BLUEBIRD transmitted over the shot common frequency meant an Aegis Class Cruiser had entered the fight. Not good!
The Aegis class was an SM-2-ER shooter, a particularly nasty Surface to Air Missile (SAM). The Spy 1 radar system could literally guide a boat load of missiles.
“Icky, let’s high “g” barrel roll right.”
Both Phantoms simultaneously pulled 4 “g’s” straight up then began a right roll while maintaining the pull. Passing through wings level on the horizon we were inverted and I was in trail on my wingman. We continued to roll and pull through the nose low portion of the maneuver ending up on the same heading we had started. I had bet the 3 axis maneuver coupled with the jammers would break lock on the Spy 1. Now it was time to hide.
“Icky let’s go for the deck.”
We dropped to 100 feet above the waves. At 750 knots (860 MPH) things happened fast. We boomed past an Oliver Hazard Perry Class Destroyer. The floating single point of failure we called it. 1 screw (propeller), 1 power plant, one SAM launcher, one of everything. We knew it was no threat, it was a ship conceived and designed by penny pinching bean counters, forced on the Navy by Congress. Basically useless. We didn’t even bother to take evasive action.
“BRA to Mother?”
“165 for 50.” came the response.
We checked left for 5 degrees and pressed the attack.
“Stand by for pop.”
We heaved on 5 “g’s” pulling up, then snap rolled inverted and put 5 back on, once the nose was back on the horizon we rolled upright. Mother a USS Aircraft Carrier was in our weapons envelope and in sight.
“VAMPIRE, VAMPIRE, VAMPIRE.”
We transmitted over shot common; it meant we had put Air to Surface missiles into the air. Now we would simulate the missiles by dropping back to the deck and closing on the ship. I flipped the frequency to the Air Boss freq for the carrier.
“Boss, Bloodhound 101, 2 Phantoms for fly by, starboard to port, bow and stern.”
“Cleared Bloodhounds, keep it sub-sonic, heads up for the plane guard in the wake, you are clear to depart in the vertical.”
I eased the throttles out of burner and climbed us to 500 feet. The Phantom was a Cadillac super sonic, but it was an unruly beast in the transonic region (.92-.96). Once we decelled to 600 indicated around .9 Mach we descended back to 200 feet. The Boss had cleared us for a fly-by from right to left over the front and back of the ship. He also gave us a heads up for the Helo behind him, and permission to depart straight up. Air Bosses were Naval Aviators who weren’t flying anymore; they were Ships Company but still liked a show.
We flashed over the ship lighting the burners and pulling pure vertical. Unloaded (zero g) we climbed like a scalded dog. With no g on the Phantoms the wing produced no lift and thus no drag, so we were literally a pair of rocket ships. I couldn’t resist and accentuated the zoom climb with a couple of aileron rolls. All good things must come to an end, we had battled gravity and achieved a temporary victory but ultimately gravity would not succumb. At 350 indicated I pulled the nose back to the horizon rolled upright and headed north at 20,000 feet. The mission was not complete yet, we had to egress now. The Fighter cap we came through would not be happy at our success. We were going to have to fight our way out.
Read more Naval Aviation and air combat exploits in the Aviators Series: