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Ravens in the desert

Photo: The 390th ECS was lucky enough to get one of the deployment bases in Saudi Arabia — Taif Air Base. This image from February 1991 shows an EF-111A in the shelter area ready for a mission. Fred Drummond via Warren Thompson

 

Many lessons were learned in the deadly skies of Vietnam and one of the most important was that electronic warfare aircraft development should be given a high priory. This led to the development of two missionized variants of existing platforms — the General Dynamics EF-111A Raven for the US Air Force and the Grumman EA-6B Prowler for the Navy and Marine Corps. They would prove to be exactly what the military was looking for and would become dominant jammers significant theaters, including the Middle East for Operation ‘Desert Storm’ in 1991.

In the July issue of Combat Aircraft, Warren Thompson details the missions of the EF-111 in ‘Desert Storm’. In August 1990, just 24 hours after Saddam Hussein’s forces swarmed into neighboring Kuwait the electronic warfare officers (EWOs) from the USAF’s 390th Electronic Combat Squadron (ECS) met with the intelligence staff to begin planning the order of battle.

There were two USAF units flying the EF-111A Raven at this time — the 42nd ECS based at RAF Upper Heyford in the UK and the 390th ECS stationed at Mountain Home AFB in Idaho.

Ten Ravens from the latter unit were first to deploy to the Gulf in August 1990. They initially transited to Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina, where they picked up tanker support and flew 14 hours to their deployment base at Taif, in the mountainous region of western Saudi Arabia. Operation ‘Desert Shield’ — the protective international cover in the Arabian Gulf — had begun.

Read the full story in our July issue, out now.

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