'I shouted good job as the bomb hit home'.
THE RAF pilot who scored the first direct hit in a raid told last night how he shouted "Good job, good job", as his bomb struck its target.
He said: "I thought 'yes'. My bomb was the first to be dropped that night and this was the first to hit."
A dramatic video of the cockpit view from the GR7 released yesterday showed how its laser locked on to the arms dump at Batajnica during Thursday night's successful mission.
The un-named pilot, a married man with children, spoke the codeword "happy" through his microphone to prove he was 100 per cent sure the correct target had been identified.
Then as his colleague in the next Harrier dropped the 1,000lbs bombs, his own codeword came back: "Splash." It meant a direct hit had been scored and the RAF was back in business.
After landing safely back at base, the pilot said: "It was a totally new experience and you are certainly apprehensive.
"You are airborne out there with the moon the stars and the dark.
"You can't see anyone at all. You could be on your own but you know you aren't. All the bits of kit have to be just right.
He continued: "You know the level of interest back home is so high from the Prime Minister downwards. You know if you drop a bomb in the wrong place it will be international news.
"If you hit civilians there will be questions in the House of Commons. You just do the best job you can.
"There is a heightened state of tension but there was a feeling of a job well done. I couldn't resist saying 'good job, good job.' It was the first impact."
The success of the mission was in direct contrast to Wednesday night's raid, which had to be aborted because dense smoke meant pilots could not be sure of hitting enemy targets.
One of the pilots on that sortie said yesterday: "It was a huge relief to get back. Nobody wants to kill anyone but our lords and masters see this as a way of saving innocent lives and that is why we are here."
There was euphoria at No1 Fighter Squadron's base in Gioia del Colle, southern Italy, as the eight minute video was shown.
Ground crew, support staff and even cooks and cleaners packed the base canteen to watch the grainy black and white film.
There were murmurs of approval and one technician called out "Good shot" as one bomb hit the ammo dump at the Serbian barracks at Leskovac.
All eight of the base's Harrier GR7s took off on Wednesday but two were "spares" in case others developed faults and they returned almost immediately.
The remaining six carried out a devastating attack on the barracks and destroyed anti-aircraft artillery ammunition, hand-held surface-to-air missiles, self-propelled guns and other ammunition.
Jubilant at the success, Group Captain Ian Travers Smith said: "These guys can definitely walk down the street and chew gum at the same time, to borrow an American expression.
"The first night was a little frustrating but this was a success and the guys are very upbeat."
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|Publication:||The Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Mar 27, 1999|
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