Air Enthusiast 1972-01
R.Villers - Swing-wing birds of Pease
Developed from the F-111 tactical fighter, the FB-111A has a similar fuselage and a longer wing which normally carries four external fuel tanks. The illustrated aircraft is in service with the 509th Bombardment Wing (Medium), the first USAF operational unit with the FB-111A.
With wings swept forward, the FB-111A can sustain a subsonic cruise for long ranges. Power is provided by two 20,350 lb st (9 230 kgp) Pratt & Whitney TF30-P-7 turbofans with afterburners, prominent in this take-off shot. The main undercarriage is in process of retracting into the fuselage.
With wings swept back, the FB-111A has a delta configuration and is capable of supersonic speed at very low levels, utilising terrain-following radar to fly nap-of-the-earth missions intended to approach enemy targets under the radar screen.
Up to six Boeing SRAM missiles can be carried beneath the wings of the FB-111A, and this missile is being adopted as part of the standard SAC weaponry, to be carried by Boeing B-52s as well as the General Dynamics bombers. This picture shows an F-111A adopted for use as a SRAM test-bed as part of the FB-111A development programme.
Fourteen of the 509th Wing's FB-111As are to be seen in this view through the central tower windows at Pease AFB as another day's training activites get under way.