EDGE OF THE ENVELOPE
This chapter is accompanied by a video recording of the actual "Heads Up Display (HUD)" tape made during the events described below. To see the following video clip, you must have RealPlayer installed on your computer system. Click here to download this player for free.
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See rare video footage of Keith Rosenkranz refueling his F-16 mid-flight. Click here to view a KC-135 Tanker Rejoin.
A knock on the weapons shop door interrupted the mass briefing. In
walked Maj. Marsh from intel. He approached Damien and handed him a pair of satellite photos.
"I'm sorry to interrupt, sir," Marsh said, "but these were taken this morning, and they just arrived from Riyadh. The targets are considered
high priority, and CENTAF wants to know if we can take them out tonight."
"What are they?" Damien asked while studying the photos.
"This one is a picture of an Iraqi police station in downtown Basrah," Marsh said pointing at the picture. "According to CENTAF, an Iraqi execution squad is using the facility as their headquarters."
"And the other one?"
"The second photo was also taken over Basrah. The Iraqis are storing tanks and armored personnel carriers in what appears to be a park. I counted more than two hundred of them!"
"Call CENTAF and tell them we'll take both missions."
11 FEBRUARY 1991
"Captain Keith Rosenkranz
... Howler 45 ... 2245 foxtrot ... Four CBU-87 ... Takeoff time is 22:10 ... TOT is 00:20:00 ... Date is 11 February '91 ... Tail number is 453."
After the crew chiefs complete their inspections, Jackal and I follow Capt. Eric "Grinder" Pell and Capt. Steve "Gabby" Lambert into position on the runway. After takeoff, the four of us proceed to the air-refueling track. When we depart the tanker, I roll out heading 355 and climb to 26,000 feet. After I level off, I turn off my lights and complete my fence check.
I reach down and switch my VTR to HUD. I'm passing through 25,800
feet on a 010-degree heading. My airspeed is 375 knots. The target is at my right two o'clock, so I bank to the right and turn toward it. After I roll out, I check my distance to the target. At eight DME, I roll inverted and commence the attack. When the nose of my F-16 is twenty-five
degrees below the horizon line, I roll upright again and focus on my target. I'm in a thirty-degree dive, passing through 22,500 feet. My airspeed is 410 knots and the TD box is in the HUD field-of-view. The northwest side of the park is burning brightly in the FLIR. There's a fire near the road on the south side of the park as well.
As I continue my descent, I hit the missile step button and the CCIP
pipper comes into view. The TD box is replaced by a diamond. The string of residential homes that Col. Jaszczak wants us to avoid is clearly visible on the right side of the HUD. The pipper reaches the diamond as I approach 12,000 feet. As soon as I hit the pickle button, I pull back smoothly on my stick and push the throttle to mil. As the Gs increase, I feel the canisters of CBU drop from my wings. Once the nose of my F-16 is above the horizon, I bank to the right and look back at the target. Within seconds, the south side of the park lights up. I continue my climbing right turn and roll out on a 100-degree heading. After Jackal calls off target, I place my switch to Sim and call up my air-to-air radar. Grinder and Gabby are right where I expect them to be.
"Howler 47 tied," I radio.
"Howler 46 is buddy spike," Gabby replies.
Grinder leads the formation across the Gulf, and we touch down at Al Minhad right before dawn.