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Missed opportunities before Top Gun and Red Flag.

Important as they have been to the development of national defense, much history remains to be written about the advent of Red Flag and Top Gun. (1) Archival sources documenting the origins of Red Flag in the 1970s, for example, remain underutilized. Several books have laid out the story of the how naval aviators took the initiative to confront the problems the North Vietnamese Air Force was causing the United States' effort to achieve air superiority over North Vietnam, and how the U.S. Air Force responded in its own way during and after the war to the difficulties its jets had had with MiGs. The standard story is that aviators took the initiative to create the Top Gun school on March 3, 1969, where they relied on the air combat maneuvering experience of F-8 Crusader pilots in particular to develop their training syllabus. Top Gun instructors emphasized dissimilar air combat training--simulated combat between different kinds of aircraft-and "loose deuce" tactics, which utilized a formation of two jets as opposed to the Air Force's "finger four" of four fighters. As a consequence of this training, the Navy's F-4 aviators were better prepared to tackle North Vietnamese MiGs in 1972, when combat operations over the heart of North Vietnam recommenced. Navy ace Lt. Randy Cunningham, for one, repeated to whoever would listen '"I owe my victories to Top Gun." (2) Tactical Air Command (TAC) did not begin to make similar institutional changes until October 1972, when it established its first aggressor squadron, the 64th Fighter Weapons Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. (3) This article adds some new discoveries to this story, particularly the successes that Air Defense Command (ADC) had with dissimilar air combat tactics (DACT) training starting in 1966.

The problems the Air Force had in accomplishing air superiority during the Vietnam War have been well documented. (4) The institution knew before the initiation of Operation Rolling Thunder in 1965, that trouble was in the offing. An Air Force colonel at a Pacific Air Forces meeting, for example, complained, "One item that concerns me as much as anything is air combat tactics ... I don't think we have any F-105 or F-100 pilots in Southeast Asia who could fight their way out of a paper bag if they were really contested by MiGs today. There has been no real training on air-to-air tactics for a good five [years]." (5) The reason for this deficiency lay in assumptions the Air Force made after the Korean War: there would be no more medium-sized conventional wars due to the advent of nuclear weapons, therefore, the tactical fighter community concentrated on short-range nuclear bombing and neglected aerial combat. Col. Abner M. Aust, Jr., commented three months later that because of the emphasis on nuclear attack with tactical fighters, "our tactics/techniques lessons learned during Korea and World War II were pretty much discarded." (6) Less than a year into the Vietnam War, tactics specialists agreed that the Air Force's preparedness for aerial combat was not what it should be: "Although a lot of ACT talk about the newer fighters has drifted across the bar in recent years, when the chips were down we really didn't know in any thorough and documented fashion what to do." Basic tactics were still taught, but their appropriateness to individual fighters at differing energy states had not been mapped out before the war. (7)

There had been some attempts to maintain those capabilities. Four years after Korea, Fighter Weapons Newsletter published a series of articles on air-to-air combat for the F-100 Super Sabre--the Tactical Air Force's primary fighter at the time--most of which focused on individual aircraft maneuvers, and one aptly named "Flight Tactics." (8) The Fighter Weapons School recommended seven one-hour sorties for its fighter weapons instructor course; its 1959 syllabus for the basic F-100 course contained three and a half flight hours for the employment of the new Sidewinder infrared-guided missile, three for intercepts, three more for air-to-air gunnery against a slow target towed behind another aircraft, but no air combat maneuvering training. (9) F-100s later struggled, however, during their first encounter with North Vietnamese MiG--17s on April 4, 1965, and the Air Force immediately pulled them from escort missions in favor of the new F-4C. (10) A couple of months later the Fighter Weapons School published an article on aerial gunnery, (11) and immediately thereafter the Air Force conducted Project Feather Duster, which tested the air combat capabilities of its F-100, F-104, F-105, and F-4C against the F-86H, which simulated the Mig--17--something that could have been accomplished prior to the escalation of American involvement in the Vietnam War. (12)

Within Air Defense Command (ADC), only the two remaining F-104A squadrons practiced air combat maneuvering (ACM) on a regular basis; other interceptors were normally prohibited from doing so. (13) Since ADC assets trained to shoot down bombers and had no reason to expect to encounter enemy fighters, their shortcomings in ACM jived with their primary mission. Based at Webb AFB, Texas, and Homestead AFB, Florida, the F-104A squadrons directed their attention toward Cuba and its MiGs. To that end in 1964, members of the 319th FIS learned tactics for use against other fighters from the 436th TFS, an F-104C unit located at George AFB, California. Once they returned to Homestead AFB, Florida, the squadron altered its training patterns to include ACM along with intercept profiles, (14) an understandable change given that the Cuban Air Force fielded fighter aircraft not heavy bombers.

Within the Southeast Asia theater during the Vietnam War, USAF F-4 Phantoms were responsible for defending strike aircraft on missions over North Vietnam against MiGs, but had to struggle for opportunities to practice ACM. At the outset of the war, F-4 aircrews devoted only four sorties per year to ACM. (15) In 1966, one pilot noted after a MiG encounter that fighting the MiG was the first time he had ever engaged in ACM; he had never received any ACM training as an Air Force pilot. (16) During the first couple of years of the war, F-4 crews with some excess fuel on their return leg from a Rolling Thunder strike might practice a few ACM maneuvers on their way back to base, (17) but not until 1967 would the Air Force admit that its pilots needed this kind of training prior to entering a combat environment. (18) Worse, F-4 crews did not receive enough training in the employment of their missiles, and consequently often fired them outside of the missile's parameters. Ironically they also needed this ACM training in order to place their missiles within a proper firing envelope. (19)

ADC developed its own program for training in DACT in order to be ready for a new supplementary mission of providing air defense overseas. In 1966, ADC assets began to be seen as fighters to be sent to hot spots outside of the continental U.S., as had been done with PACAF F-102s to Vietnam in 1964. (20) Four years later true to form ADC F-106s from the 48th FIS participated in Operation Fresh Storm, which comprised of air operations in support of South Korea during the Pueblo Crisis. (21) That meant that they might have to engage enemy fighters--not strategic bombers--in combat, something for which they had not trained. ADC/ADOTT Project 66-1, "College Prom," investigated solutions to this new challenge. The project took place at Minot AFB, North Dakota, from August 22 to September 17, 1966, and involved F-106s from the 5th FIS, with F-102s and F-104s functioning as adversary aircraft. (22) College Prom sought to discover how best to train F-106 pilots for combat against fighter aircraft. Specific test areas included formation flying, basic fighter maneuvers, visual identification of enemy MiGs, discovering which tactics were most appropriate against fighters, which were the least effective for the -106, the effects of air combat maneuvering on the jet itself, and to figure out the modifications necessary to the F-106's fire control system for engaging MiGs. (23) Altogether 127 F-106 sorties, forty F-104 sorties, and forty F-102 sorties were planned. (24)

College Prom utilized seven pilots to investigate and develop the best tactics for the "Six." In terms of F-106 flying experience they ranged from 1490 hours to just seventy-one, with most possessing around 500 hours. Interestingly, the -106s used did not have G-suit attachments, so the pilots were going to have to be careful past five Gs. There was no need for high-G maneuvers against Soviet bombers, so the absence of that feature was not peculiar. During the College Prom training sorties, however, F-106s frequently exceeded six G's during the exercise (the jet's limit was seven). Even without G-suits these pilots "did not exhibit a reduced capability to maneuver because of 'G' loads except when five or more sustained 'G's' were experienced for 360 degrees of turn or comparable periods." (25)

The syllabus began slowly and grew in complexity. Pilots during the first four flights practiced two-jet formation flying, elementary air combat maneuvers, recognizing when maneuvers were about to exceed a pilot's abilities--and recognizing when to back off. The first week also centered on instructions on how to avoid mishandling their aircraft and how to get out of dangerous situations, like spins. The pilots also flew four missions to investigate the aircraft's flight characteristics at high angles of attack, high G, "extreme pitch angles, and the use of the rudder "at low airspeeds and to assist in reversals and last ditch maneuvers," and they explored "the F-106 flight envelope to determine if any undesirable characteristics existed which would affect the pilot's ability to perform aerial combat maneuvers." (26) The dicta "Safety will be paramount during this test," reflected a long time Air Force concern--concern over mid-air collisions--that functioned as a barrier to pilots' learning how to fight other aircraft. (27) Safety requirements included a minimum speed of 150 knots indicated airspeed, a minimum altitude of 10,000 feet above ground level, "5 miles visibility and 2,000' vertically from clouds," a common radio channel, and the requirement that the wingman maintain sight of his leader during maneuvers. (28)

During the second phase of College Prom, the syllabus brought in the F-102 and F-104 as adversary aircraft. The Deuces gave the--106 aircrew the chance to practice against a jet that--although slower--could out-turn a -106. Clearly, this was in case they encountered MiG-15s or MiG-17s, so one wonders why the project did not utilize F-86Hs from the Air National Guard, as the Air Force had done in Project Feather Duster. Coordinating with another command may have been deemed too difficult. (29) The F-104 was the obvious stand-in for a MiG-21. The command utilized F-102s and F-104s as such "until they were deleted from the ADC inventory," in 1971 and 1969, respectively. (30)

The F-106 pilots practiced air combat as a two-jet formation, learned more about the difficulties of "detecting, identifying, and attacking hostile fighters," and began flying in four-jet formations. Starfighters presented challenges far different from the Deuce. It was basically as fast as the -106, but not surprisingly possessed "different flight characteristics." F-102 missions occurred below 20,000 feet, those with the F-104 took place above that altitude. The Sixes utilized the finger-four formation for patrolling, then for attack split into two elements lead-trail with anywhere from three to fifteen miles of separation between the elements. A step away from the finger-four formation TAC utilized, -106s in this phase examined "the feasibility of both aircraft in the F-106 element launching missiles at different targets in the formation." Pilots found that the requirement for the wingman to "stay with the leader for mutual protection" worked against this goal of maximizing the firepower of two jets, for "as the launch range for the missiles was approached, the azimuth angle to the wingman's target became so great [that] his radar broke lock due to antenna azimuth limit. This occurred when targets were 6,000 to 9,000 apart, line-abreast. The element could separate enough to solve this problem on front attacks and rejoin after launch but on stern attacks separation to accomplish the missile launch allowed the targets to engage them individually before they could rejoin and support each other." Another factor that worked against the goal of maximizing the formation's firepower lay in tactical philosophy: "The primary duty of the wingman is providing visual coverage for the leader." The project found, however, that the wingman could attack a separate aircraft from the one the leader had targeted if they were flying a high aspect attack profile greater than 135 degrees TCA. If less than 135 degrees, the wingman would target the same jet his leader was attacking, closing "to a loose fighting wing position after lock-on, being careful that lead was clear of the flight path of wingman's missiles. The wingman was prepared to shoot on command if lead could not shoot." (31)

The College Prom sorties not only trained the aircrews, they revealed the complexity of air combat in a learning process. In order to grapple with their fighter adversaries, F-106s during College Prom first received GCI vectors toward the adversary aircraft, which received warning on some missions of the F-106s' presence from a GCI weapons director. (32) The adversary aircraft were not passive targets, either. They maneuvered in ways to defeat the attacking F-106s both during the intercept run-in and after the attackers closed, and they tried to position themselves behind the -106s for their own simulated IR missile or gun kills. These practice combats demonstrated the difficulties a wingmen had in staying in position relative to his leader. For instance, when a wingman saw his leader light his after-burner, he was already a few seconds late in doing the same and was thus falling behind. "Staying and fighting" was not always the best decision, either, and the -106s learned to accelerate away from a fight at maximum power, then to get a vector back from GCI when ten miles away. They found that if an F-104 got within firing range dead astern, an F-106 did not have time to escape if the pilot saw it at the last second. "When starting on equal footing, the F-104 proved to be a formidable adversary only if visual contact could not be maintained." The F-106 accelerated faster from a low initial speed than from a higher speed. The participants also found that it best to keep the -106's airspeed up in turning fights in order to maintain a greater turn rate. Sometimes pilots entered "post-stall gyrations" as a result of violent maneuvers while trying to get into a simulated guns-kill position (they practiced that in anticipation of possibly adding a gun to the jet at a later date), but found that recovery of normal flight was pretty routine by releasing backpressure on the control stick. With practice, the pilots found that they could maintain position behind an adversary in a maneuvering fight and complete the switch actions necessary to fire their weapons.

Among other findings were that the best search altitude was 5,000 feet below the target's suspected altitude because the -106's radar would point to the sky and not receive any ground returns, and because from that aspect the target's radar cross-section was larger. Somewhat surprisingly the gloss grey finish of the ADC aircraft was harder to see "against a dark ground background" than the dark-camouflaged F-102s. Lighting the -106's afterburner inside thirty miles from the target, however, resulted in a "white cloud of fuel vapor [that] gave away the F-106 position." F-106's flying stern intercept profiles were seen at five or six miles away, before they had completed their turn to the target's tail, prompting the targeted aircraft to maneuver offensively. Intercepting pilots preferred to track the adversary on radar by eight miles, and as an aid they looked for tell tail signs like "contrails or smoke trails at ranges greater than ten miles." If they did not see those clues they started looking for the target jet itself. The trailer needed to be within ten miles of his leader, lest the just-ID'd targets have too much time to react to the trailing jet. The trailer would "fly a position 30 degrees left or right of the ID element's flight path" in order to make it harder for the alerted hostile aircraft to "engage the trailing element." (33) The requirement to have the element leader fly past the suspected targets to visually confirm that they were hostile undercut the effectiveness of the F-106. The target aircraft would see the identifying Six as it flew past them, so they would know they were under attack--violating a basic rule of air combat: the best way to shoot down another aircraft is to make sure its pilot is unaware of your presence, or at least of your attack. This ID/shooter tactic could ensure positive identification of the target as hostile, but it also ensured that the target would be maneuvering defensively by the time the trailing interceptor shot its missiles, thus complicating firing sequence or even defeating the AIM-4F in flight by out-turning it. The targeted aircraft might even be able to target the shooter before it fired its missiles, or go after the identifying -106. Altogether this rule of engagement (ROE) forced the F-106 to avoid using its weapons to its best advantage. (34) Another lesson was that if the IDing -106 stayed and fought after accomplishing an ID, the shooter could not risk firing his missiles because he might hit his element leader. It was better for the lead aircraft to blow through straight ahead so the shooter would have only hostile aircraft in front of it (the leader would be out of the trailer's missiles' range), or climb up to a spot out of the way of the trailing shooter, then re-attack. Stern shooter/ID profiles were problematic, because "an attempt to climb to a position of advantage [by the lead F-106] resulted in the targets achieving a missile launch position on the ID element before it could use its speed to separate to a safe range the since initial closure and separation rate was low." (35)

Ideally, both F-106s in a two-jet element would fire their AIM-4Fs at two different aircraft, in a near head-on aspect at a range at which the enemy could not even see them. That way the enemy would not be maneuvering and would be easier for the missiles to track and hit. Striking without warning was a reasonable expectation for this era of fighter aircraft, because fighters seldom carried radar warning receivers (bombers did, but a subsonic bomber, such as a Bear, Badger, or Bison had little chance of evading an F-106 once the interceptor found it). This method would also keep the friendly fighters out of harm's way. Such head-on tactics resembled a joust, whereby the contestant with the longer lance would be able to hit first, but chivalry has no place in aerial combat. Hitting first against an opponent who does not know you are there is a necessary virtue in war. (36)

Although designed to shoot down bombers and not fighters, Operation College Prom, in 1966, discovered that the F-106 possessed a number of characteristics favorable for fighter vs. fighter combat. For instance, "The F-106 is extremely responsive to the rudder for directional control," and "The rudder roll over the top very nearly duplicated the hose high reversals necessary to gain an advantage over an opponent during a scissors." The Six proved to be very stable at high pitch angles, and even when flying as slow as 95 KIAS when pulling over the top of a loop, and it did not go out of control when stalled. Indeed, "All F-106 pilots expressed enthusiasm for the confidence maneuvers and basic ACM because of superb aircraft response throughout the flight envelope." This project's findings were pretty positive: "The F-106 exhibited excellent performance response to all aerial combat maneuvers with no undesirable flight characteristics," and "The F-106 can perform all of the classic offensive and defensive maneuvers in a close-in fight." The WSEM's [weapons system evaluation missile] and the MA-1 fire control system performed pretty well considering that they were designed for finding, tracking, and shooting non-maneuvering bombers. Of fifty missile attacks during the project, thirty-four succeeded, nine failed due to a malfunctioning radar, and seven because of "pilot error." The MA-1 was able to compute firing solutions against hard maneuvering targets, something for which it was not originally designed. College Prom confirmed the need for electronic identification of enemy aircraft, because nearly every time an F-106 closed for visual identification, the adversary saw him first and took evasive action. The large white fuel vapor cloud that occurred when lighting the afterburner that others could see thirty miles away, however, concerned the writer of the final report. Although the current F-106 training program did not prepare F-106 pilots for the fighter vs. fighter environment, the project's officers concluded that a pilot would be reasonably capable of defending "himself if exposed to hostile fighters" after about twenty training sorties designed around ACM. (37)

The project flew forty-seven identification (ID) missions, and all nine of those flown by two-jet elements "were successful." Twenty-eight of the remaining thirty-eight were successful. The participating pilots discovered benefits of fighting as if the -106 had a gun, for the aircrews realized that they could use a gun at ranges too close for the AIM4F/G, and that a gun was necessary for killing an enemy aircraft that was on the tail of a wingman because a Falcon missile could not tell the difference between a friendly or an enemy aircraft. A Falcon fired at a MiG that was shooting at another American fighter might guide on the friendly jet and contribute another incident to the fratricide book. The F-106 had real potential as a close-in guns-range fighter: "Of 12 attempted [gun attacks] on F-104s all were successful due to the capability of the F-106 to turn tighter and fly slower than the F-104 in a close-in fight." Against more maneuverable jets (a MiG-17 at slower speeds), the officers who studied College Prom suggested that the -106 keep up its speed, use the vertical plane, and not get into a turning fight. Visibility from the cockpit, however, was limited for this kind of flying. (38)

All of the aircrews, both blue and red force, debriefed and instructed each other in person. To do so the participants made use of several sources of information in order to reconstruct what happened during each mission in order to debrief each other more intelligently and maximize their learning. Data from the GCI radar scopes provided a big picture, while "F-106 scope film" provided precise information as to the parameters when WSEMs were "launched." F-104s provided their gun camera results, and the radar and infrared WSEM "Tapes were analyzed to determine if failure of the WSEM to acquire or track was because of target maneuvers at launch or after launch." Every pilot wrote his version of what happened during the sortie after he had heard from everyone else during the debriefing. Another aid to learning was the two-seat F-106B, and the pilots found that they learned much faster when an instructor first demonstrated the correct way to complete a maneuver instead of relying on the "unsupervised trial and error method." (39)

Not only are these interesting findings regarding the history of ADC in the mid-1960s, College Prom also illustrates a path that other American air forces could have pursued in preparing their pilots for war at an earlier date. While College Prom shows the benefits of allowing different commands to innovate--ADC conducted it in 1966, three years before the Navy established Top Gun--one wonders what capabilities a more joint process might have yielded. TAC had its own program for DACT, but College Prom also pointed out the need for sharing information, which apparently was a rarity between ADC and TAC until the early 1970s--an unfortunate reality considering that TAC-trained pilots were having difficulties with North Vietnamese fighters. (40) ADC aircrews began some DACT with TAC assets at Nellis AFB in 1967, but TAC brought that to an end in January 1969, because of the demands of training pilots for operations in Vietnam. (41) This stove piping may suggest that TAC was obstinate--"bomber interceptor pilots have nothing to teach us." Indeed, F-106 Capt. Don Carson later called TAC on this front in a letter to Fighter Weapons Review in 1973, noting that "ADC has been extremely active in the dissimilar ACT program for the past several years and has had an excellent exchange program with the Navy and Marine fighter Squadrons ... please remember, 'We fly fighters, too!'" (42)

Anyway, as a result of the new tasking for overseas deployments, the Air Force revised AFM 3-16 "Intercept Tactics for Air-to-Air Operations" by adding a chapter: "Air Superiority-Air Combat Tactics providing procedures for employment of air defense interceptors in the air superiority role." (43) Furthermore, the Air Force made ACT training a priority for the interceptor pilots, requiring twelve sorties in order to be qualified. (44) The 71st FIS became the first F-106 unit to receive this new training, beginning in May 1967; ADC relieved it of its air defense duties while its pilots completed the syllabus that Interceptor Weapons School instructors along with "instructors from [the] ADC Tactics branch" provided. (45) When the 318th FIS began ACT training in July 1967, its historian noted that, "This is a completely new type of training for the aircrews [who] have been in ADC all their careers. This program requires twelve missions to be flown utilizing the F-106 as an Air-to-Air Day Fighter. For most of us in the squadron, Tactical Formation and Element Engagements were both challenging and very exciting. This program has been very beneficial to the aircrews both in morale and operation of the F-106 in its optimum capability." (46) The 5th FIS gave this task "primary scheduling" for its pilots, (47) and the 94th FIS had fewer interceptors on alert when it began ACM training at the end of June 1968. The training was new, but not intense, as the initial ground school lasted only three days. (48) Full implementation of this requirement, however, proceeded slowly. The 49th FIS, for example, did not begin its ACT training in June 1969. (49) When the 319th FIS (F-104As) fought against F-106s during its March 1969 evaluation, the squadron's historian referred to this as "a new twist." "The results of this engagement were eye-catching as the Starfighter proved superior in the 'eyeball-to-eyeball' contest by scoring four ... MAs [mission accomplished] against the enemy force." (50)

Following the promising results of College Prom, the Interceptor Weapons School initiated "College Dart" at Tyndall AFB, Florida in 1968. (51) This was a training program also designed "to prepare unit pilots for deployment to an area where they might encounter a hostile fighter threat." The 318th and 460th FIS were the first squadrons to be a part of this program, (52) and ADC once again utilized F-104As from Homestead as adversary aircraft, flying them, for example, against jets from the 94th FIS during March 1969. (53) The Air Force made ACT training a priority for the interceptor pilots, and continued the twelve sortie requirement in order to be qualified. (54) While this program prepared interceptors for going up against MiGs, when the 71st FIS deployed to Osan AB, South Korea in 1969, its most noted missions were two intercepts of Tu-95 Bear bombers during a winter snowstorm over the Sea of Japan. (55)

ADC (56) held a conference in October 1969 to provide some standardization to the tactics its interceptors would use against other fighters. Among the topics were "revisions to ADCM 51-106, Vol. III, qualification training, continuation training, use of B model during ACT [air combat tactics] training, reduced G limitation during ACT training, college dart, six pac tactics, fluid four formation procedures, fighting wing versus double attack, [and] escort tactics." (57) The interceptor pilots were learning a lot while these decisions were being made, finding as a result of fighting F-104s that the similarly-sized MiG-21 would be hard to see, and that F-106 radars would not detect them at great distances. Pilots of the 94th FIS found that four F-106s "line-a-breast" was best for visual lookout, but that the finger-four formation neither lent the protection for the lead element it was supposed to provide, nor did it place the formation "in a position to offensively command." Furthermore, the fighting invariably broke down into combat by two-jet elements, not four-jet fighting wings. It was best to keep the F-106 fast because of its superior maneuverability at high speed, and if one searched just below Mach 1, F-106s could go supersonic "almost instantaneously through afterburner use." Finally, the infrared "boresight mode of the Fire Control System [was] highly effective in acquiring the target for a kill in the maneuvering 'dog-fight.'" This was all good to know, because these pilots were flying patrols out of South Korea a month later in June 1969 to ensure that another EC-121 was not shot down by North Korean MiGs. (58)

By the winter of 1969-1970, ADC confirmed that aerial combat tactics would be a part of the training regimen for "all F-106 units." Once a pilot qualified during initial training, his continuation training consisted of "two ACT sorties per month." The command stipulated that "An ACT sortie consists of approximately 30-45 minutes devoted to ACT maneuvering of which only five to ten minutes maximum would be at other than normal flight loads." (59) But even with this added emphasis on ACT, the command reminded its units that, "The prime mission of FIS units is air defense and all units must be capable of accomplishing that mission at any given time." (60) Given this priority, the 5th FIS, for example, obtained a waiver from the ACT requirement in order to have more time to keep its MA-1 systems operable. (61)

ADC continued to provide its fighters with DACT as the new decade commenced. In summer 1970, F-102s from Perrin AFB, Texas, served as adversaries for the 49th FIS F-106s in their College Dart program. (62) The training consisted of eight F-106s on each training mission, two missions a day, for four weeks. (63) The command was about to gain a new opportunity for this kind of training, however, because in March 1970, the Navy, specifically VF-121, the F-4 squadron at Naval Air Station Miramar, sought out F-106s for DACT. This squadron was significant as the home of the Navy's Fighter Weapons School, which the Navy had established in March of the previous year. Within a week ADC agreed to the request and added that, "This type of training would be mutually beneficial to both commands as a method of developing and updating tactics while gaining experience in realistic air-to-air engagements." The deputy chief of staff for operations, Maj. Gen. Joseph L. Dickman, followed up by proposing that the Air Force host the Navy for joint DACT training "at selected F-106 bases;" (64) this began in June 1970. (65) Their cross-pollination took off; aircrews from the 94th FIS, for example, were flying DACT missions against Navy aircraft at Miramar by February 1971. (66)

Beginning in June 1971, entire squadrons flew to Tyndall AFB to conduct the sorties. Eleven classroom hours and nine sorties spread across three to four weeks, "depending on the number of pilots to be trained," comprised the syllabus. Following three DACT flights "preferably" against [Navy] F-4 Phantoms, a class flew three more "against strike forces." The last three taught escort tactics for both fast and slow aircraft, such as the EC-121. (67) The following month, Navy F-4s flew to Tyndall for the first time to participate in the DACT training of College Dart. (68) The Top Gun school asked again for F-106s to join in DACT in August[1971], and ADC readily approved because, "All participants have benefited in the areas of tactical development and realistic training against threat type fighters. For ADC units, these programs have proved to be the most valuable ACT continuation training available." (69) The 2d and 49th FIS's joined in from August 30 to September 10, and the participants subsequently provided suggestions and observations on tactics that were effective to higher headquarters. (70) The leadership of the 49th FIS wrote that, "The College Dart deployment was a tremendous success. All pilots involved received invaluable training and increased their fighter versus fighter proficiency." (71) The pitch of DACT between the Air Force and Navy increased when F-4s from Oceana Naval Air Station flew to Tyndall to fly against Interceptor Weapons School class 72-3 at the end of November 1971. (72) Ideally each ADC squadron would participate in College Dart biannually, but there was not enough money to pay for that so as of November 1971, only the 5th, 87th, and 318th FIS's were slated to participate. (73) It continued to be ADC's desire that year that every F-106 pilot "be ACT qualified. (74)

Tactical Air Command was watching, noticing in spring 1971, the way in which the Navy integrated DACT into its training, designating an aircraft as an adversary "based on the similarity to the anticipated threat rather than on the basis of availability." ADC already considered that kind of training "mission essential." (75) As a result of the tactical fighter symposium at Nellis AFB in June of that year, TAC set out on a more ambitious, systematic program to refine combat tactics and train its pilots that would culminate four years later with the first Red Flag exercise (another story!). (76)

In the opinion of the commander of ADC, Gen. Thomas K. McGehee, DACT against Navy aircraft had produced "an unexcelled capability to perform the air-to-air mission against both bomber and fighter attacks." In selling ADC's capability to Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John D. Ryan, he asserted that "we should not lose sight of the fact that the demonstrated world-wide capability of our F-106s and EC-121s represents the only mobile air defense capability available to the Joint Chiefs," an odd statement that would seem to overlook the capabilities of TAC, USN, and USMC F-4 squadrons. In fact, McGehee was trying to hold on to a mission for his command. There was discussion of removing the world-wide air defense deployment tasking from ADC's set of missions, and he did not want ADC to be "the only operational Air Force command not so charged." General Ryan maintained ADC's deployment mission, but given the diminutive size of the command, he did not think it wise to "advertise" "the deployment capability of scarce air defense resources." (77) The fact that ADC interceptors were available for such exercises also suggests that the Soviet ICBM threat had achieved so much overkill that the Americans saw the Soviet bomber threat as superfluous. ACT and DACT were inherently risky, as in a September 1971 situation in which a pilot lost control of his jet "due to improper pilot techniques during low speed ACT maneuvering." The need to fly the F-106 to the limits of its capabilities clashed with the great desire of the generals to avoid aircraft and aircrew losses to accidents resulting from pilots losing control of their jets. The leadership decided that pilots were going to have to terminate dogfights whenever "airspeed or altitude are deteriorating towards an unsafe condition irrespective of whether established minimums have been reached. The spirit of competition must not be permitted to affect the requirement for absolutely safe ACT operations. Unit Commanders will assure that there is no stigma attached to disengagements called for safety reasons." (78) At least one pilot did not change his priorities and nearly crashed as a result in January 1972. He was "over-aggressive" in his "attempt to engage at high altitude and low airspeed." General McGehee warned that these were training flights and as such, not crashing aircraft and not dying were the first priorities. "Engagements must be broken off before an unsafe condition develops. In no way will there be any implication of a contest or 'score' kept on who shot who. This command cannot stand another accident during ACT training and I will not condone a recurrence of an incident of this nature." (79) The pilots had to remember that training was the goal, not trying "to prove one pilot or unit's ability over another." (80)

The deputy commander for operations and training at the IWS also recognized that College Dart pilots had to avoid crashing airplanes into each other or the whole program would be at risk, or worse. In 1972 ADC was the only portion of the Air Force conducting DACT, and there was "considerable interest at all levels of Air Force Command, up to and including the Air Staff, as well as from the other participating services. If this vital program is to survive, absolute safe conduct is essential." Col. William C. Sullivan repeated warnings that pilots had to avoid becoming too aggressive, and simply had to terminate ACM that was approaching an unsafe situation "immediately." They needed to remember its true purpose. "Score keeping," he added, "or other attempts to imply superiority by any group will not be tolerated. This program is in no way a contest. It is a controlled learning environment.... Learning outcomes must be determined by each individual aircrew participant and not related to any so called 'box score." Because these were learning exercises, Sullivan reminded them that they were to utilize every kind of input during the debriefs in order to reconstruct what happened as best they could. Finally, "Safety will be the prime consideration to the extend of sacrificing any or all other mission objectives." (81)

Related to the safety issue was the over-stressing of aircraft airframes. Pilots rarely over-G'd their--106s, but it did happen. (82) Pilots were also "over-G-ing" their Sixes during these missions, which risked reducing the life of the airframes, or worse, breaking them mid-flight. The limit for the F-106A was eight Gs, with seven for the B model. Early data revealed an over-G of an A model took place on average 1.4 times every 4,000 flight hours, and seventeen times every 4,000 hours in the B. (83)

The College Dart program was innovative in more ways than one. Students at the IWS, for instance, raised the level of detail in the preparation for and analysis of each mission. Class 71-C produced a research report that "was so comprehensive and far-reaching that IWS feels all ADC units should be aware of their efforts." It mapped out procedures and briefings for both pilots and weapons directors to a degree of detail not seen before. (84) Aerospace Defense Command then revised College Dart in 1972; the program was never just for pilots; weapons directors, both in EC-121s and in mobile ground-based control units benefited from the exercises. The training expanded to include deployments with Alaskan Air Command assets, to TAC bases, and vice versa. (85) In the spring, the IWS hosted an aerial combat tactics symposium for all of the services. (86) Over in New Mexico, two ADC officers spoke at the Air-to-Air Analysis Symposium at Kirtland AFB "on 'The Problems in Multiple Aircraft Engagements.'" Their presentation was also an appeal to industrial representatives of "the need to develop real-time accurate monitoring and playback of air combat engagements in three dimensions," (87)--a prelude to Air Combat Maneuvering Instrumentation. The efforts also produced a tactics manual, ADCM 3-1, "entitled F-106 Fighter versus Fighter Tactics." (88)

College Dart merged the ADC/Navy DACT program in 1972, and the program at Tyndall "became known as Air Superiority Tactics training to distinguish it from College Dart conducted elsewhere" (89) For example, the topics covered during the August 21-25, 1972, ASTT included energy maneuverability, two-jet DACT, "strike escort (4 vs 4)," and "slow escort (4 versus 4)." ADC's "Air Superiority Indoctrination Course" a.k.a. "Mini Dart," consisted of three DACT, four strike intercept, and two escort missions, seventy-two sorties in all, over a period of five days. Each side--F-106s and F-4s--received its own GCI controller for the DACT sorties, for example, and for the strike intercept missions, four F-4s escorted three F-101Bs. Four F-106s tried to shoot down the F-101B strike force. (90) At the same time, an officer evaluated the F-106 against the F-4E with slatted wings (which improved maneuverability) at Nellis, and a pair of IWS instructors examined the classroom side of the Navy's Top Gun school. (91)

Before and during the outbreak of the invasion of South Vietnam by mechanized forces of the North Vietnamese Army in the spring of 1972, Navy and Marine F-4 units came to Tyndall on a regular basis in 1972 for DACT against F-106s. In January, for example, F-4s of VF-154 and VMFA-251 went up against F-106s from the 318th FIS. All three squadrons praised the quality of GCI the IWS controllers provided, "one of the outstanding learning outcomes derived from this course." The Marines sent their own controllers to the IWS in March to learn GCI methods from the IWS controllers. (92) In February, the 87th FIS flew against Marine F-4s at El Toro MCAS in "Project 'Have Partnership,' joint AF/USMC aerial combat training." (93) The IWS held another "ACM instructor pilots' symposium" on May 25-27, with officers from the "USAF, USN, and USMC fighter weapons schools as well as from several tactical units of all services" in attendance. (94) Before the year was out, ADC analysts concluded after "maneuvers with the Navy at Point Mugu NAS, [F-106] superiority over the F-4 and F-8 was well documented (3:1)." That is a difficult assertion to accept, because an F-106 pilot could not fire his missiles if pulling more than three Gs because that would over-stress the weapons bay doors. It also took too long to open them and extend the missile launching racks: three seconds. (95) College Dart was producing successes for combat pilots. According to a letter to the DCS of Plans and Operations, Navy Lt. Randy Cunningham "during his debriefings" credited the sorties he flew in College Dart as "one of the primary reasons for his success in downing five MiGs." (96)

Interceptor pilots relished the College Dart deployments. For three weeks starting November 16, 1972, the 5th FIS practiced against TAC, Navy, and Marine aircrews: "The pilots were very impressed and enthusiastic toward this type of training and returned to Minot with a new knowledge of tactics for dissimilar aircraft and passed this information on to the rest of the squadron." (97) In January 1973, eight pilots of the 87th FIS flew out to Miramar to train against F-4s, F-8s, and A-4 Skyhawks, completing forty-six DACT sorties over the course of six days. The members of the "Red Bulls" considered the TDY "an outstanding success" as did their Navy comrades. Everyone gained "invaluable experience in unlike air combat tactics against a formidable and well trained foe." (98)

All this gained high-level attention from big Air Force. The commander of the Air Defense Weapons Center, Brig. Gen. Lawrence J. Fleming, briefed General Ryan on College Dart on July 14, 1972, who then suggested that TAC send a couple of flights to Tyndall to evaluate the program. TAC sent F-4Es for College Dart missions in August and November and left with a favorable impression, but with "reservations because of shortcomings in 'tactics' training potential of the program." Compliments from the Air Staff, however, were plentiful. (99) The bulk of the TAC pilots who did were instructors from the Fighter Weapons School at Nellis AFB, and this was the first time TAC assets participated in College Dart/ASTT. This DACT training highlighted the importance of GCI to the air superiority mission: "As usual, IWS GCI control was particularly admired by the visiting forces, noting the high degree of skill and assistance provided by controllers knowledgeable in the art of ACT." (100)

In fall 1972 this training continued to become more broadly joint, and indeed, it had nothing to do with training on shooting down strategic bombers. F-8J Crusaders participated for the first time, and they "surprised many participants with its added power for 'zoom' capability," a result of uprated engines. During the final College Dart of the year, USAF F-4Es and Navy and Marine F-4Js functioned as adversary aircraft for interceptors from the 5th FIS. The IWS also served as host for the Royal Air Force's Central Tactics and Trials Organization; officers from both exchanged ideas on "weapons systems and tactics employment." (101) At the end of the year an ADC captain, Robert L. Blair, "was a member on the Dissimilar Air Combat Maneuvering Panel" at the "1972 Tactical Fighter Symposium' held at Nellis AFB," demonstrating that the interceptor community was not only taking a joint service approach to training, it was providing leadership, as well. (102)

The end of the Vietnam War saw no letup in the pace of DACT training. The F-106 detachment at Homestead AFB, for example, managed to engage Navy F-4Js from Key West in a couple of DACT missions during the second quarter of 1973. (103) The 5th FIS deployed several jets and personnel to Miramar Naval Air Station in California in October 1973 for DACT against VF-154, a Navy F-4 squadron. They found that they gained a more objective understanding of their abilities and shortcomings when they emphasized "complete, accurate, objective flight debriefings, devoid of partisan emotionalism...." (104) McCord's 318th FIS carried out a College Dart deployment to El Toro in February-March 1974 to fly against Marine F-4s. (105)

College Dart lost no momentum in the mid-1970s. From July through December 1975, for example, the 5th, 48th, 49th, 84th, 87th, and 318th FISs--all of the F-106 active squadrons--flew against a variety of opponents, including Marine F-4Bs of VMF-321, Navy F-4Js of VF-21, F-14s of VF-142 and 143, F-8s from VMF-351, and a package of TAC F-4s, F-105s, F-111s. (106) In 1976, all of the FIS's got to complete multiple College Dart deployments, adding F-15As and A-4Fs to their list of adversaries, and Navy and Marine squadrons readily functioned as adversaries for ASTT courses. (107) From April 1977 to September 1978, crews from the 5th, 48th, 84th, 87th, and 318th FIS's hassled against Navy, Marine, and TAC fighters. (108) College Dart, however, was not the optimal program for preparing aircrews for fighting enemy aircraft because they studied and prepared against the tactics of American jets. The 49th FIS, for example went to "Tyndall AFB in July [1974] for dissimilar ACT with Marine F-8s and Air Force F-4s. A concentrated ground school is planned to discuss tactics and flight characteristics of the F-8s and F-4s," (109) with particular concentration on the tactics F-8 Crusaders flew. (110)

The focus for air combat training in the Air Force was, however, shifting to Nellis AFB and the Fighter Weapons School by this time. Development of fighter training was becoming less stovepiped; representatives from ADC and the IWS attended a fighter symposium at the Top Gun school in April 1975, and the IWS was interested in "a closer interface between IWS and Top Gun (NFWS). The two schools could mutually benefit from an exchange of ideas on tactics." (111) Later that summer the IWS participated in the 1975 revision of Tri-Command Manual 3-1 at Nellis; the services were standardizing the tactics that tactical, naval, and air defense fighters used. (112)

TAC was somewhat of a late-comer. Aider the Vietnam War, TAC studied DACT and two-jet formations and tactic more closely. On October 15, 1972, it activated the Aggressor Squadron, the 64th Fighter Weapons Squadron in order to provide DACT to TAC fighters; the unit was operational in June 1973. It also recognized the value the Navy had received by training against F-106s. (113) The format of the Aggressor squadron's syllabus and approach to instruction was quite similar to what ADC and the IWS had been providing: detailed briefings and debriefings, short courses at a fighter wing's base as well as courses at their home station (Nellis AFB), and integrated use of GCI and weapons directors. The Aggressors, however, flew Soviet tactics--not Navy F-8 Crusader tactics, nor Air Force F-4 Phantom tactics. In this way Aggressor training would improve the air combat capability of the United States' air forces even more than had Operation College Dart. (114) By the late 1970s, Red Flag and the revamped Fighter Weapons School had essentially absorbed the air combat training mission, and ADCOM became a subset of TAC in 1979: ADTAC. Red Flag exercises utilized Air Force, Navy, and Marine assets. Pilots from different commands and services shared knowledge, methods, and efforts toward a ADC had initiated a training program that contained every element TAC's advanced train utilized a decade later, with the exception of ACMI and the E-3 AWACS, neither of which existed in 1966. That is nice, and interceptor veterans can point to their tactical fighter counterparts in the Navy and TAC and argue that "we were first," but all of them should have been on the same page, together.

I have found no evidence that it occurred to ADC leaders to share their practices in 1966, with TAC or PACAF, nor have I found any evidence that leaders from PACAF or TAC asked or cared. ADC initiated formal DACT training for its F-106 aircrews in 1966. A less stove-piped military would have begun to expand operation College Prom to TAC, PACAF, and Navy F-4 units training for war before that year came to an end. With the natural consequences of interservice training, air superiority squadrons could have entered the final year of Operation Rolling Thunder and then Operation Linebacker with months and then years of advanced training under their belts, and fought more effectively against the North Vietnamese Air Force.

Once ADC began flying DACT against Navy jets in 1970, its leaders concluded that, "Realistic training and tactics validation in aerial combat maneuvering can only be effectively accomplished through unlike fighter engagements," and in 1971 recommended to the office of the chief of staff that "Continued high level emphasis should be placed on providing this type of training for all tactical fighter types." (115) The Air Force's interceptor community during the Cold War never shot down a Soviet bomber; but it did contribute leadership to the improved training and readiness of fighter squadrons from all of the services.


(1.) All documentary file numbers are from the Air Force Historical Research Agency, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. Where necessary, excerpts have been declassified IAW EO13526 or by the Southeast Asia Declassification and Review Team. Thanks are in order to Archie Difante for reviewing hundreds of pages of documents for this article. The views expressed in this article are my own and do not reflect the views of the U.S. Air Force, Air University, the Department of Defense, nor the U.S. government.

(2.) Robert K. Wilcox, Scream of Eagles: The Creation of Top Gun, and the US. Air Victory in Vietnam (New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1990), 113-291, quote on 288. John B. Nichols and Barrett Tillman, On Yankee Station: The Naval Air War over Vietnam (Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 1987), 79-86. "The Rise and Fall of the Aggressors," Air International 49:1 (July 1995): 23-28. Hearings before the Committee on Armed Services, United States Senate, 93rd Cong., 1st sess., (March 1973), 4077.

(3.) Col. M.F. Ewing, Dept. of the Air Force, "Special Order GA-234," Oct. 10, 1972. K417.0735, FY1973, vol. 2. The Aggressors initially flew T-38s.

(4.) Marshall L. Michel, III, Clashes: Air Combat over North Vietnam, 1965-1973 (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1997); Jacob Van Staaveren, Gradual Failure: The Air War over North Vietnam, 1965-1966 (Washington, D.C.: Air Force History and Museums Program, 2002); Wayne Thompson, To Hanoi and Back: The United States Air Force and North Vietnam, 1966-1973 (Washington, D.C.: Air Force History and Museums Program, 2000).

(5.) Colonel (first name not provided) Martin. PACAF Commanders' Conference Report, Feb. 23-25, 1965. K717.151-13, Feb. 23-25, 1965.

(6.) Col. Abner M. Aust, Jr. HQ 6002 SEG, "PACAF Tactics/Techniques Program," May 4, 1965. K717.549-1, May 4-July 1, 1965.

(7.) Capt. Michael S. Muska "Featherduster," Fighter Weapons Newsletter (March 1966), p. 22.

(8.) Fighter Weapons Newsletter (June 1957): 5-30. See also, W. D. Druen, "F-100D and Air-to-Air," Fighter Weapons Newsletter (March 1958): 20-21. Capt. Hal Vincent, USMC, "The Perfect Gun and Missile Attack," Fighter Weapons Newsletter (December 1959): 24-26. Capt. B. Antonio Giordano, "F-100D GAR-8 Tactics," Fighter Weapons Newsletter (September 1959): 41-43.

(9.) Maj. Norman C. Gaddis, "A New Look," Fighter Weapons Newsletter (September 1959), 5; Capt. Alfred H. Hopkins, "Operational Training Course," Fighter Weapons Newsletter (March 1959), 7.

(10.) Interview with Maj Keith B. Connolly, 8 November 1968. Interview with Captain Donald Kilgus, no date. Capt. Donald Kilgus, "Mig Engagement of 4 April 1965," Feb. 19, 1968. K740.04-25, 60/03/18-68/02/19. Institute for Defense Analysis, "Air to Air Encounters in Southeast Asia, Vol. III," 1969, Event III-2, 37-38.

(11.) Capt. Peter T. Potts, "The Big 15%," Fighter Weapons Newsletter (June 1965): 17-22.

(12.) Col. Frank K. Everest, Jr., "Final Report: Air Combat Tactics Evaluation, TAC Mission FF-857, April 26-May 7 1965." (USAF Fighter Weapons School, Nellis AFB, NV). PACAF Tactics & Techniques Bulletin, Counter-air Tactics, Bulletin #45," Jul. 26, 1966. K717.549-1, No. 45, Jul. 26, 1966.

(13.) Col. Phillip N. Loring, Message from ADC to AIG 7141, "ADC Project 66-15, College Prom," Sept. 27, 1966. K410.01-17, July-Dec. 1966, vol. 4. These were the 319th FIS and the 339th FIS.

(14.) "Historical Record of the 319th Fighter Interceptor Squadron (ADC), 1 January 30 September 1964." K-SQ-FI-319-HI, 1964. The squadron had been re-equipped with F-104As in order to defend against possible incursions by Cuban MiGs.

(15.) Branford J. McAllister, "Air-to-Air Continuation Training in the Tactical Air Command," (Thesis, Air Command and Staff College, 1985), 17.

(16.) Captain (no first name given) Ward, "Dayton 2," Aircraft Commander, interviewed by Lt Col Agnew and Mr. Rubio, Dec 13, 1966. K168.043-42, 29 April 66.

(17.) Directorate of Operations History, Training Division, 1-30 June 1966. K717.01, January-June 1966, vol. 3, pt. 1.

(18.) DCS/Operations, History, Directorate of Training, 1-28 February 1967. K717.01, January-June 1967, vol. 3, pt. 1.

(19.) Directorate of Operations History, May 1966. K717.01, January-June 1966, vol. 3, pt. 1. Message from 8TFW to RUEPJ/NMCC, 051430Z June 1967; Red Baron Event 17. K160.043-36, 23 April 1966. "Extracts from 'Heat Treat' Team SEA Trip Report," Colonel Robert R. Scott, PACAF Tactics & Techniques Bulletin #44, F-4C Fighter Screen and Escort. K717.549-1, No. 44, 14 July 1966. See also: Michel, Clashes, 155, 159-60.

(20.) History of the Pacific Air Force, 1 January 1967-31 December 1967, 46-49. K717.01, January-December 1967, vol. 1, pt. 1.

(21.) History of ADCOM, 1 July-31 December 1975, 43. K410.011 75/07/01 -75/12/31, vol. 1. Capt. Richard M. Williams, 552 AEW&C Wing Contingency Planning, 27 May 1968. http://www.virtual.vietnam. SvW24KM@UhmAjg4jf5KMQ7FppIPQmpYGVBEvq pGcPuWYavhV6pPUi@9JReouIusPj3LX3vUyNs2acw pQh5jyCrA.As/F031100060677.pdf

(22.) Lt Gen Herbert B. Thatcher, to 10th Air Force and 14th Air Force, "ADC/ADOTT Project 66-15 'College Prom,'" 4 August 1966. Major Peter D. O'Neill, Final Report, "College Prom," ADC Project 66-15, 1 October 1966. K410.01-17 July-December 1966, vol. 4. Historical Record of the 5th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, 30 September 1966. K-SQ-FI-5-HI, 1966. The contents of squadron histories are hit and miss. Only two sentences in this one addressed College Prom, noting that the squadron completed 117 sorties "without incident." The F-104As came from the 331st FIS stationed at Webb AFB, Texas. Historical Record of the 331st Fighter Interceptor Squadron (ADC), 30 September 1966. K-SQ-FI-331-HI, 1966. Research has not uncovered the unit that provided the F-102s; I suspect they came from the 4250 Fighter Training Squadron at Perrin AFB, Texas.

(23.) Thatcher, "ADC/ADOTT Project 66-15 'College Prom."

(24.) Ibid., Maj. Peter D. O'Neill, Final Report, "College Prom," ADC Project 66-15, 1 October 1966. K410.01-17 July-December 1966, vol. 4. K-SQ-FI-5-HI, September 1966.

(25.) O'Neill, Final Report, "College Prom."

(26.) Ibid.

(27.) Thatcher, "ADC/ADOTT Project 66-15 'College Prom.'" O'Neill, Final Report, "College Prom." Michel, Clashes, 165.

(28.) O'Neill, Final Report, "College Prom."

(29.) Lt Col Ralph S. Saunders, HQ 6002nd SEEG, PACAF Tactics/Techniques Bulletin #8, 2 June 1965. Attachment 1: "ACT Evaluation of F-86H Versus Current TAC Fighters." K717.549-1, Nos. 1-13, 4 May-July 1965. Colonel Robert R. Scott, "PACAF Tactics & Techniques Bulletin, #45, 26 July 1966. K717.549-1, no. 45, 26 July 1966. O'Neill, Final Report, "College Prom."

(30.) (author illegible) Letter to Lt Gen George J. Eade, 6 June 1972. K410.01-21, FY 1972, vol. 6. The last active unit in the continental US to use the F-102 was the 4780th Air Defense Training Wing. ADC flew F-102s from Iceland until 1973.

(31.) O'Neill, Final Report, "College Prom."

(32.) Ibid.

(33.) Ibid.

(34.) Ibid.

(35.) Ibid.

(36.) Ibid.

(37.) Ibid. A WSEM was a missile that did not have a motor, but instead contained instrumentation to verify that it had been "fired" within the correct parameters.

(38.) O'Neill, Final Report, "College Prom."

(39.) Ibid.

(40.) Capt. Maurice B. Johnston, Jr. "Dissimilar Aircraft Engagement," Fighter Weapons Newsletter (March 1968), 26-30.

(41.) Letter to Lt Gen George J. Eade, 6 June 1972.

(42.) Capt. Donald D. Carson, Letter to the editor, Fighter Weapons Review (Spring 1973), 34.

(43.) Col. Michael Namarro, Message from ADC to CSAF, "AFM 3-16 Revision," 12 September 1967. K410.01-10, July-December 1967, vol. 6.

(44.) Historical Record of the 5th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, December 1969. K-SQ-FI-5-HI, 1969.

(45.) Historical Record of the 71st Fighter Interceptor Squadron for the period ending 30 June 1967. K-SQ-FI-71-HI, 1967. Office of Information, 28th Air Division, ADC, News Release 120-69. K-SQ-FI-71-HI, October-December 1969.

(46.) Historical Record of the 318th Fighter Interceptor Squadron for the Period Ending 30 September 1967. K-SQ-FI-318-HI, July-December 1967.

(47.) Historical Record of the 5th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, December 1969. K-SQ-FI-5-HI, 1969.

(48.) Historical Record of the 94th Fighter Interceptor Squadron for the Period Ending 30 June 1968. K-SQ-FI-94-HI, January-June 1968.

(49.) Historical Record of the 49th Fighter Interceptor Squadron for the Period Ending 30 June 1969. K-SQ-FI-49-HI, January-June 1969.

(50.) "Historical Record of the 319th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, 1 January 1969-31 March 1969. K-SQ-FI-319-HI, January-June 1969. Additional squadrons commenced this training in 1969, such as the 87th FIS. Historical Record of the 87th Fighter Interceptor Squadron for the period ending 30 June 1969. K-SQ-FI-87-HI, January-June 1969.

(51.) History of ADCOM, 1 July-31 December 1975, 43. K410.011 75/07/01 -75/12/31, vol. 1. Steve Davies makes brief mention of College Dart in Red Eagles: America's Secret Migs (Midland House, UK: Osprey Publishing, 2008), 29-30. Another author refers to College Dart as a "spin-off" of Top Gun. Anthony Thornborough, Modern Fighter Aircraft: Technology and Tactics. Into Combat with Today's Fighter Pilots (Sparkford, UK: Patrick Stephens Ltd., 1995), 12. Lt Col C. Homer [probably Charles Homer] mentioned College Dart during his March 16, 1973 testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee. Hearings before the Committee on Armed Services, United States Senate, 93rd Cong., 1st sess., (March 1973), 4400.

(52.) Wing Commander Patrick J. Cabourne, RAF, Message from ADC, "College Dart Training," 31 December 1969. K410.01-21, FY 1970, vol. 4. Cabourne was an exchange officer from the Royal Air Force.

(53.) K-SQ-FI-319-HI, Jan-Jun 1969. Historical Record of the 94th Fighter Interceptor Squadron for the Period Ending 30 June 1969. K-SQ-FI-94-HI, April-June 1969.

(54.) K-SQ-FI-5-HI, 1969.

(55.) Historical Record of the 71st Fighter Interceptor Squadron for the Period Ending 31 March 1969. K-SQ-FI-71-HI, January-March 1969.

(56.) The Air Force changed the name of ADC to the "Aerospace Defense Command" on January 15, 1968. K410.01-19, January-June 1968, vol. 1.

(57.) Col. Richard G. Cross, Jr. Message from ADC, "ACT Conference," 18 September 1969. K410.01-21, FY 1970, vol. 6.

(58.) Historical Record of the 94th Fighter Interceptor Squadron for the Period Ending 30 June 1969. K-SQ-FI-94-HI March-June 1969. North Korean Migs shot down an EC-121M on April 14, 1969 while on a "Beggar Shadow" electronic intelligence mission. Major Daniel P. Bolger, "Scenes from an Unfinished War: Low-Intensity Conflict in Korea, 1966-1969," Leavenworth Papers No. 19, 101.

(59.) Wing Commander P.J. Cabourne, RAF, Message from ADC to AFLC, "F-106 ASIP Planning," 20 January 1970. K410.01-21, FY 1970, vol. 6.

(60.) Col. John M. Winkler, Message from ADC to 20AIRDIV, "ACT Training Program, 48 FIS," 23 March 1970. K410.01-21, FY 1970, vol. 6.

(61.) Historical Record of the 5th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, September 1970. K-SQ-FI-5-HI, 1970.

(62.) Col. Arthur W. Owen, Jr. Message from ADC, "Advanced Aerial Combat Tactics, College Dart," 16 April 1970. K410.01-21, FY 1970, vol. 4.

(63.) Maj Gen Joseph L. Dickman, Message from ADC, "College Dart Training," June 1970 (no day given). K410.01-21, FY 1970, vol. 4.

(64.) Maj Gen Joseph L. Dickman, Message from ADC to CNO, "Dissimilar ACT Training," 27 March 1970. K410.01-21, FY 1970, vol. 6.

(65.) Maj. Haight, Message from ADC to CSAF/XOOS, Final Report, 1971 Tactical Fighter Symposium, 17 September 1971. K410.01-21, FY1972 vol. 5.

(66.) Historical Record of the USAF Interceptor Weapons School, period ending 31 March 1971. K410-012 January-March 1971.

(67.) History of the Aerospace Defense Command, Fiscal Year 1972, 236-37. K410.01-21, FY1972, vol. 1.

(68.) Historical Record of the Interceptor Weapons School, for the period ending 30 June 1971. K410.012, April-June 1971. The Navy squadrons were VF-92 and VF-96; the 84th FIS was the F-106 squadron. Ibid.

(69.) (Name illegible) Message from ADC to AIG 7142/DOT, "Navy/ADC ACT Training at Miramar," 19 July 1971. K410.01-21, FY 1972, vol. 5.

(70.) Col. Lauren B. Hollenbeck, Message from ADC to 21 AirDiv, "Navy/ADC Training at Miramar," 16 August 1971. K410.01-21, FY 1972, vol. 5.

(71.) Historical Record of the 49th Fighter Interceptor Squadron for the Period Ending 31 March 1971. K-SQ-FI-49-HI, January-December 1971.

(72.) Col. Ranald T. Adams, Jr. Message from ADC to CNO/OP-591, "ACT Training," October 1971. K410.01-21, FY 1972, vol. 5. This message was CC'd to the office of the chief of staff of the Air Force, CSAF/XOOSN.

(73.) History of the Aerospace Defense Command, Fiscal Year 1972, 236-37.

(74.) Message from ADC to AIG 7150/CC, Immediate Action Change to ADCM 51-106, 122100Z July 1971. K410.01-21, FY1972 vol. 5.

(75.) Maj. William B. Paul, Headquarters, USAF Tactical Fighter Weapons Center, "Air-to-Air Tactics Symposium," April 5, 1971. K417.0735, FY1971, vol. 2.

(76.) Final Report, USAF 1971 Tactical Fighter Symposium, Nellis AFB, Nevada, June 14-19, 1971. K417.0735, FY1971, vol. 2.

(77.) Gen. Thomas K. McGehee to AF/CC (Gen Ryan), "ADC Mission," 13 January 1972. Gen. John C. Meyer to ADC, "ADC Mission, Feb. 9, 1972. K410.01-21, FY 1972, vol. 2.

(78.) Col. Ranald T. Adams, Jr. Message from ADC to AIG 7142/CC, "F-106 Loss of Control." Sept, 29, 1971. K410.01-21, FY 1972, vol. 5.

(79.) Lt Gen Thomas K. McGehee, Message from ADC to AIG 7142/CC, "F-106 Control Losses," Jan. 26, 1972. K410.01-21, FY 1972, vol. 5.

(80.) Col. Robert L. Embery, Message from ADC to 24 AirDiv, "Inter-squadron ACT," Apr. 13, 1972. K410.01-21, FY 1972, vol. 5.

(81.) Col. William C. Sullivan, Air Combat Tactics Program, (no date). K410.012, July-September 1972.

(82.) Message from Lt Gen Thomas K. McGehee to AIG 7142/CC, AIG 7150/CC, F-106 Control Losses, 061913Z Jan. 1972. K410.01-21, FY1972 vol. 5. History of the Aerospace Defense Command, Fiscal Year 1972, 235.

(83.) (Name unreadable), Message from ADC to AIG 7142/DO, "Exceeding F-106 Load Factor Limits," 15 February 1972. K410.01-21, FY 1972, vol. 5.

(84.) Historical Record of the Interceptor Weapons School, for the period ending 30 June 1971. K410.012 Apr-Jun 1971.

(85.) Maj. Gen. H.A. Hanes, Attachment 1, ADC Training Plan, College Dart, 15 April 1972. K410.01-21, FY 1972, vol. 6.

(86.) Historical Record of the USAF Interceptor Weapons School for the period ending 31 March 1972. K410.012 January-March 1972.

(87.) Historical Record of the USAF Interceptor Weapons School for the Period Ending 31 March 1972. K410.012, January-March 1972.

(88.) Letter to Lt. Gen. George J. Eade, 6 June 1972.

(89.) History of the Aerospace Defense Command, Fiscal Year 1972, 238. K410.01-21, FY1972, vol. 1. Letter to Lt. Gen. George J. Eade, 6 June 1972. Historical Record of the Interceptor Weapons School for the Period Ending 30 Jane 1972. K410.012, April-June 1972. History of Air Defense Tactical Air Command 1 Jan-31 Dec 1983, 179. K417.011 1 January-31 December 1983, vol. 1.

(90.) Historical Record of the 4757 Air Defense Squadron (IWS) for the period ending 30 September 1972. K410.012 July-September 1972. F-101Bs often functioned as fast targets in College Dart. Historical Record of the 2nd Fighter Interceptor Training Squadron for the Period Ending 30 September 1975. K410.012 75/07/01-75/09/30 vol. 2.

(91.) Historical Record of the 4757 Air Defense Squadron (IWS) for the period ending 30 September 1972. K410.012 July-September 1972.

(92.) Historical Record of the USAF Interceptor Weapons School for the Period Ending 31 March 1972. Message from ADC to 23rd Air Division, 13 January 1972. K410.01-21, FY 1972, vol. 6. Message from ADC to CNO/OP-591, "ACT Training," October 1971. This message was CC'd to the office of the chief of staff of the Air Force, CSAF/XOOSN.

(93.) Historical Record of the USAF Interceptor Weapons School for the Period Ending 31 March 1972.

(94.) Historical Record of the USAF Interceptor Weapons School for the period ending 30 June 1972. K410.012 April-June 1972.

(95.) Lt Col William G. Dolan, Jr. "Final Report, Phase I, ADC/ADWC Project 70-37 F-106 Externally Mounted Missiles," 27 October 1971. K410.012 October-December 1971.

(96.) Letter to Lt Gen George J. Eade, 6 June 1972.

(97.) Historical Record of the 5th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, December 1972. K-SQ-FI-5-HI, 1972.

(98.) Historical Record of the 87th Fighter Interceptor Squadron for the Period Ending 31 March 1973. K-SQ-FI-87-HI, January-December 1973.

(99.) History of the Directorate of Operations 1 July-31 December 1972. K143.01 1 July-31 December 1972, vol. 2. This is different from Steve Davies' claim that the Air Force made TAC investigate College Dart following Randy Cunningham's testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee. Davies, Red Eagles, 30.

(100.) Historical Record of the 4757 Air Defense Squadron (IWS) for the period ending 30 September 1972. K410.012 July-September 1972.

(101.) Historical Record of the 4757 Air Defense Squadron (IWS) for the period ending 31 December 1972. K410.012 October-December, 1972. The adversaries were from the 31st and 33rd TFW, VF-14, VF-32, VMFA-251, and two F-8 Crusader reserve squadrons: VF-201 and VF-202. The Air Force-Navy training program may not have been widely known. In a March 13, 1973 testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, a Navy representative, Lt Cmdr MeKeown, replied "no, sir," when Senator Barry Goldwater asked him if the Navy had "any mutual training with the Air Force" in terms of air-to-air combat training. Hearings before the Committee on Armed Services, United States Senate, 93rd Cong., 1st sess., (March 1973), 4081.

(102.) Historical Record of the 4757 Air Defense Squadron (IWS) for the period ending 31 December 1972. K410.012 October-December, 1972. The adversaries were from the 31st and 33rd TFW, VF-14, VF-32, VMFA-251 (F-4s), and VF-201 and VF-202, F-8 Crusader reserve squadrons.

(103.) Historical Record of Detachment 2, 48th Fighter Interceptor Squadron for the Period Ending 30 June 1973. K-SQ-FI-48-HI, January-December 1973.

(104.) Historical Record of the 5th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, (ADC), December 1973. K-SQ-FI-5-HI, 1973.

(105.) Historical Record of the 318th Fighter Interceptor Squadron for the period ending 31 March 1974. F-SQ-FI-318-HI January-March 1974.

(106.) History of ADCOM, 1 July-31 December 1975, 44. K410.011 75/07/01 -75/12/31, vol. 1. Historical Record of the 49th Fighter Interceptor Squadron for the period 30 September 1975. K-SQ-FI-49-HI January-December 1975. Historical Record of the 319th Fighter Interceptor Training Squadron for the Period Ending 30 September 1975. K410.012 75/07/01-75/09/30, vol. 5.

(107.) History of ADCOM, 1 July-31 December 1975, 161-62. Historical Record of the 319th Fighter Interceptor Training Squadron for the Period Ending 30 June 1976. K410.012 76/04/01-76/06/30.

(108.) History of ADCOM, Jan. 1, 1977-Dec. 31, 1978, 169. K410.011, 01/01/77-12/31/78, vol. 1.

(109.) Historical Record of the 49th Fighter Interceptor Squadron for the period ending 30 June 1974. K-SQ-FI-49-HI, 74/04/01-74/06/30.

(110.) Maj. Gen Richard H. Schoeneman, Recommendation for ADC "A" Award, 49th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, draft, no date. K-SQ-FI-49-HI, July-September 1975.

(111.) Maj. Thomas A. Cardwell, Maj Robert J. Casey, TDY Trip Report, Navy Top Gun Fighter Symposium as ADWC/IWS Representatives, 14 April 1975. K410.012 75/04/01-75/06/30, vol. 3.

(112.) Maj. Robert J. Casey, TDY Trip Report, Tri-Command Manual Conference, 10-16 August 1975. K410.012 75/07/01-75/09/30, vol. 5.

(113.) Col. M.F. Ewing, Dept. of the Air Force, "Special Order GA-234," 10 October 1972. K417.0735, FY1973, vol. 2. Captain Mike Press, "Meet the Aggressors," Fighter Weapons Review (Fall 1973), 30-33. Ronald L. Rusing, "Prepare the Fighter Force Red Flag/Composite Force," (Thesis, Command and General Staff College, 1980), 11-12.

(114.) Capt. Mike Press, "Meet the Aggressors," Fighter Weapons Review (Fall 1973), 30-33.

(115.) Maj. Haight, Message from ADC to CSAF/XOOS, Final Report, 1971 Tactical Fighter Symposium, 17 September 1971. K410.01-21, FY1972 vol. 5.

Dr. Michael E. Weaver is an associate professor of history at the Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, Alabama, where he teaches national security and military history. He has been a part of the ACSC faculty since 2002. He studied with Russell Weigley at Temple University, and has also published works on the 20th Infantry Division, the Tennessee Air National Guard, and economic intelligence.
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Author:Weaver, Michael E.
Publication:Air Power History
Geographic Code:9VIET
Date:Dec 22, 2013
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