FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day January 01 through 04, 2018

Happy New Year

In 45 B.C. New Year’s Day was celebrated on January 1 st  for the first time as the Julian calendar takes effect.  Roman dictator, Julius Caesar designed a new calendar based upon solar year developed by the Egyptians and calculated the solar year to be 365 ¼ days and decreed a day be added every four years in February so as to keep the calendar from falling out of step.  However their calculations were a bit off as Caesar the his astronomer Sosigenes failed to calculate the correct value of the solar year as 365.242199 days and not 365.25 days.  Likely they used the wrong app for that.  The 11-minute/year error added seven days by the year 1000 and 10 more days by the mid-15th century.  In 1570, Pope Gregory XIII omitted 10 days in 1582, institutionalized leap year, and thus implementing the Gregorian calendar.  And they didn’t have the US Naval Observatory to give them a good time hack.  And work on your assigned New Year’s resolution of forwarding FOD to two new people and ask them to subscribe.


Boeing and Embraer Talks Continue

Reuters is reporting talks between Boeing Co and Embraer SA are continuing but  that key questions, specifically, who will control the Brazilian plane manufacturer remain unsettled or at least not reported.  That generally means the Brazilian government has not yet approved what such a combined corporate structure might look like.  Brazilian newspaper Valor Economico had reported that the talks have focused on joint ventures and joint business agreements to share costs and revenue or develop new products without changing control of Embraer.  Such an arrangement could ease approval from the Brazilian government, which holds a ‘golden share’ giving it veto rights over strategic decisions at Embraer and has expressed reservations about a foreign company taking control. However, a joint venture may not be an effective way to combine engineering resources, explore new business opportunities and satisfy Boeing’s interest in Embraer’s portfolio of regional passenger jets, defense programs and business aircraft, said one of the sources, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of talks.  Boeing has worked around concerns in foreign markets before, structuring defense subsidiaries in Australia and Britain to satisfy sovereignty demands, and those cases may serve as a reference in Brazil, the sources said.  The talks are widely seen as a way for Boeing to strengthen its position in the regional jetliner market, in which Embraer is strong, thanks largely to its 70- to 130-seat E-Jets.  Less than three months ago, Boeing’s European arch-rival Airbus SE agreed to buy a majority stake in Bombardier Inc’s 100- to 130-seat C-Series jet, putting pressure on the U.S. planemaker to seek a similar partnership.  The Boeing-Embraer talks involve Embraer’s defense business, as well as its passenger business, sources have said.  In the Tuesday report, Valor said Boeing was confident it could convince Brazil’s government that it could safely operate in Brazil’s defense sector, partially by pointing to defense deals the U.S. planemaker has made in countries such as Australia.

Mariners Now Have Longest Play-Off  Drought Record

The NFL’s Buffalo Bills ended their playoff drought, dating back to 1999, when they won their final regular season game against the Dolphins on Sunday. They also needed the Ravens to lose to the Bengals in order to sneak into the AFC Wild Card game. As a result, MLB’s Seattle Mariners now have the longest playoff drought in the four major professional sports, as Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times notes.

OAKLAND, CA – SEPTEMBER 25: Felix Hernandez #34 of the Seattle Mariners pitches against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on September 25, 2017 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)

In 2001, the last time the Mariners reached the postseason, the club won a record-tying 116 games during the regular season. After just barely escaping the Indians in the ALDS, going all five games, the Mariners were stopped in their tracks by the Yankees in the ALCS, dropping four of five games. They haven’t been seen in postseason play since.  What was life like back in 2001? George W. Bush was President and, of course, there were the 9/11 attacks. The iPhone hadn’t been invented yet; people were using flip phones and those awful Nokias. Windows XP was released near the end of 2001. Microsoft unveiled the Xbox; Nintendo released the GameCube. Enron had their scandal in 2001, which led the Astros to rebrand their stadium as Minute Maid Park in 2002. Bryce Harper was nine years old in 2001; Mike Trout was 10. The first Legally Blonde movie was released, as was Shrek. What a year. The Mariners have had some good teams in the time since, but the AL West was very competitive in the early 2000’s. In 2002, the Mariners won 93 games and finished in third place! From 2008 to 2012 — the last year the AL West had only four teams — the Mariners finished in last place four times in five seasons. They had two more fourth-place finishes and a third place finish from 2013-15 after the Astros joined the division. After a front office overhaul, the Mariners improved to 86 wins and a second-place finish in 2016, but mustered only 78 wins and ended the year in third place in 2017. Odds are they won’t make it in 2018 either.


Autonomous Vehicles Are Game Changing For FBI and ISIS

I found this article in The Cipher Brief.  Autonomous vehicles such as those being tested by Google or Tesla will be one of the most important and disruptive technologies for the future of how people move, work and live. But terrorist groups are tracking these developments closely too.  Finnish security firm F-Secure reports “concrete evidence” that ISIS is considering the use of self-driving cars in place of suicide bombers, or for ramming attacks such as those carried out as early as June 2007 in Glasgow, as well as more recently in Nice in July 2016, Berlin in December 2016, London in June 2017 and, just two months ago, in New York.  As trials of self-driving vehicles take place around the world, the FBI has identified this novel technology as “game changing” for law enforcement, presenting both new threats and new opportunities in the fight against crime and terrorism. The FBI reports that driverless cars could revolutionize high-speed car chases, freeing up passengers in the pursued vehicles to conduct tasks that are impossible with their hands on the steering wheel and eyes on the road (e.g. shooting at pursuers or civilians).  Other concerns include the potential for hackers to hijack vehicles’ navigational systems and run them off the road, turning unsuspecting commuters into hostages on the highways or weapons for deadly ramming attacks. In 2011, researchers at the University of Washington and University of California San Diego were able to hack cars wirelessly, a revelation that cybersecurity analysts described as a ‘wake-up call’ for the automotive industry.  The ability to pre-program a driverless vehicle to deliver a package (i.e. narcotics, weapons or explosives) to a destination also removes some of the major barriers to smuggling illicit substances on the road.  Driverless cars with explosives could be more advantageous for terrorists than a traditional car bomb, which requires a human volunteer to park the car and escape before detonation, or stay in the car during the explosion if it is designed to be moving at the time. Countering the mobile threat of a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device has proven difficult enough for well-equipped military forces in Iraq or Afghanistan. Terrorists bringing such tactics to the streets of Paris, Los Angeles or London by detonating explosive devices in driverless cars would pose a major challenge for law enforcement.  Still, some experts have cautioned against alarmism about the scale of the cyber or terrorist threat in driverless cars, noting that such responses are common in the introduction of any new disruptive technology. Indeed, autonomous vehicle capabilities offer a range of potential benefits to law enforcement and security operations, too.  A number of related technological advances offer opportunities to tackle terrorism directly, such as by preventing ramming attacks and countering other terrorist behavior more effectively. Driverless cars are not just about the vehicle itself, or its on-board sensors and navigation systems. Vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications might make it possible to automatically detect driverless cars behaving suspiciously and alert emergency services or intervene remotely to bring the vehicle safely to a stop.  More broadly, on-board algorithms might improve pursuit tactics or the covert tailing of suspects, as well as increasing the ability of police commands to track and coordinate multiple vehicles and reduce response times.  The proliferation of driverless vehicles also could raise some of the barriers-to-entry for would-be vehicular terrorists. Today, a “lone wolf” attack to ram crowded city streets requires little more than a driver’s license to rent or buy a vehicle, or more simply still, the ability to steal or hijack a vehicle. Programming a driverless car to carry out such a task could prove to be more difficult. It likely would require advanced hacking skills to override systems within driverless cars specifically designed to prevent ramming attacks and dangerous driving. Such hacking skills likely will be beyond the capabilities of most individual terrorists.  Furthermore, as autonomous vehicles and cyber technologies mature, the automotive industry has a strong incentive to make its products as safe and secure as possible through both software and physical anti-tampering measures, not least because of the public relations disaster in the event of a major criminal or terrorist act.  Governments also are taking steps to make all vehicles more resistant to hacking. The U.S. House of Representatives has made cybersecurity a central requirement of its 2017 Self Drive Act, while the U.K. Department for Transport has partnered with the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure to issue a set of key cybersecurity principles for use throughout the automotive sector and supply chain.  Addressing safety and security concerns remains an essential prerequisite for driverless vehicles, if they are to gain widespread public acceptance. This will require close cooperation between the automotive industry, suppliers, cybersecurity firms and government to define appropriate controls, standards and responses to terrorist threats and other vulnerabilities as they emerge. Unlike driverless vehicles themselves, security initiatives will not get far on autopilot.


Abraham Lincoln Signs Emancipation Proclamation

On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln  signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which ends slavery in the rebelling states.  It was a presidential proclamation and made use of his powers of executive orderLincoln understood that the Federal government’s power to end slavery in peacetime was limited by the Constitution which before 1865, committed the issue to individual states.  Against the background of the American Civil War, however, Lincoln issued the Proclamation under his authority as “Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy” under Article II, section 2 of the United States Constitution.   As such, he claimed to have the martial power to free persons held as slaves in those states that were in rebellion “as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion.”  He did not have Commander-in-Chief authority over the four slave-holding states that were not in rebellion: MissouriKentuckyMaryland and Delaware, and so those states were not named in the Proclamation.  It changed the federal legal status of more than 3 million enslaved people in the designated areas of the South from slave to free. As soon as a slave escaped the control of the Confederate government, by running away or through advances of federal troops, the slave became legally free. Ultimately, the rebel surrender liberated and resulted in the proclamation’s application to all of the designated slaves. It did not cover slaves in Union areas that were freed by state action (or by the 13th amendment in December 1865).  Lincoln had waited several months for a decisive Union victory in the field before signing the proclamation which freed all slaves in states that were still in rebellion.  The Union victory at the Battle of Antietam, afforded him that opportunity.  The measure is certainly one of the most important acts in American history, as it meant slavery would end when those areas were recaptured.  The Proclamation did not compensate the owners, did not outlaw slavery, and did not grant citizenship to the ex-slaves (called freedmen).  But what it did do was demonstrate an important shift in the goal of the Civil War from just reunification to include the eradication of slavery.  For Lincoln it was also a very shrewd move.  It effectively scuttled all attempts by the Confederate states to secure recognition by foreign governments, particularly Great Britain.  When reunification was the sole goal, the Confederate states could be viewed as freedom fighters being held against their will, but now with the defense of slavery seen as the primary Southern cause, foreign aid to a slave nation would prove to be impossible.



Thoughts on US Naval Observatory

I noted that on 01 January 1959 the United States Naval Observatory (USNO) introduces a system of uniform atomic time using cesium beam atomic oscillators. This measurement is adopted as standard by the International Committee on Weights and Measures. The exact time has always been important to the Navy and naval vessels as an accurate time is needed to determine a ship’s position and its navigational performance. The USNO is one of the oldest scientific agencies in the United States, with a primary mission to produce Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) for the United States Navy and the United States Department of Defense. Located in Northwest Washington, D.C. at the Northwestern end of Embassy Row, it is one of the pre-1900 astronomical observatories located in an urban area; at the time of its construction, it was far from the light pollution thrown off by the (then-smaller) city center. The USNO operates the “Master Clock“, which provides precise time to the GPS satellite constellation run by the United States Air Force. The USNO performs radio VLBI-based positions of quasars with numerous global collaborators, in order to produce Earth Orientation parameters.  Aside from its scientific mission, a house located within the Naval Observatory complex serves as the official residence of the Vice President of the United States.

exterior photos of the vp residence at the naval observatory. nav. observ.

Established by the order of the United States Secretary of the Navy John Branch on 6 December 1830 as the Depot of Charts and Instruments, the Observatory rose from humble beginnings. Placed under the command of Lieutenant Louis M. Goldsborough, with an annual budget of $330, its primary function was the restoration, repair, and rating of navigational instruments. It was made into a national observatory in 1842 via a federal law and a Congressional appropriation of $25,000. Lieutenant James Melville Gilliss was put in charge of “obtaining the instruments needed and books.  The observatory’s primary mission was to care for the United States Navy‘s marine chronometers, charts, and other navigational equipment. It calibrated ships’ chronometers by timing the transit of stars across the meridian.  The first superintendent was Navy Commander Matthew Fontaine Maury. Maury had the world’s first vulcanized time ball, created to his specifications by Charles Goodyear for the U.S. Observatory. It was the first time ball in the United States, being placed into service in 1845, and the 12th in the world. Maury kept accurate time by the stars and planets. The time ball was dropped every day except Sunday precisely at the astronomically defined moment of Mean Solar Noon, enabling all ships and civilians to know the exact time. By the end of the American Civil War, the Observatory’s clocks were linked via telegraph to ring the alarm bells in all of the Washington, D.C. firehouses three times a day, and by the early 1870s the Observatory’s daily noon-time signal was being distributed nationwide via the Western Union Telegraph Company. Time was also “sold” to the railroads and was used in conjunction with railroad chronometers to schedule American rail transport. Early in the 20th century, the Arlington Time Signal broadcast this service to wireless receivers.  The United States Naval Observatory no longer obtains significant astrometric observations, but it continues to be a major authority in the areas of Precise Time and Time IntervalEarth orientationastrometry and celestial observation. In collaboration with many national and international scientific establishments, it determines the timing and astronomical data required for accurate navigationastrometry, and fundamental astronomy and calculation methods — and distributes this information in the Astronomical AlmanacThe Nautical Almanac, and on-line.  The U.S. Naval Observatory operates two Master Clock facilities. The primary facility, in Washington, D.C. maintains 57 HP/Agilent/Symmetricom 5071A-001 high performance cesium atomic clocks and 24 hydrogen masers. The alternate master clock, at Schriever Air Force Base, maintains 12 cesium clocks and 3 masers.  The observatory also operates four rubidium atomic fountain clocks, which have a stability reaching 7×10 -16.  The observatory intends to build several more of this type for use at its two facilities.  The clocks used for the USNO timescale are kept in 19 environmental chambers, whose temperatures are kept constant to within 0.1 degree C and whose relative humidities (for all masers and most cesiums) are kept constant to within 1%. The timescale is based only upon the Washington DC clocks. On June 7, 2007, 70 standards were weighted in the timescale computations.  The U.S. Naval Observatory provides public time service via 26 NTP servers on the public Internet, and via telephone voice announcements at 202 762-1401 Washington, D.C.  The voice of actor Fred Covington (1928–1993) has been announcing the USNO time since 1978.  This guy is dead and he still has a job.  I wonder if he’s still being paid?



Some Other Events From January 1:

1959 Batista forced out by Castro-led revolution

1863 A Nebraska farmer files the first homestead claim

1942 United Nations created


Rare Bugatti Found

If you’re a car enthusiast then you’re aware Automobiles Ettore Bugatti was a French car manufacturer of high-performance automobiles, founded in 1909 in the then German city of MolsheimAlsace by Italian-born Ettore Bugatti. Bugatti cars were known for their design beauty (Ettore Bugatti was from a family of artists and considered himself to be both an artist, designer and engineer) and for their many race victories. Famous Bugattis include the Type 35 Grand Prix cars, the Type 41 “Royale”, the Type 57 “Atlantic” and the Type 55 sports car.  The death of Ettore Bugatti in 1947 proved to be the end for the marque, and the death of his son Jean Bugatti in 1939 ensured there was not a successor to lead the factory.  Bugattis are some of the beautiful cars ever designed.  And Bugattis were extremely successful in racing. The company was known both for the level of detail of its engineering in its automobiles, and for the artistic manner in which the designs were executed.  The company also enjoyed great success in early Grand Prix motor racing: in 1929 a privately entered Bugatti won the first ever Monaco Grand Prix. Ettore Bugatti got involved in the creation of a racer airplane, hoping to beat the Germans in the Deutsch de la Meurthe prize. This would be the Bugatti 100P, which never flew, but it looks really cool. It was designed by Belgian engineer Louis de Monge who had already applied Bugatti Brescia engines in his “Type 7.5” lifting body. The Type 57S/SC variants are some of the most iconic Bugatti cars. The “S” stood for “Surbaissé” (“Lowered”) and the “C” for “Compresseur” (a supercharger introduced by Bugatti as a result of customers’ desire for increased power). It included a V-shaped dip at the bottom of the radiator and mesh grilles on either side of the engine compartment.  Lowering the car was a major undertaking. The rear axle now passed through the rear frame rather than riding under it, and a dry-sump lubrication system was required to fit the engine under the new low hood. The 57S had a nearly-independent suspension in front, though Ettore despised that notion.  Just 43 “Surbaissé” cars and only two supercharged Type 57SC’s were originally manufactured. But most 57S owners wanted the additional power afforded by the blower. Therefore, most of the original Type 57S cars returned to Molsheim for the installation of a supercharger, pushing output from 175 hp to 200 hp and 190 km/h (120 mph).  On January 2, 2009 the Bugatti Type 57S with chassis number 57502 built in 1937 with the Atalante coachwork for Francis Curzon5th Earl Howe was discovered in a private garage in Newcastle upon Tyne, having been stored untouched for 48 years and known about only by a select few people.  It was auctioned in February 2009 at the Rétromobile motor show in Paris, France, fetching €3.4 million (~ US$5 million), becoming one of the highest valued cars in automotive history, owing much to its extremely low mileage, original condition and ownership pedigree.  In the 1990s, an Italian entrepreneur revived it as a builder of limited production exclusive sports cars. Today, the name is owned by German automobile manufacturing group Volkswagen.



And On January 2:

1980 Carter reacts to Soviet intervention in Afghanistan

1974 Nixon signs national speed limit into law

1905 Russian fleet surrenders at Port Arthur



National Drinking Straw Day – January 3

On January 3, 1888, the first artificial drinking straw was patented, giving us a reason to celebrate straws today. Marvin Chester Stone of Washington D.C. had been drinking a mint julep when his natural straw, a rye reed, began shedding into his drink. Instead of accepting this common occurrence like everyone else, he decided to do something about it. First he created a straw by winding paper around a pencil and holding it together with glue. He improved this by making a straw out of paraffin-coated manila paper, and this is the drinking straw he patented.   The first natural straws are believed to date to about 3000 BCE. A seal found in a Sumerian tomb from that timeframe shows two men using straws to drink what looks to be beer from a jar. A tube made of gold that looks to be a drinking straw was also found in the tomb. For centuries, Argentinians have drank mate by using metal straws called bombillas.  One of the main improvements to Stone’s straw patent was done by Joseph B. Friedman. He noticed his young daughter was having a hard time drinking her milkshake, and decided to make a bendable straw. Friedman stuck a screw in the top of a straw and traced its grooves with dental floss. Once he removed the floss and screw, the bendy straw was born. Friedman founded the Flex-Straw Company in 1939, and his company first started selling the straws to hospitals, for use by bedridden patients.


Write to Congress Day

January third is designated as National Write to Congress Day.  Make your thoughts known to your elected representatives. 


Mayhem Is Everywhere – Now He’s Back And Central Florida

If you’ve been watching collage bowl games this holiday season you know Maymen is back!  Uncharacteristically however he is the new kinder, gentler Mayhem, played by Dean Winters, with a New Year’s resolution to be helpful.  He’s emphasizing embracing safety aspects prior to his old mayhem self striking.  He’s the fuzzy yellow tennis ball in your garage that allows you to position your car just right; he’s a lightning rod on your roof, he’s a home security system and he’s a road flare.  However he looks soooo disappointed.  But with the ominous “resolutions are made to be broken” message at the end, will Mayhem’s change be for good? I’m betting he breaks his resolution soon just in time for the CFB Championship Game.  Which reminds me – Central Florida capped off an exceptional season with a 34-27 victory over Auburn on Monday in the Peach Bowl, and the Knights finished with a perfect 13-0 record.  But perhaps the only thing that could have made it more perfect was a spot in the four-team College Football Playoff, which many people, including now-former coach Scott Frost, believed the team deserved.  Because Auburn beat both Alabama and Georgia – who will play in the national championship game Monday.  I think they deserved it as well, but sorry CFU – you’re a small school and the big money is with the big schools.  Obviously you can’t be that good.



Major “Pappy” Boyington Shot Down and Becomes a POW

On January 3, 1944, Major Gregory “Pappy” Boyington, USMC, Commanding Officer of VMF-214 led 48 fighters on an attack against the Japanese naval base at Rabaul on the island of New Britain.  He flew in an F4U-1 Corsair, BuNo 17883.  During aerial dogfights that day, he shot down four enemy aircraft, bringing his total to 26 confirmed kills and tied WWI ace  Eddie Rickenbacker‘s record.  He was then shot down by enemy aircraft and/or ground fire.  Wounded by bullets and shrapnel and with his Corsair on fire, he parachuted out at approximately 100 feet above the ocean.  He was taken prisoner by Japanese submarine a few hours later and was held as a POW for the next 20 months under the harshest of conditions.  The USMC believed him to have been killed, as his wingman was killed during the engagement and no other aircraft could account for his status.  His capture and POW status were never reported to the Red Cross.  He was “posthumously” awarded the Medal of Honor.  As a POW he was interned at Ōmori Prison Camp with former Olympic distance runner and downed aviator lieutenant Louis ZamperiniHe was released shortly after the surrender of Japan and eventually wrote his autobiography, Baa Baa Black Sheep. He was born in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, moved to the logging town of St. Maries, ID before his family moved to Tacoma, WA.  He graduated from the University of Washington with a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering and for a time worked at Boeing as an engineer.  He eventually found his way into flight school at Pensacola, FL as a USMC pilot, but resigned his commission in August of 1941 to accept a position with the  Central Aircraft Manufacturing Company (CAMCO). They later became known as the American Volunteer Group (AVG), the famed Flying Tigers in Burma.  In 1942 he broke his contract with the AVG, returned to the US on his own and rejoined the USMC, where he was commissioned as a Major.  He acquired the callsign Pappy because at age 31 he a decade older than most of the Marines serving under him.


Events from January 3:

1990 Noriega surrenders to U.S.

1521 Martin Luther excommunicated

1924 King Tut’s sarcophagus uncovered

1959 Alaska admitted into Union


Brooklyn Dodgers Buy A Convair 440

On January 4, 1957 Walter O’Malley  owner of the  Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers, ordered a Convair CV-440 Metropolitan, serial number 406, for $770,000.  In doing so, those Brooklyn Bums become the first major league baseball team to own their own airplane.  The Dodgers’ pilot was Harry R. “Bump” Holman.  They took delivery of the aircraft in April, 1957, in time for the 1957 Major League Baseball season



F-14s Down Two MiG-23 Floggers Near Tobruk

On 4 January 1989, two United States Navy F-14 Tomcats shot down two Libyan MiG-23 Floggers which the Americans believed were attempting to engage them, as had happened eight years prior during the Gulf of Sidra incident, in 1981. The engagement took place over the Mediterranean Sea about 40 miles (64 km) north of Tobruk, Libya.  On the morning of 4 January 1989, the USS John F. Kennedy was sailing toward the eastern Mediterranean Sea for a scheduled port visit to HaifaIsrael.  The aircraft carrier was more than 120 miles north of Libya and had aircraft operating roughly 80 miles north of the country.   Aircraft from the Kennedy included several flights of A-6 Intruders on exercises south of Crete, two pairs of F-14 Tomcats from VF-14 and VF-32 conducting combat air patrols, and an E-2 Hawkeye from VAW-126 providing airborne early warning and control.  The easternmost combat air patrol station was provided by two F-14s from VF-32 with aircraft call signs Gypsy 207 (crewed by Commander Joseph Bernard Connelly and Commander Leo F. Enwright in Bureau Number 159610) and Gypsy 202 (crewed by Lieutenant Herman C. Cook III and Lieutenant Commander Steven Patrick Collins in Bureau Number 159437).  Although the Kennedy Battle Group was not operating within the contentious Gulf of Sidra and was 600 miles away from Rabta, the battle group commander believed Libyan concerns of a U.S. attack increased the likelihood of a confrontation.  The American air crews were given a special brief by the battle group commander which emphasized their rules of engagement due to the carrier’s proximity to Libya.  At 11:55 local time, the E-2 detected two Libyan MiG-23 Floggers take off from Al Bumbah airfield, near Tobruk, and observed them heading north toward the battle group. The F-14s from VF-32 were directed to intercept the MiG-23s, while the F-14s from VF-14 covered the A-6s as they departed to the north.  Using their onboard radars, the intercepting F-14s began tracking the MiG-23s when the Libyan aircraft were 72 nautical miles away, at an altitude of 8,000 feet, and traveling at a speed of 420 knots. Unlike some previous aerial encounters, where Libyan pilots were instructed to turn back after detecting an F-14’s radar signal sweep their aircraft, the MiG-23s continued to close in on the American fighters with a head-on approach.  As both pairs of aircraft converged, the E-2 and other U.S. eavesdropping assets in the area monitored radio communications between the Libyan aircraft and their ground controllers.  The Americans listened to the MiG-23s receive guidance to intercept the F-14s from ground controllers at a radar station in Al Bumbah.  This radar station was one of several that were activated along the Libyan coast to support the MiG-23s.  At 11:58, the F-14s made a left turn, away from the MiG-23s, to initiate a standard intercept.  Seven seconds later, the MiG-23s turned back into the American fighters for another head-on approach and were descending in altitude.  At this point, the F-14 crews began employing tactics which would reduce the effectiveness of the MiG-23s’ radars and the 12-mile-range AA-7 Apex missiles they were potentially carrying. The American aircraft started descending from 20,000 feet to 3,000 feet to fly lower than the Libyan fighters. The drop in altitude was meant to prevent the MiG-23s from detecting the F-14s by using ocean clutter to confuse their onboard radars and knowing the Flogger with Apex has a poor look down – shoot down capability. The American pilots executed another left turn away from the Libyan aircraft during the descent. Moments after the F-14s created a 30 degree offset, the MiG-23s turned to place themselves back into a collision course and accelerated to 500 knots.  The Air Warfare Commander (AW) on the Kennedy gave the American air crews the authority to fire if they believed the MiG-23s were hostile.  The F-14s turned away from the approaching MiG-23s two more times, and each time, the American air crews saw the Libyan aircraft turn back toward them for a head-on approach. At 12:00:53, the Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) in the lead F-14, Commander Leo Enwright in Gypsy 207, ordered the arming of the AIM-7 Sparrow and AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles on the American fighters, after what he determined was the fifth time the Libyan aircraft turned back toward him.  The American air crews armed their weapons when the opposing aircraft were less than 20 miles away and closing in on each other at a rate of 1,000 knots.  At a distance of about 14 nautical miles the lead F-14 pilot, Commander Joseph Connelly, made a radio call to the carrier group’s air warfare commander to see if there was any additional information in regard to the MiG-23s.  There was no response to his call. At 12:01:20 and a range of 12 nautical miles, Enwright fired an AIM-7; he surprised Connelly, who did not expect to see a missile accelerate away from his aircraft. The missile failed to track toward its target. At about 10 nautical miles (19 km), Enwright launched a second AIM-7, but it also failed to hit its target.  The MiG-23s continued to fly directly toward the American fighters at 550 knots. The F-14s executed a defensive split, where both aircraft made turns in opposite directions. Both Libyan fighters turned left to pursue the second F-14, Gypsy 202 (the lower blue F-14 in the diagram above).  Connelly in Gypsy 207 came back hard right to get behind the MiG-23s as they went after the other American fighter (the upper blue F-14 in the diagram above).  With the MiG-23s pointed directly at him, Lieutenant Commander Steven Collins, the RIO in Gypsy 202, fired a third AIM-7 from roughly five miles away and downed one of the Libyan aircraft. After executing a sharp right turn, Gypsy 207 gained a position in the rear quadrant of the final MiG-23,  As the Libyan fighter was turning left and at distance of one and a half miles.  In the recording of the intercept (see link below) you’ll hear him maneuvering his aircraft to get the characteristic “growling tone” of the Sidewinder (AIM-9) seeker head when it has an infrared lock.  Connelly fired an AIM-9 missile which downed its target. The time was 12:02:36 when the last MiG-23 was hit by the AIM-9. The F-14s descended to several hundred feet in altitude and departed at high speed back to the carrier group.  The Libyan pilots were both seen to successfully eject and parachute into the sea, but it is not known whether the Libyan Air Force was able to successfully recover them. The following day, Libya accused the U.S. of attacking two unarmed reconnaissance planes which were on a routine mission over international waters. Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, called for a United Nations emergency session to take up the incident. The U.S. claimed the American air crews acted in self defense due to demonstrations of hostile intent by the Libyan aircraft.  Two days after the engagement, the Pentagon released photographs taken from the videotapes on the F-14s which, according to U.S. naval intelligence analysts, showed the lead MiG-23 armed with two AA-7 Apex missiles and two AA-8 Aphid missiles.  The AA-7 can be either a semi-active radar-homing missile or an infrared-homing (heat-seeking) missile, and it can be fired at another aircraft from head-on. The imagery was used to prove the Libyan fighters were armed and helped support the U.S. position that the MiG-23s were hostile.  At the request of the National Air and Space Museum, the U.S. Navy provided BuNo 159610 to its Udvar-Hazy location near Dulles International Airport.  Although Tomcat BuNo 159610 downed the Libyan MiG-23 as a VF-32 F-14A model Tomcat, it returned from that deployment and was entered into the F-14D re-manufacture program and served later in a precision strike role as a VF-31 F-14D(R). On September 30, 2006, it was formally unveiled to the public with Captain Connelly and Captain Enwright, both now retired, on the podium as honored guests.  As of June 2017, BuNo 159437 is still resting at the Aircraft Maintenance and Restoration Group (AMARG) facility at Davis-Monthan AFB. This aircraft is one of six F-14s currently remaining in the AMARG complex and has not been scrapped due to impending museum placement. If BuNo 159437 becomes a museum exhibit, it is likely to be placed on USS John F. Kennedy once the ship becomes a museum itself.



And On January 4:

1974 President Nixon refuses to hand over tapes

1847 Colt sells his first revolvers to the U.S. government

1999 The euro debuts

And some perfectly timed photos


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