During the Vietnam War, American pilots flew aircraft such as the F-4 Phantom II, equipped with long-range AIM-7 Sparrow missiles. However, air crews were frequently unable to fire AIM-7 Sparrow missiles at radar targets without having visually identified the target first, thus losing this technological advantage. The AIM-7 missile was also not very reliable, making heavy use of delicate components such as vacuum tubes which had to endure the SE Asia climate, carrier takeoffs, and high stress maneuvers. Additionally, early versions of the F-4 (prior to the E model) relied solely on missiles, having no guns nor lead-computing Gyro gunsight, and were therefore very vulnerable in the gun-range combat that could ensue. Lightweight, short-endurance, point-defense fighters such as the MiG-17 and MiG-21 are typically far more agile than heavy, long-range, fighter-bombers (see the F-105 Thunderchief). Still, using superior tactics, the AIM-9 Sidewinder short range missiles, and cannon fire, American pilots were able to gain significant victories in the air over North Vietnam, especially after the US Navy instituted the Top Gun program to restore dogfighting capability to its pilots. http://www.history.com/
Losses of aircraft in combat over NORTH Vietnam: . Source is Red River Valley Fighter Pilot's Ass'n 30th Anniversary Memorial Progam. <ul><li>USAF F-105--282 F-4--192 F-100--16 F-102--1 F-104--4 F-111--6 RF=101--27 RF-4--37 B-52--17 C-130--2 EB-66--4 B-57--5 RC-47--1 A=1--18 T-28--1 O-1/2--5 </li></ul><ul><li>USN </li></ul><ul><li>A-4—173 </li></ul><ul><li>A-6--52 </li></ul><ul><li>F-4—73 </li></ul><ul><li>A-7--38 </li></ul><ul><li>RF-4--1 </li></ul><ul><li>F/RF-8--18 </li></ul><ul><li>A-3--1 </li></ul><ul><li>RA-5--21 </li></ul><ul><li>A-1--43 </li></ul>
Goals of Rolling Thunder <ul><li>interdict North Vietnamese transportation routes in southern N. Vietnam </li></ul><ul><li>slow infiltration of personnel and supplies into South Vietnam </li></ul><ul><li>cease support of Viet Cong forces in South Vietnam </li></ul>
Two principal areas from which supplies came — Haiphong and the Chinese border — were off limits to aerial attack, as were fighter bases. Restrictions on the bombing of civilian areas enabled the North Vietnamese to use them for military purposes, such as siting anti-aircraft guns on school grounds. Rolling Thunder's gradual escalation has been given as one reason for its failure, by giving the North Vietnamese time to adapt .
July 1966, Rolling Thunder expanded to include N. Vietnamese ammo dumps and oil storage facilities, and spring of 1967, further expanded to include power plants, factories, and airfields in the Hanoi-Haiphong area. Operation Rolling Thunder was closely controlled by the White House and at times targets were personally selected by President Johnson. 1965 -1968, 643,000 tons of bombs were dropped on N. Vietnam. Nearly 900 U.S. aircraft were lost during the operation. The operation continued, with occasional suspensions, until LBJ, under increasing domestic political pressure, halted it on October 31, 1968.
Operation Linebacker <ul><li>Four objectives: </li></ul><ul><li>Isolate North Vietnam from its outside sources of supply by destroying railroad bridges and rolling stock in and around Hanoi and northeastward toward the Chinese frontier; </li></ul><ul><li>the targeting of primary storage areas and marshalling yards; </li></ul><ul><li>to destroy storage and transshipment points; </li></ul><ul><li>eliminate (or at least damage) the north's air defense system </li></ul>
U.S. aircraft losses during Linebacker Between May 10 and October 23, 1972, the United States lost a total of 134 aircraft either over the north or as a direct result of Linebacker missions. 104 were lost in combat and 30 were destroyed in operational accidents. Losses by service were:
*Linebacker had played a crucial role in blunting the northern offensive by drying up its vital sources of supply. PAVN (People’s Army N. Vietnam) had evolved into a conventional military force, and such a force depended upon a complex logistical system, which made it vulnerable to aerial attack. *By September, imports into North Vietnam were estimated at 35 to 50 percent below what they had been in May, bolstering claims that the campaign had been successful in its interdiction effort. *Air Force General Robert N. Ginsburgh, of the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, summed up the attitudes of U.S. commanders by remarking that Linebacker had "a greater impact in its first four months of operation than Rolling Thunder had in three and one-half years."
<ul><li>Of the 741 B-52s dispatched to bomb North Vietnam, 729 had actually completed their missions. </li></ul><ul><li>15,237 tons of ordnance were dropped on 18 industrial and 14 military targets (including eight SAM sites) while fighter-bombers added another 5,000 tons of bombs to the tally. </li></ul><ul><li>212 additional B-52 missions were flown within South Vietnam in support of ground operations during the same time period. </li></ul><ul><li>Ten B-52s had been shot down over the North and five others had been damaged and crashed in Laos or Thailand. 33 B-52 crew members were killed or missing in action, another </li></ul><ul><li>33 became prisoners of war, and 26 more were rescued. North Vietnamese air defense forces claimed that 34 B-52s and four F-111s had been shot down during the campaign. </li></ul>
769 additional sorties were flown by the Air Force and 505 by the Navy and Marine Corps in support of the bombers.12 of these aircraft were lost on the missions (two F-111s, three F-4s, two A-7s, two A-6s, an EB-66, an HH-53 rescue helicopter, and an RA-5C reconnaissance aircraft) During these operations, ten American aviators were killed, eight captured, and 11 rescued. Overall Air Force losses included fifteen B-52s, two F-4s, two F-111s, one EB-66 and one HH-53 search and rescue helicopter. Navy losses included two A-7s, two A-6s, one RA-5, and one F-4. Seventeen of these losses were attributed to SA-2 missiles, three to daytime MiG attacks, three to antiaircraft artillery, and four to unknown causes. A total of eight Migs were shot down during the operation including two by B-52 tail gunners.
Linebacker II Operation Linebacker II operations were initiated on 18 December 1972 and were directed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) The primary objective would be to force the North Vietnamese government to enter into purposeful negotiations concerning a cease-fire agreement. The operation employed air power to its maximum capabilities to destroy all major target complexes such as radio stations, railroads, power plants, and airfields located in the Hanoi and Haiphong areas. Unlike previous bombing campaigns, Linebacker II provided the Air Force and U.S. Naval forces with specific objectives and removed many of the restrictions that had previously caused frustration within the Pentagon.
Air Force and Navy tactical aircraft and B-52s commenced an around-the-clock bombardment of the North Vietnamese heartland. The B-52s struck Hanoi and Haiphong during hours of darkness with F-111s and Navy tactical aircraft providing diversionary/suppression strikes on airfields and surface-to-air missile sites. Daylight operations were primarily carried out by A-7s and F-4s. Linebacker II caused severe damage to North Vietnam’s infrastructure and war support capabilities. The operation persuaded the North Vietnamese to return to the conference table.
The impact of Linebacker II During bombing raids, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy aircraft encountered intense enemy defensive actions that resulted in the loss of 26 aircraft in the 12-day period. Air Force losses included 15 B-52s, 2 F-4s, 2 F-111s, and 1 HH-53 search and rescue helicopter. Navy losses included 2 A-7s, 2 A-6s, 1 RA-5, and 1 F-4. Seventeen of these losses were attributed to SA-2 missiles, 3 to daytime MiG attacks, 3 to antiaircraft artillery, and 3 to unknown causes.