Air International 2008-10
B.Archer - USAF Aardvarks in the Cold War /Cold war warrior/
Pictured at Takhli RTAFB in Thailand in September 1972 are F-111As from the 474th TFW parked alongside F-4s. This was the second deployment of the F-111 for combat operations in South East Asia after the less than successful first detachment that had taken place in 1968
Although it initially suffered from technical problems, the F-111 matured into a potent bomber. The aircraft was designed for supersonic flight and to aid this had the ability to sweep back its wings. Terrain-following radar meant that it could fly at low level in all weathers, day or night.
An F-111F of the 48th TFW at RAF Lakenheath carrying Mk.82 500lb bombs on the wing pylons. This variant of the F-111 had the advantage over the 'E by being fitted with the AN/AVQ-26 Pave Tack electro-optical targeting pod for use with laser-guided bombs.
On withdrawal from the USAFE, the F-111Fs, and a number of ’Es, were transferred to the 27th FW at Cannon AFB, New Mexico. One of the former is pictured wearing the overall dark grey scheme adopted by the aircraft after being transferred from Europe.
During the Cold War the UK was home to two variants of the Aardvark, the F-111Es (pictured) were assigned to the 20th TFW at RAF Upper Heyford, while the 'Fs went to the 48th TFW at RAF Lakenheath. The F-111E entered service in September 1969. The following year the first examples arrived at Upper Heyford.
Strategic Air Command procured 76 FB-111As as a replacement for the B-52C/E and 'F versions of the Stratofortress. The entry into service of the B-1B led to SAC adding a tactical role to these nuclear-capable bombers, as a result 38 of them were converted to F-111G standard. This FB-111A of the 380th Strategic Aerospace Wing at Plattsburgh AFB, New York, wears the darker wrap-around camouflage that was standard on this variant.
Development of the EF-111A Raven was brought about by the necessity to replace the elderly Douglas EB-66 Destroyer which had a specialised electronic warfare role. The Raven could be used to jam enemy air defences, as it did when three 42nd EDS aircraft from RAF Upper Heyford took part in the operation against Libya in April 1986.
Grumman (General Dynamics) EF-111A Raven