability. In the AIM-54 ECCM/Sealed Missile the DEU front receiver has been modified and an improved version of the program memory has been added to enhance ECCM capabilities. Heaters have been added, operating temperatures of selected subassemblies have been extended, and circuit temperature compensation has been added for sealed operation. The SSRTU has been modified to improve ECCM performance, selected subassemblies have been improved to increase operating temperature ranges, circuit temperature compensation has been added for sealed operation, and the ISA has been modified to include a heater for sealed operation.
Armament Section The AIM-54A's MK 11 MOD 3 EA modification upgrades the Targeting Detecting Device (TDD) to improve warhead lethality against short targets. The AIM-54C has a new TDD, the DSU-28, utilizing the MK 82 MOD 0 warhead. The MK 82 MOD 0 warhead is used with the DSU-28 on AIM-54C All-Up-Round (AUR), serial number 83001 through 83054. A new warhead, WDU-29/B was incorporated in the FY83 production of the AIM-54C AUR starting with serial number 83055. The new warhead offers a 20-25 percent increase in effectiveness. The AIM-54C ECCM/Sealed Missile uses the same armament section as the AIM-54C.
Propulsion Section. The AIM-54A, AIM-54C, and AIM-54C ECCM/Sealed Missile use the MK 47 MOD 1 rocket motor assembly.
Control Section The AIM-54A's HAP modification improves capabilities against very high and fast targets. The AIM-54C Electronic Servo Control Amplifier (ESCA) replaces the autopilot unit in the AIM-54A control section. In the AIM-54 ECCM/Sealed Missile the Electrical Conversion Unit (ECU) has been completely redesigned for sealed operations. The new design requires no heater for temperature regulation.
The AIM-54 Phoenix Missile maintenance concept is based on an overall objective to assure All-Up-Rounds are available to fulfill commitments of operational activities and provide the means to restore unserviceable missiles to serviceable condition with minimal downtime. Maintenance requirements are allocated to the organizational, intermediate, and depot levels of maintenance.

Primary FunctionLong-range air-launched air intercept missile ContractorHughes Aircraft Co. and Raytheon Co. Unit Cost$477,131 Power PlantSolid propellant rocket motor built by Hercules Length13 feet (3.9 meters) Weight1000 pounds - AIM-54A
1040 pounds - AIM-54C [various, 1020-1040 pounds]
1023 pounds - AIM-54C ECCM/Sealed Missile Diameter15 inches (38.1 cm) Wing Span3 feet (.9 meters) RangeIn excess of 100 nautical miles (115 statute miles, 184 km) SpeedIn excess of 3,000 mph (4,800 kmph) Guidance SystemSemi-active and active radar homing WarheadsProximity fuse, high explosive Warhead Weight135 pounds (60.75 kg) Date Deployed1974 this is a general description of the pheonix missle it was designed as a long range missle how come they use it at a distance of only 30 miles?i looked up the info on this incident and couldn't find any record of it.Please give info
April 18th, 2006  
In my opinion air warfare is so dull and sterile now. Look at that for combat. Killed in a flash by an enemy he probably never knew was there. Oh for the glory days of air combat in the second world war.
April 18th, 2006  
Gotta agree with that...

I miss the old days where air combat was largely decided by the skill of the pilot.
April 19th, 2006  
heh, yeah.. dont mess with Saburo Sakai 8)
April 19th, 2006  
F-14 is an interceptor.In With in Visual range combat even the old Su-22 would of cut it to pieces.
April 20th, 2006  
Originally Posted by G-Capo
F-14 is an interceptor.In With in Visual range combat even the old Su-22 would of cut it to pieces.
Tell that to the two Libyans that got blown out of the sky in August 1981.

The first Gulf of Sidra incident, August 19, 1981, was an incident in which two Libyan Sukhoi Su-22 Fitter fighter jets engaged two US F-14 Tomcats off of the Libyan coast.

On the morning of the 19th, two VF-41 Black Aces F-14As, Fast Eagle 102...and Fast Eagle 107..., were flying combat air patrol to cover aircraft engaged in a missile exercise. An E-2A Hawkeye gained radar contact with two Fitters which had left Okba Ben Nafi Air Base near Tripoli. The Fitters were heading towards the Tomcats and the lead Fitter fired an AA-2 Atoll short range heat seeking missile at the Tomcats. The Tomcats evaded and were cleared to return fire.

(Fast Eagle 107) engaged the lead Fitter and shot it down with an AIM-9 Sidewinder missile. (Fast Eagle 102) engaged the wingman and shot it down with another Sidewinder. The official United States Navy report states that both Libyan pilots ejected and were safely recovered.
I had a book somewhere that showed the flight paths of all the planes involved, and it seemed quite clear they were well inside visual range (<1 mile). Can't seem to find anything on the Internet. (And in an interesting piece of trivia, my Navy ROTC commander was XO of VF-41 at the time -- his name was painted on Fast Eagle 102 when the skipper flew it that day.)
April 20th, 2006  
The whole audio transcripts of the incident are available on the internet and you are correct LT, they were within visual range. I'll see if I can hunt up the link, its got a bit of profanity but not too bad.
April 21st, 2006  
Actually, I'm not sure the audio is available from the Aug. 1981 incident (F-14 vs. Su-22) -- the one everyone keeps linking is the 1989 incident (F-14 vs. MiG-23). Unless you've got something new...?
April 21st, 2006  
I think you're right LT but I did find this...

In 1981, before becoming a pilot, Venlet was a radar intercept officer aboard one of two F-14s involved in what has become known as the Gulf of Sidra Incident. The two F-14s were deployed aboard USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and were on a combat air patrol covering a nearby missile exercise when they were engaged and fired upon by two Libyan Su-22 aircraft. The F-14s evaded the missile and were cleared to return fire, subsequently shooting down the two Su-22s with AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, the first combat kills for the F-14 aircraft. Venlet received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his role in the incident.

14,000 conversions of B/E versions to include part solid-state electronics and double-delta foreplanes. 7,000 N versions were further upgrades.
Weight: 172 lb (78 kg)
Length: 10 ft 0.9 in (3.07m),
Range: 9 mi (14.5 km).
Entered service in 1977.

Hence the kills took place at a distance of less than 9 miles, i.e. visual range.